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1 July 10


Tom Fontana speaks at a  symposium in Germany
View the video here or the MP3 audio here



8 April 10


Click on the image or here for details.



5 April 10


Tom Fontana Adapts And Directs 

THE NOTORIOUS LADY SUSAN

read more at  BroadwayWorld.com


27 March 10

Is Homicide: Life On The Street better than The Wire?


  The cast of Homicide. Photograph: Rex
Jim Shelley
The Guardian  Saturday 27 March 2010

The best cop show of recent times – one of the most innovative and influential dramas of all time – was set not in New York, Miami or LA, but in Baltimore. It featured a squad of embattled, super (street) smart, sardonic detectives fighting against the drug dealing and killing blitzing their beloved city.

read the article: Guardian.co.uk



1 November 09


TOM FONTANA INTERVIEW
In his Archive interview, Tom Fontana talks about his work as an Emmy Award-winning writer of St. Elsewhere , as well as the writer/producer of such series as Homicide: Life on the Street  and Oz .  Tom Fontana was interviewed in New York, NY on June 30, 2009; Karen Herman conducted the three-hour interview.

you can find the interview here



19 October 09
THE MIPCOM INTERVIEWS: C21TV catches up with Chris Albrecht, former chairman and CEO of HBO, and veteran US showrunner Tom Fontana. The two are collaborating on pan-European copro Borgias, chronicling the rise to power of the ruthless Spanish clan who held sway over the Vatican during the Renaissance.

you can see the video here or the podcast here


15 October 09



Details and invitations here



12 October 09


Turning Swords to Pens, and Warriors to Writers

The meetings grew from an effort by guild writers to get in touch with what Tom Fontana, president of the foundation, likes to call “America’s stories.” The plan is to train those who wish to write — with no vetting for talent or professional ambition — in settings far from the entertainment corridors of New York and Los Angeles.

read the article here (registration required)
10 October 09

The Free Speech Leadership Summit

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009 6:30-8:30pm
The Paley Center for Media, Chairman’s Suite

The Writers Guild of America, East Foundation, PEN, and The Creative Coalition are joining with The Writers Guild of America, East, The Dramatists Guild, and The Authors Guild to engage in a conversation about Free Speech in an age of rapidly changing technologies.

More details here


1 October 09

HURRAY FOR POLIWOOD!

SHOWTIME® TO PREMIERE PROVOCATIVE DOCUMENTARY

FROM ACADEMY AWARD® WINNER BARRY LEVINSON ABOUT

THE COLLISION AND COLLUSION BETWEEN POLITICS,

HOLLYWOOD AND THE MEDIA

LOS ANGELES, CA – (October 1, 2009) – As America works its way through one of the most intense and contentious political periods in its history, Showtime Networks will premiere the new feature-length documentary, POLIWOOD, an in-depth and provocative look into the often convergent worlds for entertainment and politics directed by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Barry Levinson. The 90-minute documentary will premiere on SHOWTIME Tuesday, November 2nd at 7:30 PM ET/PT.

Legendary Academy Award®-winning director Barry Levinson (Rain Man, Bugsy, Diner, Avalon) sets out to explore the collision and collusion between politics and Hollywood. The film gives the viewer a front-row seat and backroom access to the most significant presidential campaign of the 21st century. Featuring interviews with high-profile celebrities and powerful political figures, POLIWOOD gives insider access to the influence Hollywood has over today’s political process as we discover the thin line between politician and actor, news and entertainment, policy and tabloid. Trailing a number of politically active actors, writers, directors, and musicians, this documentary is sure to spark debate about the role media and celebrities should have in modern-day politics.

The celebrities featured in POLIWOOD include Annette Bening, Anne Hathaway, Sting, Susan Sarandon, Spike Lee, Fergie, Zooey Deschanel, Danny Glover, Tim Daly, Ellen Burstyn, Kerry Washington, Elvis Costello, Alfre Woodard, Angela Bassett, Billy Baldwin, Charlie Daniels, Connie Britton, Dana Delany, David Crosby, Hayden Panettiere, Josh Lucas, Matthew Modine, Maura Tierney, Alan Cumming, Mos Def, Rachael Leigh Cook, Richard Schiff, Steve Earle, The Pharcyde, Tony Goldwyn, and Will.i.am.

POLIWOOD

was produced in coordination with The Creative Coalition Baltimore Pictures and Screen Media Films; and by Robin Bronk, Robert Baruc, Tim Daly and Jason Sosnoff.

7 August 09


In July 2009, the Hudson Institute hosted a debate over the relevancy of the NBC drama The Philanthropists. The panel included Tom Fontana, creator of The Philanthropist, Ian Wilhelm, Chronicle of Philanthropy, Steve Gunderson, Council on Foundations, Sean Stannard-Stockton, Tactical Philanthropy, and William Schambra, Hudson Institute.

2 June 09

A Conversation With Tom Fontana

Max Robins interviews Emmy-winning TV veteran Tom Fontana, writer and producer of St. Elsewhere, Homicide, Oz, and now, The Philanthropist.

Download Podcast   |   More from Max Media

28 May 09

'Oz,' 'Deadwood' join DirecTV

DirecTV's 101 Network has acquired uncensored, off-net runs of gritty HBO dramas "Deadwood" and "Oz."

Pickup reps the first time either show has been run on TV outside of HBO. DirecTV will begin airing both shows on Sunday nights staring May 31. "Deadwood" and "Oz" also will be offered via DirecTV's on-demand service.

read the article on Variety.com

4 May 09
3 May 09

The Veterans Writing Project Encourages Veterans to Put Their Thoughts, Feelings, and Experiences into Written Words

...The workshop is a way for professional writers to serve those who have in their turn served all of us by offering their time and services on a volunteer basis. The writers coming to San Antonio in June include writers such as Tom Fontana (Oz, St. Elsewhere), Tony Kushner (Pulitzer Prize Winner, Angels in America) and U.S. veteran, John Patrick Shanley (Academy Award Winner for Moonstruck and Pulitzer Prize Winner for Doubt).
read the article on Milblogging.com

9 April 09

Acclaimed film director Sidney Lumet joins forces with Emmy®-winning Oz creator Tom Fontana to explore the precarious status of individual liberties post-9/11 through two parallel stories - each containing identical dialogues - taking place on two continents half a world away.
Strip Search will re-air on HBO:
Friday, April 10 at 8PM
Thursday, April 16 at 12:30pm
Monday, April 20 at 10AM
Tuesday, April 28 at 3PM
Read about Strip Search: HBO  -   TV Guide  -  Epinions.com
9 April 09

Series Premiere Wednesday, June 24th 10/9c

"The Philanthropist" chronicles the heroic adventures of a billionaire playboy turned vigilante philanthropist. James Purefoy ("Rome") stars as Teddy Rist, a successful and impulsive tycoon who decides to channel his passion, power and money into helping those in need.

read the announdement at  NBC.com  


7 February 09

WGAE taps Albers, Fontana for Jablow nod

Former WGA East leaders Chris Albers and Tom Fontana have been chosen to receive the Richard B. Jablow Award for devoted service to the guild. Albers served as president and Fontana as vp of the WGAE from 2005-07.

read the article: Hollywood Reporter

8 September 08

Screenwriter Tom Fontana
By Martin B., New City, NY and Meg B., New York, NY

"I always start with characters because I think strong characters are really what people want to see. Plots we all kind of know. We can guess how the story’s going to go most of the time, but I think really interesting characters are what keeps us coming back [to a TV show] week after week."

read the article: Teen Ink

7 July 08

Helping Hands

Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News

By Alan Pergament / NEWS TV CRITIC

When Tom Fontana was among several Western New Yorkers working as a writer in Hollywood in the 1980s, he often experienced a foolish assumption about his hometown. “I was told there has to be a Buffalo [writers] Mafia,” he recalled recently. “You all must help each other.” At the time, Western New Yorkers Anthony Yerkovich (“Miami Vice”), David Milch (“Hill Street Blues”), Patrick Hasburgh (“21 Jump Street”) and Diane English (“Murphy Brown”) were involved in some of TV’s best shows. “We were all together,” recalled Fontana, “and we were like, ‘Gee, none of us did help us get where we were. So maybe we should start, at least communicating with each other.’ The mythology of us helping each other existed before any of us actually helped each other.”

Read the full article here


3 January 08

Tom Fontana has asked me to let you know that his mom, Marie, died on
Christmas Day, at the age of eighty-six.

Her death, though sudden, was peaceful.  She was with Tom's sister,
Charlene.  Tom had spoken to his mom about an hour before.

12 December 07


Whoopi Goldberg and Tom Fontana



Despite the sleet, nearly 300 picketers showed up today for a demonstration at ABC Daytime in Manhattan. Notables included Pete Hamill, Dana Delaney, Nora Ephron, Seth Meyers, Ilene Kristen, Peter Parnell, Clyde Phillips, Andrew Bergman, Walter Bernstein, Tom Straw, Tom Fontana and Warren Leight.

3 December 07


WGA Strike banner

Links to news and information about the WGA strike.

Strike Banner


Picture of Tom on Strike

11 July 07

"Oz": Ten Years Later



... the chemistry between the two actors onscreen was such that I went, ‘Well wait a minute, there's more here and it's much more interesting than anything that I would have conceived of.'

Read the article by Locksley Hall on After Elton

2 February 07

Tom Fontana's Buffalo

"Buffalo is all about its people. The people of Buffalo have led to the development of characters in my work and the stories I like to tell. When I was a young boy in Buffalo, my father was a beer and wine salesman and one of his stops was the Anchor Bar. He actually knew the founders of the home of the original Buffalo chicken wings - Frank and Teressa Bellissimo. I love the place. It evokes a sense of old-time Buffalo. I also remember my father taking me to Buffalo's waterfront to the West Side Rowing Club. He was an oarsman and coach of kids from all over the city and all ethnic backgrounds. That sport and those kids portrayed nobleness, sportsmanship and fortitude - something that's true today of Buffalo. Just like those kids, Buffalo has spirit and fire. It's a great place to visit - especially the waterfront - on a summer or fall excursion. Or take a walk around the streets of the West Side - West Ferry, Lincoln Parkway and Elmwood - where you'll find great bars, restaurants and shops as well as amazing residential areas. Buffalo is the true heart of America. Here, you'll find what's great about our country."



From the Buffalo Niagara site

7 September 06

And now the fun part - building Wright's boathouse

The groundbreaking follows a series of complicated land deals to secure the site, a five-year fundraising campaign backed by television producer Tom Fontana that drew contributions from many film and TV stars, and the receipt of a $1 million state grant.

read the article: The Buffalo News

5 September 06

Lansbury Returns to Bway for 11/5 'Dorothy Parker' Benefit

Angela Lansbury

Four-time Tony Award winner Angela Lansbury makes a return to the Broadway stage heading the cast of This is on Me, An Evening of Dorothy Parker, a staged reading adapted by Tom Fontana to benefit The Acting Company on Sunday, November 5, 7pm at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 West 45th Street.

read the article: Broadway World

2 April 06

Victory for Decency Crusaders? Not So Fast

By Staff -- Broadcasting & Cable, 4/2/2006 11:10:00 PM

The American Family Association has declared victory. Again.

This time the decency crusaders are taking credit for The WB’s decision last month to cut potentially indecent scenes from its new sexy-ed show, The Bedford Diaries.

The AFA has never been shy about trumpeting its successes, however dubious (the Desperate Housewives boycott was just adorable). But its latest campaign surely set a record for speediest results.

Or did it?

Less than a day after the AFA urged supporters to e-mail The WB and threaten to file FCC complaints, the network said that it had edited the premiere episode, citing the recent FCC rulings.

On March 24, the day after the network’s decision was reported in The New York Times, AFA chairman Donald Wildmon gloated in an e-mail to supporters: “There is no question that your personal involvement resulted in The WB’s announcing their decision to edit the most illicit scenes from the show.”

We know things move fast on the Web, but really? A day?

“We do feel like our efforts did have an impact on their decision,” says Randy Sharp, AFA’s amiable director of special projects. Sharp believes the e-mails, combined with the recent FCC rulings, did the trick.

“If you get 25,000 e-mails [27,290, to be exact] from viewers saying, 'I’m going to file an FCC complaint if you broadcast indecency,’” he says, “it doesn’t take but about two minutes to say, 'We’re going to cut some of this stuff out to make sure we’re safe.’”

Perhaps. The WB declined to comment, but series creator Tom Fontana told B&C that the network made the cuts on March 17—five days before the AFA’s call to arms.

But these are mere technicalities, as long as those AFA supporters keep clicking on the link that says, “Show your financial support.”

  4 April 06

Airing against American Idol on FOX and Lost on ABC, the debut of The Bedford Diaries at 9:00pm delivered well above The WB’s Wednesday 9-10pm time period season-to-date average in the key young female demos targeted by the program.  The premiere of the college-based series improved over the season time period average by +27% in women 18-34 (1.9/5) and built by +19% in females 12-34 (1.9/5).  The show was also up over the time period season average in adults 18-34 (1.3/4, up +18%) and women 18-49 (1.3/3, up +8%).

The debut of Bedford Diaries averaged 2.0 million total viewers and also achieved growth over the parallel time period a year ago in females 12-34 (up +73%), women 18-34 (up +73%), women 18-49 (up +8%), and female teens (up +60%).  The new series ranked #3 in the hour among female teens, beating CBS, NBC, and UPN.


23 March 06
NYTimes Logo
WB Censors Its Own Drama for Fear of F.C.C. Fines

By BILL CARTER

Concerned about the recent decision by the Federal Communications Commission to fine television networks for material deemed indecent, the WB network will broadcast a new drama next week that it has censored over the objections of the program's creator.

But first, the network will offer the uncut version of the pilot episode on its Web site, starting today — a further example of the new strategies network television may be pursuing, both to escape government-imposed restrictions and to find alternative ways of reaching viewers. It is the first time a network has offered on another outlet an uncut version of a program it has been forced to censor.

The show, "The Bedford Diaries," was created by Tom Fontana, whose long résumé includes award-winning shows like "St. Elsewhere" and "Homicide" for network television and the far more graphic prison drama "Oz" for HBO, a pay-cable channel with no content restrictions.

The pilot episode of "The Bedford Diaries," which concerns a group of college students attending a class on human sexuality, had already been accepted by WB's standards department. After the F.C.C. decision last week to issue millions of dollars in fines against broadcast stations, the network's chairman, Garth Ancier, contacted Mr. Fontana and asked him to edit a number of specific scenes out of the show, including one that depicted two girls in a bar kissing on a dare and another of a girl unbuttoning her jeans.

"I said no," Mr. Fontana said in an interview Wednesday. "I told him I found the ruling incomprehensible. He said the censor would do the edit."

The decision, several network executives said yesterday, could represent a further step in the spread of alternative means for television programs to reach viewers, including iPods and computers. It could also increase the risk that network television will be seen as passé by some of its audience, especially younger viewers.

"The message here is that they'll be forced to go alternative ways of looking at shows if they want to see the real thing," Mr. Fontana said. "It's like they're telling people that broadcast television now has much less interesting stuff than you see on the Web or cable."

read the article: The New York Times
(registration required)



22 March 06

Good Conscience logo

visit the website In Good Conscience   


24 February 06


visit theWB web site

We may not have a network, but at least we've got a premiere date!

The Bedford Diaries will air on March 29th on the WB
(while there still is a WB.)   That is channel 11 in New York.

We'll finish on May 10th with a very special 2 hour Bedford Diaries
(episodes 7 & 8).


The new CW network (combining The WB and UPN) will announce its first season a few days after our season completes.  Keep your fingers crossed that their announcement  includes us.

Tom says he's had shows cancelled, studios cancelled, but this is the first time he's ever had a network cancelled.

Never dull here at Levinson/Fontana.

Irene Burns
Supervising Producer
The Bedford Diaries


20 December 05



An Interview With Writer/Producer Tom Fontana

Author:Steven Priggé


scr(i)pt: Tell me about your new show The Bedford Diaries?

Tom Fontana: It’s centered on a sexual behavior seminar at a small liberal arts college in Manhattan. There are 12 students in the seminar. Some are freshman, some are seniors, some are virgins, and some are not. The course is taught by Professor Macklin, played by Matthew Modine, and the character is a kind of loose cannon on campus. He’s always doing things in the classroom to stimulate discussion. He’s also doing things on the campus to make people question their thoughts about sexuality or the human condition. Audra McDonald plays another professor who is the head of the ethics committee. Her character and Professor Macklin are always going toe to toe. Peter Gerety, who was on Homicide, plays the Dean of Students and is in the unenviable position of being basically blamed for everything that goes wrong on every level at the school. The show focuses on a couple of the students in the seminar.

read the article: scriptmag.com

18 November 05

Blythe's Spirit

"Oz" creator Tom Fontana and Spamalot's Hank Azaria will emcee the Williamstown Theatre Festival's Blythe's Spirit, an evening honoring Tony Award winner Blythe Danner.

read the article: Playbill.com


26 September 05

We have had many inquiries about the release date for the DVD of OZ season 6.  The word from HBO is that it has been delayed until the first quarter of 2006. We do not know the reason for the delay and have not been given any specific date.  As soon as we have more information about the release date we will post it here.

13 September 05


Angela Lansbury                          
photo by Aubrey Reuben                      
...a staged reading of This Is On Me: An Evening of Dorothy Parker, which was adapted by Tom Fontana. The company will include Angela Lansbury, Victor Garber, Frances Conroy, Lisa Banes and Harriet Harris.

read the article: Playbill.com   BroadwayWorld.com

30 July 05

Lee Tergeson in the TNT series "Wanted,"
Do you get tired of people associating you with "Oz"?
"Nah. I love that show."
                            read the article in Seattle Post-Intelligencer



28 July 05
     

Cindy Adams. New York Post.
New York, N.Y.: Jul 28, 2005. pg. 016
Next week "Created By . . . Inside the Minds of TV's Top Show Creators" hits bookshelves. Author is Steven Prigge...
Tom Fontana, creator of "Oz": "My best advice was from Bruce Paltrow, who said, 'Don't believe them when they tell you you're wonderful because then you'll have to believe them when they tell you that you suck. And they will tell you that you suck.' "




19 July 05
    
"OZ" TOM CREATOR FONTANA WRITES
"BATMAN: HOPELESSNESS & FAITH"
                   by Jonah Weiland
 
 read the article in Comic Book Resources

23 June 05
  
Frank Lloyd Wright boathouse to be named in honor of Charles and Marie Fontana.




1
0 June 05
    

A&E Home Video press release


ON JUNE 28TH, A&E HOME VIDEO WILL RELEASE THE ARRESTING FINAL BOXED SET OF THE EMMY® AWARD-WINNING COP SERIES



HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET:
THE COMPLETE SEASON 7

Hailed as the Best Cop Drama of All Time, The Final Gripping Season Set Finishes off the Franchise with a Bang, With an Exclusive “Live” DVD Commentary Session Featuring Barry Levison, Tom Fontana, David Simon and Jim Yoshimura.


6 June 05
      
"The Bedford Diaries"


Two shots from the WB upfront party
Tom and Victoria Cartagena
Tom with Victoria Cartagena
Tom Fontana, Stephen Collins, Ivan Fonseca, Assistant Director-"Bedford Diaries"   
Tom with Stephen Collins and Ivan Fonseca

25 May 05

"The WB has picked up 12 episodes of the Tom Fontana-produced series "The Bedford Diaries" to be aired mid-season."




24 May 05

Acclaimed film director Sidney Lumet joins forces with Emmy-winning Oz creator Tom Fontana to explore the precarious status of individual liberties post-9/11 through two parallel stories -- each containing identical dialogues -- taking place on two continents half a world away.

Amnesty International USA  Link to full article


2 May 05

On April 28, 2005, Tom Fontana received, alongside David Chase, a special Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America.  David Simon wrote the following remarks in the souvenir program:

SPECIAL EDGAR
Tom Fontana
By David Simon

As a preamble of sorts, consider for a moment the unlikelihood of actually writing the pilot of a new television drama, then showing it to network executives.  Imagine taking all their notes, placating all of their fears, assuring them that the serial will be neither weak and derivative nor so original and idiosyncratic that it will do anything other than appeal to a mass audience.

Then consider the improbability of having that pilot get the green light, of it somehow being properly cast and directed, of the sum of its parts adding up to something meaningful and worthy.  Multiply all of these long-shot variables by ten and you can imagine having that pilot picked up for a season of episodes.  Multiply them by about a hundred and you can imagine a network actually airing those episodes in order and then renewing the enterprise for three or four more seasons.

Writing for television is, at all points, a Homeric enterprise.  To produce a St. Elsewhere, a Homicide, or an Oz is a career unto itself.  But to help create and sustain three such universes, guiding season after season of storytelling to natural and meaningful conclusions is something very near to magical.

A playwright by training and a writer to the core, Tom long ago proved himself not only as a master storyteller, but as a producer capable of shepherding his stories through the ridiculous minefield that is network programming.

He does not produce breakout, snatch-the-zeitgeist hits.  Homicide?  Only Tom Fontan could have eked 123 episodes out of that brilliant, off-center Baltimore police drama.  St. Elsewhere?  The ratings got there belatedly, with not even half the fanfare of such contemporary ensemble dramas as, say, Hill Street Blues.  And Oz was a place of foreboding where middle-of-the-road television viewers would rarely tread.

But the humanity on display in those dramas – the characters, the conflicts, the wit – offer some of our culture’s best serialized storytelling.  And each drama grew to prove itself with reckless and relentless daring: Pembleton’s stroke, Beecher’s agonizing loss of innocence, even the entire contents of a Boston hospital trapped in the imagination of a single autistic child.

Tom takes chances in a medium where so few people do.

After all, given all those improbabilities listed above – given how absurdly hard it is to get a television drama up and running, to build and sustain a fictional universe against all forces arrayed against it, to find and keep a mass viewership interested in that universe – who wouldn’t try to sustain a successful drama by doing the same things over and over?

But in a medium where rote repetition is its own reward, Tom refuses to serve anything other than his own sense of story.  Among the producers of television drama, Tom Fontana stands apart for allowing character and story to triumph over the safe, careful choices.  Every hour of a Fontana serial is an argument against formula and complacency in a medium too often predicated on such.

With millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of viewers at stake, who in their right mind makes the unsafe, uncertain choice?  Who indeed, other than a writer.
---------
David Simon sold his Edgar-award-winning book, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets to NBC and eventually ruined his career in journalism by going to work for Tom Fontana as a writer on the resulting episodic drama.  He learned a great deal about television and even more about the medicinal properties of Wild Turkey.  He is currently the creator and executive producer of The Wire on HBO.


11 April 05

Fontana inks 2-script deal with Sony TV

Emmy-winning writer-producer Tom Fontana has inked a premium two-script deal with Sony Pictures Television. Under the pact, Fontana will pen two drama pilot scripts for the studio targeted for the next development cycle, a procedural and a character-driven one-hour.

the Hollywood Reporter (link to full article)


4 March 05

Development Update:
By The Futon Critic Staff

UNTITLED TOM FONTANA/BARRY LEVINSON PROJECT (The WB) - Matthew Modine ("The Winning Season") has been cast as David Macklan in the Tom Fontana/Barry Levinson-produced drama pilot, about the teachers and students at a small Manhattan college. Modine will play the professor that teaches the controversial human behavior and sexuality class that serves as the centerpiece of the series. Julie Martin and Jim Finnerty also serve as executive producers on the HBO Independent Productions/Warner Bros. Television-based project, which also stars Milo Ventimiglia, Penn Badgley and Ernest Waddell.

thefutoncritic.com (link to full article)


3 March 05

OZ Season 5 DVD
June 21st  is the release date for the Season 5 OZ DVD.
Look for the Season 6 DVD in September.

24 February 05

Paying for it
From an article posted on the Broadcasting & Cable web site which talks about "skyrocketing talent costs":

... But not everybody in the game believes it's money well spent, especially when a mix of fear and lack of imagination appears to be driving the spending decisions. “This isn't a knock against Gary Sinise, who is a wonderful actor, and the show he's on is a hit,” says Oz and Homicide creator Tom Fontana, currently working on pilots for CBS and the WB. “And backing up the Brinks truck to pay Chris Noth to help out Criminal Intent, I can understand how that happens. But too often the networks and studios are allowing what people get paid to get totally out of hand. How many actors are there who the public is going say, 'I absolutely have to watch that show because Aidan Quinn is in it'? Then the studios and networks who create the climate go and moan that everything costs too much money.”

Broadcasting & Cable  Link to full article (subscription required)

3 February 05

"Homicide": More life on DVD for acclaimed series
"Barry said he wanted to do a police show that had no gun battles and no car chases. Because that was too crazy of an idea to work, I just had to be a part of it, part of something that original."
 
St. Louis Post-Dispach  Link to full article


1 February 05

TV torture scenes are ugly, powerful, exploitative—and a mirror of our national debate.
... For sheer Cassandra-like precision, you can’t beat Tom Fontana’s movie Strip Search, which first aired on HBO last spring. It depicted a female U.S. interrogator sexually taunting an Arab detainee, a scenario that critics denounced as “silly and specious”—until a week later, when the Abu Ghraib abuses were exposed. According to Fontana, Strip Search was inspired by a direct reading of the Patriot Act in early 2002. As the creator of Oz and Homicide: Life on the Street, he knew the rules of interrogation, and he could see that they had moved the line. He was deeply troubled when the real-life abuses came forward. “You know what? I wish I had made it all up. I wish I had made it up in my twisted imagination, and that the world hadn’t caught up with me.”

New York metro.com Link to full article

24 January 05

WB Net enrolls in hour drama from Fontana
The WB Network has added Emmy winner Tom Fontana to the roster of A-list producers set to deliver pilots to the network this development season.

Hollywood Reporter Jan. 10, 2005 Link to full article

Mystery Writers of America Votes Honors to Tom Fontana, David Chase.
 Mystery Writers of America has conferred Special Edgar Awards on Tom Fontana and David Chase for their groundbreaking work in television crime shows.
… Fontana is known for his deft handling of gritty subject matter and intimate look at the various participants in the criminal justice system: the investigators, the prisoners, and most recently, the jurors.

Mystery Writers of America Link to press release

Award from the Caucus for Television Producers Writers and Directors

Tom Fontana will receive a lifetime achievement award from the Caucus for Television Producers, Writers and Directors at the organizations annual gala on January 13th in Beverly Hills. Fontana will be honored for his Emmy-winning work on TV as well as his theatre output.

Variety, Wed., Nov.24, 2004 Link to full article

21 August 04

The OZ Season Four DVD will be released in January 2005.
Please note that Tom has no control over this schedule.


12 July 04
The winners for the June 24th The Jury/Oz trivia question are Roxy Leuthard, Tyler Silva and Diva Velez.  The correct responses were put in a hat from which Sidney Lumet picked the winning entries.  Thank you to all who entered.
George Morfogen.......Bob Rebadow
Eamonn Walker.........Kareem Said
Betty Buckley.........Suzanne Fitzgerald
Scott Winter..........Cyril O'Reily
muMs..................Arnold "Poet" Jackson
Carlo Alban...........Ricardo
J.K. Simmons..........Vern Schillinger
Jon Seda..............Dino Ortolani
R.E. Rogers...........James Robson
Jenna Lamia...........Kerry Schillinger
Stephaine Pope........Kina Paite/Nancy Mears
Elain Graham..........Lenore Hughes
Natascia Diaz.........Margarita


9 July 04
We have been receiving e-mails from many viewers asking what they can do to help save The Jury. 

You can contact Fox at:

FOX Broadcasting Co.
P.O. Box 900
Beverly Hills, CA 90213

              or

askfox@foxinc.com

8 July 04
The Jury is now playing only on Friday evenings at 9:00pm on Fox

24 June 04

The upcoming episode of Tom Fontana's new show, The Jury, airing Tuesday, June 29, at 9pm on FOX, guest stars the following actors who appeared on Oz: George Morfogen, Eamonn Walker, Betty Buckley, Scott William Winters, muMs, Carlo Alban, J.K. Simmons, Jon Seda, R.E. Rodgers, Jenna Lamia, Stephanie Pope, Elain Graham and Natascia Diaz.

Can you name the characters they played on Oz?

Email jury@tomfontana.com with your answers.  The entries will be reviewed after the repeat showing of the episode airs on July 2nd at 9pm on FOX.  Three names will be drawn from the correct entries and awarded an Oz prize.

14 May 04
Strip Search will be airing:
 Friday 5/14 at 10am on HBO2
Sunday 5/16 at 11 on HBO Signature
Tuesday 5/18 at 11pm on HBO2

14 May 04

Jury Logo
14 May 04
The Museum of Television and Radio seminar
The Jury Is In
Premiere of the New Courtroom Drama
Thursday, June 3, 2004
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

11 February 04
Oz Season Three DVD signing will be on Tuesday, February 24th, 2004, from 6-8pm at the Tower Records at 66th and Broadway.  Which actors will be there has not been set yet.

Eventually, HBO's plan is to release all six seasons, though the schedule has not been determined yet.  As far as I know, all the episodes will be on DVD and VHS but that is subject to change.


12 December 03

Updates
 
"Judas", written by Tom Fontana, will air on ABC Monday, March 8, 2004.  Filmed in Morocco in the summer of 2001, the film explores Judas Iscariot's search for fulfillment and stars Jonathan Schaech, Jonathan Scarfe, Tim Matheson and Bob Gunton.

"The Jury", a pilot for FBC written by Tom Fontana and Jim Yoshimura and directed by Barry Levinson, is currently shooting on location in New York and on the soundstages in Bayonne.  The series will examine the judicial system primarily from the jury's point of view.

Tom Fontana was recently inducted in the Western New York Entertainment Hall of Fame, joining such notables as Lucille Ball, Mark Russell, Buffalo Bob Smith, George Abbott, Christine Baranski and Jay Silverheels of "Tonto" fame.



8 September 03

Oz Season 3 is set to release on 2/24/04 and Season 4 will be 10/5/04.

9 September 03

From Keith Gow in Australia:

Recently there was a discussion about TV crossovers on alt.tv.homicide and we discovered, to our amazement, that "St. Elsewhere" and "Homicide" (and Tommy Westphall’s mind) connect to 83 other TV shows through detailed references and
actual crossover storylines.

We were amused to read that you imagined that all of television existed in little Tommy’s mind. It might not be all of television, but it’s pretty extensive. Ranging from "I Love Lucy" through 12 shows that are still on the air.

Long-time poster Ashley Crowe and I  have put together a crossover grid to really see the extent of this fun.

Ashley and I would love it if you would provide a link from your site to ours. Here's the URL:

http://home.vicnet.net.au/~kwgow/crossovers.html


24 June 03
TOM FONTANA'S DIARY

They say death comes in threes.  And so last week we experienced the loss of three famous men:  Gregory Peck, David Brinkley and Hume Cronyn.

I'd met Gregory Peck once, at the Banff Television Festival, twenty years ago.  He was everything you thought he'd be - warm and generous, intelligent and full of wit.  When I told him The Keep to the Kingdom was one of my favorite films, he nodded graciously but seemed surprised.  I guess people generally talk about his performance in To Kill a Mockingbird.  Several years ago, Barbara Kopple did a documentary about Peck.  If you can get a copy, you'll see the real man, genuine and gentlemanly.

I also met David Brinkley once at some function, probably the Peabodys.  He, too, was intelligent and full of wit, genuine and gentlemanly.  Though I grew up watching The Huntley-Brinkley Report, Brinkley made Sunday mornings intellectually stimulating and politically charged with This Week.  His contribution to public discourse cannot be measured.

I worked with Hume Cronyn very early in my career, when he and his wife, Jessica Tandy, did a benefit at the Studio Arena Theatre in Buffalo.  I kept calling them "Mister Cronyn" and "Miss Tandy" - and they kept yelling at me, "Call me Jessie, call me Hume!"  Another intelligent, witty, genuine gentleman.  As I got into television, I would run into Mister Cronyn at various awards ceremonies - we both won the Humanitas Prize in 1985.
I last saw him at the Writers' Guild of America East reception, where he was very frail, very wispy, the way old people get.  We were talking about something that'd happened a few days before and he said:  "You know, at my age, I can't remember what I had for breakfast, but I can remember forty years ago perfectly."

What a wonderful gift - to remember the past so clearly, so joyously - and to forget the aches of old age.  I hope when I'm ninety (if I'm ever ninety) that God grants me the same blessing.

So, three wonderful human beings have departed the earth for parts unknown.  They went with thousands of others who died last week, most of whom are not famous and will be forgotten in a generation or two.  Peck, Brinkley and Cronyn represented those people, spoke for us all in various ways and by various means.  The stillness of their voices is really a rallying cry for those of us who remain, to speak the truth, articulately and passionately.  That, not fame, is their true and enduring legacy.

27 May 03

Statement on media deregulation before the Senate on May 22nd.

28 May 03

In the last two weeks, considerably greater media attention has come to focus on the FCC and its intention to further deregulate media ownership standards...  Click on the link above for details


22 May 03

Hear Tom's interview on the NPR show Fresh Air

19 April 03
On June 2, the Federal Communications Commission is planning on authorizing sweeping changes to the American news media.
(click on text for more information)

16 April 03
Lee Tergesen can be reached via www.leetergesen.net
and Chris Meloni at www.christopher-meloni.com/


1 April 03
 From Script to Screen
The Art, Craft and Business of Writing for TV andFilm.
Saturday, April 12th - 3:15pm to 4:45pm
"Tom Fontana on TV"

further info at  http://market.ifp.org/newyork/script/


28 March 03


TOM FONTANA’S DIARY
 
    Theatre people have always cast a wary eye at film, fearful that action-packed motion pictures would override the experience of a live performance.

    In turn, film people have traditionally been suspicious of television, worrying that audiences would hesitate to pay for entertainment when they could get it free, sitting in their living rooms.

    Television people, meanwhile, feel inferior to both, knowing that, on the tube, art takes a backseat to what’s popular.

    Sometimes, however, there is cross-pollination, the latest example being Urban Cowboy, a musical which opened March 27th at the Broadhurst Theatre, based on the 1980 feature starring John Travolta.

    In fact, Broadway shows adapted from movie scripts dominate the litany of recent theatrical successes:  Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, The Full Monty, Hairspray, The Producers and Thoroughly Modern Millie.

    Whereas, once upon a time, Rodgers and Hammerstein would choose a book, say Tales of the South Pacific, as the source of inspiration, everyone except Sondheim seems to be using Blockbuster instead.

    Movie moguls are no less guilty of pilfering the past, though they tend to use old TV series, Charlie’s Angels, The Fugitive, I Spy, Mission: Impossible and the upcoming SWAT, for example, as the basis of films.

    Television, which will steal an idea from anywhere, has had less success borrowing from theatre and film.  Over a fifty year period, the list of Nielsen grabbers is limited to I Remember Mama, The Odd Couple and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    Sadly, if this on-going regurgitation continues, Broadway producers will eventually be forced to take TV-film hybrids and set them to music.  Here are some possibilities:

A Very Brady Musical – Disney presents Brian Stokes Mitchell and Audra McDonald in a gospel version of the never before told story of how Mike and Carol met at a widow/widower grief counseling session.  Songs include:  "Braces Are a Girl’s Best Friend" and "Here’s to the Bradys Who Lunch."

The Flintstones – Baz Luhrmann reinvents Bedrock with dances by Twyla Tharp and Harvey Fierstein as Wilma.  Songs include:  "Send in the Claosaurus" and "Yabadaba-do-be-do-be-do."

Starsky and Hutch – Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick reunite as two unorthodox cops, who kick ass on the kick line.  Songs include:  "He Loves Me (But He Doesn’t Know It)" and "Most Happy Felon."

Star Trek – Tap-dancing Klingons!  Singing Tribbles!  Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber creates an out-of-this-world score, where three generations of Enterprise crews come together for the big finale, "(To Beam) The Impossible Beam."

The Twilight Zone – Audience members are transported to a fifth dimension, as vast as space and as timeless as a tango.  Donny Osmond plays Rod Serling.  Songs include "To Serve Man" and "Time Enough at Last."

    As someone who has conquered all three mediums, Mel Brooks would be the perfect choice to write, produce and star in the musical version of Paddy Chayefsky’s Network.  Imagine Mel belting the show stopper "Mad as Hell (And Not Gonna Take It Anymore)!"  Imagine a chorus line of network censors dancing to "Springtime for Moonves."

    Of course, all of this may simply be jealousy on my part.  Jerry Herman has not asked to musicalize St. Elsewhere, Homicide or Oz.

    That’s probably just as well.  Basing a musical on a movie doesn’t guarantee a boffo box office.  For every Sunset Boulevard, there’s a Saturday Night Fever.  And TV shows don’t always translate to the big screen, witness McHale’s Navy and The Coneheads.

    Actually, given the rate of failure, I am left to wonder why these transformations occur so often.  Not because we lack originality.  There are plenty of talented lyricists, librettists and screenwriters out there.

    Rather, I think, we suffer from what could be called "Kellogg’s Syndrome."  Producers have convinced themselves in the importance of the brand name to sell tickets.  They are willing to exploit an entity, say Sweet Smell of Success or Lost in Space, simply because the audience may remember it from their youths.  Or, worse, heard their parents wax nostalgically about it.

    If the responsibility of theatre, film and television is, in part, to define the times we live in, what good can come from revisiting My Favorite Martian or Debbie Does Dallas?  Better use of the time, energy and money would be spent on developing projects dealing with issues that confront us in the 21st century:  education, environment, terrorism, health care.  There are precedents:  Finian’s Rainbow (1947) tackled racism and poverty, while Gentlemen’s Agreement (1935) took on anti-Semitism.  Hell, at this point, I’d be happy with a show that examines the inner thoughts of Barney, the Bush dog.

    So, my advice to the Shuberts and Nederlanders, to Sony and Universal, to NBC and CBS, is this:  rather than dig into the archives to find next year’s smash, give writers a chance to do what writers do – create.  Who knows, you may get something entertaining and enlightening and fresh.  You may even get a whole new brand name, another long-term franchise.

    If not, after a while, the same old same old will only lead to empty playhouses, bad opening weekends and Joe Millionaire.

    Meanwhile, Jerry Herman, I’m waiting for your call.

# # #


18 March 03

Deleted scenes from OZ added to Scripts

OZ - A Rock Opera by Juli Martin


13 March 03


MANHATTAN THEATRE CLUB

April 28 -- TOM FONTANA -- Testing the Tube --- Stage I

The award-winning writer behind such landmark series as Oz, Homicide, and St. Elsewhere talks about his shift from theatre to television, smashes clichés about the medium, and evokes the arduous, maddening ways in which quality drama actually manages (sometimes) to get on the air

To order tickets call 1-212-399-3030



25 February 03

Article from Sunday New York Times


OZ end Jpeg


31 January 2003

Homicide  "Colors" added to Scripts


29 January 2003

OZ: The Musical by Julie Mattes


25 January 2003

Ok, I know I'm no writer, but here's my little ode to Oz.  I run
Eamonn's website at www.eamonnwalker.com.  Stop by anytime!

Lori


FAREWELL TO OZ

With heavy hearts we must say goodbye
To shanking, to raping, to pragging, oh my!

With one eye open, the other shut tight
We watched each week in wait for the fright

You made each viewer squeal with horror and fear
Their goal to shock us was abundantly clear

We savor each episode and analyze each line
And didn't hurt a bit that the men were so fine

Tom Fontana, the writer, often seen as magician
What makes your mind tick is a scary proposition

Only you could delight and intrigue us each week
You do not write for the wimpish or meek

So much thanks to the cast who always entertained
You deserve all the praise us fans can maintain

A special farewell to my beloved Kareem
You spoke to my soul directly it seemed

Tom created you beautifully and Eamonn brought you alive
I'm praying for a spin off to make you survive!

So farewell to Oz, we'll search high and low
to catch each rerun on our HBO!!


22 January 2003

THE LATE GEORGE APLEY
By John P. Marquand and George S. Kaufman
Directed by Tom Fontana
with Edward Herrmann

January 27, 2003

18 January 2003

Tom Fontana's Diary

On Thursday, January 17th, I appeared before the FCC at the Columbia Forum on Media Ownership Rules.

Before an intensive question and answer period, each panelist made remarks.  Here are mine.  For more information, go to www.creativecommunity.us and www.wgae.org.  Streaming Video here (Real Player)

* * * * *

First, I want to thank you for holding these hearings and for inviting me to speak.

Second, I want to tell you that, as someone who is usually behind the camera, not in front of it, I am more then a little intimidated.

I am not a politician.  I am not a businessman.  I am not a lobbyist.  As you can see, I don't even own a tie.  I don't have strong feelings for or against government regulation.  More importantly, I am neither a seer nor a prophet, I cannot predict the future.  None of us can.

So, why am I here?

I came today driven by a very basic emotion - fear.

Since I started writing and producing twenty-two years ago, I have watched the face of television change drastically.  The networks, which were once like mom'n'pop grocery stores, have been devoured by conglomerates.  And, in turn, these networks have begun swallowing up each other.  CBS owns UPN and MTV.  NBC owns PAX and MSNBC.  ABC owns ESPN and Lifetime.  In a contradiction worthy of Lewis Carroll, there are now more networks than ever and yet there are fewer of them.

So what?

Eight years ago, after considerable struggle, the Fin-Syn rules were dropped, allowing networks to own programs.  At the time, the heads of all the networks assured us that nothing would change.  They might as well have offered to sell us the Brooklyn Bridge.

I was lucky enough to get my start at one of the best independent production companies ever - MTM.  The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Lou Grant, The White Shadow, Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere.  MTM was an independent not just because it wasn't owned by anyone else, but because Grant Tinker made decisions based on both business savvy and a passion for quality.  Because he backed his attitudes with his own money, Grant was fearless when fighting against the dumbing down of his products.  His extraordinary vision nurtured several generations of TV's best talent, including many women and minorities.  Because Fin-Syn is no more, MTM is no more - sucked into a blackhole at FOX.  Sometimes by deregulating a big business, you can choke the life of a small one.

Without Fin-Syn, many other fundamental practices in our industry have corroded over time, but in the interest of brevity, I won't go through each point.  Except to say that, once again, we are being told that if the Dual Network Rule is abandoned, nothing will change.  I hope you can understand why we might be a little doubtful.

Now, none of us are naive.  We all know that commercial television exists to make money.  At its heart, television is capitalism.  And to take the thought one step further:  Television is democracy.

The networks compete for advertising dollars and attractive demographics.  And that competition fuels the economy.

Television is also democracy because it is our only national town hall.  Television is where divergent points of view can be expressed, where conflicting opinions can be argued, not just within one segment of Meet The Press, but from program to program.  The brutality of NYPD Blue is balanced by the spirituality of Touched By An Angel.  Drew Carey's Cleveland balances Frasier Crane's Seattle.  Bill O'Reilly balances Ted Koppel.  Yet, NYPD Blue would have never made the CBS schedule.  Bill O'Reilly would never be hired at NBC.  Certain shows can only happen at certain networks, either because of branding or because of some executive's individual taste.

People will say there's diversity simply by the sheer number of networks currently available.  But, in truth, many series are now "repurposed" - airing on cable several days after its broadcast premiere.  These shows, however, are not offered for sale on the open market as has traditionally been done, but are automatically going to an entity tied corporately to the major network.  For example, the ABC series "Life With Bonnie" will be repurposed on the Family Channel because both the broadcast network and the cable network are owned by Disney.  This back alley deal diminishes a program's long term value.  So much for free enterprise, so much for diversity.

By abandoning the current FCC rules, we run the risk of reducing the number of major networks.  We run the risk of eliminating small businesses.  We run the risk of limiting original thought and the freedom of expression.  Like I said, I'm no prophet, but to me these risks are far too great.

By changing the rules, television will not necessarily get better.  Not for me, as a writer and producer.  Not for me, as a viewer.  Not for me, as a stockholder.  Not for me, as an American.

So, I ask you to think long and hard before you rewrite history.

And I'd like to leave you with a final thought.  There are two countries which each have only one television network:  Iraq and North Korea.

Thank you for your kind attention.


11 December 2002

Oz Infinitum
By Tom Fontana and Lee Tergesen


As the last eight episodes approach, viewers have been concerned about what will happen to the characters once Oz is no more.

We’re happy to announce the following spin-offs, which will premiere thoughout 2003, on the broadcast TV schedule:

 Leave it to Beecher - The irascible Toby can’t help getting into trouble, despite his parents’ warnings.

Everybody Loves Reimondo - Sister Pete moves across the street from Doris Roberts and Peter Boyle. Hilarity ensues!

 Welcome Back, Keller - Chris Keller becomes headmaster of an all boys’ prep school. Nudity ensues!

 Robson - The former Nazi goes to work in Governor Devlin’s mansion. Robert Guillaume co-stars.

 Three’s Humping Me - Cyril O’Reily pretends to have the mind of a three year old in order to share an apartment with two beautiful women. Suzanne Somers co-stars.

 Dharma and Kareem - Dharma dumps Greg for a man filled with spiritual enlightenment. Little does she know, Said just likes to sleep with White women.

 Will and Glynn - Will shares an apartment with the Warden in hopes of meeting men.

 Vern and Shirley - Schillinger and Bellinger move to Milwaukee and live downstairs from a guy named Squiggy.

 Morales in the Middle - The Latino gang leader is adopted by a dysfunctional WASP family and fits in immediately.

 Hill’s Chair Blues - Augustus becomes a cop in a wheelchair. (Hey, it worked for Ironsides!)

 After O*z - Busmalis, Rebadow and Father Mukada start a half-way house in Missouri. Harry Morgan co-stars.

 The O’Reily Factor - In this new talk show, Ryan conspires to have political opponents assassinate each other.

 McManus and Wife - As Corrections Commissioner, Tim and his new bride (Jennifer Garner) solve murder mysteries. She kicks ass, while he ponders the meaning of life.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show - Mary Richards returns to WJM, only to find out that her new boss is Omar White

All in the Infirmary - Doctor Gloria Nathan works alongside Archie Bunker’s racist grandson at an abortion clinic in Spanish Harlem.

 Oz, Nevada - The prisoners gang rape Ben Affleck, in order to keep him from producing more TV shows.

 CSI: Oz - After another rash of murders in Oswald, the authorities decide to open a permanent CSI office inside the prison.

 Enemies - Each week, Dino Ortolani kills off another cast member of Friends.

 The Odd Couple - Poet and the Pope star.


Of course, since HBO is our home, we wanted to make sure that there were plenty of shows on cable.


WWE Smack - Burr Redding referees as wrestlers do massive amounts of steroids and heroin, while making body contact.

The Weakest Dick - Hosted by Claire Howell

8 Rules For Raping My Cellmate - Peter Schibetta frets over the dating habits of his attractive, young cellmate.

Pecker - Jaz Hoyt wonders why it burns. Ted Danson co-stars.

Just Shank Me - An edgier George Segal brings his recently paroled, illegitimate son, Jia Kenmin, to work at his new porno magazine.

Fucked by an Angel - The Reverend Cloutier uses his Saintly powers to get laid.

Turd Watch - Miguel Alvarez smears excrement on the walls of public institutions. Premiere episode: “Inside the White House”.

Boston Pubic - Adebisi gives tips to students on how to wear a hat.

Eight Inches is Enough - Betty Buckley gives her husband a penile implant for Christmas. Dick Van Patten co-stars.

Jag-Off - Wangler, Pancamo and Groves compete for prizes.

Roz - Diane Wittlesey runs a women’s prison. Peri Gilpin and Joan Jett co-star.

 


27 November 2002

Bruce Paltrow


    
    I have been struggling, since Bruce died, to write something about him.  I’m struggling – not because I can’t think of what to say, but because I have too much to say, because my sadness grows more acute each day, because the memories keep flooding my brain.

    His birthday is this week and I feel compelled to get some words down, I want to celebrate the life of the man who changed my life.  So, here goes:

    His mind was fertile and funny.  His tongue was sharp and honest.  His soul (yes, Bruce, I’m going to get Catholic) was open and free and generous and without prejudice and, well, everything a true soul should be.

    Bruce never lied to me, not in our professional dealings nor in our personal relationship.  That, in this business, is an extraordinary thing.  I wish I could say that I never lied to him.

    Ask anyone who knew the man and they’ll tell you a dozen Bruce stories, all filled with his humor, his warmth, his understanding and his clear-headedness.  If you had a complex problem, Bruce would come up with a simple, but unique solution.

    There isn’t a day, as a writer or a producer, as a mentor or a confidant, that I don’t take a page from the "Book of Paltrow" – he was wise, most of the time, and when he wasn’t wise, he shot straight from the heart.

    He had a wonderful sense of justice and fair play.  I never saw Bruce truly angry, unless some bastard was trying to screw over him or someone he loved.  His anger rose, not from ego, but from the shock of a trust broken, of a deceit revealed.  He was, at the same moment, both cynical and naïve.

    He could’ve done anything with his life.  But he chose to work in television, film and theatre.  And, even in the valleys, between the triumphs, he never lost his passion to create.  Cancelled shows, studio interference, cancer, nothing could stop his enthusiasm, his love of the game.

    Ironically, after years of not working together, Bruce and I were going to co-write a project for HBO, when he got back from Europe.  I’m still going to do the script, but it won’t be nearly as much as fun.

    I can see Bruce now, in Heaven, his pen poised, ready to cut what I’ve written.  Not this time, pal.  A million words can’t sum you up:  husband, father, son, brother, uncle, baby-hugger, producer, director, writer, tennis bum, skier, fisherman, New Yorker, Los Angelino, world traveler, raconteur, art lover, arts contributor, guardian angel, rabbi, pope, partner, boss, teacher, friend…

    When a personality as large and loud as Bruce Paltrow leaves, the silence echoes.

    Okay, okay, Bruce, I’ll stop.

    Except to say that I wish everyone on the planet could live as you did:  "Vive Bene, Spesso L’Amore, Di Risata Molto!"  And Happy Birthday!



22 November 2002
Times article


24 September 2002

The second season DVD of OZ will be available sometime in January of 2003.  To find out when the other seasons will appaear, you can contact HBO.      OZ@HBO.COM


23 August 2002

 Goodbye to Oz
 by Lisa H.
 (to the tune of Seasons in the Sun)
 
 
 Goodbye to Oz it's hard to die
 Why do you have to leave us why oh why
 Other TV can't quite compare
 Cheap laugh tracks are everywhere
 Network honchos just don't care.
 
 Goodbye Tom F. a heart felt sigh
 Good luck with your new project Baseball Wives
 We'll look for shows with great care
 Like Homicide and St. Elsewhere
 When we see them you'll be there.
 
 We had joy we had fun
 We had shanks and Clayton's gun
 And the people that died well they sometimes
 Made us cry.
 
 Goodbye to Oz, oh please don't go
 You were the black sheep of ol' HBO
 We tried to tell them you're the best
 Too much gory violence?
 They didn't treat you like the rest.
 
 We had joy we had fun
 We had Miguel on the run
 But the hacks and the cons like six seasons
 Are almost gone.
 
 Goodbye to Toby and to Chris
 You gave us angst and more than one great kiss
 And every time that you were down
 We would pray you'd come around
 Back to the love that you had found.
 
 We had joy we had fun
 We had Irish and Muslims
 We had Bikers we had Gays
 We had messed up Aryan ways.
 
 We had joy we had fun
 We had scenes that left us stunned
 But on all those Sunday nights
 Only Oz was in our sights.
 
 We had joy we had fun
 We can't believe it's almost done
 Goodbye to cast and crew
 We owe so much to you.
 
 -the end-
 

24 June 2002

Tattinger's Episode Seven "Broken Windows" added to scripts


19 April 2002


I’m very grateful for the numerous e-mails I’ve been receiving since we opened this website last December.

I’ve noticed some of the same questions get repeated often, so, in an effort to save my writing hand, I’m going to let you in on the following:

1. The first season DVD of Oz came out in March and sold, in its first week, more copies then Sopranos or Sex in the City during their first weeks.

2. HBO tells me the second season DVD will be out in January, 2003.

3. There are no plans for a Homicide DVD (except for the "movie" finale which is already available) or for any more Homicide tapes, as far as I know.  If you want them, badger NBC, which owns the rights.

4. The truth about what happened to the Reverend Cloutier will be revealed next season.

5. The truth about what happened the night Chris Keller killed Brice Tibbets will be revealed next season.

Since we begin shooting April 22, 2002, I will have less time to respond directly to your e-mails, though I will try my damndest (can I say damndest on the Internet?).  Please be patient, as it may take me months to answer, but I really do appreciate your continued interest in the series.  And in my other work.

Peace

Tom Fontana


18 April 2002

PLEASE NOTE:

I’m very grateful for all of the e-mails and I will try to respond to them in a timely manner, but I’m in the midst of writing the next batch of Oz episodes.  We go back into production April 22nd, so my time is getting more and more limited.  Thanks, Tom


4 April 2002

"The Fourth Wiseman" video available from:

Gateway Films/Vision Video
P.O. Box 540
Worcester, PA  19490
ISBN 1-56364-085-X



26 March 2002

Oz the musical (continued)
I received this song parody via e-mail from Amanda.  I think it's pretty funny.  Sing along with the music from Don McLean's "American Pie".

 A long long time ago
 I can still remember how Chris Keller made poor Beecher smile
 And i knew season 5's the time,
 For Tom to make the lovers pine,
 but I thought they'd be happy for a while
 But February made me curse
 With every plot turn for the worst
 Bad news on my T.V.
 Why would Fontana tease me?
 I hope he knows i'll whine and cry
 If he tries to bid our Chris goodbye
 And I might pistol-whip the guy,
 If he lets Chris Keller die..

  (Chorus)
 So c'mon, Tom, keep Chris Keller alive,
 Without his frequent nudity, your ratings will dive
 This whole 'everyone's on death row' thing it really don't jive,
 Please don't leave us Keller-deprived,
 Please don't leave us Keller-deprived.
 
 Did you think this season through?
 And do you have faith we'll make it to
 Next January for your show?
 Do you believe we're not upset?
 Oh yeah, do you care to place a bet?
 'Cause we've got words for the guys at HBO.
 Well I know you love Meloni too,
 'Cause you stole him back from SVU
 Ice-T just can't compare
 With Toby (though, cut his hair)
 But Keller's lonely in his cage
 With only Claire to pass the days
 That C.O. fills me up with rage,
 Please, Tom, don't let Chris die.
 
 (Chorus)
 
 Now for 5 years, we've defended you,
 Through aging drugs, immigrants and McClain too,
 Though our patience is wearing thin.
 When the inmates sang their songs we thought
 Here's another chance for a B/K spot
 But Toby sang with Vern and not with him
 When you're off writing season six,
 Could you add some fodder for fan fics?
 We're not asking for much
 Just a little slap and touch.
 If you don't start to change your tune,
 If B/K scenes don't make us swoon
 Then we'll be on your doorstep soon
 If you don't keep Chris alive.
 
 And we'll be singin'
 C'mon, Tom, keep Chris Keller alive,
 Without his frequent nudity, your ratings will dive
 This whole 'everyone's on death row' thing it really
 don't jive,
 Please don't leave us Keller-deprived,
 Please don't leave us Keller-deprived.


20 March 2002

Patriotism VS. Dissent:
Free Speech During Wartime


1 March 2002

St. Elsewhere honored as part of
William S. Paley Television Festival


15 February 2002

Advance screening of "Judas"


Diary entry 19 December 2001

I don't own a computer.

And so, all this website business is strange and bewildering.

But a friend bought me this site as a birthday present, so I said "What the f --" (Hey, can you swear on the Internet?)

From time to time, I will write about what’s going on -- in my corner of the world -- and, if you have any thoughts or questions, I'll try to resond (though not instantly).

I also plan to publish scripts that I have written, of which I am particularly proud. Hell, I'll even publish some of which I'm not proud.

The first will be the first script I ever wrote for television, which was the third episode of St. Elsewhere, entitled "Down's Syndrome" -- You can tell by the title, it's a laugh riot.

In other news, I just returned from Miami, Florida, where we are filming Baseball Wives, a pilot for an HBO series, written by Julie Martin and directed by Steve Buscemi. The show is about, you guessed it, the lives of the women behind the men who play a game for a living.

Starting January 6th, eight new episodes of Oz air on HBO, Sundays at 10pm. We shot these episodes at our new soundstages in Bayonne, New Jersey, so some of the sets -- particularly the cafeteria and the gym -- will look very different. The cast will be pretty much the same, even Luke Perry and Chris Meloni make return visits.

Meanwhile, I'm starting to write the next bunch of Oz episodes, which we'll shoot starting in April and which will air in January 2003!

So, happy holidays, no matter which God you subscribe to. And here's to a New Year filled with love and joy and peace.


Diary entry 1 October 2001
writing for the telethon


Diary entry 10 September 2001
" The Press Secretary" New documentary on PBS


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