Along with his partner Craig Zadan, American producer Neil Meron was one half of Storyline Entertainment, a production company whose greatest successes included a lengthy list of cinematic and television movies based around the musical genre, including big-screen remakes of "Chicago" (2002) and "Hairspray" (2007). Their other successes include TV biopics "The Beach Boys: An American Family" (2000) and "Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows" (2001), the Queen Latifah-starring television remake of "Steel Magnolias" (2012) and the co-production with Steven Spielberg of NBC's Broadway drama series "Smash" (2012-). Meron and Zadan were also the co-producers of the movie "The Bucket List" (2007) and the 85th Annual Academy Awards (2013). As out gay men, many of their productions concerned gay issues, at least implicitly.
A native New Yorker, Meron was born in Brooklyn and educated at Brooklyn College, from which he graduated in 1976. It was during his years of study that Meron and Zadan first met, the former inviting the latter to speak at a college lecture. Six years Meron's senior, Zadan had already achieved a degree of respect in the New York theatre industry as a writer for New York magazine, the author of the 1974 book "Sondheim and Company" and the producer of the 1973 concert "Sondheim: A Musical Tribute." At the time Zadan worked for the Public Theater in Manhattan under its founder Joseph Papp, and when Meron graduated he went there to work as Zadan's assistant. The pair also worked for the New York Shakespeare Festival.
Meron would later make the joking claim that entering showbusiness was a career path he chose for himself "in the womb," and credited the grounding that he and Zadan received in their chosen field from Papp is being instrumental to their future success. Both would make the move from theatre to filmmaking in the 1980s, although it was Zadan, independent of Meron, who would taste success first with his smash hit 1984 production "Footloose" starring Kevin Bacon, following his move to Hollywood. Meron would make the move across the country afterwards, and the pair would found Storyline together in 1991.
By the standards they would later achieve, Meron and Zadan's first decade in business together was a period of slow-burning growth for their company, but it still produced many works of note. Among these was the Bette Midler-starring television movie "Gypsy" (1993), which the pair recognize as possibly the biggest turning point in terms of putting their new venture on the map. Other early successes included the Glenn Close-starring drama of a woman who was discharged from the US services after coming out as gay, "Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story" (1995), a television remake of "Cinderella" (1997) updated for an African-American cast featuring Whitney Houston and Whoopi Goldberg, and Walt Disney's 1999 remake of "Annie."
Despite these earlier television production being decorated with many award nominations and wins, it was in 2002 that the pair's career would really be launched into the A-list, as their cinematic remake of the hit musical "Chicago" became Miramax's highest-grossing film ever, taking $306 million worldwide and winning six Oscars including Best Picture, the first musical to do so since "Oliver!" 34 years earlier. They followed this up with two further cinema hits in 2007, the all-star musical "Hairspray" and the light-hearted Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman vehicle "The Bucket List."
Following that period of growth, Meron and Zadan also moved their sights towards television series, including "It's All Relative" (ABC 2003-04), "Veritas: The Quest" (ABC 2003) and "Smash" (NBC 2012-13), as well as returning to theatre with Broadway productions of Neil Simon's "Promises, Promises" (2010) and the Daniel Radcliffe-starring "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" (2011). Their work as producers of televised awards specials also came to the fore, as they took over showrunning duties on the Oscars; their choice of television star Seth McFarlane as the host of the "85th Annual Academy Awards" (2013) proved controversial, as the comic actor and writer performed several sketches that some viewers found to be in poor taste, including a mock-Broadway show tune called "We Saw Your Boobs."
Producer (Feature Film)
Film Production - Main (Feature Film)
Production Companies (Feature Film)
Producer (TV Mini-Series)
First movie production with "Sing"
First television movie production with "Gypsy"
Executive producer of "Chicago"
First television series production of ABC's "It's All Relative"
Producer of "The 85th Annual Academy Awards"