CHRIS ROCK (Marty the Zebra), who is widely recognized as one of America’s most influential comedians, is also one of its most honored, having been recognized with numerous awards, including three Emmys, two Grammys, and an American Comedy Award. He was recently seen by millions of people worldwide as the host of the 77th annual Academy Awards®, and also wrote and starred in his fourth HBO special, “Chris Rock: Never Scared.”
On the big screen, Rock next stars in the remake of the football comedy “The Longest Yard,” with Adam Sandler and Burt Reynolds.
In 2001, Rock appeared in two feature films, first starring in the romantic comedy “Down to Earth,” which he also co-wrote. Directed by Paul and Chris Weitz, the film is an updated remake of “Heaven Can Wait” with an urban twist. Later in the year, Rock produced and starred in the comedy “Pootie Tang.” In 2003, he wrote, produced, directed, and starred in the political comedy “Head of State.”
Rock previously joined the ensemble cast of Neil LaBute’s critically acclaimed dark comedy “Nurse Betty.” Rock’s other feature film credits include Kevin Smith’s “Dogma”; the hit sequel “Lethal Weapon 4”; 2002’s “Bad Company,” with Anthony Hopkins; “New Jack City,” playing a desperate crack addict, which marked his first dramatic role; “I'm Gonna Git You Sucka!,” with Keenen Ivory Wayans; and “Beverly Hills Cop II,” in which he made his feature film debut. He also lent his voice to the 1998 hit comedy “Dr. Dolittle,” and Steven Spielberg’s futuristic fantasy “A.I.”
Rock grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. After honing his comedic skills on the comedy club circuit, he realized a long-held dream when he joined the cast of “Saturday Night Live” in 1989. In 1994, Rock emerged as a comedy star in his own right with the award-winning HBO special “Chris Rock: Big Ass Jokes.” In 1996, he scored even greater success with another HBO special, “Bring the Pain,” which brought Rock two 1997 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special and Outstanding Writing. That same year, Rock also picked up an Emmy nomination for his writing on the show “Politically Incorrect.” Giving “Bring the Pain” a successful life beyond its airing on HBO, DreamWorks Records released a home video and DVD of the special, as well as a Grammy Award-winning CD.
In the wake of his two highly rated specials, Rock expanded his presence on HBO to the series “The Chris Rock Show,” which brought him a shared Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing. In addition, he received three more shared Emmy Award nominations for writing, two nominations for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series, and two individual nominations for his work as the series host.
Rock’s next HBO special, “Bigger & Blacker,” was taped on the stage of Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theatre. It also spawned a hit CD, which won a 2000 Grammy Award for Best Spoken or Comedy Album. In addition, his first book, Rock This (Hyperion, 1997), spent time on the bestseller lists of both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
DAVID SCHWIMMER (Melman the Giraffe) is best known for his starring role on the television series “Friends,” for which he earned an Emmy nomination. Schwimmer also shared in six consecutive Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series for his work on “Friends.”
Schwimmer’s film credits include Mike Figgis’ “Hotel,” Ivan Reitman’s “Six Days, Seven Nights,” Bryan Singer’s “Apt Pupil,” Doug Ellin’s “Kissing a Fool” and Matt Reeves’ “The Pallbearer.” Additionally, “Duane Hopwood,” the independent feature in which Schwimmer stars as the title character, premiered to rave reviews at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.
For television, Schwimmer has appeared in Jon Avnet’s “Uprising,” and the HBO projects “Band of Brothers” and “Breast Men.” He earlier had recurring roles on the series “NYPD Blue,” “L.A. Law” and “The Wonder Years.” Last season, he appeared as a twisted version of himself on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
Schwimmer has also worked extensively on the stage and will make his London debut in the world premiere of “Some Girl(s),” a new play by Neil LaBute, which opens May 24 at the Gielgud Theatre. Schwimmer has acted in and directed numerous productions with Lookingglass, the theatre company he co-founded in Chicago, including “Of One Blood,” “West,” “The Odyssey,” “The Jungle,” “In the Eye of the Beholder,” “The Master and Margarita,” “The Arabian Nights” and “The Idiot.” He most recently adapted Studs Terkel’s book Race: How Blacks And Whites Think And Feel About The American Obsession for the stage, and also directed the play as the premiere production for the company’s new theatre on Michigan Avenue. In addition, Schwimmer starred in the premieres of Roger Kumble’s “D Girl” and “Turnaround” in Los Angeles, and Warren Leight’s “Glimmer Brothers” in Williamstown.
As a director, Schwimmer has helmed numerous episodes of “Friends,” “Joey” and “The Tracy Morgan Show.” He just finished shooting the pilot for “New Car Smell,” a new half-hour series for Fox, starring Brooke Shields and Christopher McDonald. Schwimmer is also set to direct the feature “Run, Fat Boy, Run,” a romantic comedy written by actor/writer Michael Ian Black.
JADA PINKETT SMITH (Gloria the Hippo) is a versatile actress whose film career has been on the fast track since her debut in “Menace II Society.” She most recently co-starred with Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx in the dramatic thriller “Collateral,” for which she earned her sixth NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture. She also starred in “The Matrix Reloaded” and “The Matrix Revolutions,” the back-to-back hit sequels to the original blockbuster “The Matrix.”
In 2002, she played the role of Muhammad Ali’s first wife, Sonji, co-starring opposite her real-life husband, Will Smith, in the biopic “Ali.” Pinkett Smith had earlier been recognized for her work in “Bamboozled,” for director Spike Lee.
In 1996, she earned dual Image Award nominations: for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture for her work in “Set It Off,” in which she starred with Queen Latifah and Vivica A. Fox; and for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie for the acclaimed drama “If These Walls Could Talk.” That same year, she received praise for holding her own against Eddie Murphy when she starred in Tom Shadyac’s smash hit comedy “The Nutty Professor.”
A native of Maryland, Pinkett Smith studied dance and acting at the Baltimore School of Arts and the North Carolina School of the Arts. Her big break came in 1991 when she landed a regular role on the long-running NBC series “A Different World.” After two seasons on the show, she made her feature film debut in 1993’s acclaimed urban drama “Menace II Society,” which also marked the directorial debut of Allen and Albert Hughes.
The following year, Pinkett Smith starred in three feature films: “The Inkwell”; Doug McHenry’s “Jason’s Lyric”; and Keenen Ivory Wayans’ comedy “A Low Down Dirty Shame.” Her additional film credits include the horror film “Demon Night,” Wes Craven’s hit horror film sequel “Scream 2,” the title role in the independent film “Woo,” and the comedy “Kingdom Come,” with LL Cool J and Whoopi Goldberg, which reunited her with Doug McHenry. Pinkett Smith also had a cameo role as a young journalist in the harrowing drama “Return to Paradise,” starring Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche and Joaquin Phoenix.
Behind the camera, Pinkett Smith is currently serving as an executive producer on the independent film “Seat Filler,” and as the co-creator and executive producer on the UPN series “All of Us.” In addition, she headlines the rock band Wicked Wisdom as its lead singer.
SACHA BARON COHEN (king Julien) is better known to the public as his alter ego Ali G, who is the in-your-face host of HBO’s popular Emmy Award-nominated comedy variety/talk show “Da Ali G Show.” The show was already the number one comedy phenomenon in Baron Cohen’s native England when he brought it to the United States, where it became an instant sensation on HBO. Proving his popularity and “respeck,” as Ali would say, Harvard invited “Ali G” to deliver the 2004 commencement address.
As the title character on “Da Ali G Show,” Baron Cohen plays a wannabe gangsta hailing from the provincial London suburb Staines. As fearless as he is clueless, Ali provokes the ire of his guests by asking all the tough—and often wrong—questions, such as asking astronaut Buzz Aldrin “What it was like to walk on de sun?,” or asking the former head of the CIA, “Let’s cast our minds back to the grassy knoll…who actually shot J.R.?” Ali G has also sat down with some of the world’s most powerful people, from Pat Buchanan and Newt Gingrich, to former United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop.
In addition to being Ali G, Cohen consistently showcases his versatility by appearing on “Da Ali G Show” as several other characters, including Borat, the sixth most famous man in the country of Kazakhstan, and Bruno, an out and proud gay fashionista from Austria whose vanity is exceeded only by his superciliousness.
Baron Cohen originated the character of Ali G in 1998 on the British television comedy “The 11 O’Clock Show.” Two years later, Channel 4 Television launched “Da Ali G Show,” which quickly gained a cult following that grew as word of mouth spread all the way to Buckingham Palace, where the Queen of England is an acknowledged devotee of the series. Baron Cohen serves as an executive producer on the series, in addition to acting and writing for it. In 2003, HBO began airing “Da Ali G Show” in the United States.
The HBO show earned two 2003 Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Non-Fiction Program and Outstanding Writing in a Non-Fiction Program. The show also received many accolades in the U.K. prior to its stateside debut, including two BAFTA Awards for Best Comedy Program and Best Comedy Performance for Baron Cohen.
CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER (Maurice) is fast becoming one of the busiest comedy stars in Hollywood. He most recently starred with John Travolta in “Be Cool,” and with Tommy Lee Jones in “Man of the House.” He will next take on the iconic role of Ralph Kramden in the big-screen version of the television classic “The Honeymooners,” due out later this summer. His upcoming films also include the comedies “Flash”; “The Cleaner,” opposite Lucy Liu; and “Mr. Lucky,” in which he stars with Bruce Willis, all of which he is also producing. In addition, he will be heard in the animated features “Charlotte’s Web” and “The Proud Family Movie.” In the latter, Cedric will reprise the role of Bobby Proud from the television series “The Proud Family,” for which he won a 2003 NAACP Image Award.
Cedric first gained fame for his co-starring role on “The Steve Harvey Show,” earning a record-breaking four consecutive Image Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his portrayal of the lovable Coach Cedric Robinson. In 2000, he became one of “The Original Kings of Comedy” in Spike Lee’s acclaimed comedy concert documentary.
Two years later, Cedric starred in the comedy “Barbershop,” which became one of the biggest sleeper hits of the year and for which he earned widespread critical and audience acclaim. He returned to star in the 2004 sequel, “Barbershop 2: Back in Business.” Also that year, he appeared in “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events,” and starred in the hit comedy “Johnson Family Vacation,” which marked Cedric’s film producing debut under the banner of his own production company, A Bird and a Bear Entertainment.
Cedric’s other film credits include “Big Momma’s House,” “Kingdom Come,” “Serving Sara” and the Coen Brothers’ “Intolerable Cruelty.” He also lent his voice talents to the comedy hits “Dr. Dolittle 2” and “Ice Age.” Returning to television, he produced and starred in the series “Cedric The Entertainer Presents,” for which he won an AFTRA Award of Excellence and earned a People’s Choice Award nomination.
Cedric’s popularity and success extend beyond the screen. His first comedy book, Grown Ass Man, was released in January 2002 and sold out across the country. After Cedric’s Bud Light commercial aired during the 2001 Super Bowl, USA Today dubbed him Madison Avenue’s Most Valuable Player. In 1994, Cedric received The Richard Pryor Comic of the Year Award from Black Entertainment Television for his groundbreaking work as the host of “Def Comedy Jam” and BET’s “Comicview.”
ANDY RICHTER (Mort), an actor and writer, became well known to late night television audiences during his seven years as Conan O’Brien’s sidekick on NBC’s “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” beginning with its premiere in 1993. Since his departure from the show in 2000, Richter has amassed a growing list of film and television acting credits.
He recently co-starred with Will Ferrell in the smash hit holiday comedy “Elf,” and with the Olsen twins in their comedy feature “New York Minute.” He was also seen in the independent film “Seeing Other People.” His other film work includes “My Boss’s Daughter,” with Ashton Kutcher; Keenen Ivory Wayans’ hit sequel “Scary Movie 2”; “Dr. Dolittle 2,” with Eddie Murphy; and Robert Altman’s “Dr. T and the Women,” starring Richard Gere.
In 2002, Richter returned to television to star in the Fox comedy “Andy Richter Controls the Universe,” on which he also served as a producer. Currently, he is starring in the Fox sitcom “Quintuplets,” in which he plays a father having to cope with quintuplets who have reached their teenage years.
An award-winning writer, Richter earned five consecutive Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program as part of the writing team on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” during his tenure on the show. Also for his writing work on the late night show, Richter was honored by his peers with two Writers Guild of America Awards and two additional WGA Award nominations.
about the filmmakers
ERIC DARNELL (Director/Writer) made his feature film directorial debut on “Antz,” which marked PDI/DreamWorks’ first computer-animated project. He also assisted with computer animation research and development for DreamWorks Animation’s first traditionally animated feature, “The Prince of Egypt.”
Darnell earned a BA in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Colorado and an MFA in Experimental Animation from CalArts. While completing his MFA, he was awarded filmmaking grants from both the Ahmanson Foundation and the Princess Grace Foundation. Beginning his career as a freelance animator, Darnell worked on a variety of projects, including the animated music video “Get Up” for the rock band REM.
Coming to PDI/DreamWorks in 1991, Darnell went on to helm numerous commercial and short film projects. His in-house animated short entitled “Gas Planet” garnered international recognition, including the Ottawa Animation Festival Prize for Best Computer Animation.
TOM McGRATH (Director/Writer) also provides the voice of Skipper, the leader of a band of resourceful penguins, in “Madagascar.” McGrath’s career in animation spans more than 15 years, and he has also worked extensively in live action.
His live-action feature story work includes the comedies “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” for director Ron Howard, and “Cats & Dogs.” On the animation side, McGrath served as an animator and also did storyboarding for the feature “Cool World,” and was a key animator on “Space Jam” and “Hercules and Xena – The Animated Movie: The Battle for Mount Olympus.”
For television, McGrath has worked as a director on the popular series “The Ren & Stimpy Show,” as well as various pilots for Nickelodeon. In addition, he has worked on numerous commercials and animated shorts.
MIREILLE SORIA (Producer) most recently produced DreamWorks Animation’s traditionally animated adventure “Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas.” She also produced “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron,” which earned an Academy Award® nomination for Best Animated Feature. The latter marked her first producing credit for an animated motion picture, although she has an extensive background in live-action film and television.
Prior to taking the producing reins for “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron,” Soria had a producing deal at Fox Family Pictures, where she produced the romantic Cinderella story “Ever After,” starring Drew Barrymore. She also executive produced the Disney Channel horror comedy “Under Wraps.”
Soria had previously held the post of vice president of production for Walt Disney Pictures from 1990 to 1995. During her tenure, she oversaw the development and production of such projects as “Cool Runnings,” “The Mighty Ducks” and its two sequels, and 1994’s live-action version of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book.”
She had come to Disney from the Steve Tisch Company, where she was a vice president and also produced several projects. Her producing credits there included the pilot and 13 episodes of the television series “Dirty Dancing,” the telefilms “Victim of Love” and “Out on the Edge,” and the CBS Afterschool Special “Lies of the Heart.” She also developed a number of other feature film and cable and network television projects.
Soria began her career in 1982 as manager of dramatic series development at ABC. Two years later, she joined Columbia Pictures Television as director of current programs. In 1985, she returned to ABC as director of dramatic series development, and was responsible for developing the groundbreaking series “thirtysomething.”
TERESA CHENG (Co-Producer) has more than 20 years of production experience at leading film studios and digital effects production houses, as well as Canada’s largest broadcasting network. She most recently held the post of head of production for PDI/DreamWorks, overseeing all of the studio’s production efforts on a global level. She also served as the production manager for DreamWorks Animation’s Oscar®-nominated animated feature “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.”
Prior to joining DreamWorks Animation, Cheng produced visual effects for numerous films, including the actioner “Batman and Robin,” at Warner Bros.; “Batman Forever” and “Ace Ventura II: When Nature Calls,” at Rhythm and Hues; and “True Lies,” at Digital Domain. In addition, she supervised the production of the first Coca-Cola commercial featuring computer-generated polar bears, and a television spot for Jeep called "Snow Covered," which earned a Cannes Grand Prix award.
Cheng began her career in the television industry as a producer and manager at CBC Television, Canada’s largest network. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Washington.
MARK BURTON (Writer) is a UK-based comedy writer with a widely varied career in film and television on both sides of the Atlantic. He has won several awards for his writing, including the British Comedy Award and the Premier Ondas Award.
Burton has written extensively for many leading British comedy shows, including “Clive Anderson Talks Back,” “Jack Dee’s Happy Hour,” “Never Mind the Buzzcocks,” “2DTV,” “Have I Got News For You” and “Spitting Image.” He was also the co-creator and co-writer of the BBC sitcom “The Peter Principle,” which starred Jim Broadbent.
In addition, Burton provided additional dialogue for the clay animation hit “Chicken Run,” from Aardman and DreamWorks Animation. He is currently working on the upcoming Aardman/DreamWorks Animation film “Wallace & Gromit – The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.”
BILLY FROLICK (Writer) made his directorial debut on the award-winning digital video feature “It Is What It Is,” which starred Jonathan Silverman and was based on Frolick’s original screenplay.
Frolick’s acclaimed 1995 book, What I Really Want to Do is Direct: Seven Film School Graduates Go to Hollywood, tracked seven film school graduates over three years. He is also the pseudonymous author of the book-length parodies The Philistine Prophecy, Dumpisms: The Witless Wisdom of Horace Dump, and The Ditches of Edison County, the last of which was a national bestseller and was translated into Japanese and Italian. His latest parody, The Five People You Meet in Hell, is due this spring.
Frolick’s journalism has appeared in The New Yorker, Premiere, Movieline, Entertainment Weekly, and the Los Angeles Times.
HANS ZIMMER (Composer) is one of the film industry’s most prolific composers, with more than 100 film scores to his credit.
In 1994, he won both an Academy Award® and a Golden Globe Award for his score to the animated blockbuster “The Lion King,” which also spawned one of the most successful soundtrack albums ever. Zimmer’s music for “The Lion King” continues to draw applause in the award-winning stage production of the musical, which earned the 1998 Tony Award for Best Musical, as well as a Grammy Award for Best Original Cast Album.
Zimmer has garnered six additional Academy Award® nominations, the latest for his “Gladiator” score, for which he also won a Golden Globe Award and earned a Grammy Award nomination. He has also been Academy Award®-nominated for “The Prince of Egypt,” “The Thin Red Line,” “As Good As It Gets,” “The Preacher’s Wife” and “Rain Man.” Earlier this year, he earned his seventh Golden Globe nomination for his score for James L. Brooks’ comedy “Spanglish.” He had previously earned Golden Globe nominations for his work on “The Last Samurai,” “Pearl Harbor,” “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” and “The Prince of Egypt.”
In addition to “Madagascar,” Zimmer’s music will be heard this year in “The Weather Man,” directed by Gore Verbinski, and the highly anticipated “Batman Begins,” the score for which he co-wrote with James Newton Howard. His long list of film credits goes on to include “The Ring Two,” “Pearl Harbor,” “Matchstick Men,” “Shark Tale,” “Black Hawk Down,” “The Ring,” “Hannibal,” “Crimson Tide,” “Thelma & Louise,” “Driving Miss Daisy,” “Mission: Impossible 2,” “A League of Their Own,” “Black Rain,” “Backdraft,” “True Romance” and “My Beautiful Launderette.”
In addition to his composing work, Zimmer heads DreamWorks’ film music division. His appointment marks the first time a composer has headed the music department of a major studio since the days of Dimitri Tiomkin at MGM and Alfred Newman at Twentieth Century Fox.
H. Lee Peterson (Editor) previously edited the animated features “Dinosaur,” “Pocahontas,” “Aladdin” and “The Prince and the Pauper.” He had earlier served as the second assistant editor on the animated hit “The Little Mermaid.”
Peterson started his career as an art department assistant on the feature “Modern Girls.” He began his editing career as a music editor on the television movie “Elysian Fields.”
Kendal Cronkhite (Production Designer) came to PDI/DreamWorks in the company’s fledgling days and served as the art director on the studio’s first computer-animated film, “Antz.”
Prior to joining the company, she had worked as the art director on the stop-motion animated film “James and the Giant Peach” and as the assistant art director on Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
Cronkhite received her B.F.A. from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, with a major in Illustration. Beginning her career as a freelance editorial illustrator in Canada and New York, she lent her talents to the advertising campaigns for a number of projects, including designing movie posters for such films as “Mortal Kombat” and “Clueless.”
Philippe Gluckman (Visual Effects Supervisor) most recently held the post of co-visual effects supervisor for the computer-animated blockbuster “Shrek 2.” He had earlier been a sequence supervisor for “Shrek,” after having been a co-visual effects supervisor on “Antz.”
Gluckman joined PDI/DreamWorks in 1994, starting as a senior animator/technical director. He worked on such projects as “Batman and Robin,” “Batman Forever,” “Marvin the Martian,” and numerous commercials.
Before coming to PDI/DreamWorks, Gluckman served as a senior animator at Ex Machina in Paris on projects ranging from commercials to theme park rides. Gluckman began his career as a traditional 2D animator as a partner with Storyboard, and was an assistant animator at Cartoon Farm, both located in Paris. He studied at the Ecole Nationale D’Arts Appliques, Paris.
Rex Grignon (Head of Character Animation) has been animating for more than two decades. A co-founder of PDI/DreamWorks’ character animation group, Grignon played a major role in the creation of the Emmy Award-winning television special “The Last Halloween,” "Muppet Vision 3-D,” and numerous commercial spots featuring the Pillsbury Doughboy. He left PDI briefly to work as a character animator on the very first computer-animated feature, “Toy Story,” and then returned to serve as a supervising animator on PDI/DreamWorks’ computer-animated films “Antz” and “Shrek.”
Grignon was awarded a Presidential Scholarship to work and study at the New York Institute of Technology’s Computer Graphics Laboratory, renowned for its pioneering work in CGI. He has taught character animation classes at Cogswell College in Sunnyvale, California, and the Academy of the Arts College in San Francisco. In addition, he has lectured at the American Film Institute, Stanford University, Sheridan College, The University of Washington, SIGGRAPH, and numerous animation festivals around the world.
Ewan Johnson (Head of Layout) came to PDI/DreamWorks in 2003 after a long tenure as a supervising layout artist at Pixar. His credits include the computer-animated hits “Toy Story,” “Toy Story 2,” “A Bug’s Life,” “Monsters, Inc.,” and the Oscar-winning blockbusters “Finding Nemo” and “The Incredibles.”
Before starting his career in animated features, Johnson was a software engineer in Chicago, where he helped to develop prototype digital video asset management systems.
Johnson holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Art Institute in Chicago.
Shannon Jeffries (Art Director) joined PDI/DreamWorks in 1996 as a visual development artist on the studio’s first computer-animated film, “Antz.” She later held the same post on the blockbuster hit “Shrek 2.”
Before coming to the studio, Jeffries was involved in many facets of the art world, including doing freelance work as a print media illustrator and furniture designer. Segueing to film, she wrote, directed and produced the award-winning animated short “Hats and Dogs.” Following that, Jeffries began designing for films and has worked on several animated feature films for various studios.
Jeffries earned her B.F.A. in Illustration from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.