Connecticut fans of Netflix's addictive phenomenon House of Cards will get an inside look into how this series on the struggle for power in Washington is made when Executive Producer/Director John David Coles speaks at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) on Sunday, Feb. 1 at 3 p.m. No tickets are required, and the event is free of charge as part of the synagogue's packed 100th anniversary cultural arts programming.
House of Cards stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. Spacey, playing a sinister Frank Underwood, aims to beat back enough enemies to rise to the White House. A Washington Post reviewer noted that the "back-stabbing, bed-hopping, betraying, compromising, and scandal-mongering" captures ageless, Shakespearean themes. Coles and the creative team based the story on a 1990 BBC television miniseries and earlier book by Michael Dobbs, but let the actors and story craft fresh approaches to the ethics and psychology of power.
Coles is an award-winning director and producer known for evocative material with compelling performances from some of today's most respected actors. He has enjoyed success in features, television, and theater while his production company, Talking Wall Pictures, has focused on the development of cutting-edge feature and television projects.
Coles shot his first full length 16mm film at age 17-a wry update of Casablanca re-imagined in a high school. While at Amherst College he directed a documentary about the school that was aired on PBS and soon after was making short films for Saturday Night Live.
He then went on to become an editor on Francis Ford Coppola's Rumble Fish and The Cotton Club. His feature directorial debut, Signs of Life, starred Beau Bridges, Vincent D'Onofrio, and Mary Louise Parker. The film won the International Critics Prize at Deauville and launched a prolific and versatile directing career.
In television, Coles is one of the few directors who is equally adept at both drama and comedy. He has directed numerous Emmy Award-winning series ranging from Sex and the City to The West Wing and many other notable shows such as Justified, Damages, and Bates Motel. Coles recently directed A&E's Those Who Kill with Chloë Sevigny and the new Starz original series Power.
His success as an episodic director allowed Coles to begin a producing career, and one of his first projects, Thief, led to Andre Braughers' Emmy award for Best Actor. Other executive producer credits include hit drama Elementary, Unforgettable, Law & Order: Criminal Intent with Jeff Goldblum, 3LBS with Stanley Tucci, New Amsterdam, and the drama Wonderland, a critically acclaimed series that addressed the frail boundaries of insanity within a New York City hospital's psychiatric ward.
Coles continues to write and create original dramas through Talking Wall Pictures, which produced the CBS drama Songs in Ordinary Time (based on the Oprah Book Club pick) starring Sissy Spacek and Beau Bridges and co-created and executive produced the series Crash and Burn. Talking Wall has developed numerous projects with HBO, CBS, New Line, IFC, and Bravo and worked with numerous distinguished writers, including Academy Award-nominated Mike Weller (Hair), Pulitzer Prize-winner Doug Wright (Quills), Kate Robin (Six Feet Under), and Ann Peacock (Nights in Rodanthe).
In the theater world, Coles was a member of the Circle Rep Lab and an alumnus of Wynn Handman at the American Place Theater. His Off-Broadway credits include directing the critically acclaimed play The Impostor starring Austin Pendleton and Calista Flockhart, as well as Johnny Suede, starring Tom DiCillo.
CBSRZ is at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester. Founded 100 years ago, CBSRZ translates as House of Peace Seeking Justice. Pegged as a "cultural center and architectural landmark" by the Jewish Ledger, CBSRZ goes by the moniker "ancient and cool" because of its pioneering fusion of renewed tradition with spiritual learning, cultural expression, and prayer labs. Located on the Connecticut River, it is the only public building ever designed by the internationally renowned artist Sol LeWitt. For more information, call 860-526-8920 or visit www.cbsrz.org or www.ancientandcool.com.