Robert Iscove began his career as a choreographer, working on stage and screen with such notable projects as "Peter Pan" and "Jesus Christ Superstar" and put his fluid visual approach to good use as a director for television moving into film in the late 1990s. A successful and prolific television director for much of the 80s and early 90s, Iscove made an initial splash in the early 70s, choreographing music and variety specials for stars including Burt Bacharach, Ann-Margret and Dorothy Hamill. A 1983 ice skating infused production of "Romeo & Juliet" starring the latter was one of Iscove's early directing and producing as well as choreographing credits, and the special, titled "Dorothy Hamill in Romeo & Juliet on Ice" earned him Daytime Emmy honors for his directing efforts.
In addition to longstanding work on the CBS drama "Wiseguy" from 1988-1990 and other series (including "Miami Vice" and "21 Jump Street"), Iscove worked extensively in made for TV films, managing to turn in movies of the week that were visually accomplished and dramatically compelling, despite having hopelessly cliched titles like CBS' "Breaking the Silence" (1992) and "Dying to Love You" (1993). The small screen offered Iscove the opportunity for consistent work, where he proved an inventive director, impressing with his masterful use of the limited resources. He moved into producing as well as directing in the 1990s, and took on varied projects, from the series of Janek detective TV-movies (1990-1994) starring Richard Crenna to a spate of fact-based personal horror stories like the domestic abuse chronicle "It Was Him or Us" (CBS, 1995) and even entries like the sci-fi disaster film "Without Warning" (CBS, 1994,). He tried his hand at series again, with co-producing and directing credits for the short-lived edgy drama "Profit" (Fox, 1996). The following year, his revisionist, multicultural take on the musical "Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella" captured a wide audience and earned the director and producer attention and an Emmy nod.
Having already racked up film credits as choreographer of Norman Jewison's 1973 big screen adaptation of "Jesus Christ Superstar" and 1976's "The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox," Iscove made the move to feature directing in 1999 with "She's All That," a roundabout modernization of "Pygmalion" for the high school set. More heartfelt than the lowbrow slapstick brand of comedy popular at the time and more fun than the heavy-handed John Hughes 1980s teen fare, "She's All That" was an auspicious debut, a box office success that received a fair measure of critical acclaim and set the bar for the countless teen comedy releases to come. The presence of hip-hop princess Lil' Kim and R&B heartthrob Usher added credibility, and an up-to-the-minute soundtrack made the film all the more attractive. Iscove's background in choreography obviously influenced his direction, shown not only in the film's two uncharacteristic but effective dance numbers, but also through the fluid motion of the camera throughout the film. One particularly impressive visual effect showcased an inspired transition between real and fantasy life, wherein Zack (Freddie Prinze Jr.) is seamlessly transported from the front lawn of school to poolside at spring break. The following year Iscove returned with "Boys and Girls," a similarly hip but sweet look at youthful relationships, this time set in college. The film reteamed Iscove with Prinze, and the two proved a good match. While the young actor rated high on the hot meters in the interim, Iscove was able to elicit a higher caliber performance from the young actor than he had given in some of his other projects. Co-starring fellow up and comers Jason Biggs and Claire Forlani, and marking the big screen debut of R&B diva Monica, the film was surrounded by hype-free buzz that should have appealed to its target audience. While on paper it might have seemed that Iscove had found a winning formula, "Boys and Girls" had to be ranked as a dismal failure.
In addition to this notable film and television work, Iscove was director and choreographer of the revival of "Peter Pan" starring Sandy Duncan, a captivating Broadway event that enjoyed a 1979-1981 run.
Director (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Dance (Feature Film)
Had early TV credit as choreographer of the ABC special "Burt Bacharach: Close to You"
Choreographed Norman Jewison's big screen adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit musical "Jesus Christ Superstar"
Was choreographer of two Ann-Margret NBC special, "Ann-Margret Olsson" and "Ann-Margret Smith"
Choreographed "The Dorothy Hamill Special" (ABC), a musical variety program hosted by the popular figure skater
Was choreographer for the feature "The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox", starring Goldie Hawn
Reteamed with Ann-Margret, choreographing the NBC country-western themed "Ann-Margret... Rhinestone Cowgirl"
Directed "Mary" (CBS), Mary Tyler Moore's short-lived stab at a comedy-variety series
Was director and choreographer of the Broadway revival of "Peter Pan", starring Sandy Duncan
Worked with figure skating champion Hamill again, as producer and director as well as choreographer of the CBS special "Dorothy Hamill in Romeo & Juliet on Ice"; won Daytime Emmy Award
Directed the turn-of-the-century prep school-set "American Playhouse" (PBS) production "The Prodigious Hickey", "The Little Mermaid" installment of Showtime's "Faerie Tale Theatre" and NBC's fantastical TV-movie "The Incredible Ida Early"
Was director of the TV-movies "Murder in Black & White", an installment of the Janek detective series starring Richard Crenna and "Shattered Dreams" (both CBS), a fact-based look at high society domestic violence
Moved into action-adventure territory as director of the World War II TV-movie "Mission of the Shark" and director and co-producer the San Francisco earthquake drama "Miracle on I-880" (both CBS)
Helmed "Terror on Track 9" (CBS), the next installment of the adventures of New York police detective Frank Janek
Handled high drama as producer and director of the CBS TV-movies "Dying to Love You" and "River of Rage: The Taking of Maggie Keene"
Helmed and produced the Janek entries "The Forget-Me-Not Murders" and "A Silent Betrayal" (both CBS)
Was producer and director of the similarly named but differently themed "Without Consent" (ABC) and "Without Warning" (CBS), a psychiatric hospital-set drama and sci-fi asteroid disaster flick respectively
Produced and helmed the fact-based CBS telepic "It Was Him or Us"
Was producer and director of the short-lived, edgy Fox drama series "Profit"
Directed and produced Fox's action TV-movie "Dark Angel"
Helmed the gripping TV-movie psychodrama "Murder in Mind" for CBS
Received an Emmy nomination for directing the updated, multicultural TV-movie remake "Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella", starring Brandy and Whitney Houston
Made feature directorial debut with the updated "Pygmalion" revisit "She's All That"; first teaming with star Freddie Prinze Jr
Returned to the big screen as helmer of the romantic comedy "Boys and Girls", starring Prinze