A Writing Legend Is Gone

Posted: October 2, 2010 in Writing/Publishing

One of Rick Castle’s poker buddies has died. Stephen J. Cannell, one of television’s most prolific writers, will now be writing from the “box seats.” In addition to writing over 40 television shows (he had 6 successful one hour shows running simultaneously at one point in his career), he was also the author of over 15 books, including the popular Shane Scully series.

With all that, he even found time to become an actor (most recently appearing on Castle as one of myster writer, Rick Castle’s writer friends, along with James Patterson and others … not bad company to be in).

In a 2002 interview with Luke Ford, he talked about his early days as a TV writer.

“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.”*

Here’s a partial list of his TV work: 21 Jump Street, Adam-12, The A-Team, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Baretta, Booker, Broken Badges, Chase, Cobra, The Commish, The D.A., The Duke, The Greatest American Hero, Hardcastle and McCormick, The Hat Squad, Hawkeye, Hunter, J.J. Starbuck, The Last Precinct, The 100 Lives of Black Jack Savage, Palace Guard, Profit, The Quest, Renegade , Richie Brockelman, Private Eye, Riptide, The Rockford Files, The Rousters, Silk Stalkings , Sonny Spoon, Stingray, Stone, Street Justice, Tenspeed and Brown Shoe, Toma, Top of the Hill, Unsub, Wiseguy

Not bad for a guy who struggled with dyslexia.
* Ford, Luke. Lukeford.net: “Producer Stephen J. Cannell”


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