Donna Deitch

Director, Producer, Director of photography
Though her feature credits have been scant to date, Donna Deitch has earned a very small but honorable place in American film history. More specifically, she has been a pioneer in the area of gay and lesbian cinematic ... Read more »
Born: 06/07/1945 in San Francisco, California, USA

Filmography

other (45)

The Glades 2013 (Tv Show)

Director

A Gifted Man 2011 (Tv Show)

Director

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit 2002, 2010 - 2011 (Tv Show)

Director

Off the Map 2011 (Tv Show)

Director

Army Wives 2010 (Tv Show)

Director

Grey's Anatomy 2010 (Tv Show)

Director

Private Practice 2009 - 2010 (Tv Show)

Director

Crossing Jordan 2001 - 2003, 2006 - 2007 (Tv Show)

Director

Eureka 2007 (Tv Show)

Director

Bones 2006 (Tv Show)

Director

Heroes 2006 (Tv Show)

Director

South of Nowhere 2005 (Tv Show)

Director

Wild Card 2004 (Tv Show)

Director

Judging Amy 2003 (Tv Show)

Director

L.A. Dragnet 2003 (Tv Show)

Director

NYPD Blue 1990 - 1991, 1994 - 2003 (Tv Show)

Director

Dellaventura 1990 - 1991, 1994 - 2002 (Tv Show)

Director

EZ Streets 1990 - 1991, 1994 - 2002 (Tv Show)

Director

Moloney 1990 - 1991, 1994 - 2002 (Tv Show)

Director

Murder One 1990 - 1991, 1994 - 2002 (Tv Show)

Director

Veronica Clare 1990 - 1991, 1994 - 2001 (Tv Show)

Director

Common Ground 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Director

Second Noah 1994 - 2000 (Tv Show)

Director

Angel on My Shoulder 1998 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Angel on My Shoulder 1998 (Movie)

(Editor)

Angel on My Shoulder 1998 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Angel on My Shoulder 1998 (Movie)

(Producer)

Angel on My Shoulder 1998 (Movie)

(Actor)

Angel on My Shoulder 1998 (Movie)

(Director)

C-16 1997 - 1998 (Tv Show)

Director

ER 1995 (Tv Show)

Director

Criminal Passion 1994 (Movie)

(Director)

Desert Hearts 1986 (Movie)

(Producer)

Desert Hearts 1986 (Movie)

(Director)

Desert Hearts 1986 (Movie)

Hungarian Gambler (Actor)

The Great Wall of Los Angeles 1977 (Movie)

(Director)

She Was A Visitor 1973 (Movie)

(Director)

Woman to Woman 1973 (Movie)

(Editor)

Woman to Woman 1973 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Woman to Woman 1973 (Movie)

(Producer)

Woman to Woman 1973 (Movie)

(Director)

A Change of Place (TV Show)

Director

Sexual Advances (TV Show)

Director

The Devil's Arithmetic (TV Show)

Director

Biography

Though her feature credits have been scant to date, Donna Deitch has earned a very small but honorable place in American film history. More specifically, she has been a pioneer in the area of gay and lesbian cinematic representation as the producer and director of "Desert Hearts" (1985), generally acknowledged as the first "mainstream" feature to deal sympathetically and realistically with the lesbian experience.

Deitch purchased the film rights to Jane Rule's 1964 novel "Desert of the Hearts" and spent the next five years raising money for the production. She slowly acquired $850,000 through the sale of $1000 units to small investors and friends. Deitch also threw parties for wealthy women and persuaded them to pitch in financially. Their investment paid off as the film went on to critical acclaim and arthouse success. Set in 1959, the romantic story starred Helen Shaver as a repressed, older college professor who arrives in Reno for a six-week divorce and falls for a free-spirited younger cartoonist (Patricia Charbonneau). The lush production values and accomplished performances belied the modest budget. The film inspired a generation of lesbian filmmakers and audience members.

The success of "Desert Hearts" did not lead to a high-profile Hollywood feature directing career for its openly lesbian producer-director. Dissatisfied with the sexually exploitative feature screenplays she was receiving, Deitch accepted an offer from producer-actor Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions to direct the TV miniseries version of Gloria Naylor's lesbian-themed novel "The Women of Brewster Place" (ABC, 1989). She found TV to be a more hospitable medium than features and has continued to work there regularly, often directing episodes of such highly acclaimed drama series as "NYPD Blue", "ER" and "Murder One".

Deitch was able to more directly address her feminist concerns in her TV-movie projects. These include "Esperanza", a segment of "Prison Stories: Women on the Inside" (HBO, 1991), about an imprisoned Latina drug dealer whose son is arrested for the same crime. Another such project was "Sexual Advances" (ABC, 1992) which dealt with a female manager facing sexual harassment on the job. Deitch also helmed a female-centered genre piece, "A Change of Place" (CBS, 1994), for "Harlequin Romance Movies" on the "CBS Sunday Afternoon Showcase". Similarly, her direct-to-video erotic thriller "Criminal Passion" (1994) featured a distaff protagonist.

Hailed as one of the defining events in queer cinema, "Desert Hearts" was honored with a tenth anniversary celebration at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. Deitch has considered making a sequel but her busy TV career gives her the luxury to wait until she can get it made her way.

Relationships

Eleanor Green

Mother
born in Hungary died in the mid-1970s

Terri Jentz

Companion
together since 1992 keep separate apartments

EDUCATION

University of California at Berkeley

Berkeley , California

University of California at Los Angeles

Los Angeles , California

Milestones

2000

Directed the Showtime drama "Common Ground"

1997

Released documentary "Angel on My Shoulder" which profiled actress Gwen Welles during her battle with, and subsequent death from, cancer in 1993

1996

Helmed the pilot for the ABC drama series "Second Noah"

1994

Directed the direct-to-video erotic thriller "Criminal Passion"

1991

Directed "Esperanza", a segment of "Prison Stories: Women on the Inside" on "HBO Showcase"

1989

TV directing debut, helmed "The Women of Brewster Place", an ABC dramatic miniseries produced by and starring Oprah Winfrey

1985

Produced, directed and acted in "Desert Hearts", a landmark in the history of lesbian representation in American film

1978

Directed the ten-minute black-and-white short, "The Great Wall of Los Angeles", about the world's longest mural

1974

Filmaking debut, served as producer, director, cinematographer and editor on "Woman to Woman", a documentary "featurette"

1970

Feature debut, served as still photographer for "Billy Jack"

Directed episodes of "NYPD Blue", "ER", and "Murder One"

Secured the film rights to Jane Rule's 1964 novel, "Desert of the Hearts"

Spent more than five years raising the budget for the film adaptation by throwing parties for affluent women and persuading them to contribute and selling $1000 units of the film to small investors and friends

Bonus Trivia

.

Deitch is openly lesbian.

.

Deitch shares a 1909 craftsman-style home in Los Angeles with two cats and a chocolate-color Labrador retriever.

.

". . . Deitch has learned to draw a sharp line between her personal vision and her work for hire. 'When I'm executing someone else's vision, it's not my movie,' she says. 'It's my job. In this business that's something you have to learn to remember.""'Some directors will do only their own stuff, and they just go to meeting after meeting trying to get something off the ground--they don't work for months at a time,' Deitch observes. 'I did that for a while. But I don't want to be just pushing my own projects and not working at all if they don't get going. So now I try to find a happy medium.'"--Donna Deitch quoted in "Ten Years Gone" by Barbara Pepe, THE ADVOCATE, August 20, 1996.

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