Family & Companions
Within the entertainment industry in America, the lines between theater, television and film are somewhat sharply marked. Smart money says you cross those lines at your own peril. Of course, there have been respected practitioners who dance across them. Actor, director, and producer Don Scardino was one of them. He broke into the business with simultaneous credits on Broadway and television, and within a few years, had his first starring role in Hollywood.
New York native Don Scardino was born February 17, 1948. In 1964-65 Scardino hit the ground running as a young actor with bit parts on teen comedy "The Patty Duke Show" (ABC 1963-66). In 1965 he began a two-year run as Dr. John Fletcher on daytime drama "Guiding Light" (CBS 1952-2009). For most working actors, that would have been enough, but Scardino also moonlighted as an understudy for three roles in "The Playroom" (1965) at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on Broadway.
He followed his first Broadway experience with a small role in "The Loves of Cass McGuire" (1966) at the Helen Hayes Theatre in New York. The show had a very short run, but the following year he had a five-month run in a critical hit, the Peter Ustinov anti-war comedy "The Unknown Soldier and His Wife" (1967). In 1969, he was back on Broadway in a high-profile show, "My Daughter, Your Son," written by Nora Ephron's parents, Phoebe Ephron and Henry Ephron. That same year, he also landed a featured role in a television version of the George C. Scott film "The Flim-Flam Man" (NBC 1969), and joined the cast of "As the World Turns" (CBS 1956-2010) in the role of Marty Egan.
The following year Scardino appeared in "The People Next Door" (1970) alongside acting legends Eli Wallach and Julie Harris. That same year he had the starring role in "Homer" (1970), an overlooked film with the distinction of being the first movie to include a Led Zeppelin song in its soundtrack. The following year he had a starring role in the high school drama "Rip-Off" (1971). His next movie role was in the tongue-in-cheek cult horror flick about carnivorous earthworms, "Squirm" (1976).
In 1972, Scardino replaced Victor Garber as the Jesus character in the Toronto production of the hippie-era musical "Godspell," a now-legendary production that helped launch the careers of Garber, Paul Shaffer, Martin Short, Andrea Martin, Dave Thomas, Eugene Levy and Gilda Radner. When Garber returned to the role after filming the 1973 movie version, Scardino repeated the role on Broadway, where the show ran for over a year in 1976-77. In 1978 he played the starring role in "King of Hearts" (1978), a musical Philippe De Broca's anti-war film of the same name. The show never engendered the cult status of the film, and closed after 48 performances.
By the turn of the next decade Scardino was back to the cinema in a featured role as Al Pacino's gay neighbor in the controversial William Friedkin film "Cruising" (1980). Boycotts during the shooting by New York's LGBT community nearly ground the production to a halt, and critics displayed a very low regard for the film. That same year he had a starring role the overlooked slasher flick "He Knows You're Alone" (1980), which was actor Tom Hanks' first movie role.
By 1988, Scardino began to shift from television acting to television directing, a change he had already made in his theater work. This began with a long association with critic's favorite "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd" (NBC 1987-88, Lifetime 1988-1991). He directed 18 episodes of the experimental comedy-drama, served as producer and supervising producer on 26 more. He also had a small part in one episode in 1989.
At the same time, Scardino was working on Broadway as the director of the breakout play by the up-and-coming writer Aaron Sorkin, "A Few Good Men" (1989-1991). His theater and television worlds combined in 1990 when he directed the play "Women & Wallace" on "American Playhouse" (PBS 1982-1993), and a Tennessee Williams play starring Peter Boyle and Anthony Quinn, "27 Wagons Full of Cotton," for "American Playwrights Theater: The One-Acts" (PBS 1989-1990).
Beginning in 1991, Scardino directed 14 episodes of the long-running crime procedural "Law & Order" (NBC 1990-2010). Over the next few years, he also shot the pilot for the drama "Likely Suspects" (FOX 1992-93) and an episode of "Homicide: Life on the Street" (NBC 1993-99). He picked up a film credit as well, directing Elizabeth McGovern and John Heard in "Me and Veronica" (1993).
Between 1997 and 2000, the director was back in primetime with extensive associations with Bill Cosby's comeback vehicle "Cosby" (CBS 1996-2000) and Tracey Ullman's sketch comedy series "Tracey Takes On..."(HBO 1996-99). This was followed by episodes of the Aaron Sorkin-penned shows "Sports Night" (ABC 1998-2000) and "The West Wing"(NBC 1999-2006) and the Sidney Lumet legal drama "100 Centre Street" (A&E 2001-02). In 2002, he returned to a franchise familiar to him, directing three episodes of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (NBC 2001-07).
Between 2004 and 2006, the director worked on the family sitcom "Hope & Faith" (ABC 2003-06). The show, starring daytime talk show host Kelly Ripa, managed a modest three-season run. During that period he found time to write the book for and direct "Lennon" (2005), a musical, based on the life and music of the legendary Beatles front man. The show only managed a timid 49-performance run after a troubled series of out-of-town tryouts and very poor critical reviews.
But true to form, Scardino rallied in a major way in 2006 through his ongoing association with Tina Fey groundbreaking comedy "30 Rock" (NBC 2006-2013). Over the next six years, he directed 38 episodes of the award-winning juggernaut, and served as producer between 2007 and 2011. During this period he also directed four episodes of "The Knights of Prosperity" (ABC 2007), a short-lived black comedy that claimed Mick Jagger and David Letterman as co-executive producers, and two episodes of the Denis Leary's award-winning hit "Rescue Me" (FX 2004-2011).
Scardino went on to direct episodes of the commercially successful but often controversial sitcom "2 Broke Girls" (CBS 2011-) and Mindy Kaling's critically-acclaimed showcase "The Mindy Project" (FOX 2012-). In 2013 Scardino served as director and executive producer of "Browsers," a TV movie featuring Bebe Neuwirth, another actor with equally solid television and Broadway chops. He also directed comedy giants Steve Carell and Jim Carrey in the poorly-received film "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" (2013).
Director (Feature Film)
Cast (Feature Film)
First television part on "The Patty Duke Show" .
First theater role in "The Unknown Soldier and His Wife".
Joined the cast of "As the World Turns" .
First film role in "The People Next Door".
Landed a role in the Broadway production of the musical hit "Godspell".
Began directing and producing "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd".
Directed Aaron Sorkin's "A Few Good Men" on Broadway.
Started directing and producing on "30 Rock".