March 16, 1942
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Producer, Director, Record company owner, Screenwriter
Former record company entrepreneur turned major Hollywood feature producer. Linson assisted Lou Adler, record producer of the Mamas and the Papas, with the management of several rock bands and the production of Robert Altman's "Brewster McCloud" (1970). On his own, he managed such rock acts as Spirit and Nils Lofgren before starting his own record company, Spin Dizzy Records. Linson's music industry background made him well-suited for work on teen-oriented movies ("Car Wash" 1976, "American Hot Wax" 1978, "The Wild Life" 1984 and "Singles" 1992). Described by former Columbia Picture president Dawn Steel as "a filmmaker's producer," Linson produced Amy Heckerling's feature directorial debut, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" (1982) and Jonathan Demme's breakthrough film, "Melvin and Howard" (1980). Linson has also enjoyed productive creative relationships with Cameron Crowe, Brian De Palma, Robert De Niro, Bill Murray, and Sean Penn. Penn has claimed that for actors, Linson is "as good as a producer gets."Linson graduated to blockbusters when he commissioned David Mamet to write a screenplay based on "The Untouchables" TV series (1959-63). The resulting film was released in 1987 to critical acclaim, providing director Brian De Palma his biggest hit to date and netting a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Sean Connery. Kevin Costner became a star and De Niro added the colorful role of Al Capone to his resume. Linson and De Palma joined forces again with mixed results on the controversial Vietnam War drama "Casualties of War" (1989) starring Michael J. Fox and Sean Penn. Linson also produced Mamet's screenplay for "We're No Angels" (1990), a disappointing remake starring Penn and De Niro, directed by Neil Jordan. "Scrooged" (1988), Linson's second project with Bill Murray (whom he had directed as gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson in "Where the Buffalo Roam" 1980), became the top grossing comedy of its year. He scored again as the executive producer of Warren Beatty's ode to childhood heroes, "Dick Tracy" (1990). More recently, Linson has collaborated with ace commercial filmmaker, John Badham, to concoct "The Point of No Return" (1993), an American remake of Luc Besson's popular "La Femme Nikita" (1990). He also produced the coming-of-age drama "This Boy's Life" (1993), starring Robert De Niro.