Often associated with family fare and genial comedies, Ken Kwapis was also twice nominated for CableACE Awards for directing the very adult "The Larry Sanders Show" (HBO). Perhaps his best-remembered episodes of the latter were with performance artist Tim Miller and with Carol Burnett when a number of tarantulas escaped in the studio.
Having earned a Student Academy Award for his USC thesis film, "For Heaven's Sake!," he spent the early part of his career alternating between TV and features. Kwapis broke in showbiz directing specials designed for young teens at CBS and ABC. In 1983, he helmed "Revenge of the Nerd," a "CBS Schoolbreak Special," about a studious young man who uses his brains to turn the tables on his tormentors. The next year, Kwapis won strong reviews for directing Robert Klein and Scott Schwartz in "Summer Switch," an "ABC Afterschool Special" in which father and son unwittingly change places. Other small screen credits included an episode of "Amazing Stories" (NBC, 1987), starring Kathy Baker, two segments of "Eerie, Indiana" (NBC, 1991-92), the pilot for the short-lived NBC remake of "Route 66" (1992) and several episodes of the critically praised "Bakersfield, P.D." (Fox, 1993-94).
Kwapis made his feature debut with the sweet children's comedy "Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird" (1985). He segued to adventure comedies with the Jeff Goldblum-Cyndi Lauper misfire "Vibes" (1988). In 1991, Kwapis shared directing chores with Marisa Silver on "He Said, She Said," a gimmicky romance told from both points of view with Kwapis handling the Kevin Bacon segments and Silver those with Elizabeth Perkins. After honing his craft in TV, Kwapis returned to the big screen with the frothy children's comedy "Dunston Checks In" (1996), about an orangutan who runs amuck in a five-star hotel and featuring comic turns by Jason Alexander, Faye Dunaway and Rupert Everett. He was next tapped to helm the fairy tale-inspired romantic comedy "The Beautician and the Beast" (1997), co-starring Fran Drescher and Timothy Dalton as, respectively, a Queens cosmetician and a middle-European monarch.
Director (Feature Film)
Writer (Feature Film)
Directed first TV special "Revenge of the Nerd" (CBS)
Made feature film debut with "Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird" and "The Beniker Gang"
Co-directed "He Said, She Said" with future wife Marisa Silver
Directed episodes of HBO's "The Larry Sanders Show"
Helmed the premiere episode of "Route 66" (NBC)
Returned to feature films with "Dunston Checks In"
Helmed episodes of NBC's short-lived comedy series "Freaks and Geeks"
Directed and produced the Fox sitcom "Malcolm in the Middle"
Directed episodes of Fox's "The Bernie Mac Show"
Helmed the pilot of "Watching Ellie" (NBC), starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Directed and produced NBC's comedy series "The Office"; earned an Emmy (2007) nomination for directing the episode "Gay Witch Hunt"
Directed the feature adaptation of Ann Brashares' novel "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants"
Helmed the romantic comedy "Licence to Wed," starring Mandy Moore, Robin Williams, and John Krasinski
Directed an ensemble cast in the feature adaptation of "He's Just Not That Into You," based on the popular non-fiction bestseller; film produced by Drew Barrymore's Flower Films
Directed Barrymore and Krasinski in "Big Miracle," a drama centered on a campaign to save a family of gray whales trapped by rapidly forming ice in the Arctic Circle