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King, Michael Patrick (b. 1954)  
 
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Writer, director, and producer Michael Patrick King has been creatively involved in such television series as the ground-breaking, gay-themed Will & Grace, and the glbtq-friendly shows Sex and the City and The Comeback, among others.

He was born on September 14, 1954, the only son among four children of a working-class, Irish-American family in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Among various other jobs, his father delivered coal, and his mother ran a Krispy Kreme donut shop.

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In a 2011 interview, King noted that he knew from an early age that he was "going to go into show business." Toward that goal, after graduating from a Scranton public high school, he applied to New York City's Juilliard School, one of the premier performing arts conservatories in the country.

Unfortunately, his family could not afford Juilliard's high tuition, and King instead attended the more affordable Mercyhurst University, a Catholic liberal arts college in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Mercyhurst had a small theater program at the time, which King later learned to appreciate, explaining that he received invaluable personal attention from the faculty and was allowed to explore and grow his talent at his own pace.

However, he left college after three years without graduating, driven, he said, by a desire to move to New York and "make it as an actor." In New York, King worked multiple jobs, such as waiting on tables and unloading buses at night, while studying acting during the day at the famed Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute.

In addition to studying acting, King joined a comedy improvisation troupe called The Broadway Local, which performed in small clubs and theaters. He also wrote several one-act plays, including "Work Out," about a mother and daughter fighting over their personal problems during an aerobics class, which was staged by the Circle Repertory Company.

King also did stand-up comedy, performing in the same comedy club circuit as such soon-to-be stars Ray Ramona and Jon Stewart. As a closeted gay man, King sometimes found the audiences at the comedy clubs hostile, and the world of stand-up comedy intimidating, especially "the struggle of being onstage and not knowing what [the audience is] going to say about you."

In 1989, King landed his first television job as a sketch writer, with Jon Stewart, for A&E Network's Caroline's Comedy Hour (1989-1995), hosted by the comedian Carol Leifer.

King worked on that show for several months and then left to write and produce Comedy Channel's The Sweet Life (1989-1990), another comedy sketch show.

In the summer of 1990, King was persuaded to move to Los Angeles by his friend Cynthia Stevenson to write for her new television series My Talk Show (1990-1991).

The syndicated series focused on a small-town Wisconsin housewife who hosts a television talk show out of her own living room. Unfortunately for King, Stevenson unexpectedly quit the show on his first day at work, and appeared in only the first three episodes. She was replaced by Stephanie Hodge. The show lasted one season.

King next went to work as a staff writer for the CBS comedy Good Sports (1991). The series starred the real-life couple Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O'Neal as squabbling sportscasters for a cable sports network. Although it received some positive reviews, Good Sports was canceled after airing only 15 episodes. King was again out of a job.

He then joined the writing staff of the hit CBS comedy Murphy Brown (1988-1998) at the start of that show's fifth season. The title character, portrayed by Candice Bergen, is the host of a fictional news program; King once described the character as "an opinionated woman with 'balls.'" The show also featured Lily Tomlin in a recurring role.

King worked on Murphy Brown from 1991 to 1993, writing ten episodes for the series. Although he constantly worried that his work "was not going to be good enough," King credits the show's producer, Diane English, for creating a "utopia" where "everyone was powerful."

He left at the end of his second year on the series, however. He later explained his decision, saying "I didn't want to do what everyone does--I didn't want to say on a show for ten years and work my way up."

Instead, King went to work on another CBS comedy, Good Advice (1993-1994), about a marriage counselor. King explained that he was brought on to "fix" the show. Although it garnered generally good reviews, the show was canceled at the end of the 1994 television season. He then worked on several new shows that ultimately did not get produced.

In 1996, King joined the staff as executive producer on yet another CBS comedy, Cybill (1995-1998), starring Cybill Shepherd. He produced seven episodes, and wrote one, but working on the show proved not to be a "good experience" for King and he was fired within the year.

"Don't take anything for the money," he later said about his experience on the show.

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