The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom
American award winning playwright, screenwriter and director Jane Anderson rose to prominence after writing the teleplay for the 1993 HBO original “The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom,” from which she took home an Emmy Award, a Writers Guild of America Award and a PEN Center USA West Literary Award. She made her television directing debut with Showtime's adaptation of her play, “The Baby Dance” (1998), where received Emmy nominations in directing and writing categories. She received two additional Emmy nominations for penning the “1961” segment of the HBO TV movie “If These Walls Could Talk 2” (2000) and “Normal” (2003), the HBO adaptation of her play, “ Looking for Normal,” with the latter also brought her nominations at Writers Guild of America and Directors Guild of America Awards. After making her feature film directing debut with “The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio (2005), Anderson worked as writer for the second season of the AMC television series “Mad Men” (2008). She jointly picked up a 2009 Writers Guild of America Award for her work in the show. Anderson began her career as an actress in the mid-1970s before making transformation behind the cameras as writer and eventually director.
Anderson is openly lesbian. Sher married her long time life partner, Tess Ayers, in 1992. They have an adopted son, Raphael.
Childhood and Family:
Jane Anderson was born in 1954, in California. She was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area by a Silicon Valley software designer and a housewife. Jane developed a love for theater and later decided to leave college to pursue acting in New York City.
After having been together for about a decade, Jane married her companion, Tess Ayers, in 1992. The couple adopted a son named Raphael in 1994.
After a brief coquetry with college, 19 year old Jane Anderson relocated to New York City to pursue a career in acting. She soon got her first professional role in Off- Broadway production of David Mamet's “ Sexual Perversity in Chicago” (1975). She continued to write and perform the one woman show “How to Raise a Gifted Child,” which brought her back to California. In 1982, Anderson became a regular performer on the short lived NBC variety series “The Billy Crystal Comedy Hour.” Two years later, she starred in the made for television comedy film “P.O.P.,” opposite Bea Arthur and Beeson Carroll. In 1985, she guest starred as Karen in an episode of the NBC sitcom “The Facts of Life” called “We Get Letters.”
Disappointed by the lack of adequate parts, Anderson moved to work behind the scenes in television. In 1986, she wrote three episodes of “The Facts of Life” named “Write and Wrong,” “Ready or Not” and “The Apartment.” She also served as program consultant in several episodes. Anderson went on to create, write, and produce the television sitcom “Raising Miranda,” which debuted on CBS on November 5, 1988. Starring James Naughton as Donald Marshak and Royana Black as his daughter, Miranda, the show was canceled after seven episodes aired.
Anderson continued to write episodes of “The Wonder Years” (1989, “How I'm Spending My Summer Vacation”) and “The Hidden Room” (1991, “A Type of Love Story” & “Dream Child”) before turning to the theater. Her first produced play was “Defying Gravity,” a collage like view of the Challenger disaster. In 1990, Anderson's play, “The Baby Dance,” debuted to good reviews at the Balcony Theatre of the Pasadena Playhouse. The play hit Off Broadway in the following year with Stefanie Zimbalist and Linda Purl in the lead roles, but it was unfairly condemned by the Gotham critics.
Anderson's first big break arrived in 1993 when she wrote the based on fact teleplay for the HBO film “The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom,” which was directed by Michael Ritchie and starred Holly Hunter, Swoosie Kurtz and Beau Bridges. The comedy was nominated for six Emmy Awards and won the awards for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Miniseries or a Special (Anderson), Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special (Hunter) and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Special (Bridges). Adding to her Emmy, Anderson also picked up a 1994 Writers Guild of America for Original Long Form, PEN Center USA West Literary's Literary Award for Best Teleplay and a CableACE nomination for Writing a Movie or Miniseries for her work.
In 1994, Anderson made her debut as screenwriter with “It Could Happen to You,” a romance/comedy starring Nicolas Cage and Bridget Fonda. The film, which was directed by Andrew Bergman, scored $37,939,757 at the box office. The same year, her one act, “Lynnette at 3 a.m.,” produced on stage in Los Angeles under the aegis of Showtime. In the next year, Anderson penned the screenplay for the comedy/drama “How to Make an American Quilt,” which is adapted from the novel of the same name by Whitney Otto. The film was directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse and starred Winona Ryder, Anne Bancroft and Ellen Burstyn. 1997 saw the production of “Defying Gravity” Off-Off-Broadway at the American Place Theater in NYC.
Anderson made her television directing debut with the Showtime adaptation of her play, “The Baby Dance” (1998), which she also wrote. The drama film, which starred Laura Dern, Stockard Channing and Peter Riegert, was nominated for four Emmy Awards for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries or a Movie, Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries or a Movie, Outstanding Made for Television Movie and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie.
In 2000, Anderson wrote and directed the “1961” segment of the anthology TV movie“If These Walls Could Talk 2” (HBO), about the lesbian experience in America. She received a 2000 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries or a Movie and shared the Audience Award for Best Film at the 2000 Paris lesbian Film Festival for her work in the film. In 2001, Anderson directed and wrote the ABC docudrama “ When Billie Beat Bobby,” detailing the historic 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs and what lead up to it. It was her reunion with actress Holly Hunter, who starred as Billie Jean King and was nominated for an Emmy Award for her performance. She went on to direct Jessica Lange and Tom Wilkinson in the HBO film “Normal” (2003), which she adapted from her own play, “Looking for Normal.” The drama became an official selection at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. It received mostly positive reviews from critics and was nominated for six Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special, Outstanding Made for Television Movie, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie, Outstanding Main Title Design, and Outstanding Makeup for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Non-Prosthetic) (won). She also received a Directors Guild of America nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television and a WGA nomination for Adapted Long Form for her work on the film.
Anderson made her feature film directing debut with “The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio (2005), starring Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern. The screenplay, which she also wrote, is based on the book by Terry “Tuff” Ryan. The film earned mixed reviews from critics.
In 2008, Anderson became a writer for the AMC period drama “Mad Men” for its second season. She also served as a consulting producer. In 2009, Anderson jointly nabbed a Writers Guild of America in the category of Dramatic Series.
Writers Guild of America (WGA): Dramatic Series, “Mad Men,” 2009
L.A. Outfest: Outfest Achievement Award: 2003
Paris Lesbian Film Festival: Audience Award, Best Film, “If These Walls Could Talk 2,” 2000
Women in Film Lucy: Lucy Award, 2000
PEN Center USA West Literary: Literary Award, Best Teleplay, “The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom, “ 1994
Writers Guild of America (WGA): Original Long Form, “The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom,” 1994
Emmy: Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Miniseries or a Special, “The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom,” 1993