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Biography #2 (for Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow)

Jon Avnet has directed and produced more than 50 motion pictures and television movies over the last 25 years, from box office hits such as Risky Business and Fried Green Tomatoes to the critically acclaimed Uprising, The Burning Bed and Heat Wave for television. His work has won or been nominated for multiple Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globes and Directors Guild of America awards, as well as Writers Guild of America awards, the Peabody, the Humanitas and CableACE awards.

Avnet will next direct The Understudy from his own screenplay for Mike Medavoy's Phoenix Pictures, and last year, he executive-produced (with Graham Yost) and directed NBC's Boomtown. The series received a Peabody award, an AFI award and a Humanitas Award. Avnet recently directed, co-wrote and produced the NBC miniseries Uprising, which critics praised as the first creative project to deal specifically with the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and resistance by Jews during the Holocaust. Starring Leelee Sobieski, Hank Azaria, David Schwimmer, Jon Voight and Donald Sutherland, Uprising was nominated for a Golden Globe and a DGA award, and won the ASC award for cinematography. Additionally, Avnet received a Christopher Award, as well as the prestigious Janus Korchak Educational Award.

Prior to Uprising, Avnet directed and produced the politically charged Red Corner, starring Richard Gere and Bai Ling, for which he was honored with the National Board of Review's Human Rights Award. He directed and produced Up Close & Personal, starring Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer; and before that, he directed, produced and co-wrote the highly acclaimed Fried Green Tomatoes, which received multiple Oscar, Golden Globe and Writers Guild nominations. His first directing assignment (which he also co-wrote and produced) was the TV movie Between Two Women, starring Colleen Dewhurst and Farrah Fawcett, which earned Dewhurst an Emmy for her performance. In 1984, Avnet produced Risky Business, written and directed by Paul Brickman, which launched Tom Cruise's career. Avnet also produced Brickman's next film, Men Don't Leave, starring Jessica Lange, Joan Cusack, Arliss Howard and Chris O'Donnell. In 1985, Avnet produced The Burning Bed, which garnered eight Emmy nominations and remains the highestrated television movie ever aired on NBC. With Jordan Kerner, Avnet produced Less Than Zero, When a Man Loves a Woman, Miami Rhapsody and George of the Jungle, to name a few, as well as Mama Flora's Family, based on Alex Haley's novel.

Avnet is chairman of the board of directors of the American Film Institute and chairman of the Center for Advanced Film Studies Advisory Board at the American Film Institute. He also serves on the Board of Overseers of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, he participates in the director's lab at Sundance and its sister program, Emergence, in France.

Avnet lives in Topanga Canyon, California with his wife, artist Barbara Brody. He has three children: Alexandra, Jacob and Lily.

Bio courtesy Paramount for "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" (18-Sep-2004)


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