Tim Conrad (PAUL RUDD) is dangerously close to having it all. He’s a bright and good-looking guy, on the verge of asking his beautiful, long-time girlfriend, Julie (STEPHANIE SZOSTAK), to accept an upgrade to fiancée. An underling financial analyst at a private equity firm, Fender Financial, his business acumen has been noticed by the head of the company, Lance Fender (BRUCE GREENWOOD), who’s about ready to kick Tim upstairs…but first, he’s got to attend the upcoming monthly dinner at Fender’s imposing mansion.
Easy—what’s a little dinner with the other company bigwigs?
Well, it’s not so much the meal that will determine his career trajectory—it’s his choice of dinner guest.
Turns out, Fender and friends gather to dine and bask in the company of extraordinary people—those charmed individuals who are born thinking ‘outside of the box.’ These men and women dwell on the fringes of society, placed there as a result of their uniqueness.
In short, Fender asks each colleague to bring an idiot to dinner.
At first, Conrad’s conscience kicks in—“that’s messed up,” he scoffs. But just as he’s about to bag the whole banquet…providence. A gift from heaven.
It’s really only IRS employee Barry Speck (STEVE CARELL), who steps in front of Tim’s sports car…and gets hit—an amateur taxidermist, Barry gives dead mice a second life, by using his taxidermy skills on them and dressing them in tiny human outfits, and finally placing them in miniature scenarios, based on works of art, milestones of history or even his life, as he would wish it. He calls them (what else?) his “mouse-terpieces.”
Tim cannot resist such a specimen as Barry (goodbye, conscience!), and he winds up inviting him to join the roster of Fender’s dinner party guests. But Barry, on the other hand, sees Tim as more than the driver of the vehicle that could have killed him, he considers him his new best friend, and soon, the drone accountant’s bumbling good intentions set off a tornado of destruction in Tim’s near-perfect life—torpedoing a multi-million dollar deal and Tim’s romance with Julie all in less than 24 hours. Thanks to Barry, Tim’s bright and promising future is rendered a dismal and painful present.
Okay, but, tabling all of that for the moment…is dinner still on?
From the director of “Meet the Parents” and “Meet the Fockers” (with a combined worldwide box office take of more than $725 million), JAY ROACH, comes the motion picture re-teaming of Steve Carell and Paul Rudd in a screen comedy inspired by an offbeat tale from French comic genius FRANCIS VEBER (“La cage aux folles,” which became “The Birdcage”): “Dinner for Schmucks.”
Also joining Carell, Rudd, Greenwood and Szostak in the “Dinner for Schmucks” shenanigans are: JEMAINE CLEMENT (half of the team in HBO’s hit “The Flight of the Conchords”) as acclaimed artist Kieran Vollard, Julie’s big client, who also happens to be big on Julie; comedian/ventriloquist JEFF DUNHAM (“The Jeff Dunham Show”) as another dinner guest (with slutty wife, Diane) who gives Barry a run for his money; and RON LIVINGSTON (HBO’s “Sex and the City”) as Caldwell, an account manager shark circling Tim in the tank of Fender Financial.
Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment Present A Parkes + MacDonald Production / An Everyman Pictures Production of A Jay Roach Film: Steve Carell and Paul Rudd in “Dinner for Schmucks,” starring Jemaine Clement, Jeff Dunham, Bruce Greenwood and Ron Livingston. The music is by THEODORE SHAPIRO. The costume designer is MARY VOGT. It is edited by ALAN BAUMBARTEN, A.C.E. and JON POLL. The production designer is MICHAEL CORENBLITH. The director of photography is JIM DENAULT, A.S.C. The executive producers are FRANCIS VEBER, SACHA BARON COHEN, AMY SAYRES, JON POLL, ROGER BIRNBAUM and GARY BARBER. It is produced by WALTER F. PARKES, LAURIE MacDONALD and JAY ROACH. It is inspired by the film “Le Dîner de Cons” by FRANCIS VEBER, with a screenplay by DAVID GUION & MICHAEL HANDELMAN. “Dinner for Schmucks” is directed by JAY ROACH. DinnerForSchmucks.com
“Dinner for Schmucks” has been rated “PG-13” by the Motion Picture Association of America “for sequences of crude and sexual content, some partial nudity and language.”
About the Production
French filmmaker Francis Veber has long been a keen observer of human behavior, casting an eye to the comic foibles of everyday people who, for whatever (un)fortunate reason, find themselves at the center of some absurd situation or another—someone pretending to be someone else, or dealing with a make-or-break moment in life while simultaneously crossing the path of, well, someone extraordinary. Among his list of bittersweet, national treasure comedies are such titles as “Le Jouet,” “La cage aux folles,” “La Chévre,” “Les Fugitifs,” “Le Jaguar” and “Le placard.” He is held in such esteem that the French government has bestowed him its highest honor of Officier of the Légion d'honneur.
His 1998 title “Le Dîner de Cons” (“The Dinner Game”), based on his stage play of the same name, proved to be yet another hit with his admiring public and received six nominations at the 1999 Cesar Awards, including two for Veber (Best Director and Best Writing)—it ultimately took home three statues (including one for Veber’s writing). The unique storyline turns expectations upside down when the ‘idiot’s’ bumbling actions force the main character to reconsider his life, ultimately becoming a better version of himself.
Among the original’s fans in the United States were successful Oscar®-winning filmmakers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald (“Gladiator,” “The Ring,” “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”), who were immediately interested in the possibility of adapting the film for American audiences. The producers responded to the duality of the film and note, “We knew we’d like to produce a film just on the basis of concept alone—even though it is potentially a cruel subject, it is a very kind film, and it actually has a great big heart.”
Once they committed to the project, the search was on for a fitting director and, eventually, they had the good fortune of crossing the path of Jay Roach, responsible for directing a passel of global blockbuster comedies (including the Austin Powers series and both Focker movies). As Parkes puts it, “Jay is like a scientist of comedy, such a perfectionist, and so knowledgeable.” As luck would have it, Jay shared an agent with Francis Veber and, after seeing and loving the original, was eager to bring a similar story to life.
Drawn to the simplicity of the premise, Roach jumped at the opportunity to direct “Dinner for Schmucks” and says, “I knew I couldn’t top what Francis did, as that film was nearly perfect—for me, it was about taking the same concept and doing a different interpretation, telling a slightly different version of the same story.”
The film then began to move forward, with Jay bringing in writers David Guion and Michael Handelman to continue adapting the screenplay and bring his vision to life. The pair penned the screenplay “Used Guys” (currently being developed, with Roach attached to direct) and consider Roach “a very, very funny director, who also happens to be a very sensitive storyteller.” Guion and Handelman labored to bring an updated version of “The Dinner Game” to life, striving to keep the heart of the original intact, per Handelman: “It was a movie that was very funny, but really, it’s about finding the humanity in figures who are laughable.”
First and foremost, it was decided that the American version would remain a character-based comedy, but it would also actually feature a titular dinner (actually never seen in the French version). American audiences would also meet the idiots (or schmucks) and come to understand and appreciate the people beneath the derogatory moniker. Roach states, “The original film ends with the promise of what could happen if these guys all got together, and I thought it would be fun to actually put them in the same dining room and take it a bit further. I like the idea of the company guys gathered and actually excited to have the fools come in and hang out with them.”
The rest of the story bears many similarities to the original work but takes a slightly different path—in “Le Dîner,” the corporate climber works as publisher, but was transformed into a financial analyst; the ‘extraordinary’ character constructs buildings out of matchsticks, and was morphed into a would-be taxidermist fond of using mice in tableaux. Jay Roach admits, “Although we haven’t been entirely faithful to the original, I thought I could do it in a way that would borrow some of the basic premise, but the specifics would be very different and, I think, funny in a different way.”
Anyone For Dinner?
The filmmakers then set out to find comedic actors adept at both the moments of physical/broader comedy, while able to create embraceable characters. Although many actors were at one time or another considered for the “schmuck,” Steve Carell seemed the perfect fit. Carell, star of a string of successful films and the centerpiece of the NBC critical and popular success “The Office,” is at the top of his comedic acting game and possesses an almost superpower-ly ability to bring honesty and sympathy to every character he embodies, regardless how much of a buffoon he plays. The actor infuses Barry with a childlike earnestness, and Carell offers, “I think of Barry as if Gandhi were crossed with one of the Three Stooges—he doesn’t have one aggressive or mean bone in his body, but every time he makes any sort of decision, his actions always seem to have a negative reaction.”
Producer MacDonald observes, “Barry wants to help in every way, but ends up unraveling every aspect of Tim’s life. He’s sweet, funny and irritating all at the same time, and Steve is fantastic in the part.”
Carell continues, “I don’t think that Barry is necessarily a dumb character. I just think he’s a guy who tries way too hard—he has a knack for getting himself into awkward situations, but it is completely unintentional and very well-meaning. He’s a sad character, but he’s a guy who doesn’t feel sorry for himself; he doesn’t wallow in self-pity or expect others to. I think there’s a real joy to the way he perceives life and himself.”
It is also Barry’s perception that sees past his new friend’s seemingly superficial exterior to the good guy that lives beneath. Their relationship is hard to pinpoint, and is a swirling mix of tolerance, good will, good intentions, dislike, admiration and bad luck. Barry thinks that Tim leads an exciting life—he’s a snazzy dresser, a Porsche driver, and an apartment owner in a tony building. In Barry’s mind, and despite the near-death experience that facilitates their meeting (and Tim’s ignorance of the fact), they are fated to be the best of friends…hey, they have the same cell phone!
“Dinner for Schmucks” marks the third on-screen collaboration for Carell and Paul Rudd, who was cast in the tricky role of Tim—the two have an easy rapport and genuine appreciation for each other. Rudd enthuses, “I think Steve is a genius—there have been many times when we’ve been doing scenes, and I just watch him, what he does and what he can come up with, and it’s an incredible thing for me just to be that close to it, to really sit and watch that. I feel privileged. Plus, we have a great time.” (Carell responds, “Paul is so much fun to work with—he’s a joy and a great guy. He’s everything you would think he would be, a really funny, sweet, smart, charming man.”)
The part of Tim is a bit more complex than Barry, and could potentially come off as a manipulative jerk, instead of the conflicted but well-meaning guy filmmakers wanted him to be. Roach and Company Schmuck considered Rudd “a guy that you never lose sympathy for.” The director comments, “Paul is always nuanced in his performances—he plays everything from a leading man to a supreme schlub. He’s extremely funny, and has the ability to keep audiences rooting for him, no matter how much of a jerk he plays.”
From the very beginning, Rudd was excited to be a part of the film: “With Jay directing and David and Michael’s script, I thought it was great. It’s a classic convention, a Laurel and Hardy dynamic. It adheres to the same structure, and it’s a blast to play.”
Paul dove fully into playing Tim, unafraid of the inherent difficulties involved in portraying such a conflicted role, and someone who’s not always the nicest of guys: “There are times when his morality comes into question. He wants it all, and is willing to maybe lie if he has to, or go about things in not the most stand-up way…but I think his intentions are good.” Carell succinctly explains, “I think the character of Tim might be the most difficult one to play in the movie, because he’s not a good guy. He’s somebody who wants to get ahead in business, who is falling into lockstep with these executives, and it is wrong, very wrong. He has a conscience about it, but it is not keeping him from trying to achieve his goals—but, at the same time, you care about him.”
Director Jay Roach has nothing but compliments for his two leading men “I love working with people who can take on a chemistry or relationship and improvise, riff off of it. I’ve seen these guys do it before, and they seem like an old-fashioned comedy team, almost like Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in ‘The Odd Couple.’”
Carell admits that, in addition to collaborating with Roach, part of the appeal was being included among the talented cast: “Some of the people that are in this movie are really, really funny, and it’s not just one person being funny, it’s everybody—Jay has given everyone license to have fun and explore. No one has been afraid to try new things, and veer off into really interesting tangents.” Roach sums it up, simply, “This is my dream cast—all are brilliant improvisers.”
The cast was rounded out with some inventive comedy minds behind some fresh (and incredibly malleable) faces: New Zealander Jemaine Clement; popular stand-up ventriloquist Jeff Dunham; Canadian leading man Bruce Greenwood; brainy American ‘every-guy’ Ron Livingston; French beauty Stephanie Szostak; and Brits Lucy Davenport, David Walliams and Lucy Punch; along with an array of corporate backstabbers, dining schmucks and others one will find only in a comic universe of Jay Roach’s making.
Where Shall We Eat?
When it came time to ‘city shop,’ filmmakers could have actually chosen any large metropolitan area in the country—but Los Angeles offered a sense of style and flair (from the gorgeous to the ridiculous) that no other city could.
When production designer Michael Corenblith came aboard, he was determined to avoid the visual clichés that have long been utilized to establish what the City of Angels is all about. Corenblith says, “Our greatest challenge was to present Los Angeles in a fresh and urbane way.” Roach, Corenblith and director of photography Jim Denault strove to embrace the diversity of Los Angeles’ architectural gems and weave them into a fresh, organic and interrelated visual scheme to serve as a backdrop to the comic tale. Locations would need to flow from landmarks of the Golden Age of Hollywood to singular examples of au courant modernism with a homogenous ease.
The streamlined offices of Fender Financial proved to be perfectly suited to one of the city’s unofficial seats of power—the Century City building that houses renowned talent agency CAA (sometimes jokingly referred to as the ‘Death Star,’ for its futuristic echoes of the “Star Wars” mother ship). Tim’s obsession with image should also naturally apply to his home, and where else would do but that Art Deco gem of the Sunset Strip, the Sunset Tower Hotel?
A great deal of time and effort was spent to find just the right locations to serve as the parts that would sum up the “Dinner for Schmucks” universe. Throughout the efficient 57-day shooting schedule, the production found itself in front of, inside or around: the downtown area’s Grand Hope Park, the Bradbury Building’s Morono Kiang Gallery, and some newly refurbished loft spaces; Westwood’s retail lane of Broxton Avenue; the Federal-ly faced Madison Restaurant of Long Beach; Culver City’s historic Culver Hotel; Thousand Oak’s premiere equestrian center, El Campeon Farms; as well as interiors and exteriors in Canoga Park, Woodland Hills and Chatsworth.
Tim Conrad’s world is the most visually diverse, careening between his Sunset Boulevard domicile and Century City office. Filmmakers chose the Art Deco elegance of the Sunset Tower, designed in 1929, where such luminaries as Howard Hughes, John Wayne and Clark Gable once resided. The exteriors were all shot in front of the building on Sunset, but since the schedule called for two weeks of filming inside of Tim’s apartment, the interiors (including elevator, hallway and living spaces) were constructed on a Paramount Studio soundstage. This afforded Corenblith the opportunity to “create a stage set that married to the Deco exterior. I treated it as if it were one of the great pre-War apartment buildings on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, with a very contemporary remodeled interior.” The concept gave the designer a large urbane floor plan and modern surfaces that “mixed with the pedigree of the apartment’s original Art Deco perimeter, windows and details.”
All of the Fender Financial scenes were filmed at the cutting-edge CAA Building in Century City. The gleaming white exterior looks ominous enough to house the group of cutthroat executives and assistants in the employ of Lance Fencer. The location provided the sixth-floor’s stark interior and windowless ‘bullpen,’ as well as the powerfully opulent seventh-floor offices and conference rooms that offer stunning views (along with cappuccino in fine china cups).
On a break from work, Tim runs (literally) into Barry while driving on a tree-lined street in nearby Westwood. Barry’s taxidermy store of choice, Bartlett’s Taxidermy, just happens to be nestled in the middle of Broxton Street (thanks to Corenblith’s design) and Barry is unable to resist the temptation to dash into Broxton to secure a recently deceased mouse (“his pelt’s in great shape!”). These scenes kicked off the start of principal photography, with a stunt double getting hit in the street, and Carell finishing the scene in a harness, bounding off of Tim’s windshield.
Barry’s world, on the opposite end of the spectrum, is plain, dull and a tad bit sad. He lives in a “crappy suburban ranch house” in a nondescript neighborhood. The furniture is old and/or cheap, and it is clear that he spends most of his time in his garage working with his mice. Barry’s workplace at the IRS processing center offers little more, aesthetically speaking, and that set was built from scratch in an empty storage facility in Chatsworth, California. What the set lacked in visual interest, it made up in minor details—dry erase boards with audit information, flyers tacked to bulletin boards and desktop knick knacks personalized each cubicle, making it unique to the imaginary employee who slaves away in the dehumanizing interior.
Womanizing artist Kieran Vollard’s environment is a radical departure from both Tim’s and Barry’s. His eclectic downtown loft space is filled with exotic memorabilia from his world travels (animal pelts, weapons, tribal instruments and Balinese idols), all mixed with several of his own unique works of art.
When Kieran is not recording music, creating new works of art, playing his bongos or playing with some female, he likes to relax at his ranch. Finding a spot that appropriately embodied his tastes and whims proved to be somewhat challenging. Eventually, the production found El Campeon Farms in Thousand Oaks. The state-of-the-art equestrian facility trains high-performance horses on its 160+ acres of scenic property. The sheer size of the location, in combination with the variety of structures and landscapes available, proved to be the perfect spot for Kieran to wind down. The production spent three days filming at El Campeon, and during that time, the script called for a veritable menagerie of co-starring fauna: 25 goats, a llama, a zebra, two miniature horses and a giraffe. (As a New Zealander, Jemaine Clement had grown up in proximity to a goat or two, but rather than put the performer at ease, it merely served to dampen his enthusiasm for working with them: “They’re none too bright, they can be a bit smelly, and they are resentful of any direction you give them.”)
For the impressive exterior (and a few interiors) of Lance Fender’s grand house, filmmakers chose a historic home in Pasadena, originally built in 1928. The home may strike some moviegoers as familiar, for it has appeared in other big-budget films and, perhaps most notably, as Wayne Manor, home to Bruce Wayne (a.k.a. Batman) in the television series of the late 1960s. Three days of shooting took place in front of the home, as well as on the driveway, in the front entrance and hallway of the mansion.
Lance Fender’s dinner party is an extravagant affair with a large number of guests, and his dining room would need to entertain at least 20 people. It was clear from the beginning that the dining room at the Pasadena location was nowhere near large enough to accommodate a group that size, so the production needed to find an alternate location for the actual dinner. Corenblith explains, “Unlike Veber’s ‘Le Dîner de Cons,’ from which our film is adapted, our audience gets to attend the dinner. So, from the very beginning of the design process, the dining room assumed a great deal of importance, not only for its substantial screen time, but also as the setting of the film’s title.” Stage 18 on the Paramount lot was transformed into Fender’s main dining space, two hallways and a pebble-lined courtyard with a bubbling fountain.
For more than three weeks, the cast and crew (numbering in excess of 100) spent their days working on the dinner sequence. The actual dining table was hand constructed into several segments so that it could be easily broken apart for coverage. The chairs and much of the fabric to be used in the room needed to be properly fireproofed, as live flames were to be introduced in the final scenes. The exact opposite, however, was called for in the room’s sumptuous drapery, which was called upon to burn in a controlled fashion. So, several department heads collaborated and came up with a plan: the dining room drapery was created with a natural fabric (French silk) and then lined with a non-flammable fabric that was matched to the silk. In between the two fabrics, the special F/X team buried flame pipes which could not be detected, but would allow for the cloth to be quickly ignited. Multiples of the six panels were created, so that the drapes could be burned over and over again.
Production Designer Michael Corenblith recalls a particular challenge he faced with the set: “Construction was nearing completion, when producer Walter Parkes had the idea to make the room more stately by replacing a set of French doors with a ‘priceless’ antique stained glass panel. Everyone quickly embraced the idea, and through a concerted effort of our art, graphic and construction staff, we designed and produced this beautiful addition to our dining room.” The entire process took a mere four days from inception to installation—and three panels, not one, had to be crafted to allow shooting multiple times. As the window becomes the victim of violence during the sequence (at the hands of Tim), actor Paul Rudd felt some pressure each time he was asked to make the destructive throw, but was able to hit his mark every shot.
The over-the-top dinner also called for an over-the-top meal of whole lobsters, requiring prop master Sean Mannion and his team to cook and prepare them on-site each morning during the three weeks of shooting (somewhere around 400 lobsters in the final tally). Free lobster dinner? Sure! Free lobster dinner, every day for three weeks? Well… Per Ron Livingston: “It’s a great thing on day one, but by day 13 or 14, when you come in at 5:00am and sit down to your lobster that is going to sit there, staring at you for 14 hours…it got a little sketchy.”
In addition to the lobsters, Mannion and his team ended up preparing what seemed like an eternal meal for a mass mob, which included: 38 pounds of breadcrumbs; 45 pounds of string beans, carrots and leaks, all lovingly tied into individually served bundles; 130 pounds of potatoes; 18 cases (216 bottles) of sparkling cider (which doubled for champagne); 240 dinner rolls; and 22 pounds of butter. The star of the shopping list had to be the bottle of bubbly that Tim tosses at the window—a magnum of Dom Perignon (vintage undisclosed).
Set decorator Susan Benjamin channeled an event coordinator as she shopped for china, glassware and silverware for Fender’s dinner party. The final table boasted 20 full place settings of china (including one for the vulture), 60 goblets and 20 champagne flutes (with countless doubles to allow for breakage). To allow the vulture to claw its way along the center of the massive table (while disrupting as little of the costly tableware as possible), a runner was opted for in place of a full table cloth (so the bird would only disturb any decoration placed on the runner, leaving the settings—mostly!—untouched).
And what’s a financial kingpin without the requisite collection of expensive art? Works by Miro, Cezanne and Gauguin were cleared for usage, and then reproduced by local painters. The largest piece of art on the set is actually authentic—a large sculpture by contemporary Los Angeles artist Guy Dill.
Of Mice and Men
Barry Speck’s hobby seems unique, and the truth is, well, it is (and that is putting it nicely). In actuality, taxidermy (more specifically, anthropomorphic taxidermy) has been practiced for more than a century, dating back to Victorian times. The ‘art’ involves taking the dead body of an animal, preserving it through the art of taxidermy, and displaying it in such a way as to endow it with human characteristics. Taxidermist Herman Ploucquet is credited with popularizing this form of the practice by creating a series of displays for London’s Great Exhibition of 1851.
His displays were immensely popular with the public and Queen Victoria described them as “really marvelous” in her diaries. His notable works include a declaration of love between two weasels, a dormouse duel and hedgehogs ice skating, but his most popular work is a series of six tableaux illustrating the German fable “Reinecke Fuchs” (“Reinecke the Fox”) based on Wilhelm von Kaulbach’s illustrated work of Goethe’s tale.
Inspired by Ploucquet, British taxidermist Walter Potter began creating a large-scale tableaux using preserved animals to depict “The Death and Burial of Cock Robin,” based on the nursery rhyme “Who Killed Cock Robin?” Completed in 1861, it incorporated 98 specimens of British bird species. His other works of note include “Athletic Toads” (18 English toads in a park, playing on swings and seesaws) and “The Lower Five or Rats’ Den” (15 brown rats in a scene of gambling and brawling).
Other notable Victorian and Edwardian taxidermists include: Edward Hart, whose six-case series entitled “The Prize Fight” now adorns the morning room at Castle Ward in Ireland; and William Chalkley, known for his work featuring a scene of baby rabbits (in actuality, brown rats) seated at a table.
Perhaps as the strangely inspired men before him, Barry chooses to escape reality in the world of taxidermy. He re-creates famous works of art and depicts aspects of the real world in an idyllic manner, all using dead mice. Giving Barry this particular hobby is not arbitrary, but is “a nod to the taxidermy establishment Deyrolle in Paris,” reveals producer Walter Parkes. Originally founded 179 years ago by naturalist Jean-Baptiste Deyrolle, the museum eventually passed to his son, Achille, and then to his grandson, Émile, in 1866. The polyglot collection of taxidermy, geological and botanical odds-and-ends, and microscopes gave the look and feel of a natural history museum, with the main difference being that all specimens on exhibit were for sale.
To make Barry’s creations a reality, the filmmakers turned to Stephen, Charles and Edward Chiodo (a.k.a. The Chiodo Brothers), cinematic magicians adept at creature effects, models, puppetry and animation, and well-known for their work on films like “Team America: World Police and “Elf.”
Director Jay Roach was adamant that Barry’s hobby not make him seem creepy. Stephen Chiodo relates, “Jay wanted a kind of charm, so no matter how realistic the mice look, there is always this character—the little bit that you add to it—that makes the mouse a little cuter. The film opens with close-ups of Barry’s work, and Jay wanted the audience’s first impression to be, ‘Aw, how cute!’” The Brothers found the work challenging, creating scenarios with realistic looking (dead) mice that also happen to be cute. For one, real mice don’t have shoulders or necks, so draping them in costumes gives them the appearance of a plush.
The Chiodos led a team that included artisans from all walks of life to create the 70 unique mice and their miniature worlds. Close attention was paid to the fur and whiskers of each one—some even sported beards, mustaches and/or wigs. Costume designer Mary Vogt worked in tandem with the group, designing and handcrafting the mouse wardrobe. The mice eventually wound up in 16 dioramas (among them The Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, American Gothic and Whistler’s Mother, to name a few), six mouse-terpieces (moments in history or wished-for history), three triptychs (insightful scenes from Barry’s life that he shares with Tim when they meet) and, of course, Mouseland (Barry’s loving homage to the life he dreamed of having with his wife Martha which opens the film).
All of Barry’s creations took a team of eight to ten artisans weeks of man-hours to complete, so for a lone person to be the sole artist responsible for everything? The Chiodos are quick to point out that that is a subtle reflection of the psychology of the character—the work is his life, not what he does at the office.
Steve Carell comments, “I think the dioramas are Barry’s joy—he cares deeply about the mice themselves and feels like he’s giving them a second chance…even though they are dead, he feels like there is sort of a rebirth within these worlds he’s creating.” The actor stops, considers and continues, “I admit that he’s a little bit insane, perhaps, but I think there’s something sort of sweet to it as well. They aren’t for sale, they are not to gain any sort of notoriety or glory—they are simply therapeutic, for his enjoyment. It’s a hobby, you know, but I think, in a lot of ways, it’s a very healthy one.”
For Jay Roach, creating movies is, in a way, also a very healthy pursuit. Roach confesses, “I love stories about people earnestly trying to figure out how to cope with challenge—heartbreak, frustration, neurosis. From my perspective, ‘Meet the Parents’ is about a guy coping with his deep-down sense that he is inept and ill-equipped for pretty much everything in life. For me, much of ‘Dinner for Schmucks’ is about Barry coping with his loneliness, his disappointment in life. What really hooked me into the film was the idea of taking that and having it be the contagious, chaotic dynamism that is going to transform Tim’s life. I embrace stories with characters who have figured out how to live life in an optimistic and positive way—even if that way seems strange to other people. So for me, even though Barry may appear to be the most disconnected, loser of a guy, in fact, he’s the most connected and wisest character in the film.
“So the heart of this,” Roach closes, “is finding the right way to be. Even though the mechanics of the plot are about a weird dinner where you invite people just to make fun of them, the heart of the story is the way that Barry’s strange attitude about existence—his almost delusional optimism—turns out to be the life force that is capable of showing Tim how misguided his approach to life is. And I’m just a sucker for that.”
About the Cast
STEVE CARELL (Barry Speck) has emerged as one of the most sought-after comedic actors in Hollywood. First gaining recognition for his contributions as a correspondent on Comedy Central’s Emmy® Award-winning “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” Carell has successfully segued into primetime television and above-the-title status in the film world with equal aplomb.
Carell opened his first lead feature, “The 40 Year Old Virgin,” which he co-wrote with director Judd Apatow, at #1, a spot it remained in for two straight weekends. The surprise hit of 2005 went on to gross more than $175 million worldwide and had #1 openings in 12 countries. The success of the film has continued, as it has also generated over $100 million in DVD sales in North America alone. On an award level, the film was honored with an AFI Award naming it one of 10 Most Outstanding Motion Pictures of the Year and took home Best Comedy Movie at the 11th annual Critics’ Choice Awards. The film also earned Carell and Apatow a co-nomination for Best Original Screenplay by the Writers Guild Association.
Carell starred as Maxwell Smart in “Get Smart,” opposite Anne Hathaway and Alan Arkin. The film grossed over $230 million worldwide and, due to the success, Warner Bros. announced they will release a sequel in 2011. He also lent his voice as the Mayor of Whoville in 20th Century Fox Film’s animated “Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!”, based on the children’s book written by Dr. Seuss. Directed by Jimmy Hayward (“Finding Nemo,” “Monsters, Inc.”), Carell played opposite of Jim Carrey, and helped launch the film as an international success that earned over $295 million worldwide. In 2006, as part of an ensemble, he starred in “Little Miss Sunshine,” which earned an Academy Award® nomination for Best Picture and won the SAG Award® for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. The black comedy also starred Greg Kinnear and Toni Collette.
Most recently, Carell starred in Universal Pictures’ animated comedy “Despicable Me,” as a super villain who finds his plans to steal the moon put on hold when three orphan girls adopt him as their dad. He also starred with Tina Fey in the romantic comedy “Date Night,” as Phil and Claire Foster, a married couple who add a little spice to their relationship by going on a date, and who are mistaken for a mob boss and his spouse when they steal their table at a fancy restaurant. The film is poised to break the $100 million mark domestically.
Previous film credits include “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” “Bruce Almighty,” “Bewitched” and “Dan in Real Life.” Carell currently stars in the Americanized adaptation of Ricky Gervais’ acclaimed British television series “The Office.” Just completing its sixth season, the show continues to flourish in ratings and has earned Carell four Emmy® Award nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy. In 2006, Carell earned a Golden Globe® Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series—Musical or Comedy, followed by four more nominations, for his portrayal of Michael Scott, the pompous and deluded boss of a Pennsylvania paper company. In 2007 and 2008, the show won the Screen Actors Guild Award® for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. Carell also heads his own production company, Carousel Productions. Carell’s endeavors and successes in acting, writing and producing were an organic segue to the creation of Carousel Productions.
Born in Massachusetts, Carell now resides in Los Angeles with his wife, actress Nancy Walls (NBC’s “Saturday Night Live”), whom he met while at the Second City Theater Group in Chicago, where both were members. He is the proud father of a daughter and a son.
In his next film, PAUL RUDD (Tim Conrad) will star in James L. Brooks’ “Everything You’ve Got,” opposite Reese Witherspoon and Jack Nicholson, which will be released on December 17, 2010.
He will soon begin production on Jesse Peretz’s “My Idiot Brother,” starring opposite Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer and Rashida Jones. The film centers on an idealist (Rudd) who, while dealing with his overbearing mother, crashes at the homes of his three ambitious sisters and brings truth, happiness and a sunny disposition into their lives—while also wreaking havoc. This film marks Rudd’s second collaboration with Peretz, having worked with him previously in “The Château.”
Following “My Idiot Brother,” he will begin production on David Wain’s “Wanderlust,” starring opposite Jennifer Aniston as a New York couple who move to a free-wheeling commune to escape their modern city life. Rudd will produce the film with Judd Apatow, David Wain and Ken Marino.
Rudd was last seen starring in John Hamburg’s “I Love You, Man,” opposite Jason Segel, which grossed over $90 million. He recently starred and co-wrote David Wain’s “Role Models,” which also grossed over $90 million and was nominated as Best Comedy by the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the St. Louis Film Critics Group.
Rudd starred in Judd Apatow’s “Knocked Up,” opposite Seth Rogen and Leslie Mann. The blockbuster comedy grossed over $300 million worldwide and won the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Movie Comedy. It was also nominated for a Critics Choice Award for Best Comedy Movie and was named as one of AFI’s Top Ten Films of the Year.
Rudd’s other film credits include “Monsters vs. Aliens,” “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “The 40 Year Old Virgin,” “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” “The Ten” (on which he also served as a producer), “Night at the Museum,” “Diggers,” “Reno 911!: Miami,” “The Cider House Rules,” “The Object of My Affection,” “Wet Hot American Summer,” “Clueless” and “William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet,” among others.
Onstage, Rudd starred opposite Julia Roberts and Bradley Cooper in Richard Greenberg’s “Three Days of Rain.” He also starred in Neil LaBute’s “Bash” in both New York and Los Angeles, as well as LaBute’s “The Shape of Things” in London and New York. He made his West End debut in Robin Phillips’ London production of “Long Days Journey into Night,” opposite Jessica Lange. His other stage credits include Nicholas Hynter’s production of “Twelfth Night” at Lincoln Center Theater, with a special performance that aired on PBS’ “Great Performances,” and in Alfred Uhry’s Tony® Award-winning play, “The Last Night of Ballyhoo.”
On television, Rudd guest-starred on NBC’s “Friends” as Phoebe’s (Lisa Kudrow) husband, Mike Hannigan, for the final two seasons, and starred as Nick Carraway in A&E’s production of “The Great Gatsby.”
Musician, comedian and actor JEMAINE CLEMENT (Kieran Vollard) is no stranger to offbeat characters. He most recently portrayed the eccentric science fiction author Dr. Ronald Chevalier in “Gentlemen Broncos,” directed by Jared Hess. His performance in the film netted him an Independent Spirit Nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
The native New Zealander has been involved in a wide array of projects on stage, radio, television and film. He is one-half of the Grammy® Award-winning duo, Flight of the Conchords. Billing themselves as the “fourth most popular folk parody duo in New Zealand,” the group uses a combination of witty observation, characterization and acoustic folk guitars. Their quirky act was later converted into a BBC radio series, followed by the seven-time Emmy®-nominated American television series, “The Flight of the Conchords,” which premiered on HBO in 2007. Clement has also received three shared WGA® nominations for his scripting of the series.
Jemaine also starred in the film “Eagle vs Shark,” written and directed by Taika Waititi.
Most recently, the actor was heard as part of the voice talent assembled in Universal Picture’s 3D computer-animated film “Despicable Me,” and he will next be seen as the lead in Jason Nutter’s period crime comedy, “Predicament.”
With humor that transcends any and all demographic boundaries, JEFF DUNHAM (Lewis the Ventriloquist) is consistently setting and breaking records and conquering every realm he enters. Over the last decade, he and his hilarious troupe of comedic sidekicks have risen from the standup comedy clubs to charm the world and become an unprecedented entertainment phenomenon with an astounding international 360-degree reach.
With staggering and ever-growing DVD sales of more than five million; the highest-rated season premiere ever on Comedy Central with his debut television series “The Jeff Dunham Show”; 300 million worldwide views on YouTube; consistently packed and sold-out shows in 7,000- to 10,000-seat venues; and a briskly-selling line of some 50 items of merchandise offered at his concerts, on his website and in retail stores across North America, he has a comedic gift that turns laughter into overwhelming success. Declared by Time magazine as “perhaps the most popular comedian in the U.S.,” as well as “America’s favorite” by Slate, his audience appeal has fostered a constantly burgeoning following of loyal and loving fans who savor his concerts, TV appearances, DVDs, CDs and YouTube clips again and again and fervently spread the word on Dunham and his winning characters.
The secret to Dunham’s comedic genius and unprecedented success is found in the believably real personalities he has created that are his partners in hilarity: Walter the grumpy retiree; the beer-swilling, NASCAR loving and resolutely redneck Bubba J; the furry and manic Peanut; José Jalapeño, the spicy pepper from south of the border; and the bumbling skeletal Achmed the Dead Terrorist. Although Dunham can rightfully be declared one of the funniest humans on the planet, it’s his interactions with them as they banter, quip, kid and vie with each other that makes their comedy so distinctive, potent and irresistibly funny. They may have been conceived and crafted by Dunham, but his characters, who are anything but dummies, have now taken on a life of their own and are stars of everything Dunham does.
Named by Forbes to its Celebrity 100 list of most powerful entertainers, Dunham enjoys a unique multi-year, multi-platform deal with Comedy Central that includes his series, “The Jeff Dunham Show,” future one-hour comedy specials, a consumer products program and DVD distribution through Comedy Central Home Entertainment. It follows in the wake of his record-setting late 2008 one-hour holiday celebration “A Very Special Christmas Special,” which drew 6.6 million viewers on its premiere airing to become the channel’s most-watched program ever, and top ratings for his previous Comedy Central specials “Arguing with Myself” (April 2006) and “Spark of Insanity” (September 2007). Dunham has also struck content partnerships with YouTube (where his Achmed clip is the fifth most all-time viewed and fourth all-time video designated as a favorite), Amazon.com (whose customers rated “Spark of Insanity” the best DVD of 2008) and iTunes. Dunham was also declared the top-grossing domestic live comedy act of 2008 and 2009 and the top-grossing international live comedy act of 2009 by the concert industry trade magazine Pollstar.
It all began when Dunham was growing up in the Dallas, Texas area with a Mortimer Snerd dummy and an instruction manual and LP he got when he was eight-years-old. Throughout his teen years, the comedian performed anywhere and everywhere he could find an audience. After graduating from Baylor University, he moved to Los Angeles and was soon a sensation on the national comedy club circuit, renewing a lost art that he has taken to new levels of finesse and technique with hilarious results. But Dunham saw even wider horizons for his talents. “I knew if we could let the masses see it and not just the comedy club fans, then it would explode,” he says.
Frequent guest appearances on “The Tonight Show” and “Late Night with David Letterman,” as well as a host of other TV and radio programs, set the stage for what was to come. Eventually he was voted “Funniest Male Stand-Up Comic” at the American Comedy Awards and became the only person to ever win the prestigious “Ventriloquist of the Year” award twice. With his debut self-produced Comedy Central special “Arguing with Myself”—which quickly sold more than one million DVDs (compared with average comedy DVD sales of 35,000)—Dunham’s popularity exploded. Soon fans were posting clips of his routines on the Internet, which went viral, and had a rapid climb to tens of millions of views.
In 2008, Dunham sold out headlining major venue shows at the prestigious and star-studded Comedy Festival in Las Vegas and the Just For Laughs festival in Toronto, and his first CD, “Don’t Come Home for Christmas,” jumped to #1 in comedy sales and #6 in overall CD sales in pre-orders alone when it was announced on Amazon, and entered the Billboard Independent Album charts in the Top 10.
Then in 2009, he triumphed on his first-ever full nationwide tour of Canada, wowed audiences with his debut appearances and sold-out shows in five European capital cities and, without performing there previously, completely sold out a four-show visit to Australia in November of 2009. He recently returned to Europe in March of 2010, performing sold-out shows in Amsterdam and all over the UK, including a performance at the world-renowned O2 arena in London. [All three specials have been released on television, DVD, and mobile platforms in Canada, UK, Benelux, Scandinavia, Italy, France, Spain, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The DVD of “A Very Special Christmas Special” topped the Danish entertainment chart and “Spark of Insanity” hit the Top 5 of the overall DVD charts in Holland (#2) and South Africa (#5). “Spark of Insanity” is the most viewed show ever on Comedy Central Holland, and upon their initial release the only two titles by an American in the Top 20 of the U.K. comedy DVD charts are both Jeff Dunham specials.]
“The Jeff Dunham Show” (Fall 2009) forged a new mode of television comedy as it shows the life of the comedian and his characters for the other 23 hours of the day when they are not onstage. They interact out in the world and at home with real people in real locations to uproarious results. The show was the highest rated premiere ever on Comedy Central and garnered 5.3 million viewers in its first airing. Late 2009 also saw a cameo Dunham appearance on the Emmy®-winning comedy series “30 Rock.”
Dunham has done it all as an independent business entity that creates, produces and finances his TV specials/DVDs, merchandise, tours and more, and through a highly interactive relationship with his fans via his website, social networking platforms, and an email list to rival any in the entertainment industry.
By now Dunham has become a part of popular culture, and such character catchphrases as Achmed’s “Silence! I Keel You!” and José Jalapeño’s “On A Steek!’” are embedded in the contemporary lexicon. He has developed a brand of comedy that is edgy, yet has mass mainstream appeal, taking his cues from the stuff of everyday life and people he and we all know.
BRUCE GREENWOOD (Lance Fender) was last seen in the Paramount Pictures blockbuster “Star Trek” as Captain Christopher Pike, opposite Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Eric Bana for director J.J. Abrams. Following that, he starred opposite Noel Fisher and Linda Emond in the holiday movie “A Dog Named Christmas,” based on the Greg Kincaid novel. The Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation aired on CBS in November, 2009.
He will soon be seen in “Mao’s Last Dancer” for director Bruce Beresford. The film is based on the best-selling memoir of dancer Li Cunxin, who was taken from his poor Chinese village at age 12 by delegates of Madame Mao, brought to Texas during a cultural exchange and ended up falling in love and defecting. Greenwood plays Ben Stevenson, artistic director of the Houston Ballet, who was his mentor. The film premiered as a Special Presentation at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival and is slated for release August 6 for Samuel Goldwyn Films.
This fall he will appear in the drama “Barney’s Version,” based on the novel by Mordecai Richler, opposite Paul Giamatti. The film is a touching story of the politically incorrect, fully-lived life of the impulsive, irascible and fearlessly blunt Barney Panofsky. Greenwood plays Blair, Barney’s rival in love.
He recently finished production on the drama “Meek’s Cutoff” with Michelle Williams for director Kelly Reichardt. The Jon Raymond screenplay was inspired by historical accounts of Stephen Meek (Greenwood) and the Tetherow Wagon Train of 1845 and chronicles an exhausted group of travelers hoping to strike it rich out West.
Previously he appeared in the Walt Disney action thriller “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” as the President of the United States, opposite Nicholas Cage. In 2009, his dual role in the unconventional biopic of legendary singer/songwriter Bob Dylan, “I’m Not There,” opposite Cate Blanchette and Richard Gere for writer/director Todd Haynes, earned the Independent Spirit Awards’ inaugural Robert Altman Award.
He is well known for his outstanding portrayal of President John F. Kennedy negotiating the Cuban Missile Crisis and its fallout in the riveting drama “Thirteen Days,” opposite Kevin Costner and Steven Culp. The film earned Greenwood a Golden Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor.
In 2006 he appeared in the thriller “Déjà Vu” for director Tony Scott, alongside Denzel Washington and Val Kilmer. That same year he played opposite Paul Walker in the Disney adventure “Eight Below,” based on the true story of the rescue of a pack of arctic sled dogs.
In 2005 he starred opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote’s partner, writer Jack Dunphy, in “Capote.” That performance earned him a Screen Actors Guild® Nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. That same year he played Kentucky horse trainer Nolan Walsh in the live-action/animated family film “Racing Stripes.”
In 2004 he appeared opposite Will Smith in the sci-fi box office hit “I, Robot,” in which he played a ruthless CEO of U.S. Robotics, who was suspected of murder. That same year he played the dashing paramour of an aging actress (Annette Bening) in the critically praised “Being Julia.” That role earned him a Genie Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
In 1999 he starred opposite Ashley Judd as a spouse plotting murder in the suspense thriller “Double Jeopardy,” which earned him a Blockbuster Entertainment Award nomination for Favorite Supporting Actor.
He has worked three times with acclaimed Canadian director Atom Egoyan. He had a lead role in “Exotica” as a tax inspector obsessed with a stripper. The film was nominated for the Palm D’Or at Cannes and named Best Canadian Feature Film at the Toronto International Film Festival. He also starred in the drama “The Sweet Hereafter,” playing a father of two children killed in a tragic bus accident. The film earned the Jury Grand Prize at Cannes and swept the Genie Awards, including Best Motion Picture, and also earned him a Genie Award nomination for Best Actor. Additionally he starred in the drama “Ararat.”
Greenwood’s other film credits include “Firehouse Dog,” “Hollywood Homicide,” “The World’s Fastest Indian,” “Rules of Engagement,” “Here on Earth,” “The Lost Son,” “Thick as Thieves,” “Disturbing Behavior,” “Passenger 57” and “Wild Orchid.”
Greenwood also enjoys a diverse and successful career in television. In 2007 he was the lead in the HBO series “John from Cincinnati” and played opposite Rebecca De Mornay as Mitch Yost, the patriarch of a dysfunctional California surfing family.
Earlier in his career he was a series regular as Dr. Seth Griffith on the award-winning series “St. Elsewhere.” He also appeared on the critically-acclaimed “Larry Sanders Show,” the nighttime drama “Knots Landing” and starred in the cult series “Nowhere Man” as a documentary photographer who has his whole existence erased.
He also starred in the remake of “The Magnificent Ambersons,” as well as several telefilms, including “The Riverman” for A&E and “Saving Millie” for CBS.
Bruce and his wife Susan divide their time between their homes in Los Angeles and Vancouver.
RON LIVINGSTON (Caldwell) recently wrapped production on the New Line-Warner Bros. film “Going the Distance,” starring Drew Barrymore, Justin Long and Christina Applegate. In summer 2009, he co-starred in the New Line-Warner Bros. film “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” with Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams, and he also starred in the ABC series “Defying Gravity,” a one-hour drama about a team of astronauts on a six-year billion-mile mission in outer space. Livingston played Maddux Donner, the flight engineer responsible for the spaceship.
In 2007, Livingston appeared off-Broadway in the Neil LaBute play “In a Dark, Dark House.” In addition, he starred with Michael Sheen and Melissa George in “Music Within,” winner of the audience award at the Palm Springs and AFI Dallas film festivals, and also starred in “Holly,” a riveting film about child trafficking shot on location in Cambodia and screened at several festivals that year.
As Captain Lewis Nixon in HBO’s “Band of Brothers,” Livingston was nominated for a Golden Globe® in the Best Supporting Actor category in 2001. The critically acclaimed series won the Emmy® and Golden Globe® for Best Miniseries that year. That fall, Livingston also appeared on the Emmy®-winning drama “The Practice,” as the hot shot Assistant District Attorney Alan Lowe, then took a memorable turn as Jack Berger on the ever-popular HBO series “Sex and the City,” opposite Sarah Jessica Parker.
His past films include Livingston’s co-starring role in “The Cooler,” the critically acclaimed film from Lionsgate, starring William H. Macy, Maria Bello and Alec Baldwin, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and opened the Los Angeles Film Festival. He has also appeared in: “Adaptation” for director Spike Jonze, along with Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper; “Swingers,” with Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn; “Pretty Persuasion” for Samuel Goldwyn with Evan Rachel Wood and James Woods; the Paramount Classics film “Winter Solstice,” with Anthony LaPaglia and Allison Janney; “Relative Strangers”; and “Little Black Book. He also recently starred in the Fox series “Standoff” and the TNT limited series “Nightmares and Dreamscapes,” based on the Steven King anthology of the same name.
But Livingston may be best known as the star of the cult hit “Office Space.” Directed by Mike Judge and starring opposite Jennifer Aniston, the film has gone on to become one of the industry’s best-selling film/DVD rentals of all time. In the film, he plays a disgruntled young office worker caught up in the corporate rat race.
Raised in Iowa, Livingston graduated from Marion High School and attended Yale University. He currently resides in Los Angeles.
About the Filmmakers
Filmmaker JAY ROACH (Director / Producer) has garnered a reputation as one of Hollywood’s producer/directors with a magic comedic touch, having helmed a string of very funny and successful hits.
Roach made his directorial debut in 1997 with “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery,” starring Mike Myers, following that with the sequels “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” and “Austin Powers in Goldmember.” Roach also directed and produced “Meet the Parents” and the follow-up, “Meet the Fockers,” starring Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Barbra Streisand and Dustin Hoffman. Prior to “Parents,” he also directed the wry and touching “Mystery, Alaska,” starring an ensemble cast headed by Russell Crowe.
In 2008, Roach won two Emmy® Awards for both directing and producing the star-studded HBO made-for-TV film “Recount,” starring Kevin Spacey, Laura Dern and Tom Wilkinson, among many others. The film follows the Florida recount from Election Day in November 2000 through the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of George W. Bush over Al Gore five weeks later. Roach also won a Director’s Guild Award for the film, and was nominated for a Golden Globe® for producing. The film was honored with an AFI Award, being named as one of the top ten TV programs of 2008, and was nominated for a Broadcast Film Critic’s Award for “Best Picture Made for Television.”
Recent producing credits include Sacha Baron Cohen’s Academy Award®-nominated “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” “Brűno,” and “Charlie Bartlett.” Prior to that, he produced “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”
Roach is currently producing the third installment of the Fockers’ films, “Little Fockers,” out December 2010.
A graduate of Stanford University, Roach received his Master’s degree in film production from the University of Southern California.
DAVID GUION & MICHAEL HANDELMAN (Screenplay by) met at Yale, where they performed improv together and honed their comedy skills. After graduation, each took separate paths, with Handelman earning a Master’s in philosophy and Guion acting in New York theater. They reconnected as part of the four-man comedy group Circus Maximus, where they began writing and directing sketch comedy. They soon turned their attention to screenwriting. Their first film, “The Ex,” was released in 2006. Before “Dinner for Schmucks,” they collaborated with Jay Roach and Ben Stiller on “Used Guys.”
Their current projects include the fantasy adventure “Children of the Lamp” at Paramount. They are attached to write and direct “Cruise of the Gods” at Focus Features, with Ben Stiller’s Red Hour producing and Steve Coogan attached to star.
The husband and wife team of WALTER F. PARKES (Producer) and LAURIE MacDONALD (Producer) hold the unique distinction of having helped to create Dreamworks, the first new studio in 5 decades, as well as being two of the most active producers working today.
Films produced or executive-produced by Parkes & MacDonald include Gladiator, Amistad, Men In Black I & II, Minority Report, The Mask of Zorro, Catch Me If You Can, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Terminal, Road to Perdition and The Ring. In 2007, they created their own company and produced the screen adaptations of the acclaimed novel The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, and of Stephen Sondheim’s musical thriller, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, starring Johnny Depp and directed by Tim Burton. In total, films produced or executive-produced by Parkes and MacDonald have earned in excess of $6 billion in worldwide box office.
As studio heads, Parkes and MacDonald were responsible for development and production of the company’s diverse slate of films, which achieved both box office success and critical acclaim, including—for only the second time in the history of the Motion Picture Academy—three consecutive Best Picture Oscar® winners: American Beauty, Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind, the latter two produced in partnership with Universal Pictures. Other critical and commercial successes produced during their tenure include: Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous, Robert Zemeckis’ What Lies Beneath, Adam McKay’s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Michael Mann’s Collateral, and Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award®- and Golden Globe®-winning drama Saving Private Ryan, which was the domestically top-grossing film of 1998.
In 2009, Parkes and MacDonald teamed with the Abu Dhabi Media Company to form “Parkes/MacDonald Imagenation,” a partnership that will fund future screenplay development for the duo’s projects at DreamWorks and other studios, and provide production co-financing on selected films.
Parkes himself is a three-time Academy Award® nominee, earning his first nomination as the director/producer of the 1978 documentary California Reich, which exposed neo-Nazi activities in California. He garnered his second Oscar® nomination for writing (with Lawrence Lasker, Yale ‘72) the original screenplay for WarGames, and his third nod for his work as a producer on the Best Picture nominee “Awakenings.” Parkes and Lasker also wrote and produced the thriller “Sneakers,” starring Robert Redford and Sidney Poitier.
MacDonald began her producing career as a documentary and news producer at KRON, the NBC affiliate in San Francisco. She later joined Columbia Pictures, where she served as a Vice President of Production. After four years, she started a production company with Walter Parkes. Immediately prior to joining DreamWorks, MacDonald oversaw development and production at Amblin Entertainment.
They are currently working on the upcoming Men in Black III.
Truly a king of the French cinema with more than four decades of writing and directing credits, FRANCIS VEBER (Inspired by the film “Le Dîner de Cons” / Executive Producer) has been afforded one of the highest honors his country can bestow: Officier of the Légion d’honneur. He has been nominated for five French Césars, winning one for Best Writing, for his screen adaptation of his stage play “Le Dîner de Cons” (which inspired “Dinner for Schmucks”); his film also won one of his country’s Lumiere Awards for Best Screenplay. His screenplay for the 1978 worldwide phenomenon of “La cage aux folles” received a shared Academy Award® nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay (and was, 18 years later, turned into the U.S. blockbuster film “The Birdcage,” not to mention a 1983 Tony®-winning Broadway musical).
Several other of Veber’s works have also served as inspiration for American comedies, including “Les Compères” (“Father’s Day”), “Mon père, ce héros” (“My Father the Hero”), “La Chévre” (“Pure Luck”), “Les Fugitifs” (“Three Fugitives”), “Le grand blond avec une chaussure noire” (“The Man With One Red Shoe”) and “Le jouet” (“The Toy”). His 2006 title “La Doublure” is currently being adapted at DreamWorks under the title of “The Valet,” about a hapless parking attendant working at a posh hotel.
Among Veber’s additional credits are “A Pain in the Ass,” “Tais-toi!”, “Le placard,” “Le jaguar,” “Deux fantômes en colère,” “Hold-up,” “La cage aux folles II,” “Cause toujours... tu m’intéresses!” and “On aura tout vu.”
SACHA BARON COHEN (Executive Producer) until recently was best known to the public as his alter ego Ali G, the in-your-face host of HBO’s popular, multiple-Emmy®-nominated comedy variety/talk show “Da Ali G Show.” The series was already the #1 comedy phenomenon in Baron Cohen’s native England when he imported it to the United States, where it became an instant sensation on HBO. After completing two seasons, Baron Cohen set out to conquer the world with “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” a feature film starring his second alter ego, Borat Sagdiyev, a Kazakhstani news reporter.
Sacha Baron Cohen is now known worldwide for creating “one of the greatest comedies of the last decade and perhaps even a whole new genre of film,” according to Rolling Stone magazine. “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” opened #1 in 24 countries while setting a U.S. box office record for films opening on 1000 screens or less, grossing over $26 million before going on to gross more than $250 million worldwide. In 2007, Baron Cohen took home the Golden Globe® for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical and an Academy Award® nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Since its release in November 2006, “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” has garnered numerous awards and honors, including being named one of the Ten Most Outstanding Motion Pictures of the Year by AFI, earning a Golden Globe® nomination for Best Picture Comedy/Musical and embracing the dubious honor of being the longest-titled film ever to receive an Academy Award® nomination. Individually, Baron Cohen received Writer of the Year at the 2007 British Writers Guild Awards and was nominated for a WGA Award® in the Adapted Screenplay category. Baron Cohen won Best Actor awards from the Los Angeles Films Critics Association, Utah Film Critics, San Francisco Films Critics Circle, Toronto Film Critics Association and Online film critics. In addition, Baron Cohen was bestowed Writer of the Year at the 2007 British Writers Guild Awards, and was nominated for a WGA Award® for Adapted Screenplay.
As the title character on “Da Ali G Show,” Baron Cohen played a wannabe gangsta hailing from the provincial London suburb Staines. As fearless as he is clueless, Ali G provokes the ire of his guests by asking all the tough—and often wrong—questions, such as asking astronaut Buzz Aldrin, “What it was like to walk on de sun?” or when he asked the former head of the CIA, “Let’s cast our minds back to the grassy knoll, who actually shot J.R.?” Ali G has also sat down with some of the world’s most powerful people, from Pat Buchanan and Newt Gingrich to former United Nations head Boutros Boutros Gali and former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop. In addition to being Ali G, Baron Cohen consistently showcases his versatility by appearing on “Da Ali G Show” as several other characters, including Borat, the sixth-most famous man in the country of Kazakhstan.
The HBO show was bestowed six Emmy® Award nominations. In 2003, it received nominations for Outstanding Non-Fiction Program, Outstanding Writing Non-Fiction Program and Outstanding Directing Non-Fiction Program. In 2005, its nominations included Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series; Outstanding Writing, Variety, Music or Comedy Series; and Outstanding Directing, Variety, Music or Comedy Series. The show also received accolades in the UK prior to its stateside debut, with Sacha Baron Cohen garnering two BAFTA Awards® (Best Comedy Performance and Best Comedy Programme).
His feature film projects include the hit comedy “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” with co-stars Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. He also was the voice behind the animated character King Julien in both the DreamWorks animated feature “Madagascar,” which grossed over $500 million worldwide, and its sequel, “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa,” which has grossed more than $590 worldwide. In 2007, Baron Cohen appeared with Johnny Depp in Tim Burton’s film adaptation of the classic Sondheim musical “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” In this Academy Award®-winning film, Baron Cohen co-stared as Signor Adolfo Pirelli, Todd’s (Depp) competitor in the cutthroat world of barbering.
Most recently was the motion picture release of his other alter-ego character from “Da Ali G Show,” “Brűno,” a flamboyant Austrian fashionista—the film (in which he starred, and also wrote and produced) grossed more than $138 million worldwide. Baron Cohen is currently in production on Martin Scorsese’s “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” and will begin production later this year on “The Dictator” for Paramount Pictures.
Born in London, England, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cambridge educated, now divides his time between Los Angeles and London with his spouse, actress Isla Fisher.
New York native AMY SAYRES (Executive Producer) has an extensive background in filmmaking. She previously collaborated with Jay Roach as co-producer on “Meet the Parents” and executive producer on “Meet the Fockers.” Her additional producing credits include executive producer on the film “Wild Hogs,” co-producer on the films “Secondhand Lions” and “Flawless,” and associate producer on “Gigli.”
Sayres was the first assistant director on the Martin Brest films “Scent of a Woman,” “Meet Joe Black” and “Gigli.” Her additional first assistant director credits include “Zoolander,” “Wag the Dog,” “The Mirror Has Two Faces,” “The Juror,” “Six Degrees of Separation,” “So I Married An Axe Murderer” and “Mad Dog and Glory.”
Sayres served as Vice President of Production at Tribeca Productions from 1997 to 1999. The talented filmmaker graduated from New York University with a B.F.A. in film.
Amy Sayres makes her home in Los Angeles.
JON POLL (Executive Producer / Editor) has collaborated with Jay Roach in several capacities. Initially an editor on “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me,” “Mystery, Alaska,” “Meet the Parents” and “Austin Powers in Goldmember,” Poll went on to co-produce, edit and direct second-unit on “Meet the Fockers.”
Jay Roach made Jon’s directorial debut possible when he produced “Charlie Bartlett” (“the sweetest movie ever made about a high school drug dealer”), starring Robert Downey Jr., Anton Yelchin, Kat Dennings and Hope Davis. Jon also co-produced “Brűno” for producer Jay Roach and executive-produced “The 40 Year Old Virgin” for director Judd Apatow.
Poll’s additional editing credits include Danny DeVito’s “Death to Smoochy,” David Zucker’s “Scary Movie 3” and “Forever Young.” He was also proud to contribute as second editor on Peter Weir’s “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.”
ROGER BIRNBAUM (Executive Producer) founded the production, finance and distribution company Spyglass Entertainment with his partner, Gary Barber, sharing the title of Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
Spyglass Entertainment’s slate of films have grossed over $5 billion in worldwide box office to date. Spyglass enjoyed instant success with the blockbuster “The Sixth Sense,” starring Bruce Willis, which grossed over $661 million and garnered six Academy Award® nominations. Other successes include “Bruce Almighty,” starring Jim Carrey, which grossed over $485 million in worldwide box office, and Oscar® favorites “Seabiscuit” and “Memoirs of a Geisha,” based on the best-selling books. In total, Spyglass films have amassed 34 Oscar® nominations, including three wins.
Other company hits, which demonstrate the commercial diversity of the films Spyglass produces or finances, include: “The Count of Monte Cristo,” “Shanghai Noon,” “Shanghai Knights,” “The Recruit,” “Eight Below” and “The Pacifier.”
More recently, Birnbaum produced and Spyglass co-financed the hugely popular romantic comedy “27 Dresses,” starring Katherine Heigl; followed by “Wanted,” an adrenaline-pumping action thriller based upon Mark Miller’s explosive graphic novel series, starring Oscar® winners Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman; and the holiday comedy hit “Four Christmases,” with comedian Vince Vaughn and Academy Award® winner Reese Witherspoon.
In 2009, Spyglass co-financed Paramount’s summer blockbuster “Star Trek,” directed by J.J. Abrams. The latest installment of the “Star Trek” franchise was the first film in 2009 to cross the $200 million mark in U.S. box office. Following “Star Trek,” Spyglass co-financed and Birnbaum served as executive producer on Paramount’s “G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra.”
The past year, Birnbaum served as executive producer on Oscar®-winning director Clint Eastwood’s latest project “Invictus,” based on the inspiring true story of Nelson Mandela. The film stars Oscar® winners Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. Birnbaum also served as producer on the Irish production of “Leap Year,” a romantic comedy starring Amy Adams.
In 2010, Spyglass co-financed Universal Pictures’ comedy “Get Him to the Greek,” starring Jonah Hill and Russell Brand. Birnbaum is currently serving as producer on the thriller “The Tourist,” with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, which is expected to be released at the end of 2010.
Prior to founding Spyglass Entertainment, Birnbaum co-founded Caravan Pictures, where he was responsible for such box office hits as “Rush Hour,” “Six Days Seven Nights,” “Inspector Gadget,” “Gross Pointe Blank,” “The Three Musketeers,” “Angels in the Outfield” and “While You Were Sleeping.”
Before joining Caravan, Birnbaum held the title of President of Worldwide Production and Executive Vice President of 20th Century Fox, where he oversaw such films as “Home Alone,” “Sleeping with the Enemy,” “Edward Scissorhands,” “Hot Shots!,” “My Cousin Vinny,” “The Last of the Mohicans,” “Die Hard 2” and “Mrs. Doubtfire,” among others. Prior to that, Birnbaum was President of Production for United Artists, where he developed the Oscar®-winning film “Rain Man.”
Earlier in his career, he produced “The Sure Thing,” directed by Rob Reiner, and “Young Sherlock Holmes,” presented in association with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment. For television, he executive-produced the telefilms “Scandal Sheet,” “Happily Ever After,” “When Your Lover Leaves” and the Emmy®-winning “All the Kids Do It.”
Birnbaum started his career as Vice President of A&M Records and Arista Records before entering the film industry. He is an AFI Trustee and Artistic Director of the Institute, as well as a mentor to the USC Peter Stark Producing Program.
GARY BARBER (Executive Producer) founded the production, finance and distribution company Spyglass Entertainment with his partner Roger Birnbaum, sharing the title of Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
Spyglass Entertainment’s savvy production choices have grossed a total of $5 billion in worldwide box office to date. Spyglass was launched with the phenomenal box office success “The Sixth Sense,” starring Bruce Willis, which grossed over $661 million and garnered six Academy Award® nominations. Other successes include “Bruce Almighty,” starring Jim Carrey, which grossed over $485 million in worldwide box office and is considered one of the blockbuster comedies of all time, and “Memoirs of a Geisha,” based on the best-selling novel, which earned Spyglass three Oscar® wins out of six nominations, bringing the company a total, to date, of 34 nominations.
In 2008, Barber produced and Spyglass co-financed the hugely popular “27 Dresses,” starring Katherine Heigl, followed by “Wanted,” an adrenaline-pumping action thriller based upon Mark Miller’s explosive graphic novel series, starring Oscar® winners Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman, with James McAvoy. Spyglass wrapped up 2008 with the holiday comedy hit “Four Christmases,” with comedian Vince Vaughn and Academy Award® winner Reese Witherspoon.
In 2009, Spyglass co-financed Paramount’s summer blockbuster “Star Trek,” the highly anticipated new vision from director J.J. Abrams of the greatest space adventure of all time, featuring a young, new crew venturing boldly where no man has gone before. The latest installment of the “Star Trek” franchise was the first film in 2009 to cross the $200 million mark in U.S. box office. Following “Star Trek,” Spyglass co-financed and Barber served as executive producer on Paramount’s “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.” The summer tent-pole action adventure about an elite military unit stars Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller and Dennis Quaid.
More recently, Barber served as executive producer on Oscar®-winning director Clint Eastwood’s latest project “Invictus,” based on the inspiring true story of Nelson Mandela when he was first elected President of South Africa. The film stars Oscar® winners Morgan Freeman, who plays Mandela, and Matt Damon. Barber also served as producer on the Irish production of “Leap Year,” a romantic comedy starring Amy Adams.
In 2010, Spyglass co-financed Universal Pictures’ comedy “Get Him to the Greek,” starring Jonah Hill and Russell Brand, which was released on June 4, 2010.
Barber is currently serving as producer on the thriller “The Tourist,” with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, which is expected to be released at the end of 2010.
A seasoned veteran of the business, Barber has produced or executive-produced numerous feature films and has run business entities in feature film production, foreign distribution, music and exhibition.
JIM DENAULT, A.S.C. (Director of Photography) last worked with director Jay Roach on the HBO drama “Recount,” about the 2000 Presidential election, which debuted in May 2009. He also served as director of photography on the recent feature releases “She’s Out of My League,” “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2,” “The Passage,” “Hounddog” and Richard LaGravenese’s “Freedom Writers.”
Denault’s credits encompass a diverse range of films, including the Merchant-Ivory production “Heights”; the HBO film “Maria Full of Grace,” which won the Audience Award at Sundance in 2006; “City of Ghosts,” for writer/director Matt Dillon; HBO’s “Real Women Have Curves” and “The Believer,” both honored with Sundance awards; “Our Song”; the groundbreaking drama “Boys Don’t Cry”; “Clockwatchers,” a 1997 nominee for Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize; and “Illtown.” His work on the thriller “Nadja” earned a 1996 Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Cinematography.
Denault received a 2005 Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Cinematography on a Single-Camera Series for his photography on the acclaimed HBO series “Carnivale.” His additional television credits include USA Network’s “Royal Pains” and “In Plain Sight,” HBO’s “Six Feet Under” and a number of network pilots, including “Push, Nevada” for ABC.
His work will next be seen in the Jim Field Smith feature “Butter,” starring Jennifer Garner, Ashley Greene, Hugh Jackman and Olivia Wilde.
MICHAEL CORENBLITH (Production Designer) most recently worked on the blockbuster hit “The Blind Side,” starring Sandra Bullock in her Oscar®-winning performance as Leigh Anne Tuohy. Released by Warner Bros. in November of 2009, the film has amassed a domestic box office of more than $255 million.
Corenblith has been honored with two Academy Award® nominations, the first for his work on Ron Howard’s true-life drama “Apollo 13,” and the second for the imaginative creation of Dr. Seuss’ Whoville in Howard’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” He also won a BAFTA Award for “Apollo 13” and received an Art Directors Guild (ADG) Award nomination for “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” He recently earned another ADG Award nomination for his work on Howard’s “Frost/Nixon.”
His collaborations with Ron Howard also include “Ransom” and “EDtv,” and he previously worked with “The Blind Side” director John Lee Hancock on the historical drama “Alamo,” for which he won an award from the Alamo Battlefield Association in recognition of his re-creations of San Antonio de Bexar and the Alamo, the largest standing sets ever built in North America. His additional feature credits include “Wild Hogs,” “Be Cool,” the remake of “Mighty Joe Young,” “Cool World” and “He Said, She Said.”
For television, Corenblith won an Emmy® Award in 1983 for his work as a set decorator on the “55th Annual Academy Awards®” telecast. Collaborating with some of the most interesting directors working in television has led to designing numerous TV pilots, including Showtime’s signature series, “Dexter.”
A graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, Corenblith studied design at UCLA and entered the entertainment industry as a television lighting designer. Segueing to films, he started out as a set designer or art director on such films as “Down and Out in Beverly Hills,” “Cat People,” “Burglar,” “Red Heat” and “Die Hard 2: Die Harder.”
ALAN BAUMGARTEN (Editor) joins several crewmembers reteaming with Jay Roach. He edited Roach’s critically acclaimed HBO telefilm “Recount,” for which he won an Emmy® and an American Cinema Editors - Eddie Award. He also served as editor of “Charlie Bartlett” and was an additional editor on “Meet the Fockers.”
Most recently Baumgarten edited the action comedy “Zombieland.” His other editing credits include “The Heartbreak Kid,” “Mr. Woodcock,” “Fever Pitch,” “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story,” “The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland,” “Losing Chase” (which garnered him an Eddie nomination by the American Cinema Editors in 1997), “Lord of Illusions” and “The Lawnmower Man.”
His television credits include episodes of “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Wonderfalls.” He also edited the television movies “Papa’s Angels” and “Monte Walsh,” in addition to several music videos and documentary films.
Born in Los Angeles, Baumgarten studied at the University of California Santa Cruz and earned a degree in film and art history from New York University.
MARY VOGT (Costume Designer) reunites with Jay Roach after working with him on the HBO telefilm “Recount” in 2008. That same year she worked on “4: The Rise of the Silver Surfer.” Her other film credits include “RV,” “Son of the Mask,” “Unconditional Men,” “Men in Black II” “Inspector Gadget” and “Men in Black.” The Science Fiction Academy presented her with a Saturn award for her work on “Hocus Pocus” and nominated her for a Saturn Award for “Batman Returns.”
Mary has designed several projects for television, the most recent of which was the NBC movie “Boldly Going Nowhere” in 2009. She also worked on the series “Pushing Daisies,” for which she received an Emmy® nomination, and the ABC series “Night Stalker.”
Vogt also enjoys working in the theater. In 2005, she designed costumes for “Private Lives” at the Pasadena Playhouse, and her designs for the show received a nomination for an LA Theater Critics Award.
A native of Long Beach Long Island, Mary graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. Her first professional job was as a fashion illustrator at Lord & Taylor, one of Manhattan’s leading department stores. She came West to study at The Pasadena Art Center College of Design. Her first work for Hollywood was as a sketch artist. In pursuit of her lifelong goal of becoming a motion picture costume designer, she worked in a number of craft positions and eventually assisted several leading designers. Her eclectic background makes her one of the few who not only do their own illustration, but also have the hands-on experience to build a costume from pattern through draping and cutting, and on to the finished garment.
She recently completed work on the DreamWorks comedy “A Thousand Words,” starring Eddie Murphy, and has begun work on “Men in Black III.”
THEODORE SHAPIRO (Music) scores for a wide range of feature films, bringing talent and versatility to each of his projects. His recent film work includes the motion picture adaptation of Jeff Kinney’s illustrated novel, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”; the Diablo Cody-penned horror film “Jennifer’s Body”; director Harold Ramis’ “Year One,” starring Jack Black and Michael Cera; and the bromantic comedy “I Love You, Man.” His other notable work includes the Ben Stiller comedy hit “Tropic Thunder”; “Marley & Me,” starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston; the worldwide hit “The Devil Wears Prada”; “Fun with Dick and Jane,” with Jim Carrey; the Will Ferrell comedies “Semi-Pro” and “Blades of Glory”; the indie drama “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh”; and the Ben Stiller comedies “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story,” “Starsky & Hutch” and “Along Came Polly,” winning BMI Film Music Awards for all three. He has additional BMI wins for “Marley & Me,” “Tropic Thunder,” “Blades of Glory,” “The Devil Wears Prada,” and “You, Me and Dupree.”
His additional feature film composing credits include Todd Phillips’ breakout film “Old School,” as well as Mike Judge’s “Idiocracy” and Marc Lawrence’s “Did You Hear About the Morgans?”; David Mamet’s “Heist” and “State and Main”; and the indie circuit hit “Girlfight” for director Karyn Kusama.
Among Shapiro’s symphonic compositions are “Chambers” (for small orchestra), performed by the L.A. Philharmonic and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra; “Avenues” (concerto for piano and orchestra), performed by both the Seattle Symphony and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra; and “Of Blood and Carnations” (for orchestra), premiered by the N.Y. Chamber Orchestra and later performed by the Ft. Worth Symphony Orchestra.