James A. Brooks shoots for the Stars

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Producer, director and cinematographer James A. Brooks is making a name for himself on the big screen. The Las Vegas native’s much-anticipated third film, Buckaroo, produced by Belle Productions and starring Simon R. Baker. Lindsay Wagner and Gary Busey, is being released on DVD. The heartfelt drama revolves around a young man who, after getting in trouble with the law, is forced to live off the land and comes of age with the help of two old-school cowboys. “The script synopsis of this movie is really detailed and interesting,” Brooks explains, “Iwas also, of course, very excited and eager to get bigname actors in the film. I sold it to Gary and Lindsay, and they still remain good friends of mine.”

Although he didn’t get behind the camera until the age of 23, Brooks, now 36, always knew he wanted to make movies. “I won a contest in the third grade where I had to make a marquee out of comic book strips and a painted cardboard box with Christmas lights on top. Everybody loved it,” he says.  “I knew then, but I was too shy until after high school to do anything about it.” In 1996, he completed his first film, Dr. Ice, a psychological thriller he produced and starred in with partner Billy Wade. In less than a decade, Brooks, who says his “ideas for movies come from his life experiences and intricate dreams,” has gone on to work as cinematographer for Shangri-La Café – a post-World War II drama written and directed by his aunt, ER’s Lily Mariye – and was recently hired as producer of Crying for U, a $2.8 million-budget flick which began pre-production last month and is being shot in Las Vegas and Santa Fe.

– Camille Hunt


Which movie producer do you admire most? “Probably Steven Spielberg, although I am also influenced by directors/producers Spike Lee and John Singleton.

What are the three greatest movies you have ever seen?The Color Purple (Spielberg), The Birds (Hitchcock), Boyz N the Hood (Singleton) and Raging Bull (Scorsese)… I know, that’s four.”

What do you do to relax? “I spend time with my wife and four-year-old son, James Brooks Jr.”

Which actor would play you in your biography? “Undoubtedly Jamie Foxx. He is a great actor who was not born with a silver spoon, knows what it is like to struggle in this business. Incidentally, I have a great script for him … hint hint.”