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The History of “Fired!” by Annabelle Gurwitch

When you’re in show business you rarely hear the real story about why someone has been replaced—we have all sorts of code words- departed for medical reasons, scheduling conflicts, or that old standard– artistic differences. And you don’t always hear the words “you’re fired” : you’re let go, written out, killed off, your series is cancelled, your movie ‘s in turn around- however you put it, you’re out of a job. In fact, we are experts in the field of rejection as most of our business involves being rejected on a daily basis, and once the subject has been broached almost everyone has a hilarious, humiliating, and moving story of triumph and defeat. These are the stories that you never hear anywhere else. How do I know? Because it happened to me.

Most of the television viewing audience of America knows me from my numerous television series including my 6 years co-hosting the popular Dinner and a Movie on TBS. I also act in movies, publish essays and am a regular commentator on Day to Day on NPR. But I try to return as often as possible to my first love, acting on stage in New York. And that’s where the Fired project began.

Two years ago, I had the fantastic experience of being fired from a much anticipated production Off-Broadway. Completely crushed, I felt I faced two choices: permanently assume the fetal position or go in the other direction and share my experience. I chose the later and soon greeted everyone from my gynecologist to the lady at the dry cleaners with, “Hi, I was just fired by Woody Allen.” Well, as it turns out, there’s nothing that moves my seven year old son less then an account of being fired by a cultural icon; however, the response from others was quite different. Friends I admire in the industry assured me that they too had been fired and proceeded to relate their stories. I thought, “Why haven’t I heard these amazing stories?”

I began collecting stories from comedian friends and produced an event in L.A. at the Comedy Central Workspace. In January, Fired came to New York at Second Stage Theatre. I was truly gratified that the press, the performers in the evening and the audience found the night both wildly entertaining, inspiring and uplifting. After the press starting appearing, I went on Good Day New York, the theatre was flooded with requests for tickets and people calling, wanting to tell their own fired stories. Four more sold out nights at Second Stage were produced in March along with more people calling to contribute stories. This year L.A. Theatreworks produces Fired in their 2005 season and records the shows for broadcast on NPR and Fired returns to off-broadway with the added attraction of a write in contest for the public to write in “best worst fired story to win a spot on the stage.

Stories for the night range from being fired from your own sitcom, to being the worst Ronald MacDonald clown in the greater Toledo area, to the embarrassment of not being able to hold onto a job as a grave-digger.

I began collecting stories from comedian friends and produced an event in L.A. at the Comedy Central Workspace. In January, Fired came to New York at Second Stage Theatre. I was truly gratified that the press, the performers in the evening and the audience found the night both wildly entertaining, inspiring and uplifting. After the press starting appearing, I went on Good Day New York, the theatre was flooded with requests for tickets and people calling, wanting to tell their own fired stories. Four more sold out nights at Second Stage were produced in March along with more people calling to contribute stories. This year L.A. Theatreworks produced Fired in their 2005 season and recorded the shows for future broadcast on NPR and m on April 18th 05, Fired returns to off-broadway at Second Stage Theatre with the added attraction of a write in contest to win free seats and the “best worst” fired storyteller will win a spot on the stage.

To date stories and interviews for a Fired book have been collected from numerous writers, actors and personalities including: Tim Allen, Patti Heaton, Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives), Larry Charles (co-creator of Seinfeld and producer of Curb Your Enthusiasm), David Cross (Arrested Development and Mr. Show), Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Ann Meara, Daivd Rakoff (author,Fraud), Sandra Tsing Loh (writer NPR and author, depth takes a holiday ), Jim Turner (Arliss), Bruce Cameron (8 Simple Rues for Dating my Teenage Daughter), Andy Borowitz (The New Yorker), Andy Dick, Dana Gould (producer The Simpsons), Rue McClanahan, Morgan Spurlock (director SuperSize Me), Paul Feig (creator Freaks and Geeks), Steve Levitan (creator of Just Shoot Me), Harry Shearer (The Simpsons), Andy Borowitz (The New Yorker), Illeana Douglas (To Die For), and numerous other talents.