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Wil Shriner

Wil Shriner

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A true Hollywood renaissance man, Wil Shriner worked steadily as stand-up comic, actor, host, writer and director in a career that spanned more then 20 years. The son of humorist Herb Shriner, he followed his actor brother Kin to Los Angeles, where taking a random stab at stand-up comedy introduced him to comedian-host David Letterman, who became one of Shriner's biggest supporters, inviting him on his late night talk show numerous times. Acting roles came in projects like the Francis Ford Coppola-directed "Peggy Sue Got Married" (1986) and an episode of the Steven Spielberg-produced anthology "Amazing Stories" (NBC, 1985-87). For a time, he even hosted his own talk show, "The Wil Shriner Show" (syndicated, 1987-88), as well as the canine competition series "That's My Dog!" (syndicated, 1991-94). By the 2000s, Shriner had begun to branch out into directorial work on several sitcoms, including episodes of "Becker" (CBS, 1998-2004) and "Frasier" (NBC, 1993-2004). His biggest career milestone came with the feature film "Hoot" (2006), a family adventure based on the novel by Carl Hiaasen, written, co-produced and directed by Shriner. While never gaining the level of fame enjoyed by contemporaries like...

A true Hollywood renaissance man, Wil Shriner worked steadily as stand-up comic, actor, host, writer and director in a career that spanned more then 20 years. The son of humorist Herb Shriner, he followed his actor brother Kin to Los Angeles, where taking a random stab at stand-up comedy introduced him to comedian-host David Letterman, who became one of Shriner's biggest supporters, inviting him on his late night talk show numerous times. Acting roles came in projects like the Francis Ford Coppola-directed "Peggy Sue Got Married" (1986) and an episode of the Steven Spielberg-produced anthology "Amazing Stories" (NBC, 1985-87). For a time, he even hosted his own talk show, "The Wil Shriner Show" (syndicated, 1987-88), as well as the canine competition series "That's My Dog!" (syndicated, 1991-94). By the 2000s, Shriner had begun to branch out into directorial work on several sitcoms, including episodes of "Becker" (CBS, 1998-2004) and "Frasier" (NBC, 1993-2004). His biggest career milestone came with the feature film "Hoot" (2006), a family adventure based on the novel by Carl Hiaasen, written, co-produced and directed by Shriner. While never gaining the level of fame enjoyed by contemporaries like Jerry Seinfeld or Jim Carrey, Shriner's diverse skill sets and personal drive allowed him to remain active as both an entertainer and filmmaker.

Wil Shriner, along with twin brother Kin, was born on Dec. 6, 1953 in New York City, NY. His father was the TV game show host Herb Shriner, and Shriner's twin would gain a minor level of fame as Luke Spencer's (Anthony Geary) nemesis, Scotty Baldwin, on the iconic soap opera "General Hospital" (ABC, 1963- ). During his youth, Shriner and his family moved around often, shifting between New York, Florida, California and Texas. For much of this time, he attended Catholic school, where he said he found his comedic start as a class clown. Shriner first began college at the University of Florida, studying journalism before moving to Los Angeles to attend UCLA Film School. Following graduation, he had his professional start assisting on director Max Baer's film, "Ode to Billy Joe" (1976). After a long spell working for Dick Clark Productions, Shriner began to focus his energies on a career in the brutal world of stand-up comedy. While no Steve Martin or Robin Williams, Shriner's comic wit brought him to the attention of none other than former stand-up David Letterman, who encouraged him to keep at it. With Letterman in his corner, he would go on to make over 50 appearances on various late night talk shows.

By the mid-1980s, Shriner began shifting his career focus by making numerous appearances on television and in a few films, continuing in this vein for the next decade. The film in which he made his debut would also prove to be his biggest hit. In Francis Ford Coppola's "Peggy Sue Got Married" (1986), Shriner starred opposite future movie star Joan Allen. Other acting highlights over the next few years included appearances on Steven Spielberg's sci-fi anthology series "Amazing Stories" (NBC, 1985-87) in 1986 and in a 1994 episode of HBO's comedy hit, "Dream On" (1990-96). He also appeared in a number of largely forgettable TV and direct-to-video movies, again working in steady but unexceptional projects.

During this period, Shriner followed in his father's footsteps by adding television host to his impressive résumé. For one year, he hosted his own daytime syndicated talk show, "The Wil Shriner Show" (1987), before heading up a number of game shows and live events, including the American version of "That's my Dog!" (1991-94) and "Live by Request: Barry Manilow" (1996). Shriner's impressive hosting skills were welcomed by HGTV, which brought him on for a number of shows in the early days of the budding cable network. He had so established himself as a respected TV host that by the mid-1990s, he even played one in a 1996 episode of the early Debra Messing/Thomas Haden Church sitcom, "Ned and Stacey" (Fox 1995-97).

Possibly due to his somewhat undistinguished acting career, Shriner shifted careers yet again. In 1998, he began working behind the camera as a TV sitcom director, beginning with a few episodes of "Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place" (ABC, 1998-2001), which was renamed "Two Guys and a Girl" for its third season. Over the next eight years, Shriner built an impressive list of directing credits. His most significant work came on the Bob Saget sitcom, "Raising Dad" (The WB, 2001-02), "Becker" (CBS, 1998-2004) and "Frasier" (NBC, 1993-2004). Various Shriner-helmed episodes of "Frasier" won the Humanitas Prize in 2000, as well as the 2002 Emmy for Best Editing.

The multi-talented Shriner parlayed his directing and stand-up background into yet another source of employment - producing various work for corporate clients. His most substantial credit in this arena came when he wrote and produced the launch of Windows 2000 for Microsoft. His acquaintance with Bill Gates led to a gig writing and directing a comedy short for Gates to use at all his personal appearances. An impressed Gates returned the favor by appearing as himself on the 200th episode of "Frasier." The next logical step in Shriner's master plan was less than auspicious, but still admirable. Under the banner of family-friendly Walden Media, he made his feature film debut with "Hoot" (2006), based on the children's book by Carl Hiaasen. Aside from writing and directing, he also picked up a co-producer credit on the feel-good comedy about children trying to save a family of owls, which sadly underperformed at the box office. Critics largely faulted the film for being too sitcom-like. Following "Hoot," Shriner planned to move back to Florida in the hopes of collaborating again with Hiaasen on an adaptation of the author's similar kids' book Flush. In the meantime, Shriner kept himself busy with more corporate film work, in addition to helming episodes of such popular TV fare as "Living with Fran" (The WB, 2005-06) and "Gilmore Girls" (The WB, 2000-06; The CW, 2007).

By Bryce Coleman

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DIRECTOR:

1.
  Hoot (2006) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
 Scorned (1994)
3.
 Search and Rescue (1994) Evan
4.
 Time Trackers (1989) Charles Arsenal
5.
 Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) Arthur Nagle
6.
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