Glenn Gordon Caron

Glenn Gordon Caron Headshot

Writer • Director • Producer

Birth Date: April 3, 1954

Age: 70 years old

Birth Place: Oceanside, New York

Fascinated by movies as a child, Glenn Gordon Caron moved to Hollywood to pursue screenwriting assignments. Within five years, he had produced the debut season of "Remington Steele" (NBC, 1982-87) and moved on to "Moonlighting" (ABC, 1985-89), one of the freshest and most inventive shows of its era. The Cybill Shepherd/Bruce Willis comedy consistently defied expectation and convention, earning it a devoted audience and well-deserved kudos for Caron, who kept a close eye on its scripts. After his departure from "Moonlighting," he tried his hand at motion pictures, directing such films as "Clean and Sober" (1988), "Love Affair" (1994), and "Picture Perfect" (1997). Upon his return to television, Caron came up with "Medium" (NBC/CBS, 2005-2011). The offbeat fantasy-horror-drama delivered interesting characters and conflict to go with its creator's flourishes, which included elaborate visual work and the first use of high-definition 3-D on primetime television. One of the most innovative and celebrated television producers of his era, Caron was highly instrumental in persuading networks to try new things and move outside established formulas, and the ratings success of "Moonlighting" and "Medium" proved that audiences were very receptive to such creativity.

Glenn Gordon Caron was born in Brooklyn, NY on April 3, 1954 and spent his childhood in Oceanside, Long Island. He was not a particularly motivated student during his days at Oceanside High School, but progressed on to college at the State University of New York College of Arts and Sciences at Geneseo, where he studied speech and communication. Film was his true goal, however, so he ultimately switched to the theatre department. After obtaining a BA degree in drama, Caron paid the bills with a series of blue-collar positions, before managing a movie theater and toiling for an advertising agency. Looking for an inside track into moviemaking, Caron decided to try his hand at writing screenplays and studied with the famous comedian-improvisation teacher Del Close at Second City. His work eventually came to the attention of NBC and he was engaged to write a pilot called "The God Squad." The fantasy-comedy was a disaster and never aired, but Caron, who had left for the West Coast with no clear career plan, was offered a contract with the ICM talent agency and penned an episode of "Taxi" (ABC/NBC, 1978-83).

The cycling dramedy "Breaking Away" (1979) had been a theatrical success for 20th Century Fox and the company decided to spin it off into a TV series. Although he was only in his mid-twenties and had no experience, Caron was hired to produce that new incarnation of "Breaking Away" (ABC, 1980-81) and also to write a number of episodes. The program left the air after only a few weeks, but Caron had now established himself in the industry and bigger and better opportunities were on the horizon. Although he had no affinity for detective shows, Caron signed on as supervising producer for the initial season of "Remington Steele" (NBC, 1982-87), but was lured away by ABC to produce a trio of pilots that could also be sold to viewers as made-for-TV features. Caron created Picturemaker Productions and wrote and executive produced a pair of action movies. For the third effort, ABC requested a lightweight detective comedy series pilot which would turn out to be "Moonlighting" (ABC, 1985-89).

Pairing together former model and seemingly "washed up" actress Cybill Shepherd and a brash, charismatic newcomer named Bruce Willis - whom Caron had to repeatedly champion before the network finally agreed to his casting - the program played with the age-old format by doing all manner of offbeat things, including having the characters break the third wall by talking to the audience, making light of "clip shows," shooting one memorable Noir-inspired episode in black-and-white, and utilizing Golden Age film talent like director Stanley Donen and Orson Welles, who gave his final performance doing an episode's introduction. Caron drove his ABC minders crazy with these unorthodox ideas, but "Moonlighting" slowly built a loyal audience and became an unexpected sensation, making overnight stars of all involved, including showrunner Caron, who found himself a household name. However, after the successful first season - during which fans enjoyed a "will they or won't they" relationship between Shepherd's uptight Maddie Hayes and Willis' zany wild man, David Addison - all manner of problems soon arose, including Caron's unusual approach to production, which often ran behind schedule; his high standards; and an increasingly toxic relationship between himself and Shepherd, which prompted Caron to depart after the second season.

The popularity and acclaim generated by "Moonlighting" helped secure Caron theatrical feature directing assignments; his first was the drama "Clean and Sober" (1988), which starred Michael Keaton as a successful real estate agent whose life is derailed by substance abuse. Known primarily as a comedian at that point, Keaton's dramatic performance earned much praise, but reviews for the dark, downbeat film were largely mixed and its grosses proved disappointing. His next project was the change-of-pace outing "The Making of Me" (1989), a family-oriented sex education short that was shown in the EPCOT attraction at Walt Disney World of all places. Caron returned to feature directing with "Wilder Napalm" (1993), a comic fantasy featuring Dennis Quaid and Arliss Howard as brothers with pyro-kinetic abilities. Neither the studio nor critics knew what to make of the offbeat production, which only played a handful of theatres before heading to video. A more conventionally commercial outing, "Love Affair" (1994) starred husband and wife team Warren Beatty and Annette Bening in a remake of the 1939 classic. Caron assembled a fine cast, but was locked out of the final edit by Beatty, and grosses for the expensively produced film were far short of what Warner Brothers had hoped. He finally had some luck with the romantic comedy "Picture Perfect" (1997). An early motion picture credit for Jennifer Aniston, whose star was in ascension thanks to "Friends" (NBC, 1994-2004), it proved to be moderately profitable, though not enough for Caron to continue making movies.

Caron returned to series television, but it proved to be a while before he hit another one out of the park. In addition to creating the comedy-adventure "Now and Again" (CBS, 1999-2000), he also directed the pilot. The show was picked up, but did not live to see a second year, despite much critical enthusiasm. The comedy series "Fling" (Fox, 2001) had an even shorter lifespan. Caron's conception of the program, and the dark romance at its core, proved to be much different in finished form than what Fox had been expecting. Although six episodes were completed, none were ultimately broadcast. His luck finally changed for the better with "Medium" (NBC/CBS, 2005-2011), which Caron based loosely on the life of a young woman who claimed to have supernatural powers. Patricia Arquette starred as the clairvoyant, who uses her gifts - which include an ability to converse with the deceased - to aid law enforcement. In addition to creative use of the fantasy/horror hook, the program built and maintained a viewership, thanks to the quality of the characters, the offbeat relationship at its core, and the emotional intensity often reached. As with "Moonlighting," Caron was determined to challenge viewers' expectations and "Medium" included elaborate and imaginative dream sequences. Among other technical accomplishments, it was also the first episode of a TV series that utilized high-definition 3-D. It left the air in 2011, but CBS, which had picked the program up for remaining seasons, was eager to keep Caron and signed him to a two-year, seven-figure development deal. The subsequent projects were "Near Dead," about a detective who has a near death experience that may somehow relate to the murder of his wife, and "Motor City Shakedown," adapted from the like-named novel about the reluctant partnership between two contrasting attorneys. Caron also served as executive producer for the Showtime Network meta-mockumentary pilot "Gurland on Gurland" about a documentary filmmaker shooting documentaries about his work as a maker of documentaries.

By John Charles

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