Production notes


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Production Notes

"We shape our dwellings and afterwards our dwellings shape us."
? Winston Churchill

Director Irwin Winkler had long dreamed of making a movie about a man trapped in a typical, fast-moving 21st century life who decides to escape and rebuild a new life lived from the heart. The idea was abstract, but when Winkler bounced it off Oscar-nominated screenwriter Mark Andrus (As Good as it Gets), Andrus replied: "What about making it a story about a man in the midst of a crisis rebuilding a house?"

The metaphor seemed perfect — and very apt in an era when more and more people are tearing down and rebuilding houses on their own. "Mark really turned the idea of constructing a house into a story about how you construct a meaningful life," says Irwin Winkler. "He put at the center of it a wonderful hero: a man at the end of his rope who finally finds the courage to boldly go after the one dream he’s never had a chance to fulfill and who becomes a catalyst for all kinds of changes in the people around him."

Andrus filled his script not only with authentic details about constructing a house, but with numerous characters who are each looking for something simple and direct and human in a world that often threatens those very things. Each is drawn to George Monroe’s quest for their own individual reasons. "There are many love stories in this script," observes Winkler. "It’s about a man who gives many people the fearlessness to give up their anger and do something out of love."

When Andrus turned in his screenplay the most astonishing thing about it was its tone: heart-wrenching yet hilarious, life-affirming yet filled with the wonderful absurdities of everyday life, teeming with family dysfunction yet also with wit and passion. "The script was very smart and funny and sad and surprising all at the same time," comments Winkler. "Mark has a real knack for capturing human behavior at its most interesting, real and complicated. He understands longing and loss but he also understands the very funny ways people behave. The script was filled with humor -- the kind of humor that makes you laugh because it’s so true and real."

Winkler knew the script would require an extraordinarily nuanced and ultimately heroic performance from its lead actor and it was clear from the start that Kevin Kline would be George Monroe. According to the director, "Kevin was perfect for the role, because he’s someone clearly capable of transformation. He can go from rock-bottom to a guy so full of life it’s almost scary. No matter how you feel about the character in the beginning, Kevin makes you fall in love with George Monroe."

Adds producer Rob Cowan: "We knew Kevin could pull off a tough, edgy character that you nevertheless really, really care about."

Kline was drawn to the script because of the story’s surprising turns and twists as well as the humaness of its characters. "It’s a beautifully written script. George Monroe is trying to make sense of his life and inadvertently becomes a catalyst for others involved in the same struggle," says Kline. "Among other things it’s about a man who has lived in fear most of his life and then finds courage."

Kline was also drawn to the relationship George Monroe has with his ex-wife, played by Kristin Scott Thomas, which turns into a very subtle modern romance. "It’s a very real relationship," he notes. "They were two fairly damaged people who found each other once and now they’re discovering each other again."

To take on the role, Kline found himself literally stripping and sanding wood, as he underwent an intensive crash-course in mortise and tenon construction — learning everything from how to hack down walls with a sledgehammer, to carpentry, welding and working with dangerous power-tools like the chainsaw. He particularly enjoyed the physicality of the role, but he also became an unabashed fan of the more quiet art of model-making, which he learned from architectural model builder Nick Dorr. "I found the model building very absorbing — it’s painstaking work, but quite rewarding," admits Kline, who built several of his own models in his trailer.

One of the most important building blocks in George’s re-discovery is Kristin Scott Thomas’ Robin, who left him years ago and went on to attain the pinnacle of absolutely everything in life — money, children, beauty -- except happiness. She finds it in the very last place she ever would have imagined: with the ex-husband she gave up on as frustratingly unemotional and annoyingly unambitious. Only now she discovers a different side to him.

"I like that this movie is about people doing the things that they’ve always put off doing in life," says Scott Thomas. "It’s sort of a push to get out there and do all the things you’ve always wanted to do and say the things you’ve always wanted to say."

The film was in fact a chance for Kristin Scott Thomas to do something she had always wanted to do: work with Kevin Kline. "I’d been longing to work with him," she admits, "and this was a wonderful fulfillment of that. He takes his job tremendously seriously — he really examined the dark side of this character’s soul — but he also has a lot of fun with it."

She was also intrigued by the volatile dynamics of their relationship, typical of divorced couples who remain friends. "George thinks Robin has sold out and is living this meaningless life of luxury and doesn’t have any ideals anymore, while Robin thinks George has only ideals and no guts to follow through on them. When George decides to actually build the house, that blows her away. He’s actually living the life they both once dreamed of."

Although she was drawn to the universal themes of Mark Andrus’ script, Scott Thomas had a unique challenge: putting together a portrait of the ultimate American mom. "There is something incredibly American about this film," she admits, "but it’s also about something anyone can relate to: about how to build a life." The filmmakers found working with the actress a rewarding experience. Notes producer Rob Cowan, "there’s a charm and a warmth to Kristin that really elevates the whole level of the film."

Standing between George and Robin is their son Sam, a fierce — and pierced — angry young Goth who wears more eye makeup than his mother. "He’s a bit of a nightmare," admits Kristin Scott Thomas. "But then again, he comes from a family where everyone has lost faith in each other and have nothing but scorn for one another. At least, that’s the way it appears to him at first."

Taking on the role of Sam is rising young star Hayden Christensen, who made headlines when he won the role of the youthful Darth Vader in George Lucas’ forthcoming Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Although Christensen was one of many young men who auditioned for the part of Sam, the filmmakers were enthralled by his James Dean-like expression of adolescent turmoil and angst. "We were knocked out by him," notes Irwin Winkler. "When he read with Kevin, Kevin kept looking at me as if to say ‘this kid really has it.’ That turned out to be very true. He has a marvelous presence and there’s very little he can’t do."

Christensen was excited by the idea of playing "a really complex kid. Sam’s in a downward spiral when we first see him because he’s this kid who feels no love in his life, not from anybody. He’s very confused and very angry," he explains. "But when he sees his dad tearing down this house that’s filled with all these old memories, Sam becomes ready to tear down the way he’s been living his life."

The construction of George Monroe’s house also brings Sam closer to George’s teen-aged neighbor Alyssa — in a fresh and surprising way. "I like that Sam and Alyssa don’t really have a normal boyfriend-girlfriend thing together — it’s really awkward and different," says Christensen. He adds: "That’s part of what I really liked about this movie. The feelings and emotions just seem so offbeat yet so true — sometimes funny and sometimes sad but they always hit you as being very real to the way people are."

Pulling Sam out of his darkened shell is Alyssa Beck, played by the acclaimed young actress Jena Malone, who was drawn to the script’s unflinchingly dark comedy. "I love a blend of black humor and reality," she says. "And the relationships in this film are really different and unique. I like that here you have these neighbors who have lived next to each other all this time, but they’ve never really known each other until now. All the secrets start to come out."

Malone was particularly enchanted by her character Alyssa, who drifts between charming innocence and sexual precocity. "She plays with that line between child and adult," she admits. "She likes to push the boundaries. She does it with Sam and she does it with George — but really, she’s just learning to follow her instincts, which is part of what the movie is all about."

Kevin Kline was particularly impressed with the naturalistic performances of both Christensen and Malone. "I found them both to be astounding and remarkable actors," he says.

Adding a touch of comic tenderness to the main ensemble is Academy Award-winner Mary Steenburgen as George’s closest neighbor, a single mother he once dated . . . and dumped. Steenburgen fell in love with her colorful character and with the story. "I felt this was a story that makes you want to live and love very hard and very well," says the actress. "It’s a really beautiful tale about making your existence count."

Steenburgen’s Coleen is yet another character who finds her life turned upside down by George’s decision to refurbish his house — although with some rather unintended consequences. "Coleen is looking for love, but definitely in all the wrong places," laughs Steenburgen. "She’s a flawed character but I really like her basic humanity."

One of the things Steenburgen most enjoyed about Coleen and the rest of the characters in Life as a House is that they call into question what makes up the "ideal American family." "I think a lot of us judge ourselves against some sort of idealized vision of what the family should be," she says, "and yet those families really don’t exist. Here, you have characters wrestling with life but coming to grips with their fear and their loneliness and finding genuine love. It could be done in a sentimental way but instead, this film talks about it with humor and irreverence. It’s very, very real life."

The cast of Life as a House is completed by a host of talented supporting players including Sam Robards, Barry Primus and Margo Winkler as George Monroe’s nosy neighbors; Jamey Sheridan as Robin’s new husband and Scotty Leavenworth and Mike Weinberg as their two sons; Ian Somerhalder as Sam’s delinquent school friend; Scott Bakula as a sympathetic law officer; and John Pankow as George Monroe’s amoral architectural boss who sets him on a new course.

"The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it."

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Even as it depicts the sometimes dark underside of American life, Life as a House is set in an almost fairy-tale location — with the story perched, for the most part, on a sheer cliff dangling above the crashing Pacific ocean. It is here that George Monroe has lived in squalor for years, and here that he decides to finally take a wild plunge and build his dream home.

For Kevin Kline, the overwhelming natural beauty of the location was part and parcel of George’s transformation. "George lives in a place that’s almost too magnificent — I mean everyday you’ve got the sunrises and the sunsets and the fog rolling in and out and the waves crashing. It’s gorgeous but he takes it for granted until he suddenly wakes up."

Summarizes producer Rob Cowan: "We wanted to shoot in a place where you would think: how could anything go wrong in that neighborhood? You’ve got the palm trees and the ocean and the sun, but that’s not the whole story. At the core of it, these people still need a wakeup call."

The film was shot primarily on the southern slopes of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, a Southern California seaside community noted for its spectacular ocean views and handsome upper middle-class homes. Incredibly, Irwin Winkler, producer Rob Cowan and production designer Dennis Washington discovered during a helicopter search over the area their perfect idyll: a desolate bluff surrounded by a trendy residential neighborhood. The area is known locally as Long Point, a sprawling piece of land that once housed the Marineland Aquarium and still contains some 4,400 feet of breathtaking ocean frontage.

"We were so fortunate to find this location with such an incredible vista," says Cowan. "You really believe that a man could build something wonderful and lasting here, something that would withstand the winds and the waves over the years."

Here, the production crew first designed Kevin Kline’s dilapidated shack -- and the many different stages of its destruction and reconstruction as an open-air architectural home. In fact, production designer Dennis Washington decided to actually erect a pre-built house to give George Monroe’s project an absolutely authentic feeling throughout. In addition, Washington constructed enough facades to form an entire cul-de-sac of suburban homes that surround Monroe’s property.

"The changing state of George’s house really reflects what’s going on inside him," notes Rob Cowan. "At first it’s just this unwanted shack with a rundown, lonely feeling to it but as they begin to build the new house, it takes on a warmth and openness and becomes something that you can see will be very lasting. And we have Dennis Washington to thank for creating these amazing designs and integrating them to become a part of the story."

Fortunately for the filmmakers, Washington actually studied architecture before beginning his career as a set designer — and it was he who drafted the blueprints for the stirring final house. "He was incredibly creative in his design," says Irwin Winkler."We decided early on that we didn’t want it to be some impractical castle, but something you would really live in using the natural elements of the surroundings. Dennis took it from there."

Continues Washington: "I wanted a house with the charm and the craftsmanship that a character like George would have designed. It had to have a real elegance — and stand out from everything else around it."

Although most of the filming took place at Palos Verdes, the cast and crew of Life as a House also shot at nearby coastal coves and other locales throughout Los Angeles. The interior of Mary Steenburgen’s house was found in Long Beach. School scenes with Hayden Christensen and Jena Malone were photographed at the Salvation Army/Crestmont College in Palos Verdes. Kristin Scott Thomas’ luxurious house was photographed above Zuma Beach in Malibu. "Dennis was really eclectic in his choices and designed each house to represent the characters who live inside," notes Rob Cowan.

Despite the stunning atmosphere the ocean setting lent to the film, it also brought something else: unpredictable weather and often uncomfortable conditions. "The weather changed every five minutes," notes Kristin Scott Thomas. "We were always prepared for anything."

The water in particular was dangerously cold, something Kevin Kline discovered when he insisted on doing his own stunts. "When we were shooting the sequence where Kevin jumps off the cliff and then emerges out of the heavy surf, he could only wear a short wet suit because he’s wearing shorts in the scene. It got pretty cold and we were very concerned for his safety," recalls Irwin Winkler. "But the timing was right for the shot because the light had turned wonderful and the waves were very dramatic. So Kevin repeated the scene for three or four takes until we had it right. That’s the kind of actor he is."

Adding to the power of the film’s location is photography by Academy Award-winner Vilmos Zsigmond, who brings to Life as a House a visually emotional underpinning. "I’ve wanted to work with Vilmos for twenty years but I was never able to get him before," says Irwin Winkler. "I don’t think I’ve ever worked with anybody more full of creative ideas. I can’t imagine making this film without him."

Adds Rob Cowan: "Vilmos contributed something really special to the tone of the film with his sometimes stunning, sometimes ironic and often moving images. When you saw Irwin, Kevin and Vilmos on the set together it was like an amazing dance. One would have an idea and then someone else would take it to the next level. It was a great working relationship."

Zsigmond was equally excited by the results of the collaboration. "The project was daunting, but to capture such beauty was worth all the effort," he says.

Summarizes Kevin Kline: "Vilmos perfectly captured that unique Pacific coastal light and atmosphere which has it’s own sense of mystery, danger, beauty and calm."


Click to enlargeKevin Kline (George Monroe)

Academy Award-winner Kevin Kline stars as George Monroe, a man who decided to tear down his house and wound up rebuilding the world around him. Kline has earned equal distinction in the worlds of film and theatre.

In addition to an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his work in A Fish Called Wanda, Kline was nominated for Golden Globe Awards for his roles in Sophie's Choice, Dave, In & Out and Soapdish. A Julliard graduate, Kline's Broadway credits include Hal Prince's "On the Twentieth Century," for which he won both a Tony and a Drama Desk Award, and "The Pirates of Penzance," for which he again won both a Tony and a Drama Desk Award as well as the Obie Award for Outstanding Achievement by an actor.

After his acclaimed debut in Alan Pakula's moving adaptation of William Styron’s novel Sophie’s Choice, for which he received Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations, Kline began a long-standing creative relationship with writer/director Lawerence Kasdan on the influential ensemble comedy The Big Chill, followed by the Western Silverado, the offbeat comedy I Love You To Death, the ensemble drama Grand Canyon and the romantic comedy French Kiss. Kline's other film credits include Princess Caraboo, Fierce Creatures, Chaplin, The Ice Storm, A Midsummer Night's Dream and most recently, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming’s digital video feature The Anniversary Party. Kline will next be seen in The Palace Thief, directed by Michael Hoffman and based on the novella by Ethan Canin.

On stage, Kline won rave reviews for his off-Broadway performance in Shaw’s "Arms and the Man" directed by John Malkovich, and starred in David Hare’s adaptation of Chekov’s "Ivanov" at Lincoln Center. He has appeared at the New York Shakespeare Festival in "Richard III," "Henry V," "Measure for Measure," "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Hamlet," for which he won the Obie Award for Sustained Achievement in Theater. He directed and starred in a second production of "Hamlet," receiving five Drama Desk nominations, including for director and actor. Later, he co-directed a televised version of the production for the PBS "Great Performances" series. This Summer he appeared in Mike Nichols’ critically-acclaimed production of Anton Chekov’s "The Seagull," co-starring Meryl Streep, Christopher Walken, Marcia Gay Harden, Natalie Portman, John Goodman and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Click to enlargeKristin Scott Thomas (Robin Kimball)

Kristin Scott Thomas plays Robin Kimball, George Monroe’s ultra-successful ex-wife who once shared his house and his dream. Scott Thomas previously received both Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations for her starring role opposite Ralph Fiennes in Anthony Minghella’s Oscar-winning epic The English Patient.

Well-known to audiences in her native Britain and around the world, Scott Thomas most recently starred opposite Sean Penn in Phillip Haas’ Up at the Villa. Other recent roles include starring opposite Harrison Ford in Sydney Pollack’s Random Hearts. Her other film credits include The Horse Whisperer, in which she starred opposite and was directed by Robert Redford; Brian De Palma's Mission: Impossible, in which she played opposite Tom Cruise; Richard Loncraine's Richard III, starring Ian McKellen; Phillip Haas’ Angels and Insects, for which she garnered the London Evening Standard Award for Best Actress; Mike Newell's Four Weddings and a Funeral, in which she starred opposite Hugh Grant (and for which she received awards including a BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress); Roman Polanski's Bitter Moon, in which she first appeared with Hugh Grant; and Charles Sturridge's A Handful of Dust (for which she received the London Evening Standard Award as Best Newcomer). She will next be seen in Robert Altman’s period drama Gosford Park.

Scott Thomas speaks several languages and has appeared in a number of foreign language films, including Pierre Jolivet's Force Majeure, Marie-France Pisier's Le Bal du Gouverneur, Eric Rochant's Aux Yeux du Monde, Lucien Pintillie's Un Ete Inoubliable (which was filmed in Romania) and Carlo Cotti's Bille En Tete (which brought her awards from the Europacinema Festival and France's Carbourg Festival).

Her television credits include the U.K. miniseries "Body and Soul" (which earned her an award at the Chicago Film Festival), Gavin Millar's "La Belle Epoque" (from a screenplay by Francois Truffaut), Charles Sturridge's epic miniseries "Gulliver's Travels" and Jack Gold's telefilm adaptation of "The Tenth Man."

Click to enlargeHayden Christensen (Sam)

Rising young star Hayden Christensen stars as George Monroe’s teenaged son Sam, who leads a secret life of darkness in his locked bedroom, only to be dragged out to help his seemingly over-the-edge father build a house.

Christensen recently came to international attention when George Lucas announced he had cast the relative unknown to play the highly sought-

after role of Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker — who ultimately becomes Darth Vader -- in the forthcoming Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III. Impressed with his raw talent, Lucas turned down some of the world’s biggest movie stars in order to have Christensen take on the pivotal role.

Previously the Canadian-born Christensen appeared in Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides, Strike and In the Mouth of Madness. On television, he starred in the movie "Trapped in a Purple Haze" and the Fox Family Network series "Higher Ground." A native of Vancouver, Canada, Christensen began his acting career at the age of 13, starring in commercials and the first hour-long Canadian soap opera, "Family Passions."

Click to enlargeMary Steenburgen (Coleen Beck)

Coleen Beck, Kevin Kline’s sexually voracious neighbor, is played with comic tenderness by Mary Steenburgen. Steenburgen previously garnered the Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress for her memorable performance in Melvin and Howard.

Steenburgen, a native of Arkansas, began her career at New York’s Neighborhood Playhouse before beginning her Hollywood film career. A chance meeting with Jack Nicholson in a casting office led to a screen test and her motion picture debut opposite the actor (and director) in Goin’ South.

Among her subsequent film roles are What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Philadelphia, Nixon, Ragtime, Time After Time, Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy, Miss Firecracker, Dead of Winter, Parenthood, The Butcher’s Wife, Powder, The Grass Harp, Clifford, One Magic Christmas, Cross

Creek and Romantic Comedy. Her recent credits include Anasazi Moon, Absolute Zero and Wish You Were Dead. She will next be seen in I Am Sam and John Sayles’ Sunshine State.

On television, Steenburgen has appeared in the mini-series "Noah’s Ark" and "Gulliver’s Travels," a production of "Tender is the Night" and the drama "About Sarah." She garnered an Emmy nomination for her work in "The Attic: The Hiding of Anne Frank.

Click to enlargeJena Malone (Alyssa Beck)

Jena Malone is Alyssa Beck, an unconventional teenager looking for what’s true and authentic in life, who stumbles into her neighbor’s scheme to rebuild his house. At the age of sixteen, Malone is already being recognized as one of her generation’s most promising screen talents. She has received rave reviews from critics for her efforts in such popular films as Stepmom, Contact and For Love of the Game. Her other film credits include the forthcoming Donnie Darko, The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, Cheaters and Book of Stars.

Born in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, Malone has amassed an impressive list of credits in a very short time. Her television movies include such high-profile dramas as "Hope," for which she garnered a Golden Globe Award nomination, "The Ballad of Lucy Whipple," "Ellen Foster," "Hidden in America" and "Bastard Out of Carolina." She has also made guest appearances on the television series "Homicide: Life on the Street" and "Chicago Hope."

Jamey Sheridan (Peter Kimball)

Peter Kimball, fabulously successful in the business world but emotionally distant from his wife Robin and their children, is played by Jamey Sheridan.

On screen, Sheridan has been seen in such films as Stanley and Iris, All I Want for Christmas, Talent for the Game, A Stranger Among Us, Whispers in the Dark, Quick Change, Distant Thunder, The House on Carroll Street and Jumping Jack Flash. He will next be seen in the independent film Rain, in which he stars opposite Melora Walters.

On television, Sheridan recently starred as Polonius in director Campbell Scott’s lauded contemporary version of "Hamlet," which also featured Blair Brown and Lisa Gay Hamilton. In 1990 Sheridan brought life to television’s underdog lawyer Jack Shannon in the NBC series, "Shannon’s Deal," which was created by John Sayles. He also appeared as Dr. John Sutton on the CBS medical drama, "Chicago Hope."

Sheridan also received critical praise for his portrayal of the satanic Flagg in Stephen King’s epic ABC mini-series, "The Stand." Other television roles include co-starring in the Hallmark Special of Willa Cather’s "Spring Awakening," and with Meredith Baxter in the CBS movie-of-the-week, "My Breast." Sheridan will return to television in the new NBC 2001-2002 franchise drama, "Law and Order: Criminal Intent," starring as a staunch police captain. The Dick Wolf series also stars Vincent D’Onofrio, Courtney B. Vance and Kathryn Erbe.

Established both on and off-Broadway, Sheridan earned a Tony nomination for his role in "All My Sons." His additional Broadway credits include "The Man Who Came to Dinner," "Major Barbara," "Biloxi Blues," "The Shadow Box," "Macbeth" and the Colleen Dewhurst/Jason Robards repertoire productions of "Ah, Wilderness" and "Long Day’s Journey Into Night." His off-Broadway credits include "Hamlet" for Joe Papp and "Albert Nobbs," "…Two Rooms," "The Arbor" and "Just a Little…Normal," all for Manhattan Theatre Club.

Sam Robards (David Dokos)

Sam Robards is David Dokos, the contentious neighbor of George Monroe. A talented and versatile actor, Robards continues the long tradition set by his acting family by having a successful career in film, in television and on the stage.

This Summer, Robards starred in Steven Spielberg’s A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. He then joined Chris O’Donnell on stage in Arthur Miller’s "The Man Who Had All The Luck" at the Williamston Theatre Festival. His other recent film credits include American Beauty, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, Casualties of War and Bright Lights, Big City. He also had notable starring roles in Beautiful Girls and Fandango.

On television, Robards recently starred in the live performance of "On Golden Pond" with Julie Andrews. He also starred in Barry Sonnenfeld’s "Maximum Bob" and had a recurring role on "Spin City." Other credits include "Sex and the City," "The Outer Limits," "Law and Order" and "The Man Who Captured Eichmann."

Robards made his film debut in 1982 in Paul Mazursky’s adaptation of The Tempest and worked in both television and film while alternating with a string of off-Broadway productions such as "Album," in which he made his stage debut.

Scott Bakula (Kurt Walker)

Scott Bakula is Kurt Walker, a local police officer sympathetic to George Monroe’s plans to build his house in the face of mounting opposition from his neighbors and the city. Currently Bakula can be seen starring as Captain Jonathan Archer in the television series "Enterprise," the fifth installment in the "Star Trek" franchise. He will be seen this Fall in the Showtime original film "What Girls Learn," which he also co-produced, and the independent film, Ghost of a Chance.

Bakula is best known for his five-year stint on the innovative television series "Quantum Leap," which remains one of the most popular series in syndication around the world. His performance brought him a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama Series, four Emmy nominations and three more Golden Globe nominations. He was also honored an unprecedented five times by the Viewers for Quality Television.

Bakula has also won praise for his work in a variety of feature films, which include the 1999 Oscar-winning Best Picture American Beauty, the supernatural thriller Lord of Illusions, Major League: Back to the Minors, Mi Familia/My Family, Color of Night, A Passion to Kill and Necessary Roughness. He made his feature film debut in 1990 in the comedy Sibling Rivalry, directed by Carl Reiner.

On television, Bakula has appeared in the CBS landmark comedies "Designing Women" and "Murphy Brown," the Showtime mini-series "It’s a Girl Thing," the Fox mini-series "The Invaders," the ABC mini-series "Tom Clancy’s Netforce," the Showtime telefilm "Mean Streak" and CBS’ "Bachelor’s Baby," executive produced by Bakula through his production company. Most recently, he starred in and executive produced the CBS movie-of-the-week "Papa’s Angels."

Born in St. Louis, Bakula moved to New York in 1976 where he pursued an acting career in the theatre, making his Broadway debut as Joe DiMaggio in "Marilyn: An American Fable." In 1998, he was honored with a Tony nomination for his starring role in the Broadway musical, "Romance/Romance." His other theater credits include the critically-acclaimed off-Broadway and Los Angeles productions of "Three Guys Naked From the Waist Down" and the Los Angeles and Boston productions of "Nite Club Confidential."

An accomplished singer, Bakula has performed at the Kennedy Center Honors, Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl. He also created the acting and singing voice for the character of Danny the Cat in the Warner Brothers animated musical Cat’s Don’t Dance.



Click to enlargeIrwin Winkler (Director/Producer)

In a career as celebrated as it is accomplished, Irwin Winkler’s films have amassed 12 Academy Awards from 45 nominations including four Best Picture nominations — a remarkable record which stands alone in contemporary Hollywood. Winkler is also the only producer to have three of his films listed on the American Film Institute list of the "Top 100 Films" of all time.

Winkler received the Academy Award for Best Picture for the l976 runaway hit Rocky starring Sylvester Stallone. He went on to receive Best Picture nominations for Raging Bull, The Right Stuff and GoodFellas.

Winkler made his directorial debut in l989 with Guilty By Suspicion, a drama that he also wrote about the Hollywood Black List, starring Robert De Niro, Annette Bening, Patricia Wettig and Martin Scorsese. His second feature as director, Night and the City, based on Jules Dassin’s ‘50s noir film, reunited him with De Niro (their seventh film together) and also starred Jessica Lange (Oscar-nominated for her role in the Winkler-produced Music Box). The critically-acclaimed film was the closing night screening at the New York Film Festival in l992. Winkler most recently directed and produced the suspense thriller The Net with Sandra Bullock and At First Sight with Val Kilmer and Mira Sorvino.

Winkler began his producing career in l967 with legendary director Norman Taurog at MGM with the Elvis Presley starrer Double Trouble and followed with the hit thriller Point Blank. He then won acclaim for

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, which garnered nine Academy Award nominations.

Winkler went on to produce some of the most distinguished films over the last three decades including New York, New York starring De Niro and Liza Minnelli, True Confessions, which teamed De Niro and Robert Duvall, Round Midnight, for which Herbie Hancock won an Oscar for Best Score, Betrayed starring Debra Winger, and Music Box with Jessica Lange.

Winkler has been the recipient of numerous international honors for his outstanding achievements. He was personally honored by the French government with their highest decoration for contribution to the arts, the Commandeur des Arts et Lettres. The British Film Institute saluted him in l989 with a retrospective of his work and the Chicago Film Festival bestowed upon him their Lifetime Achievement Award. His alma mater, New York University, presented him with the school’s Madden Memorial Award. His career and rich body of work have been honored by the Museum of Modern Art in l990 and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in l992. He also became the first producer to be honored with a retrospective of his films at the American Film Festival in Deauville.

A year 2000 salute came to Winkler when a star with his name was added to the famous Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard in front of what will be the future home of the Academy Awards ceremony.

Rob Cowan (Producer)

Rob Cowan joins Irwin Winkler as producer of Life As A House and is currently President of Winkler Films. The two have enjoyed a long collaborative relationship that began when Cowan served as assistant director on Winkler’s directorial debut, Guilty by Suspicion and the Winkler-produced features Betrayed and Music Box. Their strong working relationship led to Cowan coming to Winkler Films on a permanent basis as an executive and producer.

Since that time, Cowan has served as co-producer on the Winkler-directed Night and the City; co-wrote and with Winkler produced The Net starring Sandra Bullock; and produced with Winkler the Demi Moore and Alec Baldwin drama The Juror. In l999 they produced and co-wrote At First Sight starring Val Kilmer and Mira Sorvino and directed by Winkler. Cowan also produced Rocky Marciano starring Jon Favreau and George C. Scott.

Upcoming film projects from Winkler Films include The Shipping News, starring Kevin Spacey and Julianne Moore, based on the E. Annie Proulx novel and directed by Lasse Hallstrom; and the suspense thriller Enough starring Jennifer Lopez and directed by Michael Apted from a screenplay by Nicholas Kazan. Earlier in his career, Cowan produced the Fox film Short Time and served as assistant director on such features as the hit comedy Three Men and a Baby, Cocktail, starring Tom Cruise, and the action thriller Stakeout.

Brian Frankish (Executive Producer/UPM)

Brian Frankish re-teams with Winkler Films on Life as a House following his stint as production manager on The Net. His broad experience covers motion pictures, television, commercials and theater. In film, he has worked in such diverse capacities as executive producer, producer or production manager on such films as Stuart Little, Field of Dreams, Flight of the Intruder, The Boy Who Could Fly, In the Mood and American Me. He served as 2nd unit assistant director on The Fugitive.

Frankish’s television credits include serving as producer of the ABC series "Max Headroom" and assistant director on the WB series "Roswell."

Mark Andrus (Screenwriter)

Screenwriter Mark Andrus received an Academy Award nomination for co-writing the critically-acclaimed screenplay for As Good as it Gets which won Oscars for co-stars Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt. Prior to this, he won plaudits for his work on Late For Dinner.

Andrus has several new screenplays that he is currently at work on, including the forthcoming The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood with director Callie Khouri and a comedy to be directed by Tony Goldwyn.

Vilmos Zsigmond, A.S.C. (Director of Photography)

Vilmos Zsigmond previously won an Academy Award for the heart-stopping images that thrilled audiences in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. He also received Oscar nominations for his work on The Deer Hunter (for which he also won a British Academy Award) and The River, as well as winning accolades and awards for his work on McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Images and Deliverance.

His prolific film credits include The Crossing Guard, Assassins, Maverick, Sliver, Intersection, The Bonfire of the Vanities, The Two Jakes, The Witches of Eastwick, Fat Man and Little Boy, Scarecrow, The Long Goodbye, Cinderella Liberty, Obsession, The Sugarland Express, The Rose, Heaven’s Gate, Blow Out, Real Genius and The Ghost and the Darkness.

His cinematography for HBO’s "Stalin" won him an Emmy and an American Society of Cinematographers Award. Zsigmond was born in Hungary where his interest in still photography led him to study at the State University of Theater and Motion Picture Arts in Budapest. Upon graduation, he worked as a director of photography. The political upheaval of October, l956, found Zsigmond capturing film documentary footage of the Russian troops invading Hungary. He escaped to Vienna with smuggled footage that was shown worldwide. He was eventually granted refugee status in the United States and began his acclaimed career in Hollywood feature films.

Dennis Washington (Production Designer)

Production designer Dennis Washington reteams with Irwin Winkler and Rob Cowan following his work for them on the Sandra Bullock thriller The Net. Washington, who studied architecture before becoming a motion picture designer, used his skills to design George Monroe’s expressive dream house and the entire ocean bluff community.

Washington’s previous design work includes recreating the Kennedy White House for Thirteen Days as well as such films as The General’s Daughter, No Way Out, Paulie, Dante’s Peak, Speechless, Angels in the Outfield, The Fugitive, Nowhere to Run, White Men Can’t Jump, Another You, Chances Are, Off Limits, Stand By Me and John Huston’s Victory, The Dead and Prizzi’s Honor. He served as art director on Finders Keepers, To Be Or Not To Be, Convoy and The Electric Horseman.

Julie Monroe (Editor)

Julie Monroe previously collaborated with Irwin Winkler on At First Sight. She recently edited Diane Keaton’s Hanging Up and worked as co-editor on The Patriot.

Her career includes long working relationships with several well-known Hollywood filmmakers. She was an assistant editor for director Oliver Stone on his films The Doors, Born on the Fourth of July, Wall Street, Platoon and Salvador. Later she was an associate editor on Stone’s JFK. Monroe cut director Adrian Lyne’s controversial remake of Lolita with editor David Brenner after previously working with Lyne as an additional editor on Indecent Proposal. Other feature film credits include assistant editor assignments on A Time of Destiny, The River Wild and Fear.

Molly Maginnis (Costume Designer)

Molly Maginnis most recently designed the costumes for the comedy Town and Country, starring Warren Beatty and Goldie Hawn. She has designed costumes for a wide variety of feature films including As Good As It Gets, Broadcast News, Mighty Joe Young, Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, Eddie, Sister Act, Miss Firecracker, Lucas, The War, Come See the Paradise and the Look Who’s Talking trilogy.

Maginnis was nominated for a CableACE Award for "Billy the Kid" and a BAFTA Award for the miniseries "Tales of the City." Also for television, she designed the wardrobe for series pilots of "Spin City" and "Life’s Work." Her theater credits include the l993 Broadway production of "Show Boat" and the operas "Madame Butterfly," "La Boheme" and "La Cenerentola." She received a DramaLogue Award for Best Costumes for the Los Angeles staging of "Sherlock’s Last Case."

Mark Isham (Composer)

Mark Isham’s film credits number over fifty and include his 1983 feature debut Never Cry Wolf, October Sky, Kiss the Girls, Varsity Blues, At First Sight, Blade, Fly Away Home, A River Runs Through It, Rules of Engagement, Men of Honor and his latest release, Save the Last Dance. His film scores have earned him multiple Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations.

In recent years, Isham has ventured into television scoring projects, receiving an Emmy Award for his work on the critically-acclaimed series "EZ Streets" and Emmy nominations for his work on "Chicago Hope" and "Nothing Sacred." He is currently scoring the CBS hit drama "Family Law."

A successful recording artist, Isham has received great critical acclaim for his solo works, including "Best Jazz Album of 1999" from the London Times for his latest Columbia album, Miles Remembered: The Silent Way Project. His 1995 release, Blue Sun, was met with equally high praise from critics and was chosen by Downbeat as one of the Top 100 Jazz Albums of the Decade.

In 1983 Isham received critical recognition as a solo artist with his debut album of electronica music, Vapor Drawings. He then went on to release two Grammy-nominated albums, Castalia and Tibet, before winning a Grammy Award in 1990 for Best New Age Performer for his album, Mark Isham.

A distinguished trumpet player from early age, Isham has recorded and toured with both Joni Mitchell and Van Morrision and has worked with artists as diverse as the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson and Ziggy Marley.

Isham was nominated for three Grammy Awards for his music for the Rabbit Ears series of celebrity-narrated children’s albums. His first commissioned orchestral work, "Five Short Stories for Trumpet and Orchestra," premiered with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in 1992 with Isham performing the solo trumpet work. Since then he has had orchestral performances across the country of his original compositions and film scores.

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