Daniel Bilson (born July 25, 1956) is an American writer, director, and producer of movies, television, video games, and comic books. Together with his frequent collaborator, Paul DeMeo, he is best known as the writer for the film The Rocketeer (1991) and creator, writer, producer and director for the television series Viper (1994, 1996), The Sentinel (1996) and The Flash (1990). He has written multiple issues of the comic book The Flash, as well as scripts for multiple video games, including James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing (2003).
|Occupation||Writer, director, producer, educator|
(m. 1980; div. 1990)
|Children||3, including Rachel Bilson|
While actively working as a writer and producer, Bilson is also a tenured faculty member at the University of Southern California (USC), where he holds the positions of Director of USC Games and the Chair of USC's School of Cinema's Interactive Media and Games Division..
Bilson was born into a show business family in Los Angeles, California, the son of Mona (Weichman) and the director Bruce Bilson (Bewitched, Get Smart, Hogan's Heroes). As a child, he discovered his passion for both storytelling and games, both of which would greatly influence his career.
He has three daughters; his eldest, Rachel Bilson (born on August 25, 1981) is an actress, notable for her role in The O.C. and Hart of Dixie He, his wife Heather Medway, and two younger daughters, Hattie Elizabeth Bilson, born December 19, 2001, and Rosemary, born February 10, 2007, reside in Los Angeles.
Bilson graduated from California State University, San Bernardino. There he met and teamed up with his best friend and long-time writing partner, Paul DeMeo, and together they founded Pet Fly Productions.
After graduating from college, Bilson worked aggressively to build a career in the movie business, working as an extra while writing screenplays. Bilson and DeMeo produced their first script, Trancers (1985), a noir tale about a time-travelling detective from the future. The movie became a cult classic, and the narrative was so engaging that it evolved into a franchise that generated five sequels. Trancers currently holds an 83% Freshness Score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Zone Troopers and The Wrong GuysEdit
Following this, the duo performed the same roles in The Wrong Guys (1988) a comedic spoof of boy scouting.
Bilson and DeMeo began their screenplay adaptation of the comic book The Rocketeer in 1985. While writing for Disney, the partners weathered the ups and downs of five years of movie development. The film was released in theaters in 1991, missing key deleted scenes that were only restored years later as part of the home video release. The Rocketeer has become one of the most beloved Disney live action films of the '90s, with a recent announcement to reboot it as a film franchise as well as an animated series.
90s TV and ShowrunningEdit
For most of the 90's, Bilson and DeMeo worked as Executive Producers and creators on various action-adventure and sci-fi series for multiple studios and networks, including the first TV incarnation of The Flash, and multiple action series Viper, Human Target, and The Sentinel.
Electronic Arts & The SimsEdit
After a chance meeting with then-President of Electronic Arts in 2000, Don Mattrick, Bilson--an avid tabletop and video gamer his entire life--was brought on as a production lead to focus on guiding creative and narrative IP development at EA. During that time, he was a consulting producer for the video game The Sims (2000), as well as creative executive on the EA's Harry Potter video game franchise, working directly with JK Rowling and acting as a liaison between the acclaimed author, EA, and Harry Potter film distributor Warner Bros. He also wrote for multiple EA game franchise, including Command & Conquer, Medal of Honor, and James Bond 007.
In 2008, THQ approached Bilson to take on the role of VP of Creative Production, formally taking on the same function there as he had done informally at EA. Executives at the company, after seeing the positive impact his input had on titles in their development pipeline, and his leadership skills when it came to interacting with developers as well marketing staff, promoted him to Executive Vice President of Global Production and Marketing.
In that role, Bilson led over a dozen internally owned production studios, and 30+ marketing, administrative and operations staff at THQ's headquarters in Agoura Hills. One of his first tasks was to develop a clear strategic framework for the inherited portfolio of studios the company owned, as many had previously been purchased without one in place, resulting in the company owning over 20 studios at its peak.
After the painful process of having to streamline staff and studios, Bilson--with his partner DeMeo acting as a narrative design executive--focused on building and cultivating "Core game" franchises, lobbying executives for sufficient production and marketing funds to launch and/or maintain new and ongoing franchises such as Saints Row, Red Faction, Darksiders, MX vs ATV, Homefront, De Blob, and Metro 2033. He also led the launches for new installments of Core licensed IP such as WWE Smackdown vs Raw and the successful launch of the UFC video game franchise.
Despite the positive early results in the Core Business Unit that Bilson managed, the company's outsize investments in its separately led, declining Kids & Family Business Unit continued to drag on its overall financials. After successfully launching a Nintendo Wii peripheral--the uDraw Gaming Tablet--in 2010, executives at THQ made an aggressive investment in launching a uDraw peripheral for the then-new consoles Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2011. The product did not sell, resulting in a massive write-off, the shuttering of the Kids & Family division, and sole reliance on the Bilson's Core Games business to drive the company's revenue.
Unfortunately the $100 million shortfall created by uDraw, coupled with ongoing Kids and Family licensing expenses, put the company in dire financial straits from which it never recovered. Bilson left THQ in 2012, succeeded by Jason Rubin, who was the president of THQ before its closure due to bankruptcy on January 23, 2013.
Comics, Teaching and WritingEdit
Overlapping with his time at EA and THQ, Bilson and DeMeo continued writing comics, sometimes to support internal THQ IP, but also co-writing The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive for DC Comics with actor Adam Brody, as well a mini-series for Wildstorm Comics called Red Menace.
During his time at EA, Bilson began teaching at the University of Southern California, after being encouraged to do so by his friend and World of Warcraft guildmate, Bing Gordon. There he instructs as an adjunct professor at USC School of Cinematic Arts, where he teaches traditional screenwriting, as well as character development and storytelling for video games.
Bilson's lifelong writing partner and best friend of over 40 years, Paul DeMeo, died in 2018, just prior to the finalization of the sale of a script they co-wrote--Da 5 Bloods--to acclaimed writer/director/producer Spike Lee, fresh off his 2019 Academy Award win for Best Adapted Screenplay for the critically acclaimed film BlacKkKlansman. Da 5 Bloods is being distributed by Netflix and the production team has announced that Marvel Studios' Avengers/Black Panther star, Chadwick Boseman, will be the lead in the feature, which will also star Delroy Lindo and Jean Reno.
Bilson continues to work full-time as a screenwriter and producer, while teaching part-time at USC, where he was appointed Chair of the USC's Interactive Media and Games Division in 2017. In 2019 it was announced that his screenplay, Da 5 Bloods, co-written by Bilson and DeMeo, is being produced and directed by Spike Lee.
- Trancers (1985)
- Zone Troopers (1986)
- The Wrong Guys (1988)
- Pulse Pounders (Trancers: City of Lost Angels segment) (1988)
- The Rocketeer (1991)
- Company of Heroes (2013)
- Da 5 Bloods - Announced (Release TBA)
- The Sims (2000)
- Black & White (2001)
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
- 007: Nightfire (2002)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
- Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (2002)
- Medal of Honor: Frontline (2002)
- The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
- Command & Conquer: Generals (2003)
- Medal of Honor: Rising Sun (2003)
- 007: Everything or Nothing (2004)
- GoldenEye: Rogue Agent (2004)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
- Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault (2004)
- The Sims: Mega Deluxe (2004)
- Saints Row 2 (2008)
- Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor (2009)
- Red Faction: Guerrilla (2009)
- Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II (2009)
- Darksiders (2010)
- Metro 2033 (2010)
- Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - Chaos Rising (2010)
- de Blob 2 (2011)
- Homefront (2011)
- Red Faction: Armageddon (2011)
- Saints Row: The Third (2011)
- Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - Retribution (2011)
- Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine (2011)
- Darksiders II (2012)
- Company of Heroes 2 (2013)
- Metro: Last Light (2013)
- The Rocketeer nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation, Hugo Awards 1991.
- The Sentinel nominated for Outstanding Directing – Science fiction, 5th RATTY Awards (1998–1999) at the Wayback Machine (archived October 31, 2006).
- Rocketeer Adventure Magazine No. 1 nominated for Best Story or Single Issue, 1989 Harvey Award Nominees and Winners at the Wayback Machine (archived March 11, 2007).
- Bruce Bilson Biography (1928–)
- Tom K Ranheim (August 1, 1991). "Cinefantastique - The Authorized Dave Stevens Web Site". Davestevens.com. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
- "'The Rocketeer' Reboot in the Works From Disney (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
- "THQ Announces Management and Business Unit Reorganization to Support Focused Product Strategy". www.businesswire.com. June 24, 2009. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
- Cifaldi, Frank. "Just how badly did uDraw hurt THQ, anyway?". www.gamasutra.com. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
- "THQ to drop licensed kids' games and focus on "core" content". VentureBeat. January 25, 2012. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
- Dutton, Fred (February 2, 2012). "THQ details full extent of uDraw disaster". Eurogamer. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
- Yin-Poole, Wesley (May 10, 2013). "Danny Bilson: inside the rise and fall of THQ". Eurogamer. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
- Matulef, Jeffrey (January 24, 2013). "THQ is no more. This is where its assets went". Eurogamer. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
- Schreier, Jason. "THQ Is No More. Here's The Letter The CEO Sent Employees Today". Kotaku. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
- "Paul De Meo, 'Rocketeer,' 'The Flash' Screenwriter, Dies at 64". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
- "Spike Lee to Direct Vietnam Veteran Drama 'Da 5 Bloods' Starring Chadwick Boseman". TheWrap. February 13, 2019. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
- "Oscars 2019: First win for Spike Lee was the right thing — but it could have been better". USA TODAY. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
- "USC film school taps ex-THQ exec Danny Bilson to run games division". VentureBeat. July 28, 2017. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
- Da 5 Bloods, retrieved June 21, 2019
- Lanier, Liz; Lanier, Liz (March 18, 2019). "Danny Bilson Named USC Games Director". Variety. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
- Danny Bilson on IMDb
- Danny Bilson at Moby Games
- Danny Bilson at University of Southern California
- Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo interview by DVD Verdict
- Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo interview by SciFi Channel at the Wayback Machine (archived October 17, 2006)
- Facebook - Pet Fly Productions
- MySpace - Pet Fly Productions Podcasts