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Brian Robbins

Brian Robbins

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Also Known As: Brian Levine Died:
Born: November 22, 1963 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York, USA Profession: director, producer, actor, screenwriter

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Brian Robbins began a successful television career as an actor on ABC's "Head of the Class" but really made his mark in the medium as a prolific producer and director.Robbins' foray into acting proved uneven with unmemorable roles in the unsuccessful horror films "Cellar Dweller" (1988) and "Chud II: Bud the Chud" (1989) and the actioner "Da Vinci's War" (1993). More noteworthy was his stint as a TV actor, starting out with guest spots on such series as "Three's Company," "Mr. Belvedere," "Growing Pains" (all ABC) and "Knight Rider" (NBC). Robbins perhaps remains best-known for his five-season run (1986-91) as the leather-clad rebel Eric Mardian, a reluctant honor student who worried that his place in the advanced class would compromise his status as a cool kid, in the ABC comedy "Head of the Class." Wisecracking, sarcastic and ultimately loyal, his Eric stood out as a particularly likable character in the sitcom. While working on the series, he began his behind the camera work with the 1988 episode "Will the Real Arvid Engen Please Stand Up?," co-written with fellow regular Dan Schneider (who would continue to work on Robbins' projects long past the sitcom's demise). In 1992, Robbins served as both...

Brian Robbins began a successful television career as an actor on ABC's "Head of the Class" but really made his mark in the medium as a prolific producer and director.

Robbins' foray into acting proved uneven with unmemorable roles in the unsuccessful horror films "Cellar Dweller" (1988) and "Chud II: Bud the Chud" (1989) and the actioner "Da Vinci's War" (1993). More noteworthy was his stint as a TV actor, starting out with guest spots on such series as "Three's Company," "Mr. Belvedere," "Growing Pains" (all ABC) and "Knight Rider" (NBC). Robbins perhaps remains best-known for his five-season run (1986-91) as the leather-clad rebel Eric Mardian, a reluctant honor student who worried that his place in the advanced class would compromise his status as a cool kid, in the ABC comedy "Head of the Class." Wisecracking, sarcastic and ultimately loyal, his Eric stood out as a particularly likable character in the sitcom. While working on the series, he began his behind the camera work with the 1988 episode "Will the Real Arvid Engen Please Stand Up?," co-written with fellow regular Dan Schneider (who would continue to work on Robbins' projects long past the sitcom's demise). In 1992, Robbins served as both host and co-producer of the syndicated game show "Pictionary" which more or less marked the end of his onscreen appearances.

Robbins produced the 1992 syndicated sports special "Magic Johnson's All Star Slam 'n' Jam," tying his interest in sports with his professional work, a combination that has continued successfully. He served as creative consultant on the children's program "Nickelodeon GUTS" (1992-96), an "American Gladiators"-styled adventure challenge game show before joining with Emmy-winning producer-director Michael Tollin to form Tollin/Robbins Productions. Among their earliest projects was the basketball documentary "Hardwood Dreams" (TBS, 1995) and the 1995 Academy Award-nominated documentary "Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream." Tollin/Robbins also fostered close ties with Nickelodeon: "All That," a children's sketch comedy show in the "Saturday Night Live" vein, began airing in 1994 with its spin-off "Kenan & Kel" (featuring standouts Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell) joined the roster in 1996. Another series, "Cousin Skeeter" debuted in 1998. The pair also branched out to more adult fare with the successful HBO sports comedy "Arli$$" (1996-2002).

Robbins moved to the big screen as a producer and director with the 1995 music documentary "The Show," a behind-the-scenes look at hip-hop's biggest artists, interspersed with concert footage. The onstage antics of the rappers juxtaposed with scenes of the performers with their families was a particularly compelling aspect of Robbins' film. While garnering mixed reviews, the documentary was popular with fans of the music, and was said to have validly represented the lifestyle of the hip-hop artists. Next up was "Good Burger" (1997), a film adaptation of an "All That" sketch starring Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell. Directed by Robbins and produced under the Tollin/Robbins Productions banner, the film was a broad comedy with a message and proved to be a favorite with Nickelodeon viewers although it received lackluster reviews. The story of a small time friendly hamburger stand being pushed out by a cold, corporate enterprise with evil employees, "Good Burger" addressed the age old struggle between might and right, with Robbins finding a good balance between the wacky antics of Kenan and Kel and the themes of the triumph of good over evil and the importance of friendship. He proved a capable comedic director, eliciting fine performances, particularly from the young actors.

With the teen drama "Varsity Blues" (1999), he was able to marry his interests in sports and youth in a feel-good flick that followed the story of Jonathan 'Mox' Moxon, (played by teen favorite James Van Der Beek) a sensitive second string quarterback with things on his mind besides football in a Texas high school where the game was of the utmost importance. When the star quarterback is hurt, it is up to the irreverent Mox to fill in, at the same time dealing with the pressures put upon him by the driven Coach Kilmer (Jon Voight). To recreate the excitement of the game, and to achieve a certain level of realism, Robbins put his stars through football training camp, shot on location in Texas and hired actual high school football players as extras. The result garnered mixed reviews but proved to be a box-office success.

Having garnered a strong reputation for discovering and cultivating fresh, new Hollywood talents, Robbins continued his multifaceted career by teaming with Schneider to launch their earlier "All That" discovery Amanda Bynes in the kid-oriented sketch comedy "The Amanda Show" (Nikelodeon, 1999-2002), and later in her first primetime network series "What I Like About You" (The WB, 2002-06); Robbins would also shepherd the TV career of Nick Cannon. Robbins also produced two baseball-minded movies, the Tollin-directed "Summer Catch" (2001) starring Freddie Prinze, Jr., and Jessica Biel, and his own directorial effort "Hardball" (2001), starring Keanu Reeves in a serious take on "The Bad News Bears" formula. He and Schneider teamed on the screenplay for "Big Fat Liar" (2002), a well-received and amusing youth comedy starring Frankie Muniz as a teen who takes revenge on the unscrupulous movie producer (Paul Giamati) who steals his idea. The TV series "Smallville" (The WB, 2001 -11), the story of a pre-Superman Clark Kent (Tom Welling) coming of age in his Kansas home town, proved to be a smash hit for the network and executive producers Robbins and Tollin, leading to a flood of subsequent series from their production company. Some sought to--unsuccessfull--emulate the comic-book-with-a-twist formula, such as the short-lived "Birds of Prey" (The WB, 2002-2003); others embraced the sudsy teen angst that prevailed on The WB's programming, like "One Tree Hill" (The WB, 2003-06; the CW, 2006-12); and still others hoped to establish Tollin-Robbins in new venues, like the mildly successful ABC sitcom "I'm With Her" (2003-04) starring Teri Polo.

Amid his flood of primetime TV work, Robbins stayed active in film production as well, continuing to focus on sport- and/or teen-oriented fare. He produced the Cuba Gooding, Jr. starrer "Radio" (2003), the true life story of a developmentally disabled young man's role on a football team, and he directed the more fancical "The Perfect Score" (2004), a teen heist flick with high schoolers attempting to steal the answers to the SATs.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Meet Dave (2008)
2.
  Norbit (2007)
3.
4.
  Perfect Score, The (2004) Director
5.
  Hardball (2001) Director
6.
  Ready to Rumble (2000) Director
7.
  Varsity Blues (1999) Director
8.
  Good Burger (1997) Director
9.
  Show, The (1995) Director
10.
  All That (1994) Creator

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 DaVinci's War (1993) Michael
2.
 Camp Cucamonga (1990) Roger
3.
4.
 Cellar Dweller (1988) Philip
5.
 Gladiator (1986) Jeff Benton
6.
 One Terrific Guy (1986) Todd Burton
7.
 Crime Of Innocence (1985) Lonnie
10.
 Battle of the Network Stars XIX (1988) Abc Team Member
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1996:
Executive produced HBO's sports-themed comedy "Arli$$"
1996:
Executive produced the Nickelodeon spin-off series "Kenan & Kel"
1997:
Feature directing debut, "Good Burger" with Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell
1998:
Produced (also directed) the Nickelodeon family series "Cousin Skeeter"
1995:
Produced the Oscar nominated documentary "Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream" (TBS)
2004:
Produced The WB teen drama "One Tree Hill"
1994:
Created (also executive produced) the Nickelodeon sketch comedy program "All That"
1999:
Directed James Van Der Beek in the football-themed drama "Varsity Blues"
2002:
Executive produced "The Nick Cannon Show" (Nickelodeon)
1986:
First role as a series regular, playing Eric Mardian on ABC's "Head of the Class"; began writing episodes in 1988
1993:
Formed Tollin/Robbins Productions with Michael Tollin
2004:
Helmed the big screen drama-comedy "The Perfect Score"
1989:
Hosted and co-produced the syndicated game show "Pictionary"
:
Began appearing in small guest spots on several sitcoms
1999:
Executive produced "The Amanda Show" (Nickelodeon) with Amanda Bynes
1978:
Moved with family from New York to California
2007:
Produced the comedy "Wild Hogs," starring Tim Allen, William H. Macy and John Travolta
2007:
Directed the Eddie Murphy comedy "Norbit"
2000:
Directed the film "Ready to Rumble" about professional wrestling enthusiasts played by David Arquette and Scott Caan
2002:
Executive produced "Big Fat Liar"; also co-wrote with former "Head of the Class" co-star Dan Schneider
1992:
Executive produced the syndicated sports special "Magic Johnson's All-Star Slam 'N Jam"
1994:
Produced the sports documentary "Hardwood Dreams" (Fox)
2004:
Re-teamed with Amanda Bynes to produce The WB series "What I Like About You"
2008:
Re-teamed with star Eddie Murphy to direct "Meet Dave"
1995:
Wrote and directed (also produced) the music documentary "The Show"
2009:
Executive produced the Disney Channel sitcom "Sonny with a Chance" and its spin-off "So Random!"
2012:
Directed and produced the comedy "A Thousand Words," once again starring Eddie Murphy
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of California, Los Angeles: Los Angeles, California -
Grant High School: Van Nuys, California - 1982

Notes

Robbins on the differences between his many roles in the industry: "When you are an actor, you only have control over what you can bring to someone else's work. You have no control over how the director will take your work and shape it. A writer can only take his or her words and pass it along to the director, actors, etc. When you are directing, you are kind of like a field general. You take everybody's work and try to get the best out of it, while constantly keeping your mind on the micro and the macro. It's the most challenging thing I can imagine doing and can't think of anything harder. After having a challenge like that, it's hard to step back and watch someone else do it." --quoted in UltimateTV News, June 16, 1997

"I still consider myself a kid, so I often relate to teenagers better than I do to adults." --Brian Robbins quoted in UltimateTV News, June 16, 1997

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Robin Givens. Actor. Co-star on ABC's "Head of the Class"; together briefly c. 1986.
companion:
Holly Robinson. Actor. Engaged in the late 1980s; no longer together.
wife:
Laura Cathcart. Publicist. Met in 1992.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Floyd Levine. Actor. Born c. 1935.
mother:
Rochelle Levine. Born c. 1938.
sister:
Sheryl Levine. Born c. 1956.
brother:
Marc Levine. Born c. 1960.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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