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celebrity news

Remembering Stephen J. Cannell

Posted by Patrick Sauriol on Sunday, October 3, 2010

On Friday, October 1, 2010, veteran television show creator, producer and screenwriter Stephen J. Cannell passed away from complications arising from melanoma. He was 69 years old.

Throughout the 1980s there wasn't a mainstream television viewer that didn't know his name. If you watched The A-Team, 21 Jump Street, Hardcastle & McCormick, Hunter, Wiseguy, The Commish, The Greatest American Hero, Silk Stalkings, Street Justice, Stingray, Tenspeed and Brownshoe, Booker, Black Sheep Squadron, and you watched the show through until its end credits, you saw his name and face appear on your screen. His production company's credit block was him working away on a typewriter and then pulling out the page, tossing it into the air and watching it resolve into the C. for Stephen J. Cannell Productions.

Cannell's TV shows were based in the action genre, but that's not to say that each of them were the same. The A-Team and Hunter could be seen as less based in reality, where people shooting automatic weapons and handguns did little or no lasting damage to the bad guys, but Wiseguy and The Commish were harder edge fare. And in what category do you put The Greatest American Hero? It was equal blends comedy, action and buddy-cop show.

In addition to knowing what presidents of television wanted on their network and what the audience wanted to watch, Cannell was a genius at casting the right talent for each of his series. Could you imagine anyone else but Ken Wahl playing Cannell's Wiseguy, or William Katt and Robert Culp busting bad guys in The Greatest American Hero, or Robert Conrad leading the pilots in Black Sheep Squadron?

And equally as memorable on each of Cannell's TV shows were the opening theme songs. Cannell frequently collaborated with Mike Post and Pete Carpenter. The duo created the rythmic pulse and rock soundtrack that was distinctive for a Cannell production with its tough guys, fast cars, beautiful women and gunplay.

In today's TV landscape there isn't much room for show creators like Stephen J. Cannell or those similar to him that produced such a high level of enjoyed mass entertainment. Television has changed and matured, but in doing so it's also lost some of its ability to not be as serious in its entertainment. No one is going to remember The A-Team for being a realistic portrayal of rogue special ops soldiers, but its place in television history is assured.

In addition to creating or co-creating more than three dozen television shows Cannell also found the time to write 16 novels, be married, have children and be a great-grandfather. He leaves a wife, three daughters and three grandchildren behind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mckracken
Location:
Posts: 965
Posted: 9 years 2 weeks ago

Aw... this is really wrong...in the 80's Steven was a mega-EVERYTHING..... and at 69 too.... really sad. Rest In Peace Steven J. Canell.