An article in The Buffalo News on May 15, 2016 relates that Diane English may have another series in the works if HBO agrees to take it on.  So far, it looks promising.  The article gives us much background on this talented woman who has been content to enjoy her retirement for the past eighteen years.


Diane EnglishCredit: Wikimedia Commons

                                                     Writer Diane English - Wikimedia

Diane English, a native Buffalonian, born there in 1948, is known mostly for her successful television show “Murphy Brown.”  She lives in Sherman Oaks, California, but also has an apartment in New York City and a summer home on the beach in Martha’s Vineyard.  Diane doesn’t have to work.  At 68 years old, she is financially secure, thanks to her prolific output in the ‘80s and ‘90s, which included “Foley Square,” “My Sister Sam,” “Love and War,” “Double Rush,” and a feature film in 2008 called “The Women,” based on the play of the same name written by Clare Booth Luce.

“The Women”

The gimmick of “The Women” is that no men appear anywhere in it.  They are not seen as background extras, nor as voices on the telephone.  They are nowhere in evidence.  It is all about women, all the time.  This might sound bigoted and feminist, except that these particular women are all shallow, vain, and petty, and their primary topic of conversation is, of course, men.  In this more modern version produced by Diane English, the women were portrayed by:  Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, and Jada Pinkett Smith.  The film received poor reviews from the critics as well as from viewers.  For a first effort on film production, Diane English did not fare well.


Candice BergenCredit: Wikimedia Commons

                                                             Candice Bergen - Wikimedia

Diane’s Background

Diane’s mother, Anna Sardella, is 92 years old and still lives in Buffalo, New York, as does Diane’s brother and his family.  Her mother keeps telling her “You’ve got to do one more.”  Diane was a graduate of Nardin Academy and then SUNY Buffalo State College in 1970, where she majored in English Education, and met Warren Enters, a Broadway director and producer who came to Buffalo to teach in 1968.  Diane began taking theater classes with Enters and served as his assistant director on a school play.  Warren encouraged her to go to New York, which he did not often do.  He gave the same advice to one other student.  That was Tom Fontana, who went on to write for “St. Elsewhere,” and “Hill Street Blues.”  In New York, Diane got a job writing for Vogue Magazine, and then for public television. After achieving much success in New York City, she moved to Los Angeles in the early 1980s with her husband, Joel Shukovsky.


Dan QuayleCredit: Wikimedia Commons

                                                             Vice President Dan Quayle                                                                                                                                         Wikimedia

Murphy Brown, the Single Mother

Diane’s mother Anna was a singer, who loved to perform.  Diane’s father, Richard English, did not approve of his wife being onstage, so she stopped.  After Anna and Richard divorced, Anna took up singing again.  Diane did not inherit the gene to perform on stage from her mother.  She preferred to be in the background, writing and creating.  Her fans remember well the episode in “Murphy Brown” when the unmarried Murphy (Candice Bergen) became pregnant and had a baby, making her a single mother.  The media reaction was loud.  Vice President Dan Quayle chastised Murphy, a fictional character, for mocking the importance of fathers by choosing single motherhood as a lifestyle choice.  The front page of the New York Times from that day, showing Murphy with the baby, now hangs on the wall of Diane’s Sherman Oaks office.  Alongside it, you can see a New York Daily News Headline, stating “Quayle to Murphy: You Tramp!”  It is undoubtedly safe to say that such an outcry would not occur in today’s world.  Women have come a long way, and strict standards on marriage have fallen by the wayside.  An entirely new viewpoint needs to be expressed loud and clear on television and the wider screen that females no longer accept subjugation as their lot in life.

The Success of Murphy Brown

Diane noted that her goal was always to have people view Murphy as a real person.  “I obviously succeeded,” she said, “because Dan Quayle treated her that way.”  The series ran from 1988 to 1998 for a total of 247 episodes.  Diane was generous in providing work for hundreds of famous and not-so-famous actors who may have appeared in two or three episodes of “Murphy Brown,” boosting their careers as they moved on from there.


Katie CouricCredit: Wikimedia Commons

                                                             Katie Couric - Wikimedia

“One More Show”

That “one more show” which her mother keeps urging, may happen.  Every morning in her Sherman Oaks kitchen, Diane makes her breakfast and watches the morning shows.  She ponders the state of the media today, and women’s place in it.

Along with her friend Katie Couric, who guest-starred on “Murphy Brown,” Diane has come up with an idea for a half-hour comedy based on the ever-popular morning television show.  Actress Michelle Pfeiffer will be the leading character, playing a married mother and journalist who has a job on morning television, and is at odds with the producers often for their programming decisions with which she disagrees.  A woman in her mid-50s is not often seen as a character on television.  Diane English gets to write a lot about her own experiences with producers.  Those three women - Diane English, Katie Couric, and Michelle Pfeiffer - will be the Executive Producers of the show, which is slated to be called “Good Morning.”  HBO is looking closely at the prospect, but nothing has been decided yet at this point.  If the project is approved, this will be Diane English’s first television series since 1998, making her mother happy in the bargain.  Her show “Murphy Brown” has already won three Emmys, a Golden Globe, and two Writers Guild Awards, and Diane may be adding to those honors in the near future.


Emmy AwardsCredit: Wikimedia Commons

                                                       The Emmy Awards - Wikimedia

Diane Advertised Pantyhose for Hanes

Katie Couric remembers that Diane did a pantyhose ad for Hanes in the early ‘90s.  She carries herself well, much like a TV or movie star.  She is eloquent, tall and graceful, with short blond hair.  The Hanes ad was featured in a lot of magazines, mostly on a full page, showing Diane and her legs which were stunning.  The ad was called “The Lady Prefers Hanes.”

Diane’s Fans are Waiting

Yes, Diane is happy living her life the way she is living it in her home in Sherman Oaks. Not only her mother, but a host of her fans would welcome another series from the mindset of this talented woman twenty years after the efforts of the feminist faction succeeded in bringing the problem of women in the media under closer scrutiny.


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