Rene Balcer Biography

Director, Journalist, Screenwriter, Producer (1954–)
Journalist, filmmaker and Emmy Award-winning producer, René Balcer, is best known for producing and writing for the hit television series 'Law & Order' and 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent.'


Canadian journalist and Emmy Award-winning producer René Balcer started his work on the screen with documentaries, signing on as a filmmaker for the National Film Board of Canada. In 1980 he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a screenwriting career, where he eventually signed on as a writer for Law & Order in 1990. He has since written well over 100 episodes for the show and continued his successful run with the spinoff Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Balcer has functioned as writer, showrunner, and executive producer throughout both series' runs. 


Writer and producer René Balcer was born on February 9, 1954, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He graduated with a communications degree from Concordia University in 1978, and started his journalism career as a combat cameraman during the 1973 Yom Kippur War in Israel. He then worked as a reporter, entertainment writer, and editor for several magazines and newspapers in Montreal, and eventually signed on as a documentary filmmaker for the National Film Board of Canada. 

In 1980, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a screenwriting career, writing and developing films for Zoetrope, Columbia, and Paramount and working with film producers like Francis Coppola, Mace Neufeld, and Steve Tisch. He served as an advisor to the Common Sense Foundation for four years and in the meantime wrote Out on the Edge, the story of a teenage boy struggling with his parents' divorce, which aired on CBS in 1989 and won an APA National Psychology Award in 1990. He also worked as a story editor for the series Nasty Boys and wrote the TV movie Stranger in the Family, which aired on ABC in 1991.

In 1990, Balcer signed on as a writer for Law & Order. Since then, he has written more than 100 episodes of the show, winning two Edgar Awards (and another for an episode of NYPD Blue), a Peabody Award, the Golden Laurel Award from the Producers Guild of America, and the Silver Gavel Award. Since the sixth season of the show, Balcer has served as both head writer and executive producer. In 1997, he accepted Law & Order's Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series with Richard Sweren. With the success of the series, in 2001, he signed to write and produce Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which has earned accolades and was another huge success in the franchise. In 2015, he took his expertise to England where he worked on Law & Order: UK.

Outside of Law & Order, Balcer has worked on a number of creative projects including the series Jo (2013), the short documentary The No Name Painting Association (2013) and the television movie For Justice (2015). He is currently collaborating with actor Owen Wilson on a series called WonderWorld for the Starz channel.

Rene Belcher photo via (CC BY-SA 4.0) Wikicommons

(Photo courtesy of Rene Belcher via (CC BY-SA 4.0) Wikicommons)

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