Running on Empty
“When I write, I see a movie playing in my head. The role of the
screenwriter is to step back and let the directors have their head
during the process. Sometimes they're amazing -- often they make
wonderful additions, as do the actors -- and sometimes the films are
different in a way that you wish they weren't. I think at some point or
another, every screenwriter feels like they would like to fall on their
own sword, and try to get it to come out the way that they saw
it.” Naomi Foner
Naomi Foner, sometimes also credited as Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal, is an
American screenwriter who is best known for her work on “Running
on Empty” (1988), directed by Sidney Lumet. She picked up a
Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nomination for her script. Naomi also
wrote the scripts of “Violets Are Blue...” (1986), “A
Dangerous Woman” (1993), “Losing Isaiah” (1995)
and “Bee Season” (2005).
Naomi's fans should look forward for her work on the upcoming film
“Very Good Girl” (2013), which will also mark her
Naomi has been divorced from her husband of 32 years and the father of
her children (Jake and Maggi), Stephen Gyllenhaal. She was previously
married to Eric Foner.
Childhood and Family:
Naomi Achs was born March 15, 1946, in New York City, New York, to
doctors Ruth (née Silbowitz) and Samuel Achs. She was raised in
Brooklyn. Naomi graduated with a B.A. in English from Barnard College
in 1966 and later received an MA in Developmental Psychology from
Naomi has been married and divorced twice. Her first marriage to
historian and Columbia professor Eric Foner did not produce a child.
She married film director and poet Stephen Gyllenhaal on July 4, 1977,
but they later divorced on December 24, 2009. The couple have two
children, actors Maggie Gyllenhaal (born November 16, 1977) and Jake
Gyllenhaal (born December 19, 1980). She is the grandmother of two,
Ramona (born 2006) and Gloria (born 2012), Maggie's children with
husband Peter Sarsgaard.
I'm very proud of them (Jake Gyllenhaal and Maggie Gyllenhaal). I think
their choices are very thoughtful and they will affect a lot of people,
and they have a lot of courage, and they will cause people to think and
change their minds. I am delighted to see that they're the kinds of
people that they are. I'm very unhappy that we live in a culture that
is so closed-minded about a range of ideas and thoughts, and I'm even
more unhappy that fear is often used as a way to manipulate that.
Certainly as a parent I worry for them, every parent worries for their
child, but I'm enormously proud of them.” Naomi Foner
Very Good Girl
Naomi Foner was a producer on the educational American children's
television series “The Electric Company” during its
first two seasons from 1971 to 1973. She was mentioned in the
“Love of Chair” segment of the show.
In 1977, Naomi created the television miniseries “The Best of
Families,” a drama set in late 19th-century America, following
the lives of three families - one affluent, one middle-class, and a
family of poor Irish immigrants. In the following year, she wrote an
episode of the Emmy Award winning drama series “Vision”
(PBS, 1976-1980) called “Blackout.” She wrote the teleplay
of “Reunion of Strangers,” an unaired episode of the short
lived soap “Secrets of Midland Heights“ (CBS,
Eventually, Naomi made her screenwriting debut with “Violets Are
Blue...,” a romance/drama film directed by Jack Fisk and starring
Sissy Spacek, Kevin Kline and Bonnie Bedelia. The film premiered at the
Cleveland International Film Festival on April 4, 1986.
Naomi, however, did not score a huge success until she wrote the
screenplay for Sidney Lumet's “Running on Empty” (1988).
Starring River Phoenix, Christine Lahti and Judd Hirsch, the
crime/drama received good reviews from critics and it won many
awards and nominations. For Naomi herself, she was nominated for an
Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the
Screen and won a Golden Globe in the category of Best Screenplay -
Motion Picture and a Literary Award for Screenplay from the PEN Center
USA West Literary Awards. She also served as an executive producer for
In 1993, Naomi scripted and co-produced (with Kathleen Kennedy)
“A Dangerous Woman,” a film adaptation of the Mary McGarry
Morris award winning novel of the same name, directed by her then
husband Stephen Gyllenhaal. Her children Maggie and Jack also appeared
in the films playing Patsy Bell and Edward, respectively.
Two years later, Naomi worked with her husband again in the big screen
version of Seth Margolis' novel “Losing Isaiah” (1995),
starring Jessica Lange and Halle Berry. The drama grossed about $7.6
million on a budget of $17 million. In 1998, Naomi executive produced
the comedy film “Homegrown,” directed by Stephen
Following many years hiatus from the cinematic industry, Naomi resumed
her film career by writing the screenplay for the drama film adaptation
of the Myla Goldberg 2000 novel, “Bee Season” (2005), which
was directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel and starring Richard
Gere and Juliette Binoche. The film was not a commercial success.
In 2011, Naomi appeared in two episodes of the HBO comedy/drama series “Enlightened,” including the pilot.
Naomi is set to make her directorial debut with the upcoming British
drama film “Very Good Girl,” which she also wrote. The
film, which is slated for a 2013 release, will star Dakota Fanning,
Demi Moore and Elizabeth Olsen.
High Falls Film Festival: Susan B. Anthony 'Failure is Impossible' Award, 2005
Golden Globe: Best Screenplay - Motion Picture, “Running on Empty,” 1989
PEN Center USA West Literary: Literary Award, Screenplay, “Running on Empty,” 1989