Fonds F011 - René Balcer archives

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René Balcer archives

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  • Multiple media

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the provenance of the fonds.

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1954-2011 (Creation)
    Balcer, René

Physical description area

Physical description

19.63 m of textual records
ca. 665 photographs
ca. 290 optical discs
1 audio cassette
8 computer discs
27 videocassettes
45 objects
3 maps
51 architectural and technical drawings

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Name of creator

(February 9, 1954-)

Biographical history

René Balcer is an accomplished Emmy-winning director, writer and showrunner born in Montreal, QC on February 9, 1954. He attended Lower Canada College high school and Concordia University where he graduated in 1978 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications Studies. He married three times, in 1981 to Diane McCarter(divorced in 1988); in 1992 to Lynne Hayashi(divorced 1998); and in 1999 to Carolyn Hsu-Balcer.

Balcer began his career as a journalist covering the Yom Kippur War and worked as an editor for various Canadian publications including the Physicians Management Manuals in 1978. He was involved in several documentary films produced by the National Film Board of Canada and collaborated with notable film producers and directors include Monte Hellman, Francis Ford Coppola, Steve Tisch and Mace Neufeld in the 1980s.

Balcer has written for prominent television series including Star Trek: The Next Generation, but is best known for his work writing, directing, and showrunning the television series Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Law & Order: Los Angeles. He helped create the latter two.

In 2011, Balcer collaborated with the Chinese artist Xu Bing on an exhibition entitled Tobacco Project Virginia at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, where his poem “Backbone” was featured.

Throughout his career, Balcer has been the recipient of several awards and certificates, including an Emmy (1997), a Peabody Award, a Writers Guild of America award, four Edgar Allan Poe Mystery Writers of America awards, and a Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association.

In 2004, Balcer was awarded Alumnus of the Year by Concordia University and in 2008 he received an honorary Doctorate of Laws (LLD) from Concordia, where he delivered the commencement address at the fall convocation.

Custodial history

The material was donated by René Balcer in 2011 to the American Friends of Concordia University and is currently on loan to Concordia University Libraries. A second donation has been made by René Balcer to Concordia University in 2018.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of material created and accumulated by René Balcer. The fonds consists primarily of final versions and drafts of scripts, beat sheets, broadcast standards, schedules, research documents, and cast and crew lists from the original Law & Order series, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Law and Order: Los Angeles and Hopewell. Other scripts included are France’s adaptation of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Paris: Section Criminelle, Movie of the Week and television scripts including The Ruth Snyder Story, Hudson Valley, and Hopewell. Other material consists of individual projects, cost reports and travel expenses, various awards and certificates won for his service to the television industry, agendas, publications, articles, manuscripts and course material. The fonds also consists of DVDs of various productions including Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and Law & Order: Los Angeles, various photographs including production stills and scouting photographs for filming locations, set props, and set plans.

The fonds is divided into 24 series:
F011/A Administrative documents
F011/B Agendas
F011/C Articles and blogs
F011/D Award and certificates
F011/E Contracts and legal documents
F011/F Correspondence
F011/G Course Work
F011/H Expenses
F011/I Hopewell documents
F011/J Law & Order documents
F011/K Law & Order and Criminal Intent research and ideas
F011/L Law & Order: Criminal Intent documents
F011/M Law & Order: Criminal Intent costs
F011/N Law & Order: Los Angeles document
F011/O Law & Order: Los Angeles research
F011/P Manuscripts
F011/Q Movie of the Week and television documents
F011/R Movie of the Week research
F011/S Projects
F011/T Publications
F011/U Publicity and ads
F011/V Scrapbooks
F011/W Seminar and conferences
F011/X Statistics and figures

Notes area

Physical condition

Certain records are fading, discoloured or torn; otherwise material is in good condition.

Immediate source of acquisition


Unless otherwise indicated, material has been arranged in the order of receipt from the donor.

Language of material

  • English
  • Chinese
  • French

Script of material

    Language and script note

    English is predominant language. Records can also be found in French and Chinese.

    Location of originals

    Availability of other formats

    Restrictions on access

    Materials in boxes 1 through 4 are restricted, as are files 21-5 and 21-6 and box 123. Born digital material is restricted until it can be preserved. Originals of cast lists are also restricted to the public.

    Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

    Reproduction of DVDs is not permitted.
    Other reproductions may only be made for private study and research.
    Use of material in a publication may only be done with written consent of the copyright owner.

    Finding aids

    Finding aid, box and file list, and item list of audio-visual material are available.

    Associated materials

    Related materials


    No further accruals expected.

    General note

    The first published draft of any script is the “White Draft,” or “First White.” With the exception of scripts written by Ed Zuckerman, Balcer rewrote scripts by all other writers in addition to breaking every story with them. The scripts often include the writer’s first unpublished draft – Balcer’s rewritten draft is usually the “First White Draft.” As the showrunner, it was Balcer’s job to rewrite and give the scripts a unifying voice. Balcer did not seek writing credit on these scripts.

    The above information applies to Law & Order season 7-10, season 17, (the last four episodes), and seasons 18, 19, and 20. For Law & Order: Criminal Intent it applies to season 1-5 and for the entire season of Law & Order: Los Angeles.


    Copyright of the material is held by the creator.

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