Meet the Author
Using his strong desire to write as the impetus to propel his career forward, Stephen J. Cannell is not only one of the most prolific television writers/producers ever, but he's also franchised his literary abilities into the feature world and has become a bestselling novelist along the way. The Emmy Award winner has created 38 television series, of which he has written more than 350 episodes and executive produced more than 1,500. "The Rockford Files," "Baretta," "The A-Team," "21 Jump Street" and "The Commish" are a just a few of his efforts.
As Cannell recalls, choosing writing as a profession was "a very cocky idea for a guy who couldn't pass most of his English courses." Impaired by severe dyslexia that went undiagnosed throughout his teen years, he flunked out of two schools before graduating near the bottom of his high school class. Undaunted by scholastic failure, Cannell enthusiastically listed "author" as his ambition beneath his yearbook photo. His optimism gave him the faith to conquer writing and his talent and conviction have made him a successful force in television, film and modern literature.
His career as a novelist began two decades after his initial success in television. In 1995 Cannell made an effortless transition into the literary world with the publication of his debut novel, The Plan, a political thriller that became a national bestseller. He followed with three more critically acclaimed best sellers: Final Victim (1996), a cyberspace thriller; King Con (1997), a confidence-game yarn; and Riding the Snake (1998), an action thriller which was just released in paperback by Avon books. This September, Cannell's newest piece of fiction, The Devil's Workshop, will be released by William Morrow. From Nazi Germany to the killing fields of modern Kosovo, history is replete with madmen hoping to "ethnically cleanse" the world of any racial or religious group which differs from their own, and in The Devil's Workshop Cannell explores how modern science could actually speed up this process.
An unstoppable creative force, Cannell is also a savvy businessman. In 1979 he formed his own independent production company, Stephen J. Cannell Productions, in order to attain creative control over material he was writing and producing; seven years later he formed The Cannell Studios to oversee all aspects of the organization's operations. Having surpassed the $1 billion mark in production outlays, the studio experienced remarkable growth and diversification in such areas as production (films, mini-series, commercials), merchandising and first-run/off-network programming until its purchase by New World Communications Group in 1995 (which was itself purchased two years later by 20th Century Fox). Cannell still owns the worldwide distribution rights to about 1,000 hours of Cannell-produced series and TV movies.
Currently, Cannell Motion Pictures has myriad telefilms and feature films in various stages of development. They include: a mini-series for CBS entitled "Morning Into Midnight," a World War II love story set against the aftermath of Hiroshima, executive produced by Cannell with Baltimore/Spring Creek Productions; Terror.net: The Brad Smith Story, a Showtime project focused on the man who tracked down the terrorists that blew up the World Trade Center, executive produced by Cannell and Larry King; and a feature film based on "The A Team" television series in association with Mark Gordon/Mutual Film Company, one of the producers on Saving Private Ryan. His novel Final Victim was purchased by Morgan Creek Productions for a million dollars while MGM won the rights to King Con, attaching John Travolta to star in the film. He is currently developing an independent feature which he will also executive produce.
Cannell is a third generation Californian who resides in the Los Angeles area with Marcia, his eighth-grade sweetheart and wife of more than thirty years, and their children. He is an avid reader, loves to travel and spends his free time as a devoted family man. Finding acting a wonderful way to relax, Cannell has been known to emerge from behind the scenes to perform in front of the camera on occasion. Some of his credits include a featured role in the highly regarded Mario Van Peebles film Posse, a recurring role on "Renegade" as Dutch Dixon and his most recent stint on CBS's critically acclaimed "Diagnosis Murder." Stephen J. Cannell is also an outspoken advocate on the subject of dyslexia and has sponsored and performed in Gifts of Greatness, a film play depicting famous dyslexics in history. This video has been used as a vital educational tool around the world.