Alan Parker Biography
Alan Parker born Alan William Parker, is an English film director, producer and screenwriter. He was born on 14 February 1944 in Islington, North London, to Elsie Ellen, a dressmaker, and William Leslie Parker, a house painter. He began his career in advertising as a copywriter and graduated to writing and directing commercials where in the late 60’s he was one of a small group of British directors who revolutionized world advertising. In 1980 he received the D&AD Gold President’s Award.
Alan Parker Career
In 1974, Parker directed the BBC Television film, The Evacuees, written by Jack Rosenthal, which won the International Emmy Award and a BAFTA Award for direction; the first of seven BAFTA awards Parker has personally received. Parker wrote and directed his first feature film, Bugsy Malone, in 1975. The film was a musical pastiche of 1920’s gangster films with an entire cast of children. The film received eight British Academy Award nominations and five Awards.
His second film was the controversial Midnight Express (1977) which won two Oscars and six Academy Award nominations, including one for Parker as Best Director. The film received six Golden Globe Awards and four awards from the British Film Academy. This was followed, in 1979, by Fame, a celebration of youth and the arts in New York which won two Academy Awards, six nominations, four Golden Globe nominations and was later adapted into a successful television series.
In 1981 he directed his most personal film, the powerful family drama, Shoot the Moon, starring Diane Keaton and Albert Finney. In the same year he made the seminal Pink Floyd – The Wall the feature film adaptation of the phenomenally successful rock album, which has become a classic of the genre.
In 1984, Parker directed Birdy based on the William Wharton novel, starring Nicolas Cage and Matthew Modine, which won the Grand Prix Special Du Jury at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival. No stranger to controversy, his next film, Angel Heart, written and directed by Parker in 1986 and starring Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro and Lisa Bonet opened in the United States amidst a storm caused by the ‘X’ rating initially imposed on it by the MPAA.
In 1988 he directed the Civil Rights drama, Mississippi Burning, starring Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe, which was nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Director for Parker and winning for Best Cinematography. Parker was also awarded the D.W. Griffith Award for directing by the National Board of Review. The film was nominated for five British Academy Awards, winning three. It also won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival.
In 1989 Parker wrote and directed Come See the Paradise, a family’s story set against the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, starring Dennis Quaid and Tamlyn Tomita. The Commitments, made in 1990, a story of a young Irish working- class soul band, was awarded a Golden Globe Nomination for Best Picture and won Parker the Best Director prize at the Tokyo Film Festival, as well as British Academy Awards for Editing, Screenplay, Director and Best Picture.
In 1993, Parker wrote and directed the anarchic and satirical The Road to Wellville based on the novel by T. Coraghessan Boyle, and starring Anthony Hopkins, Bridget Fonda, Matthew Broderick, John Cusack and Dana Carvey. In 1996, Parker directed, wrote and produced Evita based on the successful stage show by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, and starring Madonna, Antonio Banderas and Jonathan Pryce. The film won three Golden Globe Awards, including Best Picture.
Angela’s Ashes based on the Pulitzer Prize winning, best selling memoir by Frank McCourt, was written and directed by Alan Parker in 1999, starring Emily Watson and Robert Carlyle. His most recent film, The Life of David Gale, a thriller set against the politics of capital punishment in the United States, starred Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslet and Laura Linney and was released in 2003.
In all, his films have won nineteen BAFTA awards, ten Golden Globes and ten Oscars.
In 1984, to celebrate “British Film Year,” Parker wrote and directed the provocative documentary, A Turnip Head’s Guide To The British Cinema, which underlined his fiercely independent and outspoken views as he lambasted the British film establishment and film critics. It won the British Press Guild Award for the year’s best documentary.
Alan Parker is also a novelist and author of the best-selling book written from his own screenplay of Bugsy Malone, published by by HarperCollins in their Essential Modern Classics library. His other novels include Puddles In The Lane, (1977) and The Sucker’s Kiss (2003). He is also an accomplished cartoonist and three collections of his satirical cartoons have been published: Hares in the Gate, (1982), Making Movies, (1998) and Will Write and Direct for Food, a compendium of twenty years of his cartoons on filmmaking and the film industry, published in October, 2005.
A founding member of the Directors Guild of Great Britain, Parker has lectured at film schools around the world. In 1984 he was honored by the British Academy with the prestigious Michael Balcon Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Cinema. In 1998 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Directors Guild of Great Britain and the Lumiere Medal from the Royal Photographic Society. He has also received Lifetime Achievement awards in Chicago, Munich, Prague, Warsaw and Lodg. He holds honorary doctorates from Sunderland University, the University of East Anglia, Southampton Solent University and University Council of Arts, Spain.
In January 1998, Parker took up his post as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the British Film Institute and in August, 1999 he was appointed first Chairman of the UK Film Council; a position he held for five years. In November, 1995 Parker was awarded with a CBE by Queen Elizabeth II for services to the British film industry and he received a knighthood in 2002. He is also an Officier des Arts et des Lettres, awarded by the French Government. In 2013 he was awarded the BAFTA Fellowship and also succeeded István Szabó as President of the European Federation of Film Directors: FERA.
Alan Parker Age
He was born on 14 February 1944 in Islington, North London, to Elsie Ellen, a dressmaker, and William Leslie Parker, a house painter.
Alan Parker Wife
Alan Parker married his wife Annie Inglis in 1966. They divorced in 1992. He then married Lisa Moran.
Alan Parker Children
Alan Parker has three sons; Nathan Parker, Jake Parker, and Alexander Parker.
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Alan Parker Net Worth
Sir Alan Parker has an estimated net worth of £128million according to the Sunday Times Rich List in 2017.
Alan Parker Movies – Alan Parker Films
- 1971 — Melody — Writer (original story and screenplay)
- 1972 — No Hard Feelings (short) — Director, Writer (original story and screenplay)
- 1973 — Our Cissy (short) — Director, Writer (original story and screenplay)
- 1973 — Footsteps (short) — Director, Writer (original story and screenplay)
- 1974 — The Evacuees (BBC TV movie) — Director
- 1976 — Bugsy Malone — Director, Writer (original story and screenplay)
- 1978 — Midnight Express —Director
- 1980 — Fame —Director
- 1982 — Shoot the Moon — Director
- 1982 — Pink Floyd The Wall — Director
- 1984 — Birdy — Director
- 1985 — A Turnip Head’s Guide to The British Film Industry (Documentary) — Director, Writer
- 1987 — Angel Heart — Director, Writer (screenplay from the novel ‘Falling Angel’ by William Hjortsberg)
- 1988 — Mississippi Burning — Director
- 1990 — Come See the Paradise —Director, Writer (original story and screenplay)
- 1991 — The Commitments — Director, Producer
- 1994 — The Road to Wellville — Director, Producer, Writer (screenplay from the novel by T. Coraghessan Boyle)
- 1996 — Evita — Director, Producer, Writer (screenplay from the stage production by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber)
- 1999 — Angela’s Ashes — Director, Producer, Writer (screenplay from the memoir by Frank McCourt)
- 2003 — The Life of David Gale — Director, Producer
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Alan Parker Interview
Alan Parker News
Downfall of Britain’s best-connected schmoozer: PR maestro Sir Alan Parker has resigned as chairman of Save the Children amid claims of a sex abuse cover-up… So how can he spin his way out of this?
Updated on: 27 April 2018
Like any great spin doctor, Sir Alan Parker built his empire on a priceless ability to make friends, influence people and to — as they say in the trade — ‘bury’ bad news. The 61-year-old PR svengali is one of London’s foremost schmoozers, and his manicured hands have for three decades gripped Britain’s levers of power with the same deft assurance of the chauffeur at the wheel of his expensively upholstered Bentley. Parker’s inner circle contains Cabinet ministers, celebrities, captains of industry, newspaper editors and BBC chiefs.
His draw transcends party political divisions. Gordon Brown is godfather to his child, while David and Samantha Cameron have been pictured frolicking on South African beaches with him. Both former prime ministers were guests at his second wedding and the Camerons spent a short time in his £17m Holland Park mansion after quitting Downing Street following the Brexit vote. This lofty network is the key to a fortune — helping Parker pull strings, and make problems disappear, on behalf of free-spending corporate clients across the world.
The PR firm he founded in the Eighties, Brunswick, now employs 1,050 people in 24 offices and 16 countries, and has represented between a quarter and a third of all FTSE-100 companies. His share of the spoils, estimated at around £150 million, has brought collections of Oscar Wilde first editions and Henry Moore drawings, and a £1.8 million stretch of the river Tay where he indulges a passion for salmon fishing. How ironic, therefore, that this master of modern media management should now be mired in controversy . . . over a most abject failure to ‘bury’ bad news.
Namely, he stands accused of presiding over a botched (and deeply cynical) cover-up of sexual harassment allegations at Save the Children, where he was chairman until he stepped down last week. His sudden departure followed the revelation that during his time as head of the charity, two senior male employees — chief executive Justin Forsyth and policy director Brendan Cox — left their jobs after a number of female colleagues complained about their conduct. The reasons they departed were never made public. Both men have strong links with Labour — Forsyth having spent six years in Downing Street as an adviser to Blair and Brown; Cox is the widower of murdered MP Jo Cox.
Parker, for his part, quit the charity, which spends £400 million a year, after the Charities Commission announced an inquiry into whether multiple complaints against the two men were handled ‘fully, frankly and accurately’. Crucially, the watchdog is also looking closely at Save the Children’s ‘decision making’ when details finally started to trickle out around two months ago. For it has emerged that the charity took extraordinary steps to discourage reporting of the scandal.
One of London’s top law firms, Harbottle & Lewis (which has acted for the Royal Family) was hired to send multiple highly aggressive letters to news organisations on their behalf. Some of the letters, which will have been written on the basis of information and instructions from its client, contained so-called statements of ‘fact’ which now seem at odds with the contents of documents subsequently leaked from the charity. Where this sorry affair will eventually lead is anyone’s guess. On Thursday, Save the Children was forced to stop bidding for government aid contracts (which bring between £90 and £100 million a year into its coffers) until things are resolved.
Senior staff, including Parker, have been called to give evidence to MPs. This week’s Spectator magazine even suggested that Parker may have to renounce the knighthood he was given for services to ‘charitable giving’ in 2015. To understand how it has come to this, we must look back to 2008, when Parker became chairman of Save the Children’s governing board of trustees.
As someone whose firm acts as a bridge between business and power, it was a perfect appointment. Parker had unique access to ministers and senior civil servants — as well as presiding over fundraising events where celebrities such as Helena Bonham Carter and Mick Jagger mingled with senior politicians and plutocrats. All very cosy. Over several years, Parker, Forsyth and Cox turned Save the Children into a giant of the booming charity sector, using celebrity endorsements to increase its domestic profile.
It received big grants from the Department for International Development (which spends a large proportion of the Government’s controversial £13 billion-a-year overseas development budget). As its coffers swelled — and, among others, Samantha Cameron joined its ranks of Save the Children’s ambassadors — so did senior staff salaries. Forsyth was on £163,000-a-year. In 2012, a small cabal of top executives were paid bonuses totaling £160,000. Parker sat on the remuneration committee that signed them off.
But behind the scenes, there was a problem: staff at Save the Children HQ were concerned about the way Forsyth and Cox treated female subordinates. Forsyth was in the habit of sending creepy texts to his young female staff (about 80 per cent of the charity’s workers were women). ‘You’ve got a lovely dress on,’ he told one, ‘shall we go for coffee?’ Another received a message saying: ‘Look, I fancy you, you fancy me. Why don’t we just stop pretending?’
If the women failed to reply, he would call them into his office for a ‘chat’ it was alleged. A further alleged incident, details of which remain unclear, is believed to have occurred when a junior staffer was invited to his hotel room during an overseas visit. Cox was a brazen sexual predator. Though married, he was known to misbehave on late-night staff outings. Older women often intervened to stop his ‘unsavoury flirting’ with younger females, policing dance-floors to shield them from his wandering hands.
There were reports of junior workers getting unsolicited text messages at 2 am saying ‘come and have a drink with me’. Matters came to a head at a drinks party in July 2015 when Cox was observed ‘dancing provocatively with a woman who told him to leave her alone’. When she left the premises, he allegedly followed the woman, pushed her against a wall, grabbed her throat, and declared: ‘I want to f**k you.’ The incident caused outrage, convincing several members of Save the Children staff to file complaints about harassment at the top of their organisation.
Forsyth was the subject of at least two. In October 2015, he resigned, saying it was ‘the right time’ for a fresh challenge. He duly took a highly paid job at Unicef in New York — which, among other things, seeks to campaign on behalf of young female abuse victims. Though Save the Children provided a reference to his new employer, it also made no mention of any harassment complaints. As for Cox, he was suspended, pending a full investigation, but then allowed to resign before it was completed.
As a result, the disciplinary process was abandoned and Save the Children never passed on concerns about his conduct. Weeks after leaving, he attended a course in the U.S. at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. There, a woman complained to police that he had repeatedly ‘touched her inappropriately’ in a bar and ‘forced his thumb into her mouth in a sexual way’. She alleged that he even sent her a text message asking: ‘Are you touching yourself?’ At the woman’s request, the matter was not taken further. Cox has subsequently denied assault.
Be that as it may, the whole ugly affair presented Save the Children with a huge problem: if details of their alleged behaviour came out, the charity’s ability to generate funds, and lobby governments, might be seriously hurt. Fortunately — for Sir Alan Parker and his chums — barely a whiff entered the public domain (save for one article in the Mail on Sunday in 2015 noting that female Save the Children staff had made ‘complaints’ about Brendan Cox).
Then Cox’s MP wife was murdered in June 2016 — ending any further appetite for journalists to investigate the matter. So things remained until February, when the charity sector fell under renewed scrutiny, amid revelations of serious abuse at aid giant Oxfam. Around this time, Radio 4’s PM programme got wind of the real reasons behind the departures of Forsyth and Cox. It broadcast a report, prompting a host of other organisations to begin asking awkward questions about how the two men had been allowed to walk away with their reputations intact. Both men issued grovelling, if belated, apologies.
As things unravelled, several former employees came forward suggesting that Cox and Forsyth owed at least some of their soft treatment to their relationship with the professional reputation manager, Sir Alan Parker. At this point, Save the Children began a highly aggressive campaign to control coverage. Multiple news organisations, the Mail included, were sent letters from Harbottle & Lewis on its behalf, promising there would be dire consequences if details of the affair were made public. Several were dispatched to Radio 2 presenter Jeremy Vine, preventing an entire edition of his radio show, in which harassment at Save the Children was discussed for a few minutes, from being uploaded to the BBC’s iPlayer for some four days.
So what did these letters say? One to the Mail on February 20 said it would be ‘seriously defamatory’ to allege that Parker had taken a ‘personal interest in Forsyth’s case and arranged for him to have a soft exit’. It added that ‘neither [Save the Children] or Parker acted to cover up any wrongdoing. . .’ It insisted that the complaints made in relation to Forsyth ‘were resolved at the time on a confidential and informal basis’. The question of who was paying for these legal letters — which would have cost tens of thousands of pounds in total — is a difficult one to answer.
This week, Save the Children’s current chief executive Kevin Watkins (another chum of Parker) refused to comment on how much the charity had spent hiring law firms to muzzle reporting, or on whether this constituted an attempted cover-up. If Parker were personally footing the bill, that would appear to represent a conflict of interest between him and the charity by placing Save the Children in his debt. If the charity had paid, though, then it would represent a controversial use of funds provided by donors who are largely motivated by concern for child welfare. Sources at Save the Children have suggested the latter is the case, though no formal position has yet been taken.
The Charities Commission is now investigating. More worryingly, documents then emerged suggesting that several of the key claims the charity instructed its lawyers to make in the legal letters may be untrue. One was a previously secret report into the affair by the law firm Lewis Silkin, which was commissioned by Save the Children in 2015, and reveals that complaints were first made about Forsyth in 2012. Back then, it says, Parker agreed to censure his chief executive by sending him a ‘letter of reprimand’, which would have remained on his personnel file (and been reported to future employers).
But the key letter disappeared, and it is not known if it was actually sent. Months later, Parker agreed (despite the affair) to pay Forsyth a £20,000 bonus. In 2015, when two more complaints were made, Parker met Forsyth to discuss them — a move that was arguably not appropriate, the report said. Save the Children’s head of HR, Paul Cutler, is also quoted, saying that he raised Forsyth’s behaviour with Parker, who responded that Forsyth was ‘very important to the organisation; people behave very differently when they’re abroad; they would have been tired; they would have needed some mutual support; what were the complainants doing by agreeing to go to his hotel room in the first place?’
Cutler was ‘frustrated’ by this response, which he feared was a result of Parker and Forsyth ‘being close’. Cutler later left the organisation, apparently having signed a gagging agreement, though doubtless the Charity Commission will now be looking him up. In view of all this, it is hard to understand how Parker can now say that he took no ‘personal interest’ in Forsyth’s case. When asked by the Mail to square this aspect of the leaked 2015 Lewis Silkin report with their recent legal letters, sources close to Parker accepted that he had actually been involved in dealing with allegations against Forsyth.
However they claimed that the legal letter sought only to deny that his involvement had resulted in the disgraced Chief Executive getting a ‘soft exit’. We must, of course, take them at their word. Also hard to understand is the charity and Parker’s claim that all complaints against Forsyth were dealt with on an ‘informal’ basis. For the BBC says it has ‘definitive evidence’ that at least one woman submitted a formal complaint about Forsyth. A copy of this lengthy written complaint is now believed to be with the Charities Commission. Another strand of the Charities Commission inquiry is looking at allegations that, in 2015, Save the Children decided, at Parker’s behest, to ignore legal advice suggesting it ought to mount a formal investigation into the conduct of Forsyth and Cox.
Witnesses say that advice was supplied by the charity’s longstanding law firm, Farrer. However, it is alleged to have displeased Parker, who asked a different law firm to give a second opinion. Sources close to Parker said they did not wish to comment on this particular topic, since it is now subject to a Charity Commission investigation. Save the Children did not answer a range of questions from the Mail about the affair, but instead released a statement saying: ‘We are co-operating fully with the Charity Commission’s inquiry.’ Elsewhere, it seems that, in late 2015, Parker helped Save the Children’s press office prepare ‘lines to take’ to ensure that the charity’s reputation was protected if they were contacted with media inquiries about his departure.
And so the questions continue to mount. Perhaps the greatest mystery, in this deeply unedifying affair, is whether all this will have a damaging knock-on effect on Parker’s PR agency Brunswick … which touts its ability to advise clients on ‘corporate social responsibility’. Intriguing, in that context, is the recent experience of a key whistle-blower in this case, a former Save the Children staffer called Alexia Pepper de Caires, who has given several interviews critical of Cox, Forsyth and Parker.
Recently, she received an email from the social media site LinkedIn, notifying her that someone called ‘James Dray’ had been ‘viewing’ her profile page. James Dray just happens to be a partner in Brunswick. Was he quietly investigating her? Sources at the PR firm insist otherwise. But given their all-powerful boss’s recent form, we could be forgiven for taking their pronouncements with a hefty pinch of salt.