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Tom Fontana

Tom Fontana is an American writer, producer born on 12 September 1951 in Buffalo, New York, USA

He is the producer for Oz, The Jury, and Homicide: Life on the Street.

Tom was born on the west side of Buffalo, New York, and is the fourth of five children in an Italian-American family. He attended Cathedral School, Canisius High School, and Buffalo State College. He worked at the Studio Arena Theater in Buffalo in various capacities before moving to New York City in 1973. Tom began writing plays when he was about 9 years old. The early efforts were recorded into a reel-to-reel tape recorder with the neighbor kids as performers. At least one of his plays was produced when he was a student at Buffalo State. His college stage debut as an actor was in a production of George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan, directed by his frequent mentor, Warren Enters. Tom's efforts as a playwright never proved financially successful. It was while working at the Williamstown Theater Festival in the early 1980s, that he was offered the opportunity to write for television — the offer coming from Bruce Paltrow who was launching a series called St. Elsewhere on NBC. [Source of this paragraph: first-hand knowledge.]

Tom Fontana has written and produced such ground breaking television series as St. Elsewhere, Homicide: Life on the Street, and Oz, for which he has received, among others, three Emmy Awards, four Peabody Awards, three Writers' Guild Awards, four Television Critics Association Awards, the Cable Ace Award, the Humanitas Prize and the first prize at the Cinema Tout Ecran Festival in France.

Fontana wrote the HBO film Strip Search, directed by Sidney Lumet, as well as contributing two pieces to the September 11th special, America: A Tribute to Heroes. He was the executive producer of American Tragedy for CBS, Shot in the Heart for HBO Films, the independent film Jean and the documentary The Press Secretary for PBS.

Fontana has written articles for such periodicals as The New York Times, TV Guide and Esquire and has taught at Columbia, Syracuse, Rutgers and the State University College at Buffalo, his alma mater, from which he received the Distinguished Alumni Award and an Honorary Doctorate of Letters.

Fontana has had numerous plays produced in New York, where he lives, and at San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre, the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, the Buffalo Studio Arena Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival and McCarter Theatre Company. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, the Producers Guild of America, and the WGA, East, from which he received the Evelyn F. Burkey Award for lifetime achievement.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2005.

Tom Fontana Facts

OccupationProducer, Screenwriter
BirthdaySeptember 12, 1951 (72)
BirthplaceNew York, New York, USA

Selected Filmography

The Tip
Napoleon's Boney Parts
Dead Man Talking
A Cock and Balls Story
Visits, Conjugal and Otherwise
Strip Search
Husbands and Fathers
Home, Sweet Home
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