Adam Shankman

Active - 1990 - 2019  |   Born - Nov 27, 1964 in Los Angeles, California, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Fantasy

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Biography by Jason Buchanan

An inventive dance and physical comedy choreographer who turned his knack for planning out a scene into a successful directorial career, filmmaker Adam Shankman rose through the ranks as one of the best music video dance choreographers in the business before stepping behind the camera to helm such high-profile mainstream comedies as The Wedding Planner, Bringing Down the House, and The Pacifier.

A true fan of all things theater from his childhood years, Los Angeles native Shankman moved to the East Coast to enroll in Juilliard dance program after graduating high school, and spent the next five years as a dancer and actor in and around New York. After returning to sunny entertainment capitol Los Angeles, Shankman performed frequently in music videos for such artists as Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul, with his impressive moves eventually culminating in a role as a featured dancer at the 1989 Academy Awards ceremony. Subsequently establishing a partnership with music video director Julian Temple, the then-24-year-old Shankman entered into a tirelessly productive period which found him choreographing music videos for a variety of popular artists including Whitney Houston, the B-52's, and Stevie Wonder. Film work was quick to follow, and Shankman racked up choreography credits on such popular features as Addams Family Values, Don Juan DeMarco, Boogie Nights, and Scream 2. In 1998, it was time to venture into the realm of directing with the acclaimed short film Cosmo's Tale.

As adept behind the camera as he was in front of the lens, Shankman quickly made the leap to features with the 2001 Jennifer Lopez comedy The Wedding Planner. Though he would still serve as choreographer on occasion, it seemed as if Shankman had finally found his calling as a director with such features as the teen romance A Walk to Remember, Bringing Down the House, and Cheaper by the Dozen 2, the latter two of which found him forming a successful working relationship with longtime comic Steve Martin. In 2005, Shankman expanded his credits to include the role of executive producer for the suburban comedy The Pacifier, a role that he continued to develop with producer credits on such features as Cheaper by the Dozen 2 and the 2006 dance drama Step Up. After turning toward television to helm the pilot episode of Worst Week of My Life, Shankman next began preparations to bring the hit Broadway musical Hairspray back to the big screen. Through it all, Shankman never shied away from his performance-based past, with occasional acting roles in both his own films as well as Rockula, Scream 2, and Stuck on You allowing the lifelong dancer the occasional pleasure of simply cutting loose in front of the camera. He directed the 2008 Adam Sandler film Bedtime Stories, and brought the hair-metal jukebox musical Rock of Ages to the big screen in 2012.

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  • Didn't take up dancing until he was 18 years old.
  • One of the first music videos he choreographed was Whitney Houston's "I'm Your Baby Tonight."
  • Danced in music videos for Paula Abdul and Janet Jackson.
  • Was a featured dancer during the 1989 Academy Awards ceremony.
  • After being ordained over the Internet, he officiated the 2002 nuptials of Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr. in Mexico.
  • Made feature-film directorial debut with 2001's The Wedding Planner.