Emmy Award winning producer and writer John Wells first came to fame as the producer and writer of the ABC praised series “China Beach” (1988-1991), from which he netted two Emmy nominations, before marking a breakthrough with NBC with the long running medical drama “ER,” where he served as an executive producer from 1994 to 2006 and writer from 1994 to 2005. With the successful series, he won his first Emmy Award and a PGA for Television Producer of the Year in 1995, in addition to several other honors. Wells, however, is probably best known as one of the executive producers of the hit NBC series “The West Wing” (1999-2006), from which he picked up more Emmy Awards. Other TV series credits include “Third Watch” (1999) and “The Evidence” (2006). On the movie front, since making his producing debut with 1987's “Nice Girls Don't Explode,” Wells has produced countless projects, including Mimi Leder's “The Peacemaker” (1997), “White Oleander” (2002), “Doom” (2005), “Infamous” (2006), “Then She Found Me,” “I'm Not There,” “An American Crime” and “Savage Grace” (all 2007).
As for his personal life, Wells is married to Marilyn Wells. They have two kids together.
Childhood and Family:
John M. Wells was born in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1956. He received a BFA in production design from Carnegie Mellon in 1979 and went on to pursue the university's MFA program in directing. He was also accepted into the Peter Stark Motion Picture Producing Program at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and earned a second MFA in cinema and business law from the university. His brother is TV and film producer Llewellyn Wells.
John is married to a woman named Marilyn. They have two children together.
As a young man, John Wells worked as a roadie for Elton John, Linda Ronstadt and The Eagles and a stage manager for the Denver County Dinner Playhouse. While in pursuit of his MFA degree at USC, he worked in marketing and advertising for Paramount Pictures, during which time he was involved in productions like “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Reds,” “S.O.B.,” “Ragtime” (all 1981) and “One from the Heart” (1982). He remained active in the world of theater by producing numerous plays in Los Angeles, including “Battery,” “Balm in Gilead,” Tanzi” and “Steaming.” His first feature credit as a producer arrived in 1987 with “Nice Girls Don't Explode,” a low budget comedy about overprotective parents.
Also in 1987, Wells experienced his first breakthrough when his scripts were produced for “Shell Game,” a series that aired on CBS. A short time later, he was hired as an executive story editor for the ABC limited series “Just in Time” (1988). However, it was not until he joined the production team of “China Beach” (ABC, 1989-1991) that Wells enjoyed his first major TV success and received three consecutive Emmy nominations for Outstanding Drama Series and another nomination in the category of Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Drama Series (1992). He also served as a producer for the 1988-1989 season, supervising producer from 1989 to 1990 and co-executive producer for the 1990-1991 season, in addition to contributing to the show's writing for 18 episodes during 1988 to 1991.
Wells next formed a production company called John Wells & Friends. His subsequent project, “Angel Street” (CBS, 1992), a detective series starring Robin Givens and Pamela Gidley, was canceled after three episodes. Still in 1992, Wells made his TV movie debut with “The Nightman,” which he co-executive produced and co-wrote.
In 1994, Wells became one of the executive producers of the hit NBC medical drama “ER,” where he remained until 2006. He also wrote 28 episodes from 1994 to 2005 and directed 7 episodes during 1998 to 2006. “ER” brought Wells 7 Emmy nominations for Outstanding Drama Series, which he won one in 1996, and nominations for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (1997 and 2002), Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series (2000) and Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing for a Drama Series (1996).
1996 saw Wells return to the big screen when he wrote the screenplay for the biopic film “Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day Story,” directed by Michael Ray Rhodes and starring Moira Kelly and Martin Sheen. He then singed a production deal with DreamWorks SKG and set in motion many projects with Warners and Fox. In 1997, Wells teamed up again with director Mimi Leder, who previously worked with him on “China Beach” and “ER,” when he was hired as an executive producer of Leader's “The Peacemaker,” starring George Clooney and Nicole Kidman. They worked together again when Leder filmed Wells' screenplay for DreamWorks' “Deep Impact” (1998). The same year, Wells also wrote episodes and executive produced the short term NBC family drama “Trinity.”
Still on TV, Wells continued to write episodes of the NBC drama “Third Watch” (1999-2004), where he later also added executive producer credits (3 episodes, 2001-2004). It was the award winning NBC drama set in the White House, “The West Wing” (1999-2006), however, which once again put the writer/producer in the spotlight. As an executive producer, he jointly nabbed five Emmys awards, four for Outstanding Drama Series and one for Outstanding Special Class Program. He also won PGA awards for Television Producer of the Year in 2001 and 2002 and Humanitas Prize's 60 Minute Category for the 2004 episode of “NSF Thurmont,” which he also wrote.
In 2001, Wells executive produced the CBS fall drama “Citizen Baines,” which only lasted six episodes. He next lent his producing talents for the CBS short lived “Presidio Med” (2002), Fox's “Jonny Zero” (2005), “The Evidence” (2006) and “Smith” (2006). On the movie front, he served as executive producer or producer of such projects as “The Grey Zone” (2001), “Far from Heaven” (2002), “White Oleander” (2002), “ The Good Thief” (2002), “Party Monster” (2003), “The Company” (2003), “A Dirty Shame” (2004), “The Notorious Bettie Page” (2005), “Infamous” (2006), “Then She Found Me, “I'm Not There,” “An American Crime” and “Savage Grace” (all 2007). He also worked on the films “Electric Slide” (2008), “Dirty Girl” (2008), “Goat” (2008), “Positively Fifth Street” (2009) and “Major Bummer” (2010).
Writers Guild of America: Laurel Award, TV Writing Achievement, 2007
Casting Society of America: Career Achievement Award, 2006
PGA: Lifetime Achievement Award in Television, 2005
Humanitas Prize: 60 Minute Category, the “The West Wing” episode “NSF Thurmont,” 2005
Emmy: Outstanding Drama Series, “The West Wing,” 2003
Emmy: Outstanding Drama Series, “The West Wing,” 2002
Emmy: Outstanding Special Class Program, “The West Wing Documentary Special,” 2002
PGA: Television Producer of the Year Award in Episodic Drama, “The West Wing,” 2002
American Screenwriters Association: Screenwriting Hall of Fame, 2002
Emmy: Outstanding Drama Series, “The West Wing,” 2001
PGA: Television Producer of the Year Award in Episodic Drama, “The West Wing,” 2001
Emmy: Outstanding Drama Series, “The West Wing,” 2000
PGA: Vision Award-Television, “ER” (also for “Third Watch,” 1999 and “The West Wing,” 1999), 2000
Directors Guild of America: Diversity Award, 1997
Emmy: Outstanding Drama Series, “ER,” 1996
PGA: Television Producer of the Year Award in Episodic, “ER,” 1995
Retirement Research Foundation: Wise Owl Award - Honorable Mention Television and Theatrical Film Fiction, “ER,” 1995