Alan Erwin Ball (born May 13, 1957) is an American writer, director, and producer for television, film, and theatre.
He is particularly notable for writing American Beauty and for creating Six Feet Under and True Blood, work which earned him an Academy Award, an Emmy, and awards from the Writers, Directors, and Producers Guilds.
Ball was born in Marietta, Georgia, to Frank and Mary Ball, 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. He attended high school in Marietta, and went on to attend the University of Georgia and Florida State University, from which he graduated in 1980 with a degree in theater arts. After college, he began work as a playwright at the General Nonsense Theater Company in Sarasota, Florida.
Film and television careerEdit
Ball broke into television as a writer and story editor on the situation comedies Grace Under Fire and Cybill.
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. He was showrunner for True Blood for its first five seasons.
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. In December 2010, after several months of pre-production, HBO cancelled production on All Signs of Death.
He is also one of the executive producers of the Cinemax series Banshee.
In January 2015, it was announced that Ball's period musical drama Virtuoso had had a pilot ordered by HBO. The pilot will be executively produced by Elton John. Confirmed actors to be starring in the show include Peter Macdissi, Iva Babic, Francois Civil, Lindsay Farris, Nico Mirallegro and Alex Lawther.
Ball has discussed his Buddhist faith in numerous interviews, noting how it has influenced his film making. In an interview with Amazon.com, 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." Ball has also discussed how his Buddhism has shaped themes in Six Feet Under and True Blood which he has substantially contributed to.
Ball is gay and has been called "a strong voice for [the] LGBT community". In 2008 he made Out magazine's annual list of the 100 most impressive gay men and women. He lives in Los Angeles with his partner, Peter Macdissi, who has starred in several of Ball's works.