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Nine And A Half Questions with David Stephen Cohen

Will Ryan asks writer David Stephen Cohen 9 1/2 pointed questions regarding opera, Courage the Cowardly Dog and how many degrees of separation there are between he and Kevin Bacon.

For many years, Will Ryan has engaged in short conversations during which he poses precisely 9.5 questions. Whether he does this as a tribute to Federico Fellini, as a meta-textual interactive haiku-like challenge, or as a wry commentary on these Sesame Street/Whatever times remains a matter of conjecture. We only know that we live in these times, and that his pithy interviews make ideal filleurs de l'espace.

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David Stephen Cohen.

David Stephen Cohen (not to be confused with David S. Cohen, David X. Cohen, David Kohan, or 43 other similarly-monickered members of the Writer's Guild of America) is the award-winning head writer of the Cartoon Network's Courage The Cowardly Dog. Mr. Cohen has many other credits, some of which follow this bite-sized -- but oh-so-nutritious -- interview.

We caught up with the busy Mr. Cohen on his recent visit to Los Angeles, where, among other things, he was conferring with artist Everett Peck regarding a proposed animated television series.

Will Ryan: So, have you written any operas lately?

David Stephen Cohen: Yes, a libretto.

WR: What's it about?

DSC: Adam's wife. Before Eve. Lilith.

WR: Is it a comedy?

DSC: No. Not a joke within miles.

WR: Did Colonel Klink have anything to do with this?

DSC: I bet you ask everyone these questions.

WR: Not really. This is the first in a series. But I'll consider the suggestion.

DSC: As a matter of fact, the late, great Werner Klemperer did attend a concert performance of the work in progress. You may recall that you were sitting in front of him that evening.

WR: Ah, yes, that's right. Didn't he huddle with you in a corner afterwards?

DSC: Mm-hm.

WR: What exactly did he say?

DSC: His word to me was "Bravo."

WR: What do you think he meant by that?

DSC: I'm not sure, but I think it was, "It ain't no Rigoletto, but it'll do in a pinch."

WR: Does Courage the Cowardly Dog perform a cameo in this opera?

DSC: Well, you know what they say: Inside of every fat lady, there's a scared, pink dog trying to get out.

WR: That sounds like a quote from one of next season's scripts.

DSC: It is now!

WR: Say, you also co-wrote the animated feature Balto for Universal. What is it with you and dogs?

DSC: Pardon me, but in our version, Balto was half WOLF. He was, however, 100% bacon. Kevin Bacon.

WR: Oh, that's right . . . Kevin Bacon did his voice.

DSC: Precisely.

WR: Well, does that mean that you're -- ?

DSC: Yup. One degree.

WR: Ooh.

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Emmy-nominated David Stephen Cohen won the Writer's Guild Award for his work on The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss, for which he was executive producer. He is also a composer and lyricist. The opera Lilith, for which he wrote his first libretto, opens November 11, 2001 at Manhattan's Lincoln Center.

Emmy-nominated Will Ryan was also nominated for the Writer's Guild Award for his work on The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss, but David Stephen Cohen won it instead. And they still talk to each other -- albeit in bite-sized, but oh-so-nutritious, banter. Mr. Ryan's libretto for West Of Catalina: A Horse Opera remains unproduced.