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Peter Tolan

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Also Known As: Peter James Tolan Iii Died:
Born: July 5, 1958 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Scituate, Massachusetts, USA Profession: producer, writer, director, actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A former actor and sketch comedy performer, Peter Tolan went behind the camera in the early 1990s, where he served as producer and writer on some of the most acclaimed and groundbreaking television shows of the decade and beyond, including "Murphy Brown" (CBS, 1988-1998), "The Larry Sanders Show" (HBO, 1992-98) and "Rescue Me" (FX, 2004- ). Tolan's heroes were rule-breakers and free thinkers whose discomfort with the status quo occasionally landed them in hot water or worse, but they remained fascinating to audiences as they attempted to make sense of their lives. His frequently fearless work earned him several Emmy nominations, and led to a modestly successful career in feature films, including "Analyze This" (1999) and "America's Sweethearts" (2001). But it was Tolan's unique television work that remained his most enduring, making him one most daring talents on the small screen.Born Peter James Tolan III in the coastal town of Scituate, MA on July 5, 1958, Peter Tolan discovered acting as a young man and was a staple of his high school's drama productions. In the summer of 1977, he formed the Young People's Summer Theater while on break from his studies at the University of Massachusetts at...

A former actor and sketch comedy performer, Peter Tolan went behind the camera in the early 1990s, where he served as producer and writer on some of the most acclaimed and groundbreaking television shows of the decade and beyond, including "Murphy Brown" (CBS, 1988-1998), "The Larry Sanders Show" (HBO, 1992-98) and "Rescue Me" (FX, 2004- ). Tolan's heroes were rule-breakers and free thinkers whose discomfort with the status quo occasionally landed them in hot water or worse, but they remained fascinating to audiences as they attempted to make sense of their lives. His frequently fearless work earned him several Emmy nominations, and led to a modestly successful career in feature films, including "Analyze This" (1999) and "America's Sweethearts" (2001). But it was Tolan's unique television work that remained his most enduring, making him one most daring talents on the small screen.

Born Peter James Tolan III in the coastal town of Scituate, MA on July 5, 1958, Peter Tolan discovered acting as a young man and was a staple of his high school's drama productions. In the summer of 1977, he formed the Young People's Summer Theater while on break from his studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, which soon found favor among local audiences. His scholastic career did not fare as well. Tolan flunked out of Amherst in his fourth year, so he decided to dive headfirst into his acting career. He relocated to Minneapolis, MN to join the legendary improv theater Brave New Workshop. There, he performed with the group while acting and directing in productions throughout the Twin Cities. Tolan eventually relocated to New York in the early 1980s, where he joined forces with writer-performer and future "Nurse Jackie" (Showtime, 2009- ) creator Linda Wallem in a sketch comedy duo called Wallem and Tolan. In 1989, they brought their show, "Laughing Matters," off-Broadway under the aegis of producer Martin Charnin.

After moving to Los Angeles, Tolan began working as a writer and occasional actor in television, with his first break coming as a staff writer on Carol Burnett's short-lived comedy series "Carol and Company" (NBC, 1990). The following year, he served as writer and co-producer of six episodes in the debut season of "Home Improvement" (ABC, 1991-99) before moving over to "Murphy Brown" in 1991. There, he shared his first Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series in 1992. That same year, he changed jobs again, this time as producer on "The Larry Sanders Show" which netted him another Emmy for co-writing the series finale, "Flip" with star Garry Shandling. While working on "Sanders," Tolan also wrote for and produced several additional series, including the Shelley Long vehicle "Good Advice" (CBS, 1993-94) and "The George Wendt Show" (CBS, 1995), as well as the script for the theatrical comedy "My Fellow Americans" (1996), with James Garner and Jack Lemmon as ex-Presidents who endured all manner of slapstick adventures during an impromptu road trip. He found greater success with his script for "Analyze This" (1999), a broad but well-acted comedy about a shrink (Billy Crystal) who reluctantly takes a neurotic Mafioso (Robert DeNiro) as his client. More feature work followed, though most were modest successes at best, like the Julia Roberts vehicle "America's Sweethearts" (2001) and the inevitable "Analyze" sequel, "Analyze That" (2002).

In 2001, Tolan partnered with actor-writer-comedian Denis Leary for the ABC sitcom "The Job" (2001-02), on which he served as co-producer, writer and occasional director. The series, about a decidedly amoral New York police detective (Leary) who indulged in all manner of illegal activities while still upholding the law, was a critical success thanks to its biting dark humor, but it struggled to find viewership. ABC's decision to postpone its second season until the spring of 2002 helped to seal the show's fate, but the partnership between Tolan and Leary proved to be its most enduring end result. Tolan returned to ABC the following year with another dark, mature comedy, "Wednesday 9:30 (8:30 Central)" (2002), which followed the misadventures of an idealistic television executive (Ivan Sergei) as he struggled to do his job at a corrupt, artistically bankrupt network. Again, the critics lined up to praise the show, but viewers were scarce. ABC pulled the plug after two episodes, and aired an additional three under a new title, "My Adventures in Television," after the May sweeps.

In 2004, Tolan and Leary reunited for "Rescue Me," a drama with occasional comic overtones about a firefighter (Leary) traumatized by years of hard living and the events of 9/11, who divided his day between self-destructive behavior and saving lives. Broadcast on the FX network, which sought out and supported edgier material, the show was a ratings hit as well as a critical darling, and earned Tolan three more Emmy nominations, including a nod for his direction on the pilot. The popularity of the show gave a boost to Tolan's career in feature screenwriting, though his post-"Rescue" efforts, including the romantic comedy "Just Like Heaven" (2005) with Reese Witherspoon, and "Finding Amanda" (2008), with Matthew Broderick, found only middling acclaim. In 2008, he teamed with Matthew Perry to write and produce "The End of Steve" (2008), a comedy pilot about a depressed talk show host (Perry), which failed to find a home on Showtime.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

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CAST: (feature film)

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 Home (1989) Jeremy
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Milestones close milestones

1990:
Joined the writing staff for CBS' "Carol & Company"
1991:
Wrote for the ABC sitcom, "Home Improvement"
1991:
Was a writer for (also produced) the CBS sitcom, "Murphy Brown"; garnered two consecutive Emmy nominations
1992:
Executive produced (also wrote) the HBO series, "The Larry Sanders Show"
1996:
Feature screenwriting debut, "My Fellow Americans"
1998:
Created the short-lived CBS series, "Style and Substance"
1999:
Penned the screenplay for Harold Ramis' "Analyze This"
2000:
Co-wrote (with Garry Shandling) the comedy feature, "What Planet Are You From?"
2001:
First collaboration with Dennis Leary, the short-lived ABC series, "The Job"
2001:
Co-wrote and produced the feature, "America's Sweethearts"
2002:
Co-wrote the sequel, "Analyze That"
2004:
Re-teamed with Denis Leary to executive produce FX's "Rescue Me"
2005:
Penned the comedy feature, "Guess Who," co-starring Ashton Kutcher and Bernie Mac
2008:
Made his directorial debut with "Finding Amanda"
2010:
Co-wrote the screenplay adaptation of the animated feature, "How to Train Your Dragon"
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Education

University of Massachusetts Amherst: Amherst , Massachusetts -

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