LIVINGSTON, NJ — The Los Angeles Web-Series Festival board honored Livingston High School alum Lee Navlen, who wrote and stars in his own series called Goodstein, with three nominations Saturday for Best Lead Actor in a Comedic Web-Series, Best Writer in a Web-Series and Best Comedic Web-Series. Navlen, who won the award for best actor but was grateful for all three nominations, said digital content is still in its “embryonic stages” of development as far as finding audiences — and Goodstein is helping lead the way.
According to Navlen, the inspiration for his character came from the people he grew up with right here in Livingston. Jonathan Goodstein, the web-series’ protagonist, is a loud, neighborly, fantasy-football-playing attorney who tends to smoke marijuana in the garage while his wife shops at the Mall at Short Hills.
“Jonathan Goodstein is Livingston 101 (no offense to Livingston, love you dearly) — he's brash, he's loud, he's successful and he wants people to know it,” Navlen said. “He smokes pot, which is an issue because he gets into trouble. Basically, he's a 50-year-old guy who still thinks he's 25, but he's got that mid-80s, early-90s Livingston swagger.”
According to Navlen, writing an episode of Goodstein is much harder than it looks because the key is getting them produced with a reasonable budget. In other words, Navlen has to find a reasonably low-key location, like a neighbor’s tree house, before he can write about it. Subsequently, Navlen’s writing, acting, stand-up comedy shows and digital-content works like Goodstein is full-time work for him.
Knowing he wanted to write a funny tell-all about his years as a Senior Producer and News Writer at Fox News, Navlen joined The Writer’s Circle (TWC) with the intention of producing a novel. But TWC Director Judith Lindbergh and the like-minded individuals at the workshop encouraged Navlen to turn his story into a screenplay.
“I thought I had a great chance of winning only because I know Goodstein is damn funny,” Navlen said of his award. “You have to have that confidence, you can't advance to the next level of anything without believing in yourself. That said, my wife is getting a little sick of hearing me say, ‘award-winning actors don't take out the garbage.’"
Wednesday, April 8, Navlen takes the stage at Ricalton's Village Tavern in South Orange, a local pub that holds a comedy show once a month. Within the year that Navlen has been producing and hosting comedy shows in the area, many of the best comics he’s worked with in NYC have appeared, but Navlen says the Ricalton comics vary each month.
“It's a good time to be making comedy thanks to all the avenues we have to release media,” Navlen said. “YouTube is a comic's best friend. Still, you also have to hit the clubs and in my case produce both the comedy shows and Goodstein. Gotta keep ‘em laughing.”
For more information on how to catch up on Goldstein, vistit www.goldstein.tv, or see Navlen at his comedy show Wednesday at 9 p.m. at Ricalton's Village Tavern in South Orange.