||From the original Shaft to Love at First Bite, from Camelot to Soapdish, from top-grossing films to television to the internet, Joel Freeman has built a reputation that spans half a century of entertainment history .
He started in Hollywood at MGM...as a messenger. But after just six weeks, he was promoted to the Short Subjects department, and then moved to the Production Planning Office.
But 18 months later, Freeman was drafted and spent three years in the Air Force two of them with the First Motion Picture Unit (AAF) where he was script supervisor and assistant director on some thirty training films.
The transition back to civilian life was an easy one: he immediately became an assistant director at RKO. During the next two years, he alternated between RKO and Selznick, working on films like The Farmer's Daughter, The Paradine Case, The Bachelor and The Bobby Soxer, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House and The Setup. Freeman then returned to MGM as an assistant director, and eventually as associate producer. During that time he gained additional experience on some of the company's top films such as Madame Bovary, Battleground, Bad Day at Black Rock, Blackboard Jungle, The Tender Trap, Tea & Sympathy and Something Of Value.
As an independent production supervisor, Freeman’s feature films included Lonelyhearts, and he worked on several television series including The Californians and Highway Patrol. Later, he joined Dore Schary at Warner Brothers, to do Sunrise at Campobello as production supervisor and associate producer. That led to The Music Man at the same studio.
Another opportunity to work with Schary, this time on Act One, brought Freeman to New York City. He stayed to produce The Reporter, a television series for CBS's Richelieu Productions, and became head of program development for the same company.
Freeman was soon called back to California as associate producer and production supervisor on Warner Brothers’ A Big Hand for a Little Lady and Not With My Wife You Don't! Pleased with Freeman’s performance, Jack Warner asked him to be his associate on Camelot. Upon the film’s very successful completion, Freeman became one of the top three executives at Warner Brothers, until the studio was sold to Seven Arts.
He was associate producer and production supervisor on Francis Ford Coppola’s second film, Finian's Rainbow when Ken Hyman -- then head of worldwide production for Warner Brothers/Seven Arts -- asked Freeman to reactivate and executive produce The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter. A critically acclaimed classic, the film received two Oscar nominations.
Joel Freeman Productions Inc. was founded upon its completion, and Freeman was signed to a term producing contract at WB/7Arts where he developed Tom Sawyer, The Musical. Simulataneously, he served as executive consultant to Ken Hyman until the studio was sold.
Independent again, and moving successfully between features and television, he produced an ABC Movie of the Week, Weekend of Terror. Then with Gordon Parks directing, and Isaac Hayes providing an unforgettable score, Freeman produced the groundbreaking feature Shaft for MGM. Its success led to a partnership with Fox, with whom he produced the feature Trouble Man. And that led, in turn, to Fuzz Brothers, a television pilot created in partnership with MGM/ABC. He then executive produced It Happened One Christmas for Universal Television.
His next film, the hilarious Love At First Bite, had the distinction of being Melvin Simon Productions' biggest success, and one of AIP's two biggest box-office winners. He produced The Octagon for American Cinema, executive produced The Kindred for Feldman/Meeker and then became Senior Vice President, Production for New Century/New Visions Entertainment for two years until December, 1988. During that tenure he supervised such films as: The Gate, Russkies, Split Decision and Rooftops.
Soon afterward, The Completion Bond Company , who had consulted with Freeman previously, asked him to take over as producer of Next of Kin, then supervise The Guardian. He co-produced Soapdish for Paramount, supervised Ricochet, then went trouble-shooting in England on The Power of One -- the latter two projects for The Completion Bond Company, as well.
Freeman then became involved in various phases of development and pre-production of: Love at Second Bite (a sequel), To Have and Have Not (a remake),Mr. Shaft (a sequel), Someone Could Get Killed, Woof, Jekyll, Skyjack! Skyjack!, The James Barry Story, Mace, Piper, Stagecoach Mary, Stick and Ball and Harp.
He spent six months in Lithuania producing 13 hour-long episodes of the series The New Adventures of Robin Hood. Upon his return he developed and optioned many screenplays, including Booker; 44 Sunset; Anais: The Opposite of Innocence; The Fairy Godfather; Shattered Image; Maternal Instinct; Romantics, Misfits and Fools; Bloodthirsty; Air Med; Marti; Monte; and Return of the Vin Fiz. He also produced Cover to Cover, a live show for Hollywood Broadcasting.com.
Freeman was the recipient of the Director's Guild Award for Bad Day at Black Rock, and the NAACP Image Award as Producer of the Year for Shaft. He is a member of the Directors Guild of America, the Producers Guild of America (recipient of the Lifetime Membership Award) and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. In addition he served for many years on the Board of the Entertainment Industry Foundation.
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