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Monday January 22, 2001

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Former film producer now teaches at UA

Headline Photo

By Shana Heiser

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Herbert Beigel makes his debut in media arts while earning his creative writing degree

After writing and producing his own film, 1996's "Heavy," media arts adjunct professor Herb Beigel abandoned his 30-year law practice to write novels and earn his master of fine arts in creative writing.

Beigel said he plans to pursue his life's passion wholeheartedly while teaching and learning at the University of Arizona.

"I never lose the motivation to write," Beigel said. "I just love to write. And it has always been a dream of mine to be able to write every day."

Since 1995 when he entered the film industry, Beigel's life has been full of new endeavors and changes.

"I always loved movies and had a dream of getting into that work," Beigel said. "My first foray into the entertainment business was acting."

After attending acting school in New York City, Beigel had a "big part" in the off-Broadway play, "Revival of the Front Page." He also had five lines as a shoe salesman on the television show, "Law and Order."

Beigel next ventured into feature films when he became executive producer and screenwriter of the film "Heavy" starring Liv Tyler and Evan Dando.

"I wrote a script based upon a novel I had written 25 years ago that was never published," Beigel said. "I showed the script to (producers Robin) O'Hara and (Scott) Macaulay. They offered me the option to direct the movie. It played all over the country."

Beigel soon became the president of Forensic Films with his partners Macaulay and O'Hara.

"We got along well. We were having a drink one night and they said 'let's be partners,'" Beigel said.

During the next two years, Beigel produced "First Love, Last Rites" and wrote and directed "Camp Stories."

In 1998, Beigel said he decided to write fiction full time, so he gave up his senior partner position at a New York City law firm.

Acting did not satisfy Beigel either so he abandoned the movie business, as well.

"For the next two years, I worked on a novel, 'The Justice Tapes,' which is currently in the hands of an agent," Beigel said.

Beigel also wrote "Beneath the Badge" in 1976, a novel dealing with loss and redemption, an element common in his writing, he said.

This semester, Beigel is teaching two classes - Media Arts 308: Survey of Law and Regulation and Media Arts 419a: Media Arts and Business - he said he feels his experience will be helpful to students.

"How many people do you know who have written and directed a feature film?" Beigel said. "It's an amazing experience. I'm so proud of it I'm going to inflict my students with the movie."