A Kate McLeod, E.L. Doctorow, Ken Burns Story

by Kate McLeod



When I was with Time Magazine, I was doing a special section on the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island anniversary. I wrote to E.L. Doctorow and a few other luminaries and finally asked E. L. (Edgar) to write the piece for me.


Kate McLeod
Kate McLeod

We had lunch and I talked about how I saw the essay. We left the lunch in agreement. I had about a month to put the piece to bed, but a week after I’d met with E.L. he called me. He’d read something in the paper about Lee Iacocca’s involvement in the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Foundation, (Iacocca, who was running Chrylser a the time, raised money and the awareness of that project.) which completely set him off. He told me he was changing the essay so as to rail against corporate interests and Iacocca in particular.


“That’s not what we had in mind here at Time,” I said. “What we want is a celebration of how immigration made America great.” But he was determined to rail. So we came to an impasse. Now I’m thinking, I have three weeks and I am in a complete panic—heart-racing-panic.


My husband, Jerry Flint, after listening to my tale of woe, said, “You know I saw this film on PBS and it seems to me that film includes all of the stuff you want for the essay.”


E. L. Doctorow
E. L. Doctorow

“Great,” I said, “But it’s a film on PBS. What’s that going do for me?”


Jerry said, “I’ll get a copy of it and we’ll watch it.”


We did. It was a film by some guy named Ken Burns who was from New Hampshire. I called Florentine Films in Walpole, NH and I got Ken on the phone and told him that I would like to take his film, put it into essay form and publish it in Time Magazine. He was coming to New York the next week so we agreed to get together and have dinner. Ken, Jerry and I had dinner and talked about it. Ken said go ahead; he agreed to make an essay.


Ken Burns
Ken Burns

With two weeks before my deadline, Jerry, an award-winning journalist for Forbes Magazine, sat down at the computer and made an incredibly beautiful essay out of Ken’s film, for which he wouldn’t take a dime. In those days we paid writers and artists real money in my department so I gave the money to Florentine Films and I took Jerry to dinner at Lutece, where its much celebrated owner, Andre Soltner, came to the table to visit.


It was quite a project. The essay was very beautiful, everything I had hoped it would be for the readers. And we even obtained historic photos from a stock photo company, which I think became the now very well known supplier of photos, Corbis. I always felt bad about parting company with Doctorow but, other than that, it was a wonderful project and a great experience.


Join Artists Without Walls for its next Showcase at The Cell Theatre on Wed.,  March 26, 7pm. A great night is planned including, Comedian Maeve Higgins, singer/songwriter Warren Malone, playwright Brendan Connellan, singer/songwriter Salina Sias, performing together will be poet Connie Roberts, Niamh Hyland and uilleann piper Jerry O’Sullivan, playwright/author Kate McLeod, writer Billy Barrett,  and the duo of fiddler Bernadette Fee and guitarist Patrick Coyne. Charles R. Hale, emcee.  


It’s going to be an incredible evening of entertainment and fun. See for yourself what all the buzz is about. Stay tuned, more info to follow.  The Cell Theatre, Wed., March 26, 7pm. 

Photo montage by Vera Hoar



“Brilliant! Somehow egos are left at the door and you sit there absorbing these wonderful performances. And by the end of the evening you find yourself connected to your soul.” Ray Lindie commenting after a recent Artists Without Walls’ Showcase



And this Thursday night’s Showcase promises to be equally absorbing.


UnknownJose Roldan will be performing from his one man show Father Forgive Me for I Have Sinned, an award winning auto-biographical coming of age story of a young Latino boy who grew up in the South Bronx of New York City in the 80’s/90’s.  José takes the audience into his family’s apartment and onto the mean streets of the Bronx  as he searches for self-acceptance and personal identify in a world of stereotypes.


Koro Koroye
Koro Koroye

Spoken word artist and rising star Koro Koroye will present two poems “I Can Write About That Too” and the “Sickness of Freedom,” which she triumphantly performed at Lehman College in “Rise Up Singing: Women in the Labor Movement.”


Honor Finnegan, whose performances of “Aint I A Woman,” “Bread and Roses” and “West Virginia Mine Disaster” drew raves in “Rise Up Singing” will be performing whimsical holiday tunes, including her song from Christine Lavin’s Holiday compilation, “Just One Angel 2.0.” 


Scott Kettner
Scott Kettner

Drummer Scott Kettner made his biggest mark on the music scene as the leader of Nation Beat.  His drumming seamlessly blends the Louisiana second-line sound with a Brazil-ified backbeat. Scott will be making his first Showcase appearance performing a pandeiro solo. In addition to his enormous music talent, Scott has also written a book called Maracatu for Drumset and Percussion, the first in-depth English-language instructional book on the 400 year-old traditions of Maracatu de Baque Virado.


Sam Adelman will be presenting a film he has co-produced called That Daughter’s Crazy, a documentary portrait of Rain Pryor, daughter of legendary comedian Richard Pryor. A talented performer/singer/actress in her own right- Rain has written and stars in a one-woman semi-autobiographical show, Fried Chicken and Latkes, which has played around the world to terrific reviews and in front of enthusiastic audiences.


Kate McLeod
Kate McLeod

Kate McLeod, producer of NYC’s “Bacon Theater Festival will be presenting two short works from the Festival. Here’s what the New York Daily News said about Kate and the festival. New York Daily News’ article


Rounding out the evening: “Showcase” favorite Honor Molloy will tell a classic Irish version of the Nativity Tale–a la a Moore Street Market Woman, Dublin, 1966, in an excerpt from her book Smarty

Brian Farrell
Brian Farrell

Girl – Dublin Savage; poet/writer and photographer Gary Ryan will read a passage from The Quest of the Holy Grail,  “Percival’s sister,” accompanied by his photographs, and Brian Farrell a pianist/guitarist/singer and songwriter from County Leitrim Ireland, who made his first appearance with a brilliant short performance accompanied by fiddler Deni Bonet at AWoW’s Swift Showcase , will be singing a few tunes.


All that plus the friendliest group of folks and the best “intermission” in NYC.  The fun begins at 7pm, The Cell Theater, 338, West 23rd Street. See you there. 





Kill the Bid! email 88kbBrendan Connellan’s play KILL THE BID! will have its final performance today, Sunday, at 3pm. at Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street. Tickets are $21.25 (including Theatre Restoration fee) but AWoW members and friends can go to  www.broadwayoffers.com and punch in the code TRAWOW and pay  $18.25in the box. Phone 212-239 6200 or 800-432 7250






copy-New-MbiraArtists Without Walls presents its “Showcase at The Cell Theater,” 338 W. 23rd St., NYC. Monday, 7pm, September 30th. Evening includes actors Jack O’Connell, Nancy Oda and Mary Tierney, author Honor Molloy, singer/songwriters Tara O’Grady and Sasha Papernik, the soulful sound of mbiraNYC’s music of Zimbabwe and more.  




Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 6.52.56 AMThe plays of Kate McLeod, who also is the event’s producer, and Tzila Levy will be performed at the Bacon Theater Festival, Thursday Oct 3rd, 6:30-9:00pm at the Ding Dong Lounge, 929 Columbus Avenue, NYC. Tickets are $25, which includes one bacon mac and cheese, 1 dessert and 1 glass of wine.  Click here for tickets







Muhammad AliNiall McKay and “Irish Film New York” is back with its third annual slate of top-notch contemporary Irish cinema.  All films screen at the Cantor Film Center of New York University on East 8th St. The festival kicks off Friday October 4th with “Run and Jump” starring Saturday Night Live’s Will Forte and directed by the Oscar-nominated Steph Green.  AWoW members can buy discounted $10 tickets (normally $12) for any of the films included in the festival by using the promotional code: OFIG. For more information on the critically acclaimed films included in this year’s festival and to watch trailers and buy tickets go to http://www.irishfilmnyc.com/tickets/




1290048_10151704859783795_287581210_n-1New York Irish Center Concert Series hosts Tara O’Grady & her Black Velvet Band, Friday, October 4 at 8:30pm. 10-40 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, NYC  Advanced tickets: Tara O’Grady Regular Tickets $25  Tara O’Grady Seniors/Students/Unemployed $15  If you missed Tara’s CD launch, this is your chance to hear her full band perform favorites off all three albums.  Doors open at 7:30pm.














Artswalk Hudson NY 2011Who is Kate McLeod?


I grew up in a small town in southeastern Massachusetts and lost my father, who I adored, at age nine.  Post loss-of-parent, I spent considerable energy rebelling against my catholic/catholic boarding school life—shortening my uniform skirt to unacceptable lengths, smoking, running away from school, and drinking beer.  My other extra curricular activity involved being on stage whenever there was something dramatic or musical happening. Oh, yes, and I learned stuff.  I’m always trying to learn—that’s what so great about being a journalist.  You’re always finding out new things or looking at something from a new angle.  I saw New York when I was about 10.  It was the proverbial love at first sight.  So I grew up—up to a point.  I took a few wrong turns and finally got to New York and I’m not leaving.  Then, I did what I thought I couldn’t do—I became a writer.


What are you working on at the moment?


A revision of a play I wrote last fall.  The play features two teenage girls who are best friends. Their relationship falls apart over their changing beliefs.

And a revision of a musical I wrote entitled, “I Heart My Car.”  I’m working with a fantastic composer, Rob Hartmann.


Do you have upcoming events you’d like people to attend?


I just had a reading of my play Ice Floes or don’t stay, please go, no wait . . . on May 11th at the Hudson Opera House in Hudson, NY.  I will be having a reading of Darwin Day—the new play––but probably not until the fall.

And I’ll be letting members know about The First––and possibly only––Bacon Theatre Festival.  More later.


OPC Dinner 2013Who are the playwrights, past and present, you admire?


There are many.  Certainly Samuel Beckett has been a big influence. Tom Stoppard’s plays have always made me think. I love his ideas and constructions. When I went to see the revival of Awake and Sing on Broadway a few years ago Clifford Odets’ work really astonished me.  I went because “his plays were historically important.” But what I experienced was the work of a master of our craft who led me to feel deeply for his characters. Recently I loved the production of Golden Boy.  Others: Edward Albee, John Guare, Tony Kushner.  The Bard.  David Ives.  David Lindsay-Abaire. Playwright, Arthur Giron, who has mentored me from the start.  I love Annie Baker’s dialogue and the way she fills silence and understands how people talk about their personal disappointments.  She draws us in so that her characters problems directly connect to our own.  I recently read a great book by Frank Gilroy, “How to Write for Love and/or Money.”  Gilroy is a terrific playwright (The Subject Was Roses) but this book is something I’ll read again and again.  Just the way he lays it down on the page.


What are your three (more if you like) all-time favorite plays?


For different reasons and in no particular order:

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

Top Dog Underdog

Private Lives

Auntie Mame


Waiting for Godot

Glengarry Glen Ross

August Osage County

Noises Off

One Man, Two Guvnors

El Grande de Coca-Cola

Richard III

That’s 11.  I’ll stop.


Who/what is your greatest inspiration and why?


John Kennedy when I was a kid because of the how he brought people together in pursuit idealism—ask not, etc.  He asked us to work for a better world. I was committed.


For the past 27 years, my husband, Jerry Flint, who died in 2010.  He was a great journalist, iconoclast, wonderful writer, and a fearless, relentless reporter and later, columnist.  And he believed in me.  That gave me the courage to keep working towards becoming a better writer. He was a wonderful editor—read all my stories when I’d finished them and gave me feedback.  He taught me so much about writing.  I miss him.  When Jerry died I founded a scholarship/internship in his name.  It was fully endowed within eight months and I have now three scholars who have been awarded the scholarship from the Overseas Press Club Foundation.


DSC_0024Name five things you’d like to do or accomplish in the next five years.


1. Get the musical produced.

2. Write one full-length play a year.  So let’s see, that five new full lengths by 2018?  Hold me to it.

3. Launch  a program I created called “What’s Your Story,” a week-long theatre workshop for disadvantaged kids.  It aims to tap their creativity to, not only tell their stories, but to help them understand that the stories are an important part of the fabric of our society.  We’ll do exercises and write in dramatic form. It culminates in a performance brunch open to friends and families. I hope to pay them each $50.  I’m doing the first one in July at the Hudson Opera House and then I want to create a guide and give it away to interested communities around the country.

4. Learn how to sing.  I’ve always sung, but I’m learning how to use the instrument now.

5. Get the 1961 VW Bug I bought, running.  I’m going to take it apart and put it back together.  And I’m thinking of turning the project into a reality show.  Seriously.


If you could dream of trying something in the arts you haven’t tried, but would like to, what would that be?


1. Okay, fantasy land? I’d like to work with Peter Brook and his group and improvise an entire play. (He’s 88 and lives in France so this is a dream.) I’d love to do the same with Mac Wellman.  And he lives in Brooklyn!  I get to have puppets, a live orchestra, and as many actors as I want.


2. I’m always imagining these big conceptual art projects in my head.  One day, maybe I’ll build one.


What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?


I don’t think of time as spare (as in extra). Occasionally, I try to sit down and just sit down.  It never works out because I invariably come up with an idea.  Or I’m reading or writing. I love to cook and put great, interesting, different people together over a good meal.  It’s an act of love and it is very satisfying to create conversation and good energy.  Aside: My rhubarb pie just won second place in a Rhubarb Fest!


Some of my colleagues at Artists Without Walls know that my day job is being an auto writer.  You can—and should—join my blog Girl Driver USA. People who don’t care anything about cars say that they enjoy reading it.  You don’t have to read it.  Just join—become a follower.  I need the followers.  Also, the Overseas Press Club Foundation 


Kate McLeod at Facebook

Kate McLeod at Twitter




Koro Koroye
Koro Koroye

Join us tonight at The Cell Theatre, 338 W. 23rd St. in NYC for an Artists Without Walls’ Showcase, a great evening of music, theater and readings. A number of the presenters who appeared at AWoW’s Showcase at Lehman College last week, including, singer/songwriter Honor Finnegan, violinist/fiddler Annette Homann, and the trio of Koro, Owen and Moley will be on hand and presenting their work.


Kate McLeod
Kate McLeod

Best selling author Colin Broderick, whose highly anticipated book That’s That, a Random House publication that will be released in May, will also be on hand and reading a short excerpt from his book, a memoir, which details his growing up in Northern Ireland. His first book, Orangutan details his first twenty years living in Manhattan, drinking, working in construction and attempting to formulate his life as a writer. 


Jim Rodgers
Jim Rodgers

And there will be more. Playwright Kate McLeod’s monologue, “The End of Time” will be performed by Hannah Dahm a vocal major at LaGuardia High School for the Arts here in NYC.  Hannah’s worked several times in session at The Actors Studio and read the lead in a new play that she helped to develop (also at The Actors Studio), Trinity.  Hannah’s also a writer, having won a New York city-wide playwriting contest through Stephen Sondheim’s Young Playwrights Institute.


Cherie Ann Turpin
Cherie Ann Turpin



Jim Rodgers, who has participated a number of Showcases, both as an actor and a reader, will be reading from his novel in progress, Long Night’s End; Professor Cherie Ann Turpin, who has extensively written and researched the African Diaspora, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Multicultural American Literature, will be reading and discussing body image and how women see their own bodies, and poet Vince Nauheimer will be reading from his work while making his first appearance with AWoW.


And finally, we’ve learned that AWoW co-founder Niamh Hyland may have a surprise or two up her sleeve. 


Join us for a great evening of entertainment, a glass of wine, and some of the nicest folks you’ll ever meet.