While at American Playhouse, Lindsay Law was responsible for bringing some of Broadway's great plays--as well as new, independent works--onto the TV screens of America. He has also produced scores of theatrically-released films.
After graduating from NYU, Law spent the latter half of the 1960s in New York, working as a theatrical stage manager. With the 1970 Actors Equity strike, he left the stage for TV, where he worked his way up from production assistant to producer at WNET-TV (New York) and Warner Brothers Television. In 1980, he joined American Playhouse, where he would remain for 14 years, eventually becoming president and chief operating officer of the company.
While at WNET, Law had helped bring to the small screen such productions as John Houseman's Acting Company version of William Saroyan's "The Time of Your Life", featuring future stars Kevin Kline and Patti LuPone, the Williamstown Theatre's rendition of Tennessee Williams' "Eccentricities of Nightingale" co-starring Blythe Danner and Frank Langella, and the Long Wharf's staging of Eugene O'Neill's "Ah, Wilderness!" (all 1976), with Geraldine Fitzgerald, Victor Garber, Swoosie Kurtz and Linda Hunt. During his tenure at both Theater in America and American Playhouse, he continued to search out both Broadway classics and experimental theater, with assistance from such production sources as local PBS stations, The National Endowment for the Arts, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, "and viewers like you."
More than 100 specials were produced or purchased for PBS under Law's reign at American Playhouse. Some were classics or rarely-revived stand-bys, like "Charley's Aunt" (1983), "The Skin of Our Teeth" (1983), "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1984), "Long Day's Journey Into Night" (1987), "Strange Interlude" (1988), "A Raisin in the Sun" (1989), and "Porgy and Bess" (1993). There were also modern Broadway shows, some of which had not yet toured to the hinterlands: Lanford Wilson's "Fifth of July" and Ntozake Shange's "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf" (both 1982), Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy in "The Gin Game" and Sam Shepard's "True West" (both 1984), the Broadway casts in Stephen Sondheim's "Sunday in the Park with George" (1986) and "Into the Woods" (1991), Robert Morse in "Tru" (1992) and Claudia Shear in "Blown Sideways Through Life" (1995). Dotted throughout were literary adaptations, original scripts and even movie remakes ("Suspicion" 1988).
American Playhouse also released films theatrically, beginning with Victor Nunez's "Gal Young 'Un" (1979), which Law executive produced. A dozen or so films came and went before his first real hits, both in 1988: the schoolroom drama "Stand and Deliver" and the true police story "The Thin Blue Line". Among the other American Playhouse Theatrical Films were Wayne Wang's arranged marriage tale "Eat a Bowl of Tea" and the Norman Rene-Craig Lucas AIDS drama "Longtime Companion" (both 1989), Matty Rich's gritty "Straight Out of Brooklyn" (1991), and the acclaimed documentary "Brother's Keeper" (1992). Several of the performers in these films earned Oscar nominations, including Jane Alexander ("Testament" 1983), Edward James Olmos ("Stand and Deliver") and Bruce Davison ("Longtime Companion").
Things got complicated in the 90s as American Playhouse shifted its emphasis from TV to the big screen. Law replaced David Davis as president and COO of American Playhouse in 1993, and the next year, the big-screen offshoot Playhouse International was formed in a distribution deal with the Samuel Goldwyn Company. Financial woes multiplied, though, and late in 1995 it was announced that both American Playhouse and Playhouse International were out of business. Law landed on his feet, and was immediately named president of Fox Searchlight Pictures, which had been formed in 1994. He relocated to Los Angeles (from his longtime home in Connecticut).
In 1996, he had three interesting films released including the last made under the Playhouse International logo. "Angels and Insects" was an odd, erotic tale of a 19th century naturalist and a reverend's daughter; "Palookaville" told the story of three would-be bank robbers; and the critically acclaimed "I Shot Andy Warhol" took audiences back to The Factory shooting of 1968.