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WITH THE KIDS

Actor barks up a new tree in 'McGrowl'

October 24, 2002|Lynne Heffley | Times Staff Writer

Every dog will have its day -- even a bionic mutt named McGrowl, the furry brainchild of neophyte children's book author Bob Balaban.

"McGrowl: Beware of Dog," the first in a series of six "McGrowl" books to be published by Scholastic Inc., is just one more creative hat for the bespectacled Balaban. A familiar character actor, he's also a director -- currently of the off-Broadway hit "The Exonerated" -- and a producer, including the Oscar-nominated film "Gosford Park."

Now Balaban is spinning tales about a canine super-sleuth and two kid sidekicks, whose adventures are filled with giggles, eerie trouble and the distinctive scent of dog.

"It's sort of Tom Sawyer meets Tim Burton," Balaban said. "It's set in pleasant middle America, but with a force of evil in the town -- an evil man and woman who take on a different disguise in every book. But at the end of every one, the dog and the kids save the day."

Balaban is drawing on his theatrical roots for his Storyopolis appearance. He'll perform in classic radio theater-style with celebrities Teri Garr, Ed Begley Jr., Jennifer Coolidge and Colleen Camp. And in old-time radio serial fashion, the performance will end with a cliffhanger.

Balaban has movie plans for the book too; meanwhile, the next adventures are due out in January and next fall.

"Now that I've gotten to know these characters," he says, "I can't wait to get to them again."

*

A 'McGrowl' show

What: "McGrowl: Beware of Dog" Classic Radio Performance and Special Effects Workshop

Where: Storyopolis, 116 N. Robertson Blvd., Plaza A, L.A.

When: Saturday, 4 p.m.

Cost: $10.

RSVP required: (310) 358-2512.

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