Stephen J. Cannell (1941-2010)

Stephen J. Cannell, the prolific creator/producer of dozens of popular television programs over the past four decades, passed away yesterday at the age of 69. According to the biography at his official website, Cannell “created or co-created more than 40 shows, of which he has scripted more than 450 episodes and produced or executive produced more than 1,500 episodes.” His television work began in the early 1970s, according to his Internet Movie Database entry, when he wrote for shows like Adam-12, Ironside and Toma, although he reportedly sold a script to It Takes a Thief in 1968.

Much of his work was in the crime or action/adventure vein. Shows he created, co-created and/or produced in the 1970s and 1980s include Baretta, The Rockford Files, Tenspeed and Brown Show, The Greatest American Hero, Hardcastle and McCormack, Richie Brockelman, Private Eye, Riptide, The A-Team, Stingray, Wiseguy and 21 Jump Street. He continued to work well into the 1990s, creating The Commish, Silk Stalkings, Renegade, Missing Persons, Palace Guard and Profit. A collection of some of his lesser-known television programs were released on DVD earlier this year.

In June, a feature film based on The A-Team, starring Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper, was released in theaters. Cannell served as a producer. A big screen adaptation of 21 Jump Street is reportedly in the works for 2012. Obituaries will be forthcoming, but reports can be found at ET and The Los Angeles Times.

Here’s Cannell discussing the famous production logo that saw him pull a piece of paper out of a typewriter, from his 2004 interview with the Archive of American Television:


2 Comments

  • When a prolific creator like Mr. Cannell passes away, it is just too soon.

    I always hold out hope for someone like Stephen J. Cannell, Quinn Martin or Aaron Spelling to create that one last capstone series that lets them go out on top.

    At least in Mr. Cannell’s case, he had the #1 theatrical movie in the world this year and that is definitely beyond most people’s wildest dreams.

    RIP Stephen J. Cannell.

  • Pb says:

    He was popping up on eps of Castle on ABC.

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