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Barry Levinson Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (2)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trade Mark (4)  | Trivia (16)  | Personal Quotes (4)  | Salary (2)

Overview (2)

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Height 5' 11" (1.8 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Barry Levinson was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Violet (Krichinsky) and Irvin Levinson, who worked in furniture and appliance. He is of Russian Jewish descent. Levinson graduated from high school in 1960, attended college at American University in Washington, DC. He did well, but decided he wanted to go to Los Angeles. In LA, Levinson worked for the Oxford Company, studying acting, improvisation, and production; worked in comedy clubs, where he learned how to write; and began dating Valerie Curtin. In 1967, won a job writing for a local TV comedy show. He eventually performed his material on the show, winning a local Emmy. In the 70s, Levinson wrote for The Carol Burnett Show (1967) -- and won two Emmys in three years. Mel Brooks hired him for Silent Movie (1976), then, High Anxiety (1977). Levinson and Curtin married in 1975. They co-wrote: _...And Justice for All (1979)_, and other scripts. While Curtin performed in San Francisco, he wrote Diner (1982). MGM bought it and, with a budget of under $5 million, Levinson directed. Curtin and Levinson divorced in 1982. Levinson met Dianna Rhodes while he was filming Diner (1982). She lived in Baltimore, with her two children Patrick and Michelle Levinson. Levinson and Rhodes later married and had two more children, Sam Levinson and Jack Levinson. Proving himself as a director with The Natural (1984), he tackled his most ambitious project to that time in Rain Man (1988). Levinson went on to place his stamp on films like Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), and Bugsy (1991). After his many successes, Toys (1992) did poorly. Levinson had a hit with Disclosure (1994) in 1994, the same year the Levinsons moved to Marin County in Northern California to get away from the Hollywood scene.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Bob Shields <rshields@igc.apc.org>

Spouse (2)

Diana Rhodes (1983 - present) ( 2 children)
Valerie Curtin (13 December 1977 - 1982) ( divorced)

Trade Mark (4)

All of the films directed by Levinson have featured characteractor Ralph Tabakin in a small role.
Films set in his home town of in Baltimore, Maryland: Diner (1982), Tin Men (1987), Avalon (1990) and Liberty Heights (1999).
Frequently casts 'Robin Williams' and Dustin Hoffman
Film editing by Stu Linder in the majority of his films.

Trivia (16)

Since 1991, has been working on a documentary about the friends he grew up with in Baltimore in the 1950s.
Has homes in southern California, Connecticut, New York and Annapolis, Maryland.
Stepfather of Michelle Levinsonand Patrick Levinson.
Attended the same high school (Forest Park in Baltimore) as ''Mama' Cass Elliot' and Spiro Agnew.
His films often take place in the past: Diner (1982); The Natural (1984) ; Good Morning, Vietnam (1987); Bugsy (1991); Avalon (1990); Sleepers (1996) and An Everlasting Piece (2000).
Wife Diana is a painter.
Living in New York and Connecticut.
Father of actor, writer, director Sam Levinson and Jack Levinson.
Directed 6 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Glenn Close, Warren Beatty, Harvey Keitel, Ben Kingsley, Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams. Hoffman won an Oscar for his performance in Levinson's Rain Man (1988).
Graduated from Forest Park High School in the Forest Park neighborhood of Baltimore: other famous alumni from Forest Park High School include former U.S. vice president Spiro Agnew, actor Thomas Beck and actress Margaret Hayes.
Met and interviewed the late John Lennon in New York City, in 1980.
Jason Croot was screen tested for Barry Levinson in 2008.
His parents were both of Russian Jewish descent.
For the AFI publication "Private Screenings" Levinson chose Karl Freund The Mummy (1932) as his favorite film.
During an interview with comedian Gilbert Gottfried at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, Levinson recounted that he first became involved with show business in 1968, when he reluctantly accompanied his friend George to an acting class. As Levinson became more and more interested in the class, his friend's interest waned and the two eventually lost touch when Levinson relocated to be closer to the film and television industry. He had no idea what became of George until he saw the film, Blow (2001), in which he learned that his friend, portrayed by Johnny Depp, became the largest cocaine dealer in America. The two reconnected following Jung's 2015 release from prison, when Jung recounted watching Levinson at the Oscars during his incarceration.
Nominated for the 2018 Emmy Award in the Outstanding Directing For A Limited Series, Movie Or Dramatic Special category for Paterno (2018), but lost to Ryan Murphy for American Crime Story: The Man Who Would Be Vogue (2018).

Personal Quotes (4)

It gets harder and harder to make movies about human beings. These movies are like an endangered species. Everything is "simplify, simplify" now. How many movies have sub-plots anymore?
We're talking about a very strange time (in Hollywood), to be honest. Writing by committee becomes much less about a vision. It is really about a piece of merchandise. We excuse movies like Independence Day (1996) that really lack logic and say, "It doesn't make any sense, but it's a ride". I thought a movie was a movie and a ride was a ride.
[on what has changed since Wag the Dog (1997) and its media critique] "Wag" is not some kind of documentary, it's just looking at the tools that are available. Now you've got more tools, you've got social media and you just post stories through all types of back channels that can get some traction. The public doesn't know what to believe anymore. We don't know what stories are supposedly true, this idea of 'fake news.' We watch it on what I guess you would call a split-focus. It's half entertainment and half mystery. We can't make sense out of it. There's too many events that happen now where we can't make any sense out of it, whatsoever. You can create images on social media that look 100 percent believable, but they're not. Not to mention all the stories that you read. If you create a visual that actually captures the imagination, it will look real and that will spread at such lightning speed that by the time it's found out, it has already done its damage. It's a very, very scary time that we're living in. I say it's an age of absurdity. [Karlovy Vary, 2018]
[on Toys (1992)] It became a point with people to say, "Oh-ho, I hated the movie and this is what he wanted to do for 12 years". The level of the anger is something I don't know how to relate to. That I wanted to make the movie that badly - should they be angry about that? And maybe there is a very thin line between something you really believe in and something that is a self-indulgence. But if you don't take risks then people will just keep turning out the same movies over and over again. You cannot do a comedy in America that is not just a sitcom extension. An absurdist sensibility is not something that studios are comfortable with. The only fantasy cinema to emerge in Hollywood is the kind that's already part of American culture. Whatever is going on in the visual design, Batman (1989) is an extension of the comic books. The Addams Family (1991) comes from the television show. That makes them mainstream film-making in the sense that you have a pre-sold item which America will buy. On the other hand if you take Brazil (1985), or Edward Scissorhands (1990), that are not based on an existing cultural phenomenon, it's much more difficult for them to succeed.

Salary (2)

Rain Man (1988) $2,500,000 +% of gross
Bandits (2001) $10,000,000

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