Stephen J. Cannell to Receive GAIT "Lifetime Achievement Award".
The Emmy-award winning writer/producer has scripted more than 350 episodes of the series he's created, and has produced or executive produced more than 1,500 episodes during his 30-year career, including The Rockford Files, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Baretta, Tenspeed and Brownshoe, The Greatest American Hero, The A-Team, Hardcastle and McCormick, 21 Jump Street, Wiseguy, Hunter, The Commish, Renegade and Silk Stalkings.
What is astonishing about the sheer volume and success of Cannell's writing career is the fact that he's dyslexic. Cannell's undiagnosed learning disability caused him to flunk out of two schools and graduate at the bottom of his high school class. Yet, he had a strong desire to write and optimistically listed "author" as his ambition under his yearbook photo. After receiving his college diploma, Cannell married his eighth-grade sweetheart and took a job in his father's interior-design firm to support his young family. He wrote every evening and soon sold several story ideas to Mission Impossible, but was considered too young and inexperienced to write the actual scripts.
Cannell pounded the keyboard at his after-hours writing for more than four years before he was able to make his next sale, an episodic television script for It Takes a Thief. Prompted by this initial success, he was determined to make his living as a writer. "A very cocky idea for a guy who couldn't pass most of his English courses," recalled Cannell.
His television career truly took off in 1966, when he submitted a script for the Universal Studios series, Adam 12. The producers and actors were so impressed by the storyline and dialogue that Cannell was immediately offered the position of head writer. His years of gusto had finally turned Cannell into an "overnight success." While working at Universal, Cannell gained the respect of his colleagues for his skills as a writer and his instincts as a creator of new programming.
In 1979, Cannell formed his own independent production company, Stephen J. Cannell Productions, in order to keep "creative control." Cannell once said that "this is the only studio in town I know of that is run by a writer for writers." His success over the next 20 years is stuff of television legend.
A devoted family man, Cannell is a third generation Californian who resides in the Los Angeles area with his wife of more than 30 years, Marcia, and their three children.
"I am honored to be receiving the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award from the Global Association of Independent Television," beamed Cannell. "I appreciate their vision to give independent television producers a new and stronger voice and I believe that GAIT will expose the entire broadcasting community to a previously under-recognized pool of talent," he declared.
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|Publication:||Video Age International|
|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||Feb 1, 2000|
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