Meyers in 2013
Nancy Jane Meyers
December 8, 1949
|Residence||Brentwood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|Alma mater||American University|
|Occupation||Film director, producer, screenwriter|
(m. 1980; div. 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), What Women Want (2000), Something's Gotta Give (2003), The Holiday (2006), It's Complicated (2009) and The Intern (2015).
Meyers was born in Philadelphia, to father, Irving Meyers, an executive at a voting machines manufacturer, and mother, Patricia Meyers (née Lemisch), an interior designer who also worked as a volunteer with the Head Start Program and the Home for the Blind. The younger of two daughters, she was raised in a Jewish household in the Drexel Hill area. After reading playwright Moss Hart's 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.
After graduating from college, Meyers spent a year working in public television in Philadelphia. When she was 22 years old, Meyers moved to Los Angeles, living with her sister, Sally, in the Coldwater Canyon area. She quickly got a job as a Production Assistant on the CBS game show The Price Is Right.
Inspired by the popular TV show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Meyers decided she wanted to write. She eventually got work as a story editor where she read scripts, wrote coverage, and worked with screenwriters on projects that the producers were developing. One of the companies she worked at was producer Ray Stark's company, Rastar. She worked her way up from there to writing her own scripts. Two years after coming to Los Angeles, Meyers was able to quit her 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 spoiled young woman 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. Meyers described how hard it was to get the film made, noting, "Every single studio in Hollywood read it and passed on it... One studio called Goldie and said 'if you make this movie it’s a career ender.'” 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 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 reception. 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 turned down Paramount CEO Sherry Lansing's offer to direct the 1996 comedy blockbuster The First Wives Club, Meyers eventually agreed on making her directorial 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 casting as twins 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 positive reviews from 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 20th Century Fox, the film's original distributor, reportedly declined to produce the film, fearing that the lead characters were too old to be bankable. As a result, the film ended up as a co-production between Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures. 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 arranges a home exchange to escape heartbreak during the Christmas and 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, Meyers' 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 was planning to direct The Chelsea, an ensemble dramedy set in the Chelsea Apartments in New York. Based on a screenplay by daughter Hallie Meyers-Shyer, it was set to star Felicity Jones; the project failed to materialize however as Meyers was also finishing her own screenplay for The Intern (2015), a comedy about the founder of a fashion based e-commerce company who agrees to a community outreach program where seniors will intern at the firm. Originally set up at Paramount Pictures, the latter was expected to feature Tina Fey and Michael Caine in the lead roles. When a budget could not be settled, Meyers decided to pre-package before going out to other studios and was able to start negotiations for both actors. Handed over to Warner Bros, Fey was replaced by Reese Witherspoon as the attached star, though Witherspoon later left the film due to scheduling conflicts. In 2014, Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro replaced her and Caine.
In September 2015, Meyers announced that her next self-directed project would see her reteaming with Steve Martin. She also served as a producer on Home Again (2017), the directorial debut of her daughter Hallie Meyers-Shyer, starring Reese Witherspoon.
In 1980, Meyers and Charles Shyer married in Rome. They had been in a relationship since 1976. The pair separated in 1999 and eventually divorced. They have two daughters, Annie Meyers-Shyer and Hallie Meyers-Shyer, both of whom have had minor roles in their films.
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A friend that worked at Sony Entertainment introduced me to director Nancy Meyers, SOC/BA ’70, and I worked as her assistant for six months.
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