Ocean’s Eleven: About the filmmakers
To date, STEVEN SODERBERGH (Director) is the only director to have two films nominated for Best Picture and Best Director in the same year. His Academy Award for Best Director of Traffic marks the first time since the 1928-29 Awards that a director has successfully competed against himself (Frank Lloyd for Divine Lady. Michael Curtiz, a double nominee for Best Director in 1938 for Angels With Dirty Faces and Four Daughters lost to Frank Capra for You Can’t Take It With You).
Traffic, a contemporary thriller set against the backdrop of the United States’ on-going drug wars, also received Oscars for Editing (Stephen Mirrione), Supporting Actor (Benicio del Toro) and Adapted Screenplay (Stephen Gaghan). The film’s fifth nomination was for Best Picture (Laura Bickford, Marshall Herskovitz, Edward Zwick). Traffic has grossed over $124,000,000 domestically, bringing its worldwide total to over $200 million.
In addition to Soderbergh’s Best Director nomination for Erin Brockovich, Julia Roberts received the Best Actress Academy Award for the title role in the true story of a California single mother who takes on a power company in a direct-action suit and brings it to its knees. The film’s other nominations were for Best Supporting Actor (Albert Finney), Best Original Screenplay (Susannah Grant) and Best Picture (Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher).
Ocean’s Eleven is Soderbergh’s eleventh film, following Traffic, Erin Brockovich, The Limey, Out of Sight, Gray’s Anatomy, Schizopolis, The Underneath, King of the Hill, Kafka and sex, lies, and videotape.
Born in Georgia and raised primarily in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Soderbergh began making films at age 13. After graduating from high school, he traveled to Los Angeles, where he worked as a freelance editor before returning to Baton Rouge to continue making short films and writing screenplays. After shooting a documentary profiling the rock group Yes, Soderbergh was asked to direct a full-length concert film for the band. The result was 9012LIVE, which received a Grammy nomination in 1986 for Long Form Music Video.
After two years of writing more screenplays, both on spec and for hire, Soderbergh completed the script for sex, lies, and videotape. Shooting commenced in Baton Rouge in the summer of 1988 with James Spader, Andie MacDowell, Peter Gallagher and Laura San Giacomo playing the four leads. The film premiered at the Sundance film festival in January 1989 and four months later won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
Soderbergh’s second film, Kafka, was a black-and-white mystery-suspense film set in post-WWI Prague. Combining elements of Franz Kafka’s life, letters and fiction, the film starred Jeremy Irons in the title role and was released in 1991.
The memoirs of author A.E. Hotchner provided the basis for Soderbergh’s third film, King of the Hill, which detailed the attempts of an imaginative twelve-year old boy to keep his family from splitting apart during the Great Depression. The film was released in 1993 and, according to the annual Premiere Magazine Critic’s Chart, was the fifth best-reviewed film of the year.
In 1995, Soderbergh reunited with Peter Gallagher for The Underneath, a dark tale of obsession and betrayal set in present-day Austin, Texas. The film also starred Alison Elliot, Elisabeth Shue and Joe Don Baker.
In the spring of 1997, Soderbergh had two films in release: Schizopolis, an experimental, low-budget comedy in the spirit of Richard Lester and Bunuel and Gray’s Anatomy, the filmed version of Spalding Gray’s acclaimed monologue, in which Gray describes his experiences in the world of medicine (both the alternative and established variety) after being diagnosed with a rare eye disease.
In 1998, Soderbergh’s sexy crime caper, Out of Sight, starring George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez was released. According to the annual Premiere Magazine Critic’s Chart, Out of Sight was the third best-reviewed film of 1998. The National Society of Film Critics awarded Out of Sight its top three awards – Best Director, Best Picture and Best Screenplay (Scott Frank) while the Boston Society of Film Critics gave the film it’s Best Picture and Best Screenplay Awards. In addition, the film received Academy Award nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay (Frank) and Best Film Editing (Anne V. Coates).
1999 saw the release of The Limey, an action-drama starring Terrence Stamp, Peter Fonda and Lesley Ann Warren. The film earned five Independent Spirit Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor (Stamp), Best Supporting Actor (Luis Guzman), Best Director and Best Screenplay (Lem Dobbs).
In addition to his credits as director, Soderbergh functioned as producer on Greg Mottola’s The Daytrippers (1997) and on Gary Ross’ Pleasantville (1998). As well, he served as the executive producer on David Siegel and Scott McGehee’s Suture (1994) and on Godfrey Reggio’s upcoming Naqoyqatsi, the final installment of the non-narrative films that make up the Qatsi Trilogy, beginning with Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi.
In 2000, Soderbergh and George Clooney formed Section Eight, a film production company based at Warner Bros. They are currently in post-production on Welcome to Collinwood, written and directed by brothers Anthony and Joe Russo. The film’s ensemble cast includes William H. Macy, Isaiah Washington, Luis Guzman, Jennifer Esposito, Sam Rockwell and Clooney.
They are in pre-production on two films: Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, to be directed by George Clooney, who will star along with Sam Rockwell, Drew Barrymore and Julia Roberts, and an untitled film to be written and directed by Lodge Kerrigan.
Soderbergh and Clooney are also executive producing Insomnia, directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank and Far From Heaven, written and directed by Todd Haynes.
Currently, Soderbergh is directing the contemporary comedy Full Frontal, starring David Duchovny, Nicky Katt, Catherine Keener, Mary McCormack, David Hyde-Pierce, Julia Roberts and Blair Underwood. The film will be released by Miramax in March, 2002.
JERRY WEINTRAUB’s (Producer) more than 40-year career in entertainment has spanned all genres of music, film, Broadway theatre, concerts and television.
He began his filmmaking career in 1973 when he was offered a challenge by maverick director Robert Altman to come up with the financing for a script he had called Nashville. Two days later, Weintraub had set up the financing on the movie, which was released to critical acclaim, and is today considered one of the most important films of modern cinema.
Weintraub went on to produce Barry Levinson’s Diner, which helped launch such young talents as Kevin Bacon, Paul Reiser, Mickey Rourke, Tim Daly, Ellen Barkin and Steve Guttenberg; the smash comedy Oh, God, directed by Carl Reiner and starring George Burns and folk singer John Denver and the highly successful Karate Kid series of four films.
Through his Jerry Weintraub Productions, based at the Warner Bros. Studios, he produced The Specialist, starring Sylvester Stallone and Sharon Stone and Pure Country, starring country singer George Strait.
One of the first independent movie producers to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Weintraub also produced a remake of the stylist television spy series The Avengers, starring Uma Thurman and Ralph Fiennes and the science-fiction thriller, Soldier starring Kurt Russell.
For television, he has produced myriad projects including An Olympic Gala, ABC’s telecast of the opening ceremonies of the 1984 Olympic Games.
The older of two sons, Weintraub was born in the Bronx, New York and enlisted in the United States Air Force following high school. After receiving an honorable discharge, he returned to New York and immediately secured a job at NBC-TV as a page for the Steve Allen Show. During the day, he studied acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse under famed acting coach Sandy Meisner.
Realizing that his talent for acting was not as acute as his talent for business, Weintraub got a job in the mailroom of the William Morris Agency while keeping his position as a page at NBC at night. Three weeks into his position at William Morris, he heard about an opening for an agent at the MCA talent agency. He applied and got the job. Still in his early twenties, he went from mailroom to agent in three weeks.
After several years at MCA, he left and formed his own personal management company. Among the acts that Weintraub managed at this time were Joey Bishop, The Four Tops, and nationally known pop singer Jane Morgan. Inevitably, his relationship with Morgan went from professional to personal and the two were married.
In 1964, Weintraub formed another artist management company, Management III. They managed acts such as Jack Paar, the Muppets, Norm Crosby and Jane Morgan. He also produced over 100 television shows and purchased from Jimmy Nederlander several Broadway theaters for which he produced such shows as ‘Canterbury Tales,’ ‘Wait A Minium,’ and later, ‘Frank Sinatra, Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald On Broadway.’
One night Weintraub awoke from a deep sleep with a vision. He then made a call that would become the first of several career-affecting moments, to Elvis Presley’s legendary manager Colonel Tom Parker. After a year of calling Parker every day, a deal was made for Weintraub to produce the Elvis tour ‘ if he could come up with a $1 million cash guarantee in 24 hours. The next day, Weintraub delivered the cash and began organizing Elvis’ first national appearance tour.
With Elvis’ tour successfully underway, Weintraub founded Concerts West. He soon was promoting concerts for some of the biggest names in the recording industry, including Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Led Zeppelin, The Beach Boys, John Denver and Frank Sinatra, whom he presented at Madison Square Garden in the famed ‘first around the world by satellite’ concert called ‘The Main Event.’ He also owned several independent record labels and music publishing companies.
Weintraub was soon invited by entertainment industry mogul Kirk Kerkorian to become Chairman and CEO of his film company, United Artists. He subsequently formed his own film and television production company, Weintraub Entertainment Group.
Three years later, he formed Jerry Weintraub Productions at the Warner Bros. Studios where he enjoyed a life-long relationship with Chairman of the Board Steve Ross, Bob Daly and Terry Semel.
In 1988, his friend of more than 30 years, George Bush, became the 41st President of The United States of America. In 1991, President Bush appointed Weintraub to the Board of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, a position he would hold through the end of the decade. His wife, Jane, was appointed to the President’s Committee for the Arts and Humanities, where she served throughout the tenure or President Bush’s term in office.
As he solidified his position as an entertainment industry mogul, Weintraub’s interest in politics and various philanthropic endeavors flourished. His humanitarian efforts are as impressive as his professional career. He has contributed to, received awards from and sits on the board of directors of more than 30 charitable organizations including the Hebrew Home for the Aged, The Urban League, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatrics AIDS Foundation, the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital Department of Orthopedics, the American Heart Association, the George Bush Presidential Library Center, the Los Angeles Music Center, the Variety Club, the B’nai B’rith, the Mount Sinai Medical Center, the Children’s Diabetes Foundation, the Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences, the Rose and Sam Weintraub Elementary School, Brown University, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the Jane and Jerry Weintraub Library of the Vista Del Mar School, among others.
In 1997, Weintraub funded UCLA’s Jane and Jerry Weintraub Center for Reconstructive Bio-Technology, the first medical center in the world to blend a variety of intellectual approaches and scientific fields including tissue engineering, gene therapy, oncology and wound healing.
The Weintraubs have four children and maintain homes in Malibu, Beverly Hills, Palm Desert and Kennebunkport, Maine where he and his wife enjoy visiting with the Bushes and the many political and diplomatic friends he has made from all over the world.
Weintraub recently won the Kodak Award for Extraordinary Acheivment in Filmmaking at the 2001 ShowEast Awards.
Ocean’s 11 marks JOHN HARDY’s (Executive Producer) eighth collaboration with Steven Soderbergh, a relationship which began in 1989 when he produced sex, lies, and videotape. The film went on to win the 1989 Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
The two subsequently have teamed on seven additional films: Erin Brockovich, The Limey, Out of Sight, Schizopolis, Gray’s Anatomy, The Underneath and King of the Hill.
Hardy was raised in Honolulu, Washington, D.C. and London where he was graduated from the Bushy Hall American School. He received a B.A. in history from Louisiana State University before entering the London Film School. His first producing credit was on The Wooden Gun, filmed in Israel in 1979. Written and directed by Ilan Moshenson, the film was shown at festivals in Berlin, Toronto, Locarno and Cannes.
In addition, Hardy produced two films with Morgan Mason: No Secrets and Twenty-One, which was presented at the 1991 Sundance Film Festival.
Following Ocean’s 11, Hardy served as executive producer on Martin Brest’s Gigli, for Revolution Studios.
SUSAN EKINS (Executive Producer) has worked with Jerry Weintraub for the past seventeen years and is Vice President of Production for Jerry Weintraub Productions.
She was associate producer of the company’s films Pure Country and The Specialist and executive producer of The Avengers, Soldier and Vegas Vacation. Ekins began her association with Weintraub when she was hired to work on the first of the four Karate Kid films.
A native of Los Angeles, Ekins’ first job in production was with Steve McQueen on Tom Horn. She subsequently worked on such films as The Idolmaker, The Hunter, Cannonball Run 2 and the television series The Renegades.
BRUCE BERMAN (Executive Producer) joined the production division of Warner Bros. Pictures and rose through the ranks of executives to become President of Worldwide Theatrical Production. Under his aegis, the studio produced and distributed such titles as the Oscar-winning Driving Miss Daisy, as well as GoodFellas, Presumed Innocent, Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, Batman Forever, Malcolm X, The Bodyguard, JFK, The Fugitive, Dave, A Time To Kill and Twister.
In 1996, Berman started Plan B Entertainment, the Warner Bros. Pictures-based independent production company that was later acquired by Village Roadshow Pictures. Village Roadshow Pictures, where Berman now holds the post of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, currently has 20 projects in various stages of development at Warner Bros. Pictures. Most recently, Berman executive produced the immensely successful Training Day, Cats & Dogs, Three Kings, The Matrix, Analyze This, Deep Blue Sea, Practical Magic and Space Cowboys through Village Roadshow’s partnership with Warner Bros. Pictures, as well as the hit comedy Miss Congeniality, produced jointly with Warner Bros. Pictures and Castle Rock Entertainment.
Berman will serve as executive producer for the two highly anticipated sequels to the international blockbuster The Matrix, currently in production.
TED GRIFFIN (Screenwriter) previously wrote Ravenous, starring Guy Pearce and Robert Carlyle, directed by Antonia Byrd and Best Laid Plans, starring Reese Witherspoon.
A native of Pasadena, California, Griffin is the grandson of film director William A. Seiter (Room Service with the Marx Bros., Sons of the Desert with Laurel and Hardy, Roberta with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers) and actress Marion Nixon (Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm).
PHILIP MESSINA (Production Designer) is reunited with Steven Soderbergh following his work as production designer on the director’s critically acclaimed films Traffic and Erin Brockovich. He first collaborated with Soderbergh on Out of Sight, for which Messina served as art director.
Born and raised in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Messina graduated from Cornell University with a degree in architecture. His initial foray into the entertainment business was as a set designer on the films Mermaids, School Ties and Housesitter, which were filmed in the Boston area.
Following a move to Los Angeles, Messina served as the art director on such films as Hard Target, The Neon Bible, Reckless, The Associate, Trial & Error, and The Sixth Sense.
Messina designed the sets for Dreamworks’ popular television series Freaks and Geeks, which re-teamed him with director Jake Kasdan, for whom he had served as the art director on Kasdan’s directorial debut, Zero Effect.
Among his other design credits is Gordy, a comedy directed by Mark Lewis.
Following Ocean’s Eleven, Messina designed Fight Song for director Curtis Hanson.
Messina is married to set decorator Kristen Toscano Messina, with whom he frequently collaborates.
JEFFREY KURLAND (Costume Designer) is reunited with Steven Soderbergh for whom he designed the costumes on Erin Brockovich. His work on that film earned Kurland the Costume Designer’s Guild Award for Excellence in Costume Design for Film ‘ Contemporary.
As well, Ocean’s Eleven is the designer’s fifth time designing costumes for Julia Roberts, following his work on America’s Sweethearts, Erin Brockovich, My Best Friend’s Wedding and Everyone Says I Love You.
Kurland has devoted much of his career to designing for the stylish movies of Woody Allen, with whom he collaborated on the previously mentioned Everyone Says I Love You and Mighty Aphrodite, Bullets Over Broadway (for which he received an Academy Award nomination), Manhattan Murder Mystery, Husbands and Wives, Shadows and Fog, Alice, Crimes and Misdemeanors, New York Stories, Another Woman, September, Radio Days (for which he received England’s highest film honor, the BAFTA), Hannah and Her Sisters, The Purple Rose of Cairo and Broadway Danny Rose.
Most recently Kurland designed the costumes for What’s the Worst That Can Happen’ starring Danny DeVito and Martin Lawrence.
His other motion picture credits include Jersey Films’ Man on the Moon directed by Milos Forman and Living Out Loud, directed and written by Richard LaGravenese; director Neil Jordan’s In Dreams, as well as two films for director Nora Ephron: This is My Life and Mixed Nuts.
STEPHEN MIRRIONE, A.C.E. (Editor) received an Academy Award for Traffic, his first collaboration with Steven Soderbergh. His additional credits include three films for director Doug Liman, beginning with Liman’s first feature, the comedy thriller Getting In. Mirrione went on to edit his critically acclaimed films Swingers and Go.
Other editing credits include two films directed by Jill Sprecher, the award-winning Clockwatchers, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997 and more recently, 13 Conversations About One Thing which was shown at the 2001 Venice and Toronto Film Festivals.
DAVID HOLMES (Composer) first collaborated with Steven Soderbergh on Out of Sight.
Born and raised in Northern Ireland, Holmes began his music career as a DJ in a Belfast club at the age of 15. He has been absorbed in diverse musical genres since youth, growing up through punk, modism and acid house.
In 1995, his first U.K. album This Film’s Crap, Let’s Slash the Seats for Go Beat!/UK received critical acclaim, and a song from the album, ‘No Man’s Land,’ became the theme song of the hit British television series Prime Suspect.
Two years later, Holmes came to New York to explore the city’s unique melting pot of personalities and cultures. His American album debut, Let’s Get Killed, which landed in the Top 20 on the College Music Journal (CMJ) and placed number one on CMJ’s DJ/Electronic charts was inspired by this trip.
As the Let’s Get Killed concept was a leap forward from This Film’s Crap, Let’s Slash the Seats, Holmes decided to go a bit further into the unknown with his next venture. With Bow Down to the Exit Sign, his third album for 1500 Records/Go! Beat Records, Holmes again stakes his claim to unexplored and intriguing new ground. The album was developed alongside a feature film script entitled Living Room, a unique integration of music, image and story.
Holmes’ eclectic approach has lent itself to a string of other projects, including his own Essential Mix album for London Records and as an accomplished producer and remixer for U2, Manic Street Preachers and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.
Always keen to get into writing film music, Holmes cut his teeth on TV soundtrack work which caught the ear of filmmaker Mark Evans, who invited him to score Resurrection Man, a story loosely based on a particularly dark period in Belfast’s history. He received critical acclaim for his score as well as offers from Hollywood, which subsequently led him to Soderbergh’s film Out of Sight. In addition to his score for the television drama Supply and Demand, Holmes will soon begin scoring the film Buffalo Soldiers.
Holmes received an award for one of his mixes on Pete Tong’s BBC Radio One show, as well as Best Irish Album 1997 for Let’s Get Killed at the Irish Rock Awards.