Academy Award winner Director, Screenwriter, Producer, Barry Levinson has crafted an enviable reputation in the film industry as a director who blends literate and intelligent visions into films.
Levinson was awarded the 1988 Best Director Oscar for the multiple Academy Award winning "Rain Man," starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise.
In 1987, Levinson directed Robin Williams in the comedy "Good Morning Vietnam," which went on to become one of the year's most acclaimed and popular movies. In 1991 "Bugsy," which was directed and produced by Levinson, and was nominated for ten Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director.
Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Levinson has used his hometown as the setting for four widely praised features: "Diner," the semi-autobiographical comedy/drama that marked his directorial debut; "Tin Men" starring Danny DeVito and Richard Dreyfuss as warring aluminum siding salesmen; "Avalon," in which his native city takes center stage through the recollections of an immigrant family; and "Liberty Heights," a humorous and touching drama that captures the spirit of change in Baltimore circa 1954, addressing issues of race, class and religion.
After attending American University in Washington, D.C., Levinson moved to Los Angeles, where he began acting as well as writing and performing comedy routines. He went on to write several television variety shows, including "The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine," which originated in England, "The Tim Conway Show," and "The Carol Burnett Show."
A meeting with Mel Brooks led Levinson to collaborate with the veteran comedian on the features "Silent Movie," and "High Anxiety." "High Anxiety" is also notable because it features Barry's film acting debut.
As a screenwriter, Levinson has received three Academy Award nominations, for "...And Justice for All," "Diner," and "Avalon."
Levinson's additional directorial credits include "The Natural," "Young Sherlock Holmes," "Toys," "Jimmy Hollywood," "Disclosure," "Sleepers," "Sphere," and "Wag the Dog."
Barry later returned to Baltimore to film the television series "Homicide: Life on the Street." His work on this critically acclaimed drama earned him an Emmy for Best Individual Director of a Drama Series. The series has also received three Peabody Awards, two Writers Guild Awards and an Excellence in Quality Television Founders Award for the 1994 and 1995 seasons.
Homicide: Life On The Streets series won the Nancy Susan Reynolds Award for outstanding portrayal of sexual responsibility in a dramatic series as well as a PRISM Commendation In 1996. The series also garnered two TCA Awards for program of the year and drama of the year. In 1997 and 1998 it also won the TCA award for drama of the year. Barry Levinson with his partner Tom Fontana received the 1999 Humanitas Award for Homicide: Life on the Street "Shades of Gray" episode.
Barry's feature "Sleepers" (1996), a film based on the best selling book by Lorenzo Carcaterra, starring Robert DeNiro, Brad Pitt, Jason Patric, Kevin Bacon and Dustin Hoffman garnered critical acclaim and box office success.
The close of 1997 saw Barry at his most prolific, releasing two films nearly back to back, "Wag the Dog" and "Sphere." "Wag the Dog," a political satire written by Hilary Henkin and David Mamet, was nominated for two Academy Awards. "Sphere" (1998), a science-fiction film adapted from the Michael Crichton novel, stars Sharon Stone, Samuel L. Jackson, and marks Barry's fourth collaboration with Dustin Hoffman ("Rain Man," "Sleepers," and "Wag the Dog").
Barry Levinson partnered with Paula Weinstein, forming Baltimore/Spring Creek Pictures. Together they produced "Analyze This," (1999) a comedy starring Robert DeNiro and Billy Crystal, which opened to instant box office success. Levinson became one of Variety's "Billion Dollar Directors," as well as ShoWest's "Director of the Year" in 1998.
In February 1999, Levinson was honored with a Creative Achievement Award by the 13th Annual American Comedy Awards. Later that year, American University conferred upon Levinson the Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa, for his distinguished work in the field of Communications and his defining impact on the motion picture and television industry. Levinson was also honored for his commitment to the craft of filmmaking, his dedication to telling insightful stories, his exquisite sensitivity to the details of life as we live it, and his gifts and accomplishments as a director.
Levinson produces films through his production company Baltimore Pictures, Inc. Such critically acclaimed releases include "Quiz Show, "Donnie Brasco," and "The Second Civil War" (HBO).
"An Everlasting Piece" opened in 2000. It is a story about two hairpiece salesmen in Northern Ireland, one Protestant and one Catholic. Filmed entirely on location in Ireland with an Irish cast and crew, Barry once again tackled a serious issue with his trademark wit and humor.
Levinson's "Bandits," is a romantic comedy starring Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton and Cate Blanchett, opened in 2001. In February of 2002, Barry received the ACE Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the year award honoring his filmmaking career. In 2003, he published his first novel, "Sixty-Six."
Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana, under the banner of the Levinson/Fontana Company, executive produced the critically acclaimed HBO television series "OZ" that aired for six seasons from 1998 through 2003. In 2003, the team produced "Strip Search," a two-part, made for television movie that tackles the difficult issue of civil liberties post 9/11. "Strip Search" aired in the Spring of 2004. Levinson is an Executive Producer the Levinson/Fontana Company's new show, "The Bedford Diaries," which aired January of 2006 on the WB Network.
Returning to the theme of politics, while re-teaming with his "Good Morning, Vietnam" star Robin Williams, Levinson's most recent film is the dramatic comedy "Man of the Year." Written and directed by Levinson, Williams plays a late night political talk show host who runs for president simply to shake up the political system, never expecting to win. The film co-stars Christopher Walken, Laura Linney, Lewis Black, and Jeff Goldblum. It was released by Universal Studios in October 2006.
Currently, Levinson will direct Art Linson's "What Just Happened?" starring Robert DeNiro. Linson is the veteran producer of such films as "The Untouchables" and "Fight Club." The script, based on Linson's autobiographical Hollywood tell-all book, "What Just Happened? Bitter Hollywood Tales from the Front Line," chronicles the ups and downs of a desperate two weeks in the life of a Hollywood producer. Schedule for release in 2008.
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