J. F. Lawton

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J. F. Lawton
J F Lawton.jpg
J. F. Lawton in 2009
Born Jonathan Frederick Lawton
(1960-08-11) August 11, 1960 (age 54)
Riverside, California, US
Occupation film director, producer, screenwriter
Years active 1989 – present
Spouse(s) Paola Lawton

Jonathan Frederick Lawton (also known as J. F. Lawton), born on August 11, 1960 in Riverside, California, is an American screenwriter, film producer and film director.[1] Screen credits include the box office hit Pretty Woman, Mistress, Blankman, Under Siege, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, The Hunted, Chain Reaction, DOA: Dead or Alive, Jackson, and the TV series V.I.P.. Under the assumed name JD Athens, he had previously written and directed Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death and Pizza Man.[2]

Early life[edit]

Lawton was born on August 11, 1960, in Riverside, California.[1] He is the son of author and novelist Harry Lawton and Georgeann Leona Lawton (née Honegger), a pianist.[3] The couple met in Berkeley while attending the University of California. Later they moved to Riverside, where Harry was hired as a reporter for The Press-Enterprise.

As a child, he suffered from severe dyslexia making school life very difficult. It took him many years of practice, hard work and patience to control his learning disabilities.[4] Despite the challenge, he decided to become a writer like his father. Harry Lawton, independently of his son's disability, always made sure to give him as much incentive as possible. To this day he credits his father for always being supportive of him and his mother for going the extra mile to help him overcome his obstacles.

When Lawton was still in elementary school, his father's novel, Willie Boy: A Desert Manhunt,[4] was made into a film starring Robert Redford.[5][6] During the making of Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here,[7] Harry Lawton would take J.F. to the set, exposing him to the process of filmmaking. From that moment on, fascinated, he determined that he would become a screenwriter. Always curious, Lawton would observe his surroundings and write about them, although due to his dyslexia, it would take him double the time to put his stories down on paper.

In high school, he continued to write short stories, plays and scripts. After graduating from John W. North High School in Riverside, he enrolled at California State University in Long Beach to study filmmaking.[1] There he wrote, directed and edited two short films, The Artist and Renaissance.[2] The first was a sci-fi thriller placed in the future in which the main character kills his victims, takes their pictures and exposes them in his art exhibitions. The second, Renaissance, was a short horror film where the protagonist, a sadistic sexual predator, dominates and kills his victim every night, but revives her the next morning to only start the vicious cycle all over again. Both short films won several awards in the college circuit.

Career[edit]

After college, the California native moved to Los Angeles, settling near Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue, one of the toughest corners in Los Angeles at the time.[8] Living among prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers, junkies and the homeless, the setting gave Lawton a wide range of inspiration for his stories.[9] He wrote a number of screenplays while working at several post-production companies.

During that time he met producer Charles Band, for whom he would direct his first feature film. Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death is a take-off of both Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Francis Ford Coppola's feature Apocalypse Now.[2] Shot in less than two weeks in his hometown of Riverside, California, the film, starring his longtime friend, comedian Bill Maher,[10][11] Playboy Playmate Shannon Tweed[12] and horror actor Adrienne Barbeau[13] became a cult favorite and late-night cable staple.[14]

After Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death, Lawton also wrote and directed Pizza Man, a political satire about a delivery man investigating a comical government conspiracy.[15] Talk show host Bill Maher[16][17] also stars in Pizza Man along with comedian Annabelle Gurwitch.[18] In both movies, he used the pseudonym JD Athens.[19]

Mainstream[edit]

Lawton moved to the A-list when his script titled Three Thousand,[4][20] was accepted by the Sundance Institute in the late 1980s.[21] Executives at Touchstone Pictures,[22] a division of The Walt Disney Studios, became interested in making the movie. He changed the title to Pretty Woman,[23] and with over $400 million in worldwide box office,[9][24] the movie became the largest grossing live-action film in Disney history. Directed by Garry Marshall,[9] with Richard Gere and Julia Roberts,[20][25] the film is a story about Vivian Ward, a prostitute who is hired by a wealthy businessman, Edward Lewis, to be at his beck and call for one week while he is in town on business.[26] Although they come from different backgrounds and lifestyles,[9] both end up developing a relationship based more on genuine love than money and convenience.[27] Pretty Woman[9] was a huge success[28] and got Lawton nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award and a British Academy Award for his screenplay.[29] Julia Roberts won a Golden Globe Award[30] for her role and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.[31]

He was then given an executive producer credit for his next original screenplay, Under Siege,[32] based on his million-dollar spec script Dreadnought.[33] The idea came when Lawton, who had served time in the Coast Guard Reserve, read that the Navy was retiring the USS Missouri (BB-63). The film stars Steven Seagal as a disgraced Navy Seal working as a cook on a battleship. Seagal's character must face off against a psychopathic ex-CIA agent (Tommy Lee Jones), who leads a group of mercenaries on a takeover of the battleship on its final voyage, so he can steal its arsenal of nuclear Tomahawk Cruise Missiles. The movie broke box office records and a successful sequel followed, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory.

With Barry Primus, Lawton co-wrote Mistress,[19] a comedy starring Robert De Niro, Danny Aiello, Christopher Walken and Martin Landau.[34] The movie is a tale about a Hollywood screenwriter, Marvin Landisman, whose career is going downhill until he meets a has been hustler-producer who tries to help him get his career back.[34] Starring an all-star cast, Mistress was one of the first films produced by Tribeca Productions, Robert De Niro's production company,[34] and it was released in the summer of 1992.

Then came The Hunted in 1995, a thriller set in Japan starring Christopher Lambert, John Lone and Joan Chen.[35] Written and directed by Lawton,[36] the movie traces Paul Racine, a computer-chip executive from New York in one of his many business trips to Tokyo. Local authorities and a legendary ninja cult get involved in an electric chase after a crime occurs in a hotel room.[37] The Hunted was released on February 25, 1995 and distributed by Universal Studios. The score, featuring music by the internationally acclaimed Japanese taiko troupe Kodo,[38] was especially requested by Lawton.

For Columbia Pictures he co-wrote Blankman,[39] a film starring and produced by Damon Wayans who plays Darryl, a nerdy, comical ghetto superhero with a pure heart ready to fight criminals in his own style.[40] The film also stars Jason Alexander who previously had worked with Lawton in Pretty Woman and Greg Kinnear early in his career.[41]

The next film project was Chain Reaction, an action thriller starring Morgan Freeman, Keanu Reeves and Rachel Weisz.[42] The movie, filmed in Chicago, Illinois,[43] was released on August 2, 1996 and grossed over $60 million worldwide. In 2005, Keanu Reeves and Rachel Weisz teamed up again for Constantine.[44]

In 2006,[45] Lawton co-wrote for Paramount Pictures a film based on the video game series DOA: Dead or Alive,[46] starring Eric Roberts, Jaime Pressly and Devon Aoki.[47]

Television[edit]

He created and executive produced Sony Pictures Entertainment hit syndicated show V.I.P. (standing for, and also referred to as, Vallery Irons Protection) through a successful four-year run.[48][49]

The series starred Pamela Anderson as Vallery Irons,[50] a small-town girl who comes to Southern California looking for a break when she stumbles into the glamorous role of heading up a Beverly Hills bodyguard agency.[51]

The adventure series saw Anderson often poking fun at her tabloid image,[52]

Radio[edit]

Lawton worked with popular radio host and media personality Howard Stern on the script for The Adventures of Fartman, a fictional superhero character created by Stern for The Howard Stern Show.[53] With two major studios willing to produce, the movie was put into hold due to a MPAA Film Rating System dispute. Lawton and Stern wanted the movie to be R-rated instead of PG-13. They both thought the content of the film was more suitable for a mature audience.[54]

Although the film was put on hold, Howard Stern included part of the script written by Lawton in his 1995 bestselling book, Miss America, which reached number one on the New York Times Best Seller list within days of its release.[55]

He has also been a guest on The Jason Ellis Show, broadcast by famous professional skate boarder and radio host Jason Ellis on Faction 28 by Sirius Satellite Radio.[56]

Future projects[edit]

Lawton's recent work includes both writing and directing Jackson,[19][57] a comedy-drama-musical starring Barry Primus, Charles Robinson, Steve Guttenberg, Debra Jo Rupp and opera singers Ella Lee, Shawnette Sulker and Clamma Dale. The movie takes place on a single day involving two homeless men surviving on Los Angeles's Skid Row. Lawton wrote two songs for the movie, Downtown Birthday and Love Cannot Be. According to his publicist, Jackson was shot mainly in Downtown Los Angeles, except for one scene shot in Kentucky.

His latest script with South Park creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, is in development at Paramount Studios.

Personal life[edit]

Suffering from dyslexia and ADHD, Lawton is an avid advocate for both issues. He is also a supporter of PETA, along with his good friends Bill Maher and Pamela Anderson. Environmental issues, human rights, cancer, poverty and 9-11 are very close to his heart.

He is married to journalist, writer and LGBT activist Paola Lawton.[58]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "J. F. Lawton Biography". The New York Times. Retrieved on 04-23-2009. 
  2. ^ a b c "J. F. Lawton". Variety Magazine. Retrieved on 01-19-2009. 
  3. ^ "Biography for J. F. Lawton". TCMDB. Retrieved on 09-30-2007. 
  4. ^ a b c "J. F. Lawton". BBC News. Retrieved on 06/04/2009. 
  5. ^ Greenspun, Roger (1969). "Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here". The New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2010. 
  6. ^ Roger Greenspan (December 19, 1969). "Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ "Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here". IMDb. Retrieved on 03-21-2007. 
  8. ^ Dan Kapelovitz (April 28, 2005). "Pirates, Pimps, Artists and Anarchy". LA Weekly. 
  9. ^ a b c d e Larry Getlen (March 23, 2010). "Inside Pretty Woman". New York Post. 
  10. ^ "Real Time with Bill Maher". HBO. 
  11. ^ Mark Binelli (October 8, 2006). "A Man for Our Time". Rolling Stone Magazine. 
  12. ^ "Shannon Tweed". Hollywood.com. Retrieved on 12-23-2005. 
  13. ^ "Adrianne Barbeau". Allmovie.com. Retrieved on 12-23-2005. 
  14. ^ "J. F. Lawton Bio". film.com. Retrieved on 04-14-2009. 
  15. ^ "Pizza Man". Variety Magazine. Retrieved August 8, 2008. 
  16. ^ "Bill Maher". The Huffington Post. Retrieved August 2, 2009. 
  17. ^ Tom Shales (February 8, 2004). "Bill Maher: Back for More". The Washington Post. 
  18. ^ Pogrebin, Robin. "Pizza Man (1992)". The New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2010. 
  19. ^ a b c "J. F. Lawton Biography". Hollywood.com. Retrieved on 03-30-2009. 
  20. ^ a b "Pretty Woman turns 20". Moviefone.com. Retrieved March 23, 2010. 
  21. ^ "J. F. Lawton Biography". Hollywood.com. Retrieved on 03-30-2009. 
  22. ^ "Pretty Woman". AMC. Retrieved on 12-15-2007. 
  23. ^ Janet Maslin (March 23, 1990). "Pretty Woman". The New York Times. 
  24. ^ Stein, Joel (November 8, 1999). "New Thrills for Pretty Woman". Time 154 (19). Archived from the original on February 20, 2001. 
  25. ^ "Pretty Woman". The Boston Globe. Retrieved January 30, 2009. 
  26. ^ "Pretty Woman". film.com. Retrieved October 8, 2005. 
  27. ^ "Pretty Woman". MTV. 
  28. ^ "Unforgettable Woman". New York Post. Retrieved March 23, 2010. 
  29. ^ "Best Original Screenplay". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Retrieved on 06-17-2008. 
  30. ^ "Julia Roberts Awards". Golden Globes. Retrieved October 1, 2008. 
  31. ^ "Oscars". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved October 1, 2008. 
  32. ^ "Under Siege". Cinemax. 
  33. ^ "Under Siege". The New York Times. Retrieved on 10-27-2008. 
  34. ^ a b c Stephen Holden (August 7, 1992). "Mistress, Merrily Dealing and Double-Dealing in Hollywood". The New York Times. 
  35. ^ "The Hunted". film.com. Retrieved October 2, 2008. 
  36. ^ "The Hunted". HBO. 
  37. ^ NIX (June 1, 2002). "The Hunted (1995) Movie Review". Beyond Hollywood. 
  38. ^ "Kodo History". Sony Music. Retrieved May 11, 2007. 
  39. ^ Jeffrey Wells (February 5, 1993). "A Look Inside Hollywood and the Movies". Los Angeles Times. 
  40. ^ Stephen Holden (August 20, 1994). "A Makeshift Superhero for Not-So-Super Times". The New York Times. 
  41. ^ "Greg Kinnear". AMC. Retrieved on 12-30-2007. 
  42. ^ "Chain Reaction". Showbizdata.com. Retrieved on 07-25-2008. 
  43. ^ Janet Maslin (February 8, 1992). "A Scientist, a Discovery, a Plot: Let the Special Effects Begin!". The New York Times. 
  44. ^ David Strick (October 2, 2004). "Rachel Weisz rehearses for Constantine". Los Angeles Times. 
  45. ^ NIX (November 20, 2006). "DOA: Dead Or Alive (2006) Movie Review". Beyond Hollywood. 
  46. ^ Ed Meza (November 3, 2004). "DOA deal makes Impact". Variety Magazine. 
  47. ^ "Devon Aoki: Model Profile". New York Magazine. Retrieved May 1, 2009. 
  48. ^ Joel Stein (October 31, 1999). "Babe Tube". TIME Magazine. 
  49. ^ Benjamin Svetkey (October 3, 2000). "The Squad". Entertainment Weekly. 
  50. ^ "Pamela Anderson, Life in Pictures". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 02-16-2009. 
  51. ^ "V.I.P.". Variety Magazine. Retrieved on 02-27-2008. 
  52. ^ Rick Marin (August 10, 2000). "Television, Radio". The New York Times. 
  53. ^ "The Howard Stern Show". Sirius Satellite Radio. 
  54. ^ Richard Corliss; Jeffrey Ressner (June 28, 1993). "Hollywood's Summer: Just Kidding". TIME Magazine. 
  55. ^ Bill Carter; Nat Ives (November 10, 2004). "Howard Stern". The New York Times. 
  56. ^ "The Jason Ellis Show". Sirius Satellite Radio. 
  57. ^ "J. F. Lawton". Digital Hollywood. Retrieved on 03-30-2009. 
  58. ^ "Harry Lawton". IMDb. Retrieved on 03-13-2012. 

External links[edit]