While a student at New York University, James Cox made his award-winning short Atomic Tabasco (1999), which won an Honorable Mention in the Short Film section at the Sundance Film Festival as well as a Bronze Medal from the Student Academy Awards. The short attracted the attention of Hollywood, and after selling a pitch to famed producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Cox was hired by New Line Cinema to helm the $14 million film Highway, starring Jared Leto, Jake Gyllenhaal and Selma Blair. Unfortunately, although originally scheduled for a theatrical release, the movie went straight to cable. Cox went on to direct episodes of the WB TV series Dead Last before getting together with his writing partner Captain Mauzner to rewrite a script based on the true story of late porn star John Holmes and the 1981 Laurel Canyon murders. Titled Wonderland (2003), the film stars Val Kilmer, Josh Lucas, Kate Bosworth and Lisa Kudrow.