PROFILE
Name:
David Brown
Birth Date:
July 28, 1916
Birth Place:
New York, New York, USA
Nationality:
American
BIOGRAPHY
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Chocolat

Background:

“I think the independent world is the world of the future.” David Brown

American film producer David Brown (born 1916, died 2010) first became famous as a result of his partnership with Richard D. Zanuck. Under the banner of the Zanuck/Brown Company, the two produced a string of illustrious films, including Steven Spielberg's “The Sugarland Express” (1974) and “Jaws” (1977), Sidney Lumet's “The Verdict” (1982) and Ron Howard's “Cocoon” (1985) and were nominated for an Academy Awards for their work on “Jaws” and “The Verdict.” In 1991, several years after the breakup of the company, the pair jointly received Academy Award's Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award thanks to their achievements in producing. On his own, Brown was successful as the producer of Ron's Howard's “A Few Good Men” (1992), Robert Altman's “The Player” (1992), Bill Duke's “The Cemetery Club” (1993), Alan Parker's “Angela's Ashes” (1999), Lasse Hallström's “Chocolat” (2000) and Lee Tamahori's “Along Came a Spider” (2001). He took home further Oscar nominations for his work on “A Few Good Men” and “Chocolat,” an Independent Spirit Award for “The Player” and a Retirement Research Foundation Award for “The Cemetery Club.” Brown also produced several Broadway musicals, such as “A Few Good Men,” “Sweet Smell of Success: The Musical” (2002) and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (2005).

Adding to his Academy Award recognition, Brown was awarded the Producer Award at the 1993 Gotham Awards, the Lifetime Achievement Award in Motion Pictures at the 1993 PGA Awards and the Hollywood Film for Outstanding Achievement in Producing at the 1998 Hollywood Film Festival. He also received an Honorary Award from the 1999 Writers Guild of America and a ShoWest Award for Producer of the Year at the 2001ShoWest Convention.


New York Native

Childhood and Family:

The son of Lillian and Edward Fisher Brown, David Brown was born on July 28, 1916, in New York City, New York. He attended Stanford University and the Columbia School of Journalism.

On September 25, 1959, David married his third wife, Helen Gurley Brown, an ex-editor of “Cosmopolitan” magazine. They would remain together until his death in 2010. David had a son named Bruce from a previous marriage and a half brother, Edward Fisher Brown Jr.

David passed away at age 93 on February 1, 2010, from renal failure.


A Few Good Men

Career:

David Brown began his career as a writer by writing horoscopes for vending machines and subway scales. He went on to pursue a career in journalism and publishing and from 1952 to 1971, served as an executive with 20th Century Fox's story department and creative affairs operations. He also had a brief stint as an executive at Warner Bros. before eventually becoming a film producer.

In 1972, Brown joined forces with Richard Zanuck, a 20th Century Fox co-worker and son of his former employer, Darryl F. Zanuck, to form an independent production company called the Zanuck/Brown Company. Under the banner of Zanuck/Brown Productions, Brown made his feature film producing debut with the 1973 horror film “Sssssss,” which was directed by Bernard L. Kowalski and starred Strother Martin, Dirk Benedict and Heather Menzies. The film received a Golden Scroll nomination for Best Science Fiction Film at the 1975 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films.

In 1974, after producing “Willie Dynamite” for director Gilbert Moses, Brown and his producing partner produced the drama “The Sugarland Express” (1974), which marked the feature film directorial debut of Steven Spielberg. The film, which starred Goldie Hawn, Ben Johnson, William Atherton and Michael Sacks, won Best Screenplay at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival. Brown went on to produce such films as Don Siegel's “The Black Windmill” (1974, starred Michael Caine, Donald Pleasence and Delphine Seyrig), Robert Ellis Miller's “The Girl from Petrovka” (1974, starred Goldie Hawn, Hal Holbrook and Anthony Hopkins) and Clint Eastwood's “The Eiger Sanction” (1975, starred Eastwood, George Kennedy and Vonetta McGee) before scoring a breakthrough success with the big screen adaptation of Peter Benchley's novel “Jaws” (1975). A reunion with Spielberg, the thriller was a box office smash hit and with an eventual worldwide gross of over $470 million, became the highest grossing film of the era. Starring Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, Lorraine Gary and Murray Hamilton, “Jaws” was also a hit with critics. It won Oscars for Best Film Editing, Best Music, Original Score and Best Sound and a nomination for Best Picture. The film also collected numerous other wins and nominations, including a Best Film nomination at the 1976 BAFTA Awards and a Best Motion Picture - Drama nomination at the 1976 Golden Globe Awards.

After having unaccredited work in “MacArthur” (1977), a biopic about General Douglas MacArthur (played by Gregory Peck), Brown produced the installment “Jaws 2” (1978) with French director Jeannot Szwarc replacing Spielberg at the helm. The film was another success at the box office and grossed over $208 million worldwide against a budget of $30 million. In 1980, Brown produced “The Island,” a thriller directed by Michael Ritchie that starred Michael Caine and David Warner. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Peter Benchley, the film was generally panned by critics and performed poorly at the box office. He then produced “Neighbors” (1981), a comedy adaptation of Thomas Berger's novel.

Brown picked up his next Oscar nomination when he produced “The Verdict” (1982), a courtroom drama directed by Sidney Lumet that starred Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling and Jack Warden. The film was nominated for Oscars for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Newman), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (James Mason), Best Director, Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (David Mamet), and Best Picture, which Brown again shared with Zanuck. It grossed $54 million at the U.S. box office.

Three years later, Brown produced the box office hit “Cocoon” (1985), which was directed by Ron Howard and starred Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley and Hume Cronyn. The science fiction movie received primarily positive reviews from critics and won Oscars for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and Best Effects, Visual Effects, not to mention a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical, and a Hugo nomination for Best Dramatic Presentation, among other recognitions. He also produced Arthur Penn's “Target” and the sequel “Cocoon: The Return” (1988) before the Zanuck/Brown company disbanded in 1988. Later that same year, Brown started his own production company, The Manhattan Project Ltd.

In 1989, Brown served as an executive producer on “Driving Miss Daisy,” the first production of the new Zanuck Company, which Zanuck founded with his wife Lili Fini Zanuck. Directed by Bruce Beresford, the movie was a box office success and became a favorite among critics. It was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won the awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Makeup, Best Picture and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, among other awards and nominations. For his work in the film, Brown shared a Wise Owl (2nd place) for Television and Theatrical Film Fiction from the 1990 Retirement Research Foundation. Still in 1989, Brown also produced the Broadway play “A Few Good Men,” by Aaron Sorkin. The production opened at the Music Box Theatre in New York on November 15, 1989, and ran for 497 performances. When the play was later adapted into a 1992 feature film, Brown retained his stint as a producer, a post he shared with Andrew Scheinman and Rob Reiner, who also directed the film. The film version of “A Few Good Men” (1992), starring Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson and Demi Moore, was a success and nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture for Brown, and five Golden Globe Awards. At the box office, it grossed over $243 million against a budget of $40 million.

Brown had a first TV movie producing credit with the HBO drama “Women & Men 2: In Love There Are No Rules” (1991), starring Matt Dillon and Kyra Sedgwick. The following year, he produced (with Michael Tolkin and Nick Wechsler) the satirical film “The Player,” for director Robert Altman. The film won Oscars for Best Directing, Best Film Editing and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. Also in 1992, he served as a co-producer for “Rich in Love” (1992), a drama adapted from Josephine Humphreys' novel of the same name. The film, which was produced by former partner Zanuck and his wife Lili, received generally positive reviews from critics.

The remainder of the 1990s saw Brown produce or executive produce films like “The Cemetery Club” (1993), from which he nabbed a Wise Owl Award for Television and Theatrical Film Fiction from the 1995 Retirement Research Foundation, “Watch It” (1993), “Canadian Bacon” (1995), “The Saint” (1997), “Kiss the Girls” (1997) and “Angela's Ashes” (1999). He was also reunited with Zanuck to produce the successful disaster film “Deep Impact” (1998), which was directed by Mimi Leder and starred Elijah Wood, Téa Leoni, Morgan Freeman and Robert Duvall. On the small screen, he executive produced the 1996 made for TV film “A Season in Purgatory.”

Entering the new millennium, Brown was put back in the spotlight with his next Oscar nomination when he produced the romantic movie “Chocolat,” an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Joanne Harris. Directed by Lasse Hallström and starring Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, Alfred Molina, Lena Olin and Johnny Depp, the film was nominated for many awards, including five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, which Brown shared with Kit Golden and Leslie Holleran. It grossed over $152 worldwide against a production budget of $25 million.

In 2001, Brown produced the mystery “Along Came a Spider” for director Lee Tamahori. It marked his last feature film credit prior to his death in 2010. He also executive produced the TV film “Framed” (2002) and several stage productions, including the musicals “Sweet Smell of Success: The Musical” (2002) and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (2005) on Broadway and the off-Broadway Jerry Herman musical revue “Showtune” (2003).


Awards:

  • ShoWest Convention: ShoWest Award, Producer of the Year, 2001

  • Writers Guild of America: Honorary Award, 1999

  • Hollywood Film Festival: Hollywood Film, Outstanding Achievement in Producing, 1998

  • Retirement Research Foundation: Wise Owl Award, Television and Theatrical Film Fiction, “The Cemetery Club,” 1995

  • Independent Spirit: Best Feature, “The Player,” 1993

  • PGA: Lifetime Achievement Award in Motion Pictures, 1993

  • Gotham: Producer Award, 1993

  • Academy Award: Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, 1991

  • Retirement Research Foundation: 2nd place, Wise Owl Award, Television and Theatrical Film Fiction, “Driving Miss Daisy,” 1990

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