November 20, 1961
La Canada, California, United States
Director, Editor, Camera operator
Uma Thurman, Kate Hyman
PhotosView All (2)
Fresh out of USC's film school, this assured director of features and TV captured the attention of Steven Spielberg with his student film, "Last Chance Dance." Joanou made his commercial directing debut with "Santa '85" (NBC, 1985), an amusing episode of Spielberg's fantasy anthology series, "Amazing Stories," about St. Nick's unfortunate arrest for breaking and entering. Joanou was invited back to the series to direct John Lithgow's Emmy Award-winning performance in "The Doll" (NBC, 1986), a sentimental romantic fantasy. He segued to features with "Three O'Clock High" (1987), a likable teen comedy that was greatly abetted by Joanou's manic and inventive camera movements and staging. Shifting to the reality mode, Joanou crafted "U2 Rattle and Hum" (1988), a technically assured if uninspired record of the Irish rock group's 1987 "Joshua Tree" tour of the US.Joanou returned to fiction (albeit reality-based) with "State of Grace" (1990), a moody and violent story about Irish-American gangsters in NYC's Hell's Kitchen. Outstanding performances by Sean Penn, Ed Harris, and Gary Oldman helped make this the director's strongest film to date. Joanou returned to TV to cast a documentarian's eye upon American childhood with "Age Seven in America" (CBS, 1992), a special modeled on producer-director Michael Apted's acclaimed British series "Seven Up," which profiled and interviewed a group of subjects every seven years beginning in 1962. Joanou's follow-up was the uneven Hitchcockian homage "Final Analysis" (1992) starring Richard Gere, Kim Basinger, and Uma Thurman. Joanou spent the next year helming stylish installments of the ultra-cool TV miniseries "Wild Palms" (ABC) and "Fallen Angels" (Showtime). In 1996, he returned to the big screen with the thriller "Heaven's Prisoners," a character study about a retired Louisiana homicide detective (Alec Baldwin) who becomes enmeshed in a mystery.