May 2005 | Dan Abrams '90

Dan Abrams '90 (Producer, KNOTS)

By Dominique Kalil '00

Dan Abrams didn’t want to conduct this interview telephonically. That was fine by me as I have come to accept that the bargaining power I yield exists in my mind only. That being said, I have generally found email to be a fluffy form of communication. In email-land, there are no intonations, no screaming pauses, no pensive sighs, no speech expressions (besides the odd YELL!), little spontaneity, and I find it bland and non-descript in a black and white Times New Roman way. Plus generic hotmail/yahoo/aol addresses such as mine, automatically propel one into the anonymous world of a spam, hate inducing, trash (otherwise known as the s.h.i.t.) mail bin. So, I admit I hounded Dan Abrams. I emailed him no less than five times trying to extricate the details of his life for this piece. He always, very politely, replied that it was coming and to get back to him the following week. Sometimes I forgot, and sometimes I did get back to him.

Last month however I got what I wanted from Dan Abrams. And I was pleasantly surprised. It was a neat, organized, interesting summation of his curvy filmmaking career path. I admit I giggled a couple of times too. Not because it was funny, but because Dan was really honest and logical in the email genre. When answering about adolescent inspiration he mentioned his fantasy of playing for the Yankees! But immediately following, discussed his first impressions of Cheers. Dan writes: “I remember seeing an ad for the show in TV Guide before it premiered, and thinking, that looks really good. I'm going to watch that." He goes on to explain: “I watched the pilot episode and every single episode after that, and was just enthralled by how smart, yet accessible the writing was…how perfectly cast it was, how high quality it was through and through, and remained for years.” I found him (through his email) very thoughtful, observant and deductive.

Dan started out working on educational and documentary programming. His first experience came about on a show called “The Low Cholesterol Gourmet” - a detail I loved and still giggle about whenever I read it! However, amongst these great details, I found a sentiment of conscientiousness, and a desire to contribute to “responsible” media. His evolution from Gourmet to his current project, the feature film, “Knots” is tangible and fascinating, not only because his progression is easily traceable, but because his career development from beginning to current, logically advances with the combined influences of his environment, his personality and introspective self checks. Dan was a psych concentrator raised outside of New York City. Having graduated in 1990, he entered a workforce poised on the digital abyss, and after completing a masters program at NYU in Interactive Telecommunications, he joined a startup web production company. While there, he helped create a Clinton-Gore 1996 campaign website, became a website producer, and progressed to executive producer of the company which grew from 7 to 250 people during his tenure (“I definitely didn’t oversee all 250”).

However it was the power of storytelling and the film biz experiences of his best buddy Chris Salvaterra (also Class of 1990) that steered Dan towards the film Mecca of LA. I sense an apprehension however (and I feel like a $25 psychic in my assessment) because Dan writes admirably but explicitly of Chris’ experiences navigating through the maze of the “complicated” entertainment industry, and the differing agendas of those who work it.

After arriving in LA Dan found a rather unique script, “Knots”, which he describes as a relationship comedy. After teaming up with the writers, Greg Lombardo and Neil Turitz, and progressing through the appropriate hiccups, production began, with Dan as the lead producer. Today “Knots” has been sold for television and video around the world. Furthermore Lions Gate is releasing the DVD in June. My best quote from Dan, “Don’t be afraid to be one of the good guys or gals. Use your connections, but use them judiciously and wisely. Above all else, be the ball.”

Here’s to being the ball!

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