In a career spanning four decades, Craig Van Sickle has written, produced and directed more than 200 hours of prime-time television, including scripts for “Murder, She Wrote,” “NCIS,” “24” and George Lucas’s “The Clone Wars.”
Van Sickle graduated from IU in 1979 with a degree in telecommunications and soon moved to Los Angeles, where he eventually met up with his writing partner of 30-plus years, Steve Mitchell.
In 1985, after nearly six years in Hollywood, Van Sickle sold his first script to “The Love Boat.” Two years later, he landed his first staff writing job at the “Murder She Wrote” spinoff “The Law & Harry McGraw.” In the years following, Van Sickle moved up the ranks from story editor to executive producer/showrunner under the guidance of mentors Peter S. Fischer (“Murder, She Wrote”), Kenneth Johnson (“Alien Nation”) and the late Stephen J. Cannell (“Rockford Files,” “Wiseguy”) as he continued writing scripts for all three TV giants.
In 1996, Van Sickle achieved his lifelong dream when his original series, “The Pretender,” was picked up by NBC.
“That was my big leap,” Van Sickle recalled. “Ever since fifth grade when I decided to become a writer, my career goal was to get my own series on television.”
“The Pretender,” written and created by Van Sickle and Mitchell, ran for four seasons and launched two feature-length films. They recently published two novels set in the “Pretender” universe: “Rebirth” and “Saving Luke.”
Since “The Pretender,” Van Sickle created the series “She Spies,” became showrunner for NBC’s “Medical Investigations” in 2005 and wrote about 30 television pilot scripts.
In 2008, Van Sickle saw another dream project come to life when he wrote and produced his reimagining of “The Wizard of Oz” titled, “Tin Man,” which aired on The SyFy Channel. To this day, “Tin Man” remains the network’s highest-rated mini-series of all time and garnered nine Emmy nominations, winning multiple awards that year.
In addition to his mentors, Van Sickle credits his family, who he said made it all worthwhile.
“My wife Wendy was there for me from the very beginning, before success. Along with our two great children, Aridae and Wills, family love kept me very grounded,” he said.
In 2017, Van Sickle launched scripTVisions.com, a script mentoring site that helps unproduced writers improve their scripts and launch their professional careers in Hollywood. Each year, he selects one protégé’s work to submit to his agents and take out into the marketplace to get the show on the air.
“Ninety percent of my clients are pro bono,” he said. “In an era where novice writers are being taken advantage of by fly-by-night script services, I just felt they deserved legitimate feedback from a professional – the kind of notes that will truly help them break into the TV business.”
Since 1985, Van Sickle has been an active member of the Writers Guild of America West, for which he has participated in numerous panels and workshops throughout the years.
He is working on a new series called “Veil” for Starling Entertainment, which he hopes will premiere next year.