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Biography

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Overview (1)

Born in Asheville, North Carolina, USA

Mini Bio (1)

Sam Irvin is a veteran film and television director, producer, screenwriter, author, journalist and educator.

After beginning his career as the assistant to Brian De Palma on "Dressed to Kill," Irvin has directed many movies, including "Guilty as Charged" (Rod Steiger, Lauren Hutton, Heather Graham, Isaac Hayes), "Acting on Impulse" (C. Thomas Howell, Linda Fiorentino, Nancy Allen, Paul Bartel Isaac Hayes, Cassandra Peterson), "Out There" (Billy Campbell, Rod Steiger, Billy Bob Thornton, Jill St. John, Paul Dooley, Robert Picardo, Julie Brown), "Fat Rose and Squeaky" (Louise Fletcher, Cicely Tyson, Julie Brown, Lea DeLaria), "Magic Island" (Zachery Ty Bryan, French Stewart, Isaac Hayes, Martine Beswick), "Oblivion" and its sequel "Oblivion 2: Backlash" (George Takei, Julie Newmar, Isaac Hayes, Meg Foster, Maxwell Caulfield), "A Very Cool Christmas" (George Hamilton, Donna Mills), "Deadly Skies" (Antonio Sabato Jr., Rae Dawn Chong, Michael Moriarty), "Proof of Innocence" (Joely Fisher, Denise Richards, Patrick Muldoon, Jim O'Heir, Debra Wilson), "My Santa" (Samaire Armstrong, Matthew Lawrence, Julie Brown, Jim O'Heir, Paul Dooley), and "Kiss of a Stranger" (Mariel Hemingway, Dyan Cannon, David Carradine) for which he also wrote the original screenplay.

Irvin has also produced a dozen additional films, including co executive producing Bill Condon's Academy Award winning motion picture, "Gods and Monsters"(Sir Ian McKellen, Brendan Fraser, and Lynn Redgrave).

For television, Irvin directed three entire seasons of the supernatural series "Dante's Cove"(Tracy Scoggins, Charlie David, Thea Gill, Stephen Amell, Booboo Stewart, Reichen Lehmkuhl), for which he also co wrote the theme song. Irvin has also directed all episodes of the comedy series "From Here! On OUT" (Terry Ray, T. J. Hoban, Juliet Mills, Suzanne Whang, Julie Brown). He also directed several episodes of Comedy Central's "Strip Mall"(Julie Brown, Cindy Williams, Stella Stevens, Maxwell Caulfield, Jim O'Heir, Carolyn Hennesy).

Irvin's first book "Kay Thompson: From Funny Face to Eloise" was published by Simon & Schuster and honored by Kirkus Reviews and the Theatre Library Association Awards as one of the "Best Biographies of the Year." While researching the life of Thompson, Irvin served as a historical consultant for the Tony Award winning Broadway event "Liza's at the Palace"(a recreation of Thompson's nightclub act performed by her goddaughter Liza Minnelli). Irvin also produced and annotated the 3 CD compilation "Think Pink! A Kay Thompson Party"(Sepia Records).

Between projects, Irvin is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts where he teaches graduate courses on directing. He resides in Los Angeles.

Biography in more detail:

Sam Irvin was born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina. In 1964, when he was eight years old, Irvin went on a family trip to California where he was able to tour various movie studios. At Warner Brothers, he watched an elaborate sequence being filmed for Blake Edwards's "The Great Race" starring Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Natalie Wood. In a giant water tank on a sound stage, Irvin watched with wide eyes as a nighttime storm scene unfolded, featuring antique cars floating across the Bering Strait on icebergs. From that moment on, he decided he wanted to direct movies. Commandeering his father's Super 8mm home movie camera, Irvin directed numerous horror movie shorts, including one starring his younger brother, Tim, as Dracula wearing a black beach towel for a cape, plastic fangs, and lots of ketchup.

Like the young boy in "Cinema Paradiso," Irvin spent much of his youth in movie theaters. His grandfather, Warren Irvin, was the district manager for Wilby-Kincey Theaters, a chain of cinemas throughout the Southeast. And his father, Sam Irvin Sr., co owned Irvin-Fuller Theaters, a competing chain with cinemas in North and South Carolina. During his youth, Irvin worked in these theaters in every capacity, from popping popcorn to tearing tickets to organizing horror movie kiddie matinées (with an emphasis on Vincent Price, Roger Corman, and Hammer Films). Later, during his college years, he worked for Irvin-Fuller Theaters as its Advertising and Publicity Manager, spearheading a record breaking year long run of "Silver Streak"(Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor) at the Gamecock Cinema in Columbia, South Carolina.

As a teenager, he edited and published Bizarre (1972 to 1975), a fanzine on fantasy, horror and science fiction films, for which he traveled to England to conduct in-person interviews with the likes of Vincent Price, Christopher Lee (on the set of the James Bond movie "The Man with the Golden Gun"), Peter Cushing, Diana Rigg, Ingrid Pitt, Jane Seymour, Joan Collins, Terence Fisher, Freddie Francis, and Sir James Carreras and his son, Michael Carreras (of Hammer Film Productions), among many others. (See retrospective 13 page spread on the history of Bizarre in Richard Klemensen's Little Shoppe of Horrors, issue number 27, October 2011.)

In 1978, Irvin graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts in Media Arts. While attending the university, he was the film critic for the Gamecock, the campus newspaper, and won a student film award for his thesis short film. He was also chairman of the University of South Carolina Film Committee that ran a year round cinema program at the campus theater.

During his summer break in 1977, Irvin interned on the Chicago location shooting for Brian De Palma's "The Fury" (Kirk Douglas, John Cassavetes, Amy Irving, Charles Durning). He worked on the feature as a production assistant and extra, and also wrote a journal on the making of the movie that was published in Cinefantastique magazine, Vol. 7, No. 2, 1978. Irvin also conducted an exclusive interview with Amy Irving in which, for the first time anywhere, she discussed her relationship with Steven Spielberg; it was published in Cinefantastique, Vol 6, No. 4 and Vol. 7, No. 1 (a special double "Star Wars" issue, 1978).

Irvin next served as Associate Producer and Production Manager on Brian De Palma's "Home Movies" starring Kirk Douglas, Nancy Allen, and Keith Gordon. Then, Irvin worked as De Palma's assistant on "Dressed to Kill" starring Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen and Keith Gordon.

He also worked closely with De Palma on several projects in development, including "Blow Out"(which eventually De Palma directed, starring John Travolta and Nancy Allen), and "Prince of the City"(which was originally going to star Robert De Niro from a script by David Rabe, but was ultimately directed by Sidney Lumet starring Treat Williams).

Irvin gave up his position as De Palma's assistant to produce "The First Time," a coming of age comedy for which De Palma served as a credited Creative Consultant. Executive produced by Robert Shaye and released by New Line Cinema, the film starred Tim Choate, Wendie Jo Sperber, Wallace Shawn, Cathryn Damon and Jane Badler.

During the 1980s, Irvin served as Vice President of Marketing for three film distributors: United Artists Classics, Spectrafilm, and Vestron. During this period, Irvin won Hollywood Reporter Key Art Awards for designing the movie posters for Francois Truffaut's "Confidentially Yours" and Paul Verhoeven's "The Fourth Man." He also helped spearhead the record breaking year long run of Jean-Jacques Beineix's "Diva" in New York City.

Irvin's first directorial effort, which he also wrote and produced, was the 1985 dark comedy short "Double Negative" starring Bill Randolph, Justin Henry, Wayne Knight, and William Finley. It premiered as an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival and subsequently played theatrically in New York and Los Angeles. Janet Maslin of the New York Times wrote that it was "an exceptionally promising first effort." This short film has been included as an extra bonus featurette on the 2013 European Blu-Ray DVD release of Brian DePalma's "The Fury."

Irvin went on to direct many feature films, including:

"Guilty as Charged" starring Rod Steiger, Lauren Hutton, Heather Graham, and Isaac Hayes. (The film won the Gold Special Jury Award for Best Independent Feature at Houston Worldfest.)

"Out There" a Showtime Original Movie starring Billy Campbell, Billy Bob Thornton, Rod Steiger, Jill St. John, Paul Dooley, Robert Picardo, David Rasche, Bill Cobbs, and Julie Brown.

"Acting on Impulse" a Showtime Original Movie starring C. Thomas Howell, Linda Fiorentino, Nancy Allen, Paul Bartel, Mary Woronov, Isaac Hayes, and Cassandra Peterson.

"Fat Rose and Squeaky" a Showtime Original Movie starring Louise Fletcher, Cicely Tyson and Julie Brown.

"A Very Cool Christmas" (aka "Too Cool for Christmas") starring George Hamilton and Donna Mills.

"Deadly Skies"(aka "Force of Impact") starring Antonio Sabato Jr., Rae Dawn Chong and Michael Moriarty.

"Elvira's Haunted Hills" starring Cassandra Peterson as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, and Richard O'Brien. (The film won the Audience Award at the 2002 Provincetown International Film Festival.)

"My Santa" starring Samaire Armstrong, Matthew Lawrence, Julie Brown, Jim O'Heir, and Paul Dooley.

"Proof of Innocence" starring Joely Fisher, Denise Richards, Patrick Muldoon, Jim O'Heir, and Debra Wilson.

From his own original screenplay, Irvin directed the Showtime Original Movie "Kiss of a Stranger" starring Mariel Hemingway, Dyan Cannon, Corbin Bernsen and David Carradine.

Irvin directed the cult science fiction westerns "Oblivion" and its sequel "Oblivion 2: Backlash" starring Julie Newmar, George Takei, Isaac Hayes, Meg Foster and Maxwell Caulfield. ("Oblivion" won the Gold Award for Best Fantasy / Science Fiction Feature at Houston Worldfest.)

He also directed the Disney Channel time travel pirate fantasy "Magic Island" starring Zachery Ty Bryan and French Stewart.

For television, Irvin directed several episodes of Comedy Central's "Strip Mall" starring Julie Brown, Cindy Williams, Stella Stevens, Maxwell Caulfield, Jim O'Heir, and Carolyn Hennesy.

Irvin has directed all episodes of the comedy series "From Here! On OUT" starring Terry Ray, T. J. Hoban, Juliet Mills, Suzanne Whang, Julie Brown.

Irvin directed three full seasons of "Dante's Cove" starring Tracy Scoggins, Charlie David, Jenny Shimizu, Thea Gill, Stephen Amell, Booboo Stewart, and Reichen Lehmkuhl. (Irvin also co wrote the series' international hit theme song, "Dying to Be with You").

Also for television, Irvin directed the opening of the 100th Anniversary of the World Series (2003), for Fox Television (a "through the ages" montage featuring the music of and starring Sheila E.).

Irvin directed several segments for the 2004 Super Bowl including a comedy sketch starring Eugene Levy as a scientist trying to improve the entertainment value of football. Other vignettes included Will Smith, Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon.

And, for the Fox Sports opening of the 2007 Sugar Bowl, Irvin directed "Dueling Musicians," shot on the streets of New Orleans.

After directing several American financed films in Romania, Irvin was invited by Romanian based Mediapro Studios to direct "Garcea si oltenii," a spin-off of Romania's most popular television show, starring a Monty Python-like sketch comedy group known as Vacante Mare. It became the highest grossing motion picture in Romanian history up to that time, beating previous record holder, James Cameron's "Titanic."

Also in Romania, Irvin directed "I Will Return a Man," a rock opera performed by the Romanian rock group Vama Veche, broadcast live on television from the National Theater in Bucharest. It was an anti war musical in the same genre as Pink Floyd's "The Wall."

His credits as a producer include:

Associate producing Brian De Palma's "Home Movies" starring Kirk Douglas, Nancy Allen and Keith Gordon. (Irvin also served as Production Manager.)

Co-executive producing Bill Condon's Academy Award winning film "Gods and Monsters" starring Sir Ian McKellen, Brendan Fraser and Lynn Redgrave. (Irvin also co directed with David Skal the "Making of" documentary for the DVD, entitled "The World of Gods and Monsters: A Journey with James Whale.")

Co-producing Greg Berlanti's "The Broken Hearts Club" starring Timothy Olyphant, Dean Cain, Zach Braff, John Mahoney, Nia Long and Justin Theroux.

Co-executive producing Bob Clark's "I'll Remember April" starring Haley Joel Osment, Pat Morita, Mark Harmon, Pam Dawber and Paul Dooley. (Irvin also was the second unit director.)

Co-executive producing "Big Monster on Campus" (aka "Boltneck: Teen Frankenstein") starring Ryan Reynolds, Shelley Duvall, Matthew Lawrence and Judge Reinhold.

Associate producing "The Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human" starring Mackenzie Astin, David Hyde Pierce, Carmen Electra and Lucy Liu.

Co-producing "Error in Judgement" starring Joanna Pacula, Joe Montegna, Kate Jackson and Paul Dooley.

Co-producing "When Time Expires" starring Richard Greico, Mark Hamill and Chad Everett.

Associate producing "Sticky Fingers" starring Helen Slater, Melanie Mayron, Eileen Brennan, Carol Kane, Christopher Guest and Loretta Devine.

Producing "The First Time" starring Tim Choate, Wendie Jo Sperber, Wallace Shawn, Cathryn Damon and Jane Badler. Creative Consultant: Brian De Palma.

Irvin's first book "Kay Thompson: From Funny Face to Eloise" was published by Simon & Schuster (November 2010) and was honored by Kirkus Reviews, The Theatre Library Association Awards, Robert Osborne, and Leonard Maltin as one of the "Best Biographies of the Year." Acclaimed by columnist Liz Smith as "a smashing work" and by entertainer Michael Feinstein as "one of the best showbiz bios I've ever read," this comprehensive biography covers the life and career of the legendary singer, actress, composer, arranger, author, fashionista Kay Thompson. She was the mentor and best friend of Judy Garland, the vocal guru to Frank Sinatra and Lena Horne, the mentor and longtime lover of Andy Williams, and the godmother and Svengali to Liza Minnelli (who recreated Thompson's nightclub act in the 2009 Tony Award winning event "Liza's at the Palace").

In connection with his research on the life of Kay Thompson, Irvin served as a historical consultant on the Tony Award winning Broadway event "Liza's at the Palace"; he produced and annotated the 2009 3 CD box set compilation "Think Pink! A Kay Thompson Party"(Sepia Records); and he appeared in and consulted on Paramount Home Entertainment's documentary "Kay Thompson: Think Pink!" (an extra included in Paramount's Centennial Collection DVD edition of Stanley Donen's "Funny Face" starring Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, and Kay Thompson).

As a journalist, Irvin has recently written articles for Little Shoppe of Horrors magazine, including an interview he conducted with Richard O'Brien of "Rocky Horror" fame.

Between projects, Irvin is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts where he teaches graduate courses on directing.

He resides in Los Angeles with Gary Bowers, his partner since 1982.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Sam Irvin

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