What if Ghost The Musical was written by a Ghost?

A friend of mine wrote a book.

Wait, that’s not entirely accurate.

A friend of mine made it look like he wrote a book.  The truth is, he had it written by someone else.  A ghost.  (Insert spooky music here, or this from the upcoming musical version of Ghost.)

And in the publishing world, hiring a ghostwriter is a lot more common than you think.  It’s what a lot of people do if they (or someone else) think there is a market (translation: money to be made) in the written word of that individual or in a particular subject.

Bill Clinton’s bio, Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father, and yep, sorry to burst your bubble young female detectives, but even the Nancy Drew books.

And that’s what amazed me as I’ve been reading on the subject lately.  I always knew that business books and biographies were written by poltergeists-for-hire who for a fee will write your book and turn over ownership to you.  And in those genres, it makes a heck of a lot of sense, because without a Casper, the books probably wouldn’t have ever been written in the first place.

But fiction?

Yep.  And a lot of it.  (Some folks say as much as 40% of today’s books are ghosted.)

Ever wonder why your favorite mass paperback author can turn out a book a year 20 years in a row?  They might be incredibly prolific . . . or they might have a little supernatural aid.

So, of course, I wondered why it doesn’t ever happen in the theater?

What if someone like Neil Simon hired the brightest young comic mind he could find to churn out a new play for him.  The play would be produced, there would be a built in audience and a lot of press, and maybe it would get a head start in the market.

And I’m not saying the young comic Turk wouldn’t have Neil’s guiding hand along the way.  He’d be involved and it would have to meet his approval before it saw a day on the stage.

Could a successful songwriting team do it?  With as long as it takes a show to develop, maybe this is a way to have more musicals by some of our favorite writers?

Why doesn’t it happen?

Is it ego?  Is it that our genre of entertainment is more complicated than the novel and requires more collaboration?

Maybe a little of both.

But the real reason that we don’t have ghostwriters in the Broadway biz is that . . . despite a lot of cracks we take for being commercial . . . our art is too pure for that.   Sure, we’re the commercial theater, but we’re not in the mass commercialization business as much as it may seem.

Our passionate writers wouldn’t let someone else touch their ideas for all the gold in the world.

And that’s why ghosts don’t haunt Broadway, I’m proud to say, and never will.


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.