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David Mamet

David Mamet

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Also Known As: Richard Weisz, David Alan Mamet Died:
Born: November 30, 1947 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois, USA Profession: screenwriter, director, playwright, actor, producer, drama teacher, novelist, essayist, poet, cartoonist, assistant office manager, taxi driver, waiter, busboy

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

episode "Strays" (2004) for "The Shield" (FX, 2002-08). Because of his positive experience on the show, he approached executive producer Shawn Ryan with the idea of creating a series around a special forces unit, inspired by Mamet's reading of Eric Haney's nonfiction book, Inside Delta Force (2002).With Ryan's less abrasive approach to handling studio executives, they managed to sell their show and put it on air. Starring Dennis Haysbert, Robert Patrick and Regina Taylor, "The Unit" (CBS, 2006-09) showed the inside lives of the members of a fictional Special Forces team that is routinely uprooted from their comfortable-and often troubled-domestic lives to handle a vast array of geopolitical crises. Though ratings were substandard, the show managed to hang on for four seasons before the network finally canceled. Back in the feature world, Mamet wrote and directed "Redbelt" (2008), a small-budget mixed martial arts movie about a Jiu-Jitsu master (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who is conned by a group of celebrities, including a big movie star (Tim Allen), to enter the ring again after spending his life exclusively as an instructor. Meanwhile, Mamet returned to Broadway with "Race" (2009), which followed three...

episode "Strays" (2004) for "The Shield" (FX, 2002-08). Because of his positive experience on the show, he approached executive producer Shawn Ryan with the idea of creating a series around a special forces unit, inspired by Mamet's reading of Eric Haney's nonfiction book, Inside Delta Force (2002).With Ryan's less abrasive approach to handling studio executives, they managed to sell their show and put it on air. Starring Dennis Haysbert, Robert Patrick and Regina Taylor, "The Unit" (CBS, 2006-09) showed the inside lives of the members of a fictional Special Forces team that is routinely uprooted from their comfortable-and often troubled-domestic lives to handle a vast array of geopolitical crises. Though ratings were substandard, the show managed to hang on for four seasons before the network finally canceled. Back in the feature world, Mamet wrote and directed "Redbelt" (2008), a small-budget mixed martial arts movie about a Jiu-Jitsu master (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who is conned by a group of celebrities, including a big movie star (Tim Allen), to enter the ring again after spending his life exclusively as an instructor. Meanwhile, Mamet returned to Broadway with "Race" (2009), which followed three attorneys â¿¿ two black, one white â¿¿ who must defend a white man charged with a crime against a black woman.estigates the murder of an elderly Jewish woman that ultimately forces him to question his own ethical roots. Mamet followed with another banner year, putting on the play "Oleanna" (1992), a searing psychological drama about a female student who accuses her professor of sexual exploitation. Next he wrote and produced "Hoffa" (1992), directed by Danny De Vito, which starred Jack Nicholson as the famed Teamsters Union leader who mysteriously went missing. Meanwhile, "Glengarry Glenn Ross" (1992) was adapted to the screen and featured an all-star cast including Kevin Spacey, Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris and Al Pacino. Adapted by the playwright himself, Mamet wrote a new scene for the film that allowed Alec Baldwin to deliver a seven-minute tirade â¿¿ his only scene in the film â¿¿ that was arguably the most vitriolic dressing-down ever captured on film.

Never fully leaving behind his desire to teach, Mamet routinely imparted his creative wisdom in a number of books and essays throughout the year. Perhaps his most noted was On Directing Film (1991), in which he expressed his views on modern cinema, namely in the form of rejecting accepted conventions while embracing the work of montage theorist Sergei Eisenstein. The book derived from a series of classes he held at New Yorkâ¿¿ Columbia University. Mamet next directed a film adaptation of "Oleanna" (1994), starring Bill Macy as the professor and Debra Eisenstadt as the accusing student. While the play seemed to address prior calls of misogyny by creating a dimensional female lead, Mametâ¿¿s film version struggled to define itself. After writing the OBIE-winning play, "The Cryptogram" (1995), Mamet adapted his play, "American Buffalo" (1996), for the big screen, which starred Dustin Hoffman and Dennis Franz. He next wrote the biting political satire, "Wag the Dog" (1997), which starred Hoffman as a big shot film producer hired by a scheming political consultant to orchestrate a fake war two weeks before an election in order to re-elect a vulnerable president (Michael Bilson). Mamet co-shared an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay with original scribe, Hilary Henkin, though controversy swirled over how much either writer contributed to the final draft. The situation turned a tad ugly when director Barry Levinson threatened to quit the Writerâ¿¿s Guild, arguing that Mamet had written all the dialogue while creating several new characters.

After returning to Broadway with "The Old Neighborhood" (1997), Mamet published Three Uses of the Knife: On the Nature and Purpose of Drama (1998), which discussed his conscious and unconscious processes for writing. He next returned to the directorâ¿¿s chair with "The Spanish Prisoner" (1998), a "House of Games"-like psychological thriller about a corporate executive (Campbell Scott) taken for a ride by a wealthy man (Steve Martin) in an elaborate confidence game. The film also starred Mametâ¿¿s second wife, Rebecca Pidgeon, who almost exclusively worked with her husband. He went on to write "Ronin" (1998), director John Frankenheimerâ¿¿s taut post-Cold War spy thriller that starred Robert De Niro as a former CIA agent who infiltrates a crew put together by the IRA in order to steal a case with unknown contents. Once again frustrated by having to share screenplay credit, Mamet used the pseudonym Richard Weisz instead of his own name. Mamet moved on to his first love, the theater, to address continuous criticism over his alleged inability to write three-dimensional female characters. The result was "Boston Marriage" (1999), which he directed for the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA, and starred Rebecca Pidgeon and Felicity Huffman as two turn-of-the-20th-century women with an ambiguous relationship.

Mamet next directed "The Winslow Boy" (1999), an unlikely G-rated addition to his oeuvre based on the real-life story of a young naval cadet (Guy Edwards) in 1912 England who unexpectedly returns home from the academy after being accused of stealing a five schilling postal order. Convinced of their boy's innocence, the Winslows persuade England's leading attorney (Jeremy Northam) to take on the case amidst a growing national frenzy that exacts a heavy price upon the family. Little seen by audiences because of limited release, "The Winslow Boy" nonetheless enjoyed a small degree of critical kudos. Also in 1999, Mamet penned the script for HBO's "Lansky," a gangster biopic about the life and times of Meyer Lansky (Richard Dreyfuss), who rose up from the streets of New York City to become one of the most notorious-and celebrated Mafia kingpins. He next wrote and directed "State and Main" (2000), a biting and often hilarious satire depicting a Hollywood takeover of a small New England town by a film crew run out of a neighboring community because of the star's predilection for under-aged girls. Mamet's well-known distaste for Hollywood was on full display in his characterizations of a practically callous director (William H. Macy), a devious and aggressive producer (David Paymer) and the self-absorbed star (Alec Baldwin) who is taken in by a crafty local girl (Julia Stiles).

Mamet next adapted his 1970 play "Lakeboat" (2001) into a feature film, which focused on a semi-autobiographical drama about a young Ivy League student (Tony Mamet), who spends a summer as a cook aboard a steamboat populated by men whose subculture is completely foreign to him. He next wrote the original draft for Ridley Scottâ¿¿s "Hannibal" (2001), a shock to those understanding of Mametâ¿¿s distaste for mainstream Hollywood movies. A long-planned sequel to the Oscar-winning "Silence of the Lambs" (1991), "Hannibal" was written by Mamet in a month while he prepped to direct his next feature, "Heist" (2001). The hastily-produced draft and Mametâ¿¿s general unavailability led Scott to bring on Steven Zaillian to write subsequent drafts, which forced the latter writer to share screen credit with Mamet; an ironic twist given Mametâ¿¿s own battles with sharing writer credit. But he was also busy with "Heist," a talky crime thriller starring Gene Hackman as an aging thief forced into one last job following a botched robbery that ended with him getting caught on a security camera. Back in the directorâ¿¿s chair again, he wrote and directed "Spartan" (2004), a low-key political thriller about a stalwart Secret Service agent (Val Kilmer) who tries to find the kidnapped daughter of a high-ranking official.

Mamet produced three more plays â¿¿ "Dr. Faustus" (2004), "Romance" (2005) and "The Voysey Inheritance" (2005) â¿¿while making a rare foray into series television by directing the season three

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
2.
  Redbelt (2008)
3.
  Spartan (2004) Director
4.
  Heist (2001) Director
5.
  State and Main (2000) Director
6.
  Winslow Boy, The (1999) Director
7.
  Spanish Prisoner, The (1997) Director
8.
  Oleanna (1994) Director
9.
  Homicide (1991) Director
10.
  Things Change (1988) Director

CAST: (feature film)

3.
 Water Engine, The (1992) Brown Haired Man
4.
 Black Widow (1987) Herb
5.
 Directors: David Mamet, The (2004) Interviewee
6.
 Chicago on Stage (1995) Himself
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Appeared as a soda jerk in a weekly local TV variety show that dealt with Jewish themes and issues
:
Worked as a busboy in the Second City improvisational comedy troupe's home base
1970:
First play, "Lakeboat" was produced in Marlboro, VT
1971:
Founded Chicago's St. Nicholas Theatre Company at age 24; served as artistic director
1975:
Double bill of plays first produced Off-Broadway, "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" and "Duck Variations"
1975:
First play produced on Broadway, "American Buffalo"
:
Lectured in drama at the University of Chicago
:
Taught at the Yale Drama School
1978:
Appointed artistic director and playwright-in-residence at Goodman Theatre in Chicago
1979:
First script for TV, adaptation of his play "A Life in the Theatre" (PBS); later remade for TNT in 1993
1981:
Scripted first feature, "The Postman Always Rings Twice"
1982:
Screenplay for "The Verdict" earned Oscar nomination
1983:
His play "Glengarry Glen Ross" premiered in England; won the 1984 Pulitzer Prize in Drama
1985:
Founded the Atlantic Theatre Company (traveling company based in New York) with William H Macy and Gregory Mosher as a summer workshop in Vermont for his NYU students
1985:
Debuted "The Spanish Prisoner" at Chicago's Goodman Theatre
1987:
Feature acting debut, "Black Widow"
1987:
Debut as a feature director, "House of Games"; also scripted from his original story
1987:
Wrote the screenplay for Brian De Palma's big screen version of "The Untouchables"
1988:
Earned Tony nomination for "Speed-the-Plow" starring Ron Silver and Madonna
1992:
Wrote screen adaptation of "Glengarry Glen Ross"
1992:
Adapted "The Water Engine" for TNT; also appeared in bit part
1992:
Had controversial Off-Broadway hit with "Oleanna"; play examined sexual politics and political correctness
1994:
Published first novel, <i>The Village</i>
1994:
Provided the adaptation of "Uncle Vanya" that was the basis for Louis Malle's art-house success "Vanya on 42nd Street"
1994:
Staged the Off-Broadway production of "Ricky Jay & His 52 Assistants"
1996:
Wrote screenplay adaptation of "American Buffalo"
1996:
Directed the HBO special, "Ricky Jay & His 52 Assistants"; based on the Off-Broadway staging
1997:
Co-scripted (with Hilary Henkin) the screenplay for Barry Levinson's "Wag the Dog"; earned and Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay
1997:
Wrote and directed "The Spanish Prisoner"; based on his play of the same name
1997:
Returned to Broadway with "The Old Neighborhood"
1998:
Co-wrote the action film "Ronin"; used pseudonym Richard Weisz
1999:
Adapted and directed film remake of Terrence Rattigan's "The Winslow Boy"
1999:
Penned the play "Boston Marriage" about a lesbian couple (played by Felicity Huffman and Rebecca Pidgeon); premiered at American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts
1999:
Agreed to serve for one-year as a contributor to <i>Premiere</i> magazine
2000:
Wrote and directed the comedy film "State and Main"
2000:
Began contributing cartoons to <i>Boston</i> magazine; feature called "Dammit, Mamet!"
2001:
Wrote and directed the crime thriller, "Heist"
2006:
Created and executive produced CBS's special forces drama, "The Unit"
2008:
Directed and wrote the mixed martial arts movie, "Redbelt"
:
Will make Broadway directing debut with "Race" (December)
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

The Neigborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre: New York , New York - 1967 - 1968
Goddard College: Plainfield , Vermont - 1969

Notes

"I'm a writer, trying to work from day to day and tell a story. As far as reaching people, I don't think it's the wrfiter's job to reach people. It's the writer's job to write." --David Mamet to Daily News, November 2, 1994.

"When I'm making a movie, I'm just about as happy as I can be. I'm playing doll house with my best friends." --Mamet quoted in The New YorkerR, November 17, 1997.

"They call a movie 'art house' until they find out people like it, in which case it's mainstream. Art house just means no one wants to release it very widely." --Mamet to The Hollywood Reporter, November 11, 2000.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Lindsay Crouse. Actor. Married on December 21, 1977; divorced in 1990; starred in the Mamet-directed film "House of Games" (1987); daughter of playwright Russell Crouse.
wife:
Rebecca Pidgeon. Actor, singer. Married on September 22, 1991 in Gloucester, Massachusetts; born on October 25, 1965 in Cambridge, Massachusetts and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland; converted to Judaism and had a bat mitzvah since marrying.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Bernard Morris Mamet. Labor lawyer. Divorced from Mamet's mother in 1958; died of cancer in 1991 at age 68.
mother:
Lenore June Mamet. Divorced from Mamet's father in 1958; remarried to former law partner of her ex-husband also named Bernie.
sister:
Lynn Mamet. Producer, screenwriter, playwright. Younger.
half-brother:
Tony Mamet. Musician, actor. Younger; acted in "Homicide" and "The Spanish Prisoner".
daughter:
Willa Mamet. Born c. 1982; mother, Lindsay Crouse.
daughter:
Zosia Mamet. Born on February 2, 1988; mother, Lindsay Crouse.
daughter:
Clara Mamet. Born on September 29, 1994; mother, Rebecca Pidgeon.
son:
Noah Mamet. Born on February 1, 1999; mother. Rebecca Pidgeon.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Lone Canoe"
"Warm and Cold" Solo
"Writing in Restaurants" Viking
"The Owl" Kipling
"Some Freaks" Viking
"The Hero Pony"
"On Directing Film" Faber and Faber
"The Cabin: Reminisences and Diversions" Vintage Books
"The Village" Little, Brown
"Passover" St. Martin's Press
"Make-Believe Town: Essays and Remembrances" Little, Brown
"The Old Religion: A Novel" Free Press
"True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor" Pantheon
"3 Uses of the Knife : On the Nature and Purpose of Drama (The Columbia Lectures on American Culture)" Columbia University Press
"Bar Mitzvah" Little, Brown
"Jafsie and John Henry" Free Press
"The Chinaman" Overlook Press
"Henrietta" Houghton Mifflin
"Wilson: A Consideration of the Sources" Faber and Faber
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