John Herzfeld

John Herzfeld

But by the time his acting career was winding down, Herzfeld had already become a successful writer and director with the acclaimed "ABC Afterschool Special" installments, "Stoned" (1981) and "Run, Don't Walk" (1982), involving drugs and disablement, respectively. (He earned an Emmy for helming the former.) Herzfeld went on to write and/or direct myriad TV-movies, including the remake of "Splendor in the Grass" (NBC, 1981), "Daddy" (ABC, 1987), the acclaimed AIDS drama "The Ryan White Story," starring Lukas Haas, and the true-crime story "The Preppie Murder" (both ABC, 1989), one of the three lurid Amy Fisher biopics, "Casualties of Love: The Long Island Lolita Story" (CBS, 1993), featuring Alyssa Milano, and the thriller "Comes the Dawn" (HBO, 1995). Still bitten by the acting bug, he also played cameo roles in a number of these projects. Herzfeld began his big screen career writing screenplays for the romance "Voices" (1979) and the teen comedy "Hang Tough" (1982), before writing and directing the English-language version of the Israeli war drama "The Last Winter" (1982). His next writing/directing project, the dreadful John Travolta-Olivia Newton-John comedy "Two of a Kind" (1983) derailed his screen career. He played a small role in "Cobra" (1986) and appeared in the documentary "Stephen Verona: Self Portrait" (1995), but Herzfeld was at an admittedly low point when he began writing "2 Days in the Valley" (1996). Inspired by a cemetery near his San Fernando Valley home, he scripted a darkly funny tale of ten characters and how their lives intersect and change over 48 hours. Independently shot, the film provided good roles for an impressive cast of Herzfeld's old TV and film co-workers, such as Danny Aiello, Paul Mazursky, Jeff Daniels, Teri Hatcher, Eric Stoltz and Louise Fletcher. As a follow-up, he returned to the small screen to helm "Don King: Only in America," a 1997 HBO biopic of the boxing promoter.