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Julie Brown is an original: a daffy West Coast Judy Holliday; a comedienne who has suffered many roadblocks in her rise to fame. Born and raised in California's San Fernando Valley, Brown's screen persona encapsulates all the dizzy selfishness and amorality of the "valley girl." Brown got her training in San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater, where she met future collaborators Charlie Coffey and Terrence McNally (the latter who briefly became her husband should not be confused with the playwright of the same name). Originally a stand-up comic ("It's a mean atmosphere. Comedians, to me, look very needy"), Brown parlayed her talent into a pop career as an MTV hostess and released two hilarious albums of original music: "Goddess in Progress" and "Trapped in the Body of a White Girl."
Brown spent the early 1980s writing variety specials for Alan Thicke and doing comedy turns on stand-up specials. Her deft rock parodies ("The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun," "I Like 'em Big and Stupid") made her an underground hit by 1985, and, by 1989 she was hosting MTV's "Just Say Julie," which made sly fun of rock videos and the whole MTV generation. She tried two pilots which failed ("Julie Brown: The Show" CBS, 1989; and "The Julie Show" ABC, 1991), as well as guesting on "Newhart" as Buffy Denver, a ditsy TV host. Her sketch comedy series, "The Edge" (Fox, 1992-93), got good reviews but died swiftly.
Brown's film career has been a long struggle. She played bits in "Any Which Way You Can" and "Bloody Birthday" (both 1980), "The Incredible Shrinking Woman" (1981) and "Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment" (1985) before finding a producer for "Earth Girls are Easy" (1989), a musical sci-fi comedy she co-wrote with McNally and Coffey. She was bounced from the lead (replaced by Geena Davis) after having done twelve rewrites of the script; she wound up playing second banana Candy Pink, owner of the Curl Up & Dye beauty salon. Since then her big-screen career has been a mix of medium parts in tiny films ("The Spirit of '76" 1990; "Shakes the Clown" 1992; "Nervous Ticks" and "Raining Stones" both 1993) and smaller roles in bigger films (a voice-over in "A Goofy Movie," and a tiny part in the hit "Clueless," both 1995).
Brown's biggest success to date came in 1991, when she produced, co-wrote and starred in a Showtime television special that did to Madonna what Madonna has tried to do to Marilyn Monroe: turned the image inside out. Only "Medusa: Dare to Be Truthful" is delivered with a refreshing savage wit. Brown tore into her role with ferocious intensity and glee, assaulting stardom even as she herself goes for the brass ring (typical Medusa: "My money has money, I've had sex with everybody I want, and yet I am totally, totally alone. It is devastating"). Her follow-up, an uneven TV-movie, "National Lampoon's Attack of the 5 Ft. 2 In. Women" (Showtime, 1994), had the misfortune to be broadcast the same night as Barbra Streisand's HBO concert and went unseen by nearly everyone.
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Made film debut in "Any Which Way You Can"
Performed as a stand-up comedian
Released first album, "Goddess in Progress"
Starred in TV comedy show, "Just Say Julie" (MTV)
Co-starred in and co-wrote feature "Earth Girls are Easy"
Spoofed Madonna in "Medusa: Dare to Be Truthful", a Showtime special
Starred in sketch comedy series "The Edge" (Fox)
Provided character voice of Saleen on the animated series "Aladdin"
Cast in the spoof "Plump Fiction"; portrayed Mimi, a character based on Uma Thurman's role in "Pulp Fiction"
Co-wrote, executive produced and starred in the Comedy Central series "Strip Mall"