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Stephen J. Cannell

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Stephen J. Cannell
Stephen J. Cannell
Stephen J. Cannell has produced such popular TV shows as "The A-Team", "Hunter", "Hardcastle and McCormick", "21 Jump Street", and "The Commish".
Vital information
Gender: Male
Nationality American
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Death Location Pasadena, California, U.S.
Career information
Occupation/Career: Producer, Screenwriter and Director
Years active: 1968-2010
Family/Personal information
Spouse(s): Marcia, ???? - 2010 (his death)
Domestic partner(s): N/A
Related to: Tawnia and Chelsea (daughters)
Bradford (sons, Cody and Derek, 1966-1981)
Hometown Pasadena, CA, U.S.
Series connection
Appeared on/Involved with: The A-Team TV series / The A-Team (2010) film
Episodes appeared in/involved with: Entire series


Stephen Joseph Cannell (February 5, 1941 – September 30, 2010; pronounced /ˈkænəl/, rhymes with "channel") was an American television producer, writer, novelist and occasional actor who is also the founder of Stephen J. Cannell Productions.

BiographyEdit

Early life and educationEdit

Cannell was born in Los Angeles, California, and raised in a mansion in nearby Pasadena. His parents, Carolyn (née Baker) and Joseph Knapp Cannell, owned a chain of furniture stores. Cannell struggled with dyslexia in school, but did graduate from the University of Oregon in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science in journalism. At UO, he joined the Sigma Chi fraternity.

CareerEdit

After college, Cannell spent four years working with the family business before selling his first script to the Universal series It Takes a Thief in 1968. He was quickly hired by the television production branch of Universal Studios and was soon freelance writing for such other crime shows as Ironside and Columbo. Not long afterward, he received his first full-time gig as the story editor of Jack Webb's police series Adam-12, then in its fourth season (1971–1972).

Cannell created or co-created nearly 40 television series, mostly crime dramas, including The Rockford Files, The Greatest American Hero, The A-Team, Hardcastle and McCormick, Wiseguy, 21 Jump Street, Silk Stalkings, and The Commish. In the process he had, by his own count, scripted more than 450 episodes, and produced or executive produced over 1,500 episodes.[1]

He described his early financial arrangements in a 2002 interview, saying that at Universal:

"I signed a deal as a head writer to make $600 a week. I was the cheapest writer on the lot. It was the lowest deal you could do by Writers Guild standards. But I'd been working for my dad for $7000 a year. I was at Universal for eight years and I never renegotiated my deal but once. It was late in my arrangement with Universal. There was one thing in my deal that my agent had managed to get in there—I had good fees for my pilots. The reason they did it is that they never thought I was going to write a pilot. So they'd give me $70,000 to write a two-hour pilot and a $100,000 production bonus if it ever got made. Then I became the hottest pilot writer at Universal. I was writing two or three pilots a season. I was making $400,000 a year in pilot fees."

For many years, Cannell's office was at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, though his shows (with the exception of Hunter, The Greatest American Hero, Hardcastle and McCormick, and Riptide) were almost always distributed by Universal Studios. The closing logo of his production company features him typing, before throwing the sheet from his typewriter whereupon it animates to become his company logo against a black screen (the one sheet of paper lands on a stack of paper forming a letter C). It was updated often, the main differences being Cannell's clothes, the addition of new awards in the background, and (rarely) a new office for the live-action part. Early examples are also notable for Cannell's smoking a pipe as he types. The logo has become part of American pop culture and has been parodied on 30 Rock, Family Guy, and The Simpsons. After his death, the Castle Season 3 episode "Punked" showed Cannell's logo with the words "Colleague, Mentor, Friend" while he is typing and then "We'll miss you, pal" superimposed over the sheet of paper, but the stack of paper is absent, and the lone sheet floats down towards the bottom and out of view.

Personal lifeEdit

From 2009, Cannell lived in Los Angeles. He married his high school sweetheart, Marcia; he "asked her to go steady in the eighth grade".[2] Together they had two daughters, Tawnia and Chelsea, and two sons, Cody and Derek. Derek died in 1981 at age 15 when a sand castle he was building at the beach collapsed and suffocated him.[3]

Cannell was dyslexic, and was a spokesman on the subject. According to an episode of Paul Harvey's The Rest of the Story, Cannell frequently had to dictate ideas or even complete scripts to a personal secretary. He discussed his experiences as a dyslexic in the 2009 documentary Dislecksia: The Movie.

Cannell continued to write on a typewriter (an IBM Selectric) and only used a computer for research purposes.


DeathEdit

Cannell died September 30, 2010, from complications of melanoma.[4]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Cannell.com: Bio (official site)
  2. Cannell, Stephen J. On the Grind (St. Martin's Press, 2009), Acknowledgments, p. 306.
  3. Pasadena Weekly, Telling tales: 'Over-performer’ Stephen J. Cannell takes over mystery book writing much the way he conquered episodic TV 2010-03-11. Retrieved 2010-10-02.
  4. Yahoo News – AP News Article Concerning His Death

External linksEdit

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