|Born||Peter James Tolan III
July 5, 1958
Scituate, Massachusetts, United States
|Occupation||Screenwriter, director, producer|
Tolan was born in Scituate, Massachusetts where he was a perennial favorite in the high school's dramatic productions. Before leaving to pursue a career in Hollywood, Tolan founded a theater group called YPST (Young People's Summer Theatre). The group performed Broadway musicals and rehearsed at a local church. Within three years, the productions became so popular that additional rehearsal space had to be acquired and a second production added to accommodate the ever increasing enrollment. Tolan attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst for four years before dropping out to directly pursue theater. From college Tolan went to Minneapolis' Brave New Workshop (founded by improv great Dudley Riggs) at the suggestion of stage legend Stubby Kay, who appeared with Tolan as a guest star in a UMass theater production. The legend amongst acquaintances is that Peter swept floors at the theater until he was finally invited to rehearse with the troupe. While in Minneapolis, Tolan collaborated with then "up and coming" comedians such as Louie Anderson and Ken Ober who remained a long time friend. In the mid 80's, Tolan moved to New York City where he and fellow writer-performer Linda Wallem formed a double act called Wallem & Tolan and began performing on the cabaret circuit in New York City at such venues as the Manhattan Punch Line. Wallem and Tolan's forte was cleverly written sketch material which included partially written, partially improvised banter between the two, often with comic twists and surprise endings. Broadway veteran Martin Charnin caught the act and was so taken with the duo that he agreed to direct the show produced by Sanford Fisher and Zev Guber Off Broadway at the Theater at St. Peter's Church called Laughing Matters in 1989.
Tolan began his career writing for short-lived sitcoms Carol & Company and Wish You Were Here. After writing for and co-producing the first six episodes of Home Improvement he began writing for the hit series Murphy Brown, a three season tenure for which he would share an Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series (1992, as co-producer).1 In 1992 Tolan began writing for the HBO program The Larry Sanders Show, for which he received, in his capacity as co-/executive producer, three CableACE Awards for Comedy Series and an Emmy for co-writing (with series lead Garry Shandling) the series finale "Flip".1
After writing for several more programs (Ellen, Buddies, Good Advice), and creating the short-lived sitcoms Style & Substance and The George Wendt Show, Tolan co-created the ABC satiric comedy The Job with comedian Denis Leary, who would also star as an amoral and hedonistic NYPD detective. Though critically lauded,2 the series languished in the ratings and was canceled after two short seasons. Tolan went on to create the similarly short-lived sitcom Wednesday 9:30 (8:30 Central), a mid-season replacement about an idealistic television executive who joins a struggling network, that was canceled by ABC after only five episodes aired. In 2004, however, Tolan found success with the FX drama Rescue Me, again starring co-creator Denis Leary as New York City firefighter Tommy Gavin, who bears many similarities to Leary's character from The Job. The series has been well received by both critics and audiences, garnering Emmy nominations for Tolan and Leary and averaging 2.7 and 2.8 million viewers for its first and second seasons, respectively.3 It ended in 2011 after seven seasons. Tolan, with former Friends star Matthew Perry has produced a pilot called The End of Steve, a dark-comedy about a depressed, foul-mouthed talk show host. It is currently being shopped to cable networks.4
In February, 2013, Entertainment Weekly reported that "Tolan landed Greg Kinnear to play a defense lawyer with 'zero filter'" on an upcoming Fox Broadcasting Company television program entitled Rake.5
Tolan has also found success in film, having written the hit comedy Analyze This and its sequel as well as the films My Fellow Americans, Bedazzled, America's Sweethearts, Guess Who and Just Like Heaven. In 2008 Tolan made his directorial debut with Finding Amanda, a semi-autobiographical6 film starring Matthew Broderick and Brittany Snow.
Tolan is married to editor Leslie Tolan, and has a daughter, Beatrice, and two sons, Ben and Peter Jr, one from a previous marriage.
- Carol and Company (1990) (TV)
- Wish You Were Here (1990) (TV)
- Home Improvement (1991) (TV)
- Murphy Brown (1991–1993) (TV)
- Good Advice (1994) (TV)
- The George Wendt Show (TV)
- Buddies (TV)
- My Fellow Americans (with E. Jack Kaplan and Richard Chapman) (1996)
- Ellen (1997) (TV)
- The Dave Chapelle Project (TV)
- Style & Substance (TV)
- The Larry Sanders Show (1992–1998) (TV)
- Analyze This (with Harold Ramis and Kenneth Lonergan) (1999)
- What Planet Are You From? (with Garry Shandling, Michael J. Leeson and Ed Solomon) (2000)
- Bedazzled (with Harold Ramis and Larry Gelbart) (2000)
- America's Sweethearts (with Billy Crystal) (2001)
- My Adventures in Television (2002) (TV)
- The Job (2001–2002) (TV) (also co-creator, with Denis Leary)
- Stealing Harvard (with Martin Hynes) (2002)
- Analyze That (with Harold Ramis and Peter Steinfeld) (2002)
- Phil at the Gate (with Phil Hendrie) (2003) (TV)
- Guess Who (with David Ronn and Jay Scherik) (2003)
- Rescue Me (2004) (TV) (also co-creator, with Denis Leary)
- Just Like Heaven (with Leslie Dixon) (2005)
- Fort Pit (2007) (TV)
- Finding Amanda (2008) (TV)
- The End of Steve (2008) (TV)
- "Awards for Peter Tolan". IMDb. Retrieved 2009-04-13.
- "TV Review: "The Job"". Entertainment Weekly. 2001-03-08. Retrieved 2009-04-13.
- "'Rescue Me' Finale Generates Ratings Heat". 2005-09-15. Retrieved 2009-04-13.
- "Ace Pilots Shot Down". New York Post. 2009-04-13. Retrieved 2009-04-13.
- Hibberd, James (February 22, 2013). "Hollywood Insider: What's Going on Behind the Scenes: TV's Pilot Season Goes (Very) High-Concept". Entertainment Weekly (New York: Time Inc.): 26.
- "Exclusive: Peter Tolan is Finding Amanda". Comingsoon.net. Retrieved 2009-04-13.