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Anthony and Joe Russo serve as executive producers/directors of the new NBC comedy series "Community."
The Russo brothers, in tandem with Mitch Hurwitz, were in large part responsible for the success of the critically acclaimed, but criminally short-lived, television show "Arrested Development." They won an Emmy for directing the pilot and also directed 15 episodes of the show.
Born a year apart in Cleveland, Ohio, the brothers got a head start on their film careers by using credit cards and student loans to finance "Pieces," an experimental comedy about a criminally inclined trio of brothers. They shot the film in and around Cleveland with the help of numerous friends and family. Their gamble paid off when the film screened at both the Slamdance and American Film Institute festivals in 1997, earning Joe a Best Actor award at the latter. The Slamdance screening caught the attention of filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, who along with his producing partner George Clooney, asked to produce the brothers' second film, the crime comedy "Welcome to Collinwood."
Kevin Reilly was rebuilding the FX network when he first saw "Welcome to Collinwood," and he asked the pair to direct the pilot for his new flagship comedy, "Lucky." The brothers used handheld camera work and a guerilla shooting style to capture the edgy, absurdist tone of the show, set in downtown L.A., producing a pilot that became an industry favorite.
Among the pilot's fans were Imagine Entertainment co-founder Ron Howard, who, along with writer Mitch Hurwitz, were both looking to take the well-worn situation comedy in a new direction. The brothers' penchant for experimentation seemed the perfect fit for Howard's desire to get the sitcom out of the soundstage and into the streets.
By shooting "Arrested Development" on advanced HD cameras and minimizing the need for complex lighting and crews, the brothers not only opened up a whole new world of creative possibilities, but provided the style for Hurwitz's self-conscious, rapid-fire writing. It was a significant gamble for all involved which paid off at that year's Emmy Awards ceremony, where Hurwitz won the award for Best Writing, the brothers won for Best Directing, and "Arrested" won for Best Comedy. Though "Arrested Development" would ultimately be canceled after just three seasons, few can deny the impact or innovation that earned the series a dedicated critical and cult following.
The brothers also directed the NBC pilot episode of "LAX" and the pilot of "What About Brian" for ABC. In 2006, the pair returned to their feature roots directing the comedy "You, Me and Dupree" for Universal. The movie grossed $140 million worldwide.