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|Also Known As:||Michael Igor Peschkowsky||Died:||November 19, 2014|
|Born:||November 6, 1931||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Berlin, DE||Profession:||director, comedian, producer, actor, radio announcer, revue performer, delivery truck driver, waiter, post office clerk, janitor, hotel desk clerk|
Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY
itical and box office failure, the movie was quickly forgotten after being relegated to cable outlets and video store shelves.Nichols roared back by collaborating with "Primary Colors" lead Emma Thompson on a small screen adaptation of the Pulitzer-winning drama "Wit" (HBO, 2001). Focusing on an uptight, sardonic professor (Thompson) who contracts terminal cancer, the film version was a brilliantly acted ensemble piece, anchored by Thompson's luminous performance. Nichols served as co-executive producer, co-author of the teleplay with Thompson and director, while earning Emmy Awards for his direction and as producer of the Outstanding Made for Television Movie. A remarkable achievement for any medium, "Wit" demonstrated that when given the right material, Nichols was still able to rise to the occasion. Anticipation ran high for his next project, the six-part HBO adaptation of Tony Kushner's charged epic of interwoven AIDS-related stories, "Angels in America" (2003). With a stellar cast led by Al Pacino, Meryl Streep and Thompson, the film was among the most highly praised television presentations of the year. Nichols was duly rewarded with two Emmys - one for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries,...
itical and box office failure, the movie was quickly forgotten after being relegated to cable outlets and video store shelves.
Nichols roared back by collaborating with "Primary Colors" lead Emma Thompson on a small screen adaptation of the Pulitzer-winning drama "Wit" (HBO, 2001). Focusing on an uptight, sardonic professor (Thompson) who contracts terminal cancer, the film version was a brilliantly acted ensemble piece, anchored by Thompson's luminous performance. Nichols served as co-executive producer, co-author of the teleplay with Thompson and director, while earning Emmy Awards for his direction and as producer of the Outstanding Made for Television Movie. A remarkable achievement for any medium, "Wit" demonstrated that when given the right material, Nichols was still able to rise to the occasion. Anticipation ran high for his next project, the six-part HBO adaptation of Tony Kushner's charged epic of interwoven AIDS-related stories, "Angels in America" (2003). With a stellar cast led by Al Pacino, Meryl Streep and Thompson, the film was among the most highly praised television presentations of the year. Nichols was duly rewarded with two Emmys - one for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special; the other as a producer for Outstanding Miniseries. Also that year, he won the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television the same year he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the guild.
Nichols returned to feature films when he directed the highly literate, often romantically brutal battle of the sexes, "Closer" (2004), a tense, charged throwback to his earlier films "Carnal Knowledge" and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," which was based on Patrick Marber's play about a pair of couples (Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts and Clive Owen) who become messily intertwined with one another. Although the film garnered mixed reviews, some raved about Nichols' return to form. Away from the screen, Nichols proved that he remained a potent force in the world of legitimate theater, winning his sixth Tony Award as Best Director in 2005 for helming the enormously popular and critically hailed Broadway production of "Spamalot," culled from the 1975 film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." He next produced "Whoopi, the 20th Anniversary Show" (2005), which marked comedian Whoopi Goldberg's return to the stage and earned Nichols a Tony nomination for Best Special Theatrical Event. Back on the silver screen, he directed "Charlie Wilson's War" (2007), which starred Tom Hanks as the freewheeling titular Congressman from Texas, who finds his mission in life by arming the Mujahideen warriors in Afghanistan fighting the invading Russian army. He returned to Broadway with a revival of Clifford Odets' "The Country Girl" starring Morgan Freeman and Frances McDormand the following year. In June 2010, Nichols was honored with an American Film Institute award for Lifetime Achievement and feted in Los Angeles by some of the biggest names in the business, including former co-workers Harrison Ford, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and Cher. The following year, he served as executive producer of "Friends With Kids" (2011), an ensemble comedy-drama written and directed by Jennifer Westfeldt and starring Westfeldt, Maya Rudolph, Adam Scott, Chris O'Dowd, Kristin Wiig, and Wesfeldt's partner Jon Hamm. A critically-acclaimed revival of Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman," a play which had made a strong impression on Nichols as a young actor, won him a Tony in 2012. He then directed a revival of Harold Pinter's "Betrayal," starring Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz, in 2013. Nichols' final screen credit came as the executive producer of "Crescendo! The Power of Music" (2014), a documentary about a Central American youth orchestra program. Mike Nichols died suddenly of a heart attack on November 19, 2014, at the age of 83.rther demonstrated the seemingly endless talents of star Meryl Streep. It also earned Nichols another Academy Award nomination for Best Director.
Nichols continued his Broadway domination with his fifth Tony Award win for Best Director after his successful staging of Tom Stoppard's "The Real Thing" in 1984. Reuniting with both Streep and Nicholson, he directed the feature drama "Heartburn" (1986), an adaptation of Nora Ephron's caustic roman-a-clef about her failed marriage that once again explored the impact of sexual politics, only this time to less impressive results. His follow-up, "Working Girl" (1988), was a successful satire of the same idea within a corporate setting, and starred a breakout Melanie Griffith as a secretary who finds love and success in the cutthroat world of Wall Street. Following his endearing and light-hearted screen adaptation of Simon's "Biloxi Blues" (1988), Nichols had a successful reunion with Meryl Streep in his take on Carrie Fisher's semi-autobiographical "Postcards from the Edge" (1990), which examined how women coped with working in show business. Though well-crafted and deserving of positive reviews, it was obvious to some observers that Nichols' film career was on a downward slope. But his personal life was on the upswing when he married television news anchor Diane Sawyer in 1988 after spending most of his adult life engaged in a series of failed marriages, including one with singer Patricia Scott.
In the early 1990s, Nichols suffered box-office disappointments with "Regarding Henry" (1991) and "Wolf" (1994), despite high profile leads Harrison Ford and Jack Nicholson, respectively. The former was a somewhat sappy look at a venal corporate lawyer whose life is changed after a shooting, while the latter was a metaphoric character study of the male libido embodied by a man literally turning into a beast. In his first overt reteaming with Elaine May - she reportedly worked as a script doctor on each of his films since they reconciled in the 1970s - Nichols enjoyed a surprise hit with "The Birdcage" (1996), an Americanized remake of the popular French farce "La Cage aux folles." While some gay and lesbian groups were not particularly pleased by what were thought to be stereotypical depictions of homosexual characters, the movie allowed Robin Williams and Nathan Lane to cut loose and give larger-than-life portrayals as a long-standing couple whose lives are upturned when Williams' son visits with his conservative fiancé (Calista Flockhart) and her traditional all-American parents (Gene Hackman and Diane Wiest). Despite a mixed critical bag, the comedy took in over $120 million in domestic box office.
Instead of capitalizing on his success with "The Birdcage," however, Nichols made the daring decision to return to stage acting in the 1996 London production of Wallace Shawn's play "The Designated Mourner," which was preserved on film and released theatrically the following year. Somewhat static and talky, the movie at least allowed audiences a rare opportunity to see Nichols tackle a dramatic role. When he did resume his directorial career, it was with the feature adaptation of the controversial political roman-a-clef, "Primary Colors" (1998). His original choice of Tom Hanks to play a not-too-disguised caricature of Bill Clinton passed on the project in part over concerns on how the lead character was depicted. But star John Travolta had no qualms and accepted the role, delivering one of his more finely-tuned performances. While accomplished, the movie suffered from a case of poor timing, when it was released when Clinton's presidency was in crisis over his sexual liaison with a White House intern. Nonetheless, Elaine May's script was sharp, though overshadowed by the unfolding history. He followed up with the widely panned comedy, "What Planet Are You From?" (2000), which starred Gary Shandling as an alien who comes to Earth in order to impregnate a human woman, only to discover the task's difficulty. Both a cr
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CAST: (feature film)
Milestones close milestones
Nichols formed Icarus Productions.
When he won the Emmy Award in 2001, he joined the ranks of a select few who have won all four of the major entertainment awards in competition. The others are Mel Brooks, Rita Moreno, Marvin Hamlisch, Helen Hayes, Sir John Gielgud and Audrey Hepburn.
Presented with the 2002 National Medal of Arts by US President George Bush.
"In the late '80s, Nichols had a crise de conscience, triggered, he says, by a severe depression brought on by Halcion ... He would begin to feel he was subject to some vague retribution 'for having escaped, for no particular reason the Holocaust ...' He considers the 'art film' or 'auteur' period of the '60s and '70s an aberration, a dead end. He points out that movies have always been a popular medium ... Do we really want to hear Bach on the harmonica? Wouldn't we prefer 'Oh! Susanna'?" --From Premiere, March 1994.
"I never worked with anyone in my life -- nor will I work with anyone as good as Mike Nichols." --playwright Neil Simon.
"He appears to defer to you, then in the end he gets exactly what he wants. He conspires with you rather than directs you, to get your best." --Richard Burton.
"A joke is like an orgasm. It has no politics." --Mike Nichols
"I was standing right behind Marilyn Monroe when she sang 'Happy Birthday' [to President John F. Kennedy in 1962] She had been sewed into her dress. And as she stepped up on the this thing, it split. I could see her ass. In this sort of flesh-colored-to-begin-with dress. So I have a very clear memory of that.
"There was a party after that show and we made some Bobby jokes, and [Bobby Kennedy] was very pissed. He said, 'I'm going to look into your tax returns.' And then we were on the dance floor, and he and Marilyn danced past us, having met that night. And I actually heard her say -- it's so bizarre -- I heard her say, 'I like you, Bobby.' And he said, 'I like you, too, Marilyn.' Who would write this dialogue for the night they met? And I heard it! I was Zelig! You don't know that history is being made when it's being made." --Nichols quoted in New York, March 2, 1998.
"I am drawn to the mystery of marriage. You can never know what the contract is between two people, and that is a very strong subject. I think it may be my subject. The few intimate scens that there are in ["Primary Colors"] are very powerful. They are clues to a mystery that can't be solved. If you've ever known a couple where the husband is a great philanderer, you'll recognise that no one ever knows what the wife thinks about it, or how much she knows. It cannot be known. All that's known is that in some way, to some extent, she is a participant." --Nichols to Empire, November 1998.
On his relationship with Elaine May, Mike Nichols was quoted in the Los Angeles Times (March 15, 1998): "She has all my references. She's the person to whom I have to explain nothing. In the '50s, we were two hot, headstrong adolescents. Now we're two infinitely courteous, almost Japanese diplomats."
"As a director, my job is, and always has been, divided into a number of things: dealing with the crew, the money and the studio, and the marketing and publicity. These are all different jobs that have to be learned and done as well as possible. The celebrity part rarely touches a director." --Mike Nichols to Brendan Lemon in Interview, April 1998.
About why he cannot live in Los Angeles, Nichols was quoted by Peter Applebome in The New York Times (April 25, 1999) as saying: "There's a virus I have no protection against if I'm there: How am I perceived? And you can do whatever you like, put towels at the bottom of the door, not read the trades, which I have not done in 35 years. if you're there long enough, you will think, 'But how am I perceived?' If you're vulnerable to the virus, you've got to stay away from the matrix."
"He always pushed with agents -- I speak for us all: more money, more power, more billing. Eventually the demands became cruel. Artists in the theater should not take from each other things that are not necessary.
... "He's ruthless when he wants to be, maybe even when he doesn't want to be. He doesn't let anything stand in his way." --agent Robert Lantz quoted in the February 21 & 28, 2000 The New Yorker profile by John Lahr.
"My father wasn't too crazy about me. I loved him anyway. One of the things I regretted for a long time was that he died before he could see that he would be proud of me. I was actually more what he wished for than he thought." --Mike Nichols quoted by John Lahr in a profile published in The New Yorker February 21 & 28, 2000 and collected in the 2001 book "Show Time: New Yorker Profiles".
"He's not as generous to himself as he deserves to be. He's got a voicein him that's very harsh, and unnecessarily so." --Annette Bening quoted in a profile of Nichols written by John Lahr first published in The New Yorker (February 21 & 28, 2000) and later collected in "Show and Tell: New Yorker Profiles", published in 2001.
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