July 18, 1947
Shaker Heights, Ohio, United States
Executive, Producer, Investment banker
Lesley Glib, Rosana De Soto
Beginning his career as the road manager for Bob Dylan and The Band, Jonathan Taplin went on to become the producer of such innovative films as Martin Scorsese's "Mean Streets" (1973), as well as the investment banker responsible for the Bass Brothers acquiring 21 percent of The Walt Disney Company.A graduate of Princeton, Taplin began his involvement in the music business and soon moved beyond road managing Dylan to producing (with George Harrison) the famed "Concert for Bangladesh" in 1971. By 1973, he had segued to the film business, producing "Mean Streets," which not only launched Scorsese as a director, but also Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel as actors. Taplin worked with Warner Bros. for several years, then moved over to Columbia to produce "The Gravy Train" (1974). He joined with Scorsese again to produce The Band's concert film, "The Last Waltz" (1978), which Scorsese also directed. Taplin then turned executive, becoming president of Lions Gate Films from 1979 until 1983, purchasing the company from director Robert Altman in 1981. During that time, he oversaw the political thriller "Under Fire" (1982), as well as executive producing one of Jodie Foster's lesser works, "Carny" (1980).Taplin left producing in 1984 to become a vice president at Merrill Lynch Investment Banking, Los Angeles, although two of his films, "Baby: The Secret of the Lost Legend," about a dinosaur hatched in present day, and "My Science Project," a high school farce, were released in 1985. Still, Taplin stayed on the investment side through 1988, the last year as chair and CEO of Berkey, Inc., a film investment firm based in Greenwich, Connecticut. He then formed Trans Pacific Films, an international film development and production company with Japanese associations, which has remained his base. Trans Pacific, with Warner Bros., offered Wim Wenders' "Until the End of the World" and "K2" (both in 1991). Taplin was also executive producer of Gus Van Sant's satirical "To Die For" (1995).His TV work has been sporadic, but Taplin executive produced (through Lions Gate) the pioneering pay TV series "Faerie Tale Theatre" (Showtime, 1982-87) with Shelley Duvall. He has executive produced several informational miniseries for the medium, including PBS' "Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power" (1993), and "The First Americans" about Native Americans for Ted Turner's Superstation TBS in 1994.