England, United Kingdom
When Duncan Kenworthy took a leave of absence from his duties with Jim Henson Productions to produce a "little" film he couldn't have imagined that the Oscar-nominated Best Picture "Four Weddings and a Funeral" (1994) would become the most commercially successful British film of all time and alter the course of his career forever. Beginning at the Children's Television Workshop in the 1970s, he worked on "Sesame Street" and later produced an Arabic version of the popular educational staple for Kuwaiti TV. His first feature credit came as associate producer of Henson and Frank Oz's "The Dark Crystal" (1982), and he served as producer of HBO's "Fraggle Rock" (1983) and segments of "The Storyteller" (NBC, 1987-88; five unaired episodes debuted on HBO in 1997), both products of Henson Associates, as well as for "The Jim Henson Hour" (NBC, 1989).On the heels of his "Four Weddings and a Funeral" success, Kenworthy co-founded DNA Films with "Trainspotting" (1996) producer Andrew Macdonald. In 1998, DNA Films signed an agreement with the Arts Council of England to run one of the three film franchises funded by Britain's National Lottery. Receiving more than $45 million in lottery funds, the production company embarked on the ambitious task of making 16 films with commercial appeal over the ensuing six years. This attempt to revive Britain's flagging film industry prompted Kenworthy to tell New York's Daily News (July 4, 1999): "We want to make films that aren't consigned to the arthouse." His reteaming with "Four Weddings" screenwriter Richard Curtis produced another big winner, "Notting Hill" (1999), which soared on the wings of star Julia Roberts' popularity. DNA's first efforts, "Strictly Sinatra" and "The Final Curtain" (both 2001) began appearing in the new millennium.