Spheeris in 2013
|Occupation||Film director, film producer, screenwriter|
|Relatives|| Jimmie Spheeris (brother)|
Chris Spheeris (cousin)
Penelope Spheeris (born December 2, 1945 or 1946; sources differ)is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. She has directed both documentary and scripted films. Her best-known works include the trilogy titled The Decline of Western Civilization , each covering an aspect of Los Angeles underground culture, and Wayne's World , her highest-grossing film.
Spheeris was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her Greek-immigrant father owned the Magic Empire Shows carnival and was a side-show strong man. Her mother, of Irish heritage, was raised in Kansas and later worked as a ticket taker for the carnival. Her father was 40 years old and her mother was 19 when they began a relationship.Spheeris has three full siblings, plus a number of older half-siblings from her father's first marriage. She is a sister of singer Jimmie Spheeris and a first cousin of musician Chris Spheeris, and Greek-French director Costa Gavras, which she says has made her consider that a genetic component exists to her vocation.
Spheeris told author Paul Stenning, "I believe each of us is born with certain characteristics that we genetically inherit, some of which are good, some not so good. My mother was extremely compassionate, my father more of a barbarian. My father was passionately ambitious, where my mother was not. The most significant traits I learned from my parents were a strong sense of survival and unfaltering tenacity."
Spheeris spent her first seven years traveling around the American South and American Midwest with her father's carnival.Her father was shot and killed in Troy, Alabama, after intervening in a racial dispute. In a 2015 interview, Spheeris stated that her father had come to the aid of an African-American man who had been struck on the back of the head with a cane by a white man over a dispute about cutting in front of him in line. The white man soon after returned and stabbed Spheeris' father. She states that her father's killer served no jail time, the man's legal defense apparently resting entirely on the claim that he was justified in murdering Spheeris senior as "he was defending a black."
After her father's death, Spheeris and her three siblings moved with their mother to California, generally living in trailer parks with a succession of stepfathers.She spent her teenaged years in Orange County, graduating from Westminster High School with a daunting 'most likely to succeed' label. After high school, Spheeris attended Long Beach State College, where she majored in art. She admired the teachings of George Falcon, a behavioral scientist. From his influence, Spheeris went on to study psychobiology at the University of California, Irvine, in Orange County, southeast of Los Angeles.
Working as a waitress at Denny's and IHOP, she put herself through film school. She majored in film and has a master of fine arts degree in theater arts from UCLA.
Spheeris launched her career by producing short subjects for comedian Albert Brooks, many of them being highlights in the first season of the television series Saturday Night Live . Her first feature film was The Decline of Western Civilization (1981), a punk rock documentary that she produced and directed. She followed up with The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years , this time about the Los Angeles heavy metal scene of 1988, with footage and interviews of legendary metal bands such as Kiss, Ozzy Osbourne, Aerosmith, Megadeth, and Motörhead. She later returned to the streets of Los Angeles and the punk rock scene in 1998 for the documentary The Decline of Western Civilization Part III . She was offered the chance to direct This is Spinal Tap , but declined.
In addition, she worked as a writer for the television series Roseanne (1988-1997). In the 1990s, she directed Wayne's World , a comedy based on Mike Myers' skits from Saturday Night Live. The movie grossed over $183 million and became a popular hit. She directed the Wayne's World music video work for Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody", which earned a Grammy Award nomination.She had difficulty working with Myers, while acknowledging him as "profoundly talented," and in an Entertainment Weekly article stated she believes Myers dissuaded Paramount Pictures from hiring her for the sequel.
In 1996, she directed We Sold Our Souls for Rock 'n Roll , a documentary about the Ozzfest, produced by Sharon Osbourne, which explored life on the road.
Other films Spheeris has directed include The Beverly Hillbillies ; The Little Rascals (for which she co-wrote the screenplay); the Chris Farley/David Spade comedy Black Sheep ; the Marlon Wayans-David Spade team-up Senseless ;and The Kid & I starring Tom Arnold. In 2006, she was set to direct the still-unfilmed Gospel According to Janis, about Janis Joplin.
The Portland Oregon Women's Film Festival named Spheeris its guest of honor for 2013.
The moving image collection of Penelope Spheeris is held at the Academy Film Archive.The Academy Film Archive has preserved several of Penelope Spheeris' films, including Bath, Hats Off To Hollywood, and Shit.
Spheeris has a daughter, director Anna Spheeris Fox, born in 1969.
Since September 9, 1998,Spheeris has been in a relationship with a man known as Sin, whom she met while filming the documentary The Decline of Western Civilization III . In a 2015 interview, she revealed that he was in an institution in Florida after he stopped taking his medication (he is schizophrenic and bipolar) and ended up in jail. She has described him as the love of her life.
Spheeris appeared on WTF with Marc Maron on June 29, 2015.
She appeared on Ken Reid's TV Guidance Counselor podcast on October 18, 2016.
Spheeris work has received recognition from the Directors Guild of America, The Recording Academy, Stinkers Bad Movie Awards, the Chicago International Film Festival, the Chicago Underground Film Festival, the Deep Ellum Film Festival, the LA Femme International Film Festival, the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival, the Los Angeles Silver Lake Film Festival, the Melbourne International Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival, and the Temecula Valley International Film Festival.
|1969||Uncle Tom's Fairy Tales||Yes||Yes||No||student film|
|1972||I Don't Know||Yes||No||No||short Film|
|1985||The Boys Next Door||Yes||No||No|
|1986||Hollywood Vice Squad||Yes||No||No|
|Summer Camp Nightmare||No||No||Yes|
|1993||The Beverly Hillbillies||Yes||Yes||No|
|1994||The Little Rascals||Yes||No||Yes|
|2005||The Kid & I||Yes||Yes||No|
|2011||Balls to the Wall||Yes||No||No|
|1981||The Decline of Western Civilization||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|1988||The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years||Yes||No||No|
|1990||Thunder and Mud||Yes||No||No|
|1990||Banned in the U.S.A.||Yes||No||No|
|1998||The Decline of Western Civilization Part III||Yes||No||No|
|2001||We Sold Our Souls for Rock 'n Roll||Yes||No||No|
|1971||The Ski Bum||Star the Witch|
|1974||The Second Coming of Suzanne||Margo, Logan's Film Group|
|1989||Wedding Band||Nicky's Mom|
|1975-1976||Saturday Night LIVE!||No||Yes||No||9 episodes|
|1989-1990||Roseanne||No||No||Yes||24 episodes (story editor)|
Episode: "Fender Bender" (writer)
|1991||Prison Stories: Women on the Inside||Yes||No||No||TV movie; segment "3"|
|1991||Visitors from the Unknown||Yes||No||No||TV movie|
|1991||UFO Abductions||Yes||No||No||TV movie|
|1993||Danger Theatre||Yes||Yes||Yes||3 episodes (director)|
7 episodes (executive producer)
5 episodes (writer)
|1998||Applewood 911||Yes||No||No||TV movie|
|2000||Dear Doughboy||Yes||No||No||TV movie|
|2003||The Crooked E: The Unshredded Truth About Enron||Yes||No||No||TV movie|
|2003||75th Academy Awards||Yes||Yes||No||segment "Tribute to Documentaries"|
|2004||Cracking Up||Yes||No||No||Episode: "Prom Night"|
|2011||Five||Yes||No||No||TV movie; segment "Cheyanne"|
|2012||The Real St. Nick||Yes||No||No||TV movie|
|1987||"Wake Up Dead"||Megadeth||director|
|1988||"I Did It for Love"||Night Ranger||director|
|1989||"No More Mr. Nice Guy"||Megadeth||director|
|1992||"Bohemian Rhapsody" (Wayne's World Version)||Queen||director|
Critical, public, and commercial reception to films Spheeris has directed.
|Film||Rotten Tomatoes||Metacritic||CinemaScore||Budget||Box office|
|The Decline of Western Civilization||N/A||93||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years||86%||58||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Wayne's World||86%||57||A-||$20 million||$183 million|
|The Beverly Hillbillies||23%||37||B+||$25 million||$57.4 million|
|The Little Rascals||23%||45||A-||N/A||$67.3 million|
|Black Sheep||28%||N/A||B+||N/A||$32.4 million|
|The Decline of Western Civilization - Part III||100%||77||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|The Kid & I||N/A||37||N/A||N/A||N/A|
Wayne's World is a 1992 American comedy film directed by Penelope Spheeris, produced by Lorne Michaels and written by Mike Myers alongside Bonnie and Terry Turner. Based on the Saturday Night Live sketch of the same name, it stars Myers in his feature film debut as Wayne Campbell and Dana Carvey as Garth Algar, a pair of rock music fans who broadcast a public-access television show. It also features Tia Carrere, Rob Lowe, Lara Flynn Boyle, Brian Doyle-Murray, Chris Farley, Ed O'Neill, Ione Skye, Meat Loaf and Alice Cooper in supporting roles.
Wayne's World 2 is a 1993 American comedy film directed by Stephen Surjik and starring Mike Myers and Dana Carvey as hosts of a public-access television cable television show in Aurora, Illinois. The film is the sequel to Wayne's World (1992), which was itself adapted from a sketch on NBC's Saturday Night Live.
Illeana Hesselberg, most commonly known as Illeana Douglas, is an American actress, director, screenwriter, and producer. She has been in a 2001 episode of Six Feet Under – for which she received a Primetime Emmy nomination as Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series and won the Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series award from OFTA, the Online Film & Television Association – and in the TV series Action opposite Jay Mohr – for which she won a Satellite Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy. As of 2015, she can be seen on Turner Classic Movies where she hosts specials focused on unheralded women directors from film history.
WTF usually refers to:
The Decline of Western Civilization is a 1981 American documentary filmed through 1979 and 1980. The movie is about the Los Angeles punk rock scene and was directed by Penelope Spheeris. In 1981, the LAPD Chief of Police Daryl Gates wrote a letter demanding the film not be shown again in the city.
Julia Anne Sweeney is an American actress, comedian and author. She was a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1990 to 1994. She played Mrs. Keeper in the film Stuart Little and voiced Brittany in Father of the Pride. She currently co-stars in the Hulu series Shrill and the Showtime series Work in Progress.
Lee James Jude Capallero, known professionally as Lee Ving, is an American musician and actor.
Marc David Maron is an American stand-up comedian, podcaster, writer, and actor.
The Decline of Western Civilization III is a 1998 documentary film, directed by Penelope Spheeris, that chronicles the gutter punk lifestyle of homeless teenagers. It is the third film of a trilogy by Spheeris depicting life in Los Angeles at various points in time. The first film, The Decline of Western Civilization (1981), dealt with the punk rock scene during 1980–1981. The second film, The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (1988), covers the Los Angeles heavy metal movement of 1986–1988.
Michael David Rapaport is an American actor and comedian. He has appeared in over sixty films since the early 1990s, and starred on the sitcom The War at Home. He also appeared in Boston Public, Friends, Prison Break, Justified, Atypical, and The Big Bang Theory. His notable film roles include True Romance (1993), Higher Learning (1995), Metro (1997), Cop Land (1997), Deep Blue Sea (1999), The 6th Day (2000), Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001), Big Fan (2009), and The Heat (2013). He also directed the documentary Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest (2011).
The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years is a 1988 documentary film directed by Penelope Spheeris. Filmed between August 1987 and February 1988, the film chronicles the late 80s Los Angeles heavy metal scene. It is the second film of a trilogy by Spheeris depicting life in Los Angeles at various points in time as seen through the eyes of struggling up-and-coming musicians. The first film, The Decline of Western Civilization (1981), dealt with the punk rock scene during 1979–1980. The third film, The Decline of Western Civilization III (1998), chronicles the gutter punk lifestyle of homeless teenagers in the late 1990s.
Mike Binder is an award winning American film director, screenwriter, stand-up comic, producer, and actor.
Constance Alice Zimmer is an American actress. She rose to prominence for playing Dana Gordon in the television series Entourage (2005–2011) and Claire Simms in the television series Boston Legal (2006–2007). She went on to appear in many television series, notably Love Bites (2011) and House of Cards (2013–2018).
Kurt Lockwood is an American pornographic actor and director, model, and musician.
Lynn Shelton was an American filmmaker, known for writing, directing, and producing such films as Humpday and Your Sister's Sister.
Dudes is a 1987 American independent film directed by Penelope Spheeris, written by Randall Jahnson, and starring Jon Cryer, Catherine Mary Stewart, Daniel Roebuck, and Lee Ving. A Western revenge story in a contemporary setting, its plot concerns three punk rockers from New York City who attempt to make their way to California. When one of them is murdered by a vicious gang leader, the other two, played by Cryer and Roebuck, find themselves fish out of water as they pursue the murderer from Arizona to Montana, assisted by a tow truck driver played by Stewart.
WTF with Marc Maron is a weekly podcast and radio show hosted by stand-up comedian Marc Maron. The show was launched in September 2009. The show is produced by Maron's former Air America co-worker Brendan McDonald. In early 2011, the show began receiving positive press, including articles in The New York Times.
We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of LA Punk is an oral history of the Los Angeles punk scene written by Marc Spitz and Brendan Mullen. It was released in 2001 by Three Rivers Press.
Janicza Michelle Bravo Ford is an American writer, director, and photographer.
Amber Preston is a stand-up comedian originally from North Dakota and Minnesota and now living in Los Angeles.
Born: 1946, New Orleans, Louisiana
I hated that bastard for years," says Spheeris, who believes Myers dissuaded Paramount from hiring her for Wayne's World 2. "But when I saw Austin Powers, I went, 'I forgive you, Mike.'" She pauses, voice choked with emotion. "'You can be moody, you can be a jerk, you can be things that others of us can't be—because you are profoundly talented. And I forgive you.'