Elaine May
director, screenwriter and actress
Elaine May
Elaine May is an American film director, screenwriter and actress. She achieved her greatest fame in the 1950s from her improvisational comedy routines in partnership with Mike Nichols. She is a two-time Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and also the mother of Oscar nominee Jeannie Berlin.
Biography
Elaine May's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Elaine May from around the web
Warren Beatty Feted at Museum of the Moving Image Gala
Huffington Post - 4 months
Warren Beatty, Hollywood legend and famed boulevardier, starred in or directed and wrote the movies Splendor in the Grass, Bonnie and Clyde, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Shampoo, Bulworth, and Reds, to name a few, so now that he has his first film in many years, the long awaited Rules Rules Don't Apply, it is fitting that the Museum of the Moving Image Image honor him. From this great night of speeches and clips this week, an observation beyond Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" was evident: eccentric, beyond the pale, this man is much beloved. Guests included Elaine May, Jeanne Berlin, Barry Diller, Mandy Patinkin, Lee Grant, Robert Benton, Barry Levinson, James Toback, Oliver Platt, and Michael Barker, some legendary figures themselves; many provided a piece of movie history in their accolades. Matthew Broderick with Sarah Jessica Parker, and Haley Bennett attended too. Paul Sorvino said he makes actors feel free and beautifully guided. The Rules Don't Apply stars Alden Ehrenreich and Lil ...
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Huffington Post article
What to Watch Friday
NYTimes - about 1 year
Elaine May remembers Mike Nichols on “American Masters.” “The Blind Side” recounts the feel-good story of the football player Michael Oher. And “Dateline” takes on the case of Steven Avery.
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NYTimes article
Woody Allen casts pop star Miley Cyrus for Amazon series
Yahoo News - about 1 year
(Reuters) - Acclaimed movie writer-director Woody Allen is turning his attention to the small screen, with a new streaming television series for Amazon starring pop star Miley Cyrus. On her Instagram account, Cyrus confirmed on Monday she had been cast for the show, posting a photo of a painting of Allen and saying in an expletive-laced message she was "stoked to be in Woody Allen's first series!!!!!" Cyrus, whose career path took her from Disney star to provocative pop singer, will star alongside Allen and Elaine May in the six half-hour-episode series that will take place in the 1960s, Hollywood news site Deadline reported.
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Yahoo News article
Miley Cyrus Is Going To Star In Woody Allen's New Amazon TV Series
Huffington Post - about 1 year
Are we, as a planet, ready to forgive Miley Cyrus for the cinematic travesty "So Undercover?" We're still recovering.  Well, according to Deadline, it's time to move on, because Miley Cyrus is set to star in a new TV series from the mind of Woody Allen. Yeah, you read that right. In Jan. 2015, Allen signed a groundbreaking deal, one he's admitted he's regretted ever since, to produce his first-ever TV series for Amazon's streaming service. The six half-hour-episode series will reportedly take place in the 1960s and also star actress Elaine May, who previously worked with Allen in "Small Time Crooks." The series begins filming in March.  Also on HuffPost: -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
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Huffington Post article
Miley Cyrus Is Set to Star in Woody Allen's Amazon Series - E! Online
Google News - about 1 year
New York Daily News Miley Cyrus Is Set to Star in Woody Allen's Amazon Series E! Online Well, this is certainly an unexpected bit of casting news. Woody Allen's still-untitled Amazon series has just found main cast, with none other than Miley Cyrus is in the mix, Deadline has reported. Cyrus will star alongside Elaine May and Allen ... Miley Cyrus Will Star In Woody Allen's New TV SeriesMTV.com Woody Allen's Newest Ingenue Is...Miley Cyrus?Vanity Fair Miley Cyrus to star in Woody Allen's Amazon series alongside Elaine MayMashable ScreenCrush -Indie Wire (blog) -Huffington Post all 22 news articles »
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Google News article
Elaine May to Direct Mike Nichols Documentary for PBS
NYTimes - over 1 year
Ms. May will direct an “American Masters” installment on the acclaimed director, her former comedy partner.
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NYTimes article
Diane Sawyer, Alan Alda, Candice Bergen, Regis Philbin and Others Celebrate Marlo Thomas and the 'Clever Little Lies' Cast
Huffington Post - over 1 year
In Clever Little Lies, the thoughtful and funny new comedy about family, love, sex and the power of commitment, Marlo Thomas and Greg Mullavey play a long married husband and wife determined to help their son (George Merrick) and daughter-in-law (Kate Wetherhead) save their marriage. So at a recent star-studded luncheon at New York's La Grenouille restaurant to celebrate the cast it only seemed fitting that Phil Donahue would lovingly share his take on marriage to Thomas. This year the couple celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary. "In airports people knock me over," gushed the legendary talk show host. 'Oh, That Girl. We love That Girl!" And "Free to be You and Me". The big football player {Rosey Grier} who sings "It's Alright to Cry"...finally they look me over and say, 'we like you, too, Regis.'" See photos from the luncheon below. Learn more about Clever Little Lies here. Alan Alda, Marlo Thomas, Candice Bergen Candice Bergen, Elaine May, Diane Sawyer, Marlo Tho ...
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Huffington Post article
#52FilmsByWomen: Expanding Opportunities for Female Filmmakers
Huffington Post - over 1 year
At present there is a mounting public awareness that a lack of female directors working in the film and television industry is tangible. Recent news is that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is taking a step toward a potential class-action lawsuit driven by hiring discriminations in the entertainment industry. The suit was partially ignited by a three-year study titled "Female Filmmakers Initiative" led by Dr. Stacy L. Smith of USC's Annenberg School. The research concludes that there is not only a lack of females in leadership positions in film and television, but additionally a widespread misunderstanding that industry leaders hold regarding female directors. The study in turn suggests that there is a widespread disregard by industry executives and potentially the public alike of the capabilities of women to direct movies. Kirsten Schaffer, the Executive Director of Women in Film (WIF) states, "When I read that industry veterans couldn't make a list of 10 female ...
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Huffington Post article
How Many People Can Say They've Been Yelled At by Elaine Stritch?
Huffington Post - over 2 years
"I'm so so so sorry for your loss," a friend wrote on my Facebook wall this morning. That is how I knew Elaine Stritch had passed. For the next few hours I received tens of text messages expressing sympathy. "Are you OK?" "Long live the queen!" "Rough. Fucking. News." There was one that just said, "STRITCH!" with five iPhone emoticons of the yellow face that looks like it's crying a river. Clearly my love of Elaine is no secret. My Stritch obsession started in high school. Until I discovered Pitchfork in college, I rarely listened to popular music. I filled my days with musical soundtracks I'd burned from the local library. From Gershwin to Sondheim to Rent, I gave myself a thorough education in the American musical. I once called the local NPR station to tell their theater reviewer that she didn't know what she was talking about. I grew up near San Diego, in a small suburb famous for surfers and poinsettias. Tan and blonde was the dress code, and I was anything ...
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Huffington Post article
Beth Einhorn on Being the Only Woman Writer for <em>The Tonight Show</em>
Huffington Post - about 3 years
It's well known that late night TV talk shows are a male-dominated field. As Jay Leno hands over The Tonight Show to Jimmy Fallon, I caught up with Beth Einhorn, who was the only female writer on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno for three years. Darryle Pollack: You've worked as a Writer/Producer/Director on shows like Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Chris Rock Show, The Man Show, the George Carlin Specials on HBO, Saturday Night Live. Tell me about getting hired as a writer for The Tonight Show. Beth Einhorn: Like other shows I've worked on, it was people I've previously worked with. In this case, two writers at the show, Anthony Caleca and Andy McElfresh, who recommended me and got me in to meet the head writer. Adam Carolla also recommended me which was very nice. The head writer looked at my website and brought me back to meet with Jay, and I was hired. DP: There haven't been many women in that job. BE: Yes, I think in the history of The Tonight Show there have only been six female writ ...
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Huffington Post article
The Sizzling Broadway <i>Betrayal</i> of Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz
Huffington Post - over 3 years
"There's nothing like the love of a good man!" said Julia Roberts over her shoulder to me after I'd commented on how young and beautiful the actress looks these days. This -- after she'd come all the way across the Barrymore Theater auditorium to give me a great hug before Mike Nichols' opening night of the celebrated Harold Pinter's "Betrayal." (Julia did indeed look spiffy in a sleek black dress and we had a brief chat about life, husband, children and everything except whatever she is doing next. She is a real star and one of my favorites.) • The VIP crowd included the de la Rentas, the Diller-von Furstenbergs, the Graydon Carters, Elaine May and Stanley Donen, Nick Pileggi, Candice and Marshall Rose, to name just a few. But in its own way, the night was understated. No red carpet, no mercy for the paparazzi -- everybody calm, cool and collected. Mr. Nichols I didn't see, but his bride, Diane Sawyer, was there cheering him on. • You probably already know how hard it will b ...
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Huffington Post article
John Turturro Talks Making 'Fading Gigolo' WIth Woody Allen
Huffington Post - over 3 years
TORONTO — Not since the forgettable 2000 comedy "Picking up the Pieces" has Woody Allen starred in a film he didn't direct. But John Turturro managed to coax Allen back into acting for "Fading Gigolo" with an enticing role: an elderly but novice pimp. And it wouldn't have occurred if Allen and Turturro didn't happen to share a barber. Though Allen and Turturro knew each other somewhat (Turturro had a small part in Allen's "Hannah and Her Sisters" and was nearly cast in two other Allen films), they weren't close. "I knew he liked my work," Turturro said in a recent interview. "But I don't sit next to him at Knick games." Though both are Brooklyn-born New Yorkers who frequent Madison Square Garden, another city institution brought them together. Turturro mentioned a film idea one day while getting a trim at the salon. The barber liked the idea and later told it to Allen, who went for it. "It was one of those old-fashioned barbershop things," Turturro says. "Fading Gigolo" premiered ov ...
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Huffington Post article
Roger Wright: Jeff Garlin's Dealin' With Idiots
Huffington Post - over 3 years
During the live appearance of Curb Your Enthusiasm's Jeff Garlin after the premiere weekend showing of his new movie Dealin' With Idiots at Chicago's Music Box Theater; a question came from the darkened back of the house. A man hiding his face was handed the microphone and asked, "Ah . . . Mister Garlin? Ah . . . who's your favorite professional wrestler?" And just for a moment, Garlin giggled in a way that let every single person in the packed house in on the private joke and said, "That's my brother." Then Garlin made everyone in the room feel like a brother or sister. This was not some movie star, director, Larry David pal. This was Jeff from the neighborhood. Jeff from Chicago. "Come on in! Sit down! Have a beer! Have I got a story for you." Saturday night in Chicago, Jeff Garlin didn't just make an appearance at a small neighborhood theater, to support the world premiere of his movie. Jeff Garlin welcomed everyone who could fit into his living room. Garlin's n ...
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Huffington Post article
George Lucas, Tony Kushner, Elaine May Among National Medal Of Arts Honorees
Yahoo News - over 3 years
George Lucas, Tony Kushner and Elaine May are among the honorees for the 2012 National Medal of Arts that will be presented by President Barack Obama next week at the White House. Lucas is being honored for his contributions to American cinema. “By combining the art of storytelling with boundless imagination and cutting-edge techniques, Mr. Lucas has transported us to new worlds and created some of the most beloved and iconic films of all time”, according to the award citation released today by the White House. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright/screenwriter Tony Kushner (Angels In America) will be honored for his contributions [...]
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Yahoo News article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Elaine May
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 2016
    Age 83
    May did not direct another film for 29 years, when she directed the TV documentary Mike Nichols: American Masters in 2016.
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    In January 2016, the Writer's Guild of America-West announced that May would receive its 2016 Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement at the Writer's Guild of America award ceremony in Los Angeles on February 13.
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    In 2016, she came out of retirement to star in Woody Allen's television series Crisis in Six Scenes on Amazon, her first role since Allen's own Small Time Crooks.
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  • 2013
    Age 80
    In December 2013 it was announced that Stanley Donen was in pre-production for a new film co-written with May, to be produced by Mike Nichols.
    More Details Hide Details A table reading of the script for potential investors included such actors as Christopher Walken, Charles Grodin, Ron Rifkin, and Jeannie Berlin. May has also acted in comedy films, including Enter Laughing (1967), directed by Carl Reiner, and Luv (1967), costarring Peter Falk and Jack Lemmon. The latter film was not well received by critics, although Lemmon said he enjoyed working alongside May: "She's the finest actress I've ever worked with," he said. "And I've never expressed an opinion about a leading lady before... I think Elaine is touched with genius. She approaches a scene like a director and a writer." Film scholar Gwendolyn Audrey Foster notes that May is drawn to material that borders on dry Yiddish humor. As such, it has not always been well received at the box office. Her style of humor, in writing or acting, often has more to do with traditional Yiddish theater than traditional Hollywood cinema.
    May was awarded the National Medal of Arts for her lifetime contributions by president Barack Obama, in a ceremony in the White House on July 10, 2013.
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  • 1997
    Age 64
    May received her second Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay when she again worked with Nichols on Primary Colors in 1997.
    More Details Hide Details She was one of several writers, none of whom were given credit for contributing to the screenplay, for the 1982 megahit Tootsie, notably the scenes involving the character played by Bill Murray.
  • 1996
    Age 63
    May reunited with her former comic partner, Mike Nichols, for The Birdcage in 1996.
    More Details Hide Details The film relocated the classic French farce La Cage aux Folles from France to South Beach, Miami.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1972
    Age 39
    Her second film was 1972's The Heartbreak Kid.
    More Details Hide Details This comedy, based on a screenplay by Neil Simon, and starring Charles Grodin, Cybill Shepherd, Eddie Albert, and May's own daughter, Jeannie Berlin, was a major critical success (holding a 90% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes). It is listed at #91 in the AFI's 100 funniest movies of all time. Albert and Berlin each received a Supporting Actor or Actress Oscar nomination for the film. May followed up these two comedies with the bleak crime drama entitled Mikey and Nicky, starring Peter Falk and John Cassavetes. Budgeted at $1.8 million and scheduled for a summer 1975 release, the film ended up costing $4.3 million and not coming out until December 1976. She was eventually fired by Paramount Pictures (the studio which financed the film), but succeeded in getting herself rehired by hiding two reels of the negative until the studio gave in. The film's subsequent failure at the box office damaged her career in Hollywood until Warren Beatty decided to give her one more chance. They collaborated on Ishtar (1987), starring Beatty and Dustin Hoffman. Largely shot on location in Morocco, the production was beset by creative differences among the principals and had cost overruns. The advance publicity was largely negative and, despite some positive reviews from The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post, the film was a critical failure.
    They reunited for benefits for George McGovern for President in 1972.
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  • 1971
    Age 38
    May has received recognition for her writing, with her first Writers Guild of America nomination coming in 1971 for her debut film, A New Leaf (which she directed and in which she co-starred).
    More Details Hide Details Further writing honours include an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, with Warren Beatty, and similarly that years' Writers Guild of America award for Heaven Can Wait (1978). Other writing awards include a Saturn Award for Best Writing with Warren Beatty in 1978 for the same movie, and a nomination for a WGA for The Birdcage (1996), as well as a BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Primary Colors (1998), and Oscar and WGA nominations for the same movie. For her acting, her accolades include a nomination for a Golden Globe award for Best Actress in a musical or comedy for A New Leaf (1971), and winning the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Small Time Crooks (2000).
  • 1969
    Age 36
    In 1969 she directed the off-Broadway production of Adaptation/Next.
    More Details Hide Details In 2002 Stanley Donen directed her musical play Adult Entertainment with Jeannie Berlin and Danny Aiello at Variety Arts Theater in Manhattan. May wrote the one-act play George is Dead, which starred Marlo Thomas and was performed on Broadway from late 2011 into 2012 as part of the anthology play Relatively Speaking, directed by John Turturro. Director May originally submitted a 180-minute work to Paramount, but the studio cut it back by nearly 80 minutes for release.
  • 1964
    Age 31
    In 1964, May married her psychoanalyst, Dr. David L. Rubinfine; they remained married until his death in 1982.
    More Details Hide Details May's current longtime companion is director Stanley Donen, whom she has dated since 1999. Donen claims to have proposed marriage "about 172 times." After her marriage to Marvin May, she studied acting with former Moscow Art Theatre coach Maria Ouspenskaya. She also held odd jobs during that period and tried to enroll in college. She learned, however, that colleges in California require a high school diploma to apply, which she didn't have. After finding out that the University of Chicago was one of the few colleges that would accept students without diplomas, she set out with $7 to her name and hitchhiked to Chicago.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1960
    Age 27
    By 1960, they would make their Broadway debut with An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May, which later won a Grammy.
    More Details Hide Details After performing their act a number of years in New York's various clubs, and then on Broadway, with most of the shows sold out, Nichols could not believe their success: His feelings were shared by May, who was also taken aback by their success, especially having some real income after living in near-poverty. She told a Newsweek interviewer, "When we came to New York, we were practically barefoot. And I still can't get used to walking in high heels." The uniqueness of their act made them an immediate success in New York. Their style became the "next big thing" in live comedy. Charles H. Joffe, their producer, remembers that sometimes the line to their show went around the block. That partly explains why Milton Berle, a major television comedy star, tried three times without success to see their act. Critic Lawrence Christon recalls his first impression after seeing their act: "You just knew it was a defining moment. They caught the urban tempo, like Woody Allen did." They performed nightly to mostly sold-out shows, in addition to making various TV and radio appearances and appearing in TV commercials.
    The couple divorced in 1960, and she married lyricist Sheldon Harnick in 1962; they divorced a year later.
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  • 1957
    Age 24
    Nichols then left the group in 1957, with May quitting with him.
    More Details Hide Details They next formed their own stand-up comedy team, Nichols and May. After contacting some agents in New York, they were asked to audition for Jack Rollins, who would later become Woody Allen's manager and executive producer. Rollins said he was stunned by how good their act was:
    Nichols was personally asked to leave the Compass Players in 1957 because he and May became too good, which threw the company off balance, noted club manager Jay Landsman.
    More Details Hide Details Nichols was told he had too much talent.
  • 1955
    Age 22
    In 1955, May joined a new, off-campus improvisational theater group, The Compass Players, becoming one of its charter members.
    More Details Hide Details The group was founded by Paul Sills and David Shepherd. Nichols later joined the group, wherein he resumed his friendship with May. At first he was unable to improvise well on stage, but with inspiration from May, they began developing improvised comedy sketches together. Nichols himself remembers this period: Actress Geraldine Page recalls they worked together with great efficiency, "like a juggernaut." Thanks in part to Nichols and May, writes Amy Seham, the Compass Players became an enormously popular satirical comedy troupe. Seham notes that they helped his group devise new stage techniques to adapt the freedom they had during the workshop. May became prominent as a member of the Compass's acting group, a quality others in the group observed. Bobbi Gordon, an actor, remembers that she was often the center of attention: "The first time I met her was at Compass... Elaine was this grande dame of letters. With people sitting around her feet, staring up at her, open-mouthed in awe, waiting for 'The Word'. A similar impression struck Compass actor Bob Smith:
  • TEENAGE
  • 1950
    Age 17
    Soon after moving to Chicago in 1950, May began informally taking classes at the university by auditing, sitting in without enrolling.
    More Details Hide Details She nevertheless sometimes engaged in discussions with instructors. Mike Nichols, who was then an actor in the school's theatrical group, remembers her coming to his philosophy class, making "outrageous" comments, and leaving. They learned about each other from friends, eventually being introduced after one of his stage shows. Six weeks later, they bumped into each other at a train station in Chicago and soon began spending time together over the following weeks as "dead-broke theatre junkies."
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1941
    Age 8
    Elaine May received an Oscar nomination for updating the 1941 film Here Comes Mr. Jordan as Heaven Can Wait (1978).
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  • 1932
    Born
    May was born Elaine Iva Berlin in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1932, the daughter of Jewish parents, theater director/actor Jack Berlin and actress Ida (Aaron) Berlin.
    More Details Hide Details As a child, Elaine performed with her father in his traveling Yiddish theater company, which he took around the country. Her stage debut on the road was at the age of three, and she eventually played the character of a generic little boy named Benny. Because the troupe toured extensively, May had been in over 50 different schools by the time she was ten, having spent as little as a few weeks enrolled at any one time. May says she hated school and would spend her free time at home reading fairy tales and mythology. Her father died when she was 11 years old, and then she and her mother moved to Los Angeles, where May later enrolled in Hollywood High School. She dropped out when she was fourteen years old. Two years later, aged sixteen, she married Marvin May, an engineer and toy inventor. They had one child, Jeannie Berlin (born 1949), who became an actress and screenwriter.
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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