Jane Anderson

Jane Anderson

The daughter of a Silicon Valley software designer and a housewife, Anderson was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. After a brief flirtation with college, she headed to NYC at age 19 to pursue an acting career. Almost immediately, she landed a role in the 1975 premiere of David Mamet's "Sexual Perversity in Chicago." The petite actress went on to develop her own stand-up comedy act as well as the one-person show, "How to Raise a Gifted Child" which brought her back to California. Anderson was a regular on the short-lived "The Billy Crystal Comedy Hour" (NBC, 1982) and segued to working behind the scenes in TV after becoming frustrated by the lack of decent parts. She created the failed sitcom "Raising Miranda" (CBS, 1988) and then went on to pen episodes of sitcoms like "The Facts of Life" and "The Wonder Years" before turning to the theater. Her first produced play was "Defying Gravity," a collage of impressions of the Challenger space shuttle disaster.Commissioned to write a new play, Anderson turned to a friend's life for inspiration and wrote the adoption-themed drama "The Baby Dance" which premiered to good notices at the Balcony Theatre of the Pasadena Playhouse in 1990. Remounted Off-Broadway the following year with Stefanie Zimbalist and Linda Purl in the lead roles, the play was unjustly excoriated by the Gotham critics. Having rejuvenated her career in 1993, Anderson soon found herself in demand. She made her feature debut with the based-on-fact screenplay "It Could Happen to You" (1994) about a cop who tipped a waitress with a winning lottery ticket. The charming romantic comedy, though, didn't exactly click with audience at the cineplexes despite good notices. Her second feature effort, the adaptation of Whitney Otto's novel "How to Make an American Quilt" (1995) fared slightly better.Anderson returned to the small screen with an adaptation of her play "The Baby Dance" (Showtime, 1998). Having attempted to conceive a child with her long-term partner, Anderson, in one of those life-imitating-art scenarios, finally adopted a son just as she got the green light to turn her play into a TV-movie. In an article written for The New York Times in August 1998, the writer admitted that her approach to writing and directing the piece for television had been influenced by the events in her own life: ." . The true change in the piece is not literal. It's somewhere in the subtext . . . It's my story now. It's about my own unspeakable ache to love a child." The Showtime film, produced under the auspices of Jodie Foster's Egg Pictures and starring Stockard Channing and Laura Dern, received rave reviews and earned Anderson a pair of Emmy nominations for writing and directing.Two years later, she wrote and directed the "1961" segment of the HBO anthology sequel "If These Walls Could Talk 2" (2000), a delicate piece that focused on an older woman (Vaness Redgrave) dealing with the death of her lifelong lesbian companion. Once again, the Television Academy gave Anderson an Emmy nomination for her teleplay. Anderson went on to write and direct "When Billie Beat Bobby" (ABC, 2001), a satirical mockumentary about the famed Battle of the Sexes tennis match between Billie Jean King (Holly Hunter) and Bobby Riggs (Ron Silver). She then wrote and directed "Normal" (HBO, 2003), about a husband and father (Tom Wilkinson) who suddenly announces to his family his desire for a sex change operation. It was nominated for three Golden Globe Awards, including Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television, while Anderson earned nominations from the Writers and Directors Guilds. Anderson made her feature film debut as a director with "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio" (2005), a kid gloves drama about a 1950's housewife (Julianne Moore) whose talent for winning jingle-contests keeps her struggling family afloat while her bum of a husband (Woody Harrelson) drinks away his meager wages. Anderson followed that success with a stint on the writing staff of "Mad Men" (AMC 2007-2015) during the highly-acclaimed series' second season. She won her second Emmy award in 2015 for penning the miniseries "Olive Kitteridge" (HBO 2014), directed by Lisa Cholodenko.