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Shane Salerno

Shane Salerno

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: November 27, 1972 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Profession: Producer, Music Supervisor, Screenwriter

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

As a teenager who showed maturity above his years, Shane Salerno was known for donning conservative suits and displaying a reserved and polite manner. Even at this young age, Salerno was determined to get on the fast track to his dream. During his senior year of high school in San Diego, Salerno wrote, directed and produced the documentary "Sundown: The Future of Children and Drugs," which premiered on "Larry King Live" (CNN 1985-2010) in 1991, receiving widespread attention and praise. From that auspicious beginning, Shane Salerno became a prolific writer, producer and director of documentaries, feature films, and television series, with hits including the box office smash "Armageddon" (1998) and the enlightening literary documentary "Salinger" (2013). In 2013, James Cameron announced that Shane Salerno would co-write the script for "Avatar 4," scheduled for release in 2019. At the age of 20, Shane Salerno landed a one-year apprenticeship on the set of "NYPD Blue" (ABC 1993-2005) after meeting with the show's executive producer Gregory Hoblit. During this year, Salerno soaked up all he could about the workings of the entertainment industry. He started commuting from San Diego, but soon moved to...

As a teenager who showed maturity above his years, Shane Salerno was known for donning conservative suits and displaying a reserved and polite manner. Even at this young age, Salerno was determined to get on the fast track to his dream. During his senior year of high school in San Diego, Salerno wrote, directed and produced the documentary "Sundown: The Future of Children and Drugs," which premiered on "Larry King Live" (CNN 1985-2010) in 1991, receiving widespread attention and praise. From that auspicious beginning, Shane Salerno became a prolific writer, producer and director of documentaries, feature films, and television series, with hits including the box office smash "Armageddon" (1998) and the enlightening literary documentary "Salinger" (2013). In 2013, James Cameron announced that Shane Salerno would co-write the script for "Avatar 4," scheduled for release in 2019.

At the age of 20, Shane Salerno landed a one-year apprenticeship on the set of "NYPD Blue" (ABC 1993-2005) after meeting with the show's executive producer Gregory Hoblit. During this year, Salerno soaked up all he could about the workings of the entertainment industry. He started commuting from San Diego, but soon moved to Los Angeles where the hungry young scribe read everything he could get his hands on while attending industry lectures and events whenever he could. He wrote his own television pilot, a drama about two minority cops, and gave the teleplay to anyone in the industry who would read it. Through this writing sample he landed a three-year deal with Universal Television and "Law and Order" (NBC 1990-2010) producer Dick Wolf on his new show, "New York Undercover" (Fox 1994-98). Though unrelated to Salerno's pilot, Wolf's new show also featured two minority cops and Salerno seemed to be a perfect fit to write for the show. At 22, Salerno found himself a staff writer on one of the most popular cop dramas on the air. But he was unhappy at his new job and though he wrote several well-received episodes of the series, Salerno found the television world to be less than satisfying. He clashed with the other producers and writers and later said his time on "New York Undercover" was "the worst experience of my life."

Against the advice of everyone around him, Salerno got out of his contract and turned to writing features. Amazingly, he was met with equally astounding opportunities in the film world. Within a matter of weeks after breaking his NYU contract and leaving the show, Salerno began developing "A Season in Hell" for producer Arne Schmidt, an action flick about an arsonist. Schmidt was also pitching a submarine story, "Thunder Below," which Salerno convinced Schmidt to let him write. Both projects were ultimately stalled, but not before "A Season in Hell" was bought for mid-six figures and "Thunder Below" was greenlighted by Steven Spielberg for DreamWorks. These breaks led Salerno to the job of helping with the re-write of Michael Bay's action blockbuster "Armageddon" (1998). From there, he scored the screenplay and story credits for the 2000 remake of "Shaft" helmed by John Singleton.

In the middle of working on a host of other high-profile projects, including starting his own production company and landing a slew of impressive studio deals, Salerno got his own television series when NBC greenlighted a drama he had co-created about a group of undercover investigators, "UC: Undercover" (NBC 2001-02). The series, which co-starred Vera Farmiga and Ving Rhames, developed a cult fan base, including an internet fan site on which Salerno himself frequently posted. Returning to the big screen, Salerno did a production rewrite on the script of "Alien Vs. Predator" (2004), shaping it into a major box office success. He also wrote the sequel, "Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem" (2007), another international hit. In 2009, Salerno began working with producer James Cameron on a 3D remake of the seminal 1966 science fiction classic "Fantastic Voyage." As Cameron's focus shifted to following up his groundbreaking "Avatar" (2009), the project moved to the back burner, despite the interest of directors such as Paul Greengrass.

In a return to television, Salerno joined the production and writing staff of "Hawaii Five-0" (CBS 2010- ), Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman's critically and commercially successful reboot of the vintage 1970s cop drama. During his time on the series, Salerno wrote three episodes. He next teamed with maverick director Oliver Stone, writing the crime thriller "Savages" (2012) and serving as the film's executive producer. The film, starring Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, John Travolta and Benicio del Toro, was based on the bestselling novel by Don Winslow, co-creator of Salerno's TV series "UC: Undercover."

Returning to his documentary roots, Salerno directed "Salinger" (2013), an exhaustively-researched feature about the reclusive novelist and short story writer J.D. Salinger, who had died in 2010 after nearly fifty years of reclusive retirement in rural New Hampshire. Along with the critically-acclaimed feature, Salerno published, with writer David Shields, the oral biography Salinger. Based on a decade's worth of interviews and original research by Salerno and Shields, it was the first comprehensive biography of one of the 20th century's most gifted and mysterious authors. The book spent three weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list and received extensive positive reviews.

While keeping their proposed remake of "Fantastic Voyage" alive, James Cameron announced in 2013 that he had chosen Shane Salerno to co-write the third in a planned trilogy of "Avatar" sequels. Cameron gave 2019 as the proposed release date of "Avatar 4," with preproduction beginning in late 2014.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1997:
Met director Michael Bay and began work on the Jerry Bruckheimer produced "Armageddon"
1996:
Worked on developing two more features, the thriller "Breakdown" and a script about the Zodiac serial killer for Touchstone
2000:
Worked on writing a script with filmmaker and personal idol Michael Mann about the drug trade
2000:
Created pilot "UC: Undercover" with novelist Don Winslow about a team of undercover agents; pilot greenlighted by NBC
2001:
Executive Produced (also wrote) "UC: Undercover" (NBC)
:
Hired to rewrite "Alien vs. Predator" which was released in 2004; never received screen credit
1999:
Met acclaimed "Boyz N The Hood" director John Singleton; co-wrote screenplay for "Shaft" (2000)
1990:
Produced his own documentary for public access "Sundown: The Future of Children and Drugs"
1994:
Signed a three-year deal with Universal television and producer Dick Wolf to write for "New York Undercover" (Fox); clashed creatively with producers and other writers
1999:
Worked on developing "Bay of Pigs" for director Ving Rhames
1995:
Assigned to develop action features "A Season in Hell" and "Thunder Blow" with producer Arne Schmidt
1993:
Began unpaid internship on the set of "NYPD Blue" (ABC)
2000:
Established his own production company, Chasing Time Pictures
1993:
Moved to Los Angeles
1998:
Received first feature screenwriting credit for "Armageddon"
1995:
Signed with CAA and got out of his TV deal
1995:
Sold "Thunder Blow" to Dino DeLaurentiis for $600,000 and adapted "A Season in Hell" for Steven Spielberg and the newly formed Dreamworks Pictures
2007:
Wrote the screenplay for "Aliens vs Predator: Requiem"
2013:
Directed J.D. Salinger biopic "Salinger"
2013:
Co-authored written biography "Salinger"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

St. John's College High School: Washington, Washington D.C. -
San Dieguito High School: Encinitas, California - 1991

Notes

"I want to make films about the things no one is making films about, like rape and suburban drugs." --Salerno talking about his documentary on "Larry King Live"

Salerno was voted "Most Likely to be Famous" in high school and was often compared to Alex P. Keaton, Michael J. Fox's character from "Family Ties"

Salerno says he has never smoked, drank or done any drugs his entire life

Salerno owns over 10,000 books

"He reminds me of Francis Ford Coppola, in terms of his enthusiasm and his grandiosity, in thinking big."--Producer and director Tony Bill, after working with Salerno on "UC: Undercover"

"There is a real difference between arrogance and confidence. For me, if you don't get it right, I don't understand what the point is of doing it. The worst thing you can be is ordinary." --Salerno quoted in The Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2002

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Sarah Brown. Actress ("General Hospital"). Born February 18, 1975; reportedly dating in 2001.

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