Jerry Stahl (born September 28, 1953) is an American novelist and screenwriter, He is best known for his memoir of addiction Permanent Midnight. A film adaptation followed with Ben Stiller in the lead role.
Stahl has worked extensively in film and television. He has one daughter named Stella, who is a senior at Northwestern University and is studying theater and political science.
Stahl grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His father, a Jewish immigrant from Russia, became a federal judge, though his working-class roots include a stint as a coal miner.
After the untimely loss of his father, Stahl’s education proved to be a commanding culture shock. He moved from being a kid educated in a lower class of Pittsburgh neighborhood, to a fish out of water, suddenly shipped away to a private boarding school and a world far removed from anything he had ever known. He is a graduate of Columbia University. Post-college found Stahl living abroad in Greece – in caves outside of Matala, on Crete. He also traveled the streets of Paris, then London, where he landed a job as a bartender at a working-class Irish pub. Once stateside, Jerry found himself in New York with a burgeoning career as a writer.
Stahl began publishing short fiction, won a Pushcart Prize, and made a living writing for magazines and doing porn stories for cash. One writing job as humor editor for Hustler meant moving to Columbus, Ohio and living at the YMCA until the magazine moved its headquarters to California. Stahl lost his job six months to the day after taking it and ended up on unemployment in California, alongside an escalating heroin dependency, which eventually led to his contracting hepatitis C.
He would go on to become a writer for the 1980s TV series ALF, Thirtysomething, and Moonlighting. In 1990 he would also write an episode for Twin Peaks and Northern Exposure.
Permanent Midnight, his 1995 memoir, was adapted by Stahl into a 1998 film of the same name starring Ben Stiller that raised Stahl's profile and set the stage for his ongoing work in film. He wrote the screenplay for Bad Boys II, which starred Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. His most recent film collaboration is with actor Johnny Depp who is producing his celebrated novel I, Fatty, the fictional autobiography of legendary movie comedian Roscoe Arbuckle.
Stahl has also written a number of CSI episodes which deal with transgressive topics and have been some of the most controversial but also gained some of the highest ratings. He introduced the dominatrix character Lady Heather who has appeared in a number of episodes, the first of which, "Slaves of Las Vegas", featured viewer discretion advisory warning, due to nudity and sexual content. Stahl has been criticised for his inaccurate portrayal of furries in "Fur and Loathing". However, while earlier episodes of CSI had been criticised for the treatment of transgender people. His episode "Ch-Ch-Changes" was highlighted as offering a sensitive portrayal of the topic. It also got the largest audience to date, 31.5 million, with his "King Baby" being the second most watched that season.That episode dealt with infantilism and the Parents Television Council declared it was the worst television show of the week.<ref In June 2010 it was announced that Stahl and Barbara Turner had written a screenplay for an HBO film about Ernest Hemingway and his relationship with Martha Gellhorn entitled Hemingway & Gellhorn that Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman will star in. James Gandolfini will serve as executive producer to the film, which will be directed by Philip Kaufman and will reportedly begin shooting next year.
Stahl’s books tend to address dysfunction and self-destruction. His characters are people who, for the most part, are victims of hedonism and/or emotional instability.
- Permanent Midnight (1995)
- Perv: A Love Story (1999)
- Plainclothes Naked (2002)
- I, Fatty (2005)
- Pain Killers (2009)
- Love Without:Stories (2007)
Film work includes:
- Dr. Caligari (1989)
- Permanent Midnight (1995)
- Bad Boys II (2003)
As Herbert W. Day:
- Nightdreams (1981)
- Café Flesh (1982)
- "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue?" (1986)
- "La Cuckaracha" (1987)
- "Mind Games" (1989)
- "Born to Be Mild" (1988)
- "Politics" (1989)
- "Plastic Fantastic Lovers" (1989)
- "Perfetc" (1989)
- Twin Peaks: "Laura's Secret Diary" (1990)
- Northern Exposure: "Soapy Sanderson" (1990)
- "Hemingway & Gellhorn" (2011 HBO movie)
- LA Weekly article
- New Angeles Monthly interview published June 29, 2007
- Print interview, July 12, 2007
- Asylum.com, Jerry Stahl's Guide to Being Psychotic and Productive, April 2009