Tom Stern

Tom Stern

"Tom Stern" is an American writer, director, producer, and actor from New York. He was born in 1965 in Tarrytown NY, and grew up in northern Westchester county in the town of Pleasantville NY. He graduated from Byram Hills High School in Armonk N.Y. Stern's father is Murray J Stern, a native of the South Bronx, veteran of World War Two, and psychologist who practiced in Manhattan and Westchester before he retired his private practice in the 1990s. His mother was Adele Truitt Stern, a social worker who worked with the mentally retarded.


Stern attended film school at New York University from 1983-1987, where he met Alex Winter. The two collaborated on a number of 16mm short films including "Squeal of Death", which was noticed by an executive at Columbia Pictures in 1986. Squeal of Death was a fast paced absurd cartoon style live action comedy chronicling the adventures of a paranoid nerd (AKA PARANERD) named Weird Howie, who was played by Winter. The film attempted to bring the Tex Avery cartoon aesthetic to live action, several years before The Mask did it. It also reflected Stern and Winter's other eclectic influences- including Film Noir, the Fleisher Brothers, Bob Clampett, Buster Keaton and R Crumb. Weird Howie was partially based on Bernard Goetz, but was performed in a uniquely cartoonish style by Winter, whose acting pushed the bounderies of stylized physical comedy. Squeal of Death was a hit with many of Stern and Winter's class mates but it was poorly scheduled at the NYU Film festival and passed largely un-noticed by the world at large. In contrast Todd Solondz's student film was scheduled prominently and was very much noticed by the Hollywood scouts in the audience. Solondz was able to translate the interest in his student film into a deal to direct his first feature "Fear Depression and Anxiety" (1989). However Stern and Winter did receive one letter from an executive at Columbia Studios, who had seen and loved Squeal of Death on Wednesday at 12:30 A.M. in the morning.

In 1987 Stern graduated NYU. Also in 1987, Stern and Winter drove from New York to Hollywood and settled in Venice Beach. The pair met with Jack Lechner, the aforementioned Columbia Studios executive. Nothing came of the meeting at Columbia, but Stern and Winter also sent a copy of Squeal of Death to Sam Raimi, whose film Evil Dead 2 was a favorite of theirs. Raimi responded enthusiastically. He and his partner Rob Tapert optioned an anthology comedy feature film script from Stern and Winter and attempted to raise funds to produce it. Ultimately they could not find the money and the project died. The pair then worked on a number of short films and music videos for bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Butthole Surfers. They also directed Impact Video Magazine for producer Stuart Shapiro. Impact was a counter-culture arts magazine that featured short films and interviews with Public Enemy, artist Robert Williams, Bill HIcks, Janes Addiction, Butthole Surfers, Survival Research Labs and others.

In 1989, after Winter had become a star from "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure", Stern, Winter, and fellow writer Tim Burns were hired to develop "The Idiot Box", a sketch comedy show for MTV. Tom had met Tim while writing on the Jim Henson Hour for NBC.

Immediately following "The Idiot Box", the trio wrote and directed the 1993 film "Freaked". The film was barely released largely as a result of a change of regimes at 20th Century Fox. Joe Roth was the president of Fox when he green-lit the film, but he left the studio while it was in post production. The new president was Peter Chernin, who expressed his distaste for Freaked and dumped it into two theaters with no advertizing. It vanished quickly but later developed a cult following after being shown on cable tv and finally being released on DVD.Fact|date=April 2008 Stern and Burns wrote the screenplay to "An American Werewolf in Paris", the sequel to the 1981 horror classic and Stern was contracted to direct, but after Freaked was dumped by Fox the producers of American Werewolf decided not to honor the contract and hired a different director. That director, Marco Brambila (Demolition Man), had Stern and Burns fired as writers and the script went through 12 subsequent writers before essentially dying in development. The project went into turn around and was later picked up and produced by Disney with writer/director Anthony Waller. Although Stern and Burns received screen credit as the principal writers, almost none of their dialogue appears in the movie. The tone was changed from comedy/horror (ala An American Werewolf in London) to more straight thriller aimed at the youth market with pandering plot points like bungee jumping off the eifel tower, which is played completely straight by the way. Waller's tin ear for comedy doomed the film in this humble online-encyclopedia editor's opinion. Stern was invited to view the film before it's release and because nauseated during the screening. The experience of co-writing the sequel to a beloved classic film, being very proud of the resulting script, not being able to direct that script, seeing up close how the successful script was ruined by the Hollywood development process and yielded a poorly directed and witless film, wreaked havoc on Stern's gastrointestinal system.

Also around this time Stern's mother Adele died from complications due to breast cancer. She was 66.

Stern's next project was another horror/comedy called Bad Pinocchio, developed for Trimark Pictures. Stern wrote the script and was excited to direct it, but got into a dispute with Trimark about the budget. Stern felt he could not produce his vision of the film for a total budget of one million dollars, but that was all that the company was willing to spend. As a result Stern was forced off the project and it was made with different writer and director. His script was not used. The resulting film was called Pinocchio's Revenge and disappeared with little notice. Stern did not see the film but his innards were adversely effected none the less.

Stern and Burns also collaborated on "The Chimp Channel" and "Monkey-ed Movies".

Since then, he has often worked closely with Jimmy Kimmel, having written, directed, and produced several episodes of shows off of Kimmel's production company Jackhole Productions, including "The Man Show", "Jimmy Kimmel Live!", and "Crank Yankers". Stern has also worked as a writer on Trey Parker and Matt Stone's presidential parody, "That's My Bush!", as a director and writer on "The Andy Milonakis Show", and was the creator of the Comedy Central travel show parody "Gerhard Reinke's Wanderlust".

Stern co-wrote and directed Adult Swim's "Saul of the Molemen", which features Alex Winter as a cast member.

After Saul of the Molemen Stern developed an animated pilot for MTV called Hardin High.

In May 2008 Stern directed a music video for Russian Metal band ANJ called Gorbachev: Bigger and Russianer. He posted it on his Vimeo page in July and within four weeks it had been viewed over four hundred and eighty thousand times (372 K on Vimeo and 111K on Youtube), all by word of mouth since there was no advertising and the band had no record deal.

In July 2008 Stern directed the Kanye West hosted puppet show pilot Alligator Boots which was produced by Jackhole, West and fellow rapper Rhymefest.

In August 2008 Stern and his wife Tamara Hernandez completed the rear projection content for Cheech and Chong's Light Up America tour.

Stern lives with his wife, filmmaker Tamara Hernandez, and his 2 year old daughter Tuesday Stern in the Silverlake section of Los Angeles, CA.


*"Alligator Boots (Comedy Central Pilot)"- 2008- Director

*"Harden High (MTV Pilot)" 2007 - Writer Director Executive Producer, Co-Creator with Jason Jordan

*"Saul of the Molemen" (2007) - Writer, Director, Executive Producer
*"The Andy Milonakis Show" (2005) - Writer, Director, Executive Producer
*"Gerhard Reinke's Wanderlust" (2003) - Writer, Director, Executive Producer
*"Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (2003) - Director
*"That's My Bush!" (2001) - Writer
*"The Chimp Channel" (1999) - Writer, Producer
*"The Man Show" (1999) - Director
*"An American Werewolf in Paris" (1997) - Co-writer
*"Freaked" (1993) - Co-Writer, Co-director, Actor
*"The Idiot Box" (1991) - Writer, Actor

Music Videos

*"Gorbachev" - ANJ -2008
*"Dope Hat" - Marilyn Manson (1995)
*"Taste the Pain" - Red Hot Chili Peppers (1990) (w/ Alex Winter)
*"Decadence Dance" - Extreme (1990) (w/ Alex Winter)
*"Cherub" - Butthole Surfers (1986)

External links

* []
* [ Tom's page on the Internet Movie Database]
* [ Freekland: The Official Homepage of Alex Winter, Tom Stern and Tim Burns]
* [ SuicideGirls - Tom Stern Interview]

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