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26 October 17


Two decades on, it’s clear that the 1997 premiere of Oz was the Big Bang of Great TV.

Read the article by Adrienne Westenfeld in Esquire

20 October 17

"You know, it’s funny because when you do something and then you go and revisit it 20 years later, you’re sort of terrified that it’s going to be crap. And I just watched the pilot again for the first time in 20 years and I was happy to see, most of all, how incredible the cast was and about the diversity in the show. Which I think 20 years ago was fairly unheard of. "

12 July 17

20 years ago, Oz locked down the prestige-drama formula

JK Simmons from OZ

This series premiered in the late ’90s, featured an expansive cast, and juggled humor and realism in a gritty setting. There were capital-letter themes, lots of nudity, and warring factions, not to mention Edie Falco in a starring role.

7 June 17

Tom invited William Daniels and friends for a get together to celebrate the publication of
“There I Go Again”.

“Bless you, Bill Daniels! Thanks to your wonderful book, I get to live the best years of my life over again—the magical ’80s when we did St. Elsewhere. And not just those wonderful times—I get to relive Two for the Road, The Graduate, and 1776 in the bargain. What a treat!”—Ed Begley Jr.

6 June 17

Vice logo

20 Years of 'OZ': The Show That Changed TV Forever

At the end of the last millennium, HBO gave the green light to a prison drama with a difference, and television hasn't been the same since.

6 June 17

HBO’s Joe Paterno Movie Gets Green Light With
Al Pacino Starring & Barry Levinson Directing

Almost two years after HBO hit pause on its film about the Penn State football scandal starring Al Pacino, the project is moving forward with a green light and a new director. Barry Levinson is set to direct and executive produce the movie, reuniting with Pacino and HBO.

3 August 16

‘Havana Quartet’: Tom Fontana Joins Antonio Banderas Starz Series As EP

Rex/Shutterstock/Associated Press

...looking to be the first U.S. series to film in Cuba on a continuous basis.

read Nellie Andreeva’s article here

15 June 16
ATX logo
Tom Fontana – A Conversation at ATX

Fontana stresses that ratings shouldn’t be the main indicator if a show should be renewed or not. It should be about more about what is actually good.         read the article here


11 June 16

Credit: Omar L. Gallaga / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

How HBO’s ‘Oz’ and ‘The Wire’ changed the game...

Three showrunners of some of the most influential TV dramas of the so-called golden age of TV shared the stage at the ATX Television Festival Saturday morning at Google Fiber Space, describing the birth of HBO’s original dramas, what it was like to create iconic shows such as “The Wire” and “Homicide: Life on the Street” and why despicable characters still make for great TV.            read the article here

30 March 16

Dramas like 'Game of Thrones' and 'Orange is the New Black' owe a great deal to HBO's original ambitious prison drama

When HBO produced Oz in 1997, American audiences had never seen anything like it on television. The show was ruthlessly violent — criticizing the penal justice system, portraying both rape and homophobia, interrogating race relations and pitting Muslims against Christians. What’s more, it was heavily stylized, beginning each episode with a prelude from wheelchair-bound prisoner Augustus Hill (Harold Perrineau), who waxed poetic on larger themes affecting the prisoners in Oswald State Penitentiary.

Read the Inverse article by Emily Gaudette here

3 March 16

You Married Them Once, but What About Twice?

After 22 years, the divorce didn’t work out for Sagan Lewis and Tom Fontana.

They tried to maintain a severed union. And for more than two decades, they were successful. Ms. Lewis, a former actress, lived in the verdant tangle of Hawaii and then Arizona; he moved to the cobblestones of the West Village.

She had a child on her own; he wrote and produced some of the most hard-edge, violent shows on television. They saw each other on occasion and still loved each other, but were not, emphatically, a couple.

And yet, something kept bringing them together again. Finally, as if orchestrated by a Hollywood show-runner, in July, the woman who found comfort in the red rocks of Sedona and the man who lives in a 10,000-square-foot building in Manhattan, remarried.

Read the NYTimes article here

 16 February 16

‘Killing Fields’ Season Finale Clocks 2.5 Million Viewers On Discovery Channel
By Lisa de Moraes

The season finale of Discovery’s first true-crime series Killing Fields clocked 2.45 million viewers in Live + 3 Day viewing – a 44% growth from its debut crowd of 1.7M. The series, from Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana, also delivered a season high in the 25-54 demographic, 1.3M v its first episode’s 762K viewers in the demo. Over its run, the series grew in the demo every week, as it took viewers inside an active criminal investigation.
(read the article here)

23 December 15

How a 1980s TV show became the glue that connected 'I Love Lucy' to 'Law & Order: SVU'

When Tom Fontana was a producer on the show “St. Elsewhere” in the 1980s, he loved to push the boundaries of weirdness — at least as much as he could get away with on network TV...

21 November 14

Rise of Epic TV Series: Tom Fontana, Creator of "Oz"

 The WZB is proud to welcome the recipient of three Primetime Emmys and multiple other awards, Tom Fontana, for an event charting both the artistic and the economic revolution that changed the face of TV over the last one and a half decades.            See the interview here

11 November 14

The TV Legacy of St. Elsewhere's
"Tommy Westphall Universe"

read the article by Jim Vorel here

The show’s one truly lasting and iconic contribution to pop culture stems from its bizarre and totally unexpected ending, and the sprawling web of theories that ending implies. And it all starts with the imagination of an autistic boy named Tommy Westphall.

20 April 14

À NU le spectacle au Vingtième Théâtre
click on the image to see a video promo for the play
Earlier this year an adaptation of “Strip Search” was presented in Paris.
À NU was adapted and directed by Marc SAEZ 

More images from the production here

TV profile and extended interview

12 April 14


11 April 14

Tom Fontana & Chris Long share showrunner secrets.

Two of today's best-respected TV creators shared             production stories at MIPTV.
By Angela Natividad

Read the story here.  Watch the video here

13 October 13

             Honoree of the Year

Honoree of the Year Tom Fontana, far left, visits with his siblings Frank and Charlene Fontana and Peter LoJacono, president of Federation of Italian-American Societies of Western New York, before Sunday’s event. Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News

Read the article in the Buffalo News


        You can see WKBW's coverage here.

15 June 13

Watch the interview here

13 May 13

'Billy the Kid' Limited Series in Development at Fox
The network is teaming with Homicide: Life on the Street's Tom Fontana to develop a limited-run drama about Billy the Kid.
read more at the Hollywood Reporter

10 May 13

Borgia is back for season 2

Streaming now on 

15 November 12


'The executive producer, American Tom Fontana, says producers searched far and wide to assemble the talent working on Borgia. "We were always determined to have the best actors, the best designers, the most talented people here, regardless of what country they come from," he said. "Everyone who is here knows they are here because we think they are the best.

Read the whole story here.

14 November 12

Read more details here

25 October 12

 From St. Elsewhere to Copper, 

Tom Fontana Walks Us Through 

His TV Résumé

Click to read the article on Vulture

11 October 12

Read the article on Deadline Hollywood

3 September 12

First look at the new Borgia

read the article (in German) here

15 August 12 logo

Tom Fontana Tribute

by David Morris

Fontana occupies a special place in TV history. ...three major series that he has done... have become landmarks on the landscape of TV, shows with characters and plots that have become regarded as absolutly essential to what the medium was capable.

Read the article at

28 August 12
variety logo
 Fontana aims to keep N.Y. in picture
            Writer-producer talks of 'criminal' past, current projects

TF: You get offered a lot of crime stuff, having done "Homicide" and "Oz," and every once in a while you say, "That's a way I haven't done it before."

Read the interview

17 August 12

27 July 12

         "From Beautiful Pond To A Ghetto":
Tom Fontana's Walking Tour Of Gritty Five Points
View on YouTube or read the article on gothamist

17 July 12
Tom's script "Strip Search" adapted and performed at Festival Avignon in France.
The La Provence article here The video clip here Tom and Sidney Lumet talk about "Strip Search"  here

12 June 12
COPPER Teaser Trailer
   "COPPER is a gripping crime series set in 1860s New York City, and centers on an
intense, rugged Irish-immigrant cop working the city's notorious Five Points neighborhood."

2 April 12

Copper, from BBC America and Cineflix Studios, debuts August 19 at 9 p.m.
read the article on

26 March 12

'Borgia' Gets Second Season Order
The papal period drama will start shooting in Prague and Italy and reach the U.S. and U.K. via Netflix.

PARIS - Lagardere, EOS,  ZDF, ORF and Canal Plus will join forces again for the second season
of Tom Fontana’s period drama Borgia. The next twelve episodes of the series will shoot in Prague and Italy through November.   read the article here

5 March 12

Video Interview: Tom Fontana interviewed by Richard Belzer

21 February 12

BORGIA DVD is now available. Here is a link on Amazon
20 February 12

From an article by        BY RICH HELDENFELS
                                  Akron Beacon Journal
"Faith and Fear" comes from writer-producer Tom Fontana, acclaimed for his work on "Homicide: Life on the Street," "Oz" and "St. Elsewhere." He is also at work on projects for BBC America ("Copper," about an Irish policeman in 19th-century New York City) and A&E ("The Box," a drama about police interrogations) but not for the broadcast networks he has so often served.

"I'll tell you the God's honest truth," he said, "the networks don't seem to want to make shows that are outside their comfort zone. But I want to make shows that are outside my comfort zone, so I have gone all over the world in search of people that are willing to take a bigger risk than the networks will."

He was invited to work on "Faith and Fear," an international co-production, but added: "I love history and the popes have been something I've been fascinated with my whole life, being a Catholic. ... It's been a great ride so far. We're working on scripts for the second season. We're going to shoot in Prague and in Rome this year, so it's cool."

But what about that other series, from writer-director Neil Jordan ("The Crying Game")?

"Initially, Showtime had wanted us to combine the two productions," Fontana said. "I flew to Dublin to meet with Neil Jordan. We had a perfectly lovely dinner but we realized at this dinner that we wanted to make two completely different versions of this story. From that point on, I just decided to pretend that the other one doesn't exist. So I haven't watched it, I haven't read anything about it. ... It's like when I was doing 'Homicide' and 'NYPD Blue' came on the air. I didn't want to watch 'NYPD Blue' - not because I didn't respect (writer-producer) David Milch, but because I didn't want to be influenced by what he was doing on his show."

As for "Faith and Fear," Fontana said: "What I wanted to bring to the program was two keys.

"One was that, if you take faith out of the Catholic Church for a second, what you are left with is the Vatican, Inc. You're left with the brand, and what the brand sells is salvation. Much better than selling Chevys, it's selling salvation. People want to be saved for eternity a lot more than they want a new car. So on one element we're examining the Vatican not as a religion but as a corporation. ...

Read more here:

17 January 12


“Copper” is an immigrant drama about an Irish cop working in 19th century New York City. Slated to premiere on BBC America in the summer of 2012 and in Canada on Shaw Media’s Showcase in fall 2012, it will link audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.
Read the article here

7 December 11
A&E Buys Cop Drama With A Twist From
Tom Fontana And Barry Levinson

A&E Network has teamed with Homicide alums Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson for The Box, a half-hour cop drama that takes place largely within the walls of the interrogation room. The cable network has ordered two scripts from the project, which will be written by Fontana.

   Read more about it here and here
25 October 11

In September Tom conducted a master class as part of the Roma Fiction fest. The folks at have posted several clips from the event.

On Writing        part 1    part 2 On "Borgia"      part 1    part 2    part 3 On "OZ"           part 1    part 2

11 October 11

Tom Fontana’s ‘Borgia’ a Ratings Hit in France, Italy

First episode of papal drama starring John Doman draws a record 1.7 million viewers on Canal +.
COLOGNE, Germany – Tom Fontana’s papal period drama Borgia has converted unbelievers in Italy and killed them in France. The series, directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel (Downfall) and starring John Dorman (The Wire), debuted to an audience of 1.7 million on Canal +, a record for the French pay TV network. On Sky Italia, where Borgia debuted with a two-episode teaser this summer, the series nearly doubled its audience over its 12-episode run. 420,000 watched the series finale last Friday. Netflix has picked up North American rights to Borgia and will bow the show via its online service later this month.
Read the article here.

3 October 11

Netflix Takes North American Rights to Tom Fontana's 'Borgia'
“Netflix is thrilled to bring this compelling tale of family, power and intrigue to our U.S. subscribers,” said Netflix director of content acquisition Elizabeth Bradley. “Our members love sumptuous historical dramas and Borgia is a great one.”
Read the article here

14 September 11

Tom Fontana Elected Humanitas President

Read the story on Variety and Deadline Hollywood

8 September 11

3 September 11

Tom recently conducted a masterclass as part of the FESTIVAL DU CINEMA AMÉRICAIN DE DEAUVILLE.

28 July 11


Jul 28, 2011 | BBC America

Channel announces COPPER - A Cineflix Studios production, in association with Levinson/Fontana

New York – In its most significant original programming commitment to date, BBC AMERICA has announced its first original scripted drama series, Copper.  The 10 episode series, which centers on a young Irish cop operating in the immigrant communities of 19th century New York, is co-created by Tom Fontana (OZ,Homicide: Life on the Street, St. Elsewhere) and Will Rokos (Monster’s Ball, Southland).  The executive producers include Fontana, Rokos, Barry Levinson (Good Morning, Vietnam, Rain Man, You Don't Know Jack) and Christina Wayne (Broken Trail and executive in charge of Mad Men at AMC) of Cineflix Studios.

Copper is set in the Five Points Irish neighborhood of New York City in the 1860’s.  The series focuses on a rugged young Irish cop who has to navigate the unruly and sometimes violent currents of his immigrant neighborhood, while simultaneously interacting with uptown Manhattan high society and the emerging black community in Harlem. 

Copper will commence production in the fall of 2011 in Toronto and premiere on BBC AMERICA in Summer 2012.

Perry Simon, General Manager, BBC AMERICA says: “Copper is a great fit for BBC AMERICA, capturing the early American multicultural experience in provocative, ground-breaking fashion.  In the spirit of great BBC drama it’s brimming with fascinating and complex characters giving us the opportunity to cast the best actors from both sides of the Atlantic. I’m delighted to be working with Tom and Barry again, together with Will, Christina and the talented team at Cineflix Studios.  We could not be in better hands for BBC AMERICA’s first dramatic series”.

“BBC AMERICA is the ideal home for Copper in the U.S.,” said Glen Salzman, CEO, Cineflix.  “Cineflix Studios has put together an amazing team for this series, some of the best in the business, who will produce compelling television with widespread international appeal. We look forward to starting production in a few months and continuing to ramp up our scripted programming slate.”
See the press release on line here:

27 June 11

30 June 11

Canal+ has a half hour feature on "Borgia". You can see it here.

30 March 11

For more on Tom's new series, look Here and Here.

10 December 10

Click on the image to see an  interview with Tom on  Canal+

Pictures from the set of "Borgia" in Prague

Tom with John Doman who plays RodrigueBorgia
Cardinals waiting for their cue
You can see more pictures from the set of "Borgia" in Prague, here

 past entries are in the Archive