John Wells

Biography: Having achieved his greatest success to date developing and nursing series on the small screen, John Wells could seemingly be described as a "TV producer". But his previous accomplishments in a wide variety of media and his ever-broadening slate of projects has made him difficult to pigeonhole. Certainly his academic training and professional experience prepared him to be a jack of all possible trades in the entertainment industry. As a young man he worked as a "roadie" for the likes of Elton John, Linda Ronstadt and The Eagles and he served the Denver County Dinner Playhouse in a capacity he had always aspired to fill, that of stage manager. Wells' later experience, in retrospect, is a very wide extension of that early ambition.

After completing a BFA at Carnegie-Mellon in production design, Wells went through the university's MFA program in directing. Desiring to carry his arts education still further, he enrolled in the Peter Stark Motion Picture Producing Program at USC
and received a second MFA in cinema and business law. During this time, Wells worked in marketing and advertising for Paramount Pictures on such productions as "Reds", "Raiders of the Lost Ark", "S.O.B." and "Ragtime" (all 1981) and "One from the Heart" (1982). He also kept active in the theater, producing a number of acclaimed stage productions in L.A., including
"Tanzi", "Battery", "Balm in Gilead" and "Steaming".
Wells also took an initial stab at feature film producing with the minor yet sometimes engaging, if silly "Nice Girls Don't Explode" (1987).

1987 also marked a breakthrough for Wells into the medium which would gain him the most prominence: several scripts he wrote for the CBS comedy-drama series "Shell Game" were realized. Soon thereafter, he served as executive story editor for the short-term ABC series "Just in Time" (1988) before his first major success in TV with "China Beach" (ABC, 1989-91). Joining the series midway through its run, Wells helped the Vietnam-set drama garner considerable critical acclaim (if not huge ratings). His technical and managerial expertise and sympathy for actors helped him maintain the complex storylines and gritty, detailed realism he has increasingly favored in his work. He set up a production company, John Wells & Friends, which co-produced with Warners TV, his follow-up series, the intriguing and hard-hitting detective saga "Angel Street" (CBS, 1992), but it only lasted for three episodes. Juggling many irons, though, Wells also first ventured into TV-movies with "The Nightman" (NBC, 1992), which he co-executive produced and co-wrote.

Wells' interest in TV and screenwriting would grow through the 90s, gradually combining with his increasing success as a TV producer. He achieved great success with both viewers and critics with his next series, "ER" (NBC, 1994- ), an involving hospital saga which gained considerable respect for its medical detail, its tapestry of complex characters and its avoidance of sugar-coating. "ER" was a hit from the start and in 1995 Wells signed a deal with NBC to develop five more series for the network.

After some years away from the cinema, Wells also stretched his time and talents back to one of the few media he had not really conquered. His screenplay biography of one the twentieth century's most remarkable social activists
"Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day Story" (1996) was produced, but the results were unfortunately little seen. Wells did, however, nail a production deal with DreamWorks SKG around that time, and he also set in motion several projects in development with Warners and Fox. Having worked together with director Mimi Leder on "China Beach" and "ER", the two again collaborated when he served as one of the executive producers of Leder's "The Peacemaker" (1997), starring George Clooney (of "ER" fame) and Nicole Kidman. Wells and Leder teamed up again at DreamWorks as she filmed his screenplay for "Deep Impact" (1998).

John Wells' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average career score: 59
Highest Metascore: 84 Far from Heaven
Lowest Metascore: 34 Doom
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 25
  2. Negative: 4 out of 25
25 movie reviews
Title: Year: Credit: User score:
83 Love & Mercy TBA Producer tbd
58 August: Osage County Dec 25, 2013 Director 7.1
54 Cracks Mar 18, 2011 Executive Producer 7.1
69 The Company Men Jan 21, 2011 Director / Producer / Written By 6.4
34 Motherhood Oct 23, 2009 Executive Producer / Producer 1.0
38 Gigantic Apr 3, 2009 Executive Producer 5.7
51 Savage Grace May 30, 2008 Executive Producer 5.6
56 Then She Found Me Apr 25, 2008 Executive Producer 4.8
73 I'm Not There. Nov 21, 2007 Executive Producer 6.6
68 Infamous Oct 13, 2006 Executive Producer 8.2
62 Nearing Grace Oct 13, 2006 Executive Producer 8.0
64 The Notorious Bettie Page Apr 14, 2006 Executive Producer 7.3
34 Doom Oct 21, 2005 Producer 6.1
82 Duma Aug 5, 2005 Producer 8.8
56 A Dirty Shame Sep 24, 2004 Executive Producer 5.8
59 A Home at the End of the World Jul 23, 2004 Producer 7.0
73 The Company Dec 25, 2003 Executive Producer 6.8
36 Party Monster Sep 5, 2003 Executive Producer 7.3
55 Camp Jul 25, 2003 Executive Producer 8.2
68 The Good Thief Apr 2, 2003 Producer 6.7
84 Far from Heaven Nov 8, 2002 Executive Producer 7.1
58 The Grey Zone Oct 18, 2002 Executive Producer 8.1
61 White Oleander Oct 11, 2002 Producer 7.8
64 One Hour Photo Aug 21, 2002 Executive Producer 6.8
43 The Peacemaker Sep 26, 1997 Co-Executive Producer 6.7