James L. Brooks

James Lawrence Brooks (born May 9, 1940) is an American director, producer and screenwriter. While growing up in North Bergen, New Jersey, Brooks endured a fractured family life and passed the time by reading and writing. After dropping out of New York University, he got a job as an usher at CBS, going on to write for the CBS News broadcasts. He moved to Los Angeles in 1965 to work on David L. Wolper's documentaries. After being laid off he met producer Allan Burns who secured him a job as a writer on the series My Mother the Car.

Brooks wrote for several shows before being hired as a story editor on My Friend Tony and later created the series Room 222. Grant Tinker hired Brooks and Burns at MTM Productions to create The Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1970. The show, one of the first to feature an independent working woman as its lead character, was critically acclaimed and won Brooks several Primetime Emmy Awards. Brooks and Burns then created two successful spin-offs from Mary Tyler Moore: Rhoda (a comedy) and Lou Grant (a drama). Brooks left MTM Productions in 1978 to co-create the sitcom Taxi which, despite winning multiple Emmys, suffered from low ratings and was canceled twice.

Brooks moved into feature film work when he wrote and co-produced the 1979 film Starting Over. His next project was the critically acclaimed film Terms of Endearment, which he produced, directed and wrote, winning an Academy Award for all three roles. Basing his next film, Broadcast News, on his journalistic experiences, the film earned him a further two Academy Award nominations. Although his 1994 work I'll Do Anything was hampered by negative press attention due to the cutting of all of its recorded musical numbers, As Good as It Gets (co-written with Mark Andrus) earned further praise. It was seven years until his next film, 2004's Spanglish. His sixth film, How Do You Know, was released in 2010. Brooks also produced and mentored Cameron Crowe on Say Anything... (1989) and Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson on Bottle Rocket (1996).

In 1984, Brooks founded the television and film company, Gracie Films. Although he did not intend to do so, Brooks returned to television in 1987 as the producer of The Tracey Ullman Show. He hired cartoonist Matt Groening to create a series of shorts for the show, which eventually led to The Simpsons in 1989. The Simpsons won numerous awards and is still running. Brooks also co-produced and co-wrote the 2007 film adaptation of the show, The Simpsons Movie. In total, Brooks has received 47 Emmy nominations, winning 20 of them.[1]

James L. Brooks
A video camera is being pointed at a bearded man who is wearing glasses. Some other people stand in the background.
Brooks at the Springfield, Vermont premiere of The Simpsons Movie in August 2007
James Lawrence Brooks

May 9, 1940 (age 78)
OccupationDirector, producer, screenwriter
Years active1965–present
Marianne Catherine Morrissey
(m. 1964; div. 1972)

Holly Beth Holmberg
(m. 1978; div. 1999)

Early life

James Lawrence Brooks was born on May 9, 1940 in Brooklyn, New York, United States, and raised in North Bergen, New Jersey.[2][3][4] His parents, Dorothy Helen (née Sheinheit) and Edward M. Brooks, were both salespeople (his mother sold children's clothes; his father furniture).[4][5] The Brooks family was Jewish; Edward Brooks changed his surname from Bernstein and claimed to be Irish.[6] Brooks' father abandoned his mother when he found out she was pregnant with him,[7] and lost contact with his son when Brooks was twelve.[8] During the pregnancy, Brooks' father sent his wife a postcard stating that "If it's a boy, name him Jim."[7] His mother died when he was 22.[7] He has described his early life as "tough" with a "broken home, [and him being] poor and sort of lonely, that sort of stuff",[9] later adding: "My father was sort of in-and-out and my mother worked long hours, so there was no choice but for me to be alone in the apartment a lot." He has an older sister, Diane, who helped look after him as a child and to whom he dedicated As Good as It Gets.[4][10][11][12]

Brooks spent much of his childhood "surviving" and reading numerous comedic and scripted works,[4] as well as writing; he sent comedic short stories out to publishers, and occasionally got positive responses, although none were published,[12] and he did not believe he could make a career as a writer.[4] Brooks attended Weehawken High School, but was not a high achiever. He was on his high school newspaper team and frequently secured interviews with celebrities, including Louis Armstrong.[4][13] He lists some of his influences as Sid Caesar, Jack Benny, Lenny Bruce, Mike Nichols and Elaine May,[12] as well as writers Paddy Chayefsky and F. Scott Fitzgerald.[4]



Mary Tyler Moore 1993
Brooks won several Emmy Awards for The Mary Tyler Moore Show

In 1987, the Chicago Sun-Times described Brooks' career as "a non-stop crescendo."[9] Although he dropped out of a New York University public relations course,[4][5][7][8] Brooks' sister got him a job as a host at CBS in New York City, a job usually requiring a college education, as she was friends with a secretary there.[4] He held it for two and a half years. For two weeks he filled in as a copywriter for CBS News and was given the job permanently when the original employee never returned. Brooks went on to become a writer for the news broadcasts, joining the Writers Guild of America and writing reports on events such as the assassination of President Kennedy. He moved to Los Angeles in 1965, to write for documentaries being produced by David L. Wolper, something he "still [hasn't] quite figured out how [he] got the guts to do,"[12] as his job at CBS was secure and well-paid. He worked as an associate producer on series such as Men in Crisis, but after six months he was laid off as the company was trying to cut back on expenses.[4] Brooks did occasionally work for Wolper's company again, including on a National Geographic insect special.[12]

Failing to find another job at a news agency, he met producer Allan Burns at a party. Burns got him a job on My Mother the Car where he was hired to rewrite a script after pitching some story ideas.[12] Brooks then went on to write episodes of That Girl,[12] The Andy Griffith Show[7] and My Three Sons before Sheldon Leonard hired him as a story editor on My Friend Tony.[4] In 1969 he created for ABC the series Room 222, which lasted until 1974. Room 222 was the second series in American history to feature a black lead character, in this case high school teacher Pete Dixon played by Lloyd Haynes.[2] The network felt the show was sensitive and so attempted to change the pilot story so that Dixon helped a white student rather than a black one, but Brooks prevented it. On the show Brooks worked with Gene Reynolds who taught him the importance of extensive and diligent research, which he conducted at Los Angeles High School for Room 222, and he used the technique on his subsequent works. Brooks left Room 222 as head writer after one year to work on other pilots and brought Burns in to produce the show.[4][12]

Brooks and Burns were hired by CBS programming executive Grant Tinker to create a series together with MTM Productions for Tinker's wife Mary Tyler Moore which became The Mary Tyler Moore Show.[2] Drawing on his own background in journalism, Brooks set the show in a newsroom. Initially the show was unpopular with CBS executives who demanded Tinker fire Brooks and Burns. However the show was one of the beneficiaries of network president Fred Silverman's "rural purge"; executive Bob Wood also liked the show and moved it into a better timeslot.[12][14] Brooks and Burns hired all of the show's staff themselves and eventually ended it of their own accord.[12] The Mary Tyler Moore Show became a critical and commercial success and was the first show to feature an independent-minded, working woman, not reliant on a man, as its lead.[15] Geoff Hammill of the Museum of Broadcast Communications described it as "one of the most acclaimed television programs ever produced" in US television history.[15] During its seven-year period it received high praise from critics and numerous Primetime Emmy Awards including for three years in a row Outstanding Comedy Series.[15] In 2003, USA Today called it "one of the best shows ever to air on TV".[16] In 1997, TV Guide selected a Mary Tyler Moore Show episode as the best TV episode ever and in 1999, Entertainment Weekly picked Mary's hat toss in the opening credits as television's second greatest moment.[17][18]

With Mary Tyler Moore going strong, Brooks produced and wrote the TV film Thursday's Game,[2] before creating the short-lived series Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers in 1974.[19] He and Burns moved on to Rhoda, a spin-off of Mary Tyler Moore, taking Valerie Harper's character Rhoda Morgenstern into her own show.[20] It was well received, lasting four years and earning Brooks several Emmys.[1] The duo's next project came in 1977 in the shape of Lou Grant, a second Mary Tyler Moore spin-off, which they created along with Tinker. Unlike its source however, the series was a drama starring Edward Asner as Grant. James Brown of the Museum of Broadcast Communications said it "explore[d] a knotty issue facing media people in contemporary society, focusing on how investigating and reporting those issues impact on the layers of personalities populating a complex newspaper publishing company." The show was also critically acclaimed, twice winning the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series and also a Peabody Award.[21]

Brooks left MTM Productions in 1978 and formed the John Charles Walters Company along with David Davis, Stan Daniels and Ed Weinberger. They decided to produce Taxi, a show about a New York taxi company, which unlike the other MTM Productions focused on the "blue-collar male experience".[22] Brooks and Davis had been inspired by the article "Night-Shifting for the Hip Fleet" by Mark Jacobson, which appeared in the September 22, 1975 issue of New York magazine.[23] The show began on ABC in 1978 airing on Tuesday nights after Three's Company which generated high ratings and after two seasons it was moved to Wednesday. Its ratings fell and in 1982 it was canceled; NBC picked it up, but the ratings remained low and it was dropped after one season. Despite its ratings, it won three consecutive Outstanding Comedy Series Emmys.[22] Brooks' last TV show produced before he began making films was The Associates (1979–1980) for ABC. Despite positive critical attention, the show was quickly canceled.[24]

Alex Simon of Venice Magazine described Brooks as "[bringing] realism to the previously overstated world of television comedy. Brooks' fingerprints can now be seen in shows such as Seinfeld, Friends, Ally McBeal and numerous other shows from the 1980s and 1990s."[12] Brooks' sitcoms were some of the first with a "focus on character" using an ensemble cast in a non-domestic situation.[2][12]


In 1978, Brooks began work on feature films. His first project was the 1979 film Starting Over which he wrote and co-produced with Alan J. Pakula.[25] He adapted the screenplay from a novel by Dan Wakefield into a film The Washington Post called "a good-humored, heartening update of traditional romantic comedy" unlike the "drab" novel.[26]

Brooks' next project came in 1983, when he wrote, produced and directed Terms of Endearment, adapting the screenplay from Larry McMurtry's novel of the same name.[27] It cost $8.5 million and took four years to film.[12] Brooks won the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay.[9]

Brooks was fearful of the attention Oscar success would bring as he would be "deprived of a low profile", finding it "hard to work with the spotlight shining in your eyes." He added: "There's a danger of being seduced into being self-conscious, of being aware of your 'career'. That can be lethal."[9] He also grew more concerned of the "threatening" corporate influence into the film industry at the expense of "the idea of the creative spirit".[9] He channeled this ambivalence into Broadcast News. As a romantic comedy, Brooks felt he could say "something new ... with that form" adding "One of the things you're supposed to do every once in a while as a filmmaker is capture time and place. I was just glad there was some way to do it in a comedy."[9] He cast William Hurt, Holly Hunter and Albert Brooks(no relation) in the three main roles.[9]

He wished to set the film in a field he understood and opted for broadcast journalism. After talking with network journalists at the 1984 Republican National Convention, Brooks realised it had "changed so much since I had been near it", and so "did about a year and a half of solid research," into the industry.[9] When he began writing the screenplay, Brooks felt he "didn't like any of the three [main] characters", but decided not to change them and after two months had reversed his original opinion. Brooks stated that this also happens to the audience: "You're always supposed to arc your characters and you have this change and that's your dramatic purpose. But what I hope happens in this film is that the audience takes part in the arc. So what happens is that the movie doesn't select its own hero. It plays differently with each audience. The audience helps create the experience, depending on which character they hook onto."[9] He did not decide on the ending of the film until the rest of it had been completed. Brooks was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay for Broadcast News.[12] At the 38th Berlin International Film Festival, the film was nominated for the Golden Bear and Holly Hunter won the Silver Bear for Best Actress.[28]

His 1994 film I'll Do Anything, starring Nick Nolte, was conceived and filmed by Brooks as an old-fashioned movie musical and parody of "Hollywood lifestyles and movie clichés", costing $40 million.[29] It featured songs by Carole King, Prince, and Sinéad O'Connor, among others, with choreography by Twyla Tharp.[5][29] When preview audience reactions to the music were overwhelmingly negative, all production numbers from the film were cut and Brooks wrote several new scenes, filming them over three days and spending seven weeks editing the film down to two hours.[5] Brooks noted: "Something like this not only tries one's soul – it threatens one's soul." While it was not unusual for Brooks to edit his films substantially after preview screenings on this occasion he was "denied any privacy" because the media reported the negative reviews before its release and "it had to be good enough to counter all this bad publicity."[29] It was a commercial failure,[12] and Brooks attempted to produce a documentary about it four years later but was scuppered by failing to obtain the rights to Prince's song.[7]

Cameron Crowe 2005
Cameron Crowe at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival promoting Elizabethtown. Brooks produced two of Crowe's films.

Brooks agreed to produce and direct Old Friends, a screenplay by Mark Andrus. Andrus' script "needed you to suspend disbelief" but Brooks realised "my style when directing is that I really don't know how to get people to suspend disbelief." Brooks spent a year reworking the screenplay: "There were changes made and the emphasis was changed but it's the product, really, of a very unusual writing team," and the project became As Good as It Gets, taking a year to produce after funding had been secured.[12] According to The New York Times, Brooks "was constantly experimenting, constantly reshooting, constantly re-editing" the film, changing its ending five times and allowing the actors to improvise the film's tone.[30]

The film garnered more praise than I'll Do Anything and Brooks was again nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. As Good as It Gets received a total of seven Academy Award nominations, winning two, both for Best Actor for Jack Nicholson and Best Actress for Helen Hunt.[31] Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader labelled it Brooks' best film, stating "what Brooks manages to do with [the characters] as they struggle mightily to connect with one another is funny, painful, beautiful, and basically truthful—a triumph for everyone involved."[32] It also ranked 140 in Empire's 2008 list of "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time".[33] Brooks cast Jack Nicholson in both Terms of Endearment and As Good as It Gets with the actor taking an Academy Award for each role.[34]

Brooks did not direct and write a film again for seven years until 2004's Spanglish. Filming took six months, ending in June with three days of additional filming in October; Brooks produced three endings for the film, shooting several scenes in "15 to 25 takes" as he did not feel the film was tonally complete, although the script did not change much during filming. He opted to cast Adam Sandler in a more dramatic role than his usual goofball comedy parts based on his performance in Punch-Drunk Love and Sandler's relationship with his family. Describing the length of production, Brooks said: "It's amazing how much more perverse you are as a writer than as a director. I remember just being so happy that I'd painted myself into some corners [while writing]. I thought that would make it interesting. When I had to wrestle with that as a director, it was a different story." Brooks's directing style "drove [the cast] bats", especially Téa Leoni, with Cloris Leachman (who replaced an ill Anne Bancroft a month into filming) describing it as "free-falling. You're not going for some result. It's just, throw it in the air and see where it lands."[7] The film was poorly received and was a box-office failure[35], grossing $55 million worldwide on an $80 million production budget.[36]

His next film, entitled How Do You Know, was released December 17, 2010; Brooks produced, directed and wrote it. The film stars Reese Witherspoon as a professional softball player involved in a love triangle. Brooks began work on the film in 2005, wishing to create a film about a young female athlete. While interviewing numerous women for hundreds of hours in his research for the film he also became interested in "the dilemmas of contemporary business executives, who are sometimes held accountable by the law for corporate behavior of which they may not even be aware." He created Paul Rudd and Jack Nicholson's characters for this concept.[37] Filming finished in November 2009,[38] although Brooks later reshot the film's opening and ending.[39] The New York Times described it as "perhaps the most closely guarded of Columbia's movies this year."[37] Brooks was paid $10 million for the project, which cost $100 million.[39][40] The film was negatively received.[41] Patrick Goldstein wrote in the Los Angeles Times that "the characters were stick figures, the jokes were flat, the situations felt scarily insular." He felt the film showed Brooks had "finally lost his comic mojo" concluding "his films used to have a wonderfully restless, neurotic energy, but How Do You Know feels like it was phoned in from someone resting uncomfortably on his laurels."[35] Variety's Peter Debruge also felt the film showed Brooks had lost his "spark".[42] Richard Corliss of Time was more positive, writing "without being great, it's still the flat-out finest romantic comedy of the year," while "Brooks hasn't lost his gift for dreaming up heroes and heroines who worry amusingly."[43]

Brooks started his own film and television production company, Gracie Films, in 1984.[2] He produced Big (1988) and The War of the Roses (1989).[5][12] Brooks mentored Cameron Crowe and was the executive producer of Crowe's directorial debut Say Anything ... (1989) and produced his later film Jerry Maguire (1996).[12] Brooks also helped Owen Wilson and Wes Anderson after their feature-length script and short film version of Bottle Rocket (1996) were brought to his attention. Brooks went to Wilson and Anderson's apartment in Dallas after agreeing to produce the film. Wilson stated: "I think he felt kind of sorry for us". Despite having "the worst [script] reading [Brooks] had ever heard", Brooks kept faith in the project.[44] Brooks produced and directed Brooklyn Laundry, his first theatrical production, in 1990. It starred Glenn Close, Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern.[12] In 2007, Brooks appeared—along with Nora Ephron, Carrie Fisher and others in Dreams on Spec, a documentary about screenwriting in Hollywood.[45]

Return to television

Matt Groening by Gage Skidmore
Matt Groening originally intended to pitch Life in Hell to Brooks

Although Brooks "never meant" to return to television, he was helping Tracey Ullman start The Tracey Ullman Show and when she could not find another producer, he stepped in.[25] On the suggestion of friend and colleague Polly Platt, who gave Brooks the nine panel Life in Hell cartoon entitled "The Los Angeles Way of Death" which hangs outside Brooks' Gracie Films office,[7][46][47] Brooks asked Life in Hell cartoonist Matt Groening to pitch an idea for a series of animated shorts to appear on The Tracey Ullman Show. Groening initially intended to present an animated version of his Life in Hell series. However, when Groening realized that animating Life in Hell would require the rescinding of publication rights for his life's work, he chose another approach and formulated his version of a dysfunctional family in the lobby of Brooks' office.[48] After the success of the shorts, the Fox Broadcasting Company in 1989 commissioned a series of half-hour episodes of the show, now called The Simpsons, which Brooks produced alongside Groening and Sam Simon. Brooks negotiated a provision in the contract with the Fox network that prevented Fox from interfering with the show's content.[49] According to writer Jon Vitti, Brooks contributed more to the episode "Lisa's Substitute" than to any other in the show's history.[50] The Simpsons garnered critical and commercial acclaim, winning numerous awards and is still producing original content after almost 30 years.[51] In a 1998 issue celebrating the 20th century's greatest achievements in arts and entertainment, Time magazine named The Simpsons the century's best television series.[52] In 1997, Brooks was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.[53]

In 1995, Brooks and Groening were involved in a public dispute over the episode "A Star Is Burns". Groening felt that the episode was a thirty-minute advertisement for Brooks' show The Critic (which had moved to Fox from ABC for its second season), and was created by former The Simpsons showrunners Al Jean and Mike Reiss, and whose lead character Jay Sherman appears in the episode. He hoped Brooks would pull the episode because "articles began to appear in several newspapers around the country saying that [Groening] created The Critic", and removed his names from the credits.[54] In response, Brooks said "I am furious with Matt, he's been going to everybody who wears a suit at Fox and complaining about this. When he voiced his concerns about how to draw The Critic into the Simpsons' universe he was right and we agreed to his changes. Certainly he's allowed his opinion, but airing this publicly in the press is going too far. ... He is a gifted, adorable, cuddly ingrate. But his behavior right now is rotten."[54]

The Critic was short-lived, broadcasting ten episodes on Fox before its cancellation. A total of only 23 episodes were produced, and it returned briefly in 2000 with a series of ten internet broadcast webisodes. The series has since developed a cult following thanks to reruns on Comedy Central and its complete series release on DVD.[55] His early 1990s shows Sibs and Phenom, both produced as part of a multi-show deal with ABC, and the 2001 show What About Joan for the same network, were all similarly short-lived.[7][56][57][58][59][60]

Brooks co-produced and co-wrote the 2007 feature-length film adaptation of The Simpsons, The Simpsons Movie.[61] He directed the voice cast for the first time since the television show's early seasons. Dan Castellaneta found the recording sessions "more intense" than recording the television series, and "more emotionally dramatic".[62] Some scenes, such as Marge's video message to Homer, were recorded over one hundred times, leaving the voice cast exhausted.[63] Brooks conceived the idea for, co-produced and co-wrote the Maggie-centric short film The Longest Daycare, which played in front of Ice Age: Continental Drift in 2012.[64] It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 2013.[65]

Personal life

Brooks was married twice. His first wife was Marianne Catherine Morrissey; they have one daughter,[2][8] Amy Lorraine Brooks. They divorced in 1972.[66] In 1978, he married Holly Beth Holmberg; they had three children together:[67] daughter Chloe and sons Cooper and Joseph. They divorced in 1999.[67]

He is also a member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity.[68] Brooks has donated over $175,000 to Democratic Party candidates.[69]



Year Film Position Notes
1979 Starting Over Producer
Real Life Actor Appears as Driving evaluator
1981 Modern Romance Actor Appears as David
1983 Terms of Endearment Director
Academy Award for Best Director
Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Academy Award for Best Picture
Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing - Feature Film
Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Director
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Screenplay
National Board of Review Award for Best Director
Writers Guild of America Award for Best Comedy Adapted from Another Medium
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Director
1987 Broadcast News Director
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Director (2nd place)
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Screenplay
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Picture
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated—Berlin International Film Festival Golden Bear
Nominated—Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing - Feature Film
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Director
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay
Nominated—Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay
1988 Big Producer Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film
1989 Say Anything... Executive producer
The War of the Roses Co-producer
1994 I'll Do Anything Director
1996 Bottle Rocket Executive producer
Jerry Maguire Co-producer Nominated—Academy Award for Best Picture
1997 As Good as It Gets Director
San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Original Screenplay
Satellite Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Original Screenplay
Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Picture
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Director
Nominated—Czech Lion for Best Foreign Language Film
Nominated—Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing - Feature Film
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Director
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay
Nominated—Producers Guild of America Award for Best Theatrical Motion Picture
2001 Riding in Cars with Boys Co-producer
2004 Spanglish Director
Nominated—Imagen Foundation Award for Best Director – Film
2007 The Simpsons Movie Co-producer
Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Animated Film
2010 How Do You Know Director
2012 The Longest Daycare Co-producer
Short film
2016 The Edge of Seventeen Producer


Year Series Position Notes
1965 Men in Crisis Producer
episode: "Halsey vs Yamamoto"
episode: "Kennedy vs Khrushchev"
October Madness: The World Series Writer TV movie documentary
1965–1966 Time-Life Specials: The March of Time Writer "And Away We Go"
"The Odyssey of the Automobile"
"The Enterprise in Action"
1966 My Mother the Car Writer episode 1.26: "It Might as Well be Spring as Not"
episode 1.28: "The Blabbermouth"
1966–1967 That Girl Writer episode 1.16: "Christmas and the Hard-Luck Kid"
episode 1.21: "Rain, Snow, and Rice"
episode 2.1: "Pass the Potatoes, Ethel Merman"
Nominated—Writers Guild of America Award for Television: Episodic Comedy
1967 Hey, Landlord Writer episode 1.24: "Sharin' Sharon"
Accidental Family Writer
Story editor
episode 1.2: "Hot Kid in a Cold Town"
1968 The Andy Griffith Show Writer episode 8.17: "The Mayberry Chef"
episode 8.18: "Emmett's Brother-in-Law"
My Three Sons Writer episode 8.27: "The Perfect Separation"
The Doris Day Show Writer episode 1.11: "The Job"
Good Morning, World Writer episode 1.21: "Pot Luckless"
Mayberry R.F.D. Writer episode 1.7: "Youth Takes Over"
1969 My Friend Tony Writer
Story editor
episode 1.7: "Encounter"
1969–1974 Room 222 Creator
113 episodes
1970–1977 The Mary Tyler Moore Show Creator
Executive producer
Script consultant
168 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series (1975–1977)
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series (1971, 1977)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series (1971–1974)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series (1973)
Nominated—Writers Guild of America Award for Television: Episodic Comedy (1973, 1978)
1973 Going Places Writer TV short
1974 Thursday's Game Producer
Television film
Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers Creator
15 episodes
1974–1978 Rhoda Actor
Executive producer
110 episodes
appears uncredited as "Subway Passenger" in episode 1.9: "Rhoda's Wedding: Part 2"
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series (1975)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series (1975, for episode: "Rhoda's Wedding")
1975–1977 Phyllis Creator 48 episodes
1976 Saturday Night Live Actor as Paul Reynold in episode 1.9: "Elliot Gould/Anne Murray"
1977–1982 Lou Grant Creator
Executive consultant
Executive producer
114 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series (1978)
1978 Cindy Creative consultant
TV movie
1978–1983 Taxi Creator
Executive creative consultant
Executive producer
114 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series (1979–1981)
1979–1980 The Associates Creator
Executive producer
13 episodes
1980 Carlton Your Doorman Writer TV short
1987–1990 The Tracey Ullman Show Executive producer
80 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series (1990)
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Series (1989)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Series (1987–1988, 1990)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Special (for episode: The Best of the Tracey Ullman Show, 1990)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series (1987–1989)
1989–present The Simpsons Actor
Creative consultant
Executive producer
appeared as himself in episode 14.13: "A Star Is Born Again"
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour) (1990–1991, 1995, 1997–1998, 2000–2001, 2003, 2006, 2008)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour) (1990, 1992, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2004–2005, 2007, 2009–2013)
1991–1992 Sibs Executive producer
1993 Phenom Executive producer 22 episodes
1994–1995 The Critic Executive creative consultant
Executive producer
7 episodes
2001 What About Joan Producer 21 episodes


  1. ^ a b "Primetime Emmy Awards Advanced Search". Emmys.org. Archived from the original on 2011-02-15. Retrieved 2009-02-10.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Horace Newcomb. "Brooks, James L." The Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved 2009-07-12.
  3. ^ Mann, Virginia (1994-02-04). "How James Brooks Faced The Music: He Cut Most Of It". The Record. p. 3.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Brooks, James L. (2003-01-17 & 2003-02-12). "James L. Brooks – Archive of American Television Interview". Archive of American Television (Interview). Interviewed by Karen Herman. Retrieved 2009-07-18. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  5. ^ a b c d e Diamond, Jamie (1994-01-30). "Film; Bringing You a Musical ... With No Music". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-07-12.
  6. ^ Danaher, Patrick (2008-03-02). "Simpsons Producer Plans to Take World's Funniest Family to Ireland". Sunday Tribune.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Steve Daly (2004-11-12). "What, Him Worry?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-07-16.
  8. ^ a b c Diamond, Jamie (1994-02-04). "Brooks Didn't Want to Direct Same Old Song". The Orlando Sentinel. p. 17.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i Peter Keough (1987-12-20). "The 'Broadcast News' report – James L. Brooks comes to terms with his doubts". Chicago Sun-Times. p. Show 1.
  10. ^ Academy Award acceptance speech
  11. ^ IMDb
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Alex Simon (December 1997 – January 1998). "James L. Brooks: Laughter That Stings In Your Throat". Venice Magazine.
  13. ^ Horgan, Richard. "When James L. Brooks Interviewed Louis Armstrong", Adweek, October 27, 2011. Accessed October 23, 2015. "Right off the bat, Pollak wondered if those stories of Brooks having interviewed Louis Armstrong for the Weehawken High School newspaper were Internet hooey. Brooks was happy to confirm a semi-wonderful New Jersey journalism world:"
  14. ^ "The New South has risen in the post-industrial North". The News Sun. 2006-03-31. p. A6.
  15. ^ a b c Hammill, Geoff. "The Mary Tyler Moore Show". The Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved 2009-07-12.
  16. ^ Bianco, Robert (2003-04-11). "Building a better sitcom". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-10-30.
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External links

As Good as It Gets

As Good as It Gets is a 1997 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by James L. Brooks. The movie stars Jack Nicholson as a misanthropic and obsessive-compulsive novelist, Helen Hunt as a single mother with a chronically ill son, and Greg Kinnear as a gay artist. The screenplay was written by Mark Andrus and Brooks. The paintings were created for the film by New York artist Billy Sullivan.Nicholson and Hunt won the Academy Award for Best Actor and Best Actress, respectively, making As Good As It Gets the most recent film to win both of the lead acting awards, and the first since 1991's The Silence of the Lambs. It is ranked 140th on Empire magazine's "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time" list.

Big (film)

Big is a 1988 American fantasy comedy film directed by Penny Marshall, and stars Tom Hanks as Adult Josh Baskin, a young boy who makes a wish "to be big" and is then aged to adulthood overnight. The film also stars Elizabeth Perkins, David Moscow as young Josh, John Heard and Robert Loggia, and was written by Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg.

Bottle Rocket

Bottle Rocket is a 1996 American crime-comedy film directed by Wes Anderson. It was co-written by Anderson and Owen Wilson. In addition to being Wes Anderson's feature-length directorial debut, Bottle Rocket was the debut feature for brothers Owen and Luke Wilson, who co-starred with James Caan and Robert Musgrave.

The film was a commercial failure but launched Anderson's career by drawing attention from critics. Director Martin Scorsese later named Bottle Rocket one of his top-ten favorite movies of the 1990s.

Broadcast News (film)

Broadcast News is a 1987 American romantic comedy-drama film written, produced and directed by James L. Brooks. The film concerns a virtuoso television news producer (Holly Hunter), who has daily emotional breakdowns, a brilliant yet prickly reporter (Albert Brooks) and his charismatic but far less seasoned rival (William Hurt). It also stars Robert Prosky, Lois Chiles, Joan Cusack, and Jack Nicholson (billed only in the end credits) as the evening news anchor.

In 2018, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

Gracie Films

Gracie Films is an American independent film and television production company created by James L. Brooks in 1986. The company is primarily responsible for producing the long-running animated series The Simpsons, as well as the films Big, Broadcast News, and Jerry Maguire.

How Do You Know

How Do You Know is a 2010 American romantic comedy-drama film directed, written, and produced by James L. Brooks and starring Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, and Jack Nicholson. It was the third film to feature Witherspoon and Rudd following 1998’s Overnight Delivery and 2009’s Monsters vs. Aliens.

The film was shot in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.. How Do You Know was released theatrically on December 17, 2010, and was a box office bomb, grossing $49 million against a $100 million net budget.

I'll Do Anything

I'll Do Anything is a 1994 American satirical comedy-drama film written and directed by James L. Brooks. While a large part of the film is a satire of the film industry, it also skewers relationships from various angles. Its primary plot concerns a down-on-his-luck actor who suddenly finds himself the sole caretaker of his six-year-old daughter.

Jerry Maguire

Jerry Maguire is a 1996 American romantic comedy-drama sports film written, produced and directed by Cameron Crowe, and stars Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Renée Zellweger. Produced in part by long time Simpsons producer James L. Brooks, it was inspired by sports agent Leigh Steinberg, who acted as Technical Consultant on the crew. It was released in North American theaters on December 13, 1996, produced by Gracie Films and distributed by TriStar Pictures.

The film received critical acclaim, with critics praising its acting and writing. The film was a financial success, bringing in more than $273 million worldwide, against its $50 million budget. It was the ninth top-grossing film of 1996.

The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Tom Cruise, with Cuba Gooding Jr. winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. The film was also nominated for three Golden Globes, with Tom Cruise winning for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, and three Screen Actors Guild Awards, with Cuba Gooding Jr. winning Best Supporting Actor.

Lou Grant (TV series)

Lou Grant is an American drama television series starring Ed Asner in the title role as a newspaper editor that aired on CBS from September 20, 1977, to September 13, 1982. The series was the third spin-off of the sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Lou Grant was created by The Mary Tyler Moore Show co-creators James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, along with Gene Reynolds.

Lou Grant won 13 Emmy Awards, including "Outstanding Drama Series". Asner won the Emmy Award for "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series" in 1978 and 1980. In doing so, he became the first person to win an Emmy Award for both "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series" and "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series" for portraying the same character. Lou Grant also won two Golden Globe Awards, a Peabody Award, an Eddie Award, three awards from the Directors Guild of America and two Humanitas Prizes.

Say Anything...

Say Anything ... is a 1989 American romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Cameron Crowe in his directorial debut. The film follows the romance between Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack), an average student, and Diane Court (Ione Skye), the valedictorian, immediately after their graduation from high school. In 2002, Entertainment Weekly ranked Say Anything ... as the greatest modern movie romance, and it was ranked number 11 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the 50 best high-school movies.

Spanglish (film)

Spanglish is a 2004 American romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by James L. Brooks and starring Adam Sandler, Téa Leoni, Paz Vega, and Cloris Leachman. It was released in the United States on December 17, 2004 by Columbia Pictures. The film grossed $55 million worldwide on an $80 million production budget, and received mixed reviews from critics.

Stan Daniels

Stanley Edwin Daniels (July 31, 1934 – April 6, 2007) was a Canadian-American screenwriter, producer and director, who won eight Emmy Awards for his work on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Taxi.

Starting Over (1979 film)

Starting Over is a 1979 American comedy film based on Dan Wakefield's novel, produced by James L. Brooks, and directed by Alan J. Pakula. Starring Burt Reynolds, Jill Clayburgh, and Candice Bergen, it follows a recently divorced man who is torn between his new girlfriend and his ex-wife.

It was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Clayburgh) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Bergen). Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager wrote three original songs for the film: "Easy For You," "Better Than Ever", and "Starting Over", which is sung by Bergen.

Taxi (TV series)

Taxi is an American sitcom that originally aired on ABC from September 12, 1978 to May 6, 1982 and on NBC from September 30, 1982 to June 15, 1983. The series won 18 Emmy Awards, including three for Outstanding Comedy Series. It focuses on the everyday lives of a handful of New York City taxi drivers and their abusive dispatcher. Taxi was produced by the John Charles Walters Company, in association with Paramount Network Television, and was created by James L. Brooks, Stan Daniels, David Davis, and Ed Weinberger.

Terms of Endearment

Terms of Endearment is a 1983 American comedy-drama film adapted from Larry McMurtry's 1975 novel, directed, written, and produced by James L. Brooks, and starring Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Jeff Daniels, and John Lithgow. The film covers 30 years of the relationship between Aurora Greenway (MacLaine) and her daughter Emma (Winger).

The film received eleven Academy Award nominations, and won five. Brooks won the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, while MacLaine won the Academy Award for Best Actress, and Nicholson won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. In addition, it won four Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Actress in a Drama (MacLaine), Best Supporting Actor (Nicholson), and Best Screenplay (Brooks).

The Edge of Seventeen

The Edge of Seventeen is a 2016 American coming-of-age comedy-drama film written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig. The film stars Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick, and Haley Lu Richardson. Principal photography began on October 21, 2015, in Vancouver and ended on December 3, 2015.

The film premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival on September 16, 2016, and was theatrically released on November 18, 2016, by STXfilms. It received positive reviews, with Steinfeld's performance being critically lauded, and grossed over $18 million.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show

The Mary Tyler Moore Show (also known simply as Mary Tyler Moore) is an American television sitcom starring Mary Tyler Moore and created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns that originally aired on CBS from September 19, 1970 to March 19, 1977. Moore starred as Mary Richards, an unmarried, independent woman focused on her career as associate producer at the fictional WJM news program in Minneapolis. A central female character who was not married or dependent on a man was a rarity in American television in the early 1970s, leading to numerous publications citing The Mary Tyler Moore Show as groundbreaking television in the era of second-wave feminism. Edward Asner co-starred as Mary's boss Lou Grant, alongside Valerie Harper as her friend and neighbor Rhoda Morgenstern and Cloris Leachman as her landlady Phyllis Lindstrom. Other co-stars throughout the series' run included Gavin MacLeod, Ted Knight, Georgia Engel, and Betty White.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show is best remembered for its realistic and complex characters and storylines, in contrast to the simplistic characters and plots typically seen on broadcast television at that time. It was the subject of consistent critical praise and high ratings during its original run, receiving twenty-nine Primetime Emmy Awards, including for Outstanding Comedy Series three years in a row (1975–1977), and for which Moore received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series three times. The series also launched three spin-offs: Rhoda (1974–1978), Phyllis (1975–1977), and Lou Grant (1977–1982). In 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked The Mary Tyler Moore Show number six on its list of the "101 Best Written TV Series of All Time."

The Simpsons Movie

The Simpsons Movie is a 2007 American animated comedy film based on the Fox television series The Simpsons. The film was directed by David Silverman, and stars the regular television cast of Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, Tress MacNeille, Pamela Hayden, Maggie Roswell and Russi Taylor, as well as Albert Brooks. The film follows Homer Simpson, whose irresponsibility gets the best of him when he pollutes the lake in Springfield after the town has cleaned it up following receipt of a warning from the Environmental Protection Agency. As the townspeople exile him and eventually his family abandons him, Homer works to redeem his folly by stopping Russ Cargill, the head of the EPA, who intends to destroy Springfield.

Although previous attempts to create a Simpsons film had been made, they failed due to the lack of a script of appropriate length and production crew members. Eventually in 2001, producers James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Al Jean, Richard Sakai and Mike Scully began development of the film, and a writing team consisting of Brooks, Groening, Jean, Scully, Ian Maxtone-Graham, George Meyer, David Mirkin, Mike Reiss, Matt Selman, John Swartzwelder and Jon Vitti was assembled. They conceived numerous plot ideas, with Groening's being the one developed into a film. The script was re-written over a hundred times, and this rewriting continued after the animation had begun in 2006. Consequently, hours of finished material was cut from the final release, including cameo roles from Erin Brockovich, Minnie Driver, Isla Fisher, Kelsey Grammer and Edward Norton; Tom Hanks and the members of Green Day appeared in the final cut as their animated selves, while Brooks, a frequent guest performer on the series, provided the voice of Cargill.

Tie-in promotions were made with several companies to promote the film's release, including Burger King and 7-Eleven, the latter of which transformed selected stores into Kwik-E-Marts. The film premiered in Springfield, Vermont on July 21, 2007, and was released six days later by 20th Century Fox across the United States. The Simpsons Movie was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $527 million worldwide, making it the eighth highest-grossing film of 2007 and the highest-ever grossing film based on an animated television series.

In August 2018, it was reported that a sequel is in development.

The War of the Roses (film)

The War of the Roses is a 1989 American dark comedy film based upon the 1981 novel of the same name by Warren Adler. The film follows a wealthy couple with a seemingly perfect marriage. When their marriage begins to fall apart, material possessions become the center of an outrageous and bitter divorce battle.

The film co-stars Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, and Danny DeVito. The three actors had previously worked together in Romancing the Stone and its sequel The Jewel of the Nile. DeVito directed the film, which also had producer James L. Brooks and actor Dan Castellaneta working on a project outside of The Simpsons. The opening title sequence was created by Saul Bass.

In both the novel and the film, the married couple's family name is Rose, and the title is an allusion to the battles between the Houses of York and Lancaster (English Civil War) during the Late Middle Ages.

Films directed by James L. Brooks
Awards for James L. Brooks
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