Main Details



Main Details







Tom Fontana [edit]

Writer -

Date of Birth [edit]

12 September 1951, Buffalo, New York, USA

Mini Bio (1) [edit]

Tom Fontana was born on September 12, 1951 in Buffalo, New York, USA. He is an Emmy Award winning writer and producer, known for Copper (2012), Borgia (2011), Oz (1997), Homicide: Life on the Street (1993) and St. Elsewhere (1982). He was twice married to Sagan Lewis, before her death in 2016.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: N/A

Spouse (2) [edit]

Sagan Lewis [edit]

(25 July 2015 - 7 August 2016) (her death)

Sagan Lewis [edit]

(18 December 1982 - 1992) (divorced)

Trade Mark (8) [edit]

His stories [edit]

frequently revolve around the concepts of Redemption and Forgiveness

Often writes [edit]

Gay or Bisexual characters

Recurring Themes [edit]

of Religion and a character's Faith

Brutal and graphic [edit]

depiction of violence

His protagonists [edit]

are often men caught in situations far out of their depth

Use of flashbacks [edit]

and dream sequences

Effective use [edit]

of soundtracks and music montages

Use of religious symbolism [edit]

Trivia (9) [edit]

Producer [edit]

Dick Wolf is old friends with producer Tom Fontana. They often use actors from each other's TV series, usually resulting in the actors working on two shows at once. Examples are J.K. Simmons on Law & Order (1990) and Oz (1997), Christopher Meloni and Dean Winters on Oz (1997) and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999) and Kathryn Erbe on Oz (1997) and Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2001). Richard Belzer famously leaped from producers' show to show as "Detective John Munch".

He got his first big break

in television in 1982, from producer Bruce Paltrow who hired him to write for the series St. Elsewhere (1982).


Buffalo State College, Class of 1973

The character

played by Dennis Farina on Law & Order (1990) is named Fontana. According to creator Dick Wolf, this is no coincidence.

Graduate of

Canisius High School, class of '69 and active alumni member/donor

Appeared at

a St. Elsewhere (1982) reunion at Buffalo State College, his alma mater, in the 2000-2001 school year along with cast members Ed Begley Jr. and Howie Mandel, among others.

He usually writes

early in the morning just after waking up. He has said that most of the time ideas will come to him at this time from dreams he has had during the night. Prior to going to bed he usually will briefly look over the scenes he plans to write in the morning in order to generate these dreams.

Cousin of

Patti LuPone and Robert LuPone.

Stepfather of

Jade Scott Lewis.

Tom Fontana [edit]

(born September 12, 1951 in Buffalo, New York) is an American writer and producer. An Emmy winner, Fontana created NBC's Homicide: Life on the Street. and HBO's Oz.

[edit]TV career


Fontana has been a writer/producer

for such series as Oz (which he also created), Copper, The Jury, The Beat, The Bedford Diaries, Homicide: Life on the Street, St. Elsewhere, and The Philanthropist.

Fontana was born

on the west side of Buffalo, New York, and is the fourth of five children in an Italian-American family; he is a cousin of actress Patti LuPone. He attended Cathedral School, Canisius High School, and Buffalo State College. He worked at the Studio Arena Theater in Buffalo in various capacities before moving to New York City in 1973. Fontana began writing plays when he was about 9 years old; his early efforts were recorded into a reel-to-reel tape recorder with the neighbor kids as performers. At least one of his plays was produced when he was a student at Buffalo State. His college stage debut as an actor was in a production of George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan, directed by his frequent mentor, Warren Enters. Fontana's efforts as a playwright never proved financially successful. It was while working at the Williamstown Theater Festival in the early 1980s, that he was offered the opportunity to write for television – the offer coming from Bruce Paltrow who was launching St. Elsewhere on NBC.

Fontana wrote

the HBO film Strip Search, directed by Sidney Lumet, as well as contributing two pieces to the September 11 special, America: A Tribute to Heroes. He was the executive producer of American Tragedy for CBS, Shot in the Heart for HBO Films, the independent film Jean and the documentary The Press Secretary for PBS. Fontana also created the historical drama TV series Borgia for the French premium-pay channel Canal+, produced by Atlantique Productions and EOS Entertainment. The series recounts the Borgia family's rise to power and subsequent domination of the Vatican during the Renaissance. Fontana also co-created Copper an 1860s police procedural set in the turbulent Five Points neighborhood of New York.

Fontana has received

three Emmy Awards, four Peabody Awards, three Writers' Guild Awards, four Television Critics Association Awards, the Cable Ace Award, the Humanitas Prize, an Edgar Award, and the first prize at the Cinéma Tout Ecran Festival in Switzerland. In 2003, Fontana was the recipient of the Austin Film Festival's Outstanding Television Writer Award.

Fontana does not

own or use a computer and writes all of his scripts longhand on a yellow legal pad.

Personal life


Fontana grew up

in an Italian-American family in Buffalo, New York, and was raised in the Catholic faith. He lives in New York City's West Village in a building that was formerly a branch of the New York Public Library. The book-lined, two-story main reading room is now a living room where he often hosts fund-raisers for arts and civil rights organizations.

Fontana was married [edit]= to actress Sagan Lewis for twelve years until their divorce in 1993. Sagan and Fontana remarried on July 10, 2015, and remained together until her death on August 7, 2016.

First Name
Last Name
Full Name at Birth
Tom Fontana
Other Names
Tom Fontana
Date of Birth
Star Sign
Screenwriter, playwright, producer
Occupation Category
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