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Albert Lawrence Brooks (born July 22, 1947), Einstein, is an American actor, voice actor, writer, comedian and director. He received an Academy Award nomination in 1987[1] for his role in Broadcast News. His voice acting credits include the character Marlin—the clownfish father in Finding Nemo—and recurring guest voices for the animated television series The Simpsons.

Early life

Brooks was born Albert Lawrence Einstein in Beverly Hills, California, the son of Thelma Leeds (née Goodman), a singer and actress, and Harry Parke ( Einstein), a radio comedian who performed on Eddie Cantor's radio program and was known as Parkyarkarkus.[2] His brothers are comedic actor Bob Einstein, better known by his stage name "Super Dave Osborne", and Cliff Einstein, a partner and longtime chief creative officer at Los Angeles advertising agency Dailey & Associates. His half-brother was Charles Einstein (1926–2007), a writer who wrote for such television programs as Playhouse 90 and Lou Grant. Brooks is Jewish.[3] He grew up among show business royalty in southern California, attending Beverly Hills High School with the likes of Richard Dreyfuss and Rob Reiner.[4]

Early career

Brooks attended Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh, but dropped out after one year to focus on his comedy career. He changed his surname from Einstein (to avoid confusion with the famous physicist) and began a stand-up comedy career that quickly made him a regular on variety and talk shows during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Brooks led a new generation of self-reflective baby-boomer comics appearing on NBC's The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. His onstage persona, that of an egotistical, narcissistic, nervous comic, an ironic showbiz insider who punctured himself before an audience by disassembling his mastery of comedic stagecraft, influenced other '70s post-modern comedians, including Steve Martin, Martin Mull and Andy Kaufman.

After two successful comedy albums, Comedy Minus One (1973) and the Grammy Award-nominated A Star Is Bought (1975), Brooks left the stand-up circuit to try his hand as a filmmaker; his first film, The Famous Comedians School, was a satiric short that appeared on PBS and was an early example of the mockumentary sub-genre.

In 1975, he directed six short films for the first season of NBC's Saturday Night Live:

In 1976 he appeared in his first mainstream film role, in Martin Scorsese's landmark Taxi Driver (Scorsese allowed Brooks to improvise much of his dialogue). The role reflected Brooks' decision to move to Los Angeles to enter the film business. In an interview, Brooks mentioned a conversation he'd had with Taxi Driver screenwriter Paul Schrader, in which Schrader said that Brooks' character was the only one in the movie that he could not "understand" — a remark that Brooks found amusing, as the movie's anti-hero was a psychotic loner.

Brooks directed his first feature film, Real Life, in 1979. The film, in which Brooks obnoxiously films a typical suburban family in an effort to win both an Oscar and a Nobel Prize, was a sendup of PBS's An American Family documentary. It has also been viewed as foretelling the future emergence of reality television.[5] Brooks also made a cameo appearance in the film Private Benjamin (1980), starring Goldie Hawn.

1980s–1990s

Through the 1980s and 1990s, Brooks co-wrote (with longtime collaborator Monica Johnson), directed and starred in a series of well-received comedies, playing variants on his standard neurotic and self-obsessed character. These include 1981's Modern Romance, where Brooks played a film editor desperate to win back his ex-girlfriend (Kathryn Harrold). The film received a limited release and ultimately grossed under $3 million domestically,[6] but was well received by critics, with one reviewer commenting that the film was "not Brooks at his best, but still amusing".[7] His best-received film, Lost in America (1985), featured Brooks and Julie Hagerty as a couple who leave their yuppie lifestyle and drop out of society to live in a motor home as they have always dreamed of doing. They meet comic disappointment.

Brooks's Defending Your Life (1991) placed his lead character in the afterlife, put on trial to justify his human fears and thus determine his cosmic fate. Critics responded to the offbeat premise and the surprising chemistry between Brooks and Meryl Streep as his post-death love interest. His later efforts did not find large audiences, but still retained Brooks's touch as a filmmaker. He garnered positive reviews for Mother (1996), which starred Brooks as a middle-aged writer moving back home to resolve tensions between himself and his mother (Debbie Reynolds). 1999's The Muse featured Brooks as a down-and-out Hollywood screenwriter using the services of an authentic muse (Sharon Stone) for inspiration.

Brooks also acted in other writers' and directors' films during the 1980s and 1990s. He had a cameo in the opening scene of Twilight Zone: The Movie, playing a driver whose passenger (Dan Aykroyd) has a shocking secret. In James L. Brooks's hit Broadcast News (1987), Albert Brooks was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor as an insecure, supremely ethical network TV reporter, who offers the rhetorical question, "Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive?" He also won positive notices for his role in 1998's Out of Sight, playing an untrustworthy banker and ex-convict.

2000s

Brooks received positive reviews for his portrayal of a dying retail store owner who befriends disillusioned teen Leelee Sobieski in My First Mister (2001). Brooks has appeared as a guest voice on The Simpsons five times during its run (always under the name A. Brooks), and is described as the best guest star in the show's history by IGN, particularly for his role as supervillain Hank Scorpio in the episode "You Only Move Twice".[8] Brooks continued his voiceover work in Disney and Pixar's Finding Nemo (2003), as the voice of "Marlin", one of the film's protagonists; Nemo is Brooks's largest grossing film to date.

In 2005, his film Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World drew controversy for its title. Sony Pictures eventually dropped the film altogether because of their desire to change the title. Subsequently, Warner Independent Pictures purchased the film and gave it a limited release in January 2006; the film received mixed reviews and a low box office gross. The movie goes back to the days of Brooks's Real Life, as Brooks once again plays himself, a filmmaker commissioned by the U.S. government to see what makes the Muslim people laugh, thus sending him on a tour of India and Pakistan.

In 2006 he appeared in the documentary film Wanderlust as David Howard from "Lost in America". The documentary included many other well known people.

In 2007, he continued his long term collaboration with The Simpsons by voicing Russ Cargill, the main antagonist of The Simpsons Movie.

He has played Lenny Botwin, Nancy Botwin's estranged father-in-law, on Showtime's television series Weeds.[9]

Personal life

Brooks married Kimberly Shlain, an artist he met through a mutual friend. The couple have two children, Jacob Eli (born 1998) and Claire Elizabeth (born 2000).[citation needed]

Brooks resides in Los Angeles.

Filmography

Films

Year Film Role Notes
1976 Taxi Driver Tom
1979 Real Life Albert Brooks Writer and director
1980 Private Benjamin Yale Goodman
1981 Modern Romance Robert Cole Writer and director
1983 Twilight Zone: The Movie Car driver
Terms of Endearment Voice of Rudyard Greenway Credited as "A. Brooks"
1984 Unfaithfully Yours Norman Robbins
1985 Lost in America David Howard Writer and director
1987 Broadcast News Aaron Altman Nominated - Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1991 Defending Your Life Daniel Miller Writer and director
1994 I'll Do Anything Burke Adler
The Scout Al Percolo Writer
1996 Mother John Henderson Writer and director
1997 Critical Care Dr. Butz
1998 Dr. Dolittle Jacob the Tiger
Out of Sight Richard Ripley
1999 The Muse Steven Phillips Writer and director
2001 My First Mister Randall 'R' Harris
2003 The In-Laws Jerry Peyser
Finding Nemo Marlin
2006 Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World Himself Writer and director
2007 The Simpsons Movie Russ Cargill Credited as "A. Brooks"

Television

Year Series Role Notes
1969 Hot Wheels Kip Chogi
Additional voices
1970 The Odd Couple Rudy Episode 1.8: "Oscar, the Model" and Episode 1.11: "Felix Is Missing"
1971 Love, American Style Christopher Leacock Episode 2.16: "Love and Operation Model/Love and the Sack"
1972 The New Dick Van Dyke Show Dr. Norman Episode 2.2: "The Needle"
1975–1976 Saturday Night Live Additional characters Writer and director of several segments
1976 The Famous Comedians School N/A TV film; writer, editor and director
1990–2005 The Simpsons Various characters Appeared in five episodes
Credited as "A. Brooks"
2008 Weeds Lenny Botwin Appeared in six episodes

References

  1. http://www.filmsite.org/aa87.html
  2. Albert Brooks Biography (1947-)
  3. EGO Magazine: Comedy in The Muslim World
  4. Kaufman, Peter of The Washington Post, "The background on Albert Brooks", The Buffalo News, January 22, 2006. Accessed April 24, 2008. "Albert Brooks, who grew up in a showbiz family and attended Beverly Hills High School, has never been interested in being an outsider."
  5. "Albert Brooks 'Real Life' film is an unexpected classic"
  6. "http://www.boxofficemojo.com/". Modern Romance box office. Retrieved 12 March 2006.  External link in |title= (help)
  7. "http://www.rottentomatoes.com/". Modern Romance (1981). Retrieved 12 March 2006.  External link in |title= (help)
  8. Goldman, Eric; Iverson, Dan; Zoromski, Brian. "Top 25 Simpsons Guest Appearances". IGN. Retrieved 2007-03-25. 
  9. Weeds Scoop: Albert Brooks Is Nancy's "Dad"

External links

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