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Beth Sullivan

Beth Sullivan

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Profession: producer, screenwriter, TV series creator

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

The creator and executive producer of "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," the CBS series which lifted the network out of the doldrums of Saturday nights, Beth Sullivan is one of the few women to be a show runner for a drama series. She has been with the series since she wrote the pilot in 1992, and it premiered as a regular series in January of 1993. The story of a physician from Boston (Jane Seymour) who comes to the west in the 1860s, "Dr. Quinn" also surprised the pundits by succeeding at a time when morality play westerns were considered a genre long buried and the notion of a female leading an drama with action and adventure was thought to be absurd. Sullivan originally studied anthropology at UCLA, but switched to film production and originally thought she'd make documentaries around the globe. Instead, she went to work for director Jonathan Demme as a script supervisor, and began writing screenplays. One of them was made--"Mystique/Circle of Power", a little-seen drama about "executive development training" sessions which become rituals of humiliation. The film was released under its original title in 1981, and under its alternative title in 1983. By 1984, Sullivan had cracked TV movies with "His...

The creator and executive producer of "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," the CBS series which lifted the network out of the doldrums of Saturday nights, Beth Sullivan is one of the few women to be a show runner for a drama series. She has been with the series since she wrote the pilot in 1992, and it premiered as a regular series in January of 1993. The story of a physician from Boston (Jane Seymour) who comes to the west in the 1860s, "Dr. Quinn" also surprised the pundits by succeeding at a time when morality play westerns were considered a genre long buried and the notion of a female leading an drama with action and adventure was thought to be absurd. Sullivan originally studied anthropology at UCLA, but switched to film production and originally thought she'd make documentaries around the globe. Instead, she went to work for director Jonathan Demme as a script supervisor, and began writing screenplays. One of them was made--"Mystique/Circle of Power", a little-seen drama about "executive development training" sessions which become rituals of humiliation. The film was released under its original title in 1981, and under its alternative title in 1983. By 1984, Sullivan had cracked TV movies with "His Mistress" for NBC, but her credentials soared after she wrote "A Cry For Help: The Tracey Thurman Story" (NBC, 1989). Starring Nancy McKeon, the telefeature told a story of a woman beaten by her husband who was not adequately protected by the police in her community. Rendered partially paralyzed, she took the police department to court and won a $2 million judgment for their negligence. The telefeature, which Sullivan also associated produced, was the highest-rated movie of the 1989-1990 season and is used by police departments around the country as part of domestic abuse training programs. That same year, Sullivan wrote "When He's Not A Stranger" (CBS), a telefeature about date rape on a college campus, which also broke ground and helped spark national discussion. Sullivan had been writing for series since "The Insiders" (ABC, 1985), a short-lived effort about investigate reporters. In 1990, she co-created "The Trials of Rosie O'Neill" (CBS), Sharon Gless' follow-up series to "Cagney & Lacey". While the show went off the air in 1991, CBS was interested in Sullivan's services and made a deal with her company for a series. CBS Entertainment president Jeff Sagansky asked her for "a period piece with a woman in the lead" and Sullivan created "Dr. Quinn". It has been the backbone of CBS' Saturday night line-up since soon after its premiere.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Intimate Portrait: Jane Seymour (1998) Interviewee
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Worked as script supervisor for director Jonathan Demme
1981:
Wrote screenplay for "Mystique" (aka "Circle of Power"
1984:
Wrote TV movie "His Mistress" (NBC)
1985:
Wrote episodes of "The Insiders" (ABC)
1989:
Won praise for script of "A Cry For Help: The Tracey Thurman Story" (NBC)
1990:
Co-created "The Trials of Rosie O'Neill"
1993:
Created and executive produced "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" (CBS)
1998:
Signed exclusive production and distribution deal with Atlantis Communications to develop TV-movies and series
2001:
Served as creator of the PAX drama series "The Ponderosa"
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Education

University of California at Los Angeles: Los Angeles , California -

Notes

Has served on the Board of Directors of the Writers Guild of America, West

"I'm told I'm the first woman to create and solo-executive produce a successful one-hour drama series, but in fact, there were a couple of women who created and executive-produced one-hour dramas some years ago. Those were great women, the pioneers. They really were up against it." -- Beth Sullivan in the Writers Guild Newsletter, 1994.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Jim Knobeloch. Actor. Was regular on "Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman"; born on March 18, 1950; his second marriage.

Family close complete family listing

son:
Jack Knobeloch. Born 1995; twin of Tess.
daughter:
Tess Knobeloch. Born 1995; twin of Jack.

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