now the fun part - building Wright's boathouse
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.
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
2 April 06
Crusaders? Not So Fast
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
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
resulted in The WB’s announcing their decision to edit the
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
says Randy Sharp, AFA’s amiable director of special projects.
believes the e-mails, combined with the recent FCC rulings, did the
“If you get 25,000 e-mails [27,290, to be exact] from viewers
'I’m going to file an FCC complaint if you broadcast
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
Perhaps. The WB declined to comment, but series creator Tom Fontana
told B&C that the network made the cuts on March
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
4 April 06
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
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
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
among female teens, beating CBS, NBC, and UPN.
23 March 06
Censors Its Own Drama
for Fear of F.C.C. Fines
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
was created by Tom Fontana, whose long résumé
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
," which concerns a
group of college students
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
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."
22 March 06
network, but at least we've got a premiere date!
The Bedford Diaries
will air on
March 29th on the WB
there still is a WB.) That is channel 11 in New
finish on May 10th with a very special 2 hour Bedford Diaries
(episodes 7 & 8).
CW network (combining The WB and UPN) will announce its first season a
few days after our season completes. Keep your fingers
that their announcement includes us.
he's had shows cancelled, studios cancelled, but this is the first time
he's ever had a network cancelled.
dull here at Levinson/Fontana.
20 December 05
your new show
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
stimulate discussion. He’s also doing things on the campus to
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
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.
18 November 05
creator Tom Fontana
Hank Azaria will emcee the
Festival's Blythe's Spirit
an evening honoring
winner Blythe Danner.
We have had
many inquiries about the
the DVD of OZ season 6. The word from HBO is that it has been
until the first quarter of 2006. We do not know the reason for the
and have not been given any specific date. As soon as we have
information about the release date we will post it here.
13 September 05
by Aubrey Reuben
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.
30 July 05
Lee Tergeson in
the TNT series "Wanted,"
article in Seattle Post-Intelligencer
you get tired of people
associating you with
I love that show."
Cindy Adams. New York Post.
York, N.Y.: Jul 28, 2005. pg. 016
"Created By . . . Inside the
Top Show Creators" hits bookshelves. Author is Steven Prigge...
Fontana, creator of
"Oz": "My best
was from Bruce Paltrow, who said, 'Don't believe them when they tell
you're wonderful because then you'll have to believe them when they
you that you suck. And they will tell you that you suck.' "
19 July 05
TOM CREATOR FONTANA WRITES
"BATMAN: HOPELESSNESS & FAITH"
the article in Comic Book Resources
Wright boathouse to be named in
A&E Home Video press release
JUNE 28TH, A&E
HOME VIDEO WILL
RELEASE THE ARRESTING FINAL BOXED SET OF THE EMMY®
HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET:
THE COMPLETE SEASON 7
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
Levison, Tom Fontana, David Simon and Jim Yoshimura.
"The Bedford Diaries"
Two shots from the WB
Tom with Victoria Cartagena
Tom with Stephen Collins and Ivan Fonseca
"The WB has picked up 12 episodes of the Tom Fontana-produced series
"The Bedford Diaries" to be aired mid-season."
director Sidney Lumet joins forces
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
to full article
April 28, 2005, Tom
alongside David Chase, a special Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers
David Simon wrote the
following remarks in
the souvenir program:
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,
all of their fears, assuring them that the serial will be neither weak
and derivative nor so original and idiosyncratic that it will do
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.
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
a hundred and you can imagine a network actually airing those episodes
and then renewing the enterprise for three or four more seasons.
Writing for television is, at all points, a Homeric
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
He does not produce breakout, snatch-the-zeitgeist hits.
Homicide? Only Tom Fontan could have eked 123 episodes out of
off-center Baltimore police drama. St. Elsewhere?
got there belatedly, with not even half the fanfare of such
ensemble dramas as, say, Hill Street Blues. And Oz was a
foreboding where middle-of-the-road television viewers would rarely
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
relentless daring: Pembleton’s stroke, Beecher’s
agonizing loss of
even the entire contents of a Boston hospital trapped in the
of a single autistic child.
Tom takes chances in a medium where so few people do.
After all, given all those improbabilities listed above –
absurdly hard it is to get a television drama up and running, to
build and sustain a fictional universe against all forces arrayed
it, to find and keep a mass viewership interested in that universe
wouldn’t try to sustain a successful drama by doing the same
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
and story to triumph over the safe, careful choices. Every
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
the creator and executive producer of The Wire on HBO.
11 April 05
inks 2-script deal with
writer-producer Tom Fontana has
premium two-script deal with Sony Pictures Television. Under the pact,
will pen two drama pilot scripts for the studio targeted for the next
development cycle, a procedural and a character-driven one-hour.
Hollywood Reporter (link to full
4 March 05
By The Futon
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
Television-based project, which also stars Milo Ventimiglia, Penn
and Ernest Waddell.
(link to full article)
3 March 05
Season 5 DVD
is the release date for
Look for the Season 6 DVD in September.
24 February 05
article posted on the
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
Sinise, who is a wonderful actor, and the show he's on is a
Oz and Homicide creator Tom Fontana, currently working on pilots for
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
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.”
Link to full article
3 February 05
on DVD for
1 February 05
"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."
Link to full
powerful, exploitative—and a mirror of our national debate.
... For sheer
Cassandra-like precision, you
beat Tom Fontana’s movie Strip
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
and specious”—until a week later, when the Abu
Ghraib abuses were
exposed. According to Fontana, Strip
by a direct reading of the Patriot Act in early 2002. As the creator of
Homicide: Life on the
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
up in my twisted imagination, and that the world hadn’t
caught up with
to full article
24 January 05
Net enrolls in hour drama
The WB Network
has added Emmy winner Tom
the roster of A-list producers set to deliver pilots to the network
this development season.
Reporter Jan. 10, 2005
Writers of America
Votes Honors to Tom
Fontana, David Chase.
Writers of America has
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.
Writers of America
to press release
Award from the Caucus for Television Producers Writers and Directors
Tom Fontana will receive a lifetime
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
Wed., Nov.24, 2004
to full article
21 August 04
OZ Season Four DVD will be
Please note that Tom has no control over this schedule.
12 July 04
The winners for the June
24th The Jury/Oz
are Roxy Leuthard,
and Diva Velez.
responses were put in a hat from which Sidney
winning entries. Thank you to all who entered.
9 July 04
Eamonn Walker.........Kareem Said
Betty Buckley.........Suzanne Fitzgerald
Scott Winter..........Cyril O'Reily
muMs..................Arnold "Poet" Jackson
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
We have been
receiving e-mails from many
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
8 July 04
The Jury is
now playing only on Friday
9:00pm on Fox
24 June 04
episode of Tom Fontana's new show, The
June 29, at 9pm on FOX, guest stars the following actors who appeared
William Winters, muMs,
Graham and Natascia
Can you name the
characters they played on Oz?
your answers. The entries will be reviewed after the repeat
showing of the episode airs on July 2nd at 9pm on FOX. Three
will be drawn from the correct entries and awarded an Oz
14 May 04
will be airing:
14 May 04
at 10am on HBO2
5/16 at 11
on HBO Signature
11pm on HBO2
14 May 04
Museum of Television and Radio seminar
Thursday, June 3, 2004
Premiere of the New Courtroom Drama
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
11 February 04
Three DVD signing will be on
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
12 December 03
written by Tom Fontana,
will air on ABC Monday, March 8, 2004. Filmed in Morocco in
of 2001, the film explores Judas Iscariot's search for fulfillment and
Jonathan Schaech, Jonathan Scarfe, Tim Matheson and Bob Gunton.
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.
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"
8 September 03
Season 3 is set
to release on
2/24/04 and Season 4 will be 10/5/04.
9 September 03
From Keith Gow
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
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,
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
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:
24 June 03
say death comes in threes.
And so last week we experienced the loss of three famous men:
Gregory Peck, David Brinkley and Hume Cronyn.
met Gregory Peck once, at the
Banff Television Festival, twenty years ago. He was
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
about Peck. If you can get a copy, you'll see the real man,
genuine and gentlemanly.
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
The Huntley-Brinkley Report, Brinkley made Sunday mornings
intellectually stimulating and politically charged with This
Week. His contribution to public discourse cannot be measured.
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
As I got into
television, I would run into Mister Cronyn at various awards ceremonies
- we both won the Humanitas Prize in 1985.
last saw him at the Writers' Guild
of America East
reception, where he was very frail, very wispy, the way old people
We were talking about something that'd happened a few days before and
said: "You know, at my age, I can't remember what I had for
but I can remember forty years ago perfectly."
a wonderful gift - to remember
the past so clearly,
so joyously - and to forget the aches of old age. I hope when
ninety (if I'm ever ninety) that God grants me the same blessing.
three wonderful human beings have
departed the earth for parts unknown. They went with
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
cry for those of us who remain, to speak the
truth, articulately and passionately. That, not fame, is
and enduring legacy.
27 May 03
on media deregulation before the Senate on May 22nd.
28 May 03
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
link above for details
22 May 03
Tom's interview on the NPR
19 April 03
On June 2, the
Federal Communications Commission is planning
on authorizing sweeping changes to the American news media.
on text for
16 April 03
can be reached via www.leetergesen.net
and Chris Meloni at www.christopher-meloni.com/
1 April 03
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
suspicious of television, worrying that audiences would hesitate to pay
for entertainment when they could get it free, sitting in their living
Television people, meanwhile, feel
both, knowing that, on the tube, art takes a backseat to
Sometimes, however, there is
the latest example being Urban
, a musical
March 27th at the Broadhurst Theatre, based on the 1980 feature
starring John Travolta.
In fact, Broadway shows adapted from
dominate the litany of recent theatrical successes: Beauty
and the Beast
Whereas, once upon a time, Rodgers and
would choose a book, say Tales
of the South Pacific
source of inspiration, everyone except Sondheim seems to be using
Movie moguls are no less guilty of
past, though they tend to use old TV series, Charlie’s
and the upcoming SWAT
for example, as the basis of
Television, which will steal an idea
has had less success borrowing from theatre and film. Over a
fifty year period, the list of Nielsen grabbers is limited to I
Sadly, if this on-going regurgitation
Broadway producers will eventually be forced to take TV-film hybrids
and set them to music. Here are some possibilities:
A Very Brady Musical
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
Songs include: "Braces Are a Girl’s Best Friend"
and "Here’s to
Bradys Who Lunch."
– Baz Luhrmann
reinvents Bedrock with
dances by Twyla Tharp and Harvey Fierstein as Wilma. Songs
include: "Send in the Claosaurus" and
Starsky and Hutch
– Nathan Lane
and Matthew Broderick
reunite as two unorthodox cops, who kick ass on the kick
Songs include: "He Loves Me (But He Doesn’t Know
It)" and "Most
Tribbles! Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber creates an
score, where three generations of Enterprise crews come together for
the big finale, "(To Beam) The Impossible Beam."
The Twilight Zone
members are transported to
a fifth dimension, as vast as space and as timeless as a
Donny Osmond plays Rod Serling. Songs include "To Serve Man"
"Time Enough at Last."
As someone who has conquered all three
Mel Brooks would be the perfect choice to write, produce and star in
musical version of Paddy Chayefsky’s Network
belting the show stopper "Mad as Hell (And Not Gonna Take It
Imagine a chorus line of network censors dancing to "Springtime for
Of course, all of this may simply be
my part. Jerry Herman has not asked to musicalize St.
That’s probably just as
well. Basing a musical
on a movie doesn’t guarantee a boffo box office.
For every Sunset
, there’s a Saturday
shows don’t always translate to the big screen, witness McHale’s
Actually, given the rate of failure, I
am left to
wonder why these transformations occur so often. Not because
lack originality. There are plenty of talented lyricists,
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
exploit an entity, say Sweet
Smell of Success
, simply because the
audience may remember it from their
youths. Or, worse, heard their parents wax nostalgically
If the responsibility of theatre, film
television is, in part, to define the times we live in, what good can
come from revisiting My
? Better use of
the time, energy and money
spent on developing projects dealing with issues that confront us in
the 21st century: education, environment, terrorism, health
care. There are precedents: Finian’s
tackled racism and poverty, while Gentlemen’s
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
Sony and Universal, to NBC and CBS, is this: rather than dig
the archives to find next year’s smash, give writers a chance
what writers do – create. Who knows, you may get
enlightening and fresh. You may even get a whole new brand
If not, after a while, the same old same
only lead to empty playhouses, bad opening weekends and Joe
Meanwhile, Jerry Herman, I’m
waiting for your call.
# # #
18 March 03
Deleted scenes from OZ
added to Scripts
- A Rock
by Juli Martin
13 March 03
MANHATTAN THEATRE CLUB
-- Testing the Tube ---
behind such landmark series as Oz,
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
25 February 03
from Sunday New York Times
31 January 2003
"Colors" added to Scripts
29 January 2003
by Julie Mattes
25 January 2003
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!
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
18 January 2003
John P. Marquand and George
January 27, 2003
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
* * * * *
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
a lobbyist. As you can see, I don't even own a tie.
have strong feelings for or against government regulation.
importantly, I am neither a seer nor a prophet, I cannot predict the
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
which were once like mom'n'pop grocery stores, have been devoured by
conglomerates. And, in turn, these networks have begun
up each other. CBS
owns UPN and MTV. NBC owns PAX and MSNBC. ABC owns
Lifetime. In a contradiction worthy of Lewis Carroll, there
more networks than ever and yet there are fewer of them.
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
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,
Grant, The White Shadow, Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere.
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
money, Grant was fearless when fighting against the dumbing down of his
products. His extraordinary vision nurtured several
of TV's best talent, including many women and minorities.
Fin-Syn is no more, MTM is no more - sucked into a blackhole at
FOX. Sometimes by deregulating a big business, you can choke
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
told that if the Dual Network Rule is abandoned, nothing will
change. I hope you can understand why we might be a little
Now, none of us are naive. We all know that commercial
exists to make money. At its heart, television is
capitalism. And to take the thought one step
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
by the spirituality of Touched By An Angel. Drew Carey's
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
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
"repurposed" - airing on cable several days after its broadcast
premiere. These shows, however, are not offered for sale on
open market as has traditionally been done, but are automatically going
to an entity tied corporately to the major network. For
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
term value. So much for free enterprise, so much for
By abandoning the current FCC rules, we run the risk of reducing the
number of major networks. We run the risk of eliminating
businesses. We run the risk of limiting original thought and
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
as a viewer. Not for me, as a stockholder. Not for
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
Thank you for your kind attention.
11 December 2002
By Tom Fontana and Lee Tergesen
the last eight
approach, viewers have been concerned about what will happen to the
characters once Oz
is no more.
to announce the following spin-offs, which will premiere thoughout
2003, on the broadcast TV schedule:
irascible Toby can’t help getting into trouble, despite his
- Sister Pete moves across the
street from Doris
Roberts and Peter Boyle. Hilarity ensues!
- Chris Keller becomes headmaster of
boys’ prep school. Nudity ensues!
- The former Nazi goes to work in Governor Devlin’s mansion.
- 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 dumps Greg for a man filled
spiritual enlightenment. Little does she know, Said just likes to sleep
with White women.
- Will shares an apartment with the
Warden in hopes
of meeting men.
- Schillinger and Bellinger move to
live downstairs from a guy named Squiggy.
in the Middle
- The Latino gang leader is adopted
dysfunctional WASP family and fits in immediately.
- Augustus becomes a cop in a
it worked for Ironsides!)
- Busmalis, Rebadow and Father Mukada start a
house in Missouri. Harry Morgan co-stars.
- In this new talk show,
Ryan conspires to
have political opponents assassinate each other.
- As Corrections Commissioner, Tim and
his new bride
(Jennifer Garner) solve murder mysteries. She kicks ass, while he
ponders the meaning of life.
Mary Tyler Moore Show
- Mary Richards returns to
WJM, only to
find out that her new boss is Omar White
in the Infirmary
- Doctor Gloria Nathan works
Archie Bunker’s racist grandson at an abortion clinic in
- The prisoners gang rape Ben Affleck, in
keep him from producing more TV shows.
- After another rash of murders in Oswald, the
decide to open a permanent CSI office inside the prison.
- Each week, Dino Ortolani kills off another cast member of Friends.
- Poet and the Pope star.
since HBO is our home, we wanted to make sure that there were plenty of
shows on cable.
- Burr Redding referees as wrestlers do
of steroids and heroin, while making body contact.
- Hosted by Claire Howell
Rules For Raping My Cellmate
- Peter Schibetta
frets over the
dating habits of his attractive, young cellmate.
- Jaz Hoyt wonders why it burns. Ted Danson co-stars.
- An edgier George Segal brings his
paroled, illegitimate son, Jia Kenmin, to work at his new porno
by an Angel
- The Reverend Cloutier uses his
to get laid.
- Miguel Alvarez smears excrement on the
public institutions. Premiere episode: “Inside the White
- Adebisi gives tips to students on how to
wear a hat.
Inches is Enough
- Betty Buckley gives her
husband a penile
implant for Christmas. Dick Van Patten co-stars.
- Wangler, Pancamo and Groves compete for prizes.
- Diane Wittlesey runs a women’s prison. Peri Gilpin and Joan
27 November 2002
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
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
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
dealings nor in our personal relationship.
That, in this business, is an extraordinary thing. I wish I
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
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
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,
nothing could stop his enthusiasm, his love of the game.
Ironically, after years of not working
Bruce and I were going to co-write a
project for HBO, when he got back from Europe. I’m
going to do the script, but it won’t be nearly as much as fun.
I can see Bruce now, in Heaven, his pen
ready to cut what I’ve written. Not this time,
million words can’t sum you up: husband, father,
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,
When a personality as large and loud as
Paltrow leaves, the silence echoes.
Okay, okay, Bruce, I’ll stop.
Except to say that I wish everyone on
could live as you did: "Vive Bene, Spesso L’Amore,
Molto!" And Happy Birthday!
22 November 2002
24 September 2002
second season DVD of OZ
will be available sometime
of 2003. To find out when the other seasons will appaear, you
contact HBO. OZ@HBO.COM
23 August 2002
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
and St. Elsewhere
When we see them you'll be there.
We had joy we
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
They didn't treat you like the rest.
We had joy we
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
We had Irish and Muslims
We had Bikers
we had Gays
We had messed
up Aryan ways.
We had joy we
We had scenes
that left us stunned
But on all those Sunday nights
Only Oz was in our sights.
We had joy we
We can't believe it's almost done
Goodbye to cast and crew
We owe so much to you.
24 June 2002
Seven "Broken Windows" added to
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
1. The first
season DVD of Oz came out in
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
18 April 2002
I’m very grateful for all of the e-mails and I will try to
them in a timely manner, but I’m in the midst of writing the
of Oz episodes. We go back into production April 22nd, so my
is getting more and more limited. Thanks, Tom
4 April 2002
"The Fourth Wiseman" video available from:
P.O. Box 540
Worcester, PA 19490
26 March 2002
Oz the musical
I received this song parody via e-mail from Amanda. I think
pretty funny. Sing along with the music from Don McLean's
A long long time ago
I can still remember how Chris Keller made poor Beecher smile
And i knew season 5's the time,
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..
So c'mon, Tom, keep Chris Keller alive,
his frequent nudity, your ratings will dive
This whole 'everyone's on death row' thing it really don't
Please don't leave us Keller-deprived,
Please don't leave us Keller-deprived.
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,
Tom, don't let Chris die.
5 years, we've defended you,
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,
his frequent nudity, your ratings will dive
This whole 'everyone's on death row' thing it really
Please don't leave us Keller-deprived,
Please don't leave us Keller-deprived.
20 March 2002
1 March 2002
Elsewhere honored as part of
S. Paley Television Festival
15 February 2002
screening of "Judas"
Diary entry 19 December 2001
I don't own a computer.
And so, all this
website business is strange and
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
I am particularly proud. Hell, I'll even publish some of which I'm not
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,
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
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
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
for the telethon
Diary entry 10
Secretary" New documentary on PBS