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Ted Tally

Ted Tally

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: April 9, 1952 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA Profession: screenwriter, playwright, producer, writing teacher

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A screenwriter and playwright whose work has often been laced with high psycho-dramatic tension, Ted Tally won an Academy Award for his adaptation of "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991), forever emblazoning the name of Hannibal 'the Cannibal' Lecter in the annals of American screen villains.Tally had a distinguished theater background prior to breaking into motion pictures. A graduate of Yale's prestigious theater school, he devoted the late 1970s and most of the 80s to the stage. His "Terra Nova" premiered at the Yale Rep in 1977; its 1984 NYC production earned the writer an OBIE Award. Tally began working in TV in 1983, adapting his 1978 off-Broadway play "Hooters" for the Playboy Channel. Among his other plays are "Coming Attractions" (1980), "Silver Linings" (1981) and "Little Footsteps" (1986). In 1987, Tally wrote the TV-movie, "The Father Clements Story" (NBC), based on a real-life priest who adopted a youth.The scribe made the transition to the big screen co-adapting (with Alvin Sargent) "White Palace" (1990), based on the novel by Glenn Savan. The drama explored the yuppie sexual angst of the 80s through the story of a young widower (James Spader) who falls in love with an older waitress...

A screenwriter and playwright whose work has often been laced with high psycho-dramatic tension, Ted Tally won an Academy Award for his adaptation of "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991), forever emblazoning the name of Hannibal 'the Cannibal' Lecter in the annals of American screen villains.

Tally had a distinguished theater background prior to breaking into motion pictures. A graduate of Yale's prestigious theater school, he devoted the late 1970s and most of the 80s to the stage. His "Terra Nova" premiered at the Yale Rep in 1977; its 1984 NYC production earned the writer an OBIE Award. Tally began working in TV in 1983, adapting his 1978 off-Broadway play "Hooters" for the Playboy Channel. Among his other plays are "Coming Attractions" (1980), "Silver Linings" (1981) and "Little Footsteps" (1986). In 1987, Tally wrote the TV-movie, "The Father Clements Story" (NBC), based on a real-life priest who adopted a youth.

The scribe made the transition to the big screen co-adapting (with Alvin Sargent) "White Palace" (1990), based on the novel by Glenn Savan. The drama explored the yuppie sexual angst of the 80s through the story of a young widower (James Spader) who falls in love with an older waitress (Susan Sarandon). The following year, Tally adapted "The Silence of the Lambs" for director Jonathan Demme. Ostensibly the story of the FBI's tracking of a serial killer with the aid of a unrepentant but brilliant flesh-eating doctor, it also was centered on a novice agent (Jodie Foster) coming to terms with her own demons through her questioning of and interaction with serial killer Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins). Although an adaptation, the closing line of the film, "I'm having a close friend for dinner", was Tally's.

In 1996, Tally had two dramas adapted from novels released. The unremarkable thriller "The Juror" featured Demi Moore tormented by the psychopathic Alec Baldwin, but was more lauded for the leads' performances than for its script and plotting. "Before and After", a Barbet Schroeder-directed film was about parents (Liam Neeson, Meryl Streep) fighting to prove their son (Edward Furlong) innocent of a murder and discovering their idyllic home is not what they believed it to be. While critics were divided in their opinions on the films' merit, audiences stayed away.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1977:
Taught playwriting at Yale University
1977:
First produced play, "Terra Nova", at Yale Repertory Theatre
1978:
First New York production, "Hooters", at Playwrights Horizons
1983:
Was named master artist in residence at Atlantic Center for the Arts
1983:
First produced teleplay, "Hooters", adapted for the Playboy Channel
1984:
Co-wrote adaptation of "Terra Nova" for the BBC
1987:
First network TV-movie, "The Father Clements Story" (NBC)
1990:
First screenplay produced, "White Palace"; co-written with Alvin Sargent
1991:
Adaptated "The Silence of the Lambs" as a film; won Oscar
1996:
Wrote screenplay, "Before and After"
2000:
Served as associate producer on "Mission to Mars"
2000:
Penned the screenplay adaptation of "All the Pretty Horses"
2002:
Adapted Thomas Harris' novel "Red Dragon" to the screen
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Education

Yale College, Yale University: New Haven , Connecticut - 1974
School of Drama, Yale University: New Haven , Connecticut - 1977

Notes

Tally did uncredited script "doctoring" on the 1994 release, "Outbreak".

"The original scripts I wrote, most of them years ago, didn't get made. I don't know whether it's because they weren't good enough or any of the myriad other reasons that movie scripts don't get made. But it seems like now I'm identified as doing adaptations. I get more offers for that kind of work than anything else. I enjoy doing adaptations. I think that when you do an adaptation you perhaps have a slightly better chance of having it turn into a movie because everyone starts on the same page. The producer, the studio executives, everyone has some idea of what the project is when you start. They've read the book. There's less mystery in it for them. It's maybe a little less scary for them to go forward that way." --Ted Tally, quoted in THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, January 27, 1992

"[A movie] is not fun unless it gets made. And unless it gets made, you're never going to feel legitimized. An unproduced sript is not publishable, and you can't get a bunch of your actor friends to put it on as an off-Broadway show. A film script is only good for one thing. Otherwise, it's dead. And in many cases you don't even own it." --Tally quoted in SEMINAR IN PLAYWRITING: THE FULL-LENGTH PLAY by Richard Toscan (1995).

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Melinda Kahn. Art gallery director. Married December 11, 1977.

Family close complete family listing

father:
David K Tally. School administrator.
mother:
Dorothy E Tally. Teacher.

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