Weingrod, Herschel 1947-
WEINGROD, Herschel 1947-
Born October 30, 1947, in Milwaukee, WI.
Office—Weingrod/Harris Productions, 73 Market Street, Venice, CA 90291.
Cofounder of Weingrod/Harris Productions. Author of numerous screenplays, primarily with partner Timothy Harris, and producer of films, including Falling Down and Lift, as well as Street of Dreams, (CBS, 1988) for television.
SCREENPLAYS; COWRITTEN WITH TIMOTHY HARRIS
Cheaper to Keep Her, American Cinema, 1980.
Trading Places, Paramount Pictures, 1983.
Brewster's Millions, Universal, 1985.
My Stepmother Is an Alien, Columbia, 1988.
Twins, Universal, 1988.
Kindergarten Cop, Universal, 1990.
Paint It Black, Vestron, 1990.
Pure Luck, Universal, 1991.
(With Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick) Space Jam, 1996.
(With Salomé Breziner) Lift, New Line Entertainment, 1991.
Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1947, screenwriter Herschel Weingrod teamed up with British writer Timothy Harris early in his career. Together they formed Weingrod/Harris Productions, and they have gone on to cowrite and/or produce numerous films for theater and television.
Trading Places is one of the duo's earliest successes. The film depicts the results of a bet made by millionaire brothers (played by actors Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy) who decide to determine the true effects of circumstance over birth in this role reversal comedy. At the start of the Christmas season, the brothers arrange to frame one of the young partners in their Philadelphia brokerage firm (played by Dan Ackroyd) for theft. He is thrown in jail, accused of drug trafficking, and finally bailed out by a mysterious hooker (Jamie Lee Curtis). The brothers then have a poor black hustler (played by Eddie Murphy) picked up off the street and given the displaced rich man's life, complete with job and townhouse. As Ackroyd's character sinks lower in life, Murphy's rises like cream. Once the manipulated men realize the extent of the brothers' deception, they team up to turn the tables on the billionaires to extract their revenge. Stanley Kauffman, in a review for the New Republic, remarked that "the basic story gimmick was old when Mark Twain used it in The Prince and the Pauper. "A contributor to People called the film a "satisfying comedy," and went on to comment that the "climax works to perfection."
Some of Weingrod's less-successful efforts include Cheaper to Keep Her, Pure Luck, and Space Jam. Cheaper to Keep Her is about a private detective who is hired to go after delinquent ex-husbands who have failed to pay their alimony. In the process, he attempts to seduce both the woman who has hired him and her secretary. Michael Blowen, writing in the Boston Globe, commented that the film is "guaranteed to offend everyone, regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, or sexual preference." In Pure Luck, Danny Glover plays a private detective to Martin Short's unlucky accountant, both of whom are hired to search for a woman who is lost in Mexico. A reviewer for People wrote that "someone obviously erased all the script's funny lines before this film got made." Space Jam, cowritten with screenwriters Steve Rudnick and Leo Benvenuti, combines live action basketball players, including icon Michael Jordan, with classic cartoon favorites such as Bugs Bunny. Ralph Novak, in People, called the film "charmless, vastly over-hyped, and greedily overmerchandised," remarking that its one highlight comes "when Bugs and Daffy lament that they don't get a cut from all that Looney Tunes merchandise."
In the Russian roulette of Hollywood screenwriting, where actors, directors, and producers constantly rework a script to their own specifications, Weingrod continues to produce films that entertain. Other hits include Twins and Kindergarten Cop, both of which performed well at the box office, and Falling Down, starring Michael Douglas and Robert Duvall, which Weingrod produced.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Boston Globe, May 5, 1981, Michael Blowen, review of Cheaper to Keep Her, p. 1.
Cineaste, winter, 1993, Tom Doherty, review of Falling Down, pp. 39-42.
New Republic, July 11, 1983, Stanley Kauffman, review of Trading Places, pp. 22-23.
People, June 27, 1983, review of Trading Places, p. 12; August 26, 1991, Ralph Novak, review of Pure Luck, p. 14; November 1996, Ralph Novak, review of Space Jam, p. 20.
Hollywood.com,http://www.hollywood.com/ (December 27, 2004), "Herschel Weingrod."
Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (December 8, 2004), "Herschel Weingrod."
Movies.go.com,http://movies.go.com/ (December 8, 2004), "Herschel Weingrod."
TimeOut.com,http://www.timeout.com/ (December 8, 2004), "Herschel Weingrod."*