John Wells (TV producer)
Wells at a ceremony to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in January 2012
|Born||John Marcum Wells
May 28, 1956
Alexandria, Virginia, U.S.
|Occupation||Director, producer, writer|
He is best known for his role as executive producer and showrunner of the television series ER, Third Watch, The West Wing, and Shameless. His company, John Wells Productions, is currently based at Warner Bros. studios in Burbank, California. Wells is also a labor leader, and was elected president of the Writers Guild of America, West in 2009, after serving a prior term in that office from 1999–2001.
Early life 
Wells was born in Alexandria, Virginia, the son of Marjorie Elizabeth (née Risberg) and Llewellyn Wallace Wells, Jr., an Episcopalian minister. He graduated from the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama in 1979. A studio theatre at Carnegie Mellon University bears his name. While at CMU, he was one of the earliest actors to work at City Theatre, a prominent fixture of Pittsburgh theatre.
China Beach 
He was hired as a producer for the second season of ABC drama series China Beach in 1988. The show was created by John Sacret Young and William Broyles, Jr. and focused on combat medics in the Vietnam war. Wells wrote five episodes for the first season – "X-Mas Chn. Bch. VN, '67", "Tet '68", "Vets" and both parts of the two part season finale "The World".
He was promoted to supervising producer for the third season of China Beach in 1989. He wrote three further episodes for the third season – "Dear China Beach", "Magic", and "The Thanks of a Grateful Nation". He returned as a co-executive producer for the fourth and final season in 1990. He was involved in writing ten further episodes. He co-wrote the story for the season premiere with Sacret Young, Carol Flint and Lydia Woodward and wrote the teleplay himself. He worked with the same team to develop the story for the second episode "She Sells More Than Sea Shells", the third episode "You, Babe", the fourth episode "Escape", the fifth episode "Fever", the sixth episode "Juice", the seventh episode "One Giant Leap" and the eighth episode "One Small Step". He co-wrote the fourteenth episode "Rewind" with Flint. He co-wrote the teleplay and co-wrote the story for the series finale "Hello Goodbye" along with Sacret Young.
Wells wrote sixteen episodes of the series in total. He frequently worked with producer/director Mimi Leder on China Beach and she helmed six of the episodes he wrote. China Beach also marked the start of Wells working relationship with casting director John Frank Levey, editors Randy Jon Morgan and Jacque Toberen and directors Rod Holcomb and Fred Gerber.
TV movies 
Wells worked on two television films in 1992 Angel Street and The Nightman. Wells co-wrote and was the co-executive producer of The Nightman. The film was directed by Charles Haid and is about a young man moving into a hotel run by a mother and daughter. Wells helped to adapt the teleplay from the radio drama by Lucille Fletcher.
Angel Street was written and executive produced by Wells. It reunited him with several China Beach crew members including director Rod Holcomb, editor Jacque Toberen, and casting director John Frank Levey. The telefilm was followed by a series on which Wells again worked as an executive producer. Wells also wrote the screenplay for Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day Story, the project was produced in 1996 and starred Martin Sheen and Moira Kelly.
In 1994 Wells was hired as an executive producer for the pilot of NBC medical drama ER. The show was created by novelist Michael Crichton. The pilot episode was directed by frequent Wells collaborator Rod Holcomb and John Frank Levey was involved as a casting director. The pilot was edited by frequent China Beach editor Randy Jon Morgan.
Wells became the show runner and head writer for the ongoing series that followed the pilot. He was credited as an executive producer for all fifteen seasons of the series and served as the show runner for the first six seasons. He hired China Beach writer Lydia Woodward as a supervising producer and writer. China Beach director Mimi Leder also became a supervising producer and regular director. ER marked the start of Wells longstanding collaboration with producer/director Christopher Chulack and music composer Martin Davich.
Wells wrote five episodes of the first season including the second episode "Day One", "Chicago Heat", "Feb 5 1995", "The Birthday Party", and the season finale "Everything Old Is New Again".
Wells and the producers were nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series at the 1995 ceremony for their work on the first season. The season was nominated for 23 Emmy Awards and won 8 in total. Wells and Michael Crichton won a Producers Guild of America Award at the 1994 ceremony. Wells and Crichton also received an honorable mention at the Wise Owl Awards in the Television and Theatrical Film Fiction category.
Wells remained show runner for the second season in 1995. He hired his China Beach colleague Carol Flint as a co-executive producer for the second season. Wells wrote four more episodes for the second season – the season premiere "Welcome Back, Carter!", "Dead of Winter", "The Healers", and the season finale "John Carter MD". Wells and the producers won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series at the 1996 ceremony for their work on the second season. Wells was also nominated for a Humanitas Prize (in the 60 minute category) and an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for the episode "The Healers".
Wells remained the head writer for the third season in 1996 and wrote the season premiere "Doctor Carter, I Presume", "Faith", and the season finale "One More For The Road". Wells and the producers were nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series at the 1997 ceremony for their work on the third season. Wells was again nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for the episode "Faith".
He continued in the same capacity for the fourth season in 1997 and wrote two further episodes "Fathers and Sons", and "Carter's Choice". Wells also made his television directing debut with his screenplay "Carter's Choice". Wells and the producers were nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series at the 1998 ceremony for their work on the fourth season.
Wells returned as head writer for the fifth season in 1998. He wrote both parts of the two part episode "The Storm" and also directed the first part. Wells and the producers were once again nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series at the 1999 ceremony for their work on the fifth season. Wells stood down as show runner after the fifth season but remained an executive producer and major creative force behind the series. In the 1999–2000 TV season his company Wells productions launched two new series The West Wing and Third Watch.
Woodward took over as show runner for the sixth season but Wells wrote "The Peace of Wild Things" and wrote and directed "Such Sweet Sorrow". Wells and the producers were once again nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series at the 2000 ceremony for their work on the sixth season but lost out to Wells' other show The West Wing. Wells was nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for his work on "Such Sweet Sorrow". He was also nominated for the 2000 PGA Vision Award for his work on ER, Third Watch and The West Wing.
Wells continued to write for the seventh season and contributed two episodes "The Visit", and "A Walk in the Woods". Wells was nominated for a Humanitas Prize for his work on "A Walk in the Woods". Wells and the producers were once again nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series at the 2001 ceremony for their work on the seventh season and were again beaten by Wells's other series The West Wing.
For the eighth season Wells wrote the episode "Secrets and Lies" and wrote the penultimate episode "On the Beach" which featured the departure of longterm cast member Anthony Edwards. Wells was nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for his work on "On the Beach" at the 2002 ceremony. He was also nominated for a further Humanitas Prize and a Writers Guild of America (WGA) Award at the 2003 ceremony for the episode.
For the ninth season Wells wrote the final episode "Kisangani". The episode was set in Africa and followed the characters of John Carter and Luka Kovač. He returned in fall 2003 to write the tenth season premiere "Now What?" and second episode "The Lost". The episodes continued to deal with Carter and Kovac's travels in Africa, particularly "The Lost" which featured Carter searching for a missing Kovac in the Congo. Wells also wrote mid-season episode "Makemba" which dealt with Carter beginning a relationship with the titular character, an AIDS worker. He wrote the penultimate episode "Midnight" which featured Carter's return to Chicago with a pregnant Makemba. Wells was again nominated for a Humanitas Prize, this time for his work on "Makemba".
He continued to handle Carter's storylines for the eleventh season and wrote the penultimate episode "Carter est Amoureux" and directed the finale "The Show Must Go On" which marked the departure of Noah Wyle (who played Carter) from the starring cast. For the twelfth season Wells co-wrote the premiere episode "Canon City" with Lisa Zwerling and Joe Sachs.
Wells served solely as an executive producer and director on the thirteenth and fourteenth seasons. He directed the thirteenth season episode "Jigsaw", and the fourteenth episode "300 Patients". He returned as a writer for the fifteenth and final season and wrote and directed the episode "Old Times" which featured the several past starring cast members including Noah Wyle, George Clooney, Julianna Margulies, and Eriq La Salle. When ER ended in 2009, Wells had written 31 episodes, and directed 7.
Wells Productions also produced Trinity, a short lived NBC family drama focusing on an Irish-American family in Hell's Kitchen. Wells served as an executive producer and writer for the series but it was cancelled after only nine episodes due to low ratings. The series won an Emmy Award for composer Martin Davich's music. Davich also worked on ER. The show starred John Spencer, Tate Donovan and Kim Raver. It also featured Third Watch actors Bobby Cannavale, Skipp Sudduth, and Molly Price.
Third Watch 
Wells co-created Third Watch with ex-Chicago police officer Edward Allen Bernero. Wells worked as show runner on Third Watch for its first three seasons and served as an executive producer throughout its six season run. The series focused on emergency services workers across a single shift in New York. The first season began in 1999. Wells and Bernero co-wrote the pilot episode "Welcome to Camelot".
Wells wrote four second season episodes the premiere enitled "The Lost", "Faith", "Requiem for a Bantamweight", and the finale "...and Zeus Wept". Wells directed the second season episode "True Love".
Wells wrote a further four episodes for the third season in 2001 – "September Tenth", "After Time", "Adam 55-3", and "Two Hundred and Thirty-Three Days". Bernero took over as show runner after the third season and Wells remained attached as an executive producer until Third Watch ended in 2005 but did not write any more episodes.
The West Wing 
Wells took over as show runner of The West Wing in 2003 for the fifth season. He ran the show for three seasons until its conclusion in 2006.
During the 2008 to 2009 television season Wells developed Southland for NBC. The series was created by Ann Biderman. It follows detectives and patrol officers in the titular area of Los Angeles. Wells returned as an executive producer for the second season in fall 2009 and co-wrote the season premiere "Phase Three" with Biderman. NBC canceled the series while the second season was in production but the episodes were picked up and aired by TNT.
TNT renewed the series for a third season and Wells remained an executive producer and writer. He again co-wrote the season premiere "Let It Snow" with Biderman. He also wrote the teleplay for the season finale "Graduation Day" from a story by his ex-assistant Heather Zuhlke.
In 2009, Wells began work on an American adaptation of the British series Shameless. Originally commissioned by HBO, the project moved to competing network Showtime, where it debuted in January 2011.
Starring William H. Macy as an alcoholic single father of six children, Shameless was the best performing first-year drama in Showtime's history. The show's second season began airing on January 8, 2012.
Wells made his directorial debut with the film drama The Company Men, starring Ben Affleck. The film was scheduled for release in the fall of 2010 but premiered earlier at the Sundance film festival. After the Sundance screening, The Hollywood Reporter said, "Wells has made, for his first film, a tough movie and certainly not a commercial one. This displays the kind of guts he always brought to his television work, which one can only hope continues on in other future film projects."
|Shameless||TV||2011–present||Executive producer, director, writer|
|The Company Men||Film||2010||Director||Completed|
|Goat||Film||2010||Executive producer||Currently in production|
|Major Bummer||Film||2010||Producer||Currently in production|
|Electric Slide||Film||2008||Executive producer||Currently in production|
|Positively Fifth Street||Film||2009||Executive producer||Announced|
|Dirty Girl||Film||2010||executive producer||In production|
|Southland||TV||2009–present||Executive producer||Formerly known as LAPD, then Police|
|Then She Found Me||Film||2007||executive producer|
|I'm Not There||Film||2007||Executive producer|
|Smith||TV||2006||Creator||Cut after 3 of 7 episodes were aired|
|An American Crime||Film||2007||Executive producer|
|The West Wing||TV||1999–2006|
|The Notorious Bettie Page||Film||2005|
|Jonny Zero||2005||Cancelled after 8 episodes|
|A Dirty Shame||Film||2004||Executive producer|
|A Home at the End of the World||Film||2004||Producer|
|Dark Shadows||TV||2004||Executive producer||Never aired|
|The Company||Film||2003||Executive producer|
|Party Monster||Film||2003||Executive producer|
|The Big Time||TV||2002||Executive producer|
|The Good Thief||Film||2002||Producer|
|Far from Heaven||Film||2002||Executive producer|
|The West Wing Documentary Special||TV||Documentary|
|One Hour Photo||Film||2002||Executive producer|
|Citizen Baines||TV||2001||Writer||Cut after 6 of 9 episodes were aired|
|The Grey Zone||Film||2001||Executive producer|
|Trinity||TV||2001||Executive producer and writer|
|The Peacemaker||Film||1997||Co-executive producer|
|Angel Street||TV||1992||Executive producer and writer|
|The Nightman||TV||1992||Co-executive producer and writer|
|CBS Summer Playhouse: Roughhouse||TV||1987–1989||Writer|
|Nice Girls Don't Explode||Film||1987|
Awarded the 2005 David Suskind Achievement Award in TC from Producers Guild of America
- "Company Town". The Los Angeles Times. 2009-09-18.
- "John Wells Biography (1956–)". Filmreference. 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-02.
- Horn, John (2010-01-22). "Director John Wells questions priorities in 'Company Men'". AZ Central.com. Retrieved 2010-09-02.
- Conner, Lynne (2007). Pittsburgh In Stages: Two Hundred Years of Theater. University of Pittsburgh Press. pg. 247. ISBN 978-0-8229-4330-3. Retrieved 2011-07-15.
- Mimi Leder (1994-09-22). "Day One". ER. Season 1. Episode 2. NBC.
- Elodie Keene (1994-10-20). "Chicago Heat". ER. Season 1. Episode 6. NBC.
- James Hayman (1995-02-02). "Feb 5 1995". ER. Season 1. Episode 15. NBC.
- Elodie Keene (1995-02-16). "The Birthday Party". ER. Season 1. Episode 17. NBC.
- Mimi Leder (1995-05-18). "Everything Old Is New Again". ER. Season 1. Episode 25. NBC.
- Mimi Leder (1995-09-21). "Welcome Back, Carter!". ER. Season 2. Episode 1. NBC.
- Whitney Ransick (1996-01-04). "Dead of Winter". ER. Season 2. Episode 11. NBC.
- Mimi Leder (1996-02-22). "The Healers". ER. Season 2. Episode 16. NBC.
- Christopher Chulack (1996-05-16). "John Carter MD". ER. Season 2. Episode 22. NBC.
- Christopher Chulack (1996-09-26). "Doctor Carter, I Presume". ER. Season 3. Episode 1. NBC.
- Jonathan Robert Kaplan (1997-02-20). "Faith". ER. Season 3. Episode 16. NBC.
- Christopher Chulack (1997-05-15). "One More For The Road". ER. Season 3. Episode 22. NBC.
- Christopher Chulack (1997-11-13). "Fathers and Sons". ER. Season 4. Episode 7. NBC.
- John Wells (1998-01-29). "Carter's Choice". ER. Season 4. Episode 13. NBC.
- John Wells (1999-02-11). "The Storm: Part 1". ER. Season 5. Episode 14. NBC.
- Christopher Chulack (1999-02-18). "The Storm: Part 2". ER. Season 5. Episode 15. NBC.
- Richard Thorpe (1999-11-11). "The Peace of Wild Things". ER. Season 6. Episode 6. NBC.
- John Wells (2000-05-11). "Such Sweet Sorrow". ER. Season 6. Episode 21. NBC.
- Jonathan Robert Kaplan (2000-11-16). "The Visit". ER. Season 7. Episode 6. NBC.
- John Wells (2001-02-15). "A Walk in the Woods". ER. Season 7. Episode 14. NBC.
- Richard Thorpe (2002-03-07). "Secrets and Lies". ER. Season 8. Episode 16. NBC.
- John Wells (2002-05-09). "On the Beach". ER. Season 8. Episode 21. NBC.
- Christopher Chulack (2003-05-15). "Kisangani". ER. Season 9. Episode 22. NBC.
- Jonathan Robert Kaplan (2003-09-25). "Now What?". ER. Season 10. Episode 1. NBC.
- Christopher Chulack (2003-10-02). "The Lost". ER. Season 10. Episode 2. NBC.
- Christopher Chulack (2003-12-11). "Makemba". ER. Season 10. Episode 10. NBC.
- Julie Hebert (2004-05-06). "Midnight". ER. Season 10. Episode 21. NBC.
- Christopher Chulack (2005-05-12). "Carter est Amoureux". ER. Season 11. Episode 21. NBC.
- David Zabel (2005-05-19). "The Show Must Go On". ER. Season 11. Episode 22. NBC.
- Christopher Chulack (2005-09-22). "Canon City". ER. Season 12. Episode 1. NBC.
- John Wells (2006-11-09). "Jigsaw". ER. Season 13. Episode 7. NBC.
- John Wells (2007-12-06). "300 Patients". ER. Season 14. Episode 10. NBC.
- John Wells (2009-03-12). "Old Times". ER. Season 15. Episode 19. NBC.
- Christopher Chulack (1999-09-23). "Welcome to Camelot". Third Watch. Season 1. Episode 1. NBC.
- R. W. Goodwin (1999-11-07). "Sunny, Like Sunshine". Third Watch. Season 1. Episode 6. NBC.
- Guy Norman Bee (2000-02-07). "This Band of Brothers". Third Watch. Season 1. Episode 13. NBC.
- Christopher Chulack (2000-04-17). "Spring Forward, Fall Back". Third Watch. Season 1. Episode 19. NBC.
- Christopher Chulack (2000-05-22). "Young Men and Fire". Third Watch. Season 1. Episode 22. NBC.
- Christopher Chulack (2001-02-12). "Requiem for a Bantamweight". Third Watch. Season 2. Episode 15. NBC.
- Guy Norman Bee (2001-05-21). "…and Zeus Wept". Third Watch. Season 2. Episode 22. NBC.
- John Wells (2000-01-22). "True Love". Third Watch. Season 2. Episode 12. NBC.
- Guy Norman Bee (2001-10-22). "September Tenth". Third Watch. Season 3. Episode 2. NBC.
- Felix Enriquez Alcala (2001-10-29). "After Time". Third Watch. Season 3. Episode 3. NBC.
- Jesus Salvador Trevino (2002-11-19). "Adam 55-3". Third Watch. Season 3. Episode 5. NBC.
- Brooke Kennedy (2003-05-06). "Two Hundred and Thirty-Three Days". Third Watch. Season 3. Episode 21. NBC.
- Leigh Holmwood (5 January 2009). "HBO cues up US version of Shameless". The Guardian (London).
- Moody, Mike (April 8, 2010). "Showtime picks up 'Shameless' remake". Digital Spy. Retrieved December 7, 2010.
- Andreeva, Nellie (July 12, 2010). "January Premiere Dates For Showtime's 'Shameless', 'Episodes' & 'Californication'". Deadline Hollywood.
- Gorman, Bill (1 February 2011). ""Shameless" Ratings Rise On Sunday". TV By The Numbers. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
- Porter, Rick (2011-08-04). "'Weeds' may continue past Season 7; 'Shameless' returns in January". Zap2it. Retrieved 2011-08-05.
- "The Company Men - Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. 2010-10-14. Retrieved 2011-12-29.