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Lem Dobbs

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Also Known As: Lem Kitaj Died:
Born: Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Oxford, England, GB Profession: screenwriter, producer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Once dubbed by PREMIERE magazine as an unsung "genius" based on his unproduced screenplay "Edward Ford" (written at age 19), Lem Dobbs has since gone on to craft a handful of interesting scripts either alone or in collaboration. The son of expatriate artist R B Kitaj, Dobbs was born and raised in England but decided at a young age that he wanted a career in movies. Settling in Los Angeles at age 18, he penned several scripts and became increasingly angry over what he came to perceive as the industry's treatment of writers. While he easily found he could land lucrative jobs working on screenplays, few examples of his work actually went into production. In fact, it was almost a decade before he saw one of his screenplays, for the thriller "Hider in the House", produced. The 1989 film, however, was released direct-to-video and was later relegated to airings on the USA Network in the early 1990s. He was then hired to rework a comedy about a cop and an actor and although he shared screen credit for the story and screenplay, Dobbs had been replaced on the project, in his words because the producers felt "I was burnt out. I had gone as far as I could go." His fortunes shifted somewhat when he teamed with...

Once dubbed by PREMIERE magazine as an unsung "genius" based on his unproduced screenplay "Edward Ford" (written at age 19), Lem Dobbs has since gone on to craft a handful of interesting scripts either alone or in collaboration. The son of expatriate artist R B Kitaj, Dobbs was born and raised in England but decided at a young age that he wanted a career in movies. Settling in Los Angeles at age 18, he penned several scripts and became increasingly angry over what he came to perceive as the industry's treatment of writers. While he easily found he could land lucrative jobs working on screenplays, few examples of his work actually went into production. In fact, it was almost a decade before he saw one of his screenplays, for the thriller "Hider in the House", produced. The 1989 film, however, was released direct-to-video and was later relegated to airings on the USA Network in the early 1990s. He was then hired to rework a comedy about a cop and an actor and although he shared screen credit for the story and screenplay, Dobbs had been replaced on the project, in his words because the producers felt "I was burnt out. I had gone as far as I could go." His fortunes shifted somewhat when he teamed with Steven Soderbergh on the surreal "Kafka" (1991). Receiving solo credit for the screenplay (which reportedly had been written nearly a decade earlier), Dobbs also had shoulder the burden of the mixed reviews. Perhaps some of the confusion arose because many expected a biography of the author and instead found a visually striking black-and-white thriller in which Kafka (played by Jeremy Irons) was the leading character.

While Dobbs was announced in the trade papers as penning various projects (e.g., "Prague" to feature Danny De Vito, and a remake of "The Day the Earth Caught Fire"), it would be some seven years before his credit appeared onscreen again as one of three writers on the sci-fi flick "Dark City" (1998), a Kafka-esque thriller about a man accused of a crime he cannot remember. Again, the final result divided critics, with some dismissing the effort as concentrating more on style than substance while others praising the complex plot and look of the film as an unique motion picture experience. (Indeed, Roger Ebert listed "Dark City" as his choice for the year's best film.) True to form, Dobbs reteaming with Soderbergh, "The Limey" (1999), a character study of a British ex-con who travels to the USA to seek out the truth about his daughter's murder, provoked a mixed critical reaction at its premiere in Cannes. Undaunted, the writer continues to accept assignments to rewrite or collaborate on projects, while still harboring the hope to one-day direct his dream project, "Edward Ford", the three-decade tale of a cowboy actor, which is frequently touted as one of the best unproduced screenplays floating around Hollywood. Whether he ever gets to achieve that goal remains to be seen.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Born and raised in England
:
Moved to Hollywood to work in film industry at age 18
1980:
At age 19, wrote "Edward Ford," considered one of the great unproduced screenplays
1989:
First produced screenplay, "Hider in the House"; also served as co-producer
1991:
Co-wrote (with Daniel Pyne) "The Hard Way"; also wrote story with Michael Kozoll
1991:
First teaming with director Steven Soderbergh, "Kafka"; last film for seven years
1998:
Returned to features as one of three credited screenwriters on sci-fi thriller "Dark City," starring Rufus Sewell, Kiefer Sutherland, and Jennifer Connelly
1999:
Reteamed with Soderbergh, providing script for "The Limey"
2001:
Co-wrote screenplay for Frank Oz directed "The Score," starring Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, and Marlon Brando; final film for 11 years
2009:
Wrote an episode for NBC horror anthology "Fear Itself"
2011:
Penned script for Steven Soderbergh directed action-thriller "Haywire"
2012:
Wrote screenplay for Robert Redford thriller "The Company You Keep" based on novel by Neil Gordon
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

American School: -

Notes

He adopted his surname from Humphrey Bogart's character in "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" (1948)

"Mr. Dobbs, who acknowledges that being a successful screenwriter is'incredibly lucrative,' is one of Hollywood's angrier young men. He says he is angry that his latest movie, 'Kafka'...has been mangled. He says he is angry about the 'pitiful existence' of screenwriters in Hollywood, which he says is far worse than he imagined. And he is angry, he says, that movies seem so 'shallow and porr and infantile', especially compared with the ones made in the 1960's and 70's." --From "A Writer So Angry He Plans to Direct" by Bernard Weinraub in The New York Times, December 30, 1991.

Dobbs continues to harbor a desire to make his directorial debut with "Edward Ford".

"One of the ridiculous myths of Hollywood is that it is a collaborative medium. It's not. And it shouldn't be. Movies are made by directors. Paying too much attention to screenwriters is silly because, after all, they really don't count very much in Hollywood." --Lem Dobbs quoted in The New York Times, December 30, 1991.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Dana Kraft. Editor. Edited <i>Performing Arts Magazine</i>, which is distributed in Los Angeles theaters; met through a producer who introduced her, by saying "I've got just the girl for you".

Family close complete family listing

father:
R B Kitaj. Artist. Born in the USA on October 29, 1932; moved to England to study painting and settled there.
mother:
Elsi Roessler. Met R B Kitaj when they were both attending college in England; American; married Kitaj in 1953; died c. 1970.
step-mother:
Sandra Fisher. Met R B Kitaj in 1971; married in 1983; died in 2001.
father-in-law:
Gilman Kraft. Arts publisher. Born on April 22, 1926 in Union City, New Jersey; died on June 27, 1999 in Beverly Hills, California; owned <i>Playbill</i> in the 1960s; later owned and published <i>Performing Arts Magazine</i>.
sister:
Dominie Kitaj. Indian orphan adopted by Kitaj in 1964.
half-brother:
Max Kitaj. Born in November 1984.
son:
Edgar Joseph Kitaj. Born on December 17, 1993.
son:
Lewis Samuel Kitaj. Born on September 9, 1996.
son:
Gideon Lucas Kitaj. Born on September 25, 2000.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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