David Mamet


David Mamet Biography

David Alan Mamet (born November 30, 1947) is an American playwright, essayist, screenwriter, and film director.

As a playwright, Mamet has won a Pulitzer Prize and received Tony nominations for Glengarry Glen Ross (1984) and Speed-the-Plow (1988). As a screenwriter, he has received Oscar nominations for The Verdict (1982) and Wag the Dog (1997). Mamet's books include: The Old Religion (1997), a novel about the lynching of Leo Frank; Five Cities of Refuge: Weekly Reflections on Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy (2004), a Torah commentary with Rabbi Lawrence Kushner; The Wicked Son (2006), a study of Jewish self-hatred and antisemitism; Bambi vs. Godzilla, a commentary on the movie business; and The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture (2011), a commentary on cultural and political issues.

Mamet's feature films that he both wrote and directed include Redbelt (2008), The Spanish Prisoner (1997), House of Games (1987) (which won Best Film and Best Screenplay awards at the 1987 Venice Film Festival and "Film of the Year" for the 1989 London Critics Circle Film Awards), Spartan (2004), Heist (2001), State and Main (2000) (Winner of a Best Acting - Ensemble award from the National Board of Review), The Winslow Boy (1999), Oleanna (1994), Homicide (1991) (nominated for the Palme d'Or at 1991 Cannes Film Festival and won a "Screenwriter of the Year" award for Mamet from the London Critics Circle Film Awards and Best Cinematography for Roger Deakins from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards), Things Change (1988) (which won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at 1988 Venice Film Festival for Don Ameche and Joe Mantegna), and most recently the 2013 HBO film Phil Spector, starring Al Pacino as Spector with Helen Mirren and Jeffrey Tambor.

Mamet has also written the screenplays for such films as The Verdict (1982), directed by Sidney Lumet, The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981), directed by Bob Rafelson, The Untouchables (1987) directed by Brian De Palma, Hoffa (1992), Ronin (1998), Wag The Dog (1997), The Edge (1997), and Hannibal (2001).

Mamet was also the creator, executive producer, and frequent writer for the TV show The Unit.

Early life

Mamet was born in 1947 in Chicago to Jewish parents, Lenore June (née Silver), a teacher, and Bernard Morris Mamet, an attorney. One of his first jobs was as a busboy at Chicago's The Second City. He was educated at the progressive Francis W. Parker School and at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont.

Career

Theater

Mamet is a founding member of the Atlantic Theater Company; he first gained acclaim for a trio of off-Broadway plays in 1976, The Duck Variations, Sexual Perversity in Chicago, and American Buffalo. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for Glengarry Glen Ross, which received its first Broadway revival in the summer of 2005. His play Race, which opened on Broadway on December 6, 2009 and featured James Spader, David Alan Grier, Kerry Washington, and Richard Thomas in the cast, received mixed reviews. His play The Anarchist, starring Patti LuPone and Debra Winger, in her Broadway debut, opened on Broadway on November 13, 2012 in previews and is scheduled to close on December 16, 2012.

Mamet received the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for Grand Master of American Theater in 2010.

Film

Mamet's feature films, which he both wrote and directed, include in chronological order: his feature directorial debut House of Games (1987) (which won Best Film and Best Screenplay awards at the 1987 Venice Film Festival and "Film of the Year" for the 1989 London Critics Circle Film Awards), Things Change (1988), Homicide (1991) (nominated for the Palme d'Or at 1991 Cannes Film Festival and won a "Screenwriter of the Year" award for Mamet from the London Critics Circle Film Awards and Best Cinematography from Roger Deakins from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards), Oleanna (1994), The Spanish Prisoner (1997), The Winslow Boy (1999), State and Main (2000), Heist (2001), Spartan (2004), Redbelt (2008), and in 2012 a bio-pic TV movie Phil Spector about the American record producer and songwriter Phil Spector starring Al Pacino as Spector, as well as Helen Mirren and Jeffrey Tambor.

Mamet has also written the screenplays for such classic films as The Verdict (1982), directed by Sidney Lumet, The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981), The Untouchables (1987) directed by Brian De Palma, Hoffa (1992), Ronin (1998), Wag The Dog (1997), The Edge (1997), and Hannibal (2001).

Mamet's first produced screenplay was the 1981 production of The Postman Always Rings Twice (directed by Bob Rafelson), based upon James M. Cain's novel. He received an Academy Award nomination one year later for his first script, The Verdict, written in the late 1970s. He also wrote the screenplay for The Untouchables.

In 1987, Mamet made his film directing debut with House of Games, starring his then-wife, Lindsay Crouse, and a host of longtime stage associates. He uses friends as actors, especially in one early scene in the movie, which featured Vermont poker playing friends. He is quoted as saying, "It was my first film as a director and I needed support, so I stacked the deck." Two of the four poker friends included in the film were fellow Goddard College graduates Allen Soule and Bob Silverstein. Three of Mamet's own films, House of Games, The Spanish Prisoner, and Heist, have involved the world of con artists.

Mamet adapted Glengarry Glen Ross for the cinema in 1992, writing an additional part (including the monologue "Coffee's for closers") for Alec Baldwin.

Mamet remains a writer and director, and has assembled an informal repertory company for his films, including Crouse, William H. Macy, Joe Mantegna, Rebecca Pidgeon, and Ricky Jay, as well as some of the aforementioned poker associates. Mamet has funded his own films with payments he receives for credited and uncredited rewrites of typically big-budget films. For instance, Mamet did a rewrite of the script for Ronin under the pseudonym "Richard Weisz" and turned in an early version of a script for Malcolm X that director Spike Lee rejected. In 2000, Mamet directed a film version of Catastrophe, a one-act play by Samuel Beckett featuring Harold Pinter and John Gielgud (in his final screen performance). In 2008, he directed and wrote the mixed martial arts movie Redbelt, about a martial arts instructor tricked into fighting in a professional bout. Mamet teamed up with his wife Rebecca Pidgeon to adapt the novel Come Back to Sorrento as a screenplay. The film was in development during 2010. He is also director of the TV film Phil Spector.

In On Directing Film, Mamet asserts that directors should focus on getting the point of a scene across, rather than simply following a protagonist, or adding visually beautiful or intriguing shots. Films should create order from disorder in search of the objective.

Books

In 1990 Mamet published The Hero Pony, a 55-page collection of poetry. He has also published a series of short plays, monologues and three novels, The Village (1994), The Old Religion (1997), and Wilson: A Consideration of the Sources (2000). He has written several non-fiction texts, and children's stories. In 2004 he published a lauded version of the classical Faust story, Faustus, however, the play, when staged in San Francisco during the spring of 2004, was not well received by critics. On May 1, 2010, Mamet released a graphic novel The Trials of Roderick Spode (The Human Ant).

On June 2, 2011, The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture, Mamet's book detailing his conversion from modern liberalism to "a reformed liberal" was released.

Television and radio

Mamet wrote the "Wasted Weekend" episode of Hill Street Blues that aired in 1987. His then-wife, Lindsay Crouse, appeared in numerous episodes (including that one) as Officer McBride. Mamet is also the creator, producer and frequent writer of the television series The Unit, where he wrote a well-circulated memo to the writing staff. He directed a third season episode of The Shield with Shawn Ryan. In 2007, Mamet directed two television commercials for Ford Motor Company. The two 30-second ads featured the Ford Edge and were filmed in Mamet's signature style of fast-paced dialogue and clear, simple imagery. Mamet's sister, Lynn, is a producer and writer for television shows, such as The Unit and Law & Order.

Mamet has contributed several dramas to BBC Radio through Jarvis & Ayres Productions, including an adaptation of Glengarry Glen Ross for BBC Radio 3 and new dramas for BBC Radio 4. The comedy Keep Your Pantheon, (or On the Whole I'd Rather Be in Mesopotamia) was aired in 2007.

Other media / political views

Since May 2005 he has been a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post, drawing satirical cartoons with themes including political strife in Israel. In a 2008 article for the Village Voice headlined "Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal,'" he revealed that he had gradually rejected politically correct progressivism and embraced conservatism. Mamet has spoken in interviews of changes in his views, highlighting his agreement with free market theorists such as Friedrich Hayek the historian Paul Johnson, and economist Thomas Sowell, whom Mamet called "one of our greatest minds."

During promotion of a book, Mamet was criticised for claiming that the British people had "a taint of anti-semitism", claiming they "want to give [Israel] away". In the same interview, Mamet goes on to say that "there are famous dramatists and novelists [in the UK] whose works are full of anti-Semitic filth", but that he could not specify to whom he was referring for fear of litigation. Known for his pro-Israel positions, in his book The Secret Knowledge he states that "Israelis would like to live in peace within their borders; the Arabs would like to kill them all".

In November 2012 Mamet penned an article for the The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles imploring fellow Jewish Americans to vote for Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

January 29, 2013 Mamet wrote an essay for Newsweek in which he argued against gun control laws, writing that the Second Amendment was intended "to guard us against this inevitable decay of government that the Constitution was written. Its purpose was and is not to enthrone a Government superior to an imperfect and confused electorate, but to protect us from such a government."

"Mamet speak"

Mamet's style of writing dialogue, marked by a cynical, street-smart edge, precisely crafted for effect, is so distinctive that it has come to be called Mamet speak. He often uses italics and quotation marks to highlight particular words and to draw attention to his characters' frequent manipulation and deceitful use of language. His characters frequently interrupt one another, their sentences trail off unfinished, and their dialogue overlaps. Moreover, certain expressions and figures of speech are deliberately misrepresented to show that the character is not paying close attention to every detail of his dialogue (e.g., or so forth instead of and so forth). Mamet himself has criticized his (and other writers') tendency to write "pretty" at the expense of sound, logical plots.

When asked how he developed his style for writing dialogue, Mamet said, "In my family, in the days prior to television, we liked to while away the evenings by making ourselves miserable, based solely on our ability to speak the language viciously. That's probably where my ability was honed."

One classic instance of Mamet's dialogue style can be found in Glengarry Glen Ross, in which two down-on-their-luck real estate salesmen are considering stealing from their employer's office. George Aaronow and Dave Moss equivocate on the meaning of "talk" and "speak", turning language and meaning to deceptive purposes:

Moss No. What do you mean? Have I talked to him about this [Pause]
Aaronow Yes. I mean are you actually talking about this, or are we just...
Moss No, we're just...
Aaronow We're just "talking" about it.
Moss We're just speaking about it. [Pause] As an idea.
Aaronow As an idea.
Moss Yes.
Aaronow We're not actually talking about it.
Moss No.
Aaronow Talking about it as a...
Moss No.
Aaronow As a robbery.
Moss As a "robbery?" No.
Mamet dedicated Glengarry Glen Ross to Harold Pinter, who was instrumental in its being first staged at the Royal National Theatre, (London) in 1983, and whom Mamet has acknowledged as an influence on its success, and on his other work. The terse dialogue in many of Pinter's plays seems to have influenced parts of Mamet speak.

Personal life

Mamet and actress Lindsay Crouse were married in 1977 and divorced in 1990. He and Crouse have two children together, Willa and Zosia. Willa is a professional photographer and Zosia is an actress. Mamet has been married to actress and singer-songwriter Rebecca Pidgeon since 1991. They have two children, Clara and Noah.

Works

Mamet is credited as writer of these works except where noted.

Year Plays Films Books
1970
  • Lakeboat
1972
  • The Duck Variations
  • Lone Canoe
1974
  • Sexual Perversity in Chicago
  • Squirrels
1975
  • American Buffalo
1976
  • Reunion
  • The Water Engine
1977
  • A Life in the Theatre
1978
  • The Revenge of the Space Pandas, or Binky Rudich and the Two-Speed Clock
  • Mr. Happiness
1979
  • The Woods
  • The Blue Hour
1980
  • Lakeboat (revision)
1981
1982
  • Edmond
1983
  • The Frog Prince
  • Glengarry Glen Ross
1985
  • The Shawl
  • Goldberg Street: Short Plays and Monologues
1986
  • The Poet & The Rent
1987
  • House of Games (director)
  • The Untouchables
  • Black Widow (actor only)
  • Writing in Restaurants
1988
  • Speed-the-Plow
  • Things Change (director)
1989
  • Bobby Gould In Hell
  • We're No Angels
1991
  • Homicide (director)
  • On Directing Film
1992
  • Oleanna
  • Hoffa (producer)
  • Glengarry Glen Ross
  • The Cabin: Reminiscence and Diversions
1994
  • The Cryptogram
  • Oleanna (director)
  • Vanya on 42nd Street
  • The Village
1996
  • American Buffalo
  • Make-Believe Town: Essays and Remembraces
1997
  • The Old Neighborhood
  • The Old Religion
1998
  • Three Uses of the Knife
1999
  • Boston Marriage
  • The Winslow Boy (director)
  • True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor
  • The Chinaman (poems)The Chinaman
  • Jafsie and John Henry: Essays
2000
  • Lakeboat
  • State and Main (director)
  • Wilson: A Consideration of the Sources
2001
  • Hannibal
  • Heist (director)
2002
  • South of the Northeast Kingdom
2004
  • Faustus
2005
  • Romance
  • The Voysey Inheritance (adaptation)
  • Edmond
2006
  • The Wicked Son: Anti-Semitism, Self-hatred, and the Jews
2007
  • Keep Your Pantheon
  • November
  • Bambi Vs. Godzilla: On the Nature, Purpose, and Practice of the Movie Business
2008
  • The Vikings and Darwin
  • A Waitress in Yellowstone
  • Redbelt (director)
2009
  • Race
  • School
  • The Prince of Providence
2010
  • Come Back to Sorrento
  • Theatre
  • The Trials of Roderick Spode (The Human Ant)
2011
  • The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture
2012
  • The Anarchist
2013
  • Phil Spector



This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "David_Mamet" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.
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