Morgan Spurlock

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Morgan Spurlock
Morgan Spurlock 2012 Shankbone.JPG
Spurlock at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival world premiere of Mansome
Born Morgan Valentine Spurlock
(1970-11-07) November 7, 1970 (age 44)
Parkersburg, West Virginia
Residence New York City
Occupation Filmmaker, television producer, screenwriter
Years active 2000–present
Spouse(s) Alexandra Jamieson (divorced;[1] 1 child)

Morgan Valentine Spurlock[2] (born November 7, 1970)[2] is an American documentary filmmaker, humorist, television producer, screenwriter, and political activist, best known for the documentary films Super Size Me, Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden, POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope and One Direction: This Is Us. Spurlock was the executive producer and star of the reality television series 30 Days. On June 2013, he became host and producer of the CNN show Inside Man. He is also the co-founder of short-film content marketing company cinelan, which produced the Focus Forward campaign for GE.[3]

Early life[edit]

Spurlock was born in Parkersburg, West Virginia,[2] but was raised in Beckley, West Virginia. His parents, Phyllis and Ben Spurlock,[4] raised him as a Methodist. He graduated from New York University in 1993 and is a member of the fraternity Phi Gamma Delta.[5]

Spurlock has said he is of Scots-Irish and English descent.[6]


Spurlock attended Woodrow Wilson High School in Beckley, West Virginia, graduating in 1989. He graduated with a BFA in film from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in 1993. Before making the 2004 Academy Award nominated Super Size Me, Spurlock was a playwright, winning awards for his play The Phoenix at both the New York International Fringe Festival in 1999 and the Route 66 American Playwriting Competition in 2000.[7] He also created I Bet You Will for MTV. I Bet You Will began as a popular Internet webcast of five-minute episodes featuring ordinary people doing stunts in exchange for money. Examples include eating a full jar of mayonnaise ($235USD), eating a "worm burrito" ($265USD), and taking shots of corn oil, Pepto-Bismol, lemon juice, hot sauce, cold chicken broth, and cod liver oil (US$450.00 for all nine shots). The webcast was a success, with over a million hits in the first five days.[citation needed] MTV later bought and aired the show.


Super Size Me[edit]

Main article: Super Size Me

Spurlock's docudrama Super Size Me was released in the U.S. on May 7, 2004. This production was later nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary feature. He conceived the idea for the film when he was at his parents' house for Thanksgiving, and while watching TV saw a news story about a lawsuit brought against McDonald's by two teenage girls who blamed the fast food chain for their obesity.

The film depicts an experiment he conducted in 2003, in which he ate three McDonald's meals a day every day (and nothing else) for 30 days. The film's title derives from one of the rules of Spurlock's experiment: he would not refuse the "super-size" option whenever it was offered to him and would never ask for it himself. The result, according to Spurlock, was a diet with twice the calories recommended by the USDA. Further, Spurlock attempted to curtail his physical activity to better match the exercise habits of the average American (he previously walked about 3 miles a day, whereas the average American walks 1.5 miles).

He was of above average health and fitness when he started the project; he gained 25 pounds (11 kg), became quite puffy, suffered liver dysfunction and depression by the end. Spurlock's supervising physicians noted the effects caused by his high-calorie diet—once even comparing it to a case of severe binge alcoholism.

After the completion of the project, it took Spurlock fourteen months to return to his normal weight of 185 pounds (84 kg). His then-girlfriend (now ex-wife), Alexandra Jamieson, took charge of his recovery with her "detox diet", which became the basis for her book, The Great American Detox Diet.[8]


External video
Morgan Spurlock Shankbone Metropolitan Opera 2009.jpg
Morgan Spurlock: The greatest TED Talk ever sold, TED Talks[9]

Spurlock's second feature documentary, Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden? premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2008. In the film, and in interviews, Spurlock explores the fight against terrorism and views the argument from both sides, in which he tries to find Osama Bin Laden.

Spurlock directed The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special – In 3-D! On Ice!.[10][11][12]

Freakonomics is an adaptation of the book of the same name by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, which premiered in April 2010. Spurlock was at the helm of this project alongside five directors (Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady, Alex Gibney, Seth Gordon and Eugene Jarecki).

The one hour documentary Committed: The Toronto International Film Festival premiered on AMC on 12 October 2010.[13]

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is a 2011 documentary film about product placement, marketing and advertising which was reportedly itself financed through product placement.[9][14] The Greatest Movie Ever Sold was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2011.[15] It was released in the USA in April 2011. It screened in the New Zealand Film Festival in August 2011 together with an appearance by Spurlock to talk about the movie.

In the summer of 2010, Spurlock worked with Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon, founder Harry Knowles, and comic book creator Stan Lee to create the documentary Comic-Con Episode Four: A Fan's Hope, to cover the stories of convention fans.[16][17] Whedon, Lee, and Knowles served as executive producers. Legendary Pictures' Thomas Tull, who independently financed the documentary, told Variety, ""We look forward to capturing the spirit, energy and people that Comic-Con has infused into legions of fans, bringing these audiences and projects out of the halls and onto a world stage."[18] On April 6, 2012, Spurlock released the film to selected theaters in the United States, as well as video on demand outlets.

Spurlock hosts and produces a new CNN series Inside Man, which first aired in June 2013.[19]

A Brony Tale[edit]

Spurlock is helping distribute A Brony Tale, a documentary directed by Brent Hodge on the brony phenomenon and on the musician and voice acting career of Ashleigh Ball. Bronies are the male teenage and adult fans of the television show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Deadline Hollywood announced that the companies Warrior Poets, Virgil Films and Abramorama picked up the film for theatrical distribution under the label Morgan Spurlock Presents. The film is slated for a July 8, 2014 theater release.[20]

30 Days[edit]

Main article: 30 Days (TV series)

In each episode, a person (who, in some cases, is Spurlock himself) or a group of people spend 30 days immersing themselves in a mode of life markedly different from their norm (being in prison, a devout Christian living in a Muslim family, a homophobe staying with a homosexual person, etc.), while Spurlock discusses the relevant social issues involved. FX began airing the show on June 15, 2005. In the premiere episode of the first season, "Minimum Wage," Spurlock and his fiancée lived for 30 days in the Bottoms neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio, earning minimum wage, with no access to outside funds.

In the second season finale, Spurlock spent 25 days locked in a Henrico County, Virginia (a county outside of Richmond) jail to experience life as an inmate.[21] He did not complete the entire 30 days in jail because the majority of inmates in the state of Virginia serve 85% of the sentence, so once Spurlock reached that benchmark, he was released from the prison.[22]

The third season of 30 Days premiered on June 3, 2008.[23] The first episode of the third season, titled "Working in a Coal Mine," was filmed in Bolt, West Virginia which is located roughly 18 miles from the city of Beckley, West Virginia, where Spurlock was raised before leaving for New York.[24]

In late 2008, FX announced they would not renew the 30 Days series, making the third season the last.

Other work[edit]

Morgan Spurlock with Highland Titles in Scotland during filming Morgan Spurlock's New Britannia
  • Spurlock optioned the rights for Chris Mooney's book The Republican War on Science in order to create another documentary film,[25] but in 2008 announced that he had released the option.[26]
  • Spurlock has a role in the film Drive Thru, a horror film about a fictional fast food restaurant that has its mascot come to life and start killing people. It was released on DVD on May 29, 2007.
  • Spurlock presented 50 Documentaries to See Before You Die on Current TV. The show premiered on August 1, 2011.[27]
  • On May 28, 2011, Spurlock was the graduation commencement speaker for the MBA Business program at Sonoma State University.
  • Spurlock's half-hour documentary series A Day in the Life was to debut on Hulu in mid-August 2011. It follows "incredibly focused" people such as Richard Branson and for a full day. The series is exclusive to Hulu.[28]
  • Spurlock directed an additional episode of ESPN's 30 for 30 sports documentary series, entitled "The Dotted Line". This documentary takes a look at the competitive world of sports agents. "The Dotted Line" premiered on ESPN October 11, 2011, one day following the premiere of a two-hour documentary, I, Caveman, created and directed by Spurlock for the Science Channel series Curiosity. In it, a group of men and women including Spurlock try to survive in the wild using only Stone Age technology.
  • Spurlock is the presenter of a new show in the UK on Sky Atlantic entitled Morgan Spurlock's New Britannia. The show is a comedy based around the differences between the UK and the US.[29]
  • Spurlock contributed a brief Foreword to Martin Lindstrom's 2011 book Brandwashed.
  • Spurlock's documentary Mansome was announced on March 8, 2012 as a Spotlight selection for the Tribeca Film Festival. The film takes a comedic look at male identity as defined through men's grooming habits featuring celebrity and expert commentary.[30]
  • Spurlock directed the 3D concert film One Direction: This Is Us, starring the English-Irish boy band One Direction, and released August 30, 2013 by TriStar Pictures.[31]

Personal life[edit]

Spurlock has a son, Laken James Spurlock, born on December 9, 2006. His birth is depicted in Spurlock's documentary Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?, which Spurlock dedicated to Laken.



  1. ^ Alexandra Jamieson (December 21, 2011). "Learning From Divorce About Detox". Delicious Vitality. Retrieved December 27, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c "Morgan Spurlock Biography". Retrieved 2013-10-31. 
  3. ^ Fera, Rae Ann (2013-04-26). "GE Tells the Stories of the World's Innovators with 'Focus Forward'". Fast Co.Create. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "The Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta"
  6. ^ Smith, Patrick (March 30, 2012). "New Britannia: Morgan Spurlock's latest exposé - delving into 'real Britain'". The Daily Telegraph. 
  7. ^ Roberts, Genevieve. "Morgan Spurlock: 'I was doing funny walks around the house aged six'". Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  8. ^ Great American Detox Diet on
  9. ^ a b A video of Spurlock talking about The Greatest Movie Ever Sold at TED
  10. ^ The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special – In 3-D! On Ice!
  11. ^ Hulu, The Simpsons 20the Anniversary Special – In 3-D! On Ice! Title Details
  12. ^ TV Squad, Morgan Spurlock on The Simpsons Anniversary Special – In 3-D! On Ice! August 1, 2009.
  13. ^ Peter Sciretta (October 9, 2010). "Morgan Spurlock to Premiere 'Committed' on AMC". SlashFilm. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  14. ^ Morgan Spurlock Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
  15. ^ Spurlock premieres 'Greatest Movie Ever Sold' at Sundance
  16. ^ Looking for people who love Comic-Con.
  17. ^ Action Flick Chick, Comic-Con Episode Four: A Fan's Hope – Starring Yourself?. June 4, 2010.
  18. ^ Variety, Spurlock, Whedon eye 'Comic-Con' doc. May 20, 2010.
  19. ^ Molloy, Tim. "Morgan Spurlock joins CNN". Yahoo News. Retrieved 24 August 2012. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ Associated Press, "Spurlock to go behind bars". June 13, 2006.
  22. ^ FX "Thirty Days: Season 2 on the FX Network, Season Finale Episode.
  23. ^ Capone With Morgan Spurlock About WHERE IN THE WORLD IS OSAMA BIN LADEN? And More!!,, April 18, 2008
  24. ^ "Spurlock Supersizes West Virginia On The Map".
  25. ^ "'Science' Scooped Up". The Washington Post. December 17, 2005
  26. ^ The Intersection
  27. ^ "Current TV Launches Original Series "50 Documentaries to See Before You Die" Premiering on Monday, August 1". The Futon Critic. May 24, 2011
  28. ^ Spurlock sets Hulu series
  29. ^ "'Morgan Spurlock's New Britannia'"
  30. ^ "TFF 2012: Spotlight"
  31. ^ "Sony Sets Release Date for One Direction Concert Movie -". CraveOnline. 2012-11-13. Retrieved 2012-11-15. 

External links[edit]