On Friday, KCRW will replay a 1991 radio adaptation of Vince Waldron’s AMERICAN SPLENDOR stage play, starring Dan (Homer Simpson) Castellaneta. The original stage play (which we saw in person) was a wonderful adaptation of the late Harvey Pekar’s work, and this version has a lot of the same charms. The play will be available ONLY on air and by live stream and will not be available for download, so set those tape recorders.
On December 6th, 1991, public radio station KCRW-Santa Monica (89.9 FM; www.KCRW.com) broadcast an original radio production of Harvey Pekar’s “American Splendor.”
To honor Pekar’s memory, KCRW will reprise the radio production on Friday, July 16 from 7:30 to 8 pm (pre-empting “Says You,” the regularly scheduled program).
Pekar, who died this week at the age of 70, was a cult phenomenon and considered Cleveland’s favorite dark, dysfunctional and curmudgeonly son. “American Splendor” was one of his most popular autobiographical comics, and the one that brought him to the attention of Hollywood.
In 1990, “American Splendor” was adapted for stage, written and directed by Vince Waldron, and featured Dan Castellaneta—the voiceover actor now best known as the voice of Homer Simpson—as Harvey Pekar. The Instant Theatre Production opened at Jeff Murray’s Theatre/Theater in Hollywood on September 29, 1990 and closed September 28, 1991.
Waldron then adapted the stage production for radio station KCRW, and once again, Castellaneta came to embody Pekar in this original half-hour production. The station’s producers were Jacqueline des Lauriers and Bob Carlson.
In 2003, “American Splendor” was made into a film starring Paul Giamatti and Hope Davis, which was later nominated for an Oscar in the Best Adapted Screenplay category.
This broadcast will appear on air and via KCRW.com live stream ONLY, and will not be available on demand or via podcast.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.