“Son, no one gives a s*** about all the things your cell phone does. You didn’t invent it, you just bought it. Anybody can do that.”
Slacker turns cranky dad into TV sitcom
New York Post, By MAXINE SHEN, November 11, 2009
Justin Halpern, 29, still lives at home — and he’s just turned his four-month-old Twitter site into a TV series for CBS.
Who says the Internet is a dark, lonley place?
Halpern’s story may soon be the stuff of slacker legend and give Hollywood a whole new path to show-biz success.
Last August, the screenwriter-wannabe was forced to move back with his parents in San Diego after breaking up with his girlfriend.
While living there — saving money while working remotely as a maxim.com editor — he started a Twitter page to chronicle the outrageously funny things that his 73-year-old, retired father said.
He called the site something unprintable here — “S- – – My Dad Says.”
And it was an overnight, Internet smash, attracting more than 700,000 followers in a month’s time.
Yesterday, CBS announced that they’d signed him to write a family sitcom based on the Tweets. The series will be overseen by “Will & Grace” creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick.
Of course, the key to the whole story is Halpern’s father, Samuel, who is wise, funny and more than a little profane — a digital world Scrooge who says things like: “Son, no one gives a sh*** about all the things your cell phone does. You didn’t invent it, you just bought it. Anybody can do that.”
Halpern, who majored in TV and film production at San Diego State University, says that his screenwriting background “was actually why I had put those Tweets up. I was thinking that maybe someday, I would use the things my dad said in a script, so I was just trying to keep a record of them” that couldn’t be deleted.
Skeptics might think that the Tweets are a little too polished to be real, but Halpern insists that they are essentially verbatim.
“The most that I’ll do is change a word here or there to make it fit in the 140 [characters allotted by Twitter],” Halpern says. As proof, he says he has “a couple of recordings of my dad leaving messages on my voicemails,” which he’ll put up on a Web site — one of these days.
Meanwhile the elder Halpern — who “worked in nuclear medicine,” says Justin — couldn’t be less interested in his new fame.
“He doesn’t think any of this stuff is interesting,” Justin says. “He’s not a fan; this is not something he thinks [is funny]. He doesn’t care.”
Upon finding out about all the media interest, Sam Halpern laid down two rules. The first was that he didn’t “want to f- – – – – – talk to anybody.” That effectively killed the guest spot on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” they’d been invited to last month.
Rule 2: No online statements that refer to personal things about the family.
“Once, I made the mistake of using my mom’s name in one of [the Tweets] and he was pissed about that. It’s still up there though,” Halpern says.
If his dad ever does object, he say, he’d stop Tweeting right away.
“I had a career before this,” says Justin. “It wasn’t as lucrative, but it’s not worth screwing up [our relationship].
“The man lets me live in his house for free,” he says. “I love my dad, I don’t want to piss him off intentionally.”New York Post, By MAXINE SHEN, November 11, 2009