A Cuban-born director whose work specializes in gritty urban realism, Leon Ichaso first made his mark with the independently made Spanish-language feature, "El Super" (1979), based on an Off-Broadway...
|The Fear Inside||Director||n/a||2|
|Power, Passion and Murder||Director||n/a||2|
|Crime Story: The Chicago Years||Director||n/a||2|
|Those Bedroom Eyes||Director||n/a||2|
|Free of Eden||Director||n/a||2|
|Execution of Justice||Director||n/a||2|
|Ali: An American Hero||Director||n/a||2|
|An Ordinary Man||Director||n/a||2|
|Ali: An American Hero (1998-1999)||Director||n/a||1998||2|
|The One Behind the Wheel||Director||n/a||2|
|Execution of Justice (1998-1999)||Director||n/a||1998||2|
|Crossover Dreams||From Story||n/a||4000008|
|Second feature, and first film produced entirely in the USA, the English and Spanish-language "Crossover Dreams"|
|Helmed "Pinero", a biopic of poet and playwright Miguel Pinero with Benjamin Bratt in the lead|
|Immigrated to the USA with his mother and sister at age 14|
|US TV-movie directorial debut, "The Take" (USA Network)|
|Dropped out of high school and moved to NYC|
|Directed the biopic "El Cantante" starring Marc Anthony as Puerto Rican salsa singer Hector Lavoe|
|Earliest American TV directorial work, helming three episodes of "Crime Story" and two of "Miami Vice"|
|Helmed the biopic "Ali: An American Hero" (Fox)|
|First work in the entertainment industry, as production assistant on a TV commercial for tobacco in his native Cuba; duties included lighting cigarettes for the models who appeared on camera|
|Was one of the writers of the screenplay for the Spanish-US co-production, "Fat Angels"|
|Directed an installment of the "Great Performances" PBS series, "Tales from the Hollywood Hills"; segment entitled "A Table at Ciro's"|
|Produced, directed and wrote the feature "Bitter Sugar"|
|Helmed the Showtime original movie "Zooman"; also contributed a song to the soundtrack|
|Directed the Showtime adaptation of Emily Mann's stage play "Execution of Justice", about the murders of George Mosconi and Harvey Milk and the subsequent trial of Dan White|
|First primarily English-language feature, "Sugar Hill"|
|Served as director of the Showtime biopic "Hendrix", about rock great Jimi Hendrix|
|Feature directorial debut, "El Super", a Cuban-US co-production, for which he also wrote the screenplay|
Imported into the Hollywood scene, Ichaso found his talent for telling tough stories of the big city slotted primarily into action series on TV (e.g., "Miami Vice", "Crime Story", "The Equalizer"). His TV-movies have been along a similar line, including the gangster drama "The Take" (USA Network, 1990) and the psychological thriller "A Kiss to Die For" (NBC, 1993). Ichaso returned to the big screen with the Wesley Snipes vehicle, "Sugar Hill" (1994), a character study wedded to a violent crime drama of a New York drug empire. The reviews were mixed but the box-office was disappointing.
For the next several years, Ichaso found steady employment in TV-movies, some of which were adaptations of acclaimed plays while others were biopics. "Zooman" (Showtime, 1995) was an excellent adaptation of an Off-Broadway play dealing with a family coping with the murder of child. "Execution of Justice" (Showtime, 1999) was also derived from a short-lived Broadway play that detailed the events behind the murders of San Francisco mayor George Mosconi and supervisor Harvey Milk. While told from the point of view of the assassin, Dan White, Ichaso's film remained neutral and demonstrated that the questions surrounding one of the most charged events of the 20th Century could not be reduced to simple answers.
Ichaso next tackled a pair of small screen biographies that were in some ways warm-ups for his return to feature filmmaking. The middling "Ali: An American Hero" (Fox, 2000) was hampered by its script, but the director managed to elicit a formidable performance from newcomer David Ramsey as the prizefighter just as "Hendrix" (Showtime, 2000) benefited from its unknown star Wood Harris. In the case of the latter, the film began strongly but frittered away its power to become a standard issue biopic, offering little than the bare facts of the musician's life. The spark that made him doesn't shine through. Ichaso employed an intriguing trick of shifting between black-and-white and color footage which was both effective and distracting. For the biographical feature "Pinero" (2001), he used the same technique with similar results. A look at the life of Puerto Rican author Miguel Pinero who had the soul of a poet but lived the life of a thief, the movie offered a prime role for actor Benjamin Bratt. Ichaso employed a collage-like approach to the author's life, including flashbacks, drug-induced dreams and scenes from stage performances to create a portrait of an intriguing, if difficult person.
|Mari Rodriguez Ichaso||Sister|
|Antonia Rodriguez||Mother||moved to Miami with son in 1963|
|Justo Santos||Father||born on September 28, 1915 in Santiago, Cuba; remained in Cuba following the 1959 Revolution although his family left in 1963; in 1967 asked permission to emigrate but was initially denied; was forced to work on a tobacco farm and had his poetry and books banned; allowed to emigrate in 1968; settled in Manhattan and worked as an advertising director at Goya Foods from 1972 until 1991; died at age 83 in April 7, 1999|
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