London, England, UK
|Occupation||Screenwriter, producer, director|
|Spouse(s)||Miranda Phillips Cowley (m. 1993)|
Bruno Heller (born 1960) is an English screenwriter and creator of the HBO television series Rome and CBS television series The Mentalist. Son of Hollywood screenwriter Lukas Heller, he is brother to columnist and Notes on a Scandal author Zoë Heller. He is currently creating a TV series based on the Batman character James Gordon called Gotham for Fox Broadcasting Company.
Early life and family
Heller's father, Lukas, was a German Jewish emigre and screenwriter (Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?). His mother, Caroline (née Carter), was an English Quaker and instrumental in keeping up the Labour Party's "Save London Transport Campaign". He has three siblings, including Zoë, a columnist and writer who has published three novels, including Notes on a Scandal.
Heller graduated from the University of Sussex in Brighton. He was a union soundman working in England in the 1980s when film sets were staunchly hierarchical. While working as a soundman on a series of films about England's infamous Miners' Strike, Heller met well-regarded Portuguese director Eduardo Guedes. The two teamed up on what would become Heller's first writing credit, the 1994 film Pax starring Amanda Plummer. (“Pax" is the acronym for the Portuguese epitaph on gravestones.)
He left England for New York, where he would meet his wife, Miranda, at a disco. After five years in the city, Heller moved to Los Angeles, where he got work on various television dramas including two projects for the USA Network: Touching Evil and The Huntress. But his breakthrough came with Rome, which he co-created. After the cancellation of that series for its high costs, Heller created The Mentalist. In September 2012, it was reported that Heller sold a legal drama named The Advocates to CBS, which was written and executive produced by him, but the project finally got a pass in May 2013.[clarification needed] He is currently creating and writing on a TV series based on the Batman character James Gordon called Gotham for Fox Broadcasting Company.
He is probably most known for his work on the television series Rome, co-produced by HBO and the BBC, which Heller created along with John Milius and William J. MacDonald. In addition to creating the series, Heller was also an executive producer and head writer, penning a total of 11 episodes for the series, including the pilot episode and the series finale.
The series primarily chronicles the lives and deeds of the rich, powerful, and "historically significant", yet it also focuses on the lives, fortunes, families, and acquaintances of two common men: Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo, two Roman soldiers mentioned historically in Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico. The fictionalised Vorenus and Pullo manage to witness and often influence many of the historical events presented in the series.
Rome episodes written by Heller
- "The Stolen Eagle" (pilot)
- "How Titus Pullo Brought Down the Republic"
- "An Owl in a Thornbush"
- "Stealing from Saturn"
- "The Ram has Touched the Wall"
- "Egeria" (with John Milius)
- "The Spoils"
- "Kalends of February" (season finale)
In 2008, Heller created the hit CBS television series, The Mentalist, with his production company Primrose Hill Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television. On 7 January 2009, the show won the award for "Favorite New TV Drama" at the 35th People's Choice Awards and since then, the star, Simon Baker has received several nominations for his portrayal of the lead character, Patrick Jane. He has acted as the series' showrunner from season 1 to season 6. As of season 7, he departed the show to focus on his new show, Gotham.
The Mentalist follows Patrick Jane, an independent consultant for the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI) based in Sacramento, California. He has a remarkable track record for solving serious crimes by using his amazing skills of observation. Jane also makes frequent use of his mentalist abilities and his semi-celebrity past as a psychic medium using paranormal abilities he now admits he feigned. He abandoned his pretense out of remorse when his attention-seeking behaviour attracted the attention of a serial killer named Red John who killed his wife and daughter.
The Mentalist episodes written by Heller
- "Red Hair and Silver Tape"
- "Red John's Friends"
- "Carnelian, Inc."
- "Red John's Footsteps" (season finale)
- "White Orchids" (series finale) with Tom Szentgyorgyi & Jordan Harper
In 2013, Fox won a bidding war for a pilot set in Gotham written by Heller.
As originally conceived, the series serves as a straightforward story of Gordon's early days on the Gotham City Police force. The show doesn't include only the Bruce Wayne character, but will also tell the origin stories of several Batman villains, including the Penguin, the Riddler, Catwoman, Two-Face, the Joker, Poison Ivy and Scarecrow. The first season will consist of 22 episodes after being extended from sixteen.
The show is scheduled to premiere in the 2014–15 television season.
Gotham episodes written by Heller
In 1993, he married Miranda Phillips Cowley, a senior vice president at HBO; the couple have two children.
- Bernhard, Lisa. "‘Mentalist’ Is a Hit, but Who Can See Into Its Future?", The New York Times, 28 November 2008
- Bruno Heller at the Internet Movie Database