Diane English
Diane English on set of THE WOMEN.jpg
Diane English on the set of The Women
Born (1948-05-18) May 18, 1948 (age 74)
Alma materBuffalo State College
  • Director
  • screenwriter
  • producer
(m. 1977⁠–⁠2010)

Diane English (born May 18, 1948) is an American screenwriter, producer and director, best known for creating the television show Murphy Brown and writing and directing the 2008 feature film The Women.

Early life

English was born in Buffalo, New York, the daughter of Anne English and Richard English who was an electrical engineer.[1] She graduated from Nardin Academy in Buffalo, and then from Buffalo State College in 1970.


English began her career at WNET, the PBS affiliate in New York City, working first as a story editor for The Theatre in America series, and then as associate director of TV Lab. From 1977 to 1980, she wrote a monthly column on television for Vogue magazine.

In 1980, she co-wrote PBS' The Lathe of Heaven, an adaptation of Ursula K. LeGuin's science fiction novel of the same name, and received her first Writers Guild Award Nomination. She followed that with the television movies Her Life as a Man (1984) and Classified Love (1986).

In 1985, English created Foley Square, her first half-hour comedy series, which aired on CBS during the 1985-1986 television season. It starred Margaret Colin, Hector Elizondo, Michael Lembeck and Jon Lovitz. The show premiered on December 11, 1985, and languished near the bottom of the Nielsen ratings in the weeks that followed. After being put on hiatus after only 11 episodes, CBS rescheduled it to another night and aired the three remaining episodes of the season. With ratings low, CBS cancelled the show after only 14 episodes with the last episode airing on April 8, 1986. During 1986 and 1987, English executive produced and wrote the CBS comedy series My Sister Sam, starring Pam Dawber which lasted for two seasons with 12 episodes that never aired before being cancelled.

In 1988, she created the CBS television series Murphy Brown, for which she won three Emmy Awards (one for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series and two for Outstanding Comedy Series). The series ran from 1988 to 1998 for a total of 247 episodes. It garnered 18 Emmy wins from 62 nominations. In 1992, English stirred up controversy when the title character decided to have a child out of wedlock. Vice president Dan Quayle gave a speech entitled "Reflections on Urban America to the Commonwealth Club of California" on the subject of the Los Angeles riots. In this speech, Quayle blamed the violence on a decay of moral values and family structure in American society. In an aside, he cited the title character in the television program Murphy Brown as an example of how popular culture contributes to this "poverty of values", saying, "It doesn't help matters when prime time TV has Murphy Brown – a character who supposedly epitomizes today's intelligent, highly paid, professional woman – mocking the importance of fathers, by bearing a child alone, and calling it just another 'lifestyle choice'.[2]

English responded with a statement that read: "If the vice president thinks it's disgraceful for an unmarried woman to bear children (out of wedlock), and if he believes that a woman cannot adequately raise a child without a father, then he'd better make sure abortion remains safe and legal." In 2002, Candice Bergen, the actress who played Brown, said "I never have really said much about the whole episode, which was endless, but his speech was a perfectly intelligent speech about fathers not being dispensable and nobody agreed with that more than I did." This controversy along with the shifting times of that decade touched off a debate over the meaning of "family values" of Americans during that election year in which Bill Clinton and Al Gore ran against George H. W. Bush and Dan Quayle.[citation needed]

During the success of Murphy Brown, her company, with Joel Shukovsky, Shukovsky English Entertainment, had set up a deal with CBS for a non-exclusive deal, giving them exclusive syndicated rights to future Shukovsky/English series, in 1991.[3]

English also created the comedy series Love & War (1992–1995), starring Susan Dey and Jay Thomas - Annie Potts replaced Dey after the first season. Other series she co-created and/or executive produced include Double Rush (1995), Ink (1996), and The Louie Show, starring Louie Anderson (1996), and Living in Captivity (1998). Unfortunately, none of the series were picked up for more than a single season with The Louie Show lasting six episodes. As for Ink, she took over the role from Jeffrey Lane, who initially came up with the concept of the series.[4]

In 2008, English wrote, produced and directed The Women, her feature film debut. The comedy, a remake of the 1939 George Cukor film of the same name, stars Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, and Jada Pinkett Smith. It was released to mostly negative reviews but tripled its budget when worldwide markets were factored in.[5] That same year English and the ensemble cast of The Women were honored with the Women in Film Crystal award[6] which honors women in communications and media.


Year Title Contribution Notes
Director Producer Writer
1980 The Lathe of Heaven Yes Television Movie
1984 Her Life as a Man Yes Television Movie
1984 Call to Glory Yes Episode: "The Move"
1985–1986 Foley Square Yes Yes Creator/Producer (14 episodes)
Writer (6 episodes)
– "Make My Day" (1985)
– "Court-ship" (1986)
– "The Longest Weekend" (1986)
– "Nobody's Perfect" (1986)
– "Kid Stuff" (1986)
– "24 Hours" (1986)
1986 Classified Love Yes Television Movie
1987–1988 My Sister Sam Yes Yes Executive Producer (7 episodes)
Writer (6 episodes)
– "Jingle Bell Rock Bottom" (1986)
– "Exposed" (1987)
– "Goodbye, Steve" (1987)
– "And They Said It Would Never Last" (1987)
– "Ol' Green Eyes Is Back" (1988)
– "It's My Party and I'll Kill If I Want To" (1988)
Murphy Brown Yes Yes Creator (249 episodes)
Executive Producer (24 episodes)
Writer (21 episodes)
– "Respect" (1988)
– "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" (1988)
– "Murphy's Pony" (1988)
– "Set Me Free" (1988)
– "Mama Said" (1989)
– "The Summer of '77" (1989)
– "The Brothers Silverberg" (1989)
– "Brown Like Me: Part 1" (1989)
– "Brown Like Me: Part 2" (1989)
– "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" (1990)
– "Goin' to the Chapel: Part 1" (1990)
– "Goin' to the Chapel: Part 2" (1990)
– "The 390th Broadcast" (1990)
– "Bob & Murphy & Ted & Avery" (1990)
– "On Another Plane: Part 1" (1990)
– "On Another Plane: Part 2" (1990)
– "Full Circle" (1991)
– "Birth 101" (1992)
– "Never Can Say Goodbye: Part 1" (1998)
– "Never Can Say Goodbye: Part 2" (1998)
– "I (Don't) Heart Huckabee" (2018)
1992–1995 Love & War Yes Yes Creator (67 episodes)
Executive Producer (25 episodes)
Writer (8 episodes)
– "Love Is Hell" (1992)
– "Step Two" (1992)
– "For John" (1992)
– "Friends and Relations" (1993)
– "Just in Time" (1993)
– "You Make Me Feel So Young" (1994)
– "The Morning After the Night Before" (1994)
– "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and a Cat" (1995)
1995 Double Rush Yes Yes Creator/Producer (13 episodes)
Episode: "The Episode Formerly Known as Prince"
1996–1997 Ink Yes Yes Creator/Executive Producer (22 episodes)
Episode: "Above the Fold"
1998 Living in Captivity Yes Executive Producer (8 episodes)
2008 The Women Yes Yes Yes Adapted from the play/remake of the film
TBR Timbuktu Yes Yes Screenplay

Awards and nominations

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Association Year Category Nominated Work Result Ref
Hugo Awards 1981 Best Dramatic Presentation The Lathe of Heaven Nominated [7]
Primetime Emmy Awards 1989 Outstanding Comedy Series (for producing) Murphy Brown Nominated
1989 Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series Murphy Brown Won
1990 Outstanding Comedy Series (for producing) Murphy Brown Won
1990 Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series Murphy Brown Nominated
1991 Outstanding Comedy Series (for producing) Murphy Brown Nominated
1991 Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series Murphy Brown Nominated
1992 Outstanding Comedy Series (for producing) Murphy Brown Won
1992 Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series (shared with Korby Siamis) Murphy Brown Nominated
Writers Guild of America 1990 Episodic Comedy Murphy Brown Nominated
1991 Episodic Comedy Murphy Brown Won
1993 Episodic Comedy (shared with Korby Siamis) Murphy Brown Won
1999 Episodic Comedy Murphy Brown Nominated


  1. ^ "Diane English Biography (1948-)". Film Reference. 1992-11-23. Retrieved 2013-06-20.
  2. ^ "Dan Quayle vs. Murphy Brown". Time. June 1, 1992. Archived from the original on October 16, 2007. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
  3. ^ "Shukovsky, English near CBS deal" (PDF). Broadcasting. 1991-08-12. p. 24. Retrieved 2021-12-23.
  4. ^ "English takes over 'Ink'" (PDF). Broadcasting. 1996-09-02. Retrieved 2021-09-25.
  5. ^ Michael Fleming (2007-09-19). "Femmes front 'Women' - Entertainment News, Film News, Media". Variety. Retrieved 2013-06-20.
  6. ^ "Leading ladies set for Crystal+Lucy Awards". The Hollywood Reporter. 2008-04-17. Retrieved 2013-06-20.
  7. ^ "List of awards received by Diane English".