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J. F. Lawton

J. F. Lawton

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Also Known As: J D Athens, Jonathan Fredrick Lawton Died:
Born: August 11, 1960 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Riverside, California, USA Profession: screenwriter, director, editor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

J.F. Lawton moved to the A-list with his script for Garry Marshall's blockbuster "Pretty Woman" (1990). While the original screenplay, entitled "3,000," was much darker, the final result, which played much like a fairy tale and was enhanced by Julia Roberts star-making turn, catapulted Lawton to the forefront. Yet, this was not his first screen credit. While studying film at CalState Long Beach, Lawton had won attention for his short films "The Artist" (1981) and "Renaissance" (1983). The California native, the son of novelist Harry Lawton, started his film career editing trailers for Cannon Films for $300 per week. Ever enterprising, he created a trailer for a feature he wanted to make which caught the attention of low-budget producer Charles Band. Band offered him the opportunity to write and direct. The result, "Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle" (1989), which Lawton filmed using the pseudonym J D Athens, was a take-off of both Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" and Francis Ford Coppola's feature "Apocalypse Now" (1979). Shot in less than two weeks and featuring Adrienne Barbeau and Shannon Tweed, the film became a cult favorite and late-night cable staple, although it did not really advance...

J.F. Lawton moved to the A-list with his script for Garry Marshall's blockbuster "Pretty Woman" (1990). While the original screenplay, entitled "3,000," was much darker, the final result, which played much like a fairy tale and was enhanced by Julia Roberts star-making turn, catapulted Lawton to the forefront. Yet, this was not his first screen credit. While studying film at CalState Long Beach, Lawton had won attention for his short films "The Artist" (1981) and "Renaissance" (1983). The California native, the son of novelist Harry Lawton, started his film career editing trailers for Cannon Films for $300 per week. Ever enterprising, he created a trailer for a feature he wanted to make which caught the attention of low-budget producer Charles Band. Band offered him the opportunity to write and direct. The result, "Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle" (1989), which Lawton filmed using the pseudonym J D Athens, was a take-off of both Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" and Francis Ford Coppola's feature "Apocalypse Now" (1979). Shot in less than two weeks and featuring Adrienne Barbeau and Shannon Tweed, the film became a cult favorite and late-night cable staple, although it did not really advance his career. Neither did his second effort, also credited to J D Athens, the political satire "Pizza Man" (1991).

After "Pretty Woman," Lawton found some success as a screenwriter, collaborating with Barry Primus on the little-seen but much praised "Mistress" (1992), co-produced by co-star Robert De Niro. He fared better with "Under Siege" (also 1992) which confirmed the star status of Steven Seagal, cast as a Navy cook on a battleship who must save the world from terrorists and nuclear disaster. "Blankman" (1994) paired him with Damon Wayans who also starred in the title role of a crimefighter who uses his own homemade devices to capture crooks. Most critics found the film devoid of humor and audiences stayed away as well.

Using his own name, Lawton helmed and scripted "The Hunted" (1995), a lame thriller about an American businessman (Christopher Lambert) chased by ninja assassins. He was also one of four writers credited with the illogical drama "Chain Reaction" (1996) which laughably cast Keanu Reeves as a scientist who must save the world. He fared much better as the creator and one of the guiding forces behind "V.I.P." (1998-2002), a syndicated adventure series that starred Pamela Anderson.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Hunted, The (1995) Director
2.
  Pizza Man (1991) Director

CAST: (feature film)

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Milestones close milestones

1981:
Debuted first film, the short "The Artist"
1989:
Directed first feature "Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle"; also scripted (credited as JD Athens)
:
His film "Three Thousand," was selected by the Sundance Institute for their screenwriting workshop (title later changed to "Pretty Woman")
1990:
Breakthrough screenplay, "Pretty Woman"; directed by Garry Marshall and starred Richard Gere and Julia Roberts; received a nomination for Writer's Guild of America
1991:
Wrote and directed "Pizza Man" starring Bill Maher (credited as JD Athens)
1992:
Co-executive produced and scripted the Steven Seagal vehicle "Under Siege"
1994:
Co-wrote (with Damon Wayans) the screenplay for the Mike Binder directed superhero parody film "Blankman"; also co-starred Wayans
1995:
Wrote and directed "The Hunted" (first directorial credit as J. F. Lawton)
1996:
Was one of four writers credited with writing the script for "Chain Reaction"
1997:
Wrote and directed the ABC TV-movie "The Blue Angels"
1998:
Created the syndicated series, "V.I.P" starring Pamela Anderson
2006:
Co-wrote the film adaptation of the popular video game "DOA: Dead or Alive"
2008:
Co-scripted the remake of "Death Race"
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Education

California State University, Long Beach: Long Beach , California -

Notes

Lawton spent several years writing drafts of the script for Howard Stern's aborted feature "The Adventures of Fartman"

"For awhile I only wore black, until I realized all writers wore black. I overheard a guy in black saying 'I love it. We don't have to wear suits.' Then I only wore suits and ties--this was during 'Pretty Woman'--and it so unnerved Garry Marshall, he almost ordered me to stop wearing them. He kept saying, 'Do you have a day job?'" --J F Lawton in Movieline, March 1995.

"I don't have a thing for angora sweaters ... but besides that 'Ed Wood' is the story if my life." --Lawton in Variety, February 19, 1995.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Harry Lawton. Historian. Wrote the book on which film "Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here" was based.

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