Stephen J. Cannell

Show Creator / Producer / Writer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-and-a-half-hour Archive interview, Stephen J. Cannell (1941-2010) talks about the challenges of battling dyslexia and using his innate storytelling ability to break into the television business. He describes his work with Jack Webb on the series Adam-12 for which he served as head writer/story editor. He discusses his continued work in series television as a creator/producer, on such series as Toma, Baretta, Baa-Baa Blacksheep,  and one of the biggest hits of the 1970s, The Rockford Files. For Rockford, he talks about creating the series, selling it to the network, and working with series star James Garner. He speaks in great detail about his hit series of the 1980s and 90s, which included The Greatest American Hero, The A-Team, 21 Jump Street, Wiseguy,  and The Commish.  Throughout the interview, Cannell discusses his approach to storytelling and characterization as well as the processes involved in producing a series for television. Stephen J. Abramson conducted the interview on June 23, 2004 in Pasadena, CA.

"I don't struggle because I was always the stupidest kid in the class and the idea that I would ever be brilliant was knocked out of me in the third grade. So I'm not sitting around trying to be brilliant, or  Shakespeare. I'm just trying to get the work I have in my head down on the page in the best way I possibly know how without putting that horrible pressure on myself of saying 'I'm going to write it today and in 200 years at Princeton they will be studying these words.' Yeah, I want my stuff to be as good as I can conceivably make it, but I am not going to put that on my head." 

Highlights
Stephen J. Cannell on the creation of The Rockford Files
11:01
Stephen J. Cannell on the genesis of The A-Team
10:38
Stephen J. Cannell on the signature elements of The Rockford Files
29:19
Stephen J. Cannell on producing Baretta
16:17
Stephen J. Cannell on the development, production and theme song of The Greatest American Hero
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early years and education; on his dyslexia

Chapter 2

On his first work writing for television; on writing for Adam-12; on writing the Chase pilot; on Toma

Chapter 3

On writing; working with producer Roy Huggins
On The Rockford Files
11:16
On Toma; on The Rockford Files and James Garner

Chapter 4

On The Rockford Files

Chapter 5

On The Rockford Files; on Richie Brockelman, Private Eye
11:07
On Baretta
16:17
On Baa-Baa Black Sheep
03:22

Chapter 6

On Baa-Baa Black Sheep; on The Greatest American Hero

Chapter 7

On the theme song of The Greatest American Hero becoming a hit
01:48
On the genesis of The A-Team
10:40
On the genesis of Hunter; on the genesis of 21 Jump Street
05:51
On Hardcastle and McCormick; on Wiseguy
11:08
On the genesis of The A-Team
10:40
On the genesis of Hunter; on the genesis of 21 Jump Street
05:51
On Hardcastle and McCormick; on Wiseguy
11:08

Chapter 8

On The Commish
07:01
On his writing process; on becoming a novelist; on some of his signature elements

Chapter 9

On his writing style; on advice to aspiring writers; on television; on his greatest achievements; on his legacy
On his legacy; on how he'd like to be remembered
Shows

21 Jump Street

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Stephen J. Cannell on the genesis of 21 Jump Street  and working with a newly created Fox network
04:37
Stephen J. Cannell on the genesis of 21 Jump Street  and working with a newly created Fox network
04:37

A-Team, The

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Stephen J. Cannell on the genesis of The A-Team
10:38
Stephen J. Cannell on the genesis of The A-Team
10:38

Adam-12

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Stephen J. Cannell on being a writer for Adam-12
11:03

Baa-Baa Black Sheep

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Stephen J. Cannell on developing Baa-Baa Black Sheep
03:22

Baretta

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Stephen J. Cannell on producing Baretta
16:17

Commish, The

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Stephen J. Cannell on the genesis of The Commish
07:01

Greatest American Hero, The

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Stephen J. Cannell on the development, production and theme song of The Greatest American Hero
Stephen Cannell on the theme song of The Greatest American Hero becoming a hit
01:47
Stephen Cannell on the theme song of The Greatest American Hero becoming a hit
01:47

Hardcastle and McCormick

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Stephen J. Cannell on the creation of Hardcastle and McCormick
03:02
Stephen J. Cannell on the creation of Hardcastle and McCormick
03:02

Hunter

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Stephen J. Cannell on the genesis of Hunter
01:09
Stephen J. Cannell on the genesis of Hunter
01:09

Richie Brockelman, Private Eye

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Stephen J. Cannell on the creation and production of Richie Brockelman, Private Eye
07:42

Rockford Files, The

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Stephen J. Cannell on the creation of The Rockford Files
11:01
Stephen J. Cannell on the signature elements of The Rockford Files
29:19

Wiseguy

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Stephen J. Cannell on the concept of Wiseguy (and how it was based on an idea sparked by an episode on his earlier series Stone )
08:33
Stephen J. Cannell on the concept of Wiseguy (and how it was based on an idea sparked by an episode on his earlier series Stone )
08:33
Genres

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

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Stephen J. Cannell on the genesis of 21 Jump Street  and working with a newly created Fox network
04:39
People

Juanita Bartlett

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Stephen J. Cannell on the signature elements of The Rockford Files
29:19

Robert Blake

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Stephen J. Cannell on producing Baretta
16:12

Steven Bochco

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Stephen J. Cannell on the creation and production of Richie Brockelman, Private Eye
07:42

David Chase

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Stephen J. Cannell on the signature elements of The Rockford Files
29:19

Michael Chiklis

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Stephen J. Cannell on the genesis of The Commish
07:01

Barry Diller

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Stephen J. Cannell on the genesis of 21 Jump Street  and working with a newly created Fox network
04:39

James Garner

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Stephen J. Cannell on the creation of The Rockford Files
11:01
Stephen J. Cannell on the signature elements of The Rockford Files
29:19

Frank Lupo

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Stephen J. Cannell on the genesis of The A-Team
10:36
Stephen J. Cannell on the genesis of Hunter
01:09
Stephen J. Cannell on the genesis of The A-Team
10:36
Stephen J. Cannell on the genesis of Hunter
01:09

Mike Post

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Stephen J. Cannell on the signature elements of The Rockford Files
29:19
Stephen J. Cannell on the genesis of 21 Jump Street  and working with a newly created Fox network
04:39

Jeff Sagansky

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Stephen J. Cannell on the genesis of The A-Team
10:38
Stephen J. Cannell on the genesis of The A-Team
10:38
Stephen J. Cannell on the genesis of The Commish
07:01

Brandon Tartikoff

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Stephen J. Cannell on the genesis of The A-Team
10:38
Stephen J. Cannell on the genesis of The A-Team
10:38

Jack Webb

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Stephen J. Cannell on being a writer for Adam-12
11:03

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