Philip DeGuere Jr. -- TV show creator, producer
Peter Hartlaub, Chronicle Pop Culture Critic
Tuesday, February 1, 2005
Philip DeGuere Jr., a trend-setting Hollywood television producer who created "Simon & Simon" and wrote for more than a dozen shows, died of cancer Jan. 24 in his San Francisco home. He was 60.
Most of the shows Mr. DeGuere worked on were filmed in Southern California, but he never severed ties with the Bay Area, where the self- described compassionate anarchist loved to meet people from all walks of life.
"He loved the reality of San Francisco. He wanted to live and die on Potrero Hill," said his wife, Alison DeGuere. "We only went to Los Angeles for the job."
Mr. DeGuere was born in Cincinnati and graduated from Stanford in 1966 with a degree in communications. He was hired immediately as a screenwriter at Universal Studios, where he learned from producers Roy Huggins, Don Bellisario and Stephen J. Cannell.
In 1981, Mr. DeGuere launched his first series, "Simon & Simon," about two brothers with opposite personalities who run a private detective business in San Diego. The show received poor ratings at first and was nearly canceled by CBS, but it thrived after it was moved to a time slot after Bellisario's "Magnum P.I." and aired for seven seasons until 1988.
A friend of members of the Grateful Dead and lyricist John Perry Barlow, Mr. DeGuere shared their interest in technology applications in the arts. He was among the first Hollywood filmmakers to embrace digital technology -- his model for tracking daily progress of "Simon & Simon" eventually was adopted throughout the industry. His show "Whiz Kids," which aired for one season in 1983, was full of computers long before other TV dramas caught on to the trend.
Mr. DeGuere worked steadily in the 1990s and the last few years, as a writer and producer on a remake of "The Twilight Zone" and most recently "Navy: NCIS." He was diagnosed in September but kept working on scripts -- his last episode of the CBS show "JAG" aired two weeks ago.
Mr. DeGuere's wife said the writer disliked mean-spirited television and would always try to get his left-wing San Francisco sensibilities into more conservative Hollywood TV dramas -- whether it was an episode of the short- lived "Marker" that dealt with medical marijuana or a "JAG" episode that gave a complex view of what motivates terrorists. One of his final "JAG" episodes weaved Iraq and the lack of properly armored vehicles into a plot.
"He would always sneak something in that the network would have an issue about," Alison DeGuere said. "He said, 'I can reach 15 million people. I want people to know what's going on in the world.' "
In addition to his wife, Mr. DeGuere is survived by daughters Adrienne, Dulcinee and Milena.
A memorial service will be held in Los Angeles in the near future. Donations may be made to Project Avary, which provides mentoring and other services for children of incarcerated parents, at 1018 Grand Ave., San Rafael, CA 94901. Its Web address is www.projectavary.org.
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