Medusa: Dare to Be Truthful
Actress, standup comic, singer, songwriter, writer and producer Julie Brown began her career as a standup comedian and later released the funny albums “Goddess in Progress” (1984) and “Trapped in the Body of a White Girl” (1987). She also held a hosting gig on the popular MTV comedy and music video show “Just Say Julie” (1989-1992). She closed out the 1980s with work in the cult film “Earth Girls are Easy” (1989), which she wrote and starred in as Candy Pink. Once dubbed by the Boston Globe as “The Funniest Woman in America,” Brown, however, did not land her star making role until 1992 when she starred as Medusa in the Showtime film “Medusa: Dare to Be Truthful,” which is a parody of Madonna's film “Truth or Dare.” She won a Writers Guild of America Award for her writing contribution to the film.
Brown's big screen credits include Disney's “A Goofy Movie” (1995), the hit “Clueless” (1995), “The Trip” (2002), “Boxboarders” (2006) and “Fat Rose and Squeaky” (2006). She reprised her film role of Coach Millie Deemer for the TV spin-off series “Clueless” (1996-1999), in which she also served as a writer. She also created and starred in the Comedy Central series “Strip Mall” (2000-2001). Other TV projects include the Fox sketch show “The Edge” (1992), the TV film “National Lampoon's Attack of the 5 Ft. 2 In. Women” (1994) and the sitcom “The Big House” (2004, consulting producer).
Outside the spotlight, Brown is a vegetarian. She has been married twice. She was married to writer/actor Terrence E. McNally from 1983 to 1989 and has a son named Kilean, who is fathered by her second husband, Ken Rathjen, whom she married in 1994. However, they are now separated. Brown’s romantic life also included producer/director/writer David Mirkin and actor Penn Jillette.
Childhood and Family:
Julie Ann Brown was born on August 31, 1954, in Van Nuys, California, to Leonard and Celia Brown. She was educated at a local Catholic school as a child and Van Nuys High School as a teenager. As for college, she attended Los Angeles Valley College and was professionally trained at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, California, where she met future collaborators Charlie Coffey and Terrence McNally.
On June 11, 1983, Julie tied the knot with writer and actor Terrence E. McNally. Together they co-produced Julie's first single, “I Like 'em Big and Stupid.” The couple divorced in 1989. Julie remarried on August 17, 1994, to Ken Rathjen. The couple has a son named Kilean. On October 18, 2007, in an article for the San Francisco Bay Times, she was cited as saying she recently divorced for a second time.
Julie is the sister of screenwriter Paul Brown. She is known by the nicknames “Goddess” and “West Coast Julie Brown,” which was used to differentiate herself from “Downtown” Julie Brown when both were working for MTV.
Earth Girls are Easy
Julie Brown began performing as a standup comedian in 1980. She kicked off her film career with a bit part in 1980's “Any Which Way You Can,” a comedy starring Clint Eastwood. It was during a performance at a comedy club that she was spotted by comedian Lily Tomlin, who provided Brown with her first screen break in the form of a small role in Tomlin's 1981 film “The Incredible Shrinking Woman,” which was directed by Joel Schumacher. The two became close friends.
After having a bigger part in the horror film “Bloody Birthday” (1981) and a series of TV guest spots, Brown tried her hand as a pop artist by launching her first EP in 1984 called “Goddess in Progress,” a five song album that spoofed popular 1980’s music. Thanks in part to her valley girl image, the album attracted the attention of the “Dr. Demento Show” and the songs “’Cause I'm a Blonde” and “The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun,” received radio airplay worldwide. Two years after her appearance in the comedy “Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment” (1985), she released her first full length album, “Trapped in the Body of a White Girl,” which further highlighted her comedic skill and valley girl persona. The parodies “I Like 'em Big and Stupid,” which she co-produced with her husband McNally, and the reprised “The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun,” made Brown an underground star and their music videos earned heavy airplay on MTV.
In 1989, Brown was hired to star in the cable comedy and music video show “Just Say Julie.” Also serving as co-writer and co-producer with Charlie Coffey, “Just Say Julie” stayed on the air until 1992. Meanwhile, on the big screen, Brown's career reached its peak in the late 1989 with the release of “Earth Girls are Easy,” a comedy she co-wrote with McNally and Coffey and costarred in with Geena Davis.
In early 1990s, NBC ordered a half hour pilot, which was ultimately unsold and broadcasted on July 28, 1991, called “The Julie Show.” Co-created by Brown, Coffey and director/executive producer David Mirkin, the comedy centered on actress Julie Robbins (played by Brown). Apart from being the show's star and co-creator, Brown also took on the duty of a producer and performed and co-wrote the theme song.
After the failed pilot, Brown headlined her own sketch comedy show titled “The Edge” (1992). Airing on Fox, it featured regular performances from actors like Jennifer Aniston, Wayne Knight and Tom Kenny and received positive reviews, although quickly left the airwaves. It was also in 1992 that Brown scored her most significant victory to date when she produced, co-wrote, co-directed and starred in the Showtime television film “Medusa: Dare to Be Truthful,” a blistering satire of pop star Madonna and her backstage documentary “Truth or Dare.” The project won Brown a 1993 Writers Guild of America for Best Variety - Musical, Award, Tribute, Special Event, an honor she shared with frequent collaborator Charlie Coffey. Her follow-up, “National Lampoon's Attack of the 5 Ft. 2 In. Women” (1994), did not do as well.
By this time, Brown had collected several film credits, though they did nothing to increase her big screen status. They included “The Spirit of '76” (1990), “Shakes the Clown” (1991), “Nervous Ticks” (1993) and “The Opposite Sex and How to Live with Them” (1993). She went on to provide her voice for the Disney animated film “A Goofy Movie” in 1995 and later that same year, had a featured part as Couch Stoeger in the Alicia Silverstone successful vehicle “Clueless,” which was written and directed by Amy Heckerling. She recreated the latter role for the ABC spin-off series of the same name during 1996 to 1999, in which she also served as a writer, director and producer. In 1998, Brown portrayed Mimi Hungry in a spoof of “Plump Fiction,” a character based on Uma Thurman's role in “Pulp Fiction.”
Entering the new millennium, Brown executive produced and starred as Tammi Tyler in the comedy Central series “Strip Mall,” which ran from 2000 to 2001. She then appeared in the comedy film “The Trip” (2002) and the Bow Wow vehicle “Like Mike” (also 2002) before returning to series TV as a consulting producer for the 2004 comedy series “The Big House.” In June 2005, Brown made a guest appearance in the hit “Six Feet Under” episode “Time Flies.” 2005 also found Brown buy the rights to her “Trapped” album back from the record label and re-release it herself. She also released a single called “I Want to Be Gay.”
Brown next costarred with Michelle Alexis and Austin Basis in the comedy film “Boxboarders,” (2006) directed and written by Rob Hedden. Her last film, “Fat Rose and Squeaky,” in which she was cast with Louise Fletcher and Cicely Tyson, was shown at the Rhode Island International Film Festival on August 11, 2006. She was also a co-writer of the TV film “Camp Rock” (2008).
Writers Guild of America: Variety - Musical, Award, Tribute, Special Event, “Medusa: Dare to Be Truthful,” 1993