After a decade of acting in the theater, Michael Cristofer found fame, as well as won the Pulitzer Prize and a Tony for writing the 1977 Broadway play "The Shadow Box," a character piece about three terminally-ill patients. The play had its initial premiere in 1975 at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. Prior to its Broadway run, Cristofer had had a few plays produced, including the 1972 street theater piece "Americommedia," theater piece (1972), but Cristofer had primarily been concentrating on an acting career.
The New Jersey native joined Washington, DC's prestigious Arena Stage Company for the 1967-68 season. After a stint appearing in a repertory company in Beirut, Lebanon (where he was pursuing graduate studies) and various Philadelphia productions, Cristofer made it to Broadway in 1977, cast as Trofikov in the Lincoln Center revival of "The Cherry Orchard." He had met with limited success as an actor, filming the busted pilot "Crime Club" (CBS, 1975) and the 1976 NBC remake of "The Entertainer." On the big screen he was seen in "The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder" (1974) and was featured in "An Enemy of the People" (1978), a production of the Ibsen play better known for its miscasting of lead Steve McQueen. Since clicking as a writer, Cristofer has all but abandoned acting; his last screen role was as an Arab in "The Little Drummer Girl" (1984).
Since the early 1980s, Cristofer has turned to a developing career as a screenwriter. His first produced script was "Falling in Love" (1984), a loose remake of "Brief Encounter" with Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep as married commuters who begin a relationship. His biggest success to date was his adaptation of John Updike's novel "The Witches of Eastwick" (1987), which starred Jack Nicholson as the devil burned by the three women (Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon) he tried to control. Cristofer had screen credit on the unfortunate 1990 adaptation of "The Bonfire of the Vanities" and wrote the Richard Gere vehicle "Mr. Jones" (1993), about a manic depressive's love for a therapist. He wrote and produced "Breaking Up" (1997), based on his play about a couple who discover they are better off without one another. In 1998, Cristofer made his small screen directorial debut with "Gia," an acclaimed HBO biopic of AIDS-stricken model Gia Carangi.
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Special Thanks (Special)
Appeared in the CBS pilot, "Crime Club"
Made New York stage debut as Trofimov in "The Cherry Orchard"
Co-starred in the feature film, "An Enemy of the People"
Adapted "Shadow Box" for television; aired on ABC and was directed by Paul Newman
Produced and adapted his play, "Breaking Up" for the screen
Wrote and directed "Original Sin"; based upon the novella "Waltz into Darkness"
Penned the screenplay for Lasse Hallström's "Casanova"
Wrote the pilot episode of the short-lived series, "Eastwick" (ABC)
Performed in the stage revival of "A View From the Bridge"