Shane Salerno has been a professional screenwriter since the age of 19. In the years that have followed Detour Magazine has named Salerno as "one of Hollywood's true shapers of popular culture" and Fade In magazine selected him as one of the "100 people you need to know in Hollywood". His diverse screenwriting is distinguished by the quality of directors who have chosen him to write their films including Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Michael Mann, Ron Howard, Oliver Stone, William Friedkin and Michael Bay among many others.
He was born in Memphis, Tennessee and grew up in Memphis, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and San Diego. He attended ten schools in twelve years on both coasts of the United States.
His film debut happened when he was in high school. At 17 he wrote, produced and directed the award winning documentary film Sundown: The Future of Children and Drugs. The film debuted on Larry King Live in September 1991. Sundown won several notable "best documentary of the year" honors and was showcased on major talk shows and news programs around the world. Shane was also honored individually, in separate ceremonies, in both houses of Congress.
The critical acclaim Sundown received led 9-time Emmy winner Gregory Hoblit to invite a then 19 year old Shane to apprentice on the first season of NYPD Blue as a writer-director. Shane has credited the backstage pass to the brilliant, gritty series during a year when they were honored with a record 26 Emmy nominations as a front line film school.
Salerno is the co-writer and executive producer of Savages, directed by three-time Oscar winner Oliver Stone, based on the acclaimed crime novel by Don Winslow which the New York Times voted as one of the "top ten books of 2010". The all-star cast includes Taylor Kitsch, John Travolta, Blake Lively, Uma Thurman, Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, Aaron Johnson, Emile Hirsch and Mia Maestro. Universal Pictures will release the film in the fall of 2012.
Salerno is also the co-writer of the 3-D re-imagining of Fantastic Voyage, produced by James Cameron, Jon Landau and Rae Sanchini for Twentieth Century Fox.
Salerno one of the few screenwriters to have found success in both film and television: he's the co-writer of #1 blockbusters Armageddon and Shaft, and served as one of the writer/producers of Hawaii Five O during its Golden Globe-nominated first season.
Salerno is also one of the select screenwriters to have sold both pitches and spec scripts to studios for over $1 million.
By the age of 22 he was consistently writing the highest rated episodes of the hit Fox TV series New York Undercover. Shane's gritty, street wise episodes attracted the attention of film producers. At the end of the first season, Shane asked Universal television to be let out of his three-year contract in order to pursue the feature film opportunities that he was being offered.
The first feature screenwriting job Salerno accepted was the adaptation of the World War II submarine thriller Thunder Below for producer-director Steven Spielberg and the newly formed Dreamworks Pictures. Shane next sold the spec script A Season in Hell for $600,000 to Dino DeLaurentiis who also asked him to polish the screenplay of Breakdown starring Kurt Russell. Breakdown was released by Paramount Pictures to critical acclaim.
Salerno experienced his breakthrough at the age of 24 when director Michael Bay recruited Shane to rewrite the Jerry Bruckheimer produced Armageddon based on an original screenplay by Jonathan Hensleigh. The blockbuster film debuted at #1 on July 1, 1998 and was the highest grossing film of the year, earning over $570 million worldwide.
In 1998, at the age of 25, Variety selected Shane as one of the "hottest new creatives on the film scene." Based on Thunder Below and Armageddon, John Singleton, the youngest director ever nominated for an Oscar, telephoned Shane and asked him to serve as his writing partner on "Shaft" which Paramount Pictures was mounting. The Singleton-Salerno collaboration (aided by novelist Richard Price) resulted in Shane's second #1 film when "Shaft" debuted at the top of the box office on June 16, 2000.
That year, Shane (now 27) returned to television by co-creating (with acclaimed novelist Don Winslow), executive producing and serving as showrunner, head writer, and music supervisor for the NBC television series UC: Undercover starring Vera Farmiga (Martin Scorsese's "The Departed"), Oded Fehr (Showtime's "Sleeper Cell") and Golden Globe winner Ving Rhames. The series won and was nominated for awards in acting, cinematography and sound.
In addition to Savages and Fantastic Voyage, Salerno is currently putting the finishing touches on a seven-year labor of love, as the producer and director of Salinger, the highly anticipated theatrical documentary on the mysterious life of Catcher in the Rye author J.D. Salinger. The film features interviews with friends, colleagues and members of Salinger's inner circle that have never spoken on the record before as well as film footage, photographs and other material that has never been seen.
On January 29, 2010, the website Deadline Hollywood broke an exclusive story and review of Salinger, a feature-length documentary about reclusive author J. D. Salinger that Salerno directed, produced and financed himself. The documentary was kept secret for five years. The film features interviews with 150 subjects including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, John Cusack, Danny DeVito, John Guare, Martin Sheen, David Milch, Robert Towne, Tom Wolfe, E.L. Doctorow, Pulitzer Prize winners A. Scott Berg and Elizabeth Frank, Gore Vidal, and "many other fans, journalists, filmmakers, playwrights, and artists inspired by Salinger's work." Michael Fleming, the first journalist in the world to view the film, said Salerno's picture was "arrestingly powerful and exhaustively researched." Additionally, Fleming announced that Salerno had co-written a 700 page biography on Salinger with New York Times bestselling author David Shields. The Salinger film was profiled in Entertainment Weekly and Newsweek and is scheduled for release in 2012.
In 2010, Salerno joined the writing-producing team of Hawaii Five-0. In its first season, Hawaii Five-0 also won the "Favorite New TV Drama" at the 37th People's Choice Awards on January 5, 2011. Series star Scott Caan was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Series, Miniseries or Television Film for his role as Danny on Hawaii Five-0. In addition to his producing duties, Salerno was credited for writing the episode "Po'ipu" (Episode 9) on November 15, 2010, co-writing "El Malama" (Episode 16) on February 7, 2011 and "Ho'op'i" (Episode 20) on April 18, 2011 which featured a special guest appearance by Sean Combs.
In addition to his own writing, Salerno also runs The Story Factory a company that produces the work of screenwriters and authors. Don Winslow (Savages, The Winter of Frankie Machine) was the first author to sign an exclusive deal with The Story Factory.
In 2004 Salerno became the youngest "Guest of Honor" speaker in the history of the Los Angeles Screenwriting Expo. He made follow up appearances in 2005, 2006 and 2011.