Alan Alda: On M*A*S*H, Working with Woody Allen, and His Love of Science

For Immediate Release
Contact: Emily Schneider
[email protected]

Indianapolis (April 29, 2013) — Thanks to M*A*S*H, The West Wing and a slew of successful movies, Alan Alda now has his pick of writing and directing projects. But what he really wants to talk about is science. In the May/June issue of The Saturday Evening Post, on newsstands now, Alda shares tales of both acting and his new scientific endeavors to Post contributor Claudia Gryvatz Copquin.

Alda is perpetually in high demand for films and TV, but he is currently spending time as a visiting professor at Stony Brook University’s Center for Communicating Science. He helped form the department in 2009 to help scientists learn how to more effectively communicate their ideas.

On whether Alda has a dream team of actors or directors he would love to work with: “Woody Allen is brilliant. I loved being in the pictures of his that I was in, and I think Crimes and Misdemeanors is one of the best American pictures ever made. But, no, I never had a plan. You have to take what gets pitched at you and make the most of it.”

On his daughters and grandchildren following in his footsteps: “I did much the same thing my father did with me: I tried to discourage them and help them at the same time. It’s a very hard business, especially for women. I was looking at a movie last night with an extraordinary actress in it. The picture was made in the 1970s or ‘80s, and she was wonderful. What happened to her? I’m sure what happened is she got to be 40 and wasn’t interesting to them anymore. That doesn’t happen to men. To see your daughters get into that, it’s not a happy thing. But people need to do what they’re driven to do.”

On his passion for science: “My relationship with science is as someone who’s curious and hungry to know, hungry to understand. So all I have to offer is my ignorance and curiosity, which is a good combination, as long as they come together.”

On online rumors about him signing on for M*A*S*H six hours before they started filming: “I was in the Utah State Prison making a movie: we were there for three weeks. It was called Glass House. And I wanted to talk to them before I said yes to M*A*S*H, but I couldn’t because I was in prison. So I didn’t get there until the evening before we were starting rehearsal. I met with [series co-producers/creators] Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds in a coffee shop, and we talked until one in the morning. We just reassured each other about what we wanted the series to be.”

On whether Alda would star in a television series again: “If they asked me to do a show that I’m interested in or that I’d get to work with someone that I’d like to work with. I like to work with Laura Linney, so I did her show [The Big C] a few times. I did ER and The West Wing. They were really interesting places to act. And 30 Rock. That was fun. Tina Fey is so brilliant. I’m in this wonderful position where I can do what interests me. And whatever comes along that interests me, I do. The rest of the time I bother scientists about communicating.”

The full interview is available online at Plus, from the Post archives, read Alda’s first-person take on the filming of his 1968 picture Paper Lion as it appeared in The Saturday Evening Post:

For more information, please contact Emily Schneider at The Rosen Group at 646 695 7050 or [email protected].

About The Saturday Evening Post: For nearly 300 years, The Saturday Evening Post has chronicled American history in the making—reflecting the distinctive characteristics and values that define the American way. Today’s Post continues the grand tradition of providing art, entertainment and information in a stimulating mix of idea-driven features, cutting-edge health and medical trends—plus fiction, humor, and laugh-out-loud cartoons. A key feature is the Post Perspective, which brings historical context to current issues and hot topics such as health care, religious freedom, education, and more.

Tracing its roots to Benjamin Franklin, The Saturday Evening Post mirrors cherished American ideals and values, most memorably illustrated by its iconic cover artist Norman Rockwell. The Post is also known for publishing such literary greats as Ray Bradbury, Agatha Christie, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edgar Allan Poe, J.D. Salinger, and Kurt Vonnegut, and continues to seek out and discover emerging writers of the 21st century.

Headquartered in Indianapolis, the Post is a publication of the nonprofit Saturday Evening Post Society, which also publishes the award-winning youth magazines Turtle, Humpty Dumpty, and Jack and Jill.

“As the nation changed, the Post changed, but it looks to its past as a fertile ground for its future”
—Starkey Flythe, Jr, Former Post Executive Editor