Thursday, March 23, 2006

Where are all the CHEERS scribes now?

A number of you have asked where the various CHEERS writers are these days and what they’ve been up to since the show’s run ended in 1993. The short answer is we were all hot for ten minutes, all got studio development deals, created a bunch of series (a few you’ve heard of, most you haven’t), branched out into different areas, and get together with each other to bitch about the current state of the industry.

Specifically, as far as I know….

Glen & Les Charles have moved out of LA and are living the good life. They’ve dabbled some in features and wrote PUSHING TIN starring Jon Cusak and Angelina Jolie. I saw them recently accepting an award on TV LAND and they both looked great.

Peter Casey & David Lee went on to create and run WINGS and FRASIER. David is currently a very sought after theatre director. Peter is working on a feature project with me and my partner, David Isaacs.

David Angell partnered with Casey & Lee, co-creating WINGS and FRASIER. Tragically, David and his wife Lynn were in the first plane that hit the World Trade Center on 9/11.

David Lloyd consulted on WINGS and FRASIER and wrote some of the best episodes of each, just as he had done on CHEERS, TAXI, and THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW. David is traveling and probably gets residual checks in the mail every other day.

(NOTE: Back then every show had at least four Davids on staff. Things have changed. Today it’s four Matts.)

Heide Perlman joined James L. Brooks’ production company, created the ABC series SIBS, and has since worked on a number of series including FRASIER.

Cheri & Bill Steinkellner – With Phoef Sutton created BOB starring Bob Newhart then by themselves created HOPE & GLORIA, the Emmy winning animated show TEACHER’S PET (starring Nathan Lane) and wrote the screenplay for the movie of TEACHER’S PET (which got sensational reviews and deserved a better fate). Currently they are doing the book for two Broadway bound musicals including SISTER ACT which premiers later this year at the Pasadena Playhouse.

Phoef Sutton (pronounced “Feef”) teamed with the Steinkellners on BOB then on his own created a number of series including THE FIGHTING FITZGERALDS with Brian Denahy and a very interesting short-lived sitcom for CBS called THANKS set in pilgrim times. He also has quite a few screenwriting credits including MRS. WINTERBOURNE and THE FAN starring Robert DeNiro. In his spare time he wrote a published novel. Currently he is producing BOSTON LEGAL and wrote and directed a short film starring Joe Montagne that is winning festival awards left and right. I’m sure someday he’ll get around to sonnets.

Tom Reeder consulted on a number of series including THE COSBY SHOW and FRASIER. He lives at the beach and is too happy as far as I’m concerned.

Dan O’Shannon created several short-lived series (including a very interesting one about a married woman contemplating an affair) then became the show runner on FRASIER. Ever versatile, Dan was a producer last season on the Sci-Fi hour show THRESHOLD for CBS.

Tom Anderson – created LIVING SINGLE and is living in Cleveland. I’d rather be Tom Reeder.

Earl Pomerantz produced the first year of COSBY, created TV’s only multi-camera sitcom Western, BEST OF THE WEST, MAJOR DAD, and an ABC series about his own life. He also guested on BUFFALO BILL as the “Human Salmon”. Recently he consulted on ACCORDING TO JIM, and currently writes magazine articles, and is a commentator for NPR.

Sam Simon co-created THE SIMPSONS. He too has a bunch of credits but shit, he co-created THE SIMPSONS. Who cares about the others?

Ken Estin co-created the TRACEY ULLMAN SHOW, the TORTELLIS (spin off of CHEERS), produced ALMOST PERFECT with David Isaacs and I, and currently has several TV and feature projects in the works.

Rob Long & Dan Staley – created the obligatory number of short-lived series including GEORGE & LEO starring Bob Newhart and Judd Hirsch. (I’m the only former CHEERS writer who did not create a show for Bob Newhart). They worked with David and I on BIG WAVE DAVE’S. (We tried to get Bob Newhart but settled for Jane Kaczmarek.) Rob wrote a hilarious book on the TV industry called CONVERSATIONS WITH MY AGENT. In addition to his work with Dan he also contributes political articles to magazines and newspapers, does weekly humorous commentaries for Public Radio’s KCRW called “Martini Shot”. He’s the funniest Republican in the country.

Kathy Ann Stumpe – went on to produce EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND and write quite a few episodes. She too likes to go to her mailbox.

Janet Leahy is currently the show runner of BOSTON LEGAL. Whenever there’s an article about the top women writers in television she’s always included.

Let’s see, who else? Oh yeah, Fred Graver became the President of VH-1.


Gittes said...

I'm sure you'll probably catch this, but the film Glen & Les Charles wrote was called PUSHING TIN, not TIN MEN.

By Ken Levine said...

0ops. Thanks b. I made the correction.

Anonymous said...

I wanna be Tom Reeder.

- Allen

Anonymous said...

Head to Oxnard and look for a bar with a good happy hour and a well-stocked shelf of scotch. I bet you find Tom. :)

Anonymous said...

I thought Yvette Lee Bowser created Living Single. In fact, I just double checked it in the very good book "Created By..." by Steven Prigge.

In fact Tom is only listed as a writer for the series on IMDB, though I know how inaccurate the most accurate film/tv database can be.

What gives?

By Ken Levine said...

Yeah, IMDB has me as the location manager on FLIPPER. If Tom Anderson didn't create it, he co-created it or developed it and ran it. Whatever he did, he made a lot of money from it.

Anonymous said...


Ahh, now I've found my motivation.

Anonymous said...

I knew David Lee was doing well...I was at the gym and picked up the March issue of METROPOLITAN HOME--the featured residence was his mid-century modern manse in Palm Springs (formerly owned by Dinah Shore). Retro, but with a 21st century flair in color and material--he put a sauna where Dinah kept her furs. I presume you've been there, Ken...does it live up to the photo spread?

Anonymous said...

that was a great series of Cheers updates, is a real pleasure to read your posts, please keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

What about the Cheers writer who was on that episode of Scrubs last season?

You know, the one who Cheers-obsessed docs J.D. and Turk recognize from their latest Sam and Co. marathon, making it a point to take special care of him (only to find out he had some sort of terminal illness)?

Ohhhhh: that was a fictional character. Got it...

Anonymous said...



Our mutual friend, Jon Wolfert, always told me you were a very funny writer, but I never truly appreciated it until I started following your blogs. Today's installment about where all the CHEERS writers are these days was laugh-out-loud funny (as are most of your blogs, if truth be told and I'm under doctor's orders to only tell truths there you are).

You should get paid for these, but don't ask me to contribute, I'm still working in radio, therefore deeply in debt and broke.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ken first time caller, long time listner

What about Stan Daniels, (who I first heard about on a Simpson's commentary that mentioned a "Stan Daniels turn" as Al Jean called it)?

By Ken Levine said...

Stan Danials is a lovely man and a hall of fame writer but never worked on CHEERS. With Ed. Weinberger he did the MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW and TAXI and on ALMOST PERFECT we used him several ltimes as a director but never on CHEERS. From what I understand he's retired and doing fine.

I wish I still had an old CHEERS outline. I emailed my secretary and she is going to try to track down an outline from something we've written and if she can I'll post that.

Anonymous said...

Oh I'm sorry. The way Al Jean described it on the commentary, Stan Daniels sounded like he wrote for Cheers, as Al's example of the turn was a Norm joke

Frank Strovel III said...

I posted this on an earlier Cheers thread here, but for those who missed it:

James Burrows interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air three weeks ago is a really good listen.

doggans said...

//(NOTE: Back then every show had at least four Davids on staff. Things have changed. Today it’s four Matts.)//

I'm a David, and I don't think I've ever gone anywhere in my life where I didn't encounter at least one other David. Usually one of them is some sort of aspiring filmmaker/screenwriter/producer.

//the Emmy winning animated show TEACHER’S PET (starring Nathan Lane) and wrote the screenplay for the movie of TEACHER’S PET (which got sensational reviews and deserved a better fate).//

Teacher's Pet was a great cartoon. It was one of the only reasons I had for waking up on Saturday mornings. :P Far more intellectual than the rest of the programming during its timeslot. The movie was quite good too, although I didn't see it until it hit DVD because it was so poorly promoted that it only stayed in the local theater for about a week and a half.

Anonymous said...

Ken, When will we see the TV show based on your blog? dfw

Rashad Khan said...

Point of fact: Tom Anderson did not create or even co-create "Living Single." That series was entirely Yvette Lee Bowser's creation. However, because she'd never run a show before (she'd worked as a staff writer and producer on "A Different World" and the first season of "Hanging with Mr. Cooper") the network (FOX) and the production company (Warner Bros.) brought in Anderson. But, according to Bowser herself, Anderson's involvement as show runner was minimal, and for the most part, he stayed out of her way.

...and yes, I know it's strange to bring this up eleven years later, but it's been nagging at me. Sorry.

Pepper said...

Is this feed still active? Any notes or interviews where CHEERS writers talk about their writing process? Such a great show.