Paul Attanasio
Attanasio in 2015
Born (1959-11-14) November 14, 1959 (age 64)
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
  • Screenwriter
  • producer
Known forDisclosure

Paul Albert Attanasio (born November 14, 1959) is an American screenwriter and film and television producer. He has twice been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, for Quiz Show (1994) and Donnie Brasco (1997).

Early life

Paul Attanasio was born in The Bronx, New York City, the son of Connie, a real estate broker, and Joseph Attanasio, a commercial consultant.[1] He is the great-grandson of immigrants from Positano on Italy's Amalfi coast.[2] He grew up in the Pelham Bay section of the Bronx, and later in Tenafly, New Jersey, where he attended public high school.[3] He is a 1981 graduate of Harvard College, where he lived in Currier House, and earned his Juris Doctor degree at Harvard Law School in 1984.[3]


Attanasio was a film critic for The Washington Post from 1984 to 1987.[4] He started writing for television with the CBS sitcom Doctor Doctor and the NBC crime drama Homicide: Life on the Street, for which he holds a 'Created by' credit.[5]

In 1995 he won a BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his work on Quiz Show.[6] He later wrote the screenplays for the thriller Disclosure,[4] the gangster thriller Donnie Brasco, the science fiction thriller Sphere, and the political thrillers The Sum of All Fears and The Good German. While he was making films, he started Heel & Toe Films, with a first-look production pact at Paramount Pictures on July 17, 1998.[7]

In 2000, he returned to television as an executive producer of and writer for the medical drama Gideon's Crossing, as well as the pilot for R.U.S.H. On September 10, 2001, the Heel & Toe Films production company had signed a deal with Studios USA.[8] In 2004, Attanasio, alongside his then-wife and business partner Katie Jacobs and David Shore, pitched what would become House, of which he was credited as an executive producer. He also created Tommy and co-created Bull, which premiered in 2020 and 2016, respectively.

In 2017, it was confirmed that he would be writing and executive producing a new Amazon Video series titled Tong Wars.[9]

Personal life

Formerly married to his business partner Katie Jacobs, he is now married to Amanda Benefiel, an artist. With Katie Jacobs, he shares three children, Annabelle, John, and Grace. Attanasio is the brother of Mark Attanasio, a Los Angeles investment manager who is the principal owner of the Milwaukee Brewers.[10]

In 2013 John, then aged 16, was filmed driving a Chevrolet Camaro his father bought for him as a birthday gift. John is seen shouting homophobic slurs at another driver in the video, and claiming his own vehicle is "a million dollar car" - in reality it was worth under $60,000.[11][12]

TV appearances

Attanasio was featured in The Dialogue interview series. In an interview with producer Mike DeLuca, he describes how he went from lambasting movies as a "snotty" Washington Post film critic to developing rewarding creative partnerships with Oscar-winning directors Robert Redford, Barry Levinson, and Steven Soderbergh.





  1. ^ Paul Attanasio,, retrieved September 4, 2013.
  2. ^ Baldassaro, Lawrence (March 1, 2011). Beyond DiMaggio: Italian Americans in Baseball. U of Nebraska Press. ISBN 978-0-8032-1705-8.
  3. ^ a b Bernard Weinraub, "Flawed Characters In the Public Eye, Past and Present", The New York Times, September 12, 1994, retrieved September 4, 2013: "Mr. Attanasio grew up in the Bronx, in Pelham Bay, and his family later moved to Tenafly, N.J. (His father, Joseph, a businessman, had speaking parts in "Quiz Show" and "Disclosure.") After graduating from Harvard in 1981, and then Harvard Law School in 1984, he was hired at the law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore."
  4. ^ a b Meredith Berkman, "The Pagemaster", Entertainment Weekly, December 16, 1994, retrieved September 7, 2013.
  5. ^ Harriet Winslow, The Washington Post, "'Homicide' defies odds, marks 100th episode", The Post and Courier, April 30, 1998, p. 34, retrieved September 7, 2013.
  6. ^ Film: Adapted Screenplay, BAFTA Awards, retrieved December 22, 2014.
  7. ^ Petrikin, Chris; Hindes, Andrew (July 17, 1998). "Attanasio duo ink Par pact". Variety. Retrieved December 14, 2021.
  8. ^ Adalian, Josef (September 11, 2001). "Heel & Toe marching to Studios USA". Variety. Retrieved December 14, 2021.
  9. ^ "Amazon Orders Fred Armisen-Maya Rudolph Come Wong Kar-wai Drama, 3 Other Projects (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. September 8, 2017.
  10. ^ Tyler Kepner, "Owner Goes All In on the Brewers", The New York Times, September 30, 2011, retrieved September 4, 2013.
  11. ^ "WATCH: Son of Famed Screenwriter Unleashes Homophobic Tirade". HuffPost. September 6, 2013.
  12. ^ "Hollywood Screenwriter's Son Nearly Rear-Ends Car, Goes on Rich Kid Rant".