Alan Ball (screenwriter)

Alan Erwin Ball (born May 13, 1957)[1] is an American writer, director, and producer for television, film, and theater.

Alan Ball
Alan Ball in 2008
Born (1957-05-13) May 13, 1957
ResidenceLos Angeles, California
EducationUniversity of Georgia, Florida State University
OccupationScreenwriter, director, producer
Notable work
American Beauty (1999)
Six Feet Under (2001–2005)
True Blood (2008–2014)
Banshee (2013–2016)
TelevisionGrace Under Fire, Cybill
Partner(s)Peter Macdissi

He wrote the screenplay for American Beauty, for which he earned an Academy Award. He also created the series Six Feet Under and True Blood, works for which he earned an Emmy, and awards from the Writers, Directors, and Producers Guilds.

Early life

Ball was born in Marietta, Georgia, to Frank and Mary Ball, respectively an aircraft inspector and a homemaker. His older sister, Mary Ann, was killed in a car accident when Ball was 13; he was in the passenger seat at the time.[2] He attended high school in Marietta. He went to college at the University of Georgia and Florida State University, from which he graduated in 1980 with a degree in theater arts.[3][4]

After college, he began work as a playwright at the General Nonsense Theater Company in Sarasota, Florida.[5]

Film and television career

Ball broke into television as a writer and story editor on the situation comedies Grace Under Fire and Cybill.[6]

Ball has written two films, American Beauty (1999) and Towelhead (2007), the latter of which he also produced and directed. He is also the creator, writer and executive producer of the HBO drama series Six Feet Under and True Blood.[7] He was showrunner for True Blood for its first five seasons.[8]

In 2010 Ball began work on a television adaptation of the crime noir novel The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston, to be titled All Signs of Death.[9][10] In December 2010, after several months of pre-production, HBO cancelled production on the project.[11]

Ball is also one of the executive producers of the Cinemax series Banshee.[12]

In July 2016, it was announced that Ball's family drama Here and Now had been ordered to series by HBO.[13] A ten-episode first season stars Tim Robbins and Holly Hunter.[14][15] It was cancelled in April 2018 after one season.

Personal life

Ball has discussed his Buddhist faith in numerous interviews, noting how it has influenced his film making. In an interview with, Ball commented on the iconic scene in American Beauty with the plastic bag, stating, "I had an encounter with a plastic bag! And I didn't have a video camera, like Ricky does... There's a Buddhist notion of the miraculous within the mundane, and I think we certainly live in a culture that encourages us not to look for that."[16] Ball has also discussed how his Buddhism has shaped themes in Six Feet Under and True Blood, which he has substantially contributed to.[17][18]

Ball is gay and has been called "a strong voice for [the] LGBT community".[19][20] In 2008 he made Out magazine's annual list of the 100 most impressive gay men and women.[21]


For his work in television and film, Ball has received critical acclaim and numerous awards and nominations, including an Academy Award, an Emmy a Golden Globe, and awards from the Writers, Directors, and Producers Guilds.[22]



Grace Under Fire
Title Year Credit Notes
"The Road to Paris, Texas" 1994
  • Teleplay
  • Story, with Brett Butler
"Grace vs. Wade" 1994 Writer
"A Night at the Opera" 1995 Writer
"Memphis Bound" 1995 Writer, with Marc Flanagan
Title Year Credit Notes
"Zing!" 1995 Teleplay, with Lee Aronsohn
"To Sir, with Lust" 1996 Writer
"Three Women and a Dummy" 1996 Writer
"Venice or Bust" 1996 Writer
"Buffalo Gals" 1996 Writer
"Name That Tune" 1997 Teleplay, with Michael Langworthy
"Mother's Day" 1997 Story
"Regarding Henry" 1997 Story Season 4 premiere
"Halloween" 1997 Teleplay, with Mark Hudis
"Where's a Harpoon When You Need One?" 1997 Teleplay, with Kim Friese
"Bakersfield" 1998 Story
"Oh Brother!" 1998 Teleplay, with Mark Hudis
"Dream Date" 1998 Story
Oh, Grow Up
Title Year Credit Notes
"Pilot" 1999 Writer Series premiere
"Good Pop, Bad Pop" 1999 Writer
Six Feet Under
Title Year Credit Notes
"Pilot" 2001
  • Writer
  • Director
Series premiere
"An Open Book" 2001 Writer
"Knock Knock" 2001
  • Writer
  • Director
Season 1 finale
"In The Game" 2002 Writer Season 2 premiere
"Someone Else's Eyes" 2002 Writer
"The Last Time" 2002 Director Season 2 finale
"Perfect Circles" 2003 Writer Season 3 premiere
"Nobody Sleeps" 2003 Writer, with
Rick Cleveland
"I'm Sorry, I'm Lost" 2003 Director Season 3 finale
"Can I Come Up Now?" 2004 Writer
"Untitled" 2004 Director Season 4 finale
"Everyone's Waiting" 2005
  • Writer
  • Director
Series finale
True Blood
Title Year Credit Notes
"Strange Love" 2008
  • Writer
  • Director
Series premiere
"The First Taste" 2008 Writer
"Mine" 2008 Writer
"You'll Be the Death of Me" 2008 Director Season 1 finale
"Shake and Fingerpop" 2009 Writer
"Frenzy" 2009 Writer
"I Got a Right to Sing the Blues" 2010 Writer
"Evil is Going On" 2010 Writer Season 3 finale
"If You Love Me, Why Am I Dyin'?" 2011 Writer
"Spellbound" 2011 Writer
"Hopeless" 2012 Writer
"Save Yourself" 2012 Writer Season 5 finale
Here and Now
Title Year Credit Notes
"Eleven Eleven" 2018
  • Writer
  • Director
Series premiere
"It's Coming" 2018 Writer
"It's Here" 2018 Writer


Title Year Credit Notes
American Beauty 1999
  • Writer
  • Co-producer
Towelhead 2007
  • Screenwriter
  • Director
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks 2017
  • Executive producer
Television film


Title Year Credit Notes
Five Women Wearing the Same Dress 1993
  • Playwright
All That I Will Ever Be 2007
  • Author


  1. "Ball, Alan". Current Biography Yearbook 2011. Ipswich, MA: H.W. Wilson. 2011. pp. 36–40. ISBN 9780824211219.
  2. Waxman, Sharon. "Alan Ball's Life After Death" The Washington Post. May 26, 2002.
  3. "Ball, Alan (b. 1957)". Archived from the original on March 5, 2012. Retrieved May 16, 2013.
  4. Devaney, Sheila. "Alan Ball (b. 1957)". Retrieved May 16, 2013.
  5. "Alan Ball". Archived from the original on June 14, 2013. Retrieved May 16, 2013.
  6. Alan Ball on IMDb. Retrieved May 6, 2013.
  7. "True Blood Minisode No. 2 Now Available".
  8. Gelman, Vlada (February 27, 2012). "True Blood Boss Alan Ball to Step Down as Showrunner After Season 5". TV Line. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  9. "Alan Ball to Point Out All Signs of Death for HBO". Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  10. "TV: 'Six Feet Under' Creator Discovers 'All Signs of Death'".
  11. James Hibberd. "'All Signs of Death' DOA at HBO". The Hollywood Reporter.
  12. "Alan Ball: True Blood's loss is Banshee's gain". The Independent. April 19, 2013. Retrieved January 27, 2018.
  13. Andreeva, Nellie (July 29, 2016). "HBO Orders New Alan Ball Series, Extends Overall Deal With 'Six Feet Under' Creator". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  14. Petski, Denise (August 9, 2017). "'Chance' Casts David Barrera; Marwan Salama Joins Alan Ball's HBO Drama Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  15. Andreeva, Nellie (February 21, 2017). "Tim Robbins To Star in Alan Ball's Family Drama Series For HBO". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  16. "Alan Ball Interview". Retrieved May 27, 2011.
  17. Parsi, Novid (September 1, 2008). "Blood on his hands – Arts + Culture – Time Out Chicago". Time Out. Retrieved May 27, 2011.
  18. Piccalo, Gina (July 18, 2010). "'True Blood' runs through Alan Ball". Los Angeles Times.
  19. Robinson, Charlotte (September 5, 2008). "Alan Ball's LGBT Vision: Audio Interview". Outtake. Retrieved May 3, 2015. He is also openly gay & a strong voice for our LGBT community.
  20. Delaney, Sam (July 11, 2009). "TV preview: True Blood". The Guardian. Retrieved May 3, 2015. Ball has been lauded as a strong and significant voice for the American gay community.
  21. "Out Magazine | Out 100 2008". June 23, 2008. Retrieved May 27, 2011.
  22. Serafini, Matt (June 9, 2010). "Alan Ball Gets 'Set' for True Blood Season 3".
  23. Alan Ball at the Internet Off-Broadway Database. Retrieved May 6, 2013.

Further reading

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