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Jonathan Sanger (born April 21, 1944, in Brooklyn, New York) is an American film, television, and theater producer and director.

Jonathan Sanger
Born (1944-04-21) April 21, 1944 (age 75)
ResidenceNorthridge, California
CitizenshipUnited States
OccupationFilm Director, Producer, Media Consultant
Years active1971–present
Notable work
The Elephant Man, Vanilla Sky, Flight of the Navigator, Ray's Male Heterosexual Dance Hall, Frances
Spouse(s)Carla Sanger
ChildrenDavid Sanger and Christopher Sanger


Early life and careerEdit

Sanger spent much of his early childhood traveling with his family around Central and South America. Sanger's interest in theater stemmed from his undergraduate years at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was Chairman of the Board of The Pennsylvania Players, and President of the Performing Arts Council. At the graduate level, Sanger attended the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, studying documentary and biography based filmmaking. After graduating, Sanger joined the Peace Corps in a special program with an emphasis on television and film production. Sanger was assigned to help create an Educational Television station in Montevideo, Uruguay. He later transferred to Bogota, Colombia, to make films for ICODES, the Colombian Institute of Social Development. After his Peace Corps term was completed, Sanger worked on documentary films in Ecuador, Chile and Mexico for NBC's International Zone. Soon after, he became Associate Editor for Americás, a cultural magazine published by The Organization of American States, where he wrote and translated articles. Sanger was contracted by the Encyclopædia Britannica to write the article on Bogotá, Colombia for Britannica 3.[1][2][3]


In 1971, Sanger was accepted as a member of the Directors Guild of America Training Program, and worked on several films shot in New York City, among which were Across 110th Street, Harry and Tonto and Next Stop, Greenwich Village. Moving to Los Angeles in 1976, Sanger worked for Lorimar Television on the network Television series The Blue Knight and Eight Is Enough. In 1978, he was Mel Brooks' Assistant Director on High Anxiety, which led to a long professional association. For Brooks' wife, Anne Bancroft's feature directorial debut Fatso, Sanger served as Associate Producer. During this period, Sanger had acquired the rights to the script of The Elephant Man.[4] Sanger bought the script to Brooks' newly created independent production company, and The Elephant Man was chosen as the company's first project; it was Sanger's debut feature film producing credit. It received eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and was awarded the BAFTA Award for Best Film in 1980 and the French César Award for Best Foreign Film.[5][6][7]

Film producingEdit

Sanger has produced over fifty films, shorts and documentaries, including the 1982 film Frances,[8][9][10] a biography starring Jessica Lange, Kim Stanley and Sam Shepard. Sanger joined Cruise/Wagner Productions (Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner's production company) in 1996. He executive produced Without Limits,[11] Suspect Zero and Vanilla Sky[12][13] as well as supervising production on Mission: Impossible 2[14] as well as all the Cruise/Wagner Productions over his six years with that company. Other films produced by Sanger include Flight of the Navigator [15] for Walt Disney Productions, The Doctor and the Devils for Twentieth Century Fox, The Producers,[16] 100 Feet, and Paraíso Travel[17][18][19][20]

Directing careerEdit

Among Sanger's directing credits are: Code Name: Emerald,[21] a World War II spy drama; Down Came a Blackbird[22][23] a television film for Showtime Networks, nominated for three CableACE Awards; and several movies-of-the-week for NBC, CBS and ABC. In addition to writing numerous episodic television shows, Sanger also wrote and directed the short film Peacemaker, with Lukas Haas, for PBS' American Playhouse, which was awarded the Best Short Subject at the Houston International Film Festival.[24][25]

Chanticleer FilmsEdit

In the late 1980s Sanger partnered with fellow producer Jana Sue Memel to create Chanticleer Films as an umbrella company for The Discovery Program. The mission statement of this company was to create an opportunity for film professionals ( writers, editors, actors, sound mixers, cinematographers, etc. ) to direct a 35mm feature-quality short film. Hundreds of professionals applied for the five directing spots available annually. In the eight years of Sanger's involvement, over forty five films were made; ten were nominated for an Academy Award, and three won. The first film produced by Sanger for the program, Ray's Male Heterosexual Dance Hall, won the Academy Award for Best Short Film in 1988.[26][27][28]

The Academy Film Archive houses the Chanticleer Films Discovery and Directed By Shorts Collection.[29]


In 2008, Sanger produced his first musical, the true story of Florence Greenberg, pioneer rock and roll record producer, entitled Baby It's You.[30] The musical started as a workshop production in a West Hollywood theater before moving to the Pasadena Playhouse. Warner Brothers Theatrical Ventures and Universal Music Group became producing partners, and the show made its Broadway debut in March 2010. Sanger has several other musicals in development and also directed his first play, the dystopian drama, The Birthday Present - 2050 in 2010.[20][31]

Other achievementsEdit

In addition to twenty Academy Award nominations and three wins, Sanger has won a Christopher Award, a BAFTA ( BAFTA Award for Best Film ), a César Award, Scholastic Magazine's Bell Ringer Award, and a Cine Golden Eagle Award CINE. Sanger was named Filmmaker-in-Residence at Chapman University's Dodge College of Film And Media Arts during the Spring semester of 2010, and was made Adjunct Professor in 2011, teaching a course in Creative Producing. He has been a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since 1981, and a member of the Directors Guild of America (DGA) since 1971, serving on its National Board. His other professional organizations include The Producers Guild of America (PGA), The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA). In 2016, McFarland & Co. Inc. published Sanger's new book, Making The Elephant Man: A Producer's Memoir.


Sanger is married to Carla Sanger, and has two sons: David and Christopher Sanger.


  1. ^ Binstine, Brabra. "Interview of Jonathan Sanger with President Uribe of Colombia". CARAS Magazine, September 2006, p.92-94.
  2. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica. Bogota, Colombia. Encyclopædia Britannica, Macropedia Volume 2, 1978, p. 1183-1184 .
  3. ^ George Godwin, Kenneth. Jonathan Sanger. Cagey Films December 10, 1981, p. 39.
  4. ^ Kuhn,Joy. The Elephant Man – The Book of the Film. Virgin Books, 1980, p. 22.
  5. ^ Kael, Pauline. "Elephant Man". New Yorker, October 27, 1980, p. 178.
  6. ^ Summers,Jimmy. "Elephant Man". Box Office, October 1980, cover story.
  7. ^ Academy Awards. Retrieved November 1, 2012.
  8. ^ Kilday, Gregg "Frances". L.A. Herald Examiner, December 2, 1982, cover story.
  9. ^ Benson, Shiela. "Frances". L.A. Times Calendar, December 3, 1982, cover story.
  10. ^ Pollack, Dale. "Frances". L.A. Times Calendar, December 3, 1982, p. 21.
  11. ^ Greg, Kilday. "Without Limits". The Hollywood Reporter, March 16, 1998, p. 14.
  12. ^ Turan, Kenneth. "Vanilla Sky". L.A. Times, December 14, 2001, p. 32.
  13. ^ Todd, McCarthy. "Vanilla Sky". Variety, December 9, 2001, p. 10.
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Sternbergh, Adam. "The Producers Movie". New York Magazine, December 2005, pp. 45, 51.
  17. ^ Singer, Michael. Film Directors – A Complete Guide. Lone Eagle Publishing Company, August 1992, p. 331.
  18. ^ Padgett, Tim. An Honest Look at Illegal Immigration. Time Entertainment, 2008
  19. ^ Wallenstein, Joe. Practical Moviemaking, A Hand Book For The Real World. McFarland & Company Publishing, October 25, 2012, pp. 177–178.
  20. ^ a b Cassell, A.R. "Producer Jonathan Sanger Directs The Birthday Present 2050". LA Stage, March 18, 2011.
  21. ^ IMDB [1] IMDB'. Retrieved November 1, 2012.
  22. ^ Scott, Tony. "Down Came A Blackbird". Variety, October 15, 1995, p. 6.
  23. ^ Frink, Jon-Stephen. Cluck! The True Story of Chickens in the Cinema. Virgin Books, October 15, 1981, pp. 60, 128–130.
  24. ^ "American Playhouse Peacemaker". Daily Variety, October 1989, p. 27.
  25. ^ Singer, Michael. Film Directors – A Complete Guide. Lone Eagle Publishing, November 11, 1990, p. 331.
  26. ^ Lieberman,Jane. Chanticleer Films, Discovery Program . L.A.Times , Jan,1,1988 ,p.28.
  27. ^ Wilson,John M. Chanticleer Films, Discovery Program . L.A.Times , Jan,6,1991 ,p.33.
  28. ^ Singer,Michael. Film Directors - A Complete Guide. Lone Eagle Publishing Company , August,1992 ,p.331.
  29. ^ "Chanticleer Films Discovery and Directed by Shorts Collection". Academy Film Archive.
  30. '^ Cox,Gordon. Sanger and Sica say 'It's You. Variety, Oct,20,2010,p.12.
  31. ^ L.A.Weekly Theater Critics. The Birthday Present 2050. L.A.Weekly, Mar, 2011 ,p.21.
  • Academy Awards (1981) Nominees and Winners (2012). [2] (Film production). Los Angeles, USA: Academy Awards. External link in |title= (help)
  • Academy Awards (1988) Nominees and Winners (2012). [3] (Film production). Los Angeles, USA: Academy Awards. External link in |title= (help)
  • Loynd, Ray (Special to the Times) (2012). [4] (Print/Web). Los Angeles, USA: Los Angeles Times. External link in |title= (help)
  • Tim Padgett, Time Entertainment (2012). [5] (Web/Print). USA: Time. External link in |title= (help)
  • Cassell, A.R (Writer) (March 18, 2011). [6] (Film production). Los Angeles, USA: Los Angeles Times. External link in |title= (help)
  • Adam Sternbergh (December 12, 2005). [7] (Web/Print). USA: New York Magazine. External link in |title= (help)

loynd, Ray. "'Imagination' an Irresistible Love Story". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 25 July 2012.

External linksEdit