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Roger Kumble

Roger Kumble

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: May 28, 1966 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Harrison, New York, USA Profession: screenwriter, director, playwright, actor, bellboy, video store clerk, paperboy

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Writer-director Roger Kumble got his start as a playwright with 1993's acclaimed "Pay or Play" and made his film directorial debut with "Cruel Intentions" (1999), a modern upscale teen adaptation of "Les Liaisons Dangereuses." Fascinated by and fluent in the dog-eat-dog world of the socially elite, Kumble was best when writing searing exposes of the manipulative duplicity of the young privileged class, using this shrewdly upwardly mobile group to somewhat humorously illustrate the dark side of human nature. As author of the popular Los Angeles plays "Pay or Play" and "d girl" (1997) Kumble poked fun at the Hollywood system by showing its darker side and exposing the competitive and opportunistic drive behind many a success story. "Pay or Play" starred Jonathan Silverman and Dana Ashbrook as twentysomething executives looking for a hit, while "d girl," the story of a young newly appointed director of development who discovers that one must swim with sharks to make it, starred David Schwimmer. Somewhat mean-spirited, Kumble's satires proved so dead on that they became very hot properties, so much so that the very studio bigwigs he was mocking were clamoring for tickets to the small-capacity...

Writer-director Roger Kumble got his start as a playwright with 1993's acclaimed "Pay or Play" and made his film directorial debut with "Cruel Intentions" (1999), a modern upscale teen adaptation of "Les Liaisons Dangereuses." Fascinated by and fluent in the dog-eat-dog world of the socially elite, Kumble was best when writing searing exposes of the manipulative duplicity of the young privileged class, using this shrewdly upwardly mobile group to somewhat humorously illustrate the dark side of human nature.

As author of the popular Los Angeles plays "Pay or Play" and "d girl" (1997) Kumble poked fun at the Hollywood system by showing its darker side and exposing the competitive and opportunistic drive behind many a success story. "Pay or Play" starred Jonathan Silverman and Dana Ashbrook as twentysomething executives looking for a hit, while "d girl," the story of a young newly appointed director of development who discovers that one must swim with sharks to make it, starred David Schwimmer. Somewhat mean-spirited, Kumble's satires proved so dead on that they became very hot properties, so much so that the very studio bigwigs he was mocking were clamoring for tickets to the small-capacity productions.

While Kumble's stage work was very well-received and earned the writer notice and nods from L.A. Weekly and Drama-Logue, his early film work was less remarkable. As a contributor to the Farrelly comedies "Dumb & Dumber" (1994) and "Kingpin" (1996), his writing went uncredited, and while he had a hand in 1995's formulaic "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers," his name was not connected to the film. Screenplays written by and credited to Kumble proved less successful and included the direct-to-video erotic thriller "Unveiled" (1994) and the equally uninspired spy film "Provocateur" (1998), starring Jane March. He also wrote "National Lampoon's Senior Trip" (1995), a Washington DC set fast-paced comedy that had some laughs, but failed to generate any real notice or box office returns.

With no screen directing credits, Kumble sought to make an independent film adaptation of the classic novel "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" set in high school, noting teens as the perfect purveyors of manipulative inhumanity following a screening of Todd Solondz's portrait of middle school cruelty "Welcome to the Dollhouse" (1995). He planned it to be a low-budget production, but the project was picked up by producer Neal H. Moritz, who had achieved teen movie success with "I Know What You Did Last Summer" (1997) and its 1998 sequel. Given a much larger budget than anticipated, Kumble was allotted more freedom and was able to attract a bigger name cast. "Cruel Intentions" mirrored the somewhat bitter spirit of his plays, this time harnessed as a viciousness all too familiar to high school students. The story of New York City based children of privilege who sexually and emotionally manipulate those who cross their path surprisingly proved an enjoyable ride. Despite their abhorrent actions, Kumble's characters were inexplicably likable, and their portrayals flirted engagingly on the edge of campiness. Casting hot properties Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillippe as leads helped to win a solid teen audience, and while the film was sexually descriptive enough to warrant its R rating, it was not very visually explicit, featuring negligible nudity. In a bold move, Fox ordered a TV pilot based on the film before it was even released. "Manchester Prep," the television series prequel to the film was written and directed by Kumble, who additionally served as executive producer. It never aired, however, after the network withdrew its support.

Kumble followed his "Cruel Intentions" success with the screenplay for "Gossip" (2000), a college-set psychological thriller starring a who's who ensemble cast of up and coming Hollywood. His next feature writing and directing project would come with an as yet untitled Columbia Pictures film based on a NEW YORK magazine expose of a pair of publicists who reinvented a saleswoman as a hot socialite, only to have their manipulative game backfire.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
3.
  Just Friends (2005) Director
4.
  Sweetest Thing, The (2002) Director
6.
  Cruel Intentions 2 (2000) Director
7.
  Cruel Intentions (1999) Director

CAST: (feature film)

VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in Harrison, New York
1988:
Moved to Los Angeles after graduating from Northwestern University
1993:
Wrote the stage comedy "Pay or Play" about young Hollywood executives searching for a hit property
1994:
First produced screenplay "Unveiled"
1994:
Contributed to the screenplay of "Dumb & Dumber" (uncredited)
1995:
Wrote the screenplay for "National Lampoon's Senior Trip"
1996:
Teamed with the Farrelly brothers as an uncredited contributor to the script for "Kingpin"
1998:
Penned the spy thriller "Provocateur"
1997:
Had a hit on the Los Angeles stage with "D Girl" starring David Schwimmer
1999:
Helmed "Cruel Intentions" the modern update of "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" starring Ryan Phillippe and Sarah Michelle Gellar
1999:
Produced (also wrote and directed) the Cruel Intentions spin-off series, "Manchester Prep" (FOX); never aired on TV, but was released as a direct-to-video prequel
2000:
Penned the college campus-set psychothriller "Gossip"
2005:
Helmed the comedy "Just Friends" starring Ryan Reynolds and Amy Smart
2008:
Helmed the father/daughter comedy "College Road Trip" starring Raven-Symoné and Martin Lawrence
2010:
Directed Brendan Fraser in the family comedy "Furry Vengeance"
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Education

Northwestern University: Evanston , Illinois - 1988

Notes

Kumble on the "Cruel Intentions" one letter title change from "Cruel Inventions" quoted to Entertainment Weekly (September 30, 1998): "I named it after a Sam Phillips album. But Columbia thought it sounded like a science-fiction movie about a bad gynecological toy. And you know what? As long as they're not using a bad '80s song title, I'm okay with it."

"Theater was more of a calculated move. I'd be lying if I said it was my great love for the stage. It was more of a way of getting my work seen.

"The whole point of both plays ['Pay or Play' and 'd girl'] was to lure people in and then midway through, attack them and make them feel really bad. The great thing about theater is that you can be as mean as you want, and it's like a roller-coaster ride that people can't get off." --Kumble on using his unrelenting satirical plays to write himself a ticket into the very business he was mocking, quoted in The New York Times, February 28, 1999.

Kumble on the R rating of "Cruel Intentions": "I go into meetings [with studio executives] and they say 'Can you make it like "Caddyshack"? Can you make it like "Fast Times at Ridgemont High"?' These are R-rated movies. I can't do a PG-13 'Dangerous Liaisons', it's going to be fluff." --quoted in Newsweek, March 1, 1999.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Mary Christine Mehagian. Born c. 1973; married on November 5, 2000 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Steven J Kumble. Attorney, investment manager. Born in 1933; divorced from Kumble's mother; founding partner of law firm Finley, Kumble, Wagner, Heine, Underberg, Manley, Myerson & Casey; also chair of Lincolnshire Management, an instutional investment funds management corporation; remarried.
mother:
Barbara Kumble. Executive recruiter. Born in 1931; divorced from Kumble's father.
step-mother:
Peggy Vandervoort. Racehorse breeder.

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