Paul Rudnick Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Before Paul Rudnick turned his energies to drama, television, and film, he wrote two novels, Social Disease (1986) and I’ll Take It (1989), both of which received good reviews. He has written for various journals, including Spy and Vogue. Using the pseudonym Libby Gelman-Waxner, he has written movie reviews, including the granting of satiric film awards, for Premiere. These columns were published as If You Ask Me (1994). In 1989 he wrote a screenplay of Sister Act, but when Bette Midler turned down the starring role, Disney Studios got new writers and a new star, Whoopi Goldberg. As “Joseph Howard,” Rudnick did receive some screenwriting credit on the film. Although his writing was uncredited, he did substantial rewrites on The Addams Family (1991) and was the screenwriter for the sequel, Addams Family Values (1993). His other screenplays include the film adaptation of Jeffrey (1995), In and Out (1997), and Isn’t She Great (2000) with Bette Midler as author Jacqueline Susann.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Paul Rudnick is one of the dramatists who helped propel gay issues into the mainstream of American culture. Unlike earlier gay dramatists like Tennessee Williams, who worked undercover but had gay subtexts in their plays, Rudnick and Tony Kushner, whose Angels in America, a play about the AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) epidemic, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993, openly write about gay concerns, which are now regarded as being universal ones. Gay drama, fiction, and prose are now being published by major presses and being read by straight as well as gay readers. Jeffrey, a play about a gay man who gives up sex, was originally thought to be too controversial and sophisticated to appeal to audiences outside large cities, but it, like the film In and Out, has found nationwide audiences.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Hornby, Richard. “Broadway Economics.” The Hudson Review 44 (1991): 455-460. In the course of a review of current Broadway productions, Hornby describes I Hate Hamlet as the “funniest play on Broadway.” Hornby provides a good discussion of the way Rudnick uses the show, which he calls a “ghost story,” to contrast two kinds of acting: the bombastic, grand style of Barrymore, and the introspective style of most current actors. (Rudnick satirizes acting styles in the play.)

Pacheco, Paul. “The Success of a Subversive Wit.” Los Angeles Times, September 19, 1993, Calendar, p. 3. Pacheco discusses Jeffrey and The Addams Family, but he also provides a great deal of biographical information unavailable elsewhere. Both Rudnick’s stage and film works are covered.

Scott, Janny. “Changing the Way America Thinks About Gays.” Los Angeles Times, April 25, 1993, p. 3. In this lengthy interview, Rudnick discusses the way that gays are portrayed in the theater and in films. According to Rudnick, audiences are more responsive to gay issues than they were, and gays are being presented as a diverse group rather than in terms of a few stereotypes.