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Dan Studney served as Screenwriter, Executive Producer and Composer for "Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical," starring Alan Cumming, Steven Weber, Kristen Bell, Ana Gasteyer, Amy Spanger, John Kassir, Robert Torti and Christian & Neve Campbell. "Reefer" premiered in February at the Sundance Film Festival, then went on to the Sarasota and Berlin Film Festivals, and will debut on Showtime in April. The movie is based on the stage musical, which Dan also co-wrote and -produced, and which has enjoyed runs in L.A., Cleveland, St. Louis and New York City. For his work on the original production, Dan won various Ovation, Garland and Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards for writing, composing and producing. Not to mention a High Times Magazine "Stony" Award!

Dan grew up just a short train ride from New York City, in the suburbs of northeastern New Jersey (the "Off-Broadway State," he prefers to call it). A self-taught pianist, he had written his first score by age 14 - fairy songs, wedding marches and incidental music for "A Midsummer Nights Dream" - for Princeton's prestigious McCarter Theatre, as part of a Shakespeare summer youth program. Studney and lyricist Kevin Murphy began collaborating as a songwriting team shortly after they met at Drew University. Both musicals the pair wrote while there were given full productions on Drew's main stage: a rock opera version of "Antigone" (which Dan also directed), and an Indiana Jones-style "action-adventure musical" called "Valley of Kings."

Studney's professional credits as writer and/or producer include television shows like "Weird Science," "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," "Sabrina: The Animated Series," "Phantom Investigators" and "Big Brother Jake." He co-wrote the Disney movies-of-the-week "Genius" and "'Twas the Night," the latter winding up in the TV Academy Hall of Fame as representative of Disney's MOW work. Dan has worked for Matt Groening, penning issues of "The Simpsons" comics and Simpsons-themed commercial ads for Australian TV. He has also developed pilots for ABC, FOX, Disney Channel, Sony and NBC, and early in his career, Dan wrote episodes of a somewhat naughty late night pay-cable show under a humorous female pseudonym.

Along the way, Studney has pursued interests outside of writing, composing and producing. He has worked in production on such films as "Forrest Gump," "Strange Days," "Species," "Nixon," "Mixed Nuts" and TV shows like "Party of Five." He has served as First Assistant Director on several films, most recently Michael Goorjian's upcoming feature "The Illusion," starring Kirk Douglas. Studney sometimes winds up on the other side of the camera, and can be spotted in such unusual places as the subway in "Seinfeld" (fighting with Kramer over a newspaper), "The Mask" (as a Viking on the DVD's "deleted scenes"), doubling for John Goodman's feet in "The Flintstones," and singing "Obsession" in "Reefer" director Andy Fickman's upcoming teen sex comedy "Who's Your Daddy?"

Dan is currently Executive Producing and Composing the music for the short film "Simple Joys," starring Barry Dennen and Thomas Dekker

Kevin is a graduate of Drew University in Madison, NJ. REEFER MADNESS, which Kevin co-produced in Los Angeles, is Kevin's third stage collaboration with Dan Studney, and the first to be professionally produced. Kevin won Ovation, Garland and Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle awards for writing and producing the original production. Kevin's work on the Off-Broadway production earned him a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Lyrics.

Along with Dan, Kevin wrote and executive produced the Showtime movie adaptation of REEFER starring Alan Cumming, Neve Campbell, Ana Gasteyer, Kristen Bell, Christian Campbell and Steven Weber. The film premiered at the Sundance Festival and screened subsequently at the following festivals: Deauville (Premiere Jury Award), Berlin, Sarasota (Best of the Fest Award) and True West. Kevin and Dan won the 2005 Emmy Award for Outstanding Music & Lyrics, for the song "Mary Jane/Mary Lane," written especially for the movie.

Kevin also has a long list of writer/producer credits for television, including ED, GET REAL, JACK & JILL and MARTIAL LAW. He also co-created and served as showrunner for the syndicated television series HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS. He currently works as head writer on the ABC series DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, for which he received an Emmy nomination. Kevin is also the shared recipient of number of other awards for his work on HOUSEWIVES, including the Golden Globe, People's Choice, Satellite, Prism and TV Land Awards.

Kevin provided lyrics and special material for the 2004 LES GIRLS charity cabaret revue where his work was performed by Allison Janney, Christine Lahti, Eric McCormack, Faith Prince and David Hyde Pierce. He is also providing book and lyrics for a stage musical adaptation of the beloved comic strip DENNIS THE MENACE.


A Brief History of 'Reefer Madness'

by Kevin Murphy and Dan Studney

 

 

As anyone who has ever been to college can attest, Reefer Madness is the Rosetta Stone of midnight movies, the standard by which all others are judged (with the notable exception of Rocky Horror). Reefer Madness is a morality tale of how Reefer Addiction ruins the life of its young protagonist and gets a lot of other people killed, sexually compromised and committed to lunatic asylums. In the black-and-white world of Reefer Madness, one puff of the Demon Weed instantly transforms the smoker into a horny, violent, cackling weed freak, twitching insanely with the spastic abandon of Crispin Glover on a pancake griddle. It's a bad movie, but a gloriously bad movie -- thus the long-term appeal.

Reefer Madness began its cinematic life as a 1936 cautionary film entitled Tell Your Children. It was financed by a small, earnest church group, and was intended to scare the living bejeezus out of any parent who viewed it. Soon after the film was shot, however, it was purchased by the notorious exploitation film maestro Dwain Esper (Narcotic, Marihuana, Maniac), who took the liberty of cutting in salacious insert shots and slapping on the sexier title of Reefer Madness, before distributing it on the exploitation circuit. Esper was notorious for his chicanery. He would often steal unattended prints of studio films out of projection booths and film exchanges, and then physically drive them from small town exhibitor to small town exhibitor until the authorities finally caught up with him. A delightful, poignant portrayal of Esper is featured in Dave Friedman's autobiography, A Youth in Babylon, which is a must-read for any cult movie or pop culture enthusiast.

After a brief run, the film lay forgotten for several decades. There was no concept of "after market" in those days, especially for films that existed outside the confines of the studio system, and were therefore considered "forbidden fruit." For this reason, neither Esper nor the original filmmakers bothered to copyright the movie, and it eventually fell into the public domain.

Enter Keith Stroup, founder of NORML (Nation Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws). In 1971, this enterprising gentleman up bought a print of Reefer Madness for $297, cleaned it up and started showing it at pro-pot festivals. It was gigantic hit. Distributing Reefer Madness to college campuses of the 1970's helped bankroll the burgeoning film company New Line Cinema, which is now a major player in the Hollywood film industry. Today, the film is a cult phenomenon dwarfed only by The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and "Reefer Madness" is a bona fide catch phrase.

And now it's a musical.

NOTE: Much of the historical information above was culled from conversations with actress Thelma White (the original Mae) and documentary filmmaker Ray Greene, whose excellent film Schlock! deals with the subject of exploitation cinema. Boundless thanks to them both.

 

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