Tom Stern (director)

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Tom Stern
Born United States
Occupation Director, actor, writer, producer

Tom Stern is an American actor, director, writer, and producer living in Los Angeles.


Stern grew up in Westchester County New York and attended Byram Hills High School in Armonk, New York, and then went to film school at New York University (NYU) from 1983–87, where he met Alex Winter. The two collaborated on a number of 16 mm short films including Squeal of Death, which was noticed by an executive at Columbia Pictures in 1986. The film attempted to bring the Tex Avery cartoon aesthetic to live action, several years before The Mask did it.


In 1987 Stern graduated from NYU. The same year, he and Winter drove from New York to Hollywood and settled in Venice Beach. Nothing came of the meeting at Columbia, but Stern and Winter also sent a copy of Squeal of Death to Sam Raimi, who responded enthusiastically. He and his partner Rob Tapert optioned an anthology comedy feature film script from Stern and Winter and attempted to raise funds to produce it. Ultimately they could not find the money and the project died. The pair then worked on a number of short films and music videos for bands such as Red Hot Chili Peppers and Butthole Surfers. They also directed Impact Video Magazine for producer Stuart Shapiro. Impact was a counter-culture arts magazine that featured short films, performances, and interviews with the likes of Butthole Surfers, painter Robert Williams, hip hop pioneers Public Enemy, robotic art collective Survival Research Labs, and comedian Bill Hicks.

In 1989, Stern, Winter, and fellow writer Tim Burns were hired to develop "The Idiot Box", a sketch comedy show for MTV. Immediately following The Idiot Box, the trio wrote and directed the 1993 film Freaked. Freaked starred Winter, Randy Quaid, Keanu Reeves, and Mr T as the Bearded Lady. The film was barely released largely as a result of a change of regimes at 20th Century Fox. Joe Roth was the president of Fox when he green-lit the film, but he left the studio while it was in post production. The new president was Peter Chernin, who expressed his distaste for Freaked and dumped it into two theaters with no advertising. It vanished quickly but later developed a cult following after being shown on cable television, finally being released on DVD.[citation needed]

Stern and Burns wrote the screenplay to An American Werewolf in Paris, the sequel to the 1981 film An American Werewolf in London. Stern was contracted to direct, but after Freaked was dumped by Fox the producers decided not to honor the contract and hired a different director, Marco Brambilla, who had Stern and Burns fired as writers and the script went through 12 subsequent writers before essentially dying in development. The project went into turn around and was later picked up and produced by Walt Disney Pictures with writer/director Anthony Waller. Although Stern and Burns received screen credit as the principal writers, almost none of their dialogue appears in the movie. The tone was changed from comedy/horror (a la An American Werewolf in London) to chiller/thriller, aimed at the youth market.[citation needed]

Stern's next project was another horror/comedy, Bad Pinocchio, developed for Trimark Pictures. He wrote the script and was excited to direct it, but got into a dispute with Trimark about the budget. Stern felt he could not produce his vision of the film for a total budget of one million dollars, but that was all that the company was willing to spend. As a result he left the project, which was finished with a different writer and director, and Stern's script was not used. The resulting film was called Pinocchio's Revenge and disappeared with little notice. Stern and Burns also collaborated on "The Chimp Channel" and "Monkey-ed Movies".[citation needed]

After that he worked in television, often closely with Jimmy Kimmel, having written, directed, and produced several episodes of shows off of Kimmel's production company Jackhole Productions, including The Man Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and Crank Yankers. Stern has also worked as a writer on Trey Parker and Matt Stone's presidential parody, That's My Bush!, as co-EP, director and writer on The Andy Milonakis Show, and was the creator of the Comedy Central travel show parody Gerhard Reinke's Wanderlust.

In May 2008 Stern directed a music video for Russian metal band ANJ called Gorbachev: Bigger and Russianer. He posted it on his Vimeo page in July and within four weeks it had been viewed over four hundred and eighty thousand times (372 K on Vimeo) and 111K on YouTube) all by word of mouth. In July 2008 Stern directed the Kanye West hosted puppet show pilot Alligator Boots. In August 2008 Stern completed the rear projection content for Cheech & Chong's Light Up America tour.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]


  • "Hollywood Hillbillies (Reelz channel series)" (2014) - Executive Producer
  • "Urban Tarzan (Spike TV series)" (2012) - Executive Producer
  • "Joe Schmo: The Full Bounty (Spike TV series)" (2012) - Director
  • "Stevie TV (VH1 sketch comedy series)" (2012, 2013) - Director, co-executive producer
  • "Marc Saves America (MTV Pilot)" (2011) - Director, Executive Producer
  • "1000 Ways to Die (Spike TV series)" (2010) - Supervising Producer
  • "Alligator Boots (Comedy Central Pilot)" (2008) - Director
  • "Harden High (MTV Pilot)" 2007 - Writer Director Executive Producer, Co-Creator with Jason Jordan
  • "Saul of the Molemen" (2007) - Writer, Director, Executive Producer
  • "The Andy Milonakis Show" (2005) - Writer, Director, Executive Producer
  • "Gerhard Reinke's Wanderlust" (2003) - Writer, Director, Executive Producer
  • "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (2003) - Director
  • "That's My Bush!" (2001) - Writer
  • "The Chimp Channel" (1999) - Writer, Producer
  • "The Man Show" (1999) - Director
  • An American Werewolf in Paris (1997) - Co-writer
  • Freaked (1993) - Co-Writer, Co-director, Actor
  • "The Idiot Box" (1991) - Writer, Actor, Co-director

Music videos[edit]

External links[edit]