Cannell Entertainment

From the Audiovisual Identity Database, the motion graphics museum


Cannell Entertainment, Inc. (also known as The Cannell Studios and formerly Stephen J. Cannell Productions) was originally started in 1979 by writer Stephen J. Cannell after leaving Universal Studios. He was a writer and producer for most shows. In 1986, Cannell with Tri-Star Pictures and Witt/Harris Productions created a joint venture distribution called "TeleVentures". On July 11, 1990, Cannell and Tri-Star dissolved TeleVentures and was sold to Cannell and was renamed "Cannell Distribution Co." and Stephen J. Cannell Productions, Inc. was renamed to "Cannell Entertainment, Inc". In 1995, Cannell Entertainment was acquired by New World Communications for $30 million and folded Cannell Distribution Co. into New World Entertainment, and on January 22, 1997, New World was acquired by News Corporation. However in 1998, Cannell re-acquired his library from News Corporation including an 8% distribution fee. The company is still active and currently run by Cannell's family after Cannell's death on September 30, 2010. Cannell worked as a novelist the remainder of his life and served as a creative consultant for the 2010 film, The A-Team with 20th Century Fox, and the final film with Cannell's name, the 2012 film, 21 Jump Street, which was released by Columbia Pictures. The logo was last used on an original series in 1999, when Silk Stalkings ended its run on the USA Network. Though News Corporation owned Cannell Entertainment at the time of Cannell's death, Cannell owned most of his library with the exceptions of The A-Team, Stone, The Duke, and Black Sheep Squadron (owned by NBCUniversal), Hardcastle & McCormick and Riptide (owned by Sony Pictures Television in the U.S. only). On January 24, 2006, The Carsey-Werner Company acquired distribution rights to Cannell's library with the exception of those owned or distributed by major television studios. Shout! Factory currently owns domestic and international rights to Cannell's solo-produced series.

1st Logo (March 18, 1981-April 18, 1999, 2004, October 11, 2010)

Visuals: Stephen J. Cannell types on an IBM Selectric typewriter in an office/study area with multiple bookshelves and awards. The camera then pans clockwise from his face to his back. Once the camera is towards Cannell's back, he throws the paper he is typing on over his head. The paper becomes animated on a black background, and floats downwards towards a stack of animated papers below. The paper "scoops" up the top papers in the stack and forms a "C" as the stack becomes more abstract and the perspective becomes a top-down perspective. The text either "Stephen J. Cannell Productions (Inc.)", "A Stephen J. Cannell Production", or "Cannell Entertainment, Inc.", with "Production/Productions (Inc.)/(Inc.)" sliding out from below the company name, is formed above.

Variants: Depending on the outfit used, here is the list of outfits worn by Cannell over the years:

  • March 18, 1981-June 30, 1984: Cannell has a dark colored sweater with white collar shirt, plus he is smoking his pipe.
  • December 13, 1983-July 21, 1984: Cannell has a blue jean jacket and white flannel shirt over a black turtleneck, plus he is smoking his pipe.
  • March 25-December 31, 1984: Cannell has a black jacket and dark colored sweater over white collar shirt (no pipe this time, as he quit smoking in later years).
  • December 11, 1984-January 23, 1988: Cannell is wearing a white and gray striped flannel shirt.
  • October 1, 1987-1989: Cannell is wearing a casual black polo shirt.
  • 1989-December 6, 1996: Cannell is wearing a vermilion polo shirt (with the collar up).
  • September 15, 1996-April 18, 1999: Cannell is wearing a black polo. Can be seen on the 6th, 7th, and final season of Silk Stalkings, and the 2nd half of the final season of Renegade starting with the episode "Father's Day".
  • 2004, October 11, 2010: Cannell is wearing a black jacket with a black turtleneck.

Tribute Variant: On the Castle episode "Punked", the 2004 logo is shown. While Cannell is typing, the text "STEPHEN J. CANNELL" fades in above and below the text "COLLEAGUE, MENTOR, FRIEND." fades in. As Cannell tosses the paper in the air, the logo fades to the black background as the paper falls. The text in the center "WE'LL MISS YOU, PAL." fades in as the animated paper continues to fall outside of the letterbox format. Note that that it's in a 4:3 letterbox format, due to the 2004 logo being in a 16:9 widescreen format.

Other Variants:

  • In some early versions, the camera does not move; we only see a front view of Cannell typing before he throws the paper.
  • Occasionally, after we see Cannell toss the paper, it would cut awkwardly to the animated portion. This was seen on some episodes of Silk Stalkings and Renegade in the early 1990s.
  • Same as above, except Cannell gently tosses the paper in front of him instead.
  • This logo was updated often, the main difference is with Cannell wearing different clothes as well as aging over the years, possibly new awards in the office added as well, and even different offices were used. The concept was always the same, as well as the animation. A list of outfits can be seen above.
  • On seasons 4-5 of Renegade, the text is replaced with "Renegade IV Enterprises".
  • From 1991-1993, the company was referred to as "Stephen J. Cannell Productions, Inc."
  • From 1991-1996 on the 1989 variant, after Cannell takes out his paper from his typewriter, the logo would cross-fade to a black background with the text "Cannell Entertainment Inc.", or for syndication "Distributed By Cannell Entertainment Inc." (in a Gill Sans font), with a small "Distributed By" above the company name.
  • There is a sped-up version of the 1985 and 1987 versions of this logo where the camera moves faster for the two short 1987 logo themes, which were used on season two episodes of 21 Jump Street starting with the episode "Besieged: Part 2".
  • There is also a short version that only features the last half of the animation of the logo. Used on The Commish and the 1994 TV movie A Place for Annie.
  • On early episodes and the pilot of Caesar's Challenge, the logo appears as an in-credit logo.
  • On the Riptide season 3 episode "Home for Christmas", there is a still variant, bypassing the usual animation playing in this logo.
  • On an RTL9 airing of Hardcastle and McCormick S3 episode "A Chip Off the Ol' Mit", the credits were time compressed, speeding up the logo in the process. Also, the closing music played over it.
  • On the 1986 LWT airings of The A-Team, this logo fades into the alternate 1986 LWT endboard.


  • This logo is parodied at the near end of the music video for the song "DVNO" by Justice, as well on The Simpsons S4 episode "The Front", the Family Guy S2 episode "The Story on Page One", the Parker Lewis Can't Lose final season episode "Write or Die", and the 30 Rock S6 episode "What Will Happen to the Gang Next Year?". The 1989 logo also made an appearance during the end credits of the 21 Jump Street movie.
  • When Cannell appeared on Hollywood Squares for a week of episodes in May 1988, he and the other Squares competed in a typing contest during the intro, as a reference to his studio's logo. The results were used as questions in the game. See the video for this.

Technique: Live-action, followed by cel animation.

Audio: An 8-note dramatic tune (composed by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter) is played while Cannell types; the instrumentation consists of string-like instruments, French horns, tubular bells and pounding synthesizers. The tone becomes more soothing as the camera rotates behind him, reaching a tense climax (sometimes with a trilling flute). Cannell throwing the paper into the air is punctuated by a calming upward glissando by a string section, combining with the pounding synthesizers used while Cannell types, as the other instruments stop during this time. The highest note of the glissando is held as the background fades to black, and continues for the rest of the logo's duration. As the "C" forms, a guitar plays a four note tune, with a mordent on the first note. For the in-credit logo, the Riptide season 3 episode "Home for Christmas", The Commish and the TV movie Highway Heartbreaker, it's the end-title theme. On the TV movie A Place for Annie, it's silent.

Audio Variants:

  • November 4, 1981-January 13, 1982: There is a music variant that appeared starting with The Greatest American Hero season 2 episode "The Two-Hundred-Mile-an-Hour Fastball", which contains a xylophone, violins, and a very different four-note guitar ending theme, which sounds similar to the show's theme song.
  • November 25, 1981-February 8, 1983: A dramatic three-note horn fanfare plays first, followed by a rousing orchestra and four notes played by a guitar.
  • March 18, 1981-October 11, 1987: A rearranged version of the 1981 theme, but sounds much more dramatic, which contains violins playing while the four-note theme from the variant above plays. Last used on the 21 Jump Street season 2 episode "Two For the Road".
  • April 8, 1981-January 20, 1983: A short version of the 1984 version (see the 1984 version below).
  • December 11, 1984-January 23, 1988: A combination of the first half of the November 1981 Cannell logo theme from The Greatest American Hero from season 2 and the much dramatic second half of the original 1981 logo theme. It was first used on the Riptide season 2 episode "Peter Pan Is Alive and Well" and last used on the J.J. Starbuck season 1 episode "Murder by Design".
  • September 24, 1987-October 20, 1990, 2004, October 11, 2010: A Malibu-style guitar plays the four note tune. First used on the Hunter season 4 episode "Not Just Another John Doe". A short edited version of this exists of this logo theme having the first three notes, followed by the fourth dramatic note and the remaining 6 note theme. 21 Jump Street continued to use this theme until 1990.
  • October 3-November 3, 1987, October 26, 1988-April 18, 1999: Another variant using a piano, guitar, bells, and orchestration (the latter excluded on the first season of Renegade), playing at the same time, with a flute sound before the rousing music plays, and later a guitar playing the last four notes of the theme. It was used as early as the Hunter season 4 episodes "Playing God" and "The Jade Woman" and J.J. Starbuck episodes "The Blimpy Who Yelled Blue" and "First You've Got to Go to the Picnic". A short version of this exists on October 18, 1987 on the 21 Jump Street season 2 episode "After School Special"; another featuring the last half of this theme also exists on Profit.


  • This logo is still seen on reruns of Cannell's shows, especially The A-Team on COZI TV, Hunter, Renegade, The Commish, and 21 Jump Street, all on H&I.
  • Also seen on the reruns of Hunter and DVD releases of 21 Jump Street, Riptide, Hunter, Silk Stalkings, The Greatest American Hero, The A-Team, Hardcastle and McCormick (the Hardcastle releases are from VEI of Toronto, Ontario in Canada), and Wiseguy.
  • The in-credit text of Cannell Entertainment was seen on TV movies such as Living a Lie and Highway Heartbreaker.
  • The in-credit logos of Stephen J. Cannell Productions were seen on the pilot and early episodes of Caesar's Challenge.
  • The 2004 version is rare and seen on a few DVD releases of The Greatest American Hero. It also appears during the featurette "Castle's Godfather" on the season 1 DVD of Castle.
  • The 2010 Castle tribute only appeared on the original ABC broadcast, and is not available on DVD, streaming, or in broadcast syndication.

Legacy: This logo is very well-known, both inside and outside the logo community. It has been recognized several times over the years by numerous large figures in entertainment, and it's also a fan favorite for its music, its visuals, and its simplicity overall.

2nd Logo (1991-January 14, 1994)

Visuals: On a boysenberry-colored marble background, there is a 3D "silvery" version of the "C" from which the screen zooms out, along with the 3D text "THE CANNELL STUDIOS" in Times New Roman font tilted at a 90-degree angle, then does a 90-degree turn to face the camera while the "C" takes its position below the Cannell text. Once the text and the "C" go into their above and below positions, respectively, the "C" quickly flashes, turning everything into 2D. A copyright notice for Stephen J. Cannell Productions, Inc. fades in below the logo after the animation is all done.

Technique: CGI animation.

Audio: A dramatic synthesizer tune.

Availability: Seen on later Caesar's Challenge episodes on NBC (last seen when it last aired on the Canadian channel Game TV) and the 1991-92 show Personals.
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