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Adam Shankman

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Title: Adam Shankman  
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Subject: So You Think You Can Dance (United States), Bringing Down the House (film), The Rocky Horror Glee Show, 82nd Academy Awards, Travis Wall
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Adam Shankman

Adam Shankman
Adam Shankman, January 2008
Born Adam Michael Shankman
(1964-11-27) November 27, 1964
Los Angeles
Occupation Actor, director, dancer, television judge, choreographer
Years active 1983–present

Adam Michael Shankman (born November 27, 1964)[1] is an American film director, producer, dancer, actor, and choreographer. He has been a judge on the television program So You Think You Can Dance since Season 3. He began his professional career in musical theater, and was a dancer in music videos for Paula Abdul and Janet Jackson. Shankman has choreographed numerous films as well as one of the Spice Girls' tours. He has directed several feature-length films, including A Walk to Remember, Bringing Down the House, and the 2007 remake of Hairspray.

Early life

Shankman was born in Los Angeles,[2] to an upper-middle-class family.[3] He has said that he had a "traditional Jewish upbringing" in Brentwood.[4] He attended The Juilliard School, but dropped out to dance in musical theater.[5]


Shankman was a dancer in Janet Jackson's "Amazing" video,[5] as well as in a MC Skat Kat video with Paula Abdul. Shankman broke into professional choreography in a 1989 music video for rapper MC Shan with director Julien Temple. When the hired choreographer fell through, Shankman lied and said that he had done choreography for Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul. He was hired on the spot without his story being verified.[5] Shankman began choreographing movies that included actors such as Marlon Brando, Sarah Jessica Parker, Antonio Banderas, and the cast of Boogie Nights.[5] He is Brendan Fraser's exclusive choreographer.[5]

In 1996, Shankman was represented by the newly formed Sauce Entertainment, a production company for music videos and commercial production.[5][6] In 1998, he was a choreographer for the program Win Ben Stein's Money.[7]

Shankman's first directing gig was for a short film called Cosmo's Tale, which appeared at the Sundance Film Festival.[5] He then helped his sister, Jennifer Gibgot, on a script, which led to a meeting with the studio producing The Wedding Planner. He was hired for the job ten minutes into the meeting.[5] In May 2003, Shankman filed a $5 million lawsuit against Jennifer Lopez, asserting that he came up with the idea for her adaptation of the opera Carmen.[8]

Prior to directing Hairspray, Shankman was known in Hollywood primarily as a script doctor. His trademarks in his films often features a singing/dancing sequence and a character getting sent to do community service. "I've done so many things I'm not super-proud of," he admitted in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. Having finally received a plum directing role in Hairspray, he added, "Now that I'm finally really proud of something, if [critics] say this one isn't good either, it will be kind of...taxing."[9] In August 2008, Box office Mojo reported that Hairspray had become the fourth-largest grossing American movie musical within the previous 30 years.[10]

Shankman, in affiliation with ABC, worked on a TV pilot called Harmony about a musical town.[11] In 2008, in the wake of former small-town mayor Sarah Palin's emergence on the national political stage, Shankman was announced as director for the proposed TV series Cadillac Ranch about the female mayor of a small town.[12] He directed the 2012 film adaptation of the Broadway musical Rock of Ages for New Line Cinema.[13] With Bill Mechanic, Shankman was one of the two producers of the 82nd Academy Awards, which took place March 7, 2010.[14][15]

Shankman has also directed and choreographed multiple episodes of Fox's Glee. In 2013 he appeared as a VIP guest on Hell's Kitchen (Season 11).

So You Think You Can Dance

Shankman has been a judge and choreographer on the Fox Broadcasting reality show So You Think You Can Dance since the third season. He used the term "lyrical hip-hop" to describe the dance style associated with the choreography duo of Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo. The term is popularly credited to him as reported in the May/June 2009 issue of Dance Spirit magazine.[16]

On September 16, 2009, it was announced that Adam will be a permanent judge on So You Think You Can Dance.[17]

Personal life

Shankman is openly gay.[18][19] He officiated the wedding of actors Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar, a good friend of his with whom he worked while choreographing Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He got the Buffy job based on Sarah's recommendation to the show's creator, Joss Whedon.[20]


Film and television

Year Film Credited as Role/Notes/References
Director Producer Choreographer Actor Other
1983 The Wind in the Willows Yes Washerwoman
The Red Shoes Yes Shoe shoppe customer
1990 Rockula Yes Driver
Midnight Cabaret Yes Waiter
1992 The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag Yes Yes Timid man
Roundhouse Yes
1993 Weekend at Bernie's II Yes
Heart and Souls Yes credited as Adam Schenkman
Addams Family Values Yes
1994 The Flintstones Yes
Milk Money Yes
Don Juan DeMarco Yes
1995 Monster Mash: The Movie Yes Wolfie
Miami Rhapsody Yes
Tank Girl Yes
Casper Yes Yes animation department; animated ghost sequences
Congo Yes
1996 Mrs. Winterbourne Yes
1997 The Relic Yes
Friends Yes "The One with All the Jealousy"
Traveller Yes
George of the Jungle Yes
Boogie Nights Yes
A Life Less Ordinary Yes
Anastasia Yes credited as Adam M. Shankman
Scream 2 Yes Yes Ghost dancer
1998 Almost Heroes Yes
Antz Yes
1999 She's All That Yes
Blast from the Past Yes
Forces of Nature Yes
The Out-of-Towners Yes
Inspector Gadget Yes Yes Physical comedy consultant
Dudley Do-Right Yes
Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo Yes
2000 Isn't She Great Yes
Mission to Mars Yes credited as Adam M. Shankman
2001 The Wedding Planner Yes Yes
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Yes "Once More, with Feeling"
2002 A Walk to Remember Yes Yes Yes Executive soundtrack producer; role: uncredited medical assistant
Monk Yes "Mr. Monk and the Earthquake"
Catch Me If You Can Yes
2003 Bringing Down the House Yes Yes
Stuck on You Yes Yes Waiter
Splitsville Yes
2004 Mystery Girl Yes television film
2005 The Pacifier Yes Yes Yes uncredited driving instructor
Cheaper by the Dozen 2 Yes Yes Clam bake chef
2006 Step Up Yes Yes Yes Nightclub dancer
Worst Week of My Life Yes television series
2007 Premonition Yes
Hairspray Yes Yes Yes William Morris Talent agent; performer "Tied Up in the Knots of Sin"
2008 Step Up 2: The Streets Yes Yes
Bedtime Stories Yes Yes
2009 17 Again Yes
Zac Efron's Pool Party Yes Yes
Carrie Underwood: An All-Star Holiday Special Yes Yes
2010 The 82nd Annual Academy Awards Yes Yes [21]
The Last Song Yes [22][23]
Step Up 3D Yes
Going the Distance Yes
Coming Attraction Yes
Glee Yes "The Rocky Horror Glee Show"[24]
2011 Yes "Pot o' Gold"[25]
Modern Family Yes "Our Children, Ourselves"
2012 Rock of Ages Yes Yes Yes [21] Executive producer
Step Up Revolution Yes
2014 Step Up: All In Yes

Other media


  1. ^ "Adam Shankman: Biography".  
  2. ^ "Adam Shankman Biography". Film Reference. Retrieved July 20, 2007. 
  3. ^ "Buzz Interview: Hairspray's Nikki Blonsky and Adam Shankman".  
  4. ^ Michael Fox. Hairspray' director, starlet are kindred (Jewish) spirits"'".  
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h White, Dave (March 4, 2003), "Master of the house". Advocate (884):56–57
  6. ^ Atwood, Brett (June 29, 1996), "MTV L.A. offices: Movin' on out; C&D for Pennywise vid". Billboard. 108 (26):91
  7. ^ Stein, Benjamin J. (May 1998), "A golden age for thugs". American Spectator. 31 (5):58
  8. ^ Schwartz, Missy; Brown, S. Tia; Tucker, Ken (May 30, 2003), "Monitor". Entertainment Weekly. (712):22
  9. ^ Ibid.
  10. ^ "Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 4, 2013. 
  11. ^ Rice, Lynette (November 2, 2007), "TV Execs: 'Please Don't Stop the Music!'". Entertainment Weekly. (982):16
  12. ^ Buckman, Adam. "Palin, the TV Series", New York Post, October 10, 2008
  13. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Shankman Will Direct Rock of Ages on Screen", Playbill, October 20, 2009
  14. ^ Finke, Nikki. "TOLDJA! Adam Shankman & Bill Mechanic Will Produce 82nd Academy Awards" Deadline Hollywood, Tuesday October 20, 2009
  15. ^ Barnes, Brooks. "Producers Named for Oscars Telecast", The New York Times ArtsBeat (online column), October 20, 2009
  16. ^ Levinson, Lauren. (May/June 2009), "Lyrical Hip Hop'". Dance Spirit. 13 (5):48–50 (accessed 2009-04-25)
  17. ^ Adam Bryant (September 16, 2009). "Adam Shankman Made Permanent Judge on So You Think You Can Dance". Archived from the original on October 21, 2009. Retrieved September 16, 2009. 
  18. ^ "Gay directors bring home the bacon".  
  19. ^ Sheigh Crabtree. "A wholehearted effort to keep 'Hairspray's' sheen".  
  20. ^ Cunneff, Tom; McCarten, Hugh; Laudadio, Marisa (February 11, 2002), "insider". People. 57 (5):47
  21. ^ a b Simmons, Abbey (October 20, 2009). "'"Adam Shankman To Produce Oscars, Direct 'Rock of Ages. BuddyTV. 
  22. ^ "New Miley Cyrus Disney Feature Film "The Last Song" Auditions and Casting Calls". Movie Industry Today. April 11, 2009. Archived from the original on June 24, 2009. Retrieved June 21, 2009. 
  23. ^ Goes into Production"The Last Song". June 16, 2009. Archived from the original on June 29, 2009. Retrieved June 19, 2009. 
  24. ^ O'Connell, Mikey (September 17, 2010). "'Glee': Adam Shankman directing 'The Rocky Horror Glee Show'".  
  25. ^ GleeOnFox (November 2, 2011). """GLEE – Directing with Adam Shankman: "Pot 'O Gold. YouTube. Retrieved January 6, 2012. 

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