Albert Brooks

Infobox Actor
birthdate = birth date and age|1947|7|22
birthname = Albert Lawrence Einstein
birthplace = Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
spouse= Kimberly Shlain (1997–)

Albert Brooks (born July 22, 1947) is an Academy Award-nominated American actor, writer, comedian and director.


Early life

Brooks was born Albert Lawrence Einstein in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, the son of Thelma Leeds (née Goodman), a singer and actress, and Harry Parke ( Einstein), a radio comedian who performed on Eddie Cantor's radio program and was known as Parkyarkarkus. [ [ Albert Brooks Biography (1947-) ] ] His brothers are comedic actor Bob Einstein, better known by his stage name "Super Dave Osborne" and Cliff Einstein, a partner and longtime chief creative officer at the Los Angeles ad agency Dailey & Associates. Brooks is Jewish [ [ EGO Magazine: Comedy in The Muslim World ] ] and attended Beverly Hills High School. [Kaufman, Peter of "The Washington Post", [ "The background on Albert Brooks"] , "The Buffalo News", January 22, 2006. Accessed April 24, 2008. "Albert Brooks, who grew up in a showbiz family and attended Beverly Hills High School, has never been interested in being an outsider."] Brooks grew up among show business royalty in southern California, attending high school with Richard Dreyfuss and Rob Reiner.

Early career

Brooks attended Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh, but dropped out after one year to focus on his comedy career. He changed his surname from "Einstein" (to avoid confusion with the famous scientist) and began a stand-up comedy career that quickly made him a regular on variety and talk shows during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Brooks led a new generation of self-reflective baby-boomer comics appearing on the NBC network "Tonight Show" starring Johnny Carson. His onstage persona, that of an egotistical, narcissistic, nervous comic, an ironic showbiz insider who punctured himself before an audience by disassembling his mastery of comedic stagecraft, influenced other '70s post-modern comedians, including Steve Martin, Martin Mull and Andy Kaufman.

After two successful comedy albums, "Comedy Minus One" (1974) and the Grammy Award-nominated "A Star is Bought" (1975), Brooks left the standup circuit to try his hand as a filmmaker; his first film, "The Famous Comedians School", was a satiric short that appeared on PBS and was an early example of the mockumentary sub-genre.

In 1975, he directed six short films for the first season of NBC's "Saturday Night Live":
*"ad:10/11/75 h:George Carlin" - unlikely news items
*"ad:10/18/75 h:Paul Simon" - failed Candid Camera stunts & home movies
*"ad:10/25/75 h:Rob Reiner" - heart surgery
*"ad:11/8/75 h:Candice Bergen" - upcoming season
*"ad:12/13/75 h:Richard Pryor / Gil Scott-Heron" - sick
*"ad:1/9/76 h:Elliott Gould / Anne Murray" - audience test screening

In 1976, he appeared in his first mainstream film role, in Scorsese's landmark "Taxi Driver" (Scorsese allowed Brooks to improvise much of his dialogue). The role reflected Brooks's decision to move to Los Angeles to get into the film business. In an interview, Brooks mentioned a conversation he'd had with "Taxi Driver" screenwriter Paul Schrader, in which Schrader said that Brooks' character was the only one in the movie that he couldn't "understand" — a remark that Brooks found amusing, as the movie's anti-hero was a psychotic loner.

Brooks directed his first feature film, "Real Life", in 1979. The film, in which Brooks obnoxiously films a typical suburban family in an effort to win both an Oscar and a Nobel Prize, was a sendup of PBS's "An American Family" documentary. Brooks also made a brief cameo in the film "Private Benjamin" (1980), starring Goldie Hawn.


Through the 1980s and 1990s, Brooks co-wrote (with longtime collaborator Monica Johnson), directed and starred in a series of well-received (by the critics, at least) comedies, playing variants on his standard neurotic and self-obsessed character. These include 1981's "Modern Romance", where Brooks played a film editor desperate to win back his ex-girlfriend (Kathryn Harrold). The film received a limited release and ultimately grossed under $3 million domestically,cite web | title=
work=Modern Romance box office | url= | accessmonthday=12 March | accessyear=2006
] but was well received by critics, with one reviewer commenting that the film was "not Brooks at his best, but still amusing".cite web | title= | work=Modern Romance (1981) | url= | accessmonthday=12 March | accessyear=2006] His best-received film, "Lost in America" (1985), featured Brooks and Julie Hagerty as a couple who leave their yuppie lifestyle and drop out of society to live in a motor home as they have always dreamed of doing. They meet comic disappointment.

Brooks's "Defending Your Life" (1991) placed his lead character in the afterlife, put on trial to justify his human fears and thus determine his cosmic fate. Critics responded to the offbeat premise and the surprising chemistry between Brooks and Meryl Streep as his post-death love interest. His later efforts did not find large audiences, but still retained Brooks's touch as a filmmaker. He garnered positive reviews for "Mother" (1996), which starred Brooks as a middle-aged writer moving back home to resolve tensions between himself and his mother (Debbie Reynolds). 1999's "The Muse" featured Brooks as a down-and-out Hollywood screenwriter using the services of an authentic muse (Sharon Stone) for inspiration.

Brooks also acted in other writers' and directors' films during the 1980s and 1990s. He moved into the horror genre in one of the stories in "", playing a driver whose passenger has a shocking secret (Dan Aykroyd). In James L. Brooks's hit "Broadcast News" (1987), he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor as an insecure, supremely ethical network TV reporter, who offers the rhetorical question, "Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive?" He also won positive notices for his role in 1998's "Out of Sight", playing an untrustworthy banker and ex-convict.


Brooks received positive reviews for his portrayal of a dying retail store owner who befriends disillusioned teen Leelee Sobieski in "My First Mister" (2001). Brooks has appeared as a guest voice on "The Simpsons" five times during its run (always under the name "A. Brooks"), and is described as the best guest star in the show's history by IGN, particularly for his role as supervillain Hank Scorpio in the episode "You Only Move Twice". [citeweb|url=|title=Top 25 Simpsons Guest Appearances|accessdate=2007-03-25|author=Goldman, Eric; Iverson, Dan; Zoromski, Brian|publisher=IGN] Brooks continued his voiceover work in Disney and Pixar's "Finding Nemo" (2003), as the voice of "Marlin", one of the film's protagonists; "Nemo" is Brooks's largest grossing film to date.

In 2005, his film "Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World" drew controversy for its title. Sony Pictures eventually dropped the film altogether because of their desire to change the title. Subsequently, Warner Independent Pictures purchased the film and gave it a limited release in January 2006; the film received mixed reviews and a low box office gross. The movie goes back to the days of Brooks's "Real Life", as Brooks once again plays himself, a filmmaker commissioned by the U.S. government to see what makes the Muslim people laugh, thus sending him on a tour of India and Pakistan.

In 2007, he continued his long term collaboration with "The Simpsons" by voicing Russ Cargill, the main antagonist of "The Simpsons Movie".

He has been cast to play Lenny Botwin, Nancy Botwin's estranged father-in-law, on Showtime's television series Weeds. [ [ Weeds Scoop: Albert Brooks Is Nancy's "Dad"] ]

Personal life

Brooks was romantically linked to singer Linda Ronstadt and actresses Carrie Fisher, Julie Hagerty and Kathryn Harrold. He married Kimberly Shlain, an artist he met through a mutual friend. The couple have two children, Jacob Eli (born 1998) and Claire Elizabeth (born 2000).

Brooks resides in Los Angeles.



External links

*imdb name|id=0000983|name=Albert Brooks
*amg name|2:83146
* [ Official site of Albert Brooks]

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