|Born||Nancy Jane Meyers
December 8, 1949
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
|Spouse(s)||Charles Shyer (1980–1999)|
Nancy Jane Meyers (born December 8, 1949) is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. She is the writer, producer and director of several big-screen successes, including The Parent Trap (1998), Something's Gotta Give (2003), The Holiday (2006), and It's Complicated (2009). Her second film as director, What Women Want (2000), was at one point the most successful film ever directed by a woman, taking in $183 million in the United States.
Meyers was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The younger of two daughters, she was raised in a Jewish household in the Drexel Hill area, a largely Catholic neighborhood. Her father, Irving, worked as an executive at a voting machines manufacturer, while her mother, Patricia (née Lemisch), was a homemaker and volunteer, who was also engaged in the Head Start Program and the Home for the Blind. After reading the Moss Hart autobiography Act One at the age of twelve, Meyers became interested in theater and started to act in local stage productions. Her interest in screenwriting did not emerge until she saw Mike Nichols' film The Graduate in 1967.
In 1972, after graduating from American University in Washington, D.C. with a degree in journalism and spending a year working in public television in Philadelphia, Meyers moved to her sister Sally's in Los Angeles, California to try her luck in Hollywood. Without any connections, she landed a job as a production assistant on the CBS game show The Price Is Right three days after her arrival. Two years later, Meyers quit the job to focus on a career in screenwriting and took film-making classes where she connected with directors such as Martin Scorsese. To support herself, she started a small cheesecake business after seeing the reactions to a cake she made for a dinner party. She was eventually hired as a story editor by film producer Ray Stark, who later fired her after she objected to the fact that two writers were each working on the same script without the other knowing.
In the late 1970s, Meyers started work with Charles Shyer when she was a story editor in the film division at Motown. The pair became friends and, along with Harvey Miller, created the script for the comedy Private Benjamin (1980) together, a film about a JAP who joins the U.S. Army after her husband dies on their wedding night during sex. Starring actress Goldie Hawn, who along with Meyers and Shyer executive produced the project, it was Hawn's agent who made Warner Brothers executive Robert Shapiro buy the script after practically "everybody [had] turned it down. Everybody. More than once," according to Meyers. Contrary to the conventional wisdom at the time, that a female lead with no male star was box office poison, Private Benjamin became one of the biggest box office hits of the year 1980, grossing nearly $70 million in total. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing, as were Hawn and her co-star, Eileen Brennan, for their performances, and won the team a Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay. In addition, the film spawned a same-titled short-lived but Golden Globe-winning television series that aired from 1981 until 1983.
Meyers and Shyer's next project, Irreconcilable Differences (1984), marked Shyer's directorial debut. Shelley Long and Ryan O'Neal played a Hollywood couple whose obsession with success destroys their relationship with their daughter, played by then eight-year-old Drew Barrymore. Released to a mixed reception by critics, the collaboration became a moderate box office with a gross of $12.4 million, but received multiple Golden Globe nominations, including Best Actress nods for Long and Barrymore. Also in 1984, Meyers, Shyer and Miller penned Protocol, another comedy starring Goldie Hawn in which she portrayed a cocktail waitress who prevents the assassination of a visiting Arab Emir, and thus is offered a job with the United States Department of State as a protocol official. Hawn reportedly disliked their screenplay and hired Buck Henry for a major overhaul, prompting the trio to go into arbitration to settle their differences. While neither Meyers nor Shyer became involved in producing or directing the film, it fared slightly better at the box office than Irreconcilable Differences, garnering $26.3 million in total.
Meyers eventually returned to producing with Baby Boom (1987), a film about a New York City female executive, who out of the blue becomes the guardian of her distant cousin's 14-month-old daughter. The film marked her debut collaboration with Diane Keaton. The catalyst for the project was a series of situations that Meyers and Shyer and their friends had experienced while managing a life with a successful career and a growing family. Baby Boom was favorably received by critics and audiences alike. It was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy and earned a respectable $1.6 million in its opening weekend in the US, and approximately $26.7 million during in its entire run. As with Private Benjamin the film was followed by a short-lived television series starring Kate Jackson.
In 1990, Meyers and Shyer, working from earlier material for the first time, re-teamed with Keaton to remake the 1950 Vincente Minnelli film Father of the Bride. Starring Steve Martin as a father losing his daughter and his bank account at the same time, their 1991 version was released to generally positive critics in 1991. It became a hit among audiences, resulting in the pair's biggest financial success yet at a worldwide gross of $90 million. A sequel to the film which centered around the expansion of the family, entitled Father of the Bride Part II, was produced in 1995. Loosely based on the original's 1951 sequel Father's Little Dividend, it largely reprised the success of its predecessor at the box office. A third installment, also penned by Meyers and Shyer, failed to materialize.
Also in 1991, Meyers contributed to the script for the ensemble comedy Once Upon a Crime (1992), directed by Eugene Levy, and became one out of several script doctors consulted to work on the Whoopi Goldberg comedy Sister Act (1992). Her next project with Shyer was I Love Trouble (1994), a comedy thriller about a cub reporter and a seasoned columnist who go after the same story, that was inspired by screwball comedies of the 1930s and 1940s such as His Girl Friday and Woman of the Year. Written for and starring Julia Roberts and Nick Nolte, the film was not well received by critics but grossed over $30 million in box-office receipts in the United States. While the script for Toast of the Town, another Meyers/Shyer collaboration, that Meyers described as "a Depression-era comedy about a small-town girl who comes to the big city, loses her values and then finds them again," found no buyers, another project called Love Crazy failed to materialize after lead actor Hugh Grant dropped out of the project after months of negotiations.
Having refused Paramount CEO Sherry Lansing's offer to direct the 1996 comedy blockbuster The First Wives Club, Meyers eventually agreed on making her directional debut with The Parent Trap (1998) following the signing of a development deal with Walt Disney Pictures in 1997. A remake of the same-titled 1961 original based on Erich Kästner's novel Lottie and Lisa, it starred Lindsay Lohan in her motion picture debut in a dual role of estranged twin sisters who try to reunite their long-divorced parents, played by Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson. Lohan's cast forced Meyers to shoot the film in motion control, a requirement she considered rather complicated. "I really didn't know how to do it," she said. "We had a prep day to go over the process, and by the end of the day I had a little better understanding. But I approached the movie like it wasn't an effects film; I just tried to make it authentic." Released to mixed critics, The Parent Trap brought in $92 million worldwide.
In 1998, following the success of The Parent Trap and her separation from Shyer, Disney's Touchstone Pictures chairman Joe Roth asked Meyers to reconstruct an original script named Head Games about a man who gains the power to hear everything women are thinking, an idea originally conceived by The King of Queens producers Cathy Yuspa and Josh Goldsmith. Subsequently, Meyers penned two drafts of the script before agreeing to direct, but as Roth left the studio in January 1999, Disney dismissed the film and the project eventually went to Paramount. By the following year, Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt had signed on to star in leading roles and the project had been retitled What Women Want. Released in 2000 to mixed reviews, it became the then-most successful film ever directed by a woman, taking in $183 million in the United States, and grossing upward of $370 million worldwide.
Following her divorce, Meyers wrote and directed the post-divorce comedy Something's Gotta Give (2003), starring Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson as a successful 60-something and 50-something, who find love for each other at a different time of life, despite being complete opposites. Nicholson and Keaton, aged 63 and 57 respectively, were seen as bold casting choices for leads in a romantic comedy, and Twentieth Century Fox, the film's original studio, reportedly declined to produce the film, fearing that the lead characters were too old to be bankable. While critical reaction to the film as a whole was more measured, Something's Gotta Give received generally favorable notice and became a surprise box-office hit following its North American release, eventually grossing US$266,600,000 worldwide, mostly from its international run.
Meyer's next film was The Holiday (2006), a romantic comedy starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet as two lovelorn women from opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean, who temporarily exchange homes to escape heartbreak during the holiday season. Jude Law and Jack Black co-starred as their love interests. Released to mixed or average reviews by critics, the film became a global box office success, grossing $205 million worldwide, mostly from its international run. The film won the 2007 Teen Choice Award in the Chick Flick category.
In 2009, Meyer's It's Complicated was released. It starred Meryl Streep as a successful bakery owner and single mother of three who starts a secret affair with her ex-husband, played by Alec Baldwin, ten years after their divorce – only to find herself drawn to another man: her architect Adam (portrayed by Steve Martin). The film was met with mixed to average reviews by critics, who declared it rather predictable despite fine work by an appealing cast, but became another commercial hit for Meyers upon its Christmas Day opening release in the United States. It played well through the holidays and into January 2012, ultimately closing on April 1 with $112.7 million. Worldwide, It's Complicated eventually grossed $219.1 million, and surpassed The Holiday to become Meyer's third highest-grossing project to date. It's Complicated earned Meyers two Golden Globe nominations, including Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Screenplay.
In 2012, it was announced that Meyers is said to direct The Chelsea, an ensemble dramedy set in the Chelsea Apartments in New York. Based on a screenplay by her daughter Hallie Meyers-Shyer, it will star Felicity Jones. In addition, she has been attached to The Intern starring Anne Hathaway, a comedy about founder of a fashion based e-commerce company who agrees to a community outreach program where seniors will intern at the firm. Also in 2012, Meyes closed a deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment to direct a yet-untitled film to be produced by Matt Tolmach and Meyers. Set entirely in the UK, the life of an American young woman gets turned upside down when she begins dating a very unlikely young man.
Meyers separated from Charles Shyer in 1999, and subsequently divorced. They have two daughters, Annie Meyers-Shyer and Hallie Meyers-Shyer, both of whom have had minor roles in their films. Meyers currently resides in Brentwood, California.
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