Robert B. Weide
Born (1959-06-20) June 20, 1959 (age 62)
OccupationDocumentarian, producer, director, screenwriter
Notable worksCurb Your Enthusiasm
The Marx Brothers in a Nutshell
Woody Allen: A Documentary
Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth
Notable awards3 Primetime Emmy Awards (1986, 1999, 2003)
SpouseLinda Bates Weide
Website
www.duckprods.com/weide/index.html

Robert B. Weide (born June 20, 1959) is an American screenwriter, producer, and director. He has directed a number of documentaries, and was the principal director and an executive producer of Curb Your Enthusiasm for the show's first five years. His documentaries have focused on four comedians: W.C. Fields, Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce, and Woody Allen. His latest documentary, Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time (2021), explores the life and works of Kurt Vonnegut.

Weide has received an Academy Award nomination and Primetime Emmy Award win for Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth (1999). He also received Emmy Awards for W.C. Fields: Head Up (1986), and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Early work and education

Weide began working with film at an early job inspecting 16mm educational films at the Fullerton Public Library in Orange County, California.

In 1978, while taking film production courses at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California, Weide decided to produce a documentary film on the Marx Brothers,[1] inspired by his love of their work.[2] Undeterred by repeated rejections of his applications to the USC School of Cinema-Television, he worked on the project on his own time, and with help from Charles H. Joffe got the rights to clips necessary to make the film.[1] The Marx Brothers in a Nutshell was broadcast in 1982 on PBS, and became "one of the highest-rated programs in PBS history."[2]

Career

W.C. Fields: Straight Up (1986)

Weide co-wrote W. C. Fields: Straight Up (1986) with Joseph Adamson and Ronald J. Fields. Adamson directed it and Dudley Moore narrated. In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, Weide said, "“The film is 94 minutes long. We had access to all of his feature films, and clips from 1915 on. We have newsreel footage, outtakes, and material never seen before. We also have interviews with people who knew and/or worked with Fields, or have special knowledge of him, including Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Will Fowler, Madge Kennedy, who played in the 1923 stage production of ‘Poppy’ and co-starred in the movie, Leonard Maltin, Ronald J. Fields, propman Harry Caplan and an audio interview with the grown-up Baby Leroy."[3]

Mort Sahl: The Loyal Opposition (1989)

Weide's next project focused on the career of Mort Sahl.[4] The project was part of the American Masters documentary series, which originally ran on PBS in 1989.[5]

Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth (1998)

Main article: Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth

In 1998, Weide directed the documentary Swear to Tell the Truth, which received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Documentary. Robert De Niro narrated it and it featured interviews with Bruce's ex-wife Honey, mother Sally Marr and former TV host Steve Allen, who had Bruce on his show a few times. The film debuted on HBO.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Main article: Curb Your Enthusiasm

From 2000 to 2005, Weide served as principal director and an executive producer of Larry David's HBO comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm.[6] He became involved in the series after receiving a script by David titled "Prognosis Negative". In 1998 David told Weide that HBO was interested in doing a comedy special about David's return to stand-up—"ostensibly a documentary with some behind-the-scenes footage. And he told me he wanted me to direct it."[7] The special turned out to be the beginning of the series. Since then David and Weide have often collaborated, with Weide serving as a director and executive producer. Weide returned with the show in 2007, directing "The Anonymous Donor", and has continued to guest direct since.

Weide received several Primetime Emmy Award nominations for his work on the show, and won an Emmy in 2003 for his work as director during its third season. His ending credit on the show became part of a popular meme.[8][9][10]

How to Lose Friends & Alienate People

Weide's first feature film as director, How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, was released in October 2008, to generally unfavorable reviews,[11] though it topped the United Kingdom's box office during its opening weekend.[12]

Woody Allen: A Documentary (2011)

Weide's next documentary, Woody Allen: A Documentary, explored the career of filmmaker and comedian Woody Allen as part of PBS's American Masters series.[13] The film takes a look at Allen's nearly seven-decade career as a director and comedian. It features interviews with Allen, Diane Keaton, Scarlett Johansson, Martin Scorsese, Chris Rock, Owen Wilson, Larry David, Penelope Cruz, and Leonard Maltin. It received favorable reviews, earning a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 21 reviews. The website's critical consensus states, "Driving aside the most polemical aspects of the director's biography, Woody Allen: A Documentary draws an interesting picture of the filmmaker's opus while allowing some glimpses of his intense personal life."[14] The New Yorker critic Richard Brody wrote, "It’s a close look at how Allen’s career was shaped, from his Brooklyn youth to his precocious launch as a comedy writer, his rise to local fame as a standup comedian and to national celebrity on television, his move from screenwriter to director of the 'early, funny' films to internationally lionized auteur to pariah and, gradually, back again."[15]

Weide was the director and main writer for Mr. Sloane, a 2014 British comedy series.

Work with Kurt Vonnegut

I have some kind of knack for getting to know or becoming very close with people I've long admired. Kurt Vonnegut and I—it's not an exaggeration to say we were best friends. And I grew up just idolizing him."

— Weide in October 2008[6]

Weide wrote and produced the 1996 film adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's Mother Night. With Vonnegut's support, Weide chronicled him on film starting in 1988 and has obtained footage of him from 16mm home movies dating back to 1925. Weide was also working on a film adaptation of The Sirens of Titan until the film rights were sold to another producer.

Writing under the pseudonym Wyaduck (a Marx Brothers reference), Weide was a frequent poster to Usenet group alt.books.kurt-vonnegut, where he reported on the progress of the Mother Night project. He was mentioned in Vonnegut's Timequake.[16]

In 2001, Weide directed a revival of Vonnegut's play Happy Birthday, Wanda June starring his wife, Linda Bates, as Penelope.[17]

Filmography

As writer

Year Title Notes Ref.
1982 Marx Brothers in a Nutshell TV Movie Documentary
1984 The Great Standups TV Movie Documentary
1986 W.C. Fields: Straight Up TV Movie Documentary
1987 Billy Crystal: Don't Get Me Started TV Special (short)
1989 Mort Sahl: The Loyal Opposition TV Documentary Special
1996 Mother Night Feature Film
1998 Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth Documentary Feature
2011 Woody Allen: A Documentary TV Documentary Special
2014 Mr. Sloane 6 episodes
2021 Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time Documentary

As director

Year Title Notes Ref.
1984 The Great Standups TV Movie Documentary
1989 Mort Sahl: The Loyal Opposition TV Documentary Special
1998 Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth Documentary Feature
1999 Larry David: Curb Your Enthusiasm TV Movie - Pilot
2005 Earth to America (opening segment)
2008 How to Lose Friends and Alienate People Feature Film directorial debut
2011 Woody Allen: A Documentary TV Documentary Special
2012 Parks and Recreation Episode: Dave Returns
2014 Mr. Sloane 6 episodes
2014 Marry Me Episode: Annicurser-Me
2016 Graves 2 episodes
2000-21 Curb Your Enthusiasm 29 episodes
2021 Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time Documentary

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1998 Academy Award Best Documentary Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth Nominated
1986 Primetime Emmy Awards Nonfiction Series or Special W.C. Fields: Straight Up Won
1999 Outstanding Documentary Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth Nominated
Editing for a Nonfiction Program Won
2002 Comedy Series Curb Your Enthusiasm Nominated
Directing for a Comedy Series Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Doll Nominated
2003 Comedy Series Curb Your Enthusiasm Nominated
Directing for a Comedy Series Curb Your Enthusiasm - Krazee-Eyez Killa Won
2004 Comedy Series Curb Your Enthusiasm Nominated
Directing for a Comedy Series Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Car Pool Lane Nominated
2006 Comedy Series Curb Your Enthusiasm Nominated
Directing for a Comedy Series Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Christ Nail Nominated
2012 Directing for a Comedy Series Curb Your Enthusiasm - Palestinian Chicken Nominated
Outstanding Documentary Series Woody Allen: A Documentary Nominated
Directing for a Documentary Program Nominated
2004 Directors Guild of America Award Directing - Comedy Series Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Car Pool Lane Nominated
2011 Directing - Comedy Series Curb Your Enthusiasm - Palestinian Chicken Won
2003 Producers Guild of America Award Best Episodic Comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Car Pool Lane Won
2005 Best Episodic Comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm - Palestinian Chicken Won
2007 Best Episodic Comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm Nominated

Personal life

Weide married actress Linda Bates. His marriage to her and her subsequent issues with progressive supranuclear palsy are chronicled in Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time.[18]

References

  1. ^ a b "Marx Brothers in a Nutshell". Weide's official website. Retrieved October 2, 2009.
  2. ^ a b "A Sketch of Robert B. Weide's Career". Weide's official website. Retrieved October 2, 2009.
  3. ^ "'STRAIGHT UP' A TRIBUTE TO W.C. FIELDS". Los Angeles Times. March 8, 1986. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
  4. ^ "Mort Sahl: The Loyal Opposition | Big Sky Documentary Film Festival". www.bigskyfilmfest.org. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
  5. ^ "Whyaduck Productions, Inc. -- Mort Sahl: The Loyal Opposition".
  6. ^ a b Adam Baer (October 1, 2008). "Uncurbed enthusiasm". Salon.com. Retrieved October 2, 2009.
  7. ^ "Interview: Robert B. Weide". duckproductions.com. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  8. ^ Weide, Robert. B. (April 5, 2020). "Robert B. Weide: My life as a meme after 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  9. ^ "Sí, pero, ¿quién es Robert B. Weide, "director" de todos los videos virales que circulan en Internet?". www.msn.com. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  10. ^ "Internet Thinks Year 2020 is Directed by Robert B Weide and the Meme 'Director' Has Thoughts". News18. March 23, 2020. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  11. ^ How to Lose Friends & Alienate People at Metacritic
  12. ^ "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People tops the UK box office". Journalism.co.uk. October 8, 2008. Retrieved October 2, 2009. The film of Toby Young's book, depicting his failed five-year attempt to make it in the U.S, as a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, has shot to the top of the UK box office in its opening weekend. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People took £1.5 million over the weekend according to Screen International. It has, so far, failed to enjoy the same success in the US.
  13. ^ PBS.org American Masters, Woody Allen: A Documentary – About the Film, July 21, 2011; Note: the two part film first aired on November 20 & 21, 2011.
  14. ^ "Woody Allen: A Documentary". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 21, 2021.
  15. ^ "Woody Allen, American Master". The New Yorker. November 15, 2011. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
  16. ^ WYADUCK (February 6, 1997). "WYADUCK's TIMEQUAKE Report". Newsgroupalt.books.kurt-vonnegut. Usenet: 19970206023300.VAA11876@ladder01.news.aol.com. Retrieved December 5, 2014. The reason I had to post to the NG right now is because I'm a little delirious. I'm not trying to gloat, but I can now say I'll die happy. I've lived every Vonnegut fan's ultimate dream... I'm in the book. (!!)
  17. ^ Monji, Jana J. (November 8, 2001). "A Vibrant 'Happy Birthday'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 27, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ Dawson, Angela (November 17, 2021). "Robert B. Weide Explores His Friendship With Kurt Vonnegut In Long-Awaited Documentary". Forbes. Retrieved November 27, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)