Family & Companions
A veteran writer-producer of TV sitcoms and director of Hollywood family-oriented features, Brian Levant began his long TV career at age 23 when he joined the writing staff of ABC's "Happy Days," a faux 1950s sitcom which cashed in on the nostalgia boom initiated by the success of "American Graffiti" (1973). He eventually became a supervising producer on the series and moved on to write, produce and serve as a creative consultant for the show's hit spin-off, "Mork and Mindy" (ABC, 1978-82). Levant enjoyed his greatest success as a producer-his penchant for recycling features and earlier TV programs showed itself in such series as "The Bad News Bears" (CBS, 1979-80), "Hot W.A.C.S." (ABC, 1981), "Still the Beaver/The New Leave It to Beaver" (The Disney Channel and later in syndication, 1985-89).
In the 1990s Levant ventured into features with the formulaic sequel "Problem Child 2" (1991). He again explored family chaos with the surprise hit "Beethoven" (1992), a sort of "problem dog" feature sitcom which starred Charles Grodin coping with the slobbering antics of a Saint Bernard. After that success Levant signed on to helm a surefire hit, "The Flintstones" (1994), a live-action version of America's favorite "Modern Stone-Age Family." True to form, Levant produced what was little more than a nostalgic recreation of the original series. It was, however, an accurate, affectionate rendition, boasting a handsome production design, an abundance of in-jokes and highly animated performances from stars John Goodman, Rick Moranis, Elizabeth Perkins and Rosie O'Donnell.
After executive producing the TV sequel "Problem Child 3: Junior in Love" (NBC, 1995), Levant stumbled a bit with his next feature outing as director, "Jingle All the Way" (1996), a thin Christmas yarn starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a workaholic father who must overcome a variety of obstacles to procure the Turbo Man toy desired by his son. He co-scripted (with Lon Diamond) the feature "Leave It to Beaver" (1997), which neither paid appropriate homage to nor effectively parodied the classic TV comedy, although Ken Osmond (the original "bad boy" Eddie Haskell) had a very funny cameo as young Eddie's equally sleazy father. Levant then returned to another franchise with "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas" (2000), a prequel showing the origins of the clan. The cast from the 1994 original was out, replaced by Brit Mark Addy as Fred, Kristen Johnson as Wilma, Stephen Baldwin as Barney and Jane Krakowski as Betty, with Joan Collins and Harvey Korman featured as Wilma's parents. He also executive produced, scripted and helmed "Father Can't Cope" (2000), a Fox pilot starring Scott Bakula.
Levant followed "The Flintstones" win another surprise hit with "Snow Dogs," a family-friendly adventure starring fallen Oscar winner Cuba Gooding, Jr. and a troupe of Alaskan Huskies. A lame plot and constant mugging courtesy of Gooding did nothing to thwart audiences from flocking theaters. The director scored yet another hit with "Are We There Yet?," a light-hearted family comedy starring former gangsta rapper Ice Cube as a smooth player who vies for a date with a single mom (Nia Long) by taking her two bratty kids on a road trip to Vancouver to see her. Despite lackluster reviews, the movie opened number one at the box office.
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Special Thanks (Special)
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Worked as a story editor for the ABC sitcom, "Happy Days"; eventually becoming supervising producer
First credit as executive script consultant, the short-lived NBC sitcom "Brothers and Sisters"
Wrote the teleplay for the CBS TV-movie, "Still the Beaver"
Executive produced the Disney Channel series, "Still the Beaver"
Wrote and produced the retitled "The New Leave It to Beaver" for TBS; also directed episodes
Helmed episodes of Fox's "Married ... With Children"
Produced the syndicated series, "My Secret Identity"
Feature directorial debut, "Problem Child 2"
Directed the family comedy, "Beethoven," starring Charles Grodin and Bonnie Hunt
Helmed the live-action feature adaptation of "The Flintstones," based on the animated 1960s series
Executive produced the NBC TV-movie, "Problem Child 3: Junior in Love"
Directed the Christmas comedy, "Jingle All the Way," starring Arnold Schwarzenegger
Co-scripted the feature adaptation of "Leave It to Beaver"
Helmed the prequel, "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas"
Directed the feature "Snow Dogs," about a father (James Coburn) and son (Cuba Gooding Jr) who reunite at a dogsled race
Directed the comedy "Are We There Yet?" starring Ice Cube
Directed Jackie Chan in the action comedy, "The Spy Next Door"