Alumnus' work plays out on stage, television, big screen
Jack LoGiudice ’74 has written and produced numerous acclaimed shows
By Matt Markey ’76
The triangulation of seemingly random events - a childhood bout with rheumatic fever, an unexpected kiss and watching the magic of live theater unfold all around him - put Jack LoGiudice on the path to a long and very successful career in the entertainment business. He just was not aware of it at the time.
The 1974 graduate of Bowling Green State University is a producer, writer and playwright whose resume includes work on such recent hits as “The Walking Dead,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “NARCOS” and “House of Cards,” as well as a number of stage plays. Success didn’t come quickly, nor did LoGiudice follow a fairytale script, but he’s OK with that.
“I’ve had a great 25 years,” he said. “I thought it would be easier at the start, but I think with anything you do, you have to make some mistakes first, and I made more than my share. But I’ve always felt lucky with the way things have worked out. I’ve been able to find projects I really care about, and that’s made a big difference.”
The Youngstown, Ohio, native couldn’t play sports for a couple of years due to the childhood illness, so his parents connected him with the Youngstown Playhouse.
“I hated the idea,” he said. “But one of the first things they had me do was work behind stage moving furniture on and off. I’m sitting there in the dark watching the play come to life in front of me when this girl sits down and kisses me. I was stunned - I was 13 years old. I went right home and told my father I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I guess life really is about getting the girl.
“And the whole idea of taking this fantasy world on the stage and making it a reality - it stuck with me.”
The connection with the theater and entertainment, however, simmered for a number of years.
“It was always in the back of my mind,” LoGiudice said. “I took a creative writing course at BGSU and I went to every play that was produced while I was in school there, but I just didn’t think I had it in me to go that route. Really, I didn’t think I could cut it.”
LoGiudice said one specific assignment in that writing class had a very positive influence on his eventual choice of a profession. The students were asked to write an additional chapter of an existing children’s book. LoGiudice was given “The Wind and The Willows.”
“When I got my paper back, the instructor said, ‘You can’t spell at all, but this is what you are going to do the rest of your life.’ That had a definite effect on me.”
LoGiudice, who was a resident adviser at the former Rodgers Quadrangle while an undergrad, was hired as a hall director at Drexel University in Philadelphia following graduation. When the summer break came, he took a train back and forth to New York five days a week to study theater at the Lee Strasberg Institute in New York.
“I thought I’d do that for a few months, maybe just to get it out of my system,” he said. “But I ended up moving to New York and becoming a waiter. My family was devastated.”
For the next five years or so he stayed connected with the theater while working as a waiter. But then two of his plays were produced Off-Off-Broadway, at the Lion Theatre on Theatre Row. From that, he got hired to write a story for a film. LoGiudice eventually had a pilot optioned by a Los Angeles producer. While he was in California, he signed with an agent who got him a job writing sketches for “The Dom DeLuise Show.”
LoGiudice refers to that task as “boot camp.” Writers were required to write three sketches a day or they were fired. He got hired, fired and then re-hired all on that same show.
After another play of his made it to the stage, jobs in dramatic writing opened up. LoGiudice said being hired on “7th Heaven” brought him into episodic drama and he then was able to sell a pilot to CBS. Soon, he became a producer/writer for three years on “Resurrection Blvd.” for Showtime. He followed that with a stint on Showtime’s “Street Time.”
But it was working as a co-executive producer on “Sons of Anarchy” and “The Walking Dead” that changed his career. Suddenly, he was on two major hits in a row.
“It’s a funny business,” he said. “Once you’re associated with a hit, people start thinking you know more than you do.”
LoGiudice, who just finished working on “House of Cards,” is currently developing a series for YouTube Red. He said the profession has changed dramatically since his first foray back in New York.
“When I started, there were only four networks,” he said. “And now there are 45 different networks and many other avenues of work. It’s kind of like a gold rush for writers.”
And because his YouTube project takes place on a college campus, he said he will certainly use some of his experiences at BGSU in the show.
“College influences you no matter what, and I think I benefited from having some challenging instructors at Bowling Green,” the liberal arts graduate said. “It’s a great environment, a terrific university.”
His new play, “The Prince,” just had a staged reading last month at the historic Cherry Lane Theatre in New York City. The play is set in Youngstown, and is about a man who comes home from prison, only to be confronted by his past and find his family pulled apart, just like his town.
“For me, there is nothing like live theater, and I’m drawn to strong family stories.” he said.
This past spring, LoGiudice taught a television writers workshop for Columbia University’s MFA program. He hopes to have the opportunity to speak to young writers on the BGSU campus sometime soon.
“My advice is always to follow your bliss,” he said. “Find the projects you really care about. It took me a long time to realize that.”
LoGiudice is married to actress Jacqueline Hahn. They live in Los Angeles.