His father was a playwright, his mother was a homemaker. He has 3 siblings. He graduated from Harvard and spent one year there in graduate school. He then took after his father and began writing screenplays such as Mississippi Burning (1988), which was nominated for 7 Academy Awards. He married his wife, Joan, in 1999 and now lives a happy life with his 3 children with her and his stepson from his wife's previous marriage.