Saul Zaentz, recently described by The New York Times as "perhaps the
last of the great independent producers," was called in a 1990 Variety
profile "as close to an idealized version of what an independent filmmaker
is as exists."
Working far from Hollywood in Berkeley, Mr. Zaentz invests in his own films
- possibly a singular distinction - and then helps bring them to life in
the most complete hands-on manner. His productions tend to be complex and
epic in size, and his involvement in producing extends from the purchase
of film rights of source material and supervision of shooting to taking
an active role in the film's editing, marketing and distribution phases.
In 1975 Zaentz's first effort, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest",
produced with Michael Douglas, starring Jack Nicholson and directed by Milos
Forman, swept the top five Academy Awards including Best Picture. Zaentz
then produced "Three Warriors" in 1977 and "The Lord of the
Rings" in 1978. In 1984 "Amadeus," his second collaboration
with Forman, won eight Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director and
In 1986 Zaentz acted as executive producer on "The Mosquito Coast"
and in 1988 produced "The
Unbearable Lightness of Being." Based on the novel by Milan Kundera,
directed by Philip
Kaufman and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Juliette Binoche and Lena Olin, the
film was warmly
received by the critics and honored with three Academy Award nominations.
"At Play in the
Fields of the Lord" followed in 1991.
Saul Zaentz was born in New Jersey of Russian-Polish parents. Throughout
childhood he was consumed by passions he continues to enjoy today: reading,
music, sports, theater and movies. He also developed a penchant for calculated
gambling which marks his career as a producer.
In 1948, after serving in the Army during World War II, Zaentz settled in
San Francisco where he worked in record distribution. He returned East (for
one year - 1954) and took a job with music impresario Norman Granz working
for Granz's jazz record company and managing concert tours that took him
on the road with Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck, Gerry Mulligan and Stan Getz.
In 1955 Zaentz returned to San Francisco to join Fantasy Records, the first
record company to record Dave Brubeck, Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl. Fantasy's
first hit, however, was Vince Guaraldi's "Cast Your Fate to the Wind."
In 1968 the label became hugely successful recording the group Creedence
Clearwater Revival. By 1967 Zaentz and a group of investors had purchased
the company which has since expanded to become the largest jazz label in
Today Fantasy Records and The Saul Zaentz Company occupy a seven-story complex
in Berkeley that consists of offices, state of the art recording studios,
film editing and mixing facilities. Many
major films are edited or mixed there, in addition to those produced by
Mr. Zaentz himself, including "The Right Stuff," "Never Cry
Wolf," "Ed Wood," and "To Die For."
ANTHONY MINGHELLA / Director and Screenplay Writer
After a decade of writing successfully for theater and television, Anthony
Minghella made an auspicious feature film debut in 1991 with "Truly,
Madly, Deeply," a love story that is also a ghost story which he wrote
as well as directed. Starring Juliet Stevenson and Alan Rickman, the film
won numerous accolades including awards for Minghella from the British Film
and Television Academy (BAFTA) and the Writer's Guild of Great Britain.
The Australian Film Institute Award named it Best Picture. He was also voted
Best Newcomer by the London Film Critics Circle. In 1993 Minghella directed
his second film "Mr. Wonderful," starring Matt Dillon and Mary
Born of Italian parents in 1954 on the Isle of Wight, Minghella lectured
at the University of Hull until 1981 when he began his playwrighting career.
In 1984 he was named the most promising playwright of the year by the London
Theater Critics for three plays, " A Little Like Drowning," "Love
Bites," and "Two Planks and a Passion." Two years later the
London Critics honored "Made in Bangkok" as Best Play of the Year.
Minghella's radio play "Hang Up," won the Prix D'Italia in 1988.
Another radio play, "Cigarettes and Chocolate," was a finalist
for the Prix D'Italia in 1989 and won several other honors.
Anthony Minghella wrote the pilot script and regularly contributed to British
television's award winning series "Inspector Morse," and his television
trilogy, "What If It's Raining?," was highly acclaimed throughout
Minghella wrote all nine of the short television films in the Emmy Award-winning
series for Jim Henson and NBC. He also wrote another film for the same team,
Dinosaurs," which won an international Emmy in 1990. He remains a creative
Jim Henson Productions.