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Norman Jewison

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Biography

Norman Jewison

Source: Freebase

Norman Frederick Jewison, CC, O.Ont (born 21 July 1926) is a Canadian film director, producer, actor and founder of the Canadian Film Centre.

Jewison's career as a film director began with the comedy Forty Pounds of Trouble (1962), starring Curtis. The next three films he directed, including two with Doris Day, The Thrill Of It All (1963) and Send Me No Flowers (1964), were also light comedies done under contract for Universal Studios. After The Art of Love (1965), Jewison was determined to escape from the genre and tackle more demanding projects. His breakthrough film proved to be The Cincinnati Kid (1965), a drama starring Steve McQueen, now considered one of the finest movies made about gambling, and Jewison considers it one of his personal favorites because it was his first challenging drama. This triumph was followed in 1966 by the acclaimed satire on Cold War paranoia, The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming, which was the first film Jewison also produced, and was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Continuing the string of successes was one of the films that have become closely identified with their director: In the Heat of the Night (1967), a crime drama set in a racially divided Southern town and starring Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger, which won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, while Jewison was nominated for Best Director. As a follow-up he directed and produced another film with McQueen, using innovative multiple screen images in the crime caper The Thomas Crown Affair (1968). From that point Jewison would produce all feature films he would direct, often with associate Patrick Palmer, and would also act as producer for films directed by others, beginning with his former film editor Hal Ashby's The Landlord (1970).

After the completion of the period comedy Gaily, Gaily (1969), Jewison, having become disenchanted with the political climate in the United States, moved his family to England. At Pinewood Studios northwest of London, and on location in Yugoslavia, he worked on what would become one of the top grossing films of all time, the musical Fiddler on the Roof (1971, re-issued 1979), which would win three Oscars and be nominated for five others, including Best Picture and Director.

Jewison's next project was the musical Jesus Christ Superstar (1973), based on the Broadway musical written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. It was filmed in Israel, where Jewison also produced the western Billy Two Hats (1974), starring Gregory Peck. Superstar, controversial for its treatment of a sacred subject, was followed by another movie that sparked critical debate - this time over the violence in Rollerball (1975), set in the near future where corporations ruled the world and entertainment centered around a deadly game. The next film he directed, the labor union drama F.I.S.T. (1978), also provided some controversy, this time around the script adapted by star Sylvester Stallone.

In 1978 Jewison returned to Canada, settling in the Caledon area in Ontario, and establishing a farm that would produce prize winning cattle. Operating from a base in Toronto, as well as one maintained in California, he directed high profile actors Al Pacino in ...And Justice for All (1979), and Burt Reynolds and Goldie Hawn in the romantic comedy Best Friends (1982), as well as producing The Dogs of War (1981) and Iceman (1984). During this period Jewison also acted as producer for the 53rd Annual Academy Awards (1981), which was slated to air the day President Ronald Reagan was shot, and had to be rescheduled.

Revisiting the theme of racial tension that had characterized In the Heat of the Night, Jewison's A Soldier's Story (1984), based on a Pulitzer Prize winning play, was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. His subsequent film was also based on an acclaimed play. The provocative Agnes of God (1985), set in a Quebec convent, starred Jane Fonda, Meg Tilly and Anne Bancroft; it received three Academy Award nominations.

Jewison's next film proved to be one of the most popular romantic films ever made. Moonstruck (1987), starring Cher, was a box office hit that garnered three Academy Awards, including Cher as Best Actress. It also competed for the Oscar for Best Picture, as well as providing Jewison with his third nomination for Best Director. During this period he became the force behind a project that had long been of interest: the Canadian Centre for Advanced Film Studies was incorporated in 1986. Renamed the Canadian Film Centre, it began operations in 1988. As founder, Norman Jewison has continued his efforts for the Centre in many capacities. Feature films such as House (directed by Laurie Lynd) and Shoemaker (directed by Colleen Murphy), as well as many short films such as the south asian "Shanti Baba Ram & the Dancers of Hope" (directed by Steve Rosenberg, title track by Vikas Kohli of Fatlabs) and Elevated (directed by Vincenzo Natali) have all come from the Canadian Film Centre.

For the next decade Jewison continued to direct feature films released by major studios: In Country (1989), a drama concerned with Vietnam veterans and the daughter of a war casualty; Other People's Money (1991), a social comedy about greed in the 1980s; Only You (1994), a romantic comedy set in Italy; and Bogus (1996), a fantasy about a young boy and his imaginary friend. He also served as producer for the film January Man (1989), and executive producer for the Canadian movie Dance Me Outside, and branched back into television both as a director and producer, including the series The Rez (1996-1998).

The Hurricane (1999) was Jewison's third film to explore the effects of racism, telling the story of boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, who had been falsely convicted for a triple murder in New Jersey during the mid-sixties. Denzel Washington was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Carter. In 1999 Jewison's work was recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences when he was given the prestigious Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for lifetime achievement.

The Thalberg award was one of many honours Jewison has been awarded, including Honorary Degrees from Trent, Western Ontario and the University of Toronto, and being made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1992. In addition, he has received numerous tributes at Canadian and international film festivals and retrospectives, and has been given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Canada's Walk of Fame. A park in downtown Toronto was named after him in 2001.

Norman Jewison has continued directing and producing; his latest film to be released was the thriller The Statement (2003), based on a novel by Brian Moore, and starring Michael Caine.

Fact file

  • Born: Norman Frederick Jewison July 21, 1926 (age 89) Toronto, Ontario
  • Alma mater: Victoria College, University of Toronto
  • Occupation: Film director and producer
  • Years active: 1950–2003
  • Spouse(s): Margaret Ann Dixon (1953–2004; 3 children) Lynne St. David (m. November 2010)

Read more about Norman Jewison at Wikipedia or at the Internet Movie Database

In the news

carolehorst
Variety, 2018-09-09 22:23:37
The Canadian Film Centre, the screen content and career development hub founded by Norman Jewison 30 years ago, has received a major boost from Netflix in the form of the Netflix-CFC Global Project, it was announced at the CFC’s annual BBQ Fundraiser on Sunday afternoon. The five-year partnership will foster ...

TCM Classic Film Fest celebrates Poitier, Fisher, Reynolds
Yahoo Entertainment, 2017-02-14 18:08:47
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Turner Classic Movies is recognizing Sidney Poitier, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher at its eighth annual TCM Classic Film Festival .

'In the Heat of the Night' and Sidney Poitier to open TCM Film Festival
LA Times Entertainme, 2017-02-13 22:15:00
Once again finding timely subject matter in the celluloid past, the TCM Classic Film Festival opens April 6 with the 1967 crime drama “In the Heat of the Night.” Directed by Norman Jewison, the film won Oscars for best picture, Stirling Silliphant’s screenplay, Hal Ashby’s film editing, sound and...

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