Sunday, April 24, 2011

Peter Coyote

Peter Coyote (born in October 10, 1941) is an American actor, author, director, screenwriter and narrator of films, theatre, television and audio books. His voice work includes narrating the opening ceremony of the 2002 Winter Olympics and Apple's iPad campaign. He has also served as on-camera co-host of the 2000 Oscar telecasts. Coyote was one of the founders of the Diggers, an improv group active in Haight-Ashbury during the mid-1960s. Coyote was also an actor, writer and director with the San Francisco Mime Troupe; his prominence in the San Francisco counter-culture scene led to his being interviewed for the noted book, Voices from the Love Generation. He acted in and directed the first cross-country tour of the Minstrel Show, and his play Olive Pits, co-authored with Mime Troupe member Peter Berg, won the Troupe an Obie Award from the Village Voice. Coyote became a member, and later chairman, of the California Arts Council from 1975 to 1983. In the late 1970s, he shifted from acting on stage to acting in films. In the 1990s and 2000s, he acted in several television shows. He speaks fluent Spanish and French. Coyote was born Rachmil Pinchus Ben Mosha Cohon in New York City, the son of Ruth (née Fidler) and Morris Cohon, an investment banker. His father was of Sephardic Jewish descent and his mother came from a working-class Ashkenazi Jewish family.

Her father, trained as a rabbi in Russia, fled the Czar's draft, and eventually ran a small candy-store in the Bronx. Coyote was raised in a "highly intellectual" and "cultural" family involved in left-wing politics. He grew up in Englewood, New Jersey and graduated from the Dwight-Englewood School there in 1960. Coyote later said that he was "half black and half white inside" due to the strong influence of Susie Nelson, his family's African-American housekeeper. While a student at Grinnell College in 1962, Coyote was one of the organizers of a group of twelve students who traveled to Washington, D.C. during the Cuban Missile Crisis supporting U.S. President John F. Kennedy's "peace race". Kennedy invited the group into the White House (the first time protesters had ever been so recognized) and they met for several hours with McGeorge Bundy. The group received wide press coverage. They mimeographed the resulting headlines and sent them to every college in the United States. Once graduated from Grinnell College with a BA in English Literature in 1964, Coyote moved to the West Coast, despite having been accepted at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and commenced working towards a Master's Degree in Creative Writing at San Francisco State University.

As Leonard Maltin once wrote, "Coyote's no rubber-stamp leading man", but he seems comfortable with that. "I'm a Zen Buddhist student first, actor second", Coyote has said. "If I can't reconcile the two lives, I'll stop acting. I spend more time off-screen than on." In addition to his movie work in more recent films such as Sphere, A Walk to Remember, and Erin Brockovich, Coyote has also appeared in many made-for-TV movies and miniseries, and he does commercial voice-overs. Coyote was cast in lead roles on several television series: The 4400 in 2004 and The Inside in 2005. After The Inside was canceled, Coyote returned to The 4400 as a special guest star for their two-part season finale, then joined the cast of ABC's series Commander in Chief as a Vice-Presidential nominee and the next year did a four episode turn as Sally Field's disreputable boyfriend in Brothers & Sisters. Also in 2005, Coyote served as the narrator for several prominent projects including the documentary film Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and the National Geographic-produced PBS documentary based on Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel. He also narrated an episode of the series Lost in April 2006. In 2008, he narrated Torturing Democracy, a documentary produced by PBS which details the Bush administration's use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" in the War on Terror. He also narrated the 12-hour Ken Burns series on the National Parks, and 15 episodes for the National Geographic Explorer series.

Coyote's left-wing politics are evident in his articles for Mother Jones magazine, some of which he wrote as a delegate to the 1996 Democratic National Convention; in his disagreements with David Horowitz; and in his autobiography Sleeping Where I Fall. In 2006, he developed a political television show for Link TV called "The Active Opposition" and in 2007 created Outside the Box with Peter Coyote starting on Link TV's special, Special: The End of Oil - Part 2. Many of Coyote's stories from the 1967 to 1975 counter-culture period are included in his memoir, Sleeping Where I Fall, published by Counterpoint Press in April 1998. One of the stories incorporated into his book is "Carla's Story," about a 16-year-old mother who lived communally with Coyote, and who, after learning of her husband's murder, became a drug addict, then a prostitute, had her children stolen, and continued to spiral downhill until she turned her life around. This story was published in ZYZZYVA and awarded the 1993–1994 Pushcart Prize. He also states he was a close friend of singer Janis Joplin. Mr. Coyote has a website at www.petercoyote.com which features the titles of all his movies and extended samples of much of his writing. He is a member at RedRoom.com, a web-site for authors.

Peter Coyote old face

Peter Coyote handsome performance

Peter Coyote smile