Esopus Invitational: What Would You Like to See on Television?


Esopus asked the question of a number of writers, artists, filmmakers, musicians, and other creative thinkers; their answers run the gamut from “meticulously researched current-affairs programming” (Laura Mulvey) to “a one-year ban on melisma in pop-singing” (John Kelly).


Singer-songwriter Devendra Banhart’s albums include Oh Me Oh My..., Cripple Crow, and What Will We Be. He co-founded the record label Gnomonsong with Andy Cabic in 2005.

Artist Judith Barry’s work incorporates performance, installation, film and video, sculpture, and new media, and has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale and the Carnegie International, among many other venues.

David Carr is a media and culture columnist for The New York Times. His memoir, The Night of the Gun, was published in 2008.

Artist Liam Gillick was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2002 and was selected to represent Germany in the 2009 Venice Biennale.

Director Ulu Grosbard’s films included Straight Time, True Confessions, and Georgia; his extensive work in theater included American Buffalo, which earned him a Tony nomination for best director.

Houston-based artist Trenton Doyle Hancock participated in the 2000 and 2002 Whitney Biennials and was the subject of an exhibition at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2007.

Buck Henry is a writer, actor, director, and the cocreator of the television series Get Smart. His screenplays include The Graduate; What’s Up, Doc?; and To Die For.

Paul Hoffman wrote The Man Who Loved Only Numbers and a memoir, King’s Gambit: A Son, a Father and the World’s Most Dangerous Game. He is a former editor-in-chief of Discover Magazine.

Performance and visual artist John Kelly has performed and/or exhibited at Tate Modern, The Kitchen, the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, and countless other venues.

Individual entries on Richard Kostelanetz’s work in several fields appear in various editions of Readers Guide to Twentieth-Century Writers, Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature, Contemporary Poets, Contemporary Novelists, Postmodern Fiction, Webster's Dictionary of American Writers, The HarperCollins Reader's Encyclopedia of American Literature, Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Directory of American Scholars, Who’s Who in America, Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in American Art,,, and, among other distinguished directories. Otherwise, he survives in New York, where he was born, unemployed and thus overworked.

Louis Menand won the Pulitzer Prize in history for his 2001 book The Metaphysical Club. He is currently professor of English and American literature and language at Harvard University.

Laura Mulvey, author of the influential 1976 critical essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” is a professor of film and media studies at Birkbeck, University of London.

West Virginia–born writer Jayne Anne Phillips’s novels include Machine Dreams, Fast Lanes, and Lark and Termite. She currently heads the M.F.A. writing program at Rutgers University.

Charles Renfro is a principal of the New York City architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro as well as a visiting professor at Columbia University and Rice University.

Nathaniel Rich’s books include his novel The Mayor’s Tongue and San Francisco Noir: The City in Film Noir from 1940 to the Present.

James Schamus is the president of Focus Features and frequently collaborates with director Ang Lee. His screenplays include The Ice Storm and Brokeback Mountain.

The work of artist Carolee Schneemann has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art, among many other institutions, and she has served on the faculty of New York University, Bard College, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Jim Shepard’s novels include Flights, Nosferatu, and Project X. His 2008 short-story collection, Like You’d Understand, Anyway, was a National Book Award finalist. He teaches writing at Williams College.

Josh Siegel is a film and media curator at the Museum of Modern Art, where he has organized or co-organized more than 90 exhibitions, including India Now in 2007.

Director Peter Sollett’s films include Five Feet High and Rising, Raising Victor Vargas, and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.

Robert Sullivan is the author of the books Cross Country, Rats, and The Thoreau You Don’t Know. He is a contributing editor at Vogue magazine.

Lili Taylor has acted in dozens of films, including Short Cuts, Dogfight, and I Shot Andy Warhol. She received Emmy Award nominations for her work in the TV series The X-Files and Six Feet Under.

Joan Tewkesbury wrote the screenplays for the Robert Altman films Nashville and Thieves Like Us and has directed episodes for TV shows such as The Guardian, Felicity, and Northern Exposure.