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Callie Khouri

Callie Khouri
File:Callie Khouri at PaleyFest 2013.jpg
Callie Khouri on PaleyFest 2013
Born Carolyn Ann Khouri
(1957-11-27) November 27, 1957 (age 62)
San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
Occupation Film/television writer, director, feminist, lecturer, and producer
Spouse T-Bone Burnett[1]

Carolyn Ann "Callie" Khouri (born November 27, 1957) is an American film and television screenwriter, producer, feminist, and director. In 1992 she won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen for the film Thelma & Louise, which was controversial upon its release because of its progressive representation of gender politics but which subsequently became a classic; and, the film was first released in May 1991. "In 1995, she wrote the romantic comedy "Something to Talk About", directed by Lasse Hallström and starring Julia Roberts. She made her directorial debut with her third screenplay, "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood", an adaptation of two popular novels by Rebecca Wells. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi[2][3] On October 10, 2012, Khouri's television series, Nashville, premiered on ABC. The critics awarded it strong reviews. In 2006, Callie Khouri also contributed on two movies, Hollis and Rae and Wanderlust, but released her last movie, Mad Money (film) in the year of 2008.

Early life

Carolyn Ann Khouri was born in San Antonio, Texas, but was brought up in Kentucky by her father and mother. Her family name comes from a Christian Middle Eastern heritage to which is predominantly known in the Levant region. Callie Khouri took first interest in theatre arts began back when she took part in high school plays and found them to be intriguing. Following her graduation from St. Mary's High School in Paducah, Kentucky, she studied landscape architecture at Purdue University before changing her major to drama. Khouri then dropped out of Purdue University in order to head out to Los Angeles, California where she waited tables at music clubs[4] and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute to which she had met Peggy Feury, her first acting teacher; however, she later announced that being an actress was not really a well fit position for her, "I can't stand people looking at me" says Khouri.[5][6] In 1985, she took her first step toward “film production by pursuing a position as a commercial and music video production assistant.”[7]

On June 2, 1990, she married David Weaver Warfield, a writer and a producer, but later on divorced him to marry rock and roll artist T Bone Burnett. Callie Khouri married T Bone Burnett in the year 2006.[8] Khouri began working in film production in 1991. From 1996 to 1998 and from 2000 to 2002, Khouri served on the WGA board of directors; she sat on the board of trustees of the Writer’s Guild Foundation from 2001 to 2004.[9] She was a member of Hollywood Women's Political Committee, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting Women's Media Watch Project.[8]


Khouri is a screenwriter, director, producer, feminist, lecturer, and author of nonfiction. She also worked as an actress, lecturer, and waiter in Nashville. While working for a company that made commercials and music videos, she began writing Thelma & Louise, her first produced screenplay. Thelma & Louise won Khouri the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay,[10][11] a Golden Globe Award, and a PEN Literary Award, as well as the London Film Critics Circle Award for Film of the Year and a nomination for Best Original Screenplay from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.[12] According to an interview done by David Konow, a scholarly author and journalist, Callie Khouri mentioned her experience filming her first major film, Thelma & Louise. “While I was writing Thelma and Louise, it was the most fun I had ever had in my life, bar none,” she says. “It was such a pure experience. There was no self-censorship there, there was no second guessing. From a creative standpoint, it was the freest I had ever been in my life. I loved every moment I got to spend time with those characters. Nothing came close to it, including winning all the awards and everything else. As much fun as all that was, it wasn’t as much fun as sitting alone in a crummy office on Vine at 2 in the morning writing that screenplay.”[13] At the Oscar ceremony she said, "for everyone who wanted to see a happy ending for 'Thelma and Louise', for me this is it," brandishing the statue high. After winning the Academy Awards for her best screenplay, she felt motivated enough to continue on with her career and express "her feelings about the lack of female directors in Hollywood", not to mention that most of her career began because of her stand on women's rights.[14][15] In an interview done by Huffingtonpost, she addressed that adult women "are a market that I feel is underserved in the entertainment population at large. I don’t see the kind of women represented that I know or that I’m attracted to. I really want to try to write more nuanced, less simplistic kind of stuff, and its hard to find a place to do that."[16]

Writing Thelma and Louise:

“At first I had no desire to write screenplays. I kind of wished I had because I was reaching the end of my time producing music videos. I was struggling so hard to figure out what it was that I was supposed to be doing. I kept thinking I’m supposed to be doing something creative. I can’t believe I have such a knack for the vernacular and I don’t have anywhere to apply it."[17] “I felt I had not found my true path. And then a series of events occurred that led me to the point where I didn’t have anything to lose if I wrote a screenplay."[18] She began writing sitcoms with her comedian friend but kept on having second thoughts about her work. She was frustrated and kept "contemplating and meditating" until she got this idea of "two women going on a crime spree."[19] She felt as if a light bulb had turned on above her head, making her more interested in the idea. She originally created the character Louise as a woman living in Texas who works as a communication secretary, "somebody sitting behind one of those big desks with a headset on directing people and taking calls and all that stuff."[20] She imaged that Louise considered herself as a liability-employee, one "who never realized women could be executives until she saw one come in the front door."[19] The character Louise would believe that women would never be able to achieve power and would always remain narrow in their features. The character Thelma, on the other hand, was first written as a character who "had kids and stuff like that, but I realized that she couldn’t have kids. The idea that Darryl wanted her to wait because the kids would be a sacrifice for him financially, fit perfectly. And, of course, she’s really a child herself." I had to set it up that way. I love to laugh, and I wanted this to be a movie you were enjoying and having a good time with because you were watching these women get their lives. Even though they would lose them, they were becoming more and more themselves. It was a beautiful experience, a liberating experience to watch that." [21]

Her second film as a writer, a romantic comedy-drama film, Something to Talk About, (1995),[22] earned mixed reviews from the critics. In June 2002, Khouri made her directorial debut with her adaptation of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, which grossed a total of $73,839,240 worldwide.[23] The film opened at number two in the box office behind The Sum of All Fears‍ '​s second weekend.[12][24] Khouri directed Mad Money in 2008, a crime-caper film starring Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, and Katie Holmes.[25] In 2012 she developed ABC’s country music drama series Nashville starring Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere. Although her latest work of Nashville received positive reviews from critics, her husband, T Bone Burnett, decided to quickly exit after completing season one. He declined everything that involved her including “up coming movies, TV shows, or albums”; “I turned down anything that seems like the person doesn’t care about me, says Burnett.” [26] However, Callie Khouri is already filming another season of Nashville (2012 TV series) with or without her husband.[27]

Outside the Set

National Women’s History Museum:

The National Women's History Museum (NWHM) is a non-profit organization that recognizes powerful women who contribute toward feminist filmmaking, such as Callie Khouri and her beloved associate, Susan Sarandon It also receives support as well as generous donations from other women such as Shonda Rhimes, Meryl Streep, and Frances Fisher. On August 23, 2014, Callie Khouri received honoring from the National Women’s History Museum and NWHM Los Angeles Council in "Women Making History Brunch"[20] for winning an Academy Award, Golden Globe and WGA at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, California. “She’s revolutionary,” said Geena Davis on working with Khouri, who also is the creator and executive producer of Nashville." “She creates characters that are in charge of their own fate to the bitter end. Female characters who are in charge of themselves.”[28]

Teaching The Future Generation:

Callie Khouri works as a part-time lecturer of Theatre Arts. She has taught a Master Class on filmmaking at the Athena Film Festival at Barnard College in New York City as well as a writing & directing course at the Arts Initiative Colombia University in the City of New York featuring her award winning film, Thelma & Louise.[29][30][31] Aside from teaching and filmmaking, Callie Khouri has taken the liberty of devoting her quality time into feminist organizations; "don’t you think talking about it is important, making the next generation understand that things are still not right for women?"[32] says Callie. “I feel like I owe aspiring writers at least the warning that they are picking maybe the hardest thing there is to do in the business,” she says. “It doesn’t matter anymore how good you are. In some ways, it never really did. Bad movies get made as often as good ones, but so few movies get made now, period. If you write for a studio, you may be one of eight writers, so it’s not like you can have an artistic vision of your own and achieve it solely through screenwriting. I was very lucky because Ridley really wanted to tell Thelma & Louise. He wanted to make the movie I wanted to make. But oftentimes that’s not the case at all. They think your script is a good idea and that’s all. So they buy it and then they hire two or three other people to take a whack at it and it can be a very disappointing thing."[33]

Violence and Entertainment:

According to an interview done by Variety VOICES,[34] Callie Khouri takes an opposing approach toward guns in social media; "in other countries where they have violent videogames but less access to guns, they have less mass shootings. I have a really hard time saying, if there were no violent games, people would stop shooting each other. I think that until they have no way of shooting each other, they won't stop." says Khouri. "We have a speed limit. Why can't we have a bullet limit? The idea that we don't need limits stricter than we have now on guns is absolutely insane. Because ultimately, people don't kill people -- guns kill people, and people with guns kill people." She also argued that America has lost its own moral compass and that "it's worse than it's its ever been!" in the matters of gun control. She also claimed that there is no quick route to end gun control because actors in Hollywood such as Sylvester Stallone, "make a fortune from violence. Do you think those types of movies will stop getting made? I don't" says Khouri.[35]


Year Title Credited as
Director Writer Producer
1987 Aria No No Yes
1991 Thelma & Louise No Yes Yes
1995 Something to Talk About No Yes No
2002 Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood Yes Yes Yes
2006 Hollis & Rae Yes Yes Yes
2008 Mad Money Yes No No
2012 Nashville Yes Yes Yes

Awards and nominations

List of awards and nominations
Year Award Category Film Result
1992 New York Film Critics Circle Award Best Screenplay Thelma & Louise Won
PEN Center USA West Literary Award Best Screenplay Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Award Best Screenplay Nominated
Writers Guild of America Best Screenplay Won
Golden Globe Award Best Screenplay Won
BAFTA Award Best Screenplay Nominated
Academy Award Best Original Screenplay Won
2012 Satellite Award Best Television Series – Drama Nashville Nominated
People's Choice Awards Favorite New TV Drama Nominated
Writers Guild of America Award[36] Best Screenplay – New Series Nominated
2013 People's Choice Awards Favorite Network TV Drama Pending
Austin Film Festival Distinguished Screenwriter Award[37] Won


  1. ^ The Heartbeat, and the Twang, of a City; New York Times, October 7, 2012; accessed January 23, 2014.
  2. ^ Newyork Times: Person Biography - Callie Khouri Retrieved 2015-04-22
  3. ^ "New York Times profile of Callie Khouri". 2007-01-18. Retrieved 2013-02-12. 
  4. ^ "83. Ben Blacker." Fast Company 176 (2013): 138. Interview: Callie Khouri. Database: Shatford Library - Retrieved 2015-04-27.
  5. ^ Athena FF: Callie Khouri on the Difference between Women Characters in Film vs. TV Retrieved 2015-04-27
  6. ^ "Callie Khouri, The New York Times Profile Biography" Retrieved 2015-20-04
  7. ^ "The Tribute: Callie Khouri,People Biography." Retrieved 2015-04-19
  8. ^ a b "Database Login| Shatford Library at Pasadena City College". Retrieved 2013-02-12. 
  9. ^ "Callie Khouri profile at". Filmbug. 2008-05-19. Retrieved 2013-02-12. 
  10. ^ Thelma & Louise (1991): box office business
  11. ^ Thelma & Louise (1991): awards
  12. ^ a b "16th Nashville Annual Screenwriters Conference". Retrieved 2013-02-12. 
  13. ^ “I wouldn’t send any impressionable young woman I know to see Thelma and Louise” Retrieved 2015-04-24.
  14. ^ "20th Anniversary Edition: Callie Khouri Looks Back on Thelma & Louise." Retrieved 2015-04-21
  15. ^ JANET MASLINPublished: April 1, 1992 (1992-04-01). "New York Times". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-02-12. 
  16. ^ Callie Khouri, 'Nashville' Creator, On Taylor Swift, 'Having It All' & Why TV Beats Film For Women Retrieved 2015-04-28
  17. ^ Callie Khouri – On Creating Character: Thelma & Louise Retrieved 2015-05-02 -
  18. ^ Callie Khouri – On Creating Character: Thelma & Louise Retrieved 2015-05-02 SYDField Academy of Screenwriting-Interview
  19. ^ a b Callie Khouri – On Creating Character: Thelma & Louise SYDfield Academy of Screenwriting-Interview Retrieved 2015-05-02
  20. ^ Callie Khouri – On Creating Character: Thelma & Louise SYDfield Academy of Screenwriting-Interview Retrieved 2015-05-02.
  21. ^ Callie Khouri – On Creating Character: Thelma & Louise SYD Academy of Screenwriting Retrieved 2015-05-02
  22. ^ New York Times
  23. ^ Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood at Box Office Mojo
  24. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for June 7–9, 2002". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2013-02-12. 
  25. ^ New York Times
  26. ^ T Bone Burnett on Quitting Wife Callie Khouri's 'Nashville': It Was a 'Drag-Out Fight' Retrieved 2015-04-18.
  27. ^ "ABC Gives Drama Pilot Orders To Soaps From Mark Gordon And Callie Khouri". Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  28. ^ "Sophia Bush Honored by National Women's History Museum" Retrieved April 19, 2015
  29. ^ Columbia University: 14CU0: AFF Master Class: Writing & Directing With Callie Khouri Retrieved 2015-04-27
  30. ^ "Pop Culture And Feminism: An Interview With Hollywood's Callie Khouri" Retrieved 2015-04-22
  31. ^ Master Class Tickets Retrieved 2015-04-26
  32. ^ "Pop Culture And Feminism: An Interview With Hollywood's Callie Khouri" Retrieved 2015-04-22
  33. ^ 20th Anniversary Edition: Callie Khouri Looks Back on Thelma & Louise. Retrieved 2015-04-19
  34. ^ Callie Khouri Profile Retrieved 2015-04-30
  35. ^ Database Login: "Voices: Callie Khouri." Variety. 429.10 - Shatford Library Retrieved 2015-04-30
  36. ^ Andreeva, Nellie. "2013 Writers Guild Awards Nominees Announced". Retrieved 2013-02-12. 
  37. ^ "Austin Film Festival To Honor Callie Khouri; 2013 Conference Slate Unveiled". Retrieved 2013-09-07. 

External links

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