Denise Di Novi's father Gene was a jazz musician who toured with Lena Home and Peggy Lee. When Denise was three years old, her parents, Gene and Patricia, moved from New York to Los Angeles. Gene made music for the TV shows of Danny Thomas, Dick Van Dyke and Andy Griffith.
At age 5, Denise would interview her sister, Michelle, 3, with a tape recorder. "She would get me to confess to things," Sawelson says. "She had a great time, and I hated it." (Chatelaine, 3/1/94)
Denise hung around show biz with her dad. "Directors or composers would talk to her for hours," Gene says. "She'd jump right in with anyone, Carl Reiner, Dinah Shore." (Chatelaine, 3/1/94)
At age 13, Denise picketed the local Safeway supermarket in support of Cesar Chavez's grape boycott. She attended the rally in San Francisco where paralyzed Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic (the subject of Oliver Stone's film Born on the Fourth of July) burned his medals. (Chatelaine, 3/1/94)
A few years after the assassination of Robert Kennedy, Gene moved his family to Toronto. When Denise was 19, he mom died of cancer. "Right before she died, my mom said to me, 'Make sure you always have something for yourself, whatever it is,'" Denise says. "Whenever I think, 'I work too much, she was a much better mother than I am,' I remember she did say that to me." (Chatelaine, 3/1/94)
Denise received her journalism degree from Simmons College. She became a reporter for Toronto's Citytv. In 1980, she quit and took a job as a unit publicist for Final Assignment, a Genevieve Bujold film shooting in Toronto. She then worked for producer Pierre David for four years.
Denise produced the dark 1989 comedy Heathers. On the DVD release:
Producer Denise Di Novi: "Shannen Doherty was not really a problem to
Di Novi produced Meet the Applegates. Then she produced Edward Scissorhands, directed by Tim Burton. It's whispered to be his autobiography. Di Novi delivered her first baby shortly after handing in Burton's finished negative to 20th Century Fox.
After three months off, Burton and Di Novi spent 15 months making Batman Returns .
From the NY Times, 10/27/97: With studios now offerring millions to buy book by authors like Michael Crichton and John Grisham, an important change has occurred. Warner Brothers producer Denise Di Novi repots that "A lot of authors have gotten smart. They're laying out their books like movies; they're delivering what you need for a movie." That means a lot of short snappy scenes and roles for strong male leads. In fact, the smarter authors build their lead character with one of the half dozen top male stars in mind already (those being Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Tom Hanks, Mel Gibson and Brad Pitt).
About her 1998 film Practical Magica, Di Novi told University Wire 10/15/98: "The theme is that love is the most powerful form of magic. The title 'Practical Magic', what it says to me that I find so delightful, is that life is magic. That everyday things are as magical as these supernatural things, extraordinary things that we're fascinated by. Whether people are psychic, crystal balls, these sort of things.
"That a mother's instincts about her children, or love at first sight or having prescient dreams, that these things that everybody has are what magic is. That's what magic is about."
Source: Schneller, Johanna, Di Novi delightful. (Canadian film producer Denise Di Novi). Vol. 67, Chatelaine, 03-01-1994, pp 78(5).