As Marshall Karp says on his website, “It’s been a great life so far.”
Karp’s been a best-selling author, award-winning copywriter, ad exec and Hollywood scriptwriter. If you’re in the habit of checking the New York Times best seller list, you’ll have seen his name in the number one spot, as co-author with the inimitable James Patterson. First time out for the duo, they co-wrote “Kill Me If You Can,” followed by the enormously successful NYPD Red series featuring detectives Zach Jordan and Kylie MacDonald. Their latest, “NYPD Red 3,” was released in March of this year.
Karp’s “The Rabbit Factory,” published in 2006, was the first of a series featuring LAPD detectives Mike Lomax and Terry Biggs. His one and only play,“Squabbles,” was published by Samuel French in 1982 and still is performed today. Karp was hired by ABC to turn “Squabbles” into a sit-com. He did. It didn’t fly. But it opened the door to many more Hollywood gigs, including one as producer/head writer of “Everything’s Relative,” a 1987 CBS sitcom starring Jason Alexander, John Bolger and Gina Hecht. Unfortunately, it was cancelled after one season.
So what about that advertising career? Karp spent a chunk of it at Lowe Marschalk, where, with co-creative director Andy Langer he coined the phrase “emotional hard sell.” Before they put that name to it, you could see it in the work they did, like the Clio-winning spot for Mutual of New York Life Insurance, featuring an unknown John Travolta, vulnerable and wistful as he talks about how his dad, the breadwinner, planned for everything. Everything except dying. Karp also gave us “Thank You, Paine Webber” and, as executive creative director at McCann Erickson in the early ‘90s, many award-winning Coca-Cola campaigns.