David Manson (producer)

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David Manson (born 1952) is an Emmy-nominated, Peabody Award-winning American film and television producer, screenwriter and director.

He is perhaps best known for having executive-produced and co-created (with playwright Bill Cain), the controversial drama, Nothing Sacred (1997), and most recently, having been an executive producer/writer on the second season of Netflix's House of Cards (2013), which garnered 13 Emmy nominations.

Early life[edit]

Manson was born in New York City to two musicians who had met as students at the Juilliard School. His father, Eddy Manson, a harmonica virtuoso, moved the family to Los Angeles in 1965 to pursue his career as a film composer.

Manson attended the University of California at Santa Cruz on full scholarship before transferring to the University of California at Irvine, where he graduated magna cum laude.

Career[edit]

Manson began his career in the theater and worked in various capacities for such venues as the Mark Taper Forum, Playwrights Horizon and the Manhattan Theater Club.

He started in the film business at Dick Berg's Stonehenge Productions where he produced his first film, The Spell (1977), for NBC, at the age of twenty-four. As Senior Vice President of Stonehenge, he produced several movies and miniseries including the first major television miniseries about Vietnam, A Rumor of War (1980), which the New York Times called 'unusually ambitious and admirable'[1] and the Washington Post referred to ‘as true as a movie is going to get’.[2]

In 1980, Manson formed his own company, Sarabande Productions, aimed at creating a platform for prestigious writers. He has since worked with Pulitzer Prize winners including Michael Chabon, Donald Margulies and Jules Feiffer, and acclaimed screenwriters such as Joan Tewkesbury, Barbara Turner, John Sacret Young, and National Book Award recipient Denis Johnson.

In features, he executive-produced and developed the Cannes Film Festival Special Jury Prize Winner Birdy (1984) starring Matthew Modine and Nicolas Cage. He then produced the Sting documentary, Bring on the Night (1985), directed by Michael Apted, which earned a Grammy Award for best long form video; he also executive-produced The Cemetery Club (1993), starring Ellen Burstyn, and produced the Drew Barrymore film, Mad Love (1995), both for Touchstone Pictures where his company was housed for several years.

In addition to its overall feature deal with Touchstone, Sarabande has also inked television deals with Disney, MGM/UA, New Line, Sony and 20th Century Fox.

Through the 1980s and 90s, Manson, through Sarabande, executive-produced a number of television movies, including Rising Son (1990) starring Matt Damon in his first major role, the Christopher Award-winning NBC film, Eye on the Sparrow (1987), and Nightjohn (1996), directed by Charles Burnett, which was the recipient of a Special Citation Award from the National Society of Film Critics and which The New Yorker named the best American movie of the year.[3]

Manson entered into the series business as co-creator/executive producer of Against the Law (1990) for FOX and made his directorial debut with Those Secrets (1992) for ABC, which he also executive-produced.

He then co-created, produced, and directed the controversial drama, Nothing Sacred (1997), about an irreverent Catholic priest, which was the subject of an advertiser boycott instituted by the conservative pressure group, The Catholic League.[4] The series won not only the Peabody Award, but also a Humanitas Award, the Writers Guild Award, and the Viewers for Quality Television Founders Award.

Later in the 90s, Manson also produced several films with his wife, writer/producer Arla Sorkin Manson, including the CBS telefilm, The Wedding Dress (2001). He also executive-produced two films for TNT: Thicker Than Blood (1998) with Mickey Rourke, based on Bill Cain's award-winning play, Stand-Up Tragedy; and Baby (2000), starring Farrah Fawcett and Keith Carradine, for which Manson received a Writers Guild nomination for his adaptation.

After 2000, Manson focused more on writing and executive-producing television series. He served as a consulting producer/writer on the hit HBO series, Big Love (2006), executive produced and wrote on the FX series, Thief (2006), starring the Emmy Award winning Andre Braugher, and created, wrote, directed and executive produced the EMT drama, Saved (2006), for TNT.

Manson was the show-runner and wrote several episodes of the FOX series New Amsterdam (2008), was a consulting producer/writer on the NBC series, Life (2009), and directed multiple episodes of Law & Order, Criminal Intent (2009). In 2011, he executive-produced a pilot for FX, Outlaw Country (2011), starring Mary Steenburgen and John Hawkes. In 2012, he then executive produced and co-wrote (with Richard LaGravenese) the pilot for the series The Divide; originally produced for AMC, it is the first scripted series for WeTV. In 2013, Manson executive produced and wrote on the acclaimed Netflix original series, House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.

Most recently, as part of an overall deal with FX Productions, Manson executive-produced Scott Frank's pilot adaptation of Charles Willeford’s Hoke Moseley novels, starring Paul Giamatti.

Name TV/Film Year Position Awards
Hoke TV 2014 Executive Producer
House of Cards TV 2013 Executive Producer/Writer Emmy Nomination: Best Drama
The Divide TV 2012 Executive Producer/Writer
Outlaw Country TV 2011 Executive Producer
Damages TV 2011 Consulting Producer
Law & Order: Criminal Intent TV 2009 Director
Life TV 2009 Consulting Producer/Writer
New Amsterdam TV 2008 Executive Producer/Writer
Saved TV 2006 Creator/Executive Producer/Writer/Director
Thief TV 2006 Executive Producer/Writer
Big Love TV 2006 Consulting Producer/Writer
John Doe TV 2003 Consulting Producer/Writer
The Wedding Dress Film 2001 Executive Producer
Baby Film 2000 Executive Producer/Writer Writers Guild Nomination, Christopher Award
Mind Games Film 1998 Executive Producer
Thicker Than Blood Film 1998 Executive Producer ALMA Award
Nothing Sacred TV 1997–1998 Co-Creator/Executive Producer/Writer/Director Peabody Award, Humanitas Award, Producers Guild Nomination, Viewers for Quality Television: Founders Award
Nightjohn Film 1997 Executive Producer National Society of Film Critics: Special Citation
Mad Love Film 1995 Producer
Original Sins Film 1995 Executive Producer
The Cemetery Club Film 1993 Executive Producer
Those Secrets Film 1992 Executive Producer/Director
Against The Law TV 1990–1991 Co-Creator/Executive Producer/Writer
Rising Son Film 1990 Executive Producer
Eye on the Sparrow Film 1987 Executive Producer Christopher Award
The King of Love Film 1987 Executive Producer
Bring on the Night Film 1985 Producer Grammy Award: Best Long Form Video
Birdy Film 1984 Executive Producer Cannes Film Festival: Special Jury Prize
Best Kept Secrets Film 1984 Producer
Sessions Film 1983 Producer
A Rumor of War TV 1980 Producer
The Word TV 1978 Producer
A Love Affair: The Eleanor and Lou Gehrig Story Film 1978 Producer
Night Cries Film 1978 Producer
The Spell Film 1977 Producer

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