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Rock, Chris 1966-

ROCK, Chris 1966-

PERSONAL:

Born February 7, 1966, in Georgetown, SC; son of Julius (a truck driver) and Rose (a schoolteacher) Rock; married Malaak Compton (a public relations executive), November 23, 1996; children: Lola Simone.

ADDRESSES:

Agent—Eddy Yablans, International Creative Management, 8942 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211.

CAREER:

Actor and comedian. Actor in television series, including (as cast member) Saturday Night Live, National Broadcasting Company (NBC), 1990-1993; (as cast member) In Living Color, Fox, 1993-1994; and (as host; and executive producer) The Chris Rock Show, Home Box Office (HBO), 1997-2000. Appeared in television specials, including Uptown Comedy Express (also known as On Location), Home Box Office (HBO), 1987; First Person with Maria Shriver, National Broadcasting Company (NBC), 1990; Saturday Night Live Goes Commercial, NBC, 1991; Saturday Night Live: All the Best for Mother's Day, NBC, 1992; Why Bother Voting?, Public Broadcasting System (PBS), 1992; MTV Movie Awards, Music Television (MTV) 1993; The Second Annual Saturday Night Live Mother's Day Special, NBC, 1993; (and executive producer) "Chris Rock—Big Ass Jokes," HBO Comedy Half-Hour, HBO, 1994; Def Comedy Jam Primetime, 1994; Met Life Presents the Apollo Theatre Hall of Fame, NBC, 1994; Comic Relief VII, HBO, 1995; The 1996 Billboard Music Awards, 1996; (correspondent) "Indecision '96: The Democratic National Convention," Politically Incorrect, Comedy Central, 1996; (correspondent) "Indecision '96: The Republican National Convention," Politically Incorrect, Comedy Central, 1996; (as voice) How Do You Spell God?, HBO, 1996; Catch a Rising Star 50th Anniversary—Give or Take 26 Years, CBS, 1996; (and executive producer) Chris Rock: Bring the Pain, HBO, 1996; A Gift of Song, Turner Network Television (TNT), 1997; The 1997 MTV Video Music Awards, MTV, 1997; The 19th Annual CableACE Awards, 1997; The 49th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, 1997; The 50th Annual Emmy Awards, 1998; The 40th Annual Grammy Awards, 1998; The 1998 Essence Awards, 1998; The 1998 MTV Movie Awards, MTV, 1998; The 1998 MTV Video Music Awards, MTV, 1998; (multiple roles) The Bad Boys of Saturday Night Live (also known as Saturday Night Live: Bad Boys), NBC, 1998; (multiple roles) Saturday Night Live: The Best of Chris Farley, NBC, 1998; (multiple roles) Saturday Night Live: The Best of Phil Hartman, NBC, 1998; Elmopalooza!, American Boradcasting Companies (ABC), 1998; Comic Relief VIII, HBO, 1998; Kids Are Punny (also known as Rosie O'Donnell's Kids Are Punny), HBO, 1998; (multiple roles) Saturday Night Live: The Best of Chris Rock, NBC, 1999; (and producer) Best of Chris Rock, 1999; (and executive producer) Chris Rock: Bigger & Blacker, HBO,1999; MTV Video Music Awards, MTV, 1999; Saturday Night Live: 25th Anniversary, NBC, 1999; MTV Video Music Awards, MTV, 2000; (as narrator) Whatever Happened to Michael Ray?, TNT, 2000; America: A Tribute to Heroes, ABC, Columbia Broadcasting Stations (CBS), Fox, NBC, United Paramount Network (UPN), and Warner Bros. (The WB), 2001; Inside TV Land: African Americans in Television, TV Land, 2002; and NBC 75th Anniversary Special, NBC, 2002.

Appeared in episodes of television series, including (as Carson) "Missing Hours," Miami Vice, NBC, 1985; (as Maurice/Jasmine) "Get a Job," The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, NBC, 1995; (as Carver) "Requiem for Adena," Homicide: Life on the Street (also known as Homicide, and H: LOTS), NBC, 1996; The Rodman World Tour, MTV, 1996; Saturday Night Live (also known as NBC's Saturday Night, Saturday Night, SNL, and SNL 25,), NBC, 1996; (as Valentino Watson and himself) "The Love Jones Connection," Martin, Fox, 1996; The Tonight Show, NBC, 1996; (as voice of Woody) "Pinocchio," Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child, (animated), HBO, c. 1997; (as voice of Roger) "Buddha" "Traffic Jam," King of the Hill (animated), Fox, 1998; The Howard Stern Show, E! Entertainment Television, 1999; (as himself) The Remarkable Journey, c. 2000; The Big Schmooze, Comedy Channel, 2001; Rove Live, 10 Network, 2001; The Late Show with David Letterman, CBS, 2002; "Chappelle's Show Vol. 1 Mixtape," Chappelle's Show, 2003; and Real Time with Bill Maher. Also appeared in episodes of other series and in radio episodes of The Howard Stern Show, 1999. Appeared in other television programming, including (as himself) Jackie's Back! (movie; also known as Jackie's Back: Portrait of a Diva), Lifetime, 1999; and DAG (pilot), NBC, 2000. Also executive producer of television series, including The Hughleys, ABC, 1998-2000, UPN, 2000—.

Appeared in films, including (as valet at Playboy mansion) Beverly Hills Cop II, Paramount, 1987; (as himself) Comedy's Dirtiest Dozen, 1988; (as rib joint customer) I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists, 1988; (as Pookie) New Jack City, Warner Bros., 1991; (as Bony T) Boomerang, Paramount, 1992; (and producer with others; as Albert) CB4, Universal, 1993; (as Deke Anthony) The Immortals, Hallmark Home Entertainment, 1995; (as Yuck Mouth) Panther, Gramercy, 1995; (as First Lieutenant Oster) Sgt. Bilko (also known as Sergeant Bilko), Universal, 1996; (as Joey) Beverly Hills Ninja, TriStar, 1997; (as Detective Sergeant Lee Butters) Lethal Weapon 4 (also known as Lethal 4), Warner Bros., 1998; (as voice of Rodney the guinea pig) Doctor Dolittle (also known as Dr. Dolittle), Twentieth Century-Fox, 1998; (as Kevin Stubbs) Saturday Night Live: Game Show Parodies (video), 1998; (as Rufus the thirteenth apostle), Dogma (also known as Bearclaw), Miramax, 1999; (as Wesley) Nurse Betty, USA Films, 2000; (in archive footage) Bamboozled, New Line Cinema, 2000; (in archive footage) Me, Myself & Irene, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2000; (and executive producer; as Chaka Luther King, director of Bluntman & Chronic) Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Miramax/Dimension, 2001; (as Charles Wellington III, Joe Guy, and Lance Bartin) Down to Earth, Paramount, 2001; (and producer; as J. B., Pootie's father, and radio song announcer) Pootie Tang, Paramount, 2001; (as voice of comedic Mecha) Artificial Intelligence: AI (also known as A.I. Artificial Intelligence), Warner Bros., 2001; (as voice of Osmosis Jones) Osmosis Jones (animated), Warner Bros., 2001; (as himself; in archive footage) Bowling for Columbine, 2002; (as himself) Blink 182: The Urethra Chronicles II: Harder, Faster, Faster, Harder (video), 2002; (as himself) You'll Never Wiez in This Town Again, Dimension Films, 2002; (as comedian) Comedian, 2002; (as voice) The Sound of 'AI' (video), 2002; (as Jake Hayes and Kevin Pope) Bad Company, Buena Vista, 2002; (as Mays Gilliam; and producer and director) Head of State, DreamWorks SKG, 2003; (as voice of the zebra) Madagascar, in production; Sick Day, in production; and The Longest Yard, in production. Voice of Lil' Penny Hardaway in Nike commercials.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Two Emmy awards, for Bring the Pain; best entertainment host and best variety special/series, CableACE awards, for The Chris Rock Show.

WRITINGS:

Rock This! (humor), Hyperion (New York, NY), 1997.

TELEPLAYS

(With others) Saturday Night Live (series; also known as NBC's Saturday Night, Saturday Night, SNL, and SNL 25), National Broadcasting Company (NBC), 1990-93.

The Chris Rock Show (series), Home Box Office (HBO), 1997-2000.

Chris Rock—Big Ass Jokes (special), shown as part of the series HBO Comedy Half-Hour, Home Box Office (HBO), 1994.

Chris Rock: Bring the Pain (special), Home Box Office (HBO), 1996.

Politically Incorrect (special episodes "Indecision '96: The Democratic National Convention" and "Indecision '96: The Republican National Convention"), Comedy Central, 1996.

Best of Chris Rock (special), 1999.

Chris Rock: Bigger & Blacker (special), Home Box Office (HBO), 1999.

Saturday Night Live: The Best of Chris Rock (special), National Broadcasting Company (NBC), 1999.

SCREENPLAYS

(With others) Comedy's Dirtiest Dozen, 1988.

(With others; and soundtrack) CB4, Universal, 1993.

Down to Earth, based on the film Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Paramount, 2001.

Pootie Tang, Paramount, 2001.

Head of State, DreamWorks SKG (Beverly Hills, CA), 2003.

COMEDY ALBUMS

Born Suspect, Atlantic, 1992.

Roll with the New, DreamWorks (Beverly Hills, CA), 1997.

Bigger & Blacker, DreamWorks (Beverly Hills, CA), 1999.

Also contributed to the album Hydravion, 1978.

SIDELIGHTS:

Chris Rock is "the funniest man in America," Christopher John Farley wrote in Time magazine in 1999. The young African-American comedian has won fans both black and white with his politically pointed stand-up routines and his comic roles in films. Rock has known that he wanted to be a comedian since he was a child, but he nearly gave up on his dream after his father died in 1988. He thought that he should get a steadier job and help his family out more financially, but instead he persevered and was rewarded in 1990 with a role on Saturday Night Live. Rock stayed with that show for three years, but he and his fans always felt that he was being underused by the show's largely white writers. He switched to the African-American comedy show In Living Color in 1993, but it was canceled a year later, so Rock returned to making a living by doing stand-up comedy. Then, in 1996, he had his breakout performance on the Home Box Office (HBO) comedy special Chris Rock: Bring the Pain.

This show was most notable for an extended riff that Rock did on the dichotomy between "black people" and "niggas," the latter being those who had given into despair and given up on their responsibilities. Rock, the grandson of a preacher, is proud of his responsible, drug-free lifestyle, and "the rage is real" when he castigates "niggas" for ruining things for black people who want to make life better for themselves, as Rick Marin wrote in Newsweek. Mixing politics with comedy like this is typical of Rock's work. He studied broadcast journalism for a year in college, and even today he reads as many newspapers and magazines as he can to keep up with what is going on in the world. "One crucial trait that distinguishes Rock from every other comedian of his generation is that his jokes proceed from a thought-out political philosophy containing both radical and conservative elements," Ken Tucker wrote in Entertainment Weekly. But to Rock, the explanation is more simple: "I like talking about subjects that aren't funny in the first place and making them funny. So anything down and depressing is something I'll talk about," he told Farley.

Rock also tackles racial issues in the two films that he has written, Down to Earth and Head of State. The former, a remake of the 1978 Warren Beatty film Heaven Can Wait (which itself was a remake of the 1941 film Here Comes Mr. Jordan), stars Rock as Lance, a would-be comedian who is mistakenly hit by a truck and sent to heaven before he was supposed to be. Heaven's angels, trying to correct their mistake, send Rock back to earth, but the only flesh that is available for them to put his spirit into is the body of a rich old white man, Charles Wellington, who was just murdered by his wife and assistant (who are having an affair). "The humor of the film comes as Lance's urban sensibilities clash with the Park Avenue world of Charles Wellington," a reviewer explained in Jet.

Head of State also stars Rock, this time as a Washington, D.C., alderman who is chosen by the bosses of a (fictional) political party to run for president after their original candidate and his running mate are killed in a plane crash. The bosses think the election is unwinnable for their party, so they hope that by presenting an African-American candidate they can build up some goodwill with minority communities that they can draw on in the next election. Rock's character, Mays Gilliam, originally campaigns exactly as the party handlers want him to, until his brother Mitch (played by Bernie Mac) literally smacks him upside the head. "Pretty soon, the most soulful candidate since [former president] Bill Clinton has gotten stuffy white folks on their feet to dance the electric slide at a fund-raiser," Lisa Schwarzbaum wrote in Entertainment Weekly. The film is "blithe and fearless in talking about race," Schwarzbaum noted, and the script is "well-made."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 22, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1999.

St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, five volumes, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2000.

PERIODICALS

Billboard, March 27, 1993, Eric Boehlert, review of CB4, p. 40; September 28, 1996, Jim Bessman, "Super-Hot Chris Rock Links with DreamWorks," p. 100.

Booklist, October 1, 1997, Mike Tribby, review of Rock This!, p. 301.

Daily Variety, March 24, 2003, Scott Foundas, review of Head of State, p. 16.

Ebony, May, 1997, Kevin Chappell, "Chris Rock: Hot Comic Is on the Roll of His Life," pp. 132-135; October, 1999, Kevin Chappell, interview with Rock, p. 162.

Entertainment Weekly, March 19, 1993, Meredith Berkman, review of CB4, pp. 32-34, Owen Gleiberman, review of CB4, pp. 42-43; August 27, 1993, Ty Burr, review of CB4, p. 118; June 17, 1994, Ken Tucker, review of Chris Rock: Big Ass Jokes, pp. 41-42; May 31, 1996, Maureen Callahan, "The Raking of a President, 1996: Ex-SNL Player Chris Rock Gets Politically Incorrect, "p. 49; September 19, 1997, Kristen Baldwin, "The Hot Rock," pp. 6-7; October 31, 1997, Alexandra Jacobs, review of Rock This!, p. 100; November 28, 1997, Ken Tucker, review of The Chris Rock Show, pp. 61-62; December 26, 1997, Bruce Fretts, profile of Rock, pp. 20-21; July 9, 1999, Ken Tucker, review of Chris Rock: Bigger & Blacker, p. 51; March 2, 2001, Lisa Schwarzbaum, review of Down to Earth, p. 42; April 4, 2003, Lisa Schwarzbaum, review of Head of State, p. 75.

Essence, April, 1991, Alan Carter, profile of Rock, p. 31; November, 1998, Michel Marriott, "Rock on a Roll," pp. 116-121; August, 2000, Kenya A. Byrd, interview with Rock, p. 64.

Globe & Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), February 24, 2001, Simon Haupt, interview with Rock.

Harper's Bazaar, November, 1999, interview with Rock, p. 52.

Jet, February 6, 1995, "Ja'Net DuBois, Chris Rock win CableACE Awards," p. 40; September 29, 1997, "Chris Rock and HBO's Miss Evers' Boys Win Big at the Emmy Awards Show," pp. 63-64; October 20, 1997, interview with Rock, pp. 32-36; December 8, 1997, "Blacks Take Share of 19th CableACE Awards," pp. 62-63; September 27, 1999, "Blacks Take Home Major Awards at Emmys," p. 65; December 11, 2000, "Chris Rock Wraps Up Talk Show after Five Seasons to Do Other Projects," p. 65; February 19, 2001, review of Down to Earth, p. 60; July 22, 2002, "Chris Rock and Wife, Malaak, Become Parents of a Daughter," p. 32.

New Republic, June 11, 2001, Justin Driver, "The Mirth of a Nation: Black Comedy's Reactionary Hipness," p. 29.

Newsmakers, Issue 1, 1998.

Newsweek, February 17, 1997, Rick Marin, "From

'Little Penny' to Big Willie," pp. 60-61.

O, the Oprah Magazine, June, 2002, interview with Rock, pp. 172-178.

People, November 6, 1989, Alan Carter, review of Comedy's Dirtiest Dozen, p. 17; March 25, 1991, Karen S. Schneider, "High-Flying Saturday Night Live Comic Chris Rock Soars in His New Jack City Film Role," pp. 75-76; March 29, 1993, Tom Gliatto, review of CB4, p. 14; December 23, 1996, Kim Cunningham, "Reading Is Fundamental," p. 114; December 1, 1997, Jennifer Mendelsohn, review of Rock This!, p. 53; December 28, 1998, "Chris Rock" (Twenty-five Most Intriguing People of the Year), p. 62.

Publishers Weekly, January 19, 1998, Daisy Maryles, review of Rock This!, p. 237.

Rolling Stone, September 4, 2003, Gavin Edwards, interview with Rock, p. 93.

Time, July 20, 1998, Christopher John Farley, "Rock Star," pp. 56-58; September 13, 1999, Christopher John Farley, "Seriously Funny: Chris Rock Is on a Roll," p. 66; July 9, 2001, Bruce Handy, "Chris Rock: Even When Cracking Jokes That Make Us Cringe, He Shows Us That Laughter Can Be the Best Revenge," p. 67.

Variety, February 19, 2001, Todd McCarthy, review of Down to Earth, p. 37.

ONLINE

Chris Rock Home Page,http://www.chrisrock.com/ (March 3, 2004).

Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (March 3, 2004), "Chris Rock."*

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