MAKERS Profile

Diane English

Creator, "Murphy Brown"

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Diane English on working in television, creating "Murphy Brown," and her unexpected role in a presidential race.
Diane English is an Emmy-winning film and television producer, director, and screenwriter. She is best known for creating the show "Murphy Brown," which ran on CBS from 1988 to 1998.   English was born in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1948. Her father was an electrician at the Niagara Mohawk Power Plant and her mother, a former singer, worked as a bookkeeper. Upon visiting New York City for the first time as a twelve-year old, English decided she was destined for life in the big city.   After discovering her talent for playwriting as an undergraduate at Buffalo State University, English moved to New York in 1971. She went to work for New York’s PBS station WNET, working her way up from a secretary to associate director of the station’s experimental division. In 1980, she received her first writer credit, on PBS’s first made-for-TV movie, The Lathe of Heaven, and earned a Writer’s Guild of America Award nomination.   Following this success, English moved to Los Angeles. Once there, English truly hit it big—first as a writer/producer for Foley Square and My Sister Sam, and soon after, as the creator of Murphy Brown. English’s work on Murphy Brown earned her an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series and two more for Outstanding Comedy Series.   With her former production company, English went on to produce a host of television series, including Love & War, Double Rush, and Living in Captivity. In 2008, she saw a 14-year dream come to fruition when she finished raising the money to produce the film The Women, for which she also wrote the screenplay and directed.   In addition to her Emmy’s, English has been honored with two Writers Guild of America Awards, a Genie Award from American Women in Radio and Television, a Freedom-to-Write-Award from PEN Center USA West, and the Commissioners’ Awards from the National Commission on Working Women for her positive portrayal of working women on television.

More From Diane

TV as Mirror
English discusses how TV reflects changing norms and a particular plotline of "Friends" that drove this home for her.

Being a Showrunner
English explains just how much it takes to run a half-hour television comedy.

Forget Balance, Go for Chapters
English advises women to give up the impossible ideal of balance in stages of your career when you're pursuing big dreams.

Daycare on the Lot
English reflects on how the demands of motherhood kept more women from careers in Hollywood until better solutions arose.

Feminism Benefits Everyone
English on how feminism freed both women and men to have new roles in society.

An Early Case of Stage Fright
English on how she learned the hard way that she didn't have her mother's passion for performing.

The Call of the Big Apple
The minute she visited a seedy Times Square as a child, English knew she was meant to come to New York and that a big life awaited her.

An Ear for Dialogue
English took a college course that uncovered her true talent and passion.

First Year in NY
Although most girls her age were planning to get married and become teachers, English felt destined for something else.

My Big Break
English talks about how she took a chance that paid off big.

My Godfathers
English credits her success to two television legends who showed her the ropes.

A Movement That Reached Everyone
English on how the women's movement was one of the biggest social movements of all time.