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Director Gary Weis

Remember “Gimme Shelter” by the Maysles Brothers? Gary Weis was there, documenting the crowd scene and the bad vibes with his Arri S. Two other stand-out rock documentaries of the 70s “Jimi Hendrix” and “The Beach Boys: It’s OK” were directed by Gary Weis.

On the opposite coast, Weis directed the award-winning “80 Blocks from Tiffany’s,” an ethnographic masterpiece about gang warfare in the South Bronx. “The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash”, Gary Weis’s collaboration with Eric Idle, put the flag on the moon with regards to the mock-umentary genre, six years before “This is Spinal Tap” broke the mold.

If you remember the early days of SNL, you’ll recognize the V.O. intro by each week’s guest host, “here is this week’s film by Gary Weis…” Remember the drugged out television director in Woody Allen’s “Manhattan?” That was Gary, playing himself, at Mr. Allen’s behest.

The music videos for the Bangles “Walk Like an Egyptian” and Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” are Gary. In the 1970s, before television comedy specials were rendered extinct, Gary directed Steve Martin’s “A Wild and Crazy Guy.” The 1980 feature film, “Wholly Moses”, starring Dudley Moore, Richard Pryor, Madeleine Kahn, and a pantheon of comic headliners, was Gary’s feature film directorial debut.

Ten years later, Gary re-deployed his considerable skills as both a documentarian and comedy director in the service of high profile advertising campaigns, including a spot for Ikea that won a Cannes Golden Lion Award for best commercial. By the 90s, Weis’s signature style to coax and cajole humorous performances from “real people” on the fly made him not only one of the “go-to” comedy commercial directors of that decade but his light-handed and improvisational “voice” has since been emulated to the point of ubiquity.

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