Rick Cleveland is an Emmy Award-winning television writer and producer. He was a writer and Co-producer for the The West Wing. He was part of the crew for the first season. He has also worked on Six Feet Under, Mad Men, and Nurse Jackie.
Cleveland graduated from the Playwrights Workshop at the University of Iowa. He is a founding member of Chicago's American Blues Theater.
He wrote the screenplay for the 1998 independent crime film Jerry and Tom. He was a writer for the 1998 crime series Maximum Bob. The show focused on a charismatic judge and was adapted from a story by Elmore Leonard. He performed an uncredited rewrite on the screenplay for the 1998 film Meet Joe Black.
He joined the crew of The West Wing as a Co-producer for the first season from the second episode "Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc" onwards. He co-wrote the episode "In Excelsis Deo" with the series creator Aaron Sorkin. The episode took place at Christmas time and followed White House Communication's Director Toby Ziegler as he tried to find out more about a homeless war veteran who died wearing a coat that once belonged to Ziegler. He also co-wrote the story for "Enemies" with Executive Story Editor Lawrence O'Donnell Jr. and Consultant Patrick H. Caddell.
Cleveland and Sorkin shared the Emmy Award for Best Writing for a Drama Series for co-writing "In Excelsis Deo". Cleveland and Sorkin also won the Writers Guild of America (WGA) Award for best episodic drama at the February 2001 ceremony.
Following the Emmy awards ceremony, a fiasco ensued when it was reported in a The New York Times article that Cleveland had been ushered off the stage by Sorkin without being given a chance to say a few words. The story behind The West Wing episode is based on Cleveland's father, a Korean war veteran who spent the last years of his life on the street while his family remained unaware of his distinguished military service, as Cleveland explains in his FreshYarn.com essay titled "I Was the Dumb Looking Guy with the Wire-Rimmed Glasses". A back and forth took place between Sorkin and Cleveland in a public web forum at Mighty Big TV where Sorkin claimed that he gives his writers "Story By" credit on a rotating basis "by way of a gratuity" and that he had thrown out Cleveland's script and started from scratch. He claimed that Cleveland was fired from the show for poor performance. Cleveland countered that The West Wing Executive Producer and Writers Guild of America West President John Wells had insisted that every first season script be submitted for abritration so that Sorkin's tendency to rewrite every teleplay did not deny the writing staff the credit they were due for earlier drafts. The arbitration bore out his significant contributions to writing the episode and led to him receiving co-credit for the episode and sharing in the Emmy win. Sorkin apologized to Cleveland days later.
Cleveland worked on the HBO original series Six Feet Under throughout the show's five season run. Cleveland joined the crew as a writer and producer for the show's first season in 2001. He wrote the episode "The Trip". He was promoted to supervising producer for the second season in 2002. He wrote two further episodes "Driving Mr. Mossback" and "The Liar and the Whore". He remained a supervising producer for the third season in 2003. He scripted two more episodes "Nobody Sleeps" and "Death Works Overtime". He was promoted to co-executive producer for the fourth season in 2004. He wrote two more episodes "In Case Of Rapture" and "Grinding the Corn". He was promoted again to executive producer for the fifth and final season in 2005 and wrote his last episode, "Eat a Peach". He wrote eight episodes in total for the series.
While working on Six Feet Under he also wrote the film Topa Topa Bluffs in 2002. Cleveland, Brian Koppelman, David Levien, and Matthew Chapman co-wrote the 2003 film Runaway Jury based on the book of the same name by John Grisham.
Cleveland won the Jury Award for Best One Person Show at the 2006 US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado for his performance in My Buddy Bill, about his fictional friendship with President Bill Clinton. The monologue play was filmed at a June 15, 2007 performance for a Comedy Central Special and DVD. The DVD also featured a documentary about making the play entitled "My Buddy Rick".
He was a consulting producer for the second season of Mad Men in 2008. He co-wrote the episode "The Benefactor" with the series creator Matthew Weiner. Cleveland and the rest of the Mad Men writing staff were nominated for the WGA Award for Best Dramatic Series at the February 2009 ceremony for their work on the second season.
In 2009 he became a Consulting Producer for new Showtime drama Nurse Jackie. He wrote the episodes "Pill-O-Matix" and "Tiny Bubbles". He became a Co-Executive Producer for the second season in 2010 and wrote a futher two episodes, "Candyland" and "What the Day Brings". In 2010 he became a Co-Executive Producer for the short-lived ABC comedy drama Scoundrels.
|Season 1 credits|
|"Pilot"||"Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc"||"A Proportional Response"||"Five Votes Down"||"The Crackpots and These Women"|
|"Mr. Willis of Ohio"||"The State Dinner"||"Enemies"||"The Short List"||"In Excelsis Deo"|
|"Lord John Marbury"||"He Shall, from Time to Time..."||"Take Out the Trash Day"||"Take This Sabbath Day"||"Celestial Navigation"|
|"20 Hours in L.A."||"The White House Pro-Am"||"Six Meetings Before Lunch"||"Let Bartlet Be Bartlet"||"Mandatory Minimums"|
|"Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics"||"What Kind of Day Has It Been?"|
- 'West Wing' Producer, a Union Leader, Rules Out Writers' Raises, Bernard Weinraub, June 26, 2001, The New York Times
- I Was the Dumb Looking Guy with the Wire-Rimmed Glasses, Rick Cleveland, FreshYarn.com ([ http://web.archive.org/web/20070211172121/http://www.freshyarn.com/10/essays/cleveland_iwas.htm archived version])}}
- West Wing Web War! Mickey Kaus, July 3, 2001, Slate.com, January 17, 2007 (archived version)
- "In Excelsis Deo" at The West Wing Episode Guide (archived version)