Emmy Award-winning writer/producer René Balcer is a native of Montreal, Canada, who began his media career as a combat cameraman during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. A graduate of Concordia and McGill universities, Balcer was a journalist for Canadian newspapers and magazines before becoming a documentary filmmaker at Canada's National Film Board. In 1980, he moved to Los Angeles, where from 1980-1992, he wrote and developed a variety of feature films for Universal, Zoetrope, Paramount and other studios.
In 1990, Balcer joined "Law & Order" during its first season, becoming executive producer and head writer in 1996. During his four years as showrunner, "Law & Order" enjoyed unparalleled growth and success, winning the Emmy for Best Drama Series in 1997 and becoming a top ten hit.
In 2001, Balcer created "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" with Dick Wolf, and served as the show's executive producer and head writer during its first five seasons. The show is now in its ninth season.
In the spring of 2007, Balcer returned to "Law & Order" as showrunner with a mandate to re-invigorate the franchise. As a result, the show was renewed through a 20th season to critical acclaim. Balcer wrote and directed the series finale, which was lauded by the New York Times as the "best finale of all" of the past seasons' shows.
Balcer has written over 190 episodes of "Law & Order" and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent." He has won a number of awards, including the Writers Guild Award for Outstanding Teleplay, the Peabody Award, four Edgars from the Mystery Writers of America, two Silver Gavel Awards from the American Bar Association, the Golden Laurel Award from the Producers Guild of America, and lifetime achievement awards from the Reims International Television Festival and the International Mystery Writers festival. His work has also been recognized outside the industry - in 2004, Planned Parenthood awarded him the Maggie Award for his Criminal Intent teleplay "The Third Horseman," and in 2010 the Washington D.C.-based Alliance for Justice awarded him the Champion of Justice Award for his "Law & Order" teleplay "Memo from the Dark Side."
Balcer's other television credits include the pilot "Hopewell," the series "Nasty Boys," and "Star Trek: The Next Generation." His television movie credits include "Stranger in the Family," "Proof of Lies," and "Out on the Edge," which garnered him the Award for Excellence from the American Psychological Association. Balcer also created the series "Mission: Protection Rapprochee" for TF1-France/Transfilm. He is currently writing a four-hour miniseries about Los Angeles in the 1960s for SmokeHouse Productions and the A&E Network, and adapting Cormac McCarthy's "The Border Trilogy" for Sony TV.
Balcer has lectured on writing at Columbia, NYU, Harvard, UCLA and Loyola Marymount; in Moscow (Internews), Paris (Sorbonne), Beijing (Central Academy of Fine Arts), Toronto (Canada Film Center), and Banff International TV Festival, Brisbane (SPAA). He was recently awarded a Doctorate of Laws from his alma mater, Concordia University.