Jeff Melvoin

Jeff Melvoin
Born Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Occupation Screenwriter, producer, teacher, journalist
Alma mater Harvard University
Years active 1983–present
Spouse Martha Melvoin (2 children)

Jeff Melvoin is an American television writer, producer, and educator. He has written dozens and produced hundreds of one-hour episodes on over a dozen television series.[1]

Melvoin is co-founder and chair of the Writers Guild of America's Showrunner Training Program and the Writers Education Committee.[2] He is a past board member of the Mystery Writers of America (Southern California Chapter) and the Writers Guild of America, West. He also serves as a Trustee on the Board of Humanitas, which awards the annual Humanitas Prize in television and film.[3]

Additionally, Melvoin has taught at Harvard, USC School of Cinematic Arts, UCLA, and the Sundance Institute.[4]

In 2004, Melvoin co-authored a WGA booklet, Writing for Episodic TV, which is still in print.

Early life and education

Melvoin was born in Boston, MA and grew up in Highland Park, IL. He attended Highland Park High School, and has attributed the birth of his creative career to his drama teacher Barbara Paterson. In high school, his fellow actors included Jeff Perry and Gary Sinise, two of the founding members of the Steppenwolf Theater Company.[5]

Melvoin attended Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude in 1975 with a degree in American history and literature. He wrote his senior thesis on the development of the American detective in fiction. While in college, he also directed six theatrical productions, including two on the mainstage of Harvard’s Loeb Theater.[6]

Journalism career

After college, Melvoin took a mini-MBA program at Keller Graduate School of Business Management in Chicago and was subsequently hired by Fairchild Publications (Women's Wear Daily, W) as a reporter for Fairchild News Service (FNS) in Washington, D.C. Shortly after, he was made FNS bureau chief in Miami.

In 1978, he was hired as a correspondent for TIME magazine. He worked in their New York, Boston and Los Angeles bureaus before leaving the magazine in late 1982.[7]

Television career

Melvoin began his television career in 1983 as a staff writer for the lighthearted MTM detective show Remington Steele, joining the NBC series in its second season. He worked his way up to supervising producer by the end of the show’s fourth season.[4]

In 1986, Melvoin became co-executive producer on the final season of the NBC police drama, Hill Street Blues, also produced by MTM.[4]

Melvoin then began a four-year association with Columbia TriStar Television, developing original pilots. Three of his pilots were produced, but none were picked up to series.[8]

In 1991, Melvoin was hired as a writer-producer on the CBS comedy-drama Northern Exposure, produced by Universal Television. He worked on the series from episode 17 until the end four years later writing 18 episodes and rewriting a half-dozen others. During his time on the show, Melvoin received numerous awards and nominations, including an Emmy award for best dramatic series, two Emmy nominations for best writing in a dramatic series, two Golden Globe awards and a Television Critics Association award for best dramatic series.[1]

In 1995, Melvoin became Executive Producer on the fourth season of the David E. Kelley dramatic series, Picket Fences, produced by 20th Century Fox Television for CBS. It marked Melvoin’s first showrunner position.[9]

Following Picket Fences, Melvoin signed an overall deal with Tristar Television and became a consultant on the light science fiction drama, Early Edition, for CBS. He took over the series as showrunner for seasons two through four, from 1997-2000.[10]

In 2001, he was executive producer on the Showtime drama, Going to California, produced by Columbia TriStar Television, which lasted one season.[11]

In 2003, he was executive producer on the ABC drama Line of Fire, produced by Touchstone Television. The FBI drama ran for 13 episodes.[12]

In 2004, Melvoin signed an overall deal with ABC Studios and became executive producer on season four of Alias, the J.J. Abrams spy drama produced by Touchstone Television for ABC.[13]

Following that, Melvoin became executive producer on In Justice, a short-lived ABC series from The Good Wife creators Robert and Michelle King.[14]

In 2007, Melvoin was hired as executive producer on Army Wives, produced by ABC Studios for the Lifetime Network. He ran the show in its first season, then left for other opportunities, returning to run the show for season’s three through seven, ending its run in 2013. In its day, Army Wives was the most successful one-hour drama in the history of the Lifetime network.[15]

Since then, Melvoin has worked on his own development and a variety of other projects, including the Shane Black and Fred Dekker spaghetti western series, EDGE, developed for Amazon Studios in 2015-2016, but eventually shelved.

Showrunner Training Program

In 2005, Melvoin approached Writers Guild of America West President John Wells to create a WGA Showrunner Training Program. In the face of a rapidly changing industry, Melvoin saw a need to compensate for the disappearance of the old, informal apprenticeship system in television writing-producing with an intense, master class program for selected candidates. Together, Melvoin and Wells successfully lobbied the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to fund the WGA’s Showrunner Training Program.[2]

Melvoin continues to chair the program, whose alumni include Glen Mazzara, Kenya Barris, Courtney Kemp Agboh, Matt Nix, Veena Sud, and Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, among many others, who in the program’s first eleven years have gone on to create, co-create or executive-produce over 78 series.[16]

In 2015, Melvoin was given the Morgan Cox Award, the WGA’s highest recognition “to that member whose vital ideas, continuing efforts, and personal sacrifice best exemplify the ideal of service to the Guild.” In announcing the award, WGA President Christopher Keyser said, “If this is a Golden Age of television, the program Jeff so lovingly shepherds deserves its fair share of credit. Thanks to him, as an art form and as a business, we are better at what we do.”[1]



Writers Guild of America

Army Wives

Northern Exposure

Hill Street Blues

Remington Steele


Melvoin and his wife, Martha Hartnett Melvoin, a former photojournalist for the Los Angeles Times, were married in 1984, live in Los Angeles, CA and have two sons, Nick and Charlie.


  1. 1 2 3 “TV Writer-Producer Jeff Melvoin to Receive WGAW's Morgan Cox Award for Guild Service"
  2. 1 2 "Secrets Of TV Showrunners Boot Camp". “Deadline, August 27, 2010 by The Deadline Team
  3. “Humanitas Prize Board of Trustees"
  4. 1 2 3 "Writers Guild Honors ‘Army Wives’ Exec Producer Jeff Melvoin". “Variety, December 10, 2014 by Dave McNary
  5. "Highland Park Exceeds The Talent Quota". ‘Chicago Tribune’, July 13, 1997 by Jodie Jacobs
  6. "Jeff Melvoin '75". ‘Harvarwood’, October 2007 by Kim Bendheim
  7. "LIKE IT OR NOT, NEW CHIEF REALLY SHOOK THINGS UP". Deadline, By Scott D. Pierce, Feb. 16 1996
  8. “An Interview with Jeff Melvoin, Executive Producer on ARMY WIVES"
  9. "'PICKET FENCES' IN DISREPAIR". New York Daily News, November 10, 1995 by David Bianculli
  10. "Fall TV preview: Saturday's returning shows". “Entertainment Weekly, September 11, 1998
  11. GOING TO CALIFORNIA': LONG TRIP, BUT WORTH IT". New York Daily News, August 8, 2001 by Eric Mink
  12. "TELEVISION REVIEW 'Line's' parallel worlds". “Los Angeles Times, December 2, 2003 by Carina Chocano
  13. "Yet More of One Face in Season 4 of 'Alias'". “New York Times, January 5, 2005 by Virginia Heffernan
  14. "A Mission to Free the Innocent and Expose the Guilty". “New York Times, DEC. 30, 2005 by Alessandra Stanley
  15. “Military TV: Showrunner Jeff Melvoin -"
  16. "Next Stop: Running the Show". “Emmy Magazine, October 15, 2015 by Libby Slate

External links

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