THE PARENT TRAP
As a writing/directing/producing duo, CHARLES SHYER (Producer/Screenplay by) and partner Nancy Meyers have carved out a successful niche, unique in American film today
As a writing/directing/producing duo, CHARLES SHYER (Producer/Screenplay by) and partner Nancy Meyers have carved out a successful niche, unique in American film today. Influenced by the great films of the 1930s and '40s, they have fashioned a series of romantic comedies unparalleled in their blending of classic Hollywood style with a contemporary social perspective. Marked by crisp dialogue and solid structure, their hits include "Private Benjamin" (1980); the critically acclaimed "Irreconcilable Differences" (1984, directed by Shyer); "Baby Boom" (1987, directed by Shyer); 1991's holiday blockbuster "Father of the Bride," and its hugely successful sequel "Father of the Bride, Part II" (1995).
Shyer grew up in the film industry his father, Melville Shyer, worked with D.W. Griffith and was one of the founders of the Directors Guild of America. After attending UCLA, he was accepted into the DGA's then-new apprenticeship program, which led to work as an assistant director and unit production manager.
But Shyer caught the writing bug and went to work as an assistant to Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson, producers of the TV series "The Odd Couple." He eventually worked his way up to head writer on the hit series.
After "The Odd Couple," he moved into feature films, getting his first writing credit on the Burt Reynolds mega-smash "Smokey and the Bandit" (1977). The following year, Shyer co-wrote "Goin' South" (directed by and starring Jack Nicholson) and received his first Writers Guild of America nomination for Best Screenplay for the Walter Matthau/Glenda Jackson hit "House Calls" (1978).
In 1979, Shyer teamed up with Nancy Meyers, who had been a story editor at Rastar Productions. Their first film was the award-winning "Private Benjamin," which the team also produced. Contrary to the conventional wisdom at the time that a female lead with no male star was box office poison this story of a pampered young woman who joins the Army was a huge hit, grossing in excess of a hundred million dollars worldwide.
The screenplay for "Private Benjamin" won Meyers and Shyer a Writers' Guild of America Award and was nominated for an Oscar¨, as were actresses Goldie Hawn and Eileen Brennan. The film was also nominated for multiple Golden Globe Awards, including one for Best Picture Comedy or Musical and another for Hawn as Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical.
Since then, Meyers and Shyer have become a permanent team, co-writing all their projects, with Meyers producing and Shyer directing.
Also defying conventional wisdom, Meyers and Shyer have managed to maintain a personal relationship in addition to their professional one: the couple are married and have two children. "We're in synch," Shyer says, "and I think that comes across in the movies. We try to write from the heart about things that are close to home."
Their next project, "Irreconcilable Differences," marked Shyer's directorial debut. Shelley Long and Ryan O'Neal played a Hollywood couple whose obsession with success destroys their relationship with their daughter, played by eight-year-old Drew Barrymore. Critics praised the film's evenhanded treatment of both main characters and its sensitive updating of '30s comedy style. Roger Ebert called it, "One of the funnier and more intelligent movies of 1984 ... with so much wit and imagination that even obliga
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