This creator of superb nature and science documentaries moved on to fictional films before finding steady employment on three of the most respected TV cop shows of the 1980s and 90s. Walon Green lived a rather nomadic early life. His parents divorced and remarried, often relocating as well. Raised in Beverly Hills, Green eventually attended colleges in Mexico, Germany and Spain. Returning to the USA, he joined the Air Force Reserve and there was introduced to classic films and documentaries in his spare time. After a construction job in Mexico and a brief career as a plumber, he landed a research job at Wolper Productions and began his career in earnest.
Green branched out to begin writing, producing and directing documentaries. He received two 1968/69 Emmy nominations for producing and co-writing the "National Geographic" special "Reptiles and Amphibians" and was again nominated for a 1969/70 Emmy as producer of "The Mystery of Animal Behavior" (also for "National Geographic"). In addition, Green worked on "The Amazon," "Birds," several Jacques Cousteau specials, and the Nazi-hunter documentary "Search for Vengeance." Green's feature non-fiction films included the uneven music outing "Spree" (1967, as director), his Oscar-winning look at insects, "The Hellstrom Chronicle" (1971, as producer, director and co-cinematographer), and "The Secret Life of Plants" (1978, as director and co-screenwriter).
His first fictional outing, as screenwriter with Sam Peckinpah for "The Wild Bunch" (1969), earned Green an Oscar nod. But big-screen follow-ups were disappointing. He scripted William Friedkin's "Sorcerer" (1977), a disappointing remake of 1952's "The Wages of Fear," and reteamed with the director for "The Brink's Job" (1978). Green co-wrote "The Border" (1981) for his friend Jack Nicholson and worked on the script for the unsuccessful teen sci-fi drama "Solarbabies" (1986). He spent more than a decade developing "Crusoe" (1988), a revisionist version of the Defoe classic. The final film, on which he shared screenwriting credit, featured a strong leading performance from Aidan Quinn, but it opened to a mixed reception. Green also co-scripted "Robocop 2" (1990) and Charles Russell's hit thriller "Eraser" (1996). He also appeared in the tribute short "The Wild Bunch: An Album Montage" (1996).
Probably Green's biggest successes, though, have been on the small screen. Since the 1980s, he has been associated with three of the more acclaimed cop shows on TV: "Hill Street Blues" (NBC, 1981-1987), on which he served as a coordinating producer and director, "Law & Order" (NBC, from 1992-1994), as writer and co-executive producer, and "NYPD Blue" (ABC, from 1993-1996) as creative consultant. He also co-wrote the TV-movies "Strange New World" (ABC, 1975) and "Three of a Kind" (ABC, 1989), and solo-scripted the biographical miniseries "Robert Kennedy and His Times" (CBS, 1985).
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First film credit, as dialogue coach on "Morituri"
Hired as researcher for Wolper Productions; stayed through 1970 (dates approximate)
Directed first feature documentary, "Spree"
Co-wrote (with director Sam Peckinpah) first feature screenplay, "The Wild Bunch"
Began writing, producing and directing documentaries for the National Geographic Society
Produced, wrote and photographed the Oscar-winning documentary "The Hellstrom Chronicle"
TV-movie debut as screenwriter and executive producer, "Strange New World" (ABC)
TV series debut as coordinating producer on NBC's "Hill Street Blues"
"Crusoe" produced; Green shared screenwriting credit
Served as coordinating producer on the NBC drama series "Law & Order"
Joined the hit NBC medical drama "ER" as a writer and co-executive producer
Scripted "The Hi-Lo Country", directed by Stephen Frears