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Bob Balaban

Bob Balaban

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Also Known As: Robert Elmer Balaban, Rob Balaban Died:
Born: August 16, 1945 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois, USA Profession: actor, producer, director, acting teacher (Columbia University), screenwriter

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

As a screen actor, Bob Balaban was often seen in character roles as buttoned up and usually bespectacled brains, with his deadpan performances in Christopher Guest films like "Waiting for Guffman" (1996) and "Best in Show" (2000) earning him a following with indie comedy fans. Many of those same fans, as well as ones who enjoyed his recurring role as the network executive who greenlights and then cancels Jerry and George's sitcom project on "Seinfeld" (NBC, 1989-1998), may not have known that Balaban also enjoyed a steady career behind the camera as a director of dark comedies for film and television. A foray into producing, alongside film great Robert Altman, resulted in the pair's Oscar-nominated best picture "Gosford Park" (2001), a period whodunit in which Balaban starred as a 1930s filmmaker. In 2008, his well-rounded career earned him widespread praise and award consideration for his acting in HBO's political drama "Recount" (2008) and for his directing "Bernard and Doris" (2008), the network's biopic about tobacco millionaire Doris Duke. Further accolades followed with his biopic "Georgia O'Keeffe" (Lifetime, 2010), proving that his creativity in front of and behind the camera knew no limits. ...

As a screen actor, Bob Balaban was often seen in character roles as buttoned up and usually bespectacled brains, with his deadpan performances in Christopher Guest films like "Waiting for Guffman" (1996) and "Best in Show" (2000) earning him a following with indie comedy fans. Many of those same fans, as well as ones who enjoyed his recurring role as the network executive who greenlights and then cancels Jerry and George's sitcom project on "Seinfeld" (NBC, 1989-1998), may not have known that Balaban also enjoyed a steady career behind the camera as a director of dark comedies for film and television. A foray into producing, alongside film great Robert Altman, resulted in the pair's Oscar-nominated best picture "Gosford Park" (2001), a period whodunit in which Balaban starred as a 1930s filmmaker. In 2008, his well-rounded career earned him widespread praise and award consideration for his acting in HBO's political drama "Recount" (2008) and for his directing "Bernard and Doris" (2008), the network's biopic about tobacco millionaire Doris Duke. Further accolades followed with his biopic "Georgia O'Keeffe" (Lifetime, 2010), proving that his creativity in front of and behind the camera knew no limits.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
3.
4.
  Last Good Time, The (1994) Director
5.
  My Boyfriend's Back (1993) Director
6.
  Parents (1989) Director
8.
  Tales From the Darkside (1983) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
3.
 Girl Most Likely (2013)
4.
 Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
5.
6.
 Thin Ice (2011)
7.
 Howl (2010)
8.
 Rage (2009)
9.
 Recount (2008)
10.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Began performing with the Second City troupe in Chicago while still in high school
1967:
Off-Broadway debut, as Linus in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown"
1969:
Broadway debut (while a student at NYU) as bellhop in Neil Simon's "Plaza Suite"
1969:
Film acting debut in "Midnight Cowboy"
1970:
Portrayed Captain Orr in "Catch 22"
1971:
Played the title role in the NY Shakespeare Festival presentation of "The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel"
1972:
TV debut on an episode of the ABC series "The Mod Squad"
1974:
Featured opposite George C. Scott in Gower Champion's "Bank Shot" (credited as Rob Balaban)
1975:
Appeared in Milton Katselas' "Report to the Commisioner" (credited as Rob Balaban)
1977:
Played the interpreter David Laughlin in Steven Spielberg's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"
1977:
First collaboration with director Claudia Weill, "Girlfriends"
1979:
Portrayed the 95-year-old servant of Khlestakov in "The Inspector General"; earned a Tony nomination for Featured Actor in a Play
1980:
Made stage directorial debut with "Girls, Girls, Girls"
1981:
Played a supporting role in Sydney Pollack's "Absence of Malice"
1982:
Filmed the short "SPFX 1140," starring Mandy Patinkin
1983:
Made TV directorial debut with "Trick or Treat," the pilot for the syndicated "Tales From the Darkside"
1984:
Appeared in Peter Hyams' "2010"
1985:
Directed episodes of the Spielberg-produced series "Amazing Stories" (NBC)
1987:
Helmed the Showtime comedy special "Penn & Teller's Invisible Thread"
1989:
Feature directorial debut, "Parents"
1990:
First association with Woody Allen, appearing in the director's film "Alice"
1991:
Directed episodes of the short-lived NBC sitcom "Eerie, Indiana"
1992:
Appeared in Tim Robbins' feature directing debut "Bob Roberts"
1992:
Played the recurring role of a TV executive modeled after Warren Littlefield on the NBC sitcom "Seinfeld"
1993:
Sophomore directing effort, "My Boyfriend's Back"
1994:
Wrote, directed and produced the feature "The Last Good Time"
1995:
Directed episodes of the UPN series "Legend"; also played the part of Harry Parver on the series
1996:
Featured in Armin Mueller-Stahl's directorial debut "Conversations With a Beast"
1996:
Portrayed NBC executive Warren Littlefield in the HBO movie "The Late Shift"
1997:
Helmed "5:24" segment of HBO's "Subway Stories: Tales from the Underground"
1997:
Appeared in Woody Allen's "Deconstructing Harry"
1998:
Directed an episode of the HBO prison drama "Oz"
1998:
Re-teamed with director Claudia Weill to play Bob Shadyac in Lifetime's "Giving Up the Ghost"
1999:
Re-teamed with Mueller-Stahl to play a suicidal barber in "Jakob the Liar"; also starred Robin Williams and Alan Arkin
1999:
Directed the play "Vick's Boy"; produced in NYC by Rattlestick Productions
1999:
Acted in the off-Broadway production of David Mamet's one-person show "Mr. Happiness" (produced at the Atlantic Theatre Company)
1999:
Staged the off-Broadway production of Arthur Kopit's play "Y2K"
2000:
Appeared in Christopher Guest's ensemble comedy "Best in Show"
2001:
Played the hapless father of Thora Birch's alienated teen in "Ghost World"
2001:
Played a featured role in the Robert Altman-directed ensemble piece "Gosford Park"; also produced and contributed to the story; received Best Picture Academy Award nomination
2003:
Once again collaborated with director Christopher Guest for the ensemble "A Mighty Wind"
2005:
Appeared in the critically acclaimed "Capote," starring Philip Seymour Hoffman
2006:
Co-starred in M. Night Shyamalan's "Lady in the Water" opposite Bryce Dallas Howard and Paul Giamatti
2006:
Played a screenwriter in the Christopher Guest ensemble "For Your Consideration"
2007:
Co-starred in Justin Theroux's directing debut "Dedication"
2008:
Portrayed Ben Ginsberg, the national counsel to the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign in the HBO film "Recount"; earned an Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or TV-Movie
2008:
Directed the HBO film "Bernard and Doris," about tobacco millionairess Doris Duke (Susan Sarandon) and her relationship with her gay butler (Ralph Fiennes); earned an Emmy nomination for Directing a Miniseries or TV-Movie
2010:
Directed Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons in the Lifetime biopic "Georgia O'Keeffe"; earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Directing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Dramatic Special
2011:
Re-teamed with "Dedication" co-star Billy Crudup and Greg Kinnear in the crime drama "Thin Ice"
2012:
Narrated Wes Anderson's romantic adventure "Moonrise Kingdom"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Colgate University: Hamilton , New York -
New York University: New York , New York -

Notes

Laughing at the resonance of the episodes featuring his recurring character on "Seinfeld": "I had a great time on it, of course, but who knew? I didn't know at the time that I was doing it, that I basically was appearing on something like the candy episode of 'I Love Lucy' ... It's like appearing on something that, when you're in the old folks' home, they'll go: He was on that conveyor episode of 'I Love Lucy'--except it was 'Seinfeld'.

"It's insane how much people know. I was on the show five times, and I had maybe a total of 35 lines, and I walk down the street today and people say my lines to me. It's very strange." --Bob Balaban, to David Bianculli in Daily News, March 12, 1998.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Lynn Grossman. Writer. Married on April 1, 1977; suggested he try out for the off-Broadway production of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown", which really kicked off his career.

Family close complete family listing

grandfather:
Sam Katz. Head of production at MGM.
father:
Elmer Balaban. Communications executive, theater owner. Youngest of seven brothers who jointly owned the Baliban & Katz chain of 175 Midwestern movie theaters; died on November 2, 2001 at age 92.
mother:
Eleanor Balaban. Died in 1987.
uncle:
Barney Balaban. Executive. Served as president of Paramount Pictures.
sister:
Namcy Balaban Magidson. Restaurateur. Operated Balaban's Fine Food in Chicago.
cousin:
Burt Balaban. Director, producer.
daughter:
Mariah Balaban. Born c. 1977.
daughter:
Hazel Balaban. Born on February 25, 1987 in New York.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

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