Ron Underwood made his directorial debut in the world of entertainment in children’s television. His two part ABC Weekend Special, THE MOUSE AND THE MOTORCYCLE, based on the novel by Beverly Cleary, received Emmy nominations and a Peabody Award. He made the transition to feature films in 1990 with the science fiction comedy TREMORS. That film, written and produced by college friends Brent Maddock and Steve Wilson, starred Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Michael Gross and Reba McEntire, and became a sleeper hit. Following the success of TREMORS, Underwood joined long-time agent Nancy Roberts as well as Maddock and Wilson to form Stampede Entertainment.
Underwood next directed the blockbuster comedy CITY SLICKERS, which starred Billy Crystal and Jack Palance. One of the year’s top grossing films, CITY SLICKERS earned Palance an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Underwood then directed Stampede’s maiden production, the bittersweet fantasy-comedy HEART AND SOULS, which starred Robert Downey, Jr., Charles Grodin, Kyra Sedgwick, David Paymer and Alfre Woodard. Co-written by Maddock and Wilson and produced by Roberts, the film was a critical success and enjoyed great popularity in home video.
He then directed Michael Keaton and Geena Davis in the political romantic comedy SPEECHLESS. This was followed by the Disney film MIGHTY JOE YOUNG, starring Charlize Theron and Bill Paxton, which received an Academy Award nomination in Visual Effects. Underwood then made THE ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH with Eddie Murphy. His latest film was the romantic comedy IN THE MIX, starring R&B singer Usher, Emmanuelle Chrique and Chazz Palminteri, for Lions Gate.
Underwood has also returned to television to direct episodes of MONK starring Tony Shalhoub, BOSTON LEGAL with James Spader, William Shatner and Candice Bergen, UGLY BETTY with America Ferrera and Vanessa Williams, ELI STONE with Jonny Lee Miller and REAPER for the CW. He is currently directing the pilot of SECRET LIFE OF THE AMERICAN TEENAGER for ABC Family. His Showtime film STEALING SINATRA was the true life story of the kidnapping of Frank Sinatra, Jr. William H. Macy was nominated for an Emmy for his role as one of the inept kidnappers. Underwood’s Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation on CBS, BACK WHEN WE WERE GROWNUPS, was based on the Anne Tyler novel of the same name. It starred Blythe Danner, Faye Dunaway, Jack Palance, Peter Fonda and Peter Riegert. Ms. Danner was nominated for an Emmy for Best Actress in a Movie for Television for her role. His most recent television movies were holiday films for ABC Family, SANTA BABY and HOLIDAY IN HANDCUFFS which delivered the largest audiences in the network’s history. Underwood’s production of THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS with John Goodman for NBC landed him a DGA nomination for best director.
Underwood is a graduate of the University of Southern California School of Cinema and an alumnus of the American Film Institute Fellowship program.