November 27, 1972 |
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
|Occupation||Screenwriter, producer and director|
Shane Salerno (born November 27, 1972) is an American screenwriter and producer. At the age of twenty-four he co-wrote the worldwide blockbuster Armageddon directed by Michael Bay, which became the highest-grossing film of 1998. He most recently co-wrote and executive produced Savages directed by Oliver Stone. He has also written and produced television including the Golden Globe-nominated Hawaii Five-0 for CBS, (2010–present), co-created and executive produced UC: Undercover for NBC (2000–2002) and began as a writer for Fox's New York Undercover (1995–1998), the first police drama on American television to feature two people of color in the starring roles.
He is the producer and director of the forthcoming documentary Salinger about reclusive author J. D. Salinger which will be released theatrically by The Weinstein Company on September 6, 2013 and then premiere as the 200th episode of American Masters in January, 2014.
Early life and education
Shane Salerno was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1972. He attended ten schools in twelve years on both coasts of the United States including St. John's College High School, a military Academy in Washington, D.C. where Salerno was co-captain of the football team and the only write-in class President since the school was founded in 1851. At San Dieguito High School in Encinitas, California, Salerno was editor of the school newspaper, played varsity football and was voted "most likely to succeed" by his classmates.
Sundown: The Future of Children and Drugs
Salerno first made national headlines as a high school senior when he wrote, produced and directed the award winning documentary film Sundown: The Future of Children and Drugs. The film had its world premiere on Larry King Live in September 1991. Larry King ended the interview by saying "And Shane Salerno, one has a feeling we are going to be hearing about you. I have this feeling."  Sundown won several "best documentary of the year" honors and Salerno was honored in separate ceremonies in both houses of the United States Congress.
At the age of 19, Salerno was invited by Gregory Hoblit, a nine-time Emmy winning producer/director, to apprentice as a writer/director on NYPD Blue. In an interview with Creative Screenwriting, Salerno credited the backstage pass as his film school.
New York Undercover
Steven Spielberg hires to write first screenplay
Salerno made the transition to features at 23 when Steven Spielberg hired him to adapt the World War II submarine thriller 'Thunder Below' based on the book by Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Eugene B. Fluckey. Salerno's first feature film script was also one of the earliest projects put into development by the newly formed DreamWorks Pictures. In an April 29, 1999 article in Variety, Salerno stated that he went to "writing school" under Spielberg.
In 1997, director Michael Bay recruited a 24-year-old Salerno to rewrite Jonathan Hensleigh's screenplay Armageddon. In the book Visions of Armageddon, Michael Bay calls Salerno's work "brilliant". The blockbuster film debuted at #1 on July 1, 1998 and was the highest grossing film of 1998, earning more than half a billion dollars worldwide. Following his work on Armageddon Variety selected Salerno as one of the "hottest new creatives on the film scene".
In 1998, director John Singleton asked Salerno to serve as his writing partner on Shaft. The Singleton-Salerno collaboration (aided by Richard Price) was well reviewed by major critics and resulted in Salerno's second #1 film when "Shaft" debuted on June 16, 2000.
Salerno then pushed into more dramatic material with screenplays for Academy Award winning directors Ron Howard (The Bay of Pigs), William Friedkin (Night Train/Sonny Liston Story), Academy Award nominee Michael Mann (The Border) and a post 9/11 spy thriller for Oscar winning producers Michael Douglas and Irwin Winkler for Douglas to star in.
In 1999, Salerno sold the rights to the bestseller Zodiac to Disney's Touchstone Pictures in a seven figure deal announced in Variety on August 4, 1997. When Disney let the rights lapse, David Fincher directed Zodiac based on the same book for another studio.
In 2001–2002, Salerno returned to television by co-creating (with crime novelist Don Winslow) the NBC series UC: Undercover which TV Guide described as "Donnie Brasco meets Mission Impossible." The series starred Vera Farmiga, Oded Fehr, Jon Seda and Ving Rhames. According to an October, 2001 profile in Reel West Magazine, Salerno served as executive producer, showrunner, head writer, and music supervisor. The series won and was nominated for awards in acting, cinematography and sound.
In October 2003, Salerno re-teamed with blockbuster director Michael Bay on a television crime series for ABC that Salerno created and Bay was set to direct. In 2004, Salerno rewrote the screenplay for Alien vs. Predator which debuted #1 at the box office on August 13 and went onto become the most successful film in the history of either franchise. His work led Twentieth Century Fox to hire him to write the sequel Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem which was a worldwide box office hit in December, 2007.
In 2004 Salerno became the youngest "Guest of Honor" speaker in the history of the Los Angeles Screenwriting Expo. He made follow up appearances in 2005 and 2006. When interviewed for Expo 5, Creative Screenwriting Magazine publisher Erik Bauer remarked that "Shane Salerno has been really supportive over the years, and is a great mentor for a number of writers that I know."
In May 2009, Salerno signed on to write a project for James Cameron and 20th Century Fox.
License to Steal
On Monday, June 29, 2009, Variety carried a front page story about Salerno selling "License to Steal," a pitch for "seven figures upfront" to Paramount Pictures and Kurtzman-Orci Productions (Star Trek, Transformers). Variety described the project as "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid set in the world of hi-line repo." Several studios and A-list directors pursued Salerno. According to Variety, Salerno made the pitch four times. He accompanied Bryan Singer (X-Men, Usual Suspects) to Sony, McG (Terminator: Salvation) to Warner Brothers and Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) to Universal before deciding on Paramount Pictures and Kurtzman-Orci in a deal Variety said was "...the priciest project deal of the summer." Kurtzman and Orci issued a joint statement: "We're thrilled to be working with Shane, a wildly inventive and talented creator."
On March 31, 2010 a front page Variety story announced that Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum) will direct the film from Salerno's screenplay for Twentieth Century Fox and Lightstorm Entertainment.
Producer Jon Landau (Avatar) stated the following to Home Theater Forum: "We have been in conversations with Paul Greengrass but nothing has been concluded. Shane Salerno has delivered us a great script and we look forward to moving forward soon."
In addition to his producing duties, Salerno was credited for writing the episode "Po'ipu" (Episode 9) on November 15, 2010, co-writing "El Malama" (Episode 16) on February 7, 2011 and "Ho'op'i" (Episode 20) on April 18, 2011 which featured a special guest appearance by Sean Combs.
On March 4, 2010, Deadline New York announced that Oliver Stone would next direct an adaptation of Don Winslow's crime novel Savages, co-written and executive produced by Shane Salerno. The all-star cast included John Travolta, Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Emile Hirsch, and Blake Lively. Universal Pictures distributed the film.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three and a half stars (out of four) and praised Oliver Stone's direction, saying, "Much of the fascination of Savages comes through Stone's treatment of the negotiations, which involve percentages, sliding scales over three years, an ultimate payout, and other financial details that drugs have in common with big business. It's spellbinding to watch the two sides trying to out think each other."
On January 29, 2010, the website Deadline Hollywood broke an exclusive story and review of Salinger, a feature-length documentary about reclusive author J. D. Salinger that Salerno directed, produced and financed himself. The documentary was kept secret for five years. The film features interviews with 150 subjects including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, John Cusack, Danny DeVito, John Guare, Martin Sheen, David Milch, Robert Towne, Tom Wolfe, E.L. Doctorow, and Pulitzer Prize winners A. Scott Berg, Elizabeth Frank and Gore Vidal. Michael Fleming, the first journalist in the world to view the film, said Salerno's picture was "arrestingly powerful and exhaustively researched." Additionally, Fleming announced that Salerno had co-written a 700 page biography on Salinger with New York Times bestselling author David Shields.
In August, 2010 Newsweek ran a lengthy profile of Salerno's documentary titled "Salinger Like You've Never Seen Him." Salerno allowed the magazine to publish a never-before-seen photo of Salinger from Salerno's film.
On January 26, 2011 Salerno spoke with AP about his Salinger documentary and its expected fall 2012 release. "In the final analysis, what distinguishes our film and book project is access — access to Salinger's friends, colleagues and members of his inner circle that have never spoken on the record before as well as film footage, photographs and other material that has never been seen," Salerno said. "We take the viewer and reader inside J.D. Salinger's private world and shine light on a man named Jerry who lived in the shadow of the myth of J.D. Salinger."
Film & television credits
|Year||Film / Television Show||Notes|
|1991||Sundown: The Future of Children and Drugs||Director/Producer/Writer/Narrator/Music Supervisor|
|1993–1994||NYPD Blue||Writer/Director Apprentice|
|1995–1996||New York Undercover||Writer|
|1998||Armageddon||Adaptation (Shared with Tony Gilroy)|
|2001–2002||UC: Undercover||Director/Executive Producer/Head Writer/Showrunner/Music Supervisor|
|2004||Alien vs. Predator||Production Rewrite|
|2007||Ghost Rider||Contributing Writer|
|Aliens vs Predator: Requiem||Screenplay|
|2010–Present||Hawaii Five-0||Writer/Consulting Producer|
|2014||Untitled Shane Salerno/Kurtzman-Orci Project||Written By/Executive Producer|
|Untitled Chuck Hogan/Don Winslow Crime Drama||Producer|
- Dave Itzkoff. "Biography of J.D. Salinger Coming in September". New York Times.
- NYT Staff. "Savages Production Credits". The New York Times.
- "Hip-Hop Cops", TV Guide, Oct. 15, 1994, at p. 29.
- Mike Fleming. "Secret J.D. Salinger Documentary & Book, Now Revealed (Mike Has Seen The Film)". Deadline.com.
- Mike Fleming. "TOLDJA! Weinstein Company Confirms Worldwide Rights Deal For Shane Salerno Docu ‘Salinger;’ Sets September 6 Release". Deadline.com.
- Mike Fleming Jr. "EXCLUSIVE: Film Distributors Circle J.D. Salinger Documentary Following Licensing Deal To ‘American Masters’". Deadline.
- Dave Itzkoff. "Biography of J.D. Salinger Coming in September". New York Times.
- Kevin Jagernauth. "Author Don Winslow Talks Latest Thriller 'Satori' & The Brewing Film Adaptation With Leonardo DiCaprio". The Playlist.
- Detour Magazine, November, 1999. Fade in Magazine, September, 1999
- Kevin Brass. "Up Against His Own Deadline". Los Angeles Times.
- Creative Screenwriting, Volume 11, Number 4, Page 32-33, David Konow, July/August, 2004.
- Larry King Live, CNN, September 26, 1991
- 102d Congress, First Session and April 19, 1991 Congressional Record, No. 57
- Congressional Record, Thursday, April 18th, 1991, Volume 137, Number 57, Author: Congressman Bill Lowery
- "Shane Salerno and UC: Undercover", Den Shewman, Creative Screenwriting, September/October 2001
- Fleming, Michael (April 28, 1999). "Snipes in talks with HBO; scripter Salerno hot". Variety.
- Visions of Armageddon, Mark Cotta Vaz, Hyperion Books, 1998, page 44.
- Variety, Chris Petrikin, August 25, 1997.
- Fleming, Michael (October 9, 2000). "Salerno tries on Jersey deal". Variety.
- Petrikin, Chris (August 3, 1997). "Salerno signs 'Zodiac' deal". Variety.
- Reel West Magazine, October/November, 2001, pages 18, 19 and 37.
- Adalian, Josef (July 2, 2001). "Thesp goes 'Undercover'". Variety.
- Adalian, Josef (October 9, 2003). "'Armageddon' guys reteam". Variety.
- A conversation with Erik Bauer - Screenwriting Expo 5 Preview. Los Angeles. October 19–22, 2006. pollystaffle.com
- "Fox picks up 'Doomsday Protocol'". The Hollywood Reporter.[dead link]
- McClintock, Pamela (June 28, 2009). "Paramount nabs 'Steal'". Variety.
- "EXCLUSIVE: 'Fantastic Voyage' Is The Secret James Cameron/Shane Salerno Collaboration You've Been Hearing About". MTV.
- McClintock, Pamela (March 31, 2010). "Paul Greengrass circles 'Fantastic Voyage'". Variety.
- Mike Fleming. "Oliver Stone Plots Drug Cartel Drama". Deadline.
- James White. "Travolta and Thurman Signed For Savages With Blake Lively confirmed as O". Empire Magazine.
- Justin Kroll (April 22, 2011). "Emile Hirsch goes native with 'Savages'". Variety.
- Mike Fleming. "John Travolta, Uma Thurman And Blake Lively Join 'Savages' Cast". Deadline.
- McClintock, Pamela. "Oliver Stone's 'Savages' Hot Enough For Summer". The Hollywood Reporter.
- Mike Fleming. "Secret J.D. Salinger Documentary & Book, Now Revealed (Mike Has Seen The Film)". Deadline.
- Nicole Sperling. "J.D. Salinger documentary: the top-secret film five years in the making". Entertainment Weekly.