Dinner's early aspiration was to become a rock star. In 1972, he moved from Denver to Los Angeles to follow his dream. He worked as a musician, songwriter and recording artist for Fantasy Records until a double bill of Badlands and Mean Streets sparked his interest in cinema. He returned to the East Coast where he earned his BFA with honors from Harvard University and went on to earn his masters degree from the American Film Institute.
Dinner's graduate project for AFI was the critically acclaimed Miss Lonelyhearts, starring Eric Roberts. The film received a Special Jury Prize in the Directors' Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival, won numerous international awards and was shown on PBS' American Playhouse. While editing Miss Lonelyhearts, Dinner found the screenplay for the Catholic boys school drama, Heaven Help Us. The film, starring Andrew McCarthy, Mary Stuart Masterson and Kevin Dillon, opened the Deauville Film Festival in 1985. Dinner went on to direct Judge Reinhold and Meg Tilly in the feature comedy Off Beat in 1986.
His initial foray into television was as the director for the final episode of the '88-'89 season of The Wonder Years, which brought him his first Emmy nomination. As executive producer for the series from 1988-1993, he continued to direct episodes, bringing home an Emmy Award, a Peabody Award and two Humanitas Awards. He went on to direct and executive-produce Chicago Hope from 1994-1996, receiving two additional Emmy nominations. He then executive-produced and directed the series Early Edition.
Dinner directed the pilots for Tribeca, Sweet Justice, Early Edition and Dellaventura, as well as the Sonnenfeld-Josephson-produced series, Fantasy Island. He produced and directed the acclaimed movie for television Rise and Walk:
The Dennis Byrd Story. In addition, Dinner directed Fred Savage, David Huddleston, Laurence Fishburne, Cicely Tyson, Mandy Pantinkin, Hector Elizondo, Christine Lahti and Rip Torn to Emmy nominations.
Michael Dinner Facts