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Jon Avnet

Jon Avnet

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Also Known As: Jonathan Michael Avnet Died:
Born: November 17, 1949 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York, USA Profession: producer, executive, director, screenwriter

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

This son of the founder and chair of the largest distributor of electronic equipment entered show business staging theatrical productions Off-Broadway. He entered the film industry as a reader at United Artists and later participated in the director's program of the American Film Institute after his student film "Confusion's Corner" (featuring a then-unknown Richard Gere) earned him a fellowship. After working as an associate producer, Avnet and family friend Steve Tisch launched Tisch/Avnet Productions in 1977. For seven years, they oversaw a number of successful features (most notably 1983's "Risky Business" which catapulted Tom Cruise to stardom), several issue-oriented TV-movies like "The Burning Bed" (NBC, 1984), starring Farrah Fawcett, and the acclaimed, but short-lived series "Call to Glory" (ABC, 1984-85).In 1986, Avnet co-wrote and directed the critically-praised TV-movie "Between Two Women" (ABC, 1986) starring Fawcett and Colleen Dewhurst. Later that year, he entered into a producing partnership with Jordan Kerner, former vice president of dramatic programming at ABC. Among their early efforts were "Less Than Zero" (1987), based on the Bret Easton Ellis novel and "Men Don't Leave" (1990),...

This son of the founder and chair of the largest distributor of electronic equipment entered show business staging theatrical productions Off-Broadway. He entered the film industry as a reader at United Artists and later participated in the director's program of the American Film Institute after his student film "Confusion's Corner" (featuring a then-unknown Richard Gere) earned him a fellowship. After working as an associate producer, Avnet and family friend Steve Tisch launched Tisch/Avnet Productions in 1977. For seven years, they oversaw a number of successful features (most notably 1983's "Risky Business" which catapulted Tom Cruise to stardom), several issue-oriented TV-movies like "The Burning Bed" (NBC, 1984), starring Farrah Fawcett, and the acclaimed, but short-lived series "Call to Glory" (ABC, 1984-85).

In 1986, Avnet co-wrote and directed the critically-praised TV-movie "Between Two Women" (ABC, 1986) starring Fawcett and Colleen Dewhurst. Later that year, he entered into a producing partnership with Jordan Kerner, former vice president of dramatic programming at ABC. Among their early efforts were "Less Than Zero" (1987), based on the Bret Easton Ellis novel and "Men Don't Leave" (1990), with Jessica Lange as a widow. Avnet made an assured directorial debut with the surprise word-of-mouth hit "Fried Green Tomatoes", a folksy and feminist Southern shaggy dog tale about independent lives, friendship, and the many forms of love. Avnet followed up this triumph by producing several family-oriented entertainments for Disney: the extremely successful children's sports comedy "The Mighty Ducks" (1992) and its two sequels and the 1993 retread of "The Three Musketeers" and the surprise hit "George of the Jungle" (1997). He was a bit more ambitious with "When a Man Loves a Woman" (1994), a domestic comedy-drama about the effects of alcoholism starring Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia.

Avnet returned to directing with "The War" (also 1994), an affecting allegorical comedy-drama set in the South in 1970. This somewhat heavy-handed story about the stateside effects of the Vietnam War and the tensions of the civil rights movement was helped immeasurably by the combined star power of young Elijah Wood in the lead and Kevin Costner in a supporting role as his father. He followed with the glossy throwback to old-fashioned romantic tearjerkers, "Up Close and Personal" (1996). Written by Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne and co-starring Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer, the film was loosely based on the life of anchorwoman Jessica Savitch. Most critics were dismissive of its "A Star Is Born" inspired story, but audiences seemingly enjoyed the tale and its charismatic stars. Avnet tackled more political themes in his fourth film "Red Corner" (1997), an examination of the Chinese legal system, co-starring Richard Gere and rising Asian star Bai Ling. What was basically a fish out-of-water story, the film focused on an American lawyer accused of murder while on a business trip to China. Because of Gere's presence (and the actor's support for Tibet and the Dalai Lama), the filmmakers were unable to film on location and the settings were recreated in Southern California. Avnet, however, surreptitiously filmed a handful of scenes in Beijing and also included footage of actual executions which occurred in China for dramatic purposes. Critics were divided over the results, with many faulting the story line but not its intent.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

2.
3.
  88 Minutes (2008)
4.
  Red Corner (1997) Director
5.
  Up Close and Personal (1996) Director
6.
  War, The (1994) Director
7.
  Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) Director
8.
  Between Two Women (1986) Director

CAST: (feature film)

VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in Great Neck, NY
:
Began career as director of Off-Broadway stage productions
1974:
Joined United Artists as a reader
:
Produced and directed first short, "Confusion's Circle" (starring a then-unknown Richard Gere); won directing fellowship at American Film Institute
1975:
Became director, creative affairs at Sequoia Pictures
:
Joined Weintraub/Heller productions (as an associate producer)
1977:
First feature as associate producer, "Checkered Flag or Crash"; also worked on "Outlaw Blues"
:
Co-founded and ran Tisch/Avnet Productions with Steve Tisch
1979:
First Tisch/Avnet TV production, "No Other Love"
1983:
Had success with "Risky Business" which catapulted Tom Cruise to stardom
1984:
Executive produced the acclaimed NBC TV-movie, "The Burning Bed" (featured a breakthrough performance by Farrah Fawcett)
1986:
Formed Avnet/Kerner Company with Jordan Kerner
1986:
TV directorial and co-writing debut, "Between Two Women" (ABC), co-starring Fawcett and Colleen Dewhurst
1987:
First Avnet/Kerner feature production, "Less Than Zero"
1988:
First TV production (Avnet/Kerner Co.), "Side By Side" (CBS)
1991:
Feature film directorial debut with "Fried Green Tomatoes"; did uncredited work on the screenplay
1992:
Co-produced "The Mighty Ducks" for Disney; also produced two sequels
1994:
Produced and directed the famliy drama "The War"; co-starred Elijah Wood and Kevin Costner
1996:
Directed and co-produced "Up Close and Personal"
1997:
Co-produced the surprise box office success "George of the Jungle"
1997:
Helmed "Red Corner" starring Richard Gere
1998:
Executive produced of the HBO drama "Poodle Springs"; adapted from an unfinished Raymond Chandler manuscript completed by Robert Parker
1999:
Executive produced the comedy feature "Inspector Gadget"
2000:
Was executive producer of the Showtime drama "A House Divided"
2000:
Executive produced "Steal This Movie"; a biopic of 1960s radical Abbie Hoffman
2001:
Wrote (also directed and produced) the acclaimed NBC miniseries "Uprising" (released in theaters breifly after its TV debut)
2002:
Directed the NBC pilot "Boomtown"
2007:
Directed (also produced) the USA miniseries, "The Starter Wife"; earned a DGA nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television
2008:
Directed Al Pacino in the thriller, "88 Minutes"
2008:
Directed "Righteous Kill," which teamed Al Pacino and Robert De Niro as cops on the hunt of a serial killer
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia , Pennsylvania -
Great Neck North High School: Great Neck , New York - 1967
Sarah Lawrence College: Bronxville , New York - 1971
Sarah Lawrence College: Bronxville , New York - 1971
Conservatory for Advanced Film Studies: - 1972 - 1973
AFI Conservatory: Los Angeles , California - 1972
Center For Advanced Film Studies, American Film Institute: - 1972 - 1974

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Barbara Brody. Fabric designer. Married September 1975.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Lester Francis Avnet. Founder and chairman, Avnet, Inc. World's largest distributor of electronic equipment.
mother:
Joan Bertha Avnet.
daughter:
Alexandra Avnet.
son:
Jacob Avnet.
daughter:
Lily Avnet.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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