The author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, (1999), one of the most popular and successful young adult novel of the 21st century, writer Stephen Chbosky also enjoyed a second career as a director a...
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
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Born Jan. 25, 1970 in Pittsburgh, PA, Stephen Chbosky was the son of steel company executive and CFO consultant Fred Chbosky and his wife, Lea, a tax preparer. As a teenager, he developed an interest in a wide variety of literary styles, from classics by F. Scott Fitzgerald to The Catcher in the Rye (1951) and more popular works by Stephen King and others. Their work would have a profound influence on his own work, as did his friendship with Oscar-nominated screenwriter Stewart Stern, who wrote "Rebel Without a Cause" (1955), among other films. After Chbosky graduated from the University of Southern California's screenwriting program in 1992, he wrote, directed and appeared in the independent feature "The Four Corners of Nowhere" (1995), a coming-of-age drama about twenty-somethings attempting to find a sense of purpose. The film was accepted by the Sundance Film Festival and was among the first films aired on the Sundance Channel after its debut in 1996. Chbosky subsequently labored on several unproduced screenplays before deciding to pen a novel.
The book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, was an immediate success upon publication in 1999, due to Chbosky's ability to capture the emotional landscape of teenagers in its epistolary story of a shy young man navigating his way through high school. By the following year, it was the best-selling title for its publisher, MTV Books, despite considerable opposition from several school and parenting organizations, which objected to its depiction of sexuality and drug usage. The book's popularity led to Chbosky editing Pieces (2000), an anthology of short stories, and working on a film adaptation of Michael Chabon's The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, which collapsed and was later taken over by Rawson Marshall Thurber, who brought the novel to the screen in 2008. On the advice of his agent, Chbosky began working in television, eventually serving as co-creator, executive producer and writer on the short-lived drama "Jericho," which concerned the residents of a small town in the aftermath of a nuclear attack.
Critically praised though chronically low-rated, the series was cancelled after its first season, which prompted a spirited response from its loyal viewership, including the shipment of 20 tons of peanuts to CBS as a protest inspired in part by a scene in the series which quoted General Anthony McAuliffe's single word response ("Nuts!") to a German surrender ultimatum during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. The series was subsequently revived for a second season, which posted even poorer ratings, which resulted in its second and final cancellation in 2008. During this period, Chbosky penned the script for the film version of "Rent" (2005), which was met with middling reviews, before beginning work on a screenplay adaptation of Wallflower. The script was subsequently picked up by John Malkovich, Lianne Halfon and Russell Smith of Mr. Mudd Productions. The trio lobbied for Chbosky to also direct the film, which came to pass prior to its principal photography in Pittsburgh in 2011. "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" opened in the fall of 2012 to largely positive reviews for its cast and Chbosky's efforts, which claimed a 2013 People's Choice Award nomination for Favorite Dramatic Movie.
By Paul Gaita
From classic movie palaces to the state-of-the-art IMAX screens.