Alan E. Ball is an American writer, director, actor and producer for film, theatre and television. He is particularly notable for writing American Beauty and True Blood and for creating Six Feet Under, work which earned him an Academy Award, an Emmy, and awards from the Writers, Directors, and Producers Guilds. Ball was born in Marietta, Georgia, to Frank and Mary Ball, an aircraft inspector and a homemaker. His older sister, Mary Ann, was killed in a car accident when Ball was 13; he was in the passenger seat at the time. He attended high school in Marietta, and went on to attend the University of Georgia and Florida State University, from which he graduated in 1980 with a degree in theater arts. After college, he began work as a playwright at the General Nonsense Theater Company in Sarasota, Florida. Ball broke into television as a writer and story editor on the situation comedies Grace Under Fire and Cybill. Ball has written two films, American Beauty (1999) and Towelhead (2007), the latter of which he also produced and directed. He is also the creator, writer and executive producer of the HBO drama series Six Feet Under and True Blood. He was showrunner for True Blood for its first five seasons. In 2010 Ball began work on a television adaptation of the crime noir novel The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston, to be titled All Signs of Death. In December 2010, after several months of pre-production, HBO cancelled production on All Signs of Death. He is also one of the executive producers of the Cinemax series Banshee. In January 2015, it was announced that Ball's period musical drama Virtuoso had had a pilot ordered by HBO. The pilot will be executively produced by Elton John. Confirmed actors to be starring in the show include Peter Macdissi, Iva Babic, Francois Civil, Lindsay Farris, Nico Mirallegro and Alex Lawther. For his work in television and film, Ball has received critical acclaim and numerous awards and nominations, including an Academy Award, an Emmy a Golden Globe, and awards from the Writers, Directors, and Producers Guilds.