Sat. Nov 26th, 2022

Douglas McGrath, a movie director and author with an erudite wit and scholarly curiosity who spanned genres together with a movie adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Emma,” an Oscar-nominated screenplay with Woody Allen within the crime farce “Bullets Over Broadway” and satirical essays for the New Yorker, died Nov. 3 at his workplace in Manhattan. He was 64.

The dying was introduced by the producers of Mr. McGrath’s solo off-Broadway present, “Every part’s Advantageous,” which opened final month. A present consultant, Jim Byk, mentioned the trigger was a coronary heart assault.

Mr. McGrath’s pursuits and profession — stage, display, magazines, books — defied straightforward labeling. He appeared to love it that means, consistently shifting gears and all the time providing a breezy appraisal of his successes and poking enjoyable at his missteps. He usually deflected questions on his Hollywood work with a self-effacing bon mot or by steering reward to colleagues — as if the film world and its vanities had been a droll comedy and he received the joke.

A “Golightly grace,” a journalist wrote in 1996 after the blithe-spirited foremost character in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” It was an apt description on different ranges, too.

Mr. McGrath was author and director of “Notorious,” a 2006 drama about Truman Capote, whose books included the 1958 “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” that was made right into a 1961 movie. And, just like the fictional Holly Golightly, Mr. McGrath was a shiny and urbane character raised removed from the massive metropolis — a child amid the oil rigs and tumbleweeds of West Texas.

His autobiographical one-man present, directed by John Lithgow, recounted being a 14-year-old in Midland (‘“I used to be not precocious. I used to be barely aware.”) and the way the arrival of an eight-grade historical past instructor shook up the conservative college, and his life. Reviewer Elisabeth Vincentelli wrote within the New York Occasions that the present had a “can’t-look-away high quality of a slow-motion crash.”

“While you become older, you begin to assume again about days passed by,” he instructed Texas Month-to-month earlier this 12 months. “And one of many issues I take into consideration is: Of all of the issues I’ve carried out in my profession, what I really like most is telling tales. I really like being at a desk telling tales. I really like being at a celebration telling tales.”

Mr. McGrath might title drop if he needed to. His mom, then Beatrice Burchenal, labored at Harper’s Bazaar underneath Diana Vreeland and was a part of Andy Warhol’s crowd earlier than marrying an oil man who was born in Connecticut. Mr. McGrath headed to Princeton College, the place he wrote musicals for the Princeton Triangle Membership, a troupe whose alumni embody F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jimmy Stewart.

After graduating in 1980, Mr. McGrath heard “Saturday Evening Stay” was searching for writers. He landed an $850-a-week gig that “appeared too good to be true,” he wrote within the New York Occasions. The timing, nonetheless, was not. The present had misplaced a lot of its unique stars, together with John Belushi and Dan Akroyd, and the opinions had been ugly.

He quipped to the New York Occasions that he “helped train the nation that it wasn’t such a good suggestion to rush house from that get together and watch the present.”

He later teamed up with a fellow SNL author, Patricia Marx, on a novel, “Blockbuster,” (1988), a parody of huge cash and massive egos as a Hollywood studio tries to convey the seventeenth century tome “The Pilgrim’s Progress” to the display. Publishers Weekly panned it as “stultifying.”

A significant flop as a screenwriter — a 1993 remake of the 1950 romantic comedy “Born Yesterday” — was adopted by a serious break, partnering along with his boyhood idol Allen on “Bullets over Broadway” (1994). They had been nominated for an Academy Award for finest screenplay, which went to Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary for “Pulp Fiction.”

In 1996, Mr. McGrath was author and director for “Emma,” starring Gwyneth Paltrow within the function of the busybody and self-styled Cupid Emma Woodhouse. Mr. McGrath usually mentioned he most well-liked writing feminine roles, which he believed supplied a better vary for each dramatic and comedic complexity.

“While you consider all the nice books, not counting Twain’s, it’s the funniest of all the nice novels,” he mentioned of “Emma” in a 1996 interview. “And that’s what I needed to convey out.”

On Broadway, Mr. McGrath acquired a Tony nomination for writing the guide for “Stunning: The Carole King Musical,” which ran from 2014 to 2019. “She was very open, and really useful, and really trustworthy,” mentioned Mr. McGrath about his analysis and collaboration with King.

Placing the story collectively, although, “concerned a number of weeping, and praying,” he mentioned in a podcast with the State Theatre New Jersey.

But it surely was politics — at its seamy and dishonest worst — that remained a dependable muse for Mr. McGrath. In 1996, he carried out off-Broadway in a one-man present, “Political Animal,” a couple of presidential candidate and the “oily steps” taken on the trail to election night time.

His 2012 play “Checkers” — referring to a well-known 1952 speech by then-Sen. Richard M. Nixon addressing corruption allegations — starred Anthony LaPaglia as Nixon and Kathryn Erbe as his spouse, Pat.

In the course of the Invoice Clinton presidency, Mr. McGrath entertained New Republic readers with “The Flapjack File,” a White Home parody as instructed by a Secret Service agent describing a fast-food-gobbling president and a conniving first girl, “Mrs. Rodham Flap.” He adopted it up through the President George W. Bush period with “The Shrub File.”

For the New Yorker, a alternative goal for Mr. McGrath was Donald Trump, even earlier than his election.

Within the Jan. 18, 2016, version, he contributed a “Shouts & Murmurs” lampoon of candidate Trump speaking to an aide named Jeff.

“I proposed internment camps for the Muslims already right here, after which I mentioned that we should always bar all different Muslims from getting into the nation. And also you’re telling me that my numbers are what?”

“ ‘The best ever,’ ” Jeff mentioned, dropping behind a membership chair as a platinum blow dryer shot previous him.”

“Trump wandered over to the window. ‘Now we have a major problem,’ he mentioned, virtually not consuming the pizza. ‘I’d win.’ ”

Douglas Geoffrey McGrath was born on Feb. 2, 1958, in Midland, Tex., the place his father, Raynsford, was an unbiased oil producer.

“I feel this sums it up,” Mr. McGrath mentioned in “Every part’s Advantageous” about West Texas. “It’s highly regarded, it’s very dusty, and it’s very, very windy. It’s like rising up inside a blow dryer stuffed with filth.”

He dabbled in cultural satire as co-author of “Save an Alligator, Shoot a Preppie: A Terrorist Information” (1981), and over time had small appearing roles that included the 2012 HBO collection “Ladies” and in Allen’s movies comparable to “Small Time Crooks” (2000) and “Café Society” (2016).

In 2000, Mr. McGrath starred within the comedy “Firm Man,” a movie he co-wrote with Peter Askin a couple of schoolteacher who stumbles into changing into a CIA spy through the Chilly Battle. The forged consists of Sigourney Weaver, John Turturro and Denis Leary.

However Mr. McGrath mentioned he discovered deeper inventive potentialities in bringing literature to the display, together with a 2002 adaptation of “Nicholas Nickleby,” by Charles Dickens.

“One of many joys of being a author — and it’s a brief checklist — particularly in case you are adapting issues for movie,” he instructed Canada’s Nationwide Put up in 2002, “is that you simply be taught to review the construction of nice writers. You actually should take a guide aside and put it again collectively.”

He’s survived by his spouse of 27 years, Jane Reed Martin; son Henry; and a sister and brother.

In 2016, Mr. McGrath directed HBO’s documentary “Turning into Mike Nichols,” concerning the late movie director. Mr. McGrath, who was additionally govt producer, shared an Emmy nomination with the opposite producers.

Mr. McGrath mentioned at occasions he thought Jane Austen could be a “nice collaborator.”

“As a result of she writes, , excellent dialogue,” he mentioned in 1996, “she creates memorable characters, she has an especially intelligent ability for plotting — and she or he’s lifeless, which implies, , there’s none of that tiresome arguing over who will get the larger bun at espresso time.”

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