David Steinberg, a graduate of West Hartford’s Hall High School, together with is wife, is the creator and executive producer of the Netflix original series ‘No Good Nick’ which will be released on April 15.
By Ronni Newton
When some people hear the date April 15, they think of tax day, but for West Hartford native David Steinberg, it’s launch day.
“No Good Nick,” the series that Steinberg and his wife, Keetgi Kogan, created and produced for Netflix, will be released on Monday April 15. It stars Melissa Joan Hart and Sean Astin, and Siena Agudong as Nick.
Steinberg said that 20 episodes have been filmed, and the first 10 will be released Monday, with the remaining 10 released sometime in the fall.
He and Kogan are the “showrunners,” he said, and were involved with all aspects of the show, including the writing, set, editing, and pre- and post-production work.
There are about 150 on the crew, Steinberg said in a recent phone interview, on the morning the final episode was to be filmed.
“No Good Nick” is “a multi-cam comedy shot in front of a live audience, but it’s also 100 percent serialized,” Steinberg said. It’s being produced as a “Netflix native” program, and intended to be watched in order as the story evolves over the entire 20 episodes.
“Because we assume a lot of the audience will watch back-to-back episodes, we don’t remind them of anything,” Steinberg said. What that means is as you binge-watch, your time isn’t being wasted as you move from one episode to the next.
“No Good Nick” is funny, Steinberg said, but it’s also a mystery, with cliff-hangers spanning episodes.
The premise, said Steinberg, is that Nick shows up at the door of a family of four and says she is there to live with them. She convinces the family that she is a distant relative.
Viewers soon realize that she’s actually a con-artist, but the mystery is who she actually is and why she’s there.
“There’s drama, there are twists in the plot. It’s like ‘Scandal’ for kids,” said Steinberg. But while the intent is for adults and kids to be able to watch it together, the adults in the live audience have clearly indicated that they watch the show because they really love it, said Steinberg. He said that Netflix has added the show to profiles for both adults and kids.
The 1987 Hall graduate (whose West Hartford schooling also included Bugbee and Kingswood Oxford), actually left town at age 16 to attend Yale (’90), then continued what he said in a previous interview was “a typical West Hartford track” and got his J.D. at Duke Law School (’93). Four years later, he realized he didn’t like what he was doing, and secretly applied to and was accepted at the Peter Stark Producing Program at USC.
He’s lived in California ever since, but often returns to Connecticut. His mother, Paula, still lives in West Hartford, as do his sister, Laurie Steinberg Kaufman, and brother-in-law, Josh Kaufman.
The idea for Nick’s character isn’t based on anyone he knows, Steinberg said. “Keetgi and I like clever characters. They’re really fun to write. There’s a little bit of wish fulfillment there,” he added.
Nick is a 13-year-old girl doing a lot of crazy stuff – things that adults likely could never get away with. “It’s fun to watch her outsmart [the adults], but also really interesting on a morality level,” said Steinberg. “She’s doing the wrong things for the right reasons, so it has a philosophical core to it,” and she’s is clever in a realistic way.
“If a kid showed up at your door, what would you do?” Steinberg asked.
Nick’s character is not infallible, Steinberg said, and she does learn lessons on the show.
Steinberg said he hopes families will discuss the issues of “right and wrong” that are raised on “No Good Nick.” He and Kogan homeschool their children, Max, 14, and Hannah, almost 12, and spend a lot of time talking to them about consequences. He said that Hart and Astin, who play the parents on the show, share his and Kogan’s parenting philosophy.
The trailer (see above) was released about two weeks ago, and Steinberg hopes that people will put it on their “watch list” even if they don’t have time to view the actual show right away. He’s also hopeful that people will urge Netflix to set a date for the fall release – and ask for continuation of the series beyond the 20 episodes already filmed.
In the meantime, he said the show can be watched multiple times. “When you watch it again, you might understand something you missed the first time.”
As showrunner, Steinberg said he has the ability to do things like create the opportunity for his mother to be an extra in a scene he happened to be filming when she visited. And in episode 10, Steinberg said he walks his bearded collie, Beowulf, through a park.
In advance of the release there has been a billboard in Times Square promoting the show. Steinberg hasn’t seen it in person, but he said that he is “impressed and honored” that Netflix has done that, and friends have snapped photos and sent them to him. Netflix is also providing fun offers for kids along with promotion for the show.
Steinberg doesn’t yet know what his next endeavor will be. “It’s all-consuming when you’re making a show,” he said. “It’s a 7-day-a-week job, and since July we have been in it 100 percent.”
Steinberg has been part of many successful projects, although some of his earlier work was not as family-friendly as “No Good Nick.”
“The sex comedies that I wrote in the beginning of my career, like ‘American Pie,’ I haven’t written in 15 years,” he said.
Steinberg has had a varied career, which has included writing and directing a feature-length romantic comedy film (“Miss Dial” had an East Coast premiere at the movie theater in Blue Back Square in 2013), and in 2012 he published a coming-of-age book, “Last Stop This Town” in 2012, that was set in West Hartford.
Other writing credits include DisneyToon Studios‘ “Tinker Bell and the Pixie Hollow Games,” co-writer of the DreamWorks animated film “Puss in Boots,” and episodes of “The Simpsons.”
Although other projects have been on hold since last summer, if past experience is any indicator, Steinberg won’t be idle for long.
Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford!