Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Justin Halpern: Sh*t My Dad Says

From Time Magazine: For Justin Halpern, going home was his lucky break. A year ago, Halpern was a 28-year-old writer who after splitting up with his girlfriend swallowed his pride and moved back in with Mom and Dad. Now he has more than 1.3 million followers on Twitter, a best-selling book and a TV series in the works with CBS, all thanks to his now 74-year-old hilariously blunt dad. It all started with this tweet on Aug. 3, 2009: "I didn't live to be 73-years-old so I could eat kale. Don't fix me your breakfast and pretend you're fixing mine." Halpern took his ridiculously popular Twitter feed and turned it into a book by the same name, which debuted at No. 8 on the New York Times best-seller list. Halpern, author of the crudely titled Sh*t My Dad Says, spoke to TIME about William Shatner playing his father on TV, his whirlwind year and, of course, dear old Dad.

Justin Samuel Halpern (born September 3, 1980) is the American author of the Twitter feed and best-selling book Shit My Dad Says. He is also the co-writer and co-executive producer of a CBS television situation comedy series based on the book. Justin Halpern grew up in the Point Loma neighborhood of San Diego, California. His father is Jewish and his Italian American mother is Catholic. His father, Samuel Halpern, M.D., is a radiologist, now retired, who practiced at the University of California San Diego. A blunt-spoken man, he gave memorable, expletive-laden advice and comments to young Justin from childhood on. Samuel Halpern has been described as "a profane comic genius," "Lenny Bruce with a stethoscope," "a scatological Socrates showering rough wisdom on his son."

Justin Halpern graduated from San Diego State University in 2003. He then headed for Hollywood looking for work as a writer. He wrote screenplays and waited tables, but success as a screenwriter eluded him. By 2009 he was a full-time writer for Maxim Magazine's online site and no longer needed to live in Los Angeles. He moved back to San Diego and wound up living with his parents. Justin Halpern had always kept a record of his father’s salty comments. Some, repeated to him by brothers, cousins and other relatives, go back to when he was 4 or 5 years old. When he started living with his parents, his record of his father’s remarks became a daily journal. On August 3, 2009, he started a Twitter feed, @shitmydadsays, just to have a place to store his father’s rhetorical gems. He thought he might use some of them someday in a script. On the Twitter site he explains, "I'm 29. I live with my 74-year-old dad. He is awesome. I just write down shit that he says." To his surprise he quickly gathered a large following on Twitter. A friend posted a link to his feed, then Rob Corddry tweeted it, and "that really jump-started it" according to Halpern. By mid-August he had more than 100,000 followers. By October he had a book deal with Harper Collins, and by November he had a television deal with Warner Bros. As of November 2010 his Twitter feed had more than 1.8 million followers.

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