Michael Mann Biography

Screenwriter, Director, Producer(1943–)
Michael Mann in an Emmy Award-winning film director, producer and screenwriter best known for producing the 1980s crime series, Miami Vice.

Synopsis

Michael Mann was born on February 5, 1943, in Chicago, Illinois. He won a Director's Guild of America Award and an Emmy for his early television work and made his feature film directorial debut with Thief. His film Manhunter marked the first screen appearance of Hannibal Lecter. Mann was executive producer on the hit crime series Miami Vice and he continues to direct critically acclaimed films.

Early Career

Director, producer and screenwriter Michael Mann was born on February 5, 1943, in Chicago, Illinois. Raised in the working class Chicago neighborhood of Humboldt Park, Mann graduated from high school in 1960 and attended the University of Wisconsin, where he received his BA in English literature. After college, Mann did graduate work at the London Film School, earning his master's degree in 1967. While in England, he worked at an advertising agency and honed his directorial skills on commercials, short films and documentaries.

Mann moved back to Chicago in 1971 and relocated to Los Angeles a year later, where he began writing for television, scripting the prime time crime dramas Starsky and Hutch and Police Story and the pilot for a 1978 TV movie, Vega$. His first TV directorial effort, a drama called The Jericho Mile (1979), won Mann a Director's Guild of America Award as well as an Emmy for co-writing. In 1981, Mann made his feature film directorial debut with Thief, a crime drama starring James Caan; the film received good reviews but never took off commercially.

His next offering as a director, The Keep (1983), was both a commercial and a critical disappointment. Mann's third effort was Manhunter (1987), a little-seen film based on Thomas Harris's novel Red Dragon that introduced the character of serial killer Hannibal Lecter (made famous by Anthony Hopkins in the Oscar-winning 1991 film version of Harris's second Lecter novel, The Silence of the Lambs).

Television Success

Though directing feature films was Mann's first love, he had considerably more success early on as a producer for television, especially with his work as executive producer for the mid-1980s crime series Miami Vice. Mann served as the mastermind behind the slick, stylized drama, which aired on NBC from 1984 to 1989 and starred Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas as Detectives Crockett and Tubbs.

A then-hip, fast-paced cop drama for the MTV generation, Miami Vice almost immediately became a full-fledged cultural phenomenon; Crockett and Tubbs, with their pastel shirts and Armani suits, became icons of '80s fashion. Mann also executive-produced another cop series, Police Story, which aired from 1986 to 1988. Mann compounded his TV success in 1990, when he served as executive producer for the Emmy Award-winning NBC miniseries Drug Wars: The Camarena Story and its sequel Drug Wars: The Cocaine Cartel (1992).

Feature Film Success

In 1992, Mann had a certain measure of big-screen triumph with his ambitious adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper's novel The Last of the Mohicans. He co-wrote, directed and produced the action-packed film, which starred Daniel Day-Lewis. Mann also wrote and directed the long-awaited pairing of Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro (the two actors appeared in 1974's The Godfather Part II but never had a scene together) in the crime drama Heat (1995), which met with mixed reviews.

In 1999, Mann co-wrote, directed, and produced The Insider, a film based on the true story of an ex-tobacco company executive (played by Russell Crowe) who is convinced by a TV news producer (Pacino) to blow the whistle on the powerful tobacco industry. Mann and Eric Roth (who penned the 1994 Oscar winner Forrest Gump) adapted the screenplay from a 1996 Vanity Fair article written by Marie Brenner. Although it failed to attract audiences, the film was lauded almost universally by critics, receiving Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Crowe) and Best Adapted Screenplay.

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