James Allen Schmerer
June 14, 1938
Flushing, New York, United States
|Died||October 4, 2019 (aged 81)|
Eugene, Oregon, United States
|Occupation||Television producer and writer|
James Allen Schmerer (June 14, 1938 – October 4, 2019) was an American television producer, screenwriter and author, best known for his work on popular action, western and crime drama television programs of the seventies and eighties.
After graduating from New York University with a bachelor's degree in motion picture production in 1960, Schmerer moved to Hollywood in 1961 and began his career as an assistant editor on the Mike Wallace-narrated series Biography, before becoming a production coordinator on another documentary series, also produced by David L. Wolper, Hollywood and the Stars. He joined the Writers Guild of America West, in 1965. In 1966, alongside producer Irving Allen, he made his jump into fiction, serving as associate producer on The Silencers, the first film in Dean Martin's Matt Helm franchise. While he didn't work on the three following films, he would work with the character on the small screen, writing three episodes of the ABC television series.
Three years later, now working as head of Creative Development at Xanadu Productions, Schmerer reputedly became the youngest producer of a prime time US television series, at the time, when he was hired by David Dortort to replace William Claxton as producer on the final two seasons of NBC's The High Chaparral at the age of 31. A decision Kent McCray felt was "a big mistake," as a relative newcomer, Schmerer frequently found himself at odds with the studio, later admitting that he was "constantly going up against the networks and the studios when they wanted me to do something I knew wasn't right." One such incident surrounded his insistence on killing Native people on the series, despite NBC demanding otherwise due to protests from Native groups, as he believed that since the show took place in 1880s Arizona, "there were hostile Indians out there." Tensions during Schmerer's run on the series were also high between him and the cast, particularly after he fired one of the series' main characters, Mark Slade (Billy Blue), without warning, after he had requested to be used less at the beginning of season four in order to complete production on a feature film.
Throughout the seventies Schmerer wrote episodes for a variety of television genres, including his debut into animation, with the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Survivor". This episode became particularly notable for being the only canon episode to mention Dr. McCoy's daughter, Joanna, a character originating in the writer's guide of the original series, who was famously written out of the third season episode "The Way to Eden". Additionally, this episode marked the first animated appearances of M'Ress, Gabler and the Romulans. The episode was later novelized by Alan Dean Foster in Star Trek Log 2.
In 1985, he began his work on MacGyver, where he would stay on as a story consultant and writer through most of the first season. Amongst his contributions to the series included the introduction of Dana Elcar's character Peter Thornton (episode: "Nightmares") and Teri Hatcher's Penny Parker (episode: "Every Time She Smiles").
Following his work in television, Schmerer began teaching in the professional program of screenwriting at UCLA's School of Theater, Film, and Television. He would also oversee courses at The Meisner-Carville School of Acting and provide seminars around the country. His pupils included In a later attempt to "try another discipline" and push his skills, he wrote the detective mystery novel Twisted Shadows, published May 9, 2000. Unfortunately, despite having two sequels in mind, he ultimately did not write any further installments in the series.
Personal life and death
In October 2019, at the age of 81, Schmerer died in his home, following a stroke.
|1964||World Without Sun||N/A||Oscar-winning documentary |
as Jim Schmerer
|1970-71||The High Chaparral||"A Matter of Vengeance"
"The New Lion of Sonora"
|1971||Medical Center||"The Imposter"||story by|
|Mannix||"A Choice of Evils"||teleplay by|
|1972||Mod Squad||"I Am My Brother's Keeper"|
|1973||Chase||"The Winning Ticket"|
|1973||Star Trek: The Animated Series||"The Survivor"|
|1974||The Streets of San Francisco||"A String of Puppets"||story by|
|1974||The Rookies||"Key Witness"|
|1975||The Secrets of Isis||"Spots of the Leopard"|
|1975-76||Matt Helm||"Squeeze Play"
"Murder on the Run"
"Die Once, Die Twice"
|teleplay by ("Squeeze Play")|
|1975/77||Starsky & Hutch||"The Bait"
"The Crying Child"
|story/teleplay by ("The Bait")|
|1976||The Six Million Dollar Man||"Hocus-Pocus"||story by|
|1977||Tales of the Unexpected||"No Way Out"||story by|
|1977||Logan's Run||"The Collectors"|
|1978||Fantasy Island||"Butch and Sundance"
"The Toughest Man Alive"
|1978-81||CHiPs||"Trick or Trick"
"Forty Tons of Trouble"
"A Simple Operation"
|teleplay by ("Dynamite Alley")|
"Out of Sight"
|1979||Hawaii Five-O||"Image of Fear"|
|1979||Eight Is Enough||"Mary, He's Married"|
|1979-80||Vega$||"Touch of Death"
"The Lido Girls"
"A Deadly Victim"
|as Jim Schmerer ("A Deadly Victim")|
|1983||The Fall Guy||"To the Finish"||story by|
|1985||T.J. Hooker||"Death Is a Four Letter Word"|
"Every Time She Smiles"
|story by ("The Heist") |
teleplay by ("The Heist", "Hellfire", "Target MacGyver")
|1987||The New Mike Hammer||"Deadly Collection"||story by|
|1964||Hollywood and the Stars||2 episodes |
|1966||The Silencers||associate producer|
|1968||Daniel Boone||3 episodes |
|1969-71||The High Chaparral||43 episodes|
|1972-73||The Delphi Bureau||5 episodes|
- "OBITUARY: James Allen Schmerer". Dignity Memorial. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
- McNary, Dave (October 22, 2019). "James Schmerer, 'MacGyver' and 'CHiPs' Writer, Dies at 81". Variety. Retrieved October 28, 2019.
- "New York University Alumni". AlumniUS. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
- "James Schmerer". LinkedIn. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
- "Signed as Producer". The Bridgeport Post. April 8, 1969. p. 18. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
- Barnes, Mike (October 22, 2019). "James Schmerer, Writer on 'MacGyver,' 'CHiPs' and 'The High Chaparral,' Dies at 81". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
- Lincoln, Ross A. (October 22, 2019). "James Schmerer, TV Writer on 'MacGyver,' 'CHiPs' and More, Dies at 81". The Wrap. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
- James Schmerer on IMDb
- Jan Pippens (September 5, 2015). Henry Darrow: Lightning in the Bottle. BearManor Media. ISBN 978-1593936884.
- "My Good Luck and Bad Luck as Billy Blue" (PDF). Bravo. November 8, 1971. p. 6. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
- "Star Trek: The Animated Series". Star Trek: The Magazine. Vol. 1 no. 16. Fabbri Publishing. August 2000. p. 68.
- Joanna the precursor to "The Way to Eden" report & analysis by Dave Eversole
- Crowe, Luke (June 28, 2005). "Acting Schools and Coaches: Listings". Backstage. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
- Wentworth, Skye (2001). "3:AM SHOWCASE: TWISTED SHADOWS". 3:AM Magazine. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
- "Twisted Shadows". iUniverse. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
- Gallix, Andrew (2001). "3:AM INTERVIEW: A CONVERSATION WITH JAMES SCHMERER". 3:AM Magazine. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
- Evans, Greg (October 22, 2019). "James Schmerer Dies: 'MacGyver', 'CHiPs' Writer Was 81". Deadline. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
- BWW News Desk (January 29, 2010). "MOMA Holds Their Annual Presentation Of Oscar's Docs 1953-75: Nature and Humanity". Broadway World. Retrieved October 29, 2019.