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Stephen J. Cannell, R.I.P.

By admin Published: October 1, 2010

I just saw the news about the passing of the writer, producer, novelist and sometime actor. One obit is here. Alan Sepinwall has a nice tribute with clips here.

Makes for a sad day. That's not only because Cannell was involved with some of the smartest and wittiest television out there, including "The Rockford Files," but that he was both a very smart guy and a great gentleman.

I had the chance to see him and talk to him several times during his TV years because he was unfailingly accessible. Even when bad press stung him, and he admitted that there were times it did, he also knew that he gained nothing by declining interviews and created good will just by showing up. And he was a gold mine of funny anecdotes.

I wil probably write more about Cannell later, after I get back from a commitment this evening. But here's one small story about Cannell. He came through Cleveland once, I think to promote one of his novels (he was also part of a group that owned WUAB at one time). We did an interview at his Cleveland hotel, and it went very nicely, as usual. He had another appointment while I lingered a bit to check my notes and recording; when I went to settle the check, I was told that he had taken care of it. No big gesture, no argument; he just did it.

I could spend a lot of time talking about how much I liked "Rockford" and "Tenspeed and Brownshoe" and "Wiseguy" in the early years and "Profit" and, yes, "The A-Team." But even as I remember all that, I also remember that afternoon in Cleveland. And that I liked the man. Liked him very much, and will miss not getting to talk to him again.

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