Susan Seidelman

Director
A leading figure in both independent and women's filmmaking since the early 1980s, director Susan Seidelman leapt to prominence with her smart, angsty drama "Smithereens" (1982), which paved the way for her greatest ... Read more »
Born: 12/11/1952 in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, USA

Filmography

Director (21)

Deficit 2014 (Movie)

(Director)

Yours Truly, Andrea G. Stern 2014 (Movie)

(Director)

The Hot Flashes 2013 (Movie)

(Director)

Musical Chairs 2012 (Movie)

(Director)

The Boynton Beach Club 2006 (Movie)

(Director)

Early Edition 1996 - 1997, 2004 - 2005 (Tv Show)

Director

Stella 2005 (Tv Show)

Director

Gaudi Afternoon 2003 (Movie)

(Director)

The Dutch Master 2003 (Movie)

(Director)

Sex and the City 1998 (Tv Show)

Director

The Barefoot Executive 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Director

Confessions of a Suburban Girl 1993 (Movie)

(Director)

Cookie 1989 (Movie)

(Director)

She-Devil 1989 (Movie)

(Director)

Making Mr. Right 1987 (Movie)

(Director)

Desperately Seeking Susan 1985 (Movie)

(Director)

Smithereens 1982 (Movie)

(Director)

And You Act Like One Too 1975 (Movie)

(Director)

A Cooler Climate (TV Show)

Director

Power and Beauty (TV Show)

Director

The Ranch (TV Show)

Director
Actor (8)

Film School 2004 - 2005 (Tv Show)

Actor

In the Company of Women 2003 (Movie)

(Actor)

American Cinema 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

Confessions of a Suburban Girl 1993 (Movie)

Herself (Actor)

Premiere Presents: Christmas Movies '89 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

Calling the Shots 1988 (Movie)

Herself (Actor)

50 Years of Action! 1985 (Movie)

Herself (Actor)

Chambre 666 1983 (Movie)

Herself (Actor)
Producer (8)

The Hot Flashes 2013 (Movie)

(Producer)

Musical Chairs 2012 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

The Boynton Beach Club 2006 (Movie)

(Producer)

Gaudi Afternoon 2003 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Cookie 1989 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

She-Devil 1989 (Movie)

(Producer)

Making Mr. Right 1987 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Smithereens 1982 (Movie)

(Producer)
Writer (4)

The Boynton Beach Club 2006 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Dutch Master 2003 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Confessions of a Suburban Girl 1993 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Smithereens 1982 (Movie)

(From Story)

Biography

A leading figure in both independent and women's filmmaking since the early 1980s, director Susan Seidelman leapt to prominence with her smart, angsty drama "Smithereens" (1982), which paved the way for her greatest screen success, "Desperately Seeking Susan" (1985), featuring Madonna on the cusp of superstardom. Both films hinged around women confronting society's requirements to conform to traditional female roles by pursuing their own dreams, no matter how offbeat or impossible the goal might seem. This central thesis also informed most, if not all of Seidelmen's subsequent work, including the comedies "Making Mr. Right" (1987) and "She-Devil" (1989), as well as the pilot for "Sex and the City" (HBO, 1998-2004) and "Boynton Beach Club," which honed its focus to the lives of women in their senior years. Though she never quite reclaimed the success of "Susan" with another feature, Seidelman worked steadily throughout her two-decade-long career in a variety of genres while applying her own aesthetic to each of her projects. In doing so, she transcended the typical Hollywood model of "hits" and "flops" to present instead a body of work regarded more for its quality and integrity than its box-office returns.

Born Dec. 11, 1952 in Philadelphia, PA, Susan Seidelman was raised in the city's suburbs by her father, a hardware manufacturer, and her mother, an educator. After graduating from Abington Senior High School in 1969, she studied fashion design at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Soon realizing that she had no interest in spending time behind a sewing machine, she turned to her love of film as a possible career direction. After taking a few film classes and serving as a production assistant at a local television station, Seidelman enrolled in New York University's film program in 1974. She soon directed a number of short films, one of which, "And You Act Like One Too" (1976), a comedy about a housewife's indiscretions, won a student Academy Award. After graduating, she did freelance editing work and assisted on television commercials while attempting to raise funds for a feature. Eventually, she pooled $80,000 from her own funds and various friends to produce and direct her first feature film, "Smithereens" (1982).

A glamour-free look at East Village life as viewed through the prism of a romantic triangle between a hopelessly untalented but ambitious young woman (Susan Berman) and two musicians (Brad Rijn and punk legend Richard Hell), it became the first American independent film to screen at the Cannes Film Festival, where it attracted the attention of Hollywood producers seeking a fresh voice for studio projects. A year of meetings, festival engagements and scripts for teen projects eventually brought her to "Desperately Seeking Susan" (1985). Based loosely on Jacques Rivette's "Celine and Julie Go Boating" (1974), the film featured Rosanna Arquette as a bored housewife whose fascination with a mystery woman sought after in a series of personal ads led to adventure involving mistaken identities and missing earrings. The film earned mostly positive reviews and a BAFTA for Rosanna Arquette, but its true purpose was to help spread the gospel of pop singer Madonna, who made her second film appearance in the film as Susan. The film's success helped to mint Seidelman as the director du jour, which she soon capitalized on by helming a string of studio projects.

Unfortunately, most, if not all of these subsequent efforts failed to match the box office returns or critical acclaim of "Susan." 1987's "Making Mr. Right" starred former performance artist Ann Magnuson as a PR agent who fell for the kindly robot double of his prickly scientist inventor (John Malkovich). It failed to find an audience, as did the mob comedy "Cookie" (1989) with Peter Falk and Emily Lloyd. "She-Devil" (1989), based on the novel The Lives and Loves of a She-Devil, seemed like a surefire hit with a cast led by Oscar winner Meryl Streep and then-reigning sitcom queen Roseanne Barr, but it too was a disappointment. Following this string of flops, Seidelman took a lengthy sabbatical from studio filmmaking, surfacing almost a half-decade later with a 1995 remake of "The Barefoot Executive" (1971) for the Disney Channel. The following year, her short film, "The Dutch Master" (1995), starring Mira Sorvino as a young dental hygienist who entered an erotic reverie after viewing a 17th-century painting, earned an Oscar nomination for Best Live Action Short.

Seidelman soon returned to television for the better part of the 1990s, helming the pilot episode of "Sex and the City," as well as the Emmy-nominated Showtime Original feature "A Cooler Climate" (1999) with Sally Field and Judy Davis. However, her return to features with 2001's "Gaudi Afternoon" failed to find a distributor and was released as a direct-to-DVD title. She fared slightly better with "Boynton Beach Club" (2005), a dramedy co-produced by and inspired by her mother's experiences while living in a Florida retirement community. But her 2012 drama "Musical Chairs," about a paraplegic woman who entered a wheelchair ballroom dance competition, was overwhelmed by the media blitz surrounding its opening weekend competition, "The Hunger Games" (2011). Undaunted, Seidelman next completed "Hot Flashes" (2012), a comedy about a forty-something group of former high school women's basketball champions who reunited to take on the current leading high school team in a charity competition.

By Paul Gaita

Relationships

Michael Seidelman

Father

Florence Seidelman

Mother

Jonathan Brett

Companion

Oscar Brett

Son
born December 16, 1989 father Jonathan Brett

EDUCATION

Drexel Institute of Technology

Philadelphia , Pennsylvania

Institute of Film and TV, New York University

New York , New York
made directing debut with 28-minute student film, "And You Act Like One Too" (won Student Academy Award and was featured in Whitney Museum's "New Directors" series)

Milestones

1985

Breakthrough feature, "Desperately Seeking Susan"

1982

Directed first feature, "Smithereens" (first independent American feature to be accepted into competition at Cannes Film Festival

Worked at UHF TV station in Philadelphia

Made several short films, including the documentary "Confessions of a Suburban Girl" (1992) and the fantasy "The Dutch Master", both of which she also wrote

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