A mainstay of New York theater since the early 1980s, the openly gay Paul Rudnick has become a latter-day Dorothy Parker, animating plays, screenplays, novels and a column in PREMIERE magazine (under...
|Hi Honey, I'm Dead||Producer||n/a||3|
|Isn't She Great||Screenwriter||n/a||7|
|Making the Boys||Actor||Himself||1|
|The Celluloid Closet||Actor||Himself||1|
|In & Out||Screenplay||n/a||4000005|
|Addams Family Values||Screenplay||n/a||4000005|
|The Stepford Wives||Screenplay||n/a||4000005|
|Isn't She Great||Screenplay||n/a||4000005|
|Jeffrey||Play as Source Material||("Jeffrey")||4000006|
|In & Out||Song||("Hail to Thee O Greenleaf High")||8000017|
|Published first novel "Social Disease"|
|First screenplay billed under his name, "Addams Family Values"|
|Published second novel "I'll Take It"|
|First produced screenplay, "Sister Act", credited as Joseph Howard; originally written as a vehicle for Bette Midler; when Whoopi Goldberg was cast and script was revived, opted for pseudonym|
|Did an uncredited rewrite on "The First Wives Club", produced by Rudin and starring Midler|
|Worked as a writer of book jacket blurbs|
|First produced play, "Poor Little Lambs", optioned by Hollywood but never produced|
|Worked as an uncredited script doctor on "The Addams Family"; first collaboration with producer Scott Rudin|
|Wrote the screenplay for "Isn't She Great", loosely based on the life of pulp author Jacqueline Susann and starring Bette Midler and Nathan Lane|
|Wrote the screenplay for the remake of ''The Stepford Wives,'' Bryan Forbes' 1975 cult classic|
|Returned to Off-Broadway with "The Naked Truth", a satire suggested by the furor over the photographs of Robert Maplethorpe|
|Began writing a monthly column for PREMIERE magazine under the pseudonym Libby Gelman-Waxner (date approximate)|
|Scripted the gay-themed hit comedy "In & Out", loosely inspired by Tom Hanks' Oscar acceptance speech; fifth collaboration with Rudin|
|Moved to NYC after graduating from Yale|
|Moved into a West Village apartment once owned by John Barrymore; served as the inspiration for the play "I Hate Hamlet" (1991)|
|Wrote screen adaptation of hit 1992 Off-Broadway play "Jeffrey", feature directing debut of Christopher Ashley, who also staged the play; also served as co-producer; Nathan Lane had scene-stealing cameo as musical comedy loving priest|
|Penned the stage hit "The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told" (directed by Ashley); act one featured a retelling of the Old Testament from a gay perspective (i.e., the creation story features Adam and Steve, not Eve); second act set in a Chelsea loft during a|
In the early 90s, Rudnick's Hollywood career took off. He provided uncredited script doctoring for the comedy hit "The Addams Family" (1991), his first collaboration with producer Scott Rudin, who generously attributed the film's success to Rudnick's contributions. "Sister Act" (1992), written in 1987 as a bawdy showcase for Bette Midler, was his first produced screenplay, but after Disney watered it down into a vehicle for Whoopi Goldberg, he decided that the finished product was no longer his work and reluctantly agreed on the pseudonym Joseph Howard after the studio nixed "screenplay by Goofy". Rudnick finally received screen credit for the far superior sequel "Addams Family Values" (1993), the first time mainstream audiences could appreciate his trademark sensibility in uncompromised form. His clever references to incest, sadomasochism and masturbation (a memorable joke about the Addams' pet hand, Thing) managed to fly beneath the MPAA's radar and did not jeopardize the film's PG-13 rating. However, if the public was ready for the rude wit of "Addams Family Values", it was not ready for the openly gay humor of "Jeffrey" (1995), which he adapted (and co-produced) from his play. The material might have sparkled in another's hands, but first time helmer Christopher Ashley (the play's director) struggled with the new medium and failed to take advantage of NYC's gay locales. Best when going for laughs, the film missed the poignancy that had helped make the play a success.
After Rudnick helped Rudin out with some uncredited script doctoring on Hugh Wilson's "The First Wives Club" (1996), the pair teamed again on Frank Oz's "In & Out" (1997), Rudnick's original screenplay loosely inspired by Tom Hank's Oscar acceptance speech mentioning the homosexuality of his high school drama teacher. The "what if" scenario had an award-winning actor (Matt Dillon) "outing" his former teacher (Kevin Kline) just days away from the latter's wedding day. Though the teacher initially denies he is gay, he comes to accept his homosexuality (his swishy ways and passion for Barbra Streisand), thanks in part to a kiss from an entertainment reporter (Tom Selleck). Some gays disparaged the stereotypes, but "In & Out" was a huge crossover hit, playing far better in Indiana (the film's supposed setting) than had "Jeffrey".
Despite his screen success, Rudnick has refused to go Hollywood and continued to live in Greenwich Village and write for the stage. His satire "The Naked Truth" (1994), suggested by the furor over the "pornographic" images of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, possessed his signature one-liners and an abundance of heart but lacked the polish of "Jeffrey", and he fared better with his next offering for the stage, "The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told" (1998), a gay send-up of religion displaying an oddly reverent tone toward its material. Unfortunately, his "Isn't She Great" (2000), loosely inspired by the life of pulp author Jacqueline Susann, bowed to almost universally bad reviews decrying the overly cloying quality of its direction (Andrew Bergman), acting (Midler, Nathan Lane), script and score (Burt Bacharach).
|John Raftis||Companion||relationship began c. 1993|
|Norman Rudnick||Father||died from lung cancer in 1992; second generation Polish Jew|
|Selma Rudnick||Mother||second generation Polish Jew|
|Yale College, Yale University|
|"Gloom doesn't help anyone. It's been the general rule that you don't use wit in the face of tragedy because it might trivialize it. That's crazy. It's especially important at those times. You acknowledge the awfulness. I mean, it's not 'Oh, AIDS, la-de-da.' But you don't let the disease rule. If you do, then it wins. And that is really intolerable." --Rudnick quoted in the Los Angeles Times, September 19, 1993.|
|"Hollywood will not only break your heart, it will also transplant it into a baboon. So if you go in, allowing your life and your imagination to hinge on a film project, you will be destroyed. I try to do the best work that I can, but I don't allow that kind of work to define me or be a personal source of happiness. If I did, it would kill me." --Rudnick to Michael Kaplan for Movieline, November 1993.|
|On the pitfalls of political correctness: "The sad thing is that there are so few gay movies that each one bears the burden of every ounce of political correctness. You forget that 'Philadelphia' was one film; it's extraordinary that it was made at all. You don't see people going after 'Intersection' in that way, saying, 'What about all the other Canadian architects?'" --Rudnick in Elle, June 1994.|
|Responding to the question, "Have you ever had the experience of someone like Carrie Fisher doctoring one of your scripts?": "It happened to me only early on, with 'Sister Act', which was my idea. I'd developed it for many years for Bette Midler. Eventually, it was rewritten by about half of Southern California. It became a form of jury duty. You had to spend five days on 'Sister Act'. It was actually more cruel than jury duty--and more lives were lost. It was a good lesson. And sad: I was fond of the original script." --Rudnick to Robert Hoffler for Buzzweekly, c. September 1997.|
|About writing "The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told": "I began to feel like God, creating the world, only of course I worked much harder--God never had to fix things during previews. As I wrote, I was forced to confront my own feelings about the largest possible issues: What do I believe in? How can anyone cope with the nightmares of plagues, holocausts and everday evil? And why do I look ridiculous in a yarmulke, especially if there is a bobby pin involved?
"We live in a world where Bed, Bath and Beyond sells menorahs molded with characters from the Winnie-the-Pooh books, where images of Jesus miraculously appear on taco shells, and where fans admire Madonna's recent study of the cabala and its effect on her toned triceps.
"In groping for spiritual exaltation, I've decided that there is only one god I can worship without question: comedy." --Rudnick from his article "If Sex Has Lost Its Shock Value, How About God?" in The New York Times, December 6, 1998.
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