Bob Shayne

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Bob Shayne
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Edward Robert Shayne

Patterson, NJ
CitizenshipUnited States of America
Alma materUCLA, Spalding University (MFA)
  • Television writer
  • Producer

Bob Shayne is an American television writer-producer known for writing mystery-comedies, including Simon & Simon (CBS 1981-1989), Remington Steele (NBC 1982-87), Hart to Hart (American Broadcasting Company), Whiz Kids (TV series) (CBS 1982-83), Murder, She Wrote (CBS 1980-96) and the TV movie The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1987 film)[1].

List of nominations

In 1983, Shayne was nominated for Best Episode in a TV Series by the Mystery Writers of America (The Edgar Award), for Simon and Simon episode “Ashes to Ashes and None Too Soon[2]”. In 1987-88, he was nominated for the Writers Guild of America Award for Television: Long Form – Original award by the Writers Guild of America, and Best TV Feature or Miniseries[3] by the Mystery Writers of America for The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1987 film).

Early life

Shayne started his career at the age of 6, as one of the children on Art Linkletter’s daily House Party (radio and TV show) series’ feature “Kids Say the Darndest Things”. He was hired at age 8 as a recurring actor on Linkletter’s nighttime series People Are Funny. His job was to pose as a rambunctious child who would complicate the job of contestants who were attempting to persuade some unsuspecting landlord or business person to rent or sell or give them something.

At 18, a job as a page at KTLA, Channel 5 in Los Angeles led to his becoming associate producer of nightly late-night talk and entertainment series Larry Finley’s Strictly Informal[4] and its successor, Del Moore’s Hangout[5]. He soon became a disc jockey on Del Moore and Jerry Lewis’s newly minted San Fernando Valley FM radio station KVFM[6][7], and then deejay and program director of Los Angeles-area FM station KNOB, the World’s First All Jazz Station[8][9][10]. After a hitch in the U.S. Army, stationed in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, during the Vietnam Era, Shayne returned to L.A. and a career in television.


Shayne spent several years writing and producing segments on talk shows: The Steve Allen Show (syndicated 1969-70), Ralph Story’s A.M. Los Angeles (KABC-TV, 1970-71), The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (NBC 1972-73), and Dinah! (CBS syndication, 1974-75).

During that time, he also teamed up with recent University of Southern California graduate Eric Cohen[11] to write sitcoms. The team sold four pilots to CBS, which enabled Shayne to say goodbye to talk shows and hello to primetime TV.

As of May 1976, Shayne and Cohen’s fourth written and first produced sitcom pilot At Ease[12] was on the CBS fall schedule Sundays at 8:30 p.m. to follow the Norman Lear’s All in the Family spinoff, The Jeffersons. But it was only there for 24 hours. There was a coup at CBS New York headquarters[13], and when the smoke cleared, the show was off the schedule and the executives who had championed it no longer worked at CBS.

The team of Cohen and Shayne broke up, but both prospered.

After writing credits on Chico and the Man, Good Times, and Welcome Back, Kotter[14], among others, Shayne decided he probably wasn’t the funniest comedy writer in town, but he was pretty sure he was one of the funniest mystery writers in town.

After writing a spec pilot script called Hart, Hart and Harte, and getting it to Robert Wagner, Shayne was hired by Aaron Spelling to develop a new series to star Wagner that had been originally called Double Twist but was renamed to Hart to Hart. Upon his first meeting with Wagner, the star’s greeting to Shayne was “I didn’t steal your title.” Shayne supervised the first ten scripts for the series along with Tom Mankiewicz who’d rewritten and directed the pilot.

Shayne was mostly under contract to Universal Television from 1976 to 1983. While there, he gave the same spec script (with the title changed to Wilder & Wilder) to producer Philip de Guere[15]. A year later de Guere called him and said he had made a pilot called Simon & Simon for CBS inspired by the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Shayne’s Wilder & Wilder script. Another year later, de Guere’s pilot went to series. Shayne wrote three episodes and did heavy rewrites on two more of the first 13 episodes.

With Simon & Simon failing in the ratings, Shayne suggested CBS move it behind the new big hit Magnum, P.I. They did, and he wrote a two-hour crossover script that started on Magnum and finished on Simon. It put the Simon brothers on the map, and the show rated in the Top Ten for the next five years, usually beating its head-to-head competition Cheers.

In 1982, Shayne and de Guere created Whiz Kids (TV series), a series aimed at kids and teens and meant to air on NBC or ABC Sundays at 7 p.m. while all the kids’ parents were watching 60 Minutes. But CBS heard about the pilot, and asked to read it. Against Shayne’s fervent pleas, Universal exec Kerry McCluggage gave it to CBS. They bought it, and even though they had nowhere on the schedule that made sense for it, the series ran for a year.

In 1984 Shayne left a multi-script deal at Remington Steele to take over as co-showrunner of an ailing CBS series called Cover Up (TV series) starring former supermodel Jennifer O'Neill and youthful poster boy Jon-Erik Hexum. It was a bit of a Remington Steele knockoff and Shayne hoped to make it as good as Remington Steele. However, while shooting episode # 6, Hexum decided to entertain the crew by playing "Russian roulette" with a revolver loaded with a blank cartridge[16]. The blank went through his temple and killed him. After several weeks with the series in limbo, Anthony Hamilton was cast as a new character to replace Hexum's. While Shayne believed Hamilton was better suited for a romantic pairing with O’Neil, the show’s ratings never recovered from Hexum’s death.

Previously, in 1979, Shayne had created and written a two-hour movie/pilot for ABC called The Return of Sherlock Holmes. Being used to the plotlines of their simplistic hit series like Charlie's Angels, the ABC execs told Shayne his complex plot made no sense and refused to give him notes for a second draft. Once the rights reverted to him, six years later he sold the movie to CBS, produced it himself, and shot the first draft. It was nominated in 1987 as Best TV Movie or Miniseries of the Year by the Mystery Writers of America and for Best Long Form - Original of the Year by the Writers Guild of America.

The second series Shayne created debuted in 1991, but by a circuitous route. He had given his Wilder & Wilder script to Glen A. Larson in 1986, but instead of buying it, Larson pitched Shayne the next day on a show virtually identical to Shayne’s show but moved from Beverly Hills to Palm Springs and called P.S. I Love You. Shayne agreed to create and write the new pilot with Larson. CBS passed on the Palm Springs show the first time around, but eventually went to series on a revamped version titled P.S. I Luv U. which was also co-written by Larson and Shayne.

After a career that included selling 20 pilots to the networks, in 1997 Shayne began teaching screen and TV writing at University of California, Los Angeles and New York University Extensions. He was Visiting scholar the following two years at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications. Since 2007, he’s been an Adjunct professor at the [ Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media, where he teaches a class in creating television series and writing pilots among others.

In 2001, Shayne became a member of the steering committee for a series of class action age discrimination law suits being run by labor attorney Paul Sprenger on behalf of older television writers. Some 165 named plaintiffs joined the suit. The defendants included CBS, NBC, ABC, Universal, Warner Bros, Columbia Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Fox Broadcasting Company, William Morris Agency, ICM Partners, United Talent Agency, in short, all the major Hollywood studios, production companies, networks and talent agencies. After ten years of litigation, the suits were settled in 2010 with all the remaining defendants except talent agency Creative Artists Agency for a total of $74.5 million[17][18]. It was the biggest labor class action suit settlement in history to that time[19].


  1. "Bob Shayne". IMDb. Retrieved 2022-02-18.
  2. "Category List – Best Episode in a TV Series | Edgar® Awards Info & Database". Retrieved 2022-02-17.
  3. "Category List – Best TV Feature or MiniSeries | Edgar® Awards Info & Database". Retrieved 2022-02-17.
  4. "26 Jun 1954, 8 - Daily News-Post and Monrovia News-Post at". Retrieved 2022-02-18.
  5. "17 Nov 1959, 24 - Los Angeles Evening Citizen News at". Retrieved 2022-02-18.
  6. "9 Jul 1960, 28 - Valley Times at". Retrieved 2022-02-17.
  7. "22 Aug 1965, 215 - The Los Angeles Times at". Retrieved 2022-02-18.
  8. "18 Aug 1957, 145 - The Los Angeles Times at". Retrieved 2022-02-18.
  9. "21 Oct 1962, 414 - The Los Angeles Times at". Retrieved 2022-02-17.
  10. "23 Dec 1962, 215 - The Los Angeles Times at". Retrieved 2022-02-17.
  11. "Eric Cohen". IMDb. Retrieved 2022-02-18.
  12. Claver, Bob (1976-09-12), At Ease! (Comedy), CBS, retrieved 2022-02-17
  13. Brown, Les (1976-05-04). "Executives at NBC and CBS Play Musical Chairs". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-02-17.
  14. "Bob Shayne". IMDb. Retrieved 2022-02-17.
  15. "Philip DeGuere Jr". IMDb. Retrieved 2022-02-18.
  16. Upi (1984-10-18). "WOUNDING OF ACTOR ON COAST IS LAID TO RUSSIAN ROULETTE". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-02-17.
  17. "Hollywood writers' age-discrimination case settled". Los Angeles Times. 2010-01-23. Retrieved 2022-02-17.
  18. SImmons,AP, Leslie; SImmons, Leslie; AP (2008-08-19). "ICM settles age discrimination suit". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2022-02-18.
  19. Finke, Nikki; Finke, Nikki (2010-01-22). "Huge $70M Settlement In TV Writers Age Discrimination Lawsuit: CAA Lone Holdout". Deadline. Retrieved 2022-02-17.

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