James Lawrence Brooks (born May 9, 1940) is a producer, writer, and film director.
He is best known for producing classic TV shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Simpsons, Rhoda, Taxi, and The Tracey Ullman Show. His best-known film is his directorial debut, Terms of Endearment, for which he received three Academy Awards in 1984. He has also voiced himself in the episode "A Star Is Born-Again". Though Matt Groening created The Simpsons and loosely based it on his own life experience in his native hometown Portland, Oregon, many people involved with the show previously had working relationships with Brooks.
James L. Brooks was born in a Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York, though he raised most of his early life in North Bergen, New Jersey. Brooks began his television career as a writer for CBS News from 1964 to 1966. After working for the ABC television series Room 222 as executive story editor, Brooks was hired along with writing partner Allan Burns by television executive Grant Tinker to create a show that would later become The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show became a critical and commercial success and spawned other television shows created by Brooks and Burns such as Rhoda, Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers, Taxi, The Associates, and Lou Grant. Rhoda would mark the first time he first worked on a regular basis with future Marge Simpson voice Julie Kavner. Some of the other actors in these shows, as Danny Devito, Penny Marshall, Valerie Harper and Ed Asner, would later become Simpsons guest stars, while Taxi writer Sam Simon would later co-produce for The Simpsons between 1989 and 1994. Brooks also became acquainted with Simpsons recurring voice actor Russi Taylor when she started appearing in a voice role on The Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1976.
In 1978, Brooks began work on feature motion films. His first project was being writer and co-producer on the film Starting Over and later wrote, produced, and directed Terms of Endearment in 1983. For Terms of Endearment, Brooks would win Academy Awards for Best Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture.
Brooks later started his own film and television production company, Gracie Films, in 1984. Gracie Films would produce the television series The Tracey Ullman Show and its spin-off, The Simpsons. He also produced the Jon Lovitz animated series The Critic. Gracie Films's notable film productions were Jerry Maguire, As Good as It Gets, Bottle Rocket, and Broadcast News.
Brooks had a cameo in the The Simpsons episode "A Star Is Born-Again". He also played a semi-fictional version of himself in friend Albert Brooks' comedy Modern Romance as an opinionated film director.
Developed by (1989-present)
Executive Producer (1989-present)
Executive Creative Consultant (1989-present)
Special Guest Voice (2003)
- Spanglish (2004) (director)
- As Good as It Gets (1997) (director)
- Jerry Maguire (1996) (producer)
- Bottle Rocket (1996) (producer)
- The Critic (1994) (executive producer)
- The Simpsons (1989) (executive producer)
- Say Anything... (1989) (producer)
- Big (1988) (producer)
- Broadcast News (1987) (director)
- The Tracey Ullman Show (1987) (producer)
- Terms of Endearment (1983) (director)
- Taxi (1978) (producer)
- Rhoda (1974) (producer
- The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970) (producer)
- The Andy Griffith Show (1960)
- My Three Sons (1960)
- Brooks was well known for being in the studio audience of many shows that he produced in the mid 70s. Viewers can usually tell whether Brooks was in the audience by his distinctive loud guffaw. He would also make an occasional uncredited cameo appearance.
- Brooks was a producer in the 1989 film War of the Roses, which Dan Castellaneta appeared in. This marked the first time a producer and actor worked on a project together outside of The Simpsons.
- In the Treehouse of Horror specials, he is commonly known as James "Hell" Brooks.