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Rusty Cundieff

Rusty Cundieff

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Sprung DVD Two friends with opposite goals end up on a collision course in this romantic... more info $9.98was $9.98 Buy Now

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA Profession: actor, director, correspondent, screenwriter, comic, songwriter

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

The first films of actor-writer-director Rusty Cundieff have displayed qualities typical of a certain tendency in African-American filmmaking in Hollywood in the decade following the groundbreaking the advent of Spike Lee in the mid-1980s. These films--"Fear of a Black Hat" (1993), "Tales From the Hood" (1995) and "Sprung" (1997)--suggest their maker's relatively cordial relationship to recent American pop culture. Thus far, Cundieff seems to have largely rejected the explicitly political, critical and angry approach of his more serious contemporaries (e.g., Lee, John Singleton, the Hughes Brothers) in favor of the playful audience-friendly tone of Robert Townsend and the Hudlin Brothers. Like Keenen Ivory Wayans, he has shown an aptitude for black-oriented parodies of forms that are more often white-identified (specifically pretentious rock documentaries, cheesy 50s comic-book derived horror anthologies and kooky romantic comedy). While he does not ignore the social problems confronting the black community (i.e., drugs, crime, domestic violence, racism), Cundieff's storytelling instincts are unabashedly accessible and commercial. More impressively, he has managed to retain creative control of his...

The first films of actor-writer-director Rusty Cundieff have displayed qualities typical of a certain tendency in African-American filmmaking in Hollywood in the decade following the groundbreaking the advent of Spike Lee in the mid-1980s. These films--"Fear of a Black Hat" (1993), "Tales From the Hood" (1995) and "Sprung" (1997)--suggest their maker's relatively cordial relationship to recent American pop culture. Thus far, Cundieff seems to have largely rejected the explicitly political, critical and angry approach of his more serious contemporaries (e.g., Lee, John Singleton, the Hughes Brothers) in favor of the playful audience-friendly tone of Robert Townsend and the Hudlin Brothers. Like Keenen Ivory Wayans, he has shown an aptitude for black-oriented parodies of forms that are more often white-identified (specifically pretentious rock documentaries, cheesy 50s comic-book derived horror anthologies and kooky romantic comedy). While he does not ignore the social problems confronting the black community (i.e., drugs, crime, domestic violence, racism), Cundieff's storytelling instincts are unabashedly accessible and commercial. More impressively, he has managed to retain creative control of his work. Quirky, jokey and derivative, his films seem to aspire to some degree of revisionism but, thus far, he has yet to display the organizing intelligence or overarching vision to reformulate his many influences into a meaningful new hybrid.

A Pittsburgh, PA, native, Cundieff entered show business as a stand-up comic. Performing at Los Angeles' Comedy Act theater while attending USC, he began associating with several young comics (Townsend, Wayans and his brother Damon) who would become notable figures in black-oriented comedy. He also met his future screenwriting and producing partner Darin Scott while a student. Cundieff began acting with several bit parts in Townsend's "Hollywood Shuffle" (1987) and followed up with a supporting role in Lee's "School Daze" (1988). He also appeared on TV doing guest shots on "Benson" and "thirtysomething" and a did stint on the NBC soap "Days of Our Lives".

Moving behind the scenes, Cundieff co-scripted (with sitcom writer Daryl G Nickens) the successful if uninspired sequel "House Party 2" (1991) and directed three music videos for veteran rocker Neil Young. He made his feature directing debut with "Fear of a Black Hat", a sharply observed, if quickly dated, "rapumentary" of the hip-hop music community, inspired by "This is Spinal Tap", Rob Reiner's popular 1983 "rockumentary" spoof. Cundieff also scripted, wrote song parodies, and co-starred as rapper Ice Cold. A surprise success at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival, "Fear of a Black Hat" was mishandled by its distributor (ITC) who shelved the film for a year before giving it a limited release.

Lee offered to executive produce Cundieff and Scott's follow-up, "Tales From the Hood", a boldly cartoonish horror film with a social conscience. The pair co-scripted and Cundieff played a small role in one of the four stories in this low-budget film that proved quite profitable.

Between film projects, Cundieff served as a correspondent on Michael Moore's cultish, acclaimed but low-rated comedy newsmagazine, "TV Nation" (NBC, 1994; Fox, 1995). His most celebrated segment demonstrated that NYC cabbies would more readily pick up a casually dressed convicted felon than a well-dressed Emmy Award-winning black actor. By 1997, Cundieff had several film and TV projects in various stages of development as a writer, actor and/or producer. He also had a third feature under his belt, the romantic comedy "Sprung", again co-writing with Scott and serving double duty as director and actor.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Movie 43 (2013)
3.
  Sprung (1997) Director
4.
  Tales From the Hood (1995) Director
5.
  Fear of A Black Hat (1993) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Sprung (1997) Montel
2.
 Tales From the Hood (1995) Richard
3.
 Fear of A Black Hat (1993) Ice Cold
4.
 School Daze (1988) Big Brother Chucky (Gamma Phi Gamma)
5.
 Hollywood Shuffle (1987) 1st Slave; Actor In Audition; Type; Zombie Pimp
6.
 Why Colors? (1995) Opening Voiceover
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Attended USC; met future screenwriting and producing partner Darin Scott
:
Performed stand-up comedy while in college; appeared at L.A.'s Comedy Act theater; met Robert Townsend, Keenan Ivory Wayans and Damon Wayans
:
TV debut, a guest spot on "Benson"
1985:
Joined the cast of the daytime soap "Days of Our Lives" as a recurring character
1987:
Feature debut, four bit parts in Townsend's "Hollywood Shuffle"
1988:
Acted in Spike Lee's "School Daze"
1990:
Did a guest shot as a college student on ABC's "thirtysomething"
:
With Scott, produced "The Other Class", a 35mm short
1991:
Had his stage production "Black and Jew" performed by the Black Theater Artists Workshop at the Los Angeles Theater Center
1991:
Screenwriting debut, co-writer (with Daryl G Nickens) on "House Party 2"
:
With producer Scott, visited Las Vegas and won $800; decided to produce a 20 minute video proposal for a film about a fictional rap group; this provided the basis for "Fear of a Black Hat"
:
Directed three music videos for rock veteran Neil Young
1994:
Directing and songwriting debut and first lead role, "Fear of a Black Hat" (also co-scripted with Scott); shot in Super 16 format on a budget $1 short of $1,000,000
1994:
Appeared as a correspondent on Michael Moore's comedy newsmagazine "TV Nation" on NBC
1995:
Served as one of the funders for "Why Colors?", a comic Showtime short satirizing gang warfare; also performed a song and provided the opening voiceover
1995:
Resumed correspondent duties on "TV Nation" when it resurfaced on Fox as a summer replacement
1995:
Directed, wrote and starred in "Tales From the Hood"
1997:
Scripted and helmed "Sprung"; also acted
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Education

Loyola University New Orleans: New Orleans , Louisiana -
University of Southern California: Los Angeles , California -
University of Southern California: Los Angeles , California -

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Trina Cundieff. Producer, screenwriter.

Family close complete family listing

son:
Thelonious JonDavis Cundieff. Born on May 18, 2000.

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