Producer-writer-director of mainly TV-movies, usually of a substantive nature, Linda Yellen had a knack for attracting the kind of celebrated talent that did not often work in TV to her projects. As a result, she also often found herself in occasional brouhahas over that very talent.
Yellen studied film at Barnard and Columbia, earning a Ph.D. in 1974. Simultaneously, she taught film classes at Columbia and Yale and wrote reviews for THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. By the end of the decade, Yellen had segued to producing and directing independent features, including "Looking Up" (1978). But distribution for these works proved elusive and she turned to TV, producing "Mayflower: The Pilgrims' Adventure" (CBS, 1979), starring Anthony Hopkins. Buying the rights to Fania Fenelon's Auschwitz memoir, "Playing for Time," about the band which accompanied the concentration camp inmates as they went about their labors or were marched to the gas chamber, Yellen sold the project to CBS and enticed Arthur Miller to write it. But when she cast Vanessa Redgrave as Fenelon (nee Goldstein), there was an uproar. Industry icon producer David L Wolper attacked the production saying that the casting of the vocally pro-Palestinian Redgrave as the half-Jewish Fenelon was an insult and ill-conceived. Even Fenelon was aghast and attacked the choice on "60 Minutes." Nevertheless, Yellen and CBS stuck to the casting, with Yellen insisting that she had not even considered Redgrave's politics when she heard the actress would be interested in the role. The verbal volleys continued, but the TV-movie which resulted was well-received, well-rated and earned both producer Yellen and star Redgrave an Emmy Award. Also in 1980, Yellen lured Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon back to the typewriter, with the duo penning the romantic comedy "Hardhat and Legs" for CBS. Yellen branched out into writing with "The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana" (CBS, 1982), based on the British royal wedding and which she also produced.
That same year, Yellen formed a production company with Chrysallis Records, Chrysallis-Yellen Prods. Under that banner, she produced, co-wrote and made her network TV-movie directorial debut with "Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number" (NBC, 1985), based on the memoir of Argentine publisher Jacopo Timmerman. Always seeming to assault the ceiling on network subject matter, Yellen produced "Second Serve: The Renee Richards Story" (CBS, 1985), starring Vanessa Redgrave and based on the story of the transsexual ophthalmologist who attempted to play professional tennis as a woman. In 1988, Yellen split from Chrysallis and formed her own company. She produced "Liberace: Behind the Music" (CBS, 1988) starring Victor Garber, and, in 1989, branched out into reality specials as one of the executive producers of the syndicated "Live, The Hunt for Stolen War Treasure." Never a stranger to publicity, she again won attention with "Chantilly Lace" (Showtime, 1993), which Yellen produced and directed featuring well-known actresses playing women who gather together three times during the course of the two-hours and improvise their dialogue within character. Yellen employed the same techniques with "Parallel Lives" (Showtime, 1994), in which murder interrupts a fraternity/sorority reunion. Yellen also served as a producer on the box-office failure "Everybody Wins" (1990), with a script by Arthur Miller that saw Nick Nolte playing a private detective who ties his reputation to a small-town hooker (Debra Winger).
Director (Feature Film)
Writer (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Director (TV Mini-Series)
While attending to her own post-graduate studies, Yellen taught film classes at Columbia and Yale; also wrote reviews for THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
Produced and directed first feature, "Looking Up"
Produced first TV-movie, "Mayflower: The Pilgrims' Adventure"
Created brouhaha by casting Vanessa Redgrave in "Playing for Time" (CBS)
Co-wrote TV-movie, "The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana"
Directed first TV-movie, "Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number"
Principal in Linda Yellen Prods.
Produced and directed improvised "Chantilly Lace" for Showtime
Directed improvised TV-movie "Parallel Lives" for Showtime
Helmed "The Simian Line"; screened at the Palm Springs Filml Festival