SYNOPSIS Once upon a time, Buck Howard (John Malkovich) spent his days in the limelight. His mind-boggling feats as a mentalist extraordinaire – not to be confused with those of a mere magician - earned him a marquee act in Vegas and 61 appearances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. In his own humble opinion, his talents go far beyond simple sleight of hand – he can read minds and hypnotize not just a single soul but an entire room of people! But nowadays, it’s clear to everyone but Buck that his act has lost its luster; he performs in faded community centers and hasn’t sold out a theater in years.
Yet, with a hearty handshake and a trademark “I love this town!,” Buck Howard perseveres, confident in his own celebrity, convinced his comeback is imminent. He just needs a new road manager and personal assistant. As it turns out, recent law school drop-out and unemployed, would-be writer Troy Gable (Colin Hanks) needs a job and a purpose. Working for the pompous, has-been mentalist fills the former requirement, but how it satisfies the latter is questionable, especially to his father (Tom Hanks), who still assumes Troy is in law school. Nonetheless, with the aid of a fiery publicist (Emily Blunt) and a bold stroke of fate, Buck surprisingly lands back into the American consciousness, taking Troy along for the ride of his life.
As the coveted spotlight again shines on the great Buck Howard, Buck becomes the unlikeliest of teachers as Troy learns a few tricks he couldn’t possibly have picked up in law school.
THE GREAT BUCK HOWARD is a Bristol Bay Productions presentation of a Playtone production, produced by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, and written and directed by Sean McGinly. The film stars John Malkovich, Colin Hanks, Emily Blunt, Steve Zahn, Debra Monk and Griffin Dunne. The executive producers are Steven Shareshian, and Marvin Acuna. Ginger Sledge is the co-producer.
The behind-the-camera credits include director of photography Tak Fujimoto, production designer Gary Frutkoff, costume designer Johnetta Boone and editor Myron Kerstein.
ABOUT THE FILM THE GREAT BUCK HOWARD is a comedy about two seemingly disparate people, mentalist Buck Howard and his long suffering assistant Troy. The path they take together is often surreal, populated by a hilarious cast of characters, beginning with the great mentalist, Buck Howard himself.
Writer-director Sean McGinly had some experience in this world. He explains, “I went to law school like Troy and quit very soon after arriving. I cashed out my student loan and moved to LA, not knowing anyone or anything. I was completely clueless. I hadn’t written anything. I wasn’t some child prodigy. It was a ridiculous thing to do. So I had a succession of weird Hollywood type jobs where I met different kinds of strange characters, some who were on the fringes of the entertainment business.”
The heart of the story, he explains, is the notion that it is never too late to reshape one’s life.
“Buck and Troy meet each other at a crucial time. While Buck is not necessarily Troy’s idea of creative success, at least Buck has passion and talent. Troy learns that it’s possible to live life loving what you do,” says McGinly. “As for Buck, he strives to hit the big time again, landing that gig in Vegas and being a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. What Buck doesn’t realize is that he’s already living his dream.”
McGinly’s offbeat, funny tale appealed to Colin Hanks. The star explains, “My agent had sent me a bunch of scripts, so THE GREAT BUCK HOWARDwas in a big pile. The ADD child in me just forgot about them. Then my agent called and asked if I had gotten through the pile. When I sheepishly said ‘No’ he asked me to start with THE GREAT BUCK HOWARDknowing that I would like it. Like it? I loved it! Opened up the first page, couldn’t put it down, finished it, called my agent back and asked him to set up a meeting with Sean,” he says.
He gave it to producer Gary Goetzman, who fell in love with it and passed it on to producing partner Tom Hanks, who was equally excited by the project. Playtone, Hanks and Goetzman’s production company, signed on to produce the movie.
Sean McGinly was thrilled with the prospect of Colin Hanks portraying Troy. McGinly knew that he could convey the script’s comedy and drama, as well as Troy’s innocence, confusion and wry humor.
McGinly says, “I needed an actor that could handle both the humor and drama. After seeing Orange County, I knew Colin was the right choice for this part. It was probably a couple of years between his agreeing to star in the movie and the movie getting made. So we had a lot of time to talk about the character. Colin was involved in all the auditions, so by the time we started shooting, he was the character.”
Producer Goetzman adds, “Sean is very thoughtful and even tempered. An extremely young writer-director who is so confident about his work, he lets the actors improvise and sets an atmosphere which allows a great flow of creativity which I feel is reflected in the film.”
The next mission for the filmmakers was to cast Buck Howard.
“When John walked into the make-up test for the first time dressed as Buck Howard, honestly, tears almost came to my eyes. He just looked so much like I had imagined Buck. We start taking some Buck Howard stills and John did all these poses and weird smiles. And I realized that he really got it. After that moment, I knew he was going to be fantastic as Buck Howard,” says McGinly.
As with Colin Hanks, the screenplay brought Malkovich to the project. “The script was sent to me and I read it fairly quickly. I liked it very much. I thought it was very funny and very observant and it looked as if Buck Howard would be an enormous pleasure to play, which he was. So, it didn’t really take much to convince me.”
Producer Goetzman adds, “I think John gravitated to the material and saw Buck Howard as somebody that we all kind of know, or at least understand to some degree. Buck behaves outrageously, but John succeeded in making him very human, tragically funny, and someone we can relate to.”
Hanks was thrilled at the chance to work opposite screen legend John Malkovich. “John has an aura about him that I always saw as a big mystery. Not only is John a great actor, he is also great fun to work with,” says Colin Hanks.
Both actors equally enjoyed working with Sean McGinly.
Malkovich explains, “Sean is clearly not a control freak. I think he likes to push you to the boundaries of things, and see what’s underneath or stuck up on a shelf somewhere. He essentially likes to see what happens. We generally did the scene as written, but he let us riff on it too. Sean is very attuned to performance.”
At the beginning of the film, Troy leaves law school and a life of stability only to discover himself adrift in a strange city, with amorphous aspirations and no real friends or family. Buck Howard is similarly solo and rootless, albeit for different reasons: his life as a performer on the road has taken him from city to city for years. When these two meet, they find temporary common ground – both are working for the care, succor and promotion of Buck Howard. Buck considers himself a celebrity even though his fame is long gone. He gravitates to pockets of small-town America, where he is still well-liked and fondly, if vaguely, remembered. Troy soon realizes that his job is to shield Buck from the crueler facts of his life.
“A lot of Troy’s job is to just maintain the illusion for Buck. To shelter Buck from the cold reality that he is no longer a big name,” says Malkovich.
Their friendship begins to fall apart when young, aggressive, very attractive PR woman Valerie Brennan joins Buck and Troy on the road. Actress Emily Blunt portrays Valerie.
“Valerie is an ambitious woman who can’t quite believe she has been assigned to work with this has-been instead of Tom Cruise or someone equally as exciting,” says Blunt.
Still Valerie and Troy begin to form their own bond, essentially based on their mutual attraction.
“These two are quite an unlikely couple. They are both stuck in this situation which is frustrating, to say the least. And, although they are very different, they find this connection,” says Blunt.
A connection that doesn’t thrill Buck as he finds he is no longer the center of their attention.
Producer Goetzman explains, “Buck’s character is like that of anyone who strives for fame. No matter how famous you are, no matter how much money, love, or adoration you receive, it is never enough.”
Helping to create a distinctive look for Buck Howard was costume designer Johnetta Boone, “I was so excited to get the call about this movie because it finally gave me the opportunity to do eclectic designing as opposed to your general corporate contemporary classic sort of look.”
And, Buck Howard’s costumes are eclectic. John Malkovich explains, “It’s kind of Ben Sherman in his twilight years, the Beverly Hills ‘I worked with Freddie Fields’ kind of look – pastels, oranges, monochromatic shirts and ties.”
Everyday, the crew eagerly anticipated Buck’s new outrageous outfit, perhaps an orange sport coat with a brown silk shiny shirt and a paisley tie?
Boone adds, “I did a play on patterns, a play on colors. Since there were very few rules, I put some florals together with mixed stripes, or added some solid colors that are probably too bold for your average gentleman.”
Clothing was only one aspect of creating Buck Howard. Hair and make-up also played an integral part.
Jokes Malkovich, “Well, the make-up and hair took a change when Buck has a little wave of popularity and prosperity again. I decided to have him have a facelift, a ‘hipper’ hairstyle and some dermabrasion. It was very, very successful.”
Producer Goetzman chimes in, “Buck’s wardrobe has a very unique style. Sharp, contemporary, retro, all at the same time.”
A stellar, award-winning behind-the-scenes crew helped McGinly bring his vision to screen.
“It was amazing,” says McGinly. “First off, working with director of photography Tak Fujimoto was a dream. It was fantastic to work with someone of that stature. Our production designer Gary Fruktoff had worked on Orange County and was already part of the Playtone family. Essentially, Playtone has this incredible roster of amazing people, from which I completely benefited.”
MENTALISM VS MAGIC A practitioner of mentalism uses mental acuity, principals of stage magic and/or suggestion to present the illusion of mind reading or mind control. At their first meeting, when Troy mistakes Buck for a magician, Buck speedily corrects him, “I was a magician when I was 3 years old, but I evolved out of that. Not that I have anything against magicians, as long as they’re dead.”
The subtle differences between mentalism and magic eluded the filmmakers and actors too.
Malkovich jokes, “Buck is a so-called mentalist performer, who does some kind of supposed mind reading and various things … well, not really mind reading, but I suppose some kind of mental suggestion, which I hear was once very popular.”
Colin Hanks didn’t really have a better handle on the art of the “mentalist” either.
“Before we made the film, I didn’t really know there was a difference between mentalism and magic. During the film, I sort of got what the fine line is. Now that we’re done, to be perfectly honest, it is still a bit gray.”
For McGinly, the distinction between mentalist and magician is moot; he notes that Buck Howard’s greatest feat, ultimately, was realizing his true dream.
“What I learned from the crazy characters I met when I first came to Hollywood and in making this film is that there is real satisfaction and fulfillment in understanding and following your heart. I certainly got to do this on this film – for me, that was magic.”
ABOUT THE AMAZING KRESKIN With a showman’s flair, a comedian’s wit, and the capacities of a bona fide Mentalist or thought reader, The Amazing Kreskin has, for some six decades, dramatized the unique facets of the human mind…his own. His very name has become an integral part of pop culture throughout the world, invoked in comedy clubs, comic strips, print stories, and TV shows from sitcoms on through national magazines.
Born in Montclair, New Jersey, it was during the childhood game “hot and cold” that Kreskin’s remarkable ability to find hidden objects emerged. His ability to read thoughts expanded, and by his teens he also became nationally recognized in the United States as “The World’s Youngest Hypnotist,” resulting in his collaborating in psychological clinical studies extending into the realm of Parapsychology and the Power of Suggestion.
By his late teens, this icon of thought transference developed a mental test that has become the highlight of his performances all over the world. This signature piece has Kreskin requesting that his check be hidden somewhere within the venue he is appearing. If he fails to find it, he will forfeit his fee.
Through the decades, audiences of all ages have been drawn to this legendary figure. How many other celebrities can boast their own television series, their own board game, over some sixteen books, their own theme song arranged by the renowned Skitch Henderson at Carnegie Hall, let alone hundreds of appearances on almost every talk/variety show to be had. His performances have been seen all over the world, and he has flown over 3 million miles.
The Amazing Kreskin has also become a training consultant to law enforcement and security personnel throughout the western world in the development in their own powers of observation and intuitive skills.
Kreskin continues to offer “$50,000 to anybody that can prove that he employs paid secret assistants or confederates in any phase of his program”. It is an offer that he has held for many, many years.
Finally, through the years, Kreskin has received international recognition for extraordinary predictions often dealing with world affairs. Regarding the US Presidential Election in 2008, he logged the results with a written statement made 11 months earlier, on December 6, 2007. In the year 2008 on FOX Business News, he predicted the results of the Super Bowl three days before the game.
A few years earlier in Canada, one month before a national election, he predicted the re-election of Prime Minister Martin, and named the exact amount of seats he would carry. On the day after the election, on National Canadian Television, he reflected that the government could collapse in 14 months. He was off by 5 days. He has been called by many the Nostradamus of the twentieth century.
ABOUT THE ACTORS JOHN MALKOVICH - Buck Howard
John Malkovich is one of the most compelling presences in cinema with a twenty-year body of work marked with acclaimed performances in thought-provoking independents as well as mainstream movies.
Malkovich was last seen in the Coen brothers' comedy, Burn After Reading, where Malkovich was part of a stellar ensemble featuring Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Frances McDormand, and Tilda Swinton. The film premiered at the 2008 Venice Festival. Also this fall, Malkovich re-teamed with Clint Eastwood for the highly-anticipated film, Changeling with Angelina Jolie and Amy Ryan and produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer's Imagine Entertainment. In the film, Malkovich portrays an activist reverend who champions the poor and disenfranchised.
Other credits include: Gilles Bourdos' Afterwards, Sean McGinly's film THE GREAT BUCK HOWARD, which had its premiere at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival; Disgrace, an independent which tells the story of a Cape Town professor who after having an affair with a student gets caught up in a mess of post-apartheid politics; Robert Zemeckis' Beowulf opposite Angelina Jolie; Brian W. Cook's Color Me Kubrick. He also starred in Raoul Ruiz' Klimt; Liliana Cavani's Ripley's Game, Spike Jonze's Being John Malkovich, Jane Campion's The Portrait of a Lady; Wolfgang Petersen's In the Line of Fire; Gary Sinise's Of Mice and Men; Bernardo Bertolucci's The Sheltering Sky; Stephen Frears' Dangerous Liaisons; Steven Spielberg's Empire of the Sun; Paul Newman's The Glass Menagerie; Roland Joffé's The Killing Fields; and Robert Benton's Places in the Heart. He has twice been nominated for the Academy Award® for Best Supporting Actor, for Places in the Heart (1985) and for In the Line of Fire (1994). Malkovich's performance in Places in the Heart also earned him the Best Supporting Actor Award from the National Society of Film Critics and the National Board of Review. In 1999, he won New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor for Being John Malkovich.
In 1998 John Malkovich joined producing partners Lianne Halfon and Russ Smith to create the production company Mr. Mudd, whose first film was the celebrated film Ghost World directed by Terry Zwigoff. In 2003, Malkovich followed this up with his own feature directorial debut, The Dancer Upstairs, starring Academy Award® winner Javier Bardem. Other Mr. Mudd credits include The Libertine starring Johnny Depp and Samantha Morton and Art School Confidential also directed by Zwigoff and written by Screenwriter/Cartoonist Dan Clowes. Last year, Mr. Mudd landed its biggest box office and critical success with Juno, starring Ellen Page, Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman. The film, distributed through Fox Searchlight, received an Academy Award® for Best Original Screenplay (Diablo Cody) and three nominations for Best Motion Picture, Best Actress (Ellen Page), and Best Director (Jason Reitman).
Malkovich's mark in television includes his Emmy Award winning performance in the telefilm “Death of a Salesman,” directed by Volker Schlöndorff and co-starring Dustin Hoffman. Other notable credits include the miniseries' “Napoleon” and the acclaimed HBO telefilm “RKO 281,” both garnering Malkovich Emmy Award nominations.
Between 1976 and 1982 Malkovich acted in, directed or designed sets for more than fifty Steppenwolf Theatre Company productions. Malkovich's debut on the New York stage in the Steppenwolf production of Sam Shepard's “True West” earned him an Obie Award. Other notable plays include “Death of a Salesman;” “Slip of the Tongue;” Sam Shepard's “State of Shock;” and Lanford Wilson's “Burn This in New York, London and Los Angeles.” He has directed numerous plays at Steppenwolf, including the celebrated “Balm in Gilead” in Chicago and off-Broadway; “The Caretaker” in Chicago and on Broadway; and “Libra,” which Malkovich adapted from Don DeLillo's novel. His 2003 French stage production of “Hysteria” was honored with five Moliere Award nominations including Best Director. In addition to film directorial debut on The Dancer Upstairs, Malkovich has directed three fashion shorts (“Strap Hangings,” “Lady Behave,” “Hideous Man”) for London designer Bella Freud. Malkovich recently received a Moliere Award as Best Director for his production of Zach Helm's “Good Canary” in Paris. As a guiding member of Chicago's landmark Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Malkovich as a producer, director and actor has had a profound impact on the American theatre landscape.
COLIN HANKS - Troy Gable
Colin Hanks (Troy Gable) is quickly becoming one of Hollywood’s most sought-after new leading men. He will be seen in the upcoming Broadway show, “33 Variations,” where he will star opposite Jane Fonda and Samantha Mathis.
Hanks portrays Troy Gable, an aspiring writer who takes a job as a tour manager for an aging mentalist known as THE GREAT BUCK HOWARD with John Malkovich. The film premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival and is scheduled for a limited release in March.
Hanks was recently seen playing George W. Bush’s speechwriter in the political drama, W alongside Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Banks. This past summer Hanks starred as Anna Faris’ love interest in the comedy, The House Bunny. Hanks also starred opposite Diane Lane in the thriller Untraceable for director Gregory Hoblit.
Additional film credits include King Kong, Orange County, Get Over It,Alone With Her, Standing Still, Rx, 11:14,Whatever It Takes andSteven Spielberg’s award-winning 10-part miniseries Band of Brothers for HBO.
Colin’s recent television credits include playing the role of Father Gil on the Emmy Award winning drama series Mad Men.
In 2002, Colin appeared, to critical acclaim, in the theatrical performance of This Is Our Youth, written by Ken Lonergan at the Garrick Theater in London’s West End.
EMILY BLUNT - Valerie Brennan
Emily Blunt (Valerie Brennan) shot to international prominence with her lead role in the multiple award-winning British feature, My Summer of Love. Blunt played the mysterious, privileged Tamsin, who becomes the object of fascination of a local girl in this intoxicating romance from director Pawel Pawlikowski. The Independent praised her “genuine grace and predatory charisma,” while The Scotsman declared, “Blunt manages to convey the petulant certainty of late adolescence while wielding her sexuality to dangerous effect.” Harper’s Bazaar called Blunt’s performance “the most impressive film debut I’ve seen since Kate Winslet in Heavenly Creatures.” She won the Most Promising Newcomer Award at the 2004 Evening Standard Film Awards and was nominated in the Best Newcomer category at the 2004 British Independent Film Awards. The film won the award for Best British Film at the 2005 BAFTA ceremony.
Blunt started her career at the 2002 Chichester Festival, where she played Juliet in a production of “Romeo and Juliet.” Her London debut was portraying Gwen Cavendish in a production of “The Royal Family,” opposite Dame Judi Dench. In 2003, she appeared on television screens as Princess Isolda in the British television drama “Boudica,” about the life of the ancient British warrior-queen who fought the Romans. In the television adaptation of Agatha Christie’s “Death on the Nile,” also in 2003, Blunt starred alongside David Suchet as spoiled socialite Linnet Doyle. In the same year, she also appeared in the television series “Foyle’s War” as Lucy Markham.
Blunt went on to appear in Peter Travis’ “Henry VIII,” a two-part television drama documenting the stormy 38-year reign of the king. She played Henry’s fifth wife, the teenage Queen Catherine Howard, and co-starred with Ray Winstone, Helena Bonham-Carter and Michael Gambon. The series won Best TV Movie at the 2003 International Emmy® Awards.
The critically acclaimed “Gideon’s Daughter,” in which Blunt starred alongside Bill Nighy and Miranda Richardson, was shot in October 2004. Stephen Poliakoff directed the drama, which was broadcast on BBC One in February 2006 and appeared on BBC America in April of the same year. For her performance, Blunt won a 2007 Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress in a Television Movie.
In 2005, Blunt flew to New York to start work on The Devil Wears Prada. An adaptation of the hugely popular Lauren Weisberger novel, the film featured Blunt as the intensely neurotic Emily Charlton, senior assistant at Runway Magazine. David Frankel directed an all-star cast including Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci and the film opened to great acclaim in June 2006 and exceeded all expectations, making over $325 million at the worldwide box office. The critics shared the audience’s love for The Devil Wears Prada and for Blunt. The New York Times described her as a “tour de force of smiling hostility,” The Los Angeles Times called her “scene-stealing,” The Washington Post wrote that she “delivers a comic gem,” and New York Magazine reported that “the brilliant British actress Emily Blunt is a marvel at conveying the terror beneath the hauteur.” Blunt was nominated in the Breakthrough Female category at the 2006 Teen Choice Awards for her performance and was honored with the Breakthrough Award at the 2006 Movieline Young Hollywood Awards. She was also nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category at the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs in 2007, that same year that she was nominated for the BAFTA Rising Star Award.
In Spring 2007, Blunt started work on Sunshine Cleaning alongside Amy Adams and Alan Arkin. The film premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and will be released in March 2009.
Next, Blunt filmed Dan in Real Life, with Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche and Dane Cook. She went on to make The Jane Austen Book Club alongside Maria Bello, Frances McDormand, Kevin Zegers and Hugh Dancy. Blunt was also seen in Mike Nichols’ Charlie Wilson’s War with Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman
Later in 2009, Emily will be seen alongside Paul Bettany, Jim Broadbent and Rupert Friend in the Martin Scorsese-produced biopic, The Young Victoria, playing Britain’s Queen Victoria in the early stages of her life. The film is written by Julian Fellowes and directed by Jean-Marc Vallee. Emily will also be seen with Benicio del Toro and Anthony Hopkins in The Wolfman and with Bill Nighy in Wild Target.
STEVE ZAHN - Kenny
A versatile actor with extensive credits, Steve Zahn (Kenny) has received critical praise for his work on both stage and screen. His standout performance in Miramax Films’ Happy, Texas garnered him many accolades, including a Grand Jury Special Actor Award at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival, and an Independent Spirit Award for “Best Actor.” His recent starring role in MGM’s Rescue Dawn opposite Christian Bale for director Werner Herzog prompted the New York Times to call him a “revelation” and led him to an Independent Spirit Award nomination for “Best Supporting Actor.”
Zahn will next star alongside Jennifer Aniston in MGM’s Management, a romantic comedy about a motel manager (Zahn) who meets the woman of his dreams when a traveling saleswoman (Aniston) checks in. His additional upcoming films include A Perfect Getaway with Timothy Olyphant, The Great Buck Howard alongside Tom Hanks and John Malkovich for Playtone Films/Bristol Bay Productions, Night Train alongside Danny Glover, the independent film Calvin Marshall. Zahn most recently starred in “Comanche Moon” for CBS Paramount Network Television/Sony Pictures Television alongside Val Kilmer and Rachel Griffiths. In this prequel to “Lonesome Dove,” written by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, Zahn starred as “Gus McCrae” the role made famous by Robert Duval in “Lonesome Dove. Zahn also guest starred as Tony Shaloub's half brother on "Monk."
Zahn received critical acclaim for his scene stealing portrayal of ‘Glen Michaels’ in Out of Sight, for director Stephen Soderbergh and for his heartbreaking turn as a drug addicted father for director Penny Marshall’s Riding in Cars with Boys. His breakthrough performance was for director Tom Hanks’ directorial debut, That Thing You Do! as ‘Lenny,’ the lead guitarist for The Wonders, a struggling band whose rise to fame is chronicled after they release a Top-40 hit single.
Zahn’s additional film credits include Strange Wilderness, Sahara, Chicken Little (as the voice of ‘Runt’), Bandidas, Suburbia (reprising the role he created in the off-Broadway production), Shattered Glass, Daddy Daycare, National Security, Hamlet, Joy Ride, Saving Silverman, Safe Men, You’ve Got Mail, The Object of My Affection, Speak with Kristin Stewart, the voices of ‘Archie the Bear’ in Dr. Doolittle 2 and ‘Monty the Cat’ in Stuart Little and Stuart Little 2.
A native of Marshall, Minnesota, Zahn was first introduced to improvisational theater in high school. After completing his freshman year at Gustavus-Adolphus College in Minnesota, he crashed the audition of a local production of “Biloxi Blues,” winning the lead role in the play. Following his debut, he trained for two years at the prestigious American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass., before moving to New York and being cast in Tommy Tune’s National Tour of “Bye, Bye, Birdie.”
Following “Birdie,” Zahn was cast opposite Ethan Hawke in “Sophistry” at the renowned Playwright’s Horizon. There he caught the eye of director Ben Stiller, who cast him in what would be Zahn’s feature film debut, Reality Bites.
Zahn is married to actress Robyn Peterman and resides on a farm.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
SEAN MCGINLY - Writer/Director
In 2003, Sean McGinly (Writer/Director) wrote and directed the feature film Two Days starring Paul Rudd, Donal Logue, and Adam Scott. The film premiered at the Rotterdam International Film Festival and the AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival and is now being distributed by Hart Sharp Entertainment.
In 2005, McGinly directed the event documentary Brothers Lost, which examined the grief, hope and emotions of 31 men who lost brothers in the attack on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. It aired on Cinemax as part of the Reel Life series.
Over the years McGinly has written for several major studios and television networks including: Sony Pictures; State Street pictures for Fox Studios; Film Colony for Fox 2000; Misher Films for Universal; and Scott Free Productions for CBS.
TOM HANKS - Producer
Tom Hanks (Producer) holds the distinction of being the first actor in 50 years to be awarded back-to-back Best Actor Academy Awards ®: in 1993 as the AIDS-stricken lawyer in Philadelphia and the following year in the title role of Forrest Gump. He also won Golden Globes for both of these performances, along with his work in Big and Cast Away.
Born and raised in Oakland, CA, Hanks became interested in acting during high school. He attended Chabot College in Hayward, California, and California State University in Sacramento. At the invitation of Artistic Director Vincent Dowling he made his professional debut portraying Grumio in “The Taming of the Shrew” at the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival in Cleveland, Ohio. He performed in that company for 3 seasons.
Moving to New York City in 1978, he performed with the Riverside Shakespeare Company until getting a big break when he was teamed with Peter Scolari in the ABC television comedy series Bosom Buddies. This led to starring roles in Ron Howard's Splash, Bachelor Party, Volunteers,The Money Pit and Nothing in Common. In 1988, the Los Angeles Film Critics recognized his performances in both Big and Punchline, giving Hanks their Best Actor Award.
Roles followed in films such as A League of Their Own and Sleepless in Seattle.
In 1996, Hanks made his feature film writing and directing debut with That Thing You Do! The film's title song not only reached the Top 10 in many contemporary music charts but was nominated for an Academy Award(r) for Best Original Song.
After re-teaming with Ron Howard in Apollo 13, Hanks served as an executive producer, writer, director and actor for HBO's From the Earth to the Moon - an Emmy-winning 12-hour dramatic film anthology that explored the entire Apollo space program.
In 1998, Hanks starred in Steven Spielberg's war drama Saving Private Ryan for which he received his fourth Oscar(r) nomination. The following year he starred in The Green Mile, which was written and directed by Frank Darabont and is based on the six-part serialized novel by Stephen King.
In 2000, Hanks reunited with director Robert Zemeckis and screenwriter William Broyles Jr. in Cast Away for which he received yet another Oscar(r) nomination.
In 2000, he served again with Steven Spielberg, as executive producer, writer, and director for another epic HBO miniseries, Band of Brothers, based on Stephen Ambrose's book. The miniseries aired in the fall of 2001 to wide-scale critical acclaim, leading to an Emmy Award and Golden Globe for the Best Miniseries in 2002.
In 2002, Hanks starred in Road to Perdition opposite Paul Newman and Jude Law under Sam Mendes' direction. It was followed by Spielberg's stylish caper Catch Me If You Can opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, which was based on the true-life exploits of international confidence man Frank Abagnale Jr.
Hanks teamed for a third time with Spielberg in The Terminal opposite Catherine Zeta Jones and followed it with the Coen brothers' dark comedy The Ladykillers, In November 2004, Hanks starred in the film adaptation of the Caldecott Medal- winning children's book The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg, which reunited him once again with director Robert Zemeckis.
In 2006, Hanks played Robert Langdon in the film adaptation of Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code, helmed by Ron Howard and also starring Audrey Tautou, Paul Bettany, Ian McKellen and Jean Reno.
Hanks also starred in Charlie Wilson’s War, opposite Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman, directed by Mike Nichols, which Playtone also produced.
GARY GOETZMAN - Producer
Gary Goetzman’s producing credits include Mamma Mia!, Charlie Wilson’s War, ThePolar Express, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, City of Ember, TTYD!, The Ant Bully, Beloved, The Silence of the Lambs, (winner of 5 Academy Awards, including Best Picture), Philadelphia, Devil In a Blue Dress, Miami Blues, Modern Girls, Amos andAndrew, the Talking Heads’ concert film, Stop Making Sense, Neil Young’s Heart of Gold, Storefront Hitchcock, the 3-D Imax film, Magnificent Desolation, the acclaimed HBO Series “Big Love,” the Emmy and Golden Globe winning Mini-Series, “John Adams,” and the Emmy and Golden Globe winning Mini-Series, “Band of Brothers.”
Goetzman is currently producing Where The Wild Things Are, Spike Jonze’s feature adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s beloved book, and the upcoming HBO mini-series event, “The Pacific.”
At 20, Goetzman production managed Jonathan Demme’s directorial debut, Caged Heat. He also produced Neil Young’s long form video, “The Complex Sessions,” the long form star studded video to raise awareness for AIDS in Africa, “What’s Going On,” and music videos for Bruce Springsteen, Suzanne Vega, David Byrne and Jane Child’s number one music video “Don’t Wanna Fall in Love,” which he also directed.
In 1998 Goetzman teamed up with Tom Hanks to form PLAYTONE, a film, television and record company.
STEVEN SHARESHIAN - Executive Producer
Steven Shareshian (Executive Producer) was a producer on CITY OF EMBER and the multi-award winning HBO mini-series JOHN ADAMS. He executive produced STARTER FOR 10, THE ANT BULLY and MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING.
Since its formation in 1998, he's worked as Playtone's Head of Production, having been a producing partner at Jonathan Demme's Clinica Estetico.
MARVIN ACUNA - Executive Producer
At the age of five, Marvin Acuna’s (Executive Producer) family immigrated to the United States from Guatemala. He spent his formative years in Providence, Rhode Island and has spent the last thirteen years in Los Angeles, California pursuing and manifesting his childhood dream: making movies.
Today, Marvin Acuna is the founder and CEO of Acuna Entertainment, Inc (AE), a literary representation and film/television production company based in Hollywood. Possessing over twelve years of film/television production, development and artist representation experience, Acuna has played a key role in the strategic planning and execution of numerous artists’ professional career goals.
In addition to THE GREAT BUCK HOWARDhe has developed, packaged and produced many other films under the AE banner, each marking the directorial debut of its screenwriter. It is Acuna’s mission to continue to identify career-building opportunities in film and television for his clients and it is his intention to have AE become the industry’s literary representation and production company of choice for motion picture and television writers who aspire to become filmmakers.
Upcoming film projects include: An adaptation of the Steve Tesich novel Karoo, an adaptation of the Elizabeth McCracken novel Giant’s House, an adaptation of Marian Fontana's A Widow’s Walk: A Memoir of 9-11 and an adaptation of Kate Christensen's novel In the Drink. TAK FUJIMOTO - Director of Photography
Award-winner Tak Fujimoto (Director of Photography) may have held a degree from the London Film School, but his acceptance into the American Society of Cinematographers was a hard-won victory. He worked as assistant to Haskell Wexler in television, then worked the "B"-picture circuit through the auspices of Roger Corman alumnus Jonathan Demme. His first full director-of-photography credit was for director Terence Malick's Badlands (1973); later on, he was one of a battalion of camera operators on George Lucas's Star Wars. Since that time, Tak Fujimoto has ascended to the top of his profession, with such award-winners to his credit as Melvin and Howard, Devil in a Blue Dress, The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, The Manchurain Candidate, The Truth About Charlie, Final Cut, Belove, A Thousand Acres, as well as Swing Shift, Pretty in Pink, Married to the Mob, Grumpier Old Men, That Thing You Do!, The Replacements, and M. Night Sham Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense, Signs and The Happening. He has also worked on several TV movies, including Seduced and Cast the First Stone.
GARY FRUTKOFF - Production Designer
Prior to entering the film business, Gary Frutkoff (Production Designer) engaged in artistic pursuits that included cartooning, glass etching, graphic designing, illustrating, oil painting portraiture, and residential design & construction. Gary resided in Marin County, CA at a time when George Lucas and Francis Coppola came to prominence and became the Conceptual Designer on Walter Murch’s directorial debut, Return To OZ. Within a short period after moving to L.A., Gary met Steven Soderbergh and collaborated with him on such features as King Of The Hill, Out Of Sight and The Limey. Other notable projects include: Devil In A Blue Dress, Zero Effect, and the TV series, Prison Break. Frutkoff has worked with such diverse directors as Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Carl Franklin, Jake Kasdan, Jerry Zucker, Marty Brest, and Brett Ratner.
JOHNETTE BOONE - Costume Designer
Johnette Boone’s (Costume Designer) 25-year career has included designs for everything from turn-of-the-century, classic to contemporary, retro to uniformed. She has designed for actors such as Sam Shephard, Lynn Redgrave, Kathy Baker, Rachel McAdams and Maria Bello.
She began her career working with such notable photographers as Ruven Afamador and George Holz, while creating editorials for German Vogue, Entertainment Weekly, US Magazine. Her work graces the pages of The Color of Fashion. Boone spent many years developing her craft while studying in New York at the Fashion Institute of Technology. With Edith Head as her inspiration, her dream of someday designing images for the motion picture industry soon became her reality.
While supporting Academy Award®-winning designer Colleen Atwood with the cast of Beloved, her passion for style became known. On the set of Runaway Bride, Academy Award®-winning costume designer Albert Wolsky gave her carte blanche to create handmade jewelry for actress Joan Cusack.
Tim Reid recognized her talent and invited her to design the Showtime Original series Linc. Her style is evident on HBO’s original television series K Street directed by Steven Soderberg and produced by George Clooney.
Boone’s other credits include HBO’s The Contender, the feature film The Notebook, Stephen Gaghan’s Syriana and the History Channel’s Countdown to Ground Zero.
MYRON KERSTEIN - Editor
Myron Kerstein (Editor) has twice collaborated with director Paul Weitz, on In Good Company and American Dreams. Other credits as editor include Ray McKinnon’s Chrystal, starring McKinnon alongside Billy Bob Thornton, Zach Braff’s indie hit Garden State, Todd Graff’s Camp, James Toback’s Black and White, Peter Sollet’s Raising Victor Vargas as well as Sollet’s Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, starring Michael Cera, as well as the upcoming Quebec, for director Steve Conrad. As additional editor, his work includes John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch and as assistant editor, Todd Haynes’ Velvet Goldmine, First Love, Last Rights, Bart Freundlich’s The Myth of the Fingerprints and Cindy Sherman’s Office Killer. He also edited AMC’s Hollywood High, directed by Bruce Sinofsky.
BRISTOL BAY PRODUCTIONS
“THE GREAT BUCK HOWARD” COLIN HANKS