Deutch began his directing career with music videos for an assortment of top recording artists including Billy Idol and Billy Joel. In addition, he became one of the most respected commercial directors in the industry, having helmed numerous spots for a wide range of products.
Deutch’s credits extend to the stage as director for several plays at New York’s Ensemble Studio Theatre. He has also directed works at both the Beverly Hills Playhouse and the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. He currently teaches the master class for acting/directing at the Beverly Hills Playhouse.
Deutch has brought his deft and resolutely humanistic touch to a number of successful films since making an auspicious feature debut in 1986 on PRETTY IN PINK, starring Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy, Jon Cryer, Harry Dean Stanton and James Spader. Produced by John Hughes and confirming Ringwald as the preeminent young actress of her time, the film was an instant hit and is considered to be definitive of the era’s youth genre movies.
The following year, Deutch directed the popular SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL, starring Eric Stoltz, Mary Stuart Masterson and Lea Thompson. Also produced by John Hughes, this film, like PRETY IN PINK, combined teenage romantic angst with an incisive depiction of the social and economic barriers existing in American youth culture. THE GREAT OUTDOORS, written by Hughes and teaming Dan Aykroyd and John Candy, followed in a purely comedic vein.
Deutch’s gritty, topical and hard hitting 1992 black comedy, ARTICLE 99, enunciated the holes in the Veteran Administration hospital system. The remarkable ensemble included Ray Liotta, Kiefer Sutherland, Forest Whitaker, Lea Thompson, John C. McGinley, John Mahoney, Keith David, Kathy Baker, Eli Wallach, Noble Willingham, Julie Bovasso and Jeffrey Tambor. ARTICLE 99 fearlessly combined humor and human suffering to get to the heart of an American tragedy still chillingly relevant: the callow mistreatment of those who have served their country in the armed forces.
GETTING EVEN WITH DAD, starring Ted Danson and Macauley Culkin, returned Deutch to lighter comic territory in 1992. He scored a major success in 1995 with GRUMPIER OLD MEN, an unabashed romp starring Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Sophia Loren, Ann-Margaret, Daryl Hannah, Kevin Pollak and Burgess Meredith.
The epic team, Lemmon and Matthau, reunited for Deutch in 1998’s THE ODD COUPLE II, Neil Simon’s long-awaited follow-up to his smash hit Broadway play and subsequent feature film. Deutch followed with a Warner Bros/Bel-Air Entertainment comedy, THE REPLACEMENTS, starring Keanu Reeves, Gene Hackman, Brooke Langton, Orlando Jones, Jon Favreau, Rhys Ifans and Jack Warden. Set on the backdrop of professional football, THE REPLACEMENTS tells the story of a motley group of wayward, has-been athletes presented with the uncommon opportunity to “do-over” lessons learned both on the football field and in life.
Moving back into comedy, Deutch directed THE WHOLE 10 YARDS, starring Bruce Willis, Matthew Perry, Kevin Pollak, Amanda Peet and Natasha Henstridge. The film follows the antics of a dentist and the hit man next door as a follow up to the 2000 film, THE WHOLE 9 YARDS. Deutch’s deft eye for dark comedy plays upon the everyday pressures of murder, kidnapping and the marital struggles of an accomplished hit man and his apprentice/wife.
Next, Deutch directed the dark comedy, MY BEST FRIEND’S GIRL, starring Kate Hudson, Dane Cook, Alec Baldwin, and Jason Biggs, which takes place in Boston. The film is about a man who is hired to take out women, who have recently broken up with their boyfriends, on horrible dates which will convince them to return to the ex-boyfriends. Of course, it backfires in the case of Kate Hudson; he falls in love with his best friend’s girl that he is hired to alienate, and has to deal with repercussions and make some character altering adjustments.
Extensive television credits include the Robert Greenwald/CBS movie, GLEASON, starring Emmy winning actor Brad Garrett. This work, which profiled the life of the late comic genius Jackie Gleason, earned Deutch a 2002 Directors Guild nomination for outstanding directorial achievement in movies for television. Deutch also earned a CableACE Award for his direction of an episode of the HBO series, “Tales From the Crypt,” entitled “Dead Right,” starring Demi Moore. He also directed another episode of “Tales From the Crypt,”; the pilot episode of the hit television series, “Melrose Place,” ; episodes of the hit situation comedy, “Caroline in the City” as well as NBC’s “Watching Ellie”. Deutch also directed the pilot for Disney of “Stevie Sanchez” starring Selena Gomez.
More recently, Howie has directed episodes of “Big Love” and “Hung” for HBO; “Harry’s Law” for NBC; “Ringer” and “Life Unexpected” for the CW network; “Jane By Design” for ABC Family; “Warehouse 13” for SyFy; “Emily Owens, MD”, CSI:NY for CBS. He will soon be working on “True Blood” for HBO, and “Bounce” for VH1.
He served as a Board member for several years of a non-profit juvenile theatre project called The Unusual Suspects, whose work involves creating opportunities for incarcerated delinquents to participate in theatrical productions. Howie and his wife, actress Lea Thompson, volunteered to teach a master class for the NFAA YoungArts program in Miami a few years back. Their oldest daughter was a Silver Medal winner in 2008, so they try to give back to help other young artists accomplish their goals. He also has participated as a judge for a SAG diversity event, to offer feedback to diverse artists on their crafts. Deutch also teaches a weekly class at the Beverly Hills Playhouse for working actors and directors.
Howard Deutch and Lea Thompson make their home in Los Angeles with their two talented daughters, who are both active in the music and entertainment business as well.