James Lawrence Brooks (born May 9, 1940) is an American director, producer, screenwriter and co-founder of Gracie Films. He created or co-created the popular TV shows Room 222 (1969-1974), with Lloyd Haynes, Denise Nicholas, Michael Constantine, and Karen Valentine; The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977), with Mary Tyler Moore, Ed Asner, Gavin MacLeod, Ted Knight, Georgia Engel, Betty White, Valerie Harper, and Cloris Leachman; Rhoda (1974-1978), with Harper, Julie Kavner, David Groh, Nancy Walker, Harold Gould, Lorenzo Music, Ron Silver, Ray Buktenica, and Kenneth McMillan; Lou Grant (1977-1982), with Asner, Robert Walden, Linda Kelsey, Mason Adams, Jack Bannon, Daryl Anderson, Nancy Marchand, and Rebecca Balding; Taxi 1978-1983), with Judd Hirsch, Jeff Conaway, Danny DeVito, Marilu Henner, Tony Danza, Randall Carver, Andy Kaufman, Christopher Lloyd, and Carol Kane; and The Tracey Ullman Show (1987-1990), with Tracey Ullman, Kavner, Dan Castellaneta, Sam McMurray, and Joseph Malone. Throughout his TV career, he’s been nominated for 54 Primetime Emmy Awards, winning 20.
Brooks also helped develop the long running animated sitcom The Simpsons (1989-), with series creator Matt Groening and writer/producer Sam Simon; as well as co-wrote and co-produced the spin-off film The Simpsons Movie (2007). He also wrote or co-wrote the TV movies Thursday’s Game (1974), with Gene Wilder, Bob Newhart, John Archer, Ellen Burstyn, Norman Fell, Leachman, Harper, Rob Reiner, Richard Schaal, Martha Scott, and Walker; and Cindy (1978), with Charlayne Woodard, Mae Mercer, Nell Carter, Alaina Reed Hall, Scoey Mitchell, and Clifton Davis. His first feature film screenplay was for Alan J. Pakula’s Starting Over (1979), with Burt Reynolds, Jill Clayburgh, Candice Bergen, Charles Durning, Frances Sternhagen, Austin Pendleton, and Mary Kay Place.
Brooks won three Academy Awards as writer, director, and producer for his directorial debut Terms of Endearment (1983), with Debra Winger, Shirley MacLaine, Jack Nicholson, DeVito, Jeff Daniels, and John Lithgow. He’s one of handful of filmmakers to win these three categories in the same year, along with Billy Wilder, Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Jackson, Joel & Ethan Coen, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Bong Joon-ho, and Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert.
Brooks received 2 more nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture for Broadcast News (1987), with William Hurt, Albert Brooks, Holly Hunter, Robert Prosky, Lois Chiles, Joan Cusack, and Nicholson; and As Good As it Gets (1997), with Nicholson, Helen Hunt, Greg Kinnear, Cuba Gooding Jr., Skeet Ulrich, and Shirley Knight. He was also nominated in the Best Picture category as a producer on Cameron Crowe’s Jerry Maguire (1996), with Tom Cruise, Gooding Jr., Renée Zellwege, Kelly Preston, Jerry O’Connell, Jay Mohr, Bonnie Hunt and Regina King.
His other directorial efforts include I’ll Do Anything (1994), with Nick Nolte, Brooks, Kavner, Joely Richardson, Ullman, Whittni Wright, Anne Heche, and Ian McKellen; Spanglish (2004), with Adam Sandler, Téa Leoni, Paz Vega, and Leavhman; and How Do You Know (2010), with Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd, and Nicholson.
Other films Brooks has produced or executive produced include Penny Marshall’s Big (1988), with Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins, David Moscow, John Heard, and Robert Loggia; Say Anything… (1989), with John Cusack, Ione Skye and John Mahoney; The War of the Roses (1989), with Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, and DeVito (who also directed); Wes Anderson’s Bottle Rocket (1996), with Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, Robert Musgrave, Lumi Cavazos, and James Caan; Riding in Cars with Boys (2001), with Drew Barrymore, Steve Zahn, Brittany Murphy, Lorraine Bracco, James Woods, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Rosie Perez; Kelly Fremon Craig’s The Edge of Seventeen (2016), with Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner, Hayden Szeto, and Kyra Sedgwick; and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. (2023), with Abby Ryder Forston, Rachel McAdams, Elle Graham, Benny Safdie, and Kathy Bates.
Each review will be linked to the title below.
(*seen originally in theaters)
(**seen rereleased in theaters)
- Thursday’s Game (1974) – directed by Robert Moore – writer, producer – TV movie
- Cindy (1978) – directed by William A. Graham – co-writer, producer – TV movie
- Starting Over (1979) – directed by Alan J. Pakula – writer, producer
- Terms of Endearment (1983) – director, writer, producer
- Broadcast News (1987) – director, writer, producer
- Big (1988) – directed by Penny Marshall – producer
- Say Anything… (1989) – directed by Cameron Crowe – executive producer
- The War of the Roses (1989) – directed by Danny DeVito
- I’ll Do Anything (1994) – director, writer, producer
- Bottle Rocket (1996) – directed by Wes Anderson – executive producer
- Jerry Maguire (1996) – directed by Cameron Crowe – producer
- As Good as It Gets (1997) – director, co-writer, producer
- Riding in Cars with Boys (2001) – directed by Penny Marshall – producer
- Spanglish (2004)* – director, writer, producer
- The Simpsons Movie (2007)* – directed by David Silverman – co-writer, producer
- How Do You Know (2010) – director, writer, producer
- The Edge of Seventeen (2016) – directed by Kelly Fremon Craig – producer
- Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. (2023) – directed by Kelly Fremon Craig – producer