PERSONAL: Male. Hobbies and other interests:
ADDRESSES: Agent—The Bauer Company, 9465 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 308, Beverly Hills, CA 90212.
CAREER: Director and screenwriter. Director of television series episodes, including Taxi, American Broadcasting Companies (ABC), 1978; 9 to 5, ABC, 1982; Best of the West, ABC, 1981–82; Newhart, Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), 1982; Domestic Life, CBS, 1984; Anything but Love, ABC, 1989; Babes, 1990; The Jackie Thomas Show, ABC, 1992; Grace under Fire, ABC, 1993; Clerks, 1995; The Naked Truth (also known as Wilde Again), National Broadcasting Company (NBC), 1995; The Drew Carey Show, ABC, 1995; (also executive producer, with Warren Bell) Life's Work, ABC, 1996; Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS, 1996; George and Leo, CBS, 1997; The Tony Danza Show, NBC, 1997; Maggie Winters, CBS, 1998; "Rich Kids Bad, Poor Kids Good," The Hughleys, ABC, 1998; The Norm Show (also known as Norm), ABC, 1999; Love & Money, CBS, 1999; Titus, Fox, 2000; Then Came You, ABC, 2000; Greetings from Tuscon, WB, 2002; Lucky, 2003. Director of the television movie Old Friends, 1984.
Founder and director of numerous productions at the Colonnades Theater Lab, New York, Y, c. 1974–1980; plays directed at the Colonnades Theater Lab include Reflections, 1974; Plays by Louis Phillip (a collection of one-act plays), 1980; and Guests of the Nation, 1980; also directed the stage productions An American Tragedy, Arena Stage, Washington, DC, 1980; Molière in Spite of Himself, Hartman Theater Company, New York, NY, 1981; and Tallulah, a one-woman touring show starring Kathleen Turner, c. 2000–2001.
(And director) House of Cards (from a story by Lessac and Robert Jay Litz), A&M Films/House of Cards Production/PentAmerica Pictures, 1993.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Writer and director of a screenplay titled The Storm Chaser.
SIDELIGHTS: Although he is best known as a director of television series, Michael Lessac is also author of the screenplay for the film House of Cards, which is based on a story written by the author and Robert Jay Litz. The story revolves around a young widow, Ruth, who must deal with her kindergarten-age daughter's mental problems. The child, named Sally, seems on her way to becoming autistic as she stops talking, becomes withdrawn, and makes strange barking sounds when upset. Nevertheless, in this trance-like state, Sally also develops some remarkable new gifts, including the ability to construct huge, complex castles with playing cards. In addition, Sally has the ability to disguise herself with paint and effortlessly walk a tightrope at extreme heights. Although the girl's mother is concerned enough to take her to a psychiatrist who specializes in autism, she maintains that Sally is simply mourning in her own way and that there is nothing seriously wrong with her besides the grief of losing her father. Ruth and the psychiatrist "clash over the scientific approach versus the intuition of a mother," Paul Brenner noted on the Blockbuster.com Web site, as the psychiatrist seeks to return Sally to normal functioning even though it might result in the loss of her newfound gifts. Ty Burr, writing in Entertainment Weekly, noted that the film's "unpredictability" is its strongest aspect. A contributor to the TV Guide Online Web site called the film "riveting"and "a highly charged, thoughtful combination of family drama, suspense thriller, and medical conundrum."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television, Volume 37, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 2003.
Singer, Michael, editor, Michael Singer's Film Directors, Lone Eagle Publishing (Los Angeles, CA), 1992.
British Medical Journal, November 6, 1993, Carl Elliot, review of House of Cards, pp. 1218–1219.
Entertainment Weekly, July 9, 1993, Ty Burr, review of House of Cards, p. 34.
New York Times, March 5, 1980, James Atlas, review of The Irish Hebrew Lesson and Guests of the Nation, p. C23; May 28, 1980, Mel Gussow, review of An American Tragedy, p. C17; March 20, 1981, Mel Gussow, review of Molière in Spite of Himself, pp. 17, C9; January 1, 1990, John J. O'Connor, review of Newhart, pp. 11, 123; June 25, 1993, Vincent Canby review of House of Cards, pp. B2, C18.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 28, 1998, Tim Bryant, "'Twister' Trail's Final Witness Outlines an Even Earlier Manuscript," author's involvement in a plagiarism trial.
San Francisco Chronicle, January 19, 2001, Sandra Ryan, review of Tallulah, p. C1.
Variety, March 25, 1981, review of Molière in Spite of Himself, p. 165; March 28, 1984, review of Shaping Up, p. 76; July 18, 1984, review of Old Friends, p. 117; March 15, 1989, review of Anything but Love, p. 48; September 17, 1990, review of babes, p. 104; February 15, 1993, Todd McCarty, review of House of Cards, pp. 84-85; September 18, 1995, Tony Scott, review of The Drew Carey Show, p. 43; September 23, 1996, Ray Richmond, review of Life's Work, p. 52; January 18, 1999, Jack Zink, review of Tallulah, p. 144; March 20, 2000, Michael Speier, review of Titus, p. 34; October 16, 2000, Chris Jones, review of Tallulah, p. j40.
Blockbuster.com, http://www.blockbuster.com/ (January 29, 2006), review of House of Cards.
Internet Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com/ (January 29, 2006), "Michael Lessac," information on author's work.
TV Guide Online, http://www.tvguide.com/ (January 29, 2006), review of House of Cards.
TV Tome, http://www.tvtome.com/ (January 29, 2006), "Michael Lessac," information on author's television work.