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Barry Levinson

Barry Levinson

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: April 6, 1942 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Baltimore, Maryland, USA Profession: screenwriter, producer, director, stand-up comedian, actor, comedy writer, talent agency partner, waiter

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

After first entering the entertainment business as a comic writer and performer, writer-director-producer and occasional onscreen performer Barry Levinson developed into a courageous filmmaker who took creative risks while scoring big commercial hits in several different genres. Having formed a comedy duo with actor Craig T. Nelson, Levinson became an Emmy-winning writer for "The Carol Burnett Show" (CBS, 1967-1978) before graduating to independent filmmaking with the poignant semi-autobiographical "Diner" (1982). Though he steeped himself in over-sentimentality with "The Natural" (1984), Levinson nonetheless directed a lasting homage to the greatness of baseball. In the latter half of the decade, Levinson scored two huge hits: the manic comedy-drama "Good Morning, Vietnam" (1987) and the Academy Award-winning drama, "Rain Man" (1988), both of which announced him as one of Hollywood's top directors. Meanwhile, he ventured into television by directing and producing episodes of "Homicide: Life on the Streets" (NBC, 1993-2000) while maintaining a steady, if unpredictable onscreen presence with "Bugsy" (1991), "Sleepers" (1996) and "Wag the Dog" (1997). Though he faltered in the next century with...

After first entering the entertainment business as a comic writer and performer, writer-director-producer and occasional onscreen performer Barry Levinson developed into a courageous filmmaker who took creative risks while scoring big commercial hits in several different genres. Having formed a comedy duo with actor Craig T. Nelson, Levinson became an Emmy-winning writer for "The Carol Burnett Show" (CBS, 1967-1978) before graduating to independent filmmaking with the poignant semi-autobiographical "Diner" (1982). Though he steeped himself in over-sentimentality with "The Natural" (1984), Levinson nonetheless directed a lasting homage to the greatness of baseball. In the latter half of the decade, Levinson scored two huge hits: the manic comedy-drama "Good Morning, Vietnam" (1987) and the Academy Award-winning drama, "Rain Man" (1988), both of which announced him as one of Hollywood's top directors. Meanwhile, he ventured into television by directing and producing episodes of "Homicide: Life on the Streets" (NBC, 1993-2000) while maintaining a steady, if unpredictable onscreen presence with "Bugsy" (1991), "Sleepers" (1996) and "Wag the Dog" (1997). Though he faltered in the next century with "Bandits" (2001), "Envy" (2003) and "Man of the Year" (2006), the several misses of his career failed to diminish his overall bankability.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Black Mass (2015)
2.
3.
5.
  Poliwood (2009)
8.
9.
10.
  Envy (2004) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Bee Movie (2007)
3.
 Jimmy Hollywood (1994) Director In Life Story
4.
 Quiz Show (1994) Dave Garroway
5.
 Rain Man (1988) Doctor
6.
 History of the World Part I (1981) Column Salesman
7.
 High Anxiety (1977) Bellboy
8.
 Silent Movie (1976) Executive
9.
10.
 It's Burlesque (2001) Interviewee
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Worked as a floor director of a Washington, DC television station
:
Moved to Los Angeles after graduating from college
:
Formed a comedy duo with actor Craig T Nelson; signed by Michael Ovitz
1970:
Worked as writer on "The Tim Conway Show" (CBS)
:
Worked as writer (with Rudy DeLuca) and performer on "The Carol Burnett Show" (CBS)
1974:
First screenwriting credit (shared with director Michael Miller) on "Street Girls"
1976:
Co-writer (with director Mel Brooks and Rudy DeLuca) on the film "Silent Movie"
1977:
Made acting debut as Dennis the bellboy in "High Anxiety"
1979:
First collaboration with then-wife Valerie Curtin, the Oscar-nominated script "┬┐And Justice for All"; also first teaming with Al Pacino
1982:
Feature film directing debut (also writer), "Diner"; first film set in Baltimore
1987:
Wrote and directed "Tin Men"; second film set in the Baltimore of his youth
1988:
Won an Oscar for directing Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman in "Rain Man"
1990:
First film as producer (also writer and director), "Avalon"; third film set in Baltimore; earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay
:
Founded Baltimore Picture Company with Mark Johnson
1991:
Wrote and directed the acclaimed biopic "Bugsy" starring Warren Beatty; earned a Best Director Academy Award nomination
1993:
Executive produced (and directed pilot episode) his first TV drama series, "Homicide: Life on the Street" (NBC)
1994:
Played Dave Garroway in Robert Redford's "Quiz Show"
1994:
Produced, wrote and directed "Jimmy Hollywood"
1996:
Received mixed reviews for "Sleepers" (produced, directed and wrote)
1997:
Produced the hit "Donnie Brasco"; re-teamed him with Al Pacino
1997:
Served as one of the executive producers of the acclaimed HBO prison drama "Oz"
1997:
Directed (also produced) Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro in "Wag the Dog"; scripted by David Mamet
1998:
Produced and directed "Sphere," a sci-fi thriller co-starring Hoffman
1998:
Merged Baltimore Pictures with Spring Creek Prods. (formed by Paula Weinstein) to form Baltimore Spring Creek Pictures
1999:
Served as creator and executive producer of the midseason replacement series "The Beat" (UPN)
1999:
Wrote and directed "Liberty Heights," the fourth of his films set in 1950s Baltimore
2000:
Was one of the executive producers of "The Perfect Storm"
2000:
Served as an executive producer on the CBS miniseries "An American Tragedy" that focused on the O J Simpson murder trial
2000:
Directed the Irish-set comedy "An Everlasting Piece"
2001:
Produced and directed the crime comedy "Bandits"
2002:
With Paula Weinstein, produced Neil LaBute's adaptation of "Possession"
2002:
Was executive producer (with Paula Weinstein) on "Analyze That"
2004:
Produced and directed "Envy," starring Ben Stiller and Jack Black
2006:
Helmed the political comedy "Man of the Year" about a late-night political talk show host (Robin Williams) who decides to run for President
2008:
Re-teamed with Robert De Niro for the Hollywood satirical comedy-drama "What Just Happened"
2010:
Directed Al Pacino as Dr. Jack Kevorkian in the HBO film "You Don't Know Jack"; earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Directing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Dramatic Special
2011:
Nominated for the 2011 Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television and Mini-Series ("You Don't Know Jack")
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Forest Park High School: Baltimore , Maryland -
American University: Washington , Washington D.C. -
Community College of Baltimore: Baltimore , Maryland -

Notes

Not to be confused with an American producer Barry Levinson (born New York City, 1932; died in London, October 23, 1987), active mostly in Europe.

On Warren Beatty's comment that you don't finish a film, you abandon it: "At some point you have to hand it over. It's always tough. 'The Natural' is the only one that plays in my head, because I never really thought I finished it. We were so rushed to get the movie out. The sad thing is, it was supposed to be the first TriStar movie, and they were adamant, saying 'You've got to come out May 15,' or whatever the hell the date was. After we finally turned the thing over, they decided to make 'Where the Boys Are '84' the first TriStar movie. So it was locked and they threw another movie in front of it." --Barry Levinson in Premiere, January 1997.

"I'm closest to the Baltimore movies because thay are parts of my life and growing up. In many ways, they are the most painful ones to do because you put yourself on the line. Not just in terms of your work but you've invested something that's deeper in terms of your soul. Therefore you're more vulnerable. You get angry if you read something that can attack that. I've always remembered the comment in Variety about 'Avalon'--it said the movie has no reason to exist. I said to myself, 'There are 350 movies a year that get made and they don't say it about them. 'Avalon'? That's dealing with a number of issues about the flight to suburbia, the influence of television, the break-up of the family. It has no reason to exist?' I never got over that. It just completely drove me crazy." --Barry Levinson quoted in San Francisco Examiner, September 28, 1997.

As my past has infiltrated my movies through the years, I have been criticized for making some of my characters too Jewish and others not Jewish enough. When "Diner" came out, in 1982, someone complained: "I didn't know that some of the guys were Jewish until the end of the movie. It should be more clear." After "Avalon," in 1990, people asked, "Why didn't they celebrate Jewish holidays?" Or, more pointedly, "They didn't look Jewish enough." This is difficult to respond to, since my Uncle Ben looked like Harry James. In fact, he once told me that on a trip to New York, he'd gotten great seats in a nightclub because the maitre d' thought he WAS Harry James.

I had a great uncle who looked like Santa Claus -- a Santa who spoke only Yiddish." --From "Barry Levinson: Baltimore, My Baltimore" in The New York Times, November 14, 1999.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Valerie Curtin. Screenwriter, actor. Divorced; co-wrote "Best Friends" (1982), "...And Justice for All" (1979), "Inside Moves" (1980), "Toys" (1992) and "Unfaithfully Yours" (1984) with Levinson.
wife:
Diana Levinson. Have two children together; met in Baltimore while making "Diner" in 1982; also has two children from a prior marriage.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Irvin Levinson. Died in November 1990 at age 73; founding partner in Consumers Buying Association, discount furniture and appliances company; in 1970s began Truck Washing of America company; was model for salesman in "Tin Men" and Aidan Quinn's character in "Avalon".
mother:
Vi Levinson. Raised in Balitmore.
son:
Sam Levinson. Born c. 1985; mother, Diana Levinson.
son:
Jack Levinson. Born c. 1988; mother, Diana Levinson.
step-daughter:
Michele. Diana Levinson's daughter by previous marriage; played flower girl at Eddie's wedding in "Diner" (1982).
step-son:
Patrick. Has another from Diana's previous marriage.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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