March 23, 1954
New York City, New York, United States
When his peers were concerning themselves with grade-point-averages and whether they should work during the summer or back-pack through Europe, David A. Permut had quit college and was already working producing motion pictures. Starting with such projects as "Give 'Em Hell Harry" (1975) starring James Whitmore as Harry S Truman and the "Richard Pryor -- Live in Concert" (1979), Permut has gone on to produce or executive producer more than 20 motion pictures and several TV projects as well, ranging from studio efforts such as the big screen version of "Dragnet" in 1987, to the edgy independent "Three of Hearts" (1993), in which a man and a woman are in love with the same woman. Permut came to the attention of Hollywood powers in 1975 when he taped a performance of Whitmore in "Give 'Em Hell, Harry" for a production cost of $320,000, transferred the result to film, released it nationwide, and grossed $11 million. "Richard Pryor Live" grossed $32 million domestically on an investment of less than $1 million. Permut formed his own projection company in 1979, and signed his first studio deal in 1979 with Columbia, under the tutelage of Ray Stark, although it was not until 1982 that he saw his first feature film released -- "Fighting Back" by Paramount. "Dragnet" was his first box office success, although it was followed with the less successful "The Marrying Man," which writer Neil Simon disavowed. In 1992, Permut produced Alan J. Pakula's sputtering "Consenting Adults," about wife swapping and murder, and the abysmal Martin Short-Kurt Russell match-up, "Captain Ron." It was in 1993 that Permut moved away from studio fare to "Three of Hearts," although he was back with Paramount in 1993 for "The Temp," which has been described by critics as "Eve Harrington with a psychotic streak." After the equally forgettable "Trapped in Paradise" and "Surviving the Game" (both 1994), Permut produced "Eddie" (1996), in which Whoopi Goldberg becomes a pro basketball coach. In 1997 came a prestige project, "Face/Off," directed by John Woo and starring John Travolta and Nicolas Cage in a futuristic tale of identity and terrorists. Permut's work in TV has been sporadic, and seems to gear towards heart-felt projects which are too "small" or "special" to find a home in movie theatres. His first TV effort -- as executive producer -- was "Love Leads the Way" for The Disney Channel, which told the story of the first blind person part of the experiment with seeing eye dogs. He first produced for a broadcast network in 1987 with "Mistress" (CBS), and in 1991 produced "A Triumph of the Heart: The Ricky Bell Story" for that network, which starred Mario Van Peebles as a football player sidelined with a neuromuscular disease and how he inspires a boy with the same affliction. Permut took the plunge into series TV in 1997, when it was announced that The WB had bought "Ruby," a sitcom starring Whoopi Goldberg doing the voice of a diva puppet. With his "Dragnet" considered one of the first of the "modern era" big-budget updates of favorite TV series, Permut's development slate in the late 90s consisted of similar potential TV series-to-film projects, including "F Troop," "The Love Boat," "Beanie & Cecil" for live action, and "Green Acres."