December 25, 1943 (age 77) (
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Writer for Good TimesWhat's Happening!!Cooley High
Movies and TV shows
Good Times, Cooley High, What's Happening!!, What's Happening Now!!
Mike Evans, Norman Lear, Ralph Carter, Haywood Nelson, Ernest Lee Thomas
Eric Monte - "Norman Lear Is A Racist" (2006 Interview Snippet)
Eric Monte (born Kenneth Williams; December 25, 1943) is an American screenwriter who has written for and created notable shows depicting 1970s African-American culture; most notably Good Times, The Jeffersons and What's Happening!! as well as Cooley High .
- Eric Monte Norman Lear Is A Racist 2006 Interview Snippet
- Eric Monte The Unseen Interview 2006
- Early life and career
Eric Monte - The Unseen Interview (2006)
Early life and career
Born Kenneth Williams in Chicago and raised in the Cabrini–Green housing project, Monte dropped out of Cooley Vocational High School and hitchhiked to Hollywood. His first big break came five years later, with a script written for and accepted by All in the Family which eventually contributed to the spawning of The Jeffersons. From there, he went on to produce two 1970s sitcoms: Good Times (which he co-created with The Jeffersons star Mike Evans) and What's Happening!! (which was based on his screenplay for the motion picture Cooley High (1975). (Cooley High also inspired the CBS television show The White Shadow (November 27, 1978 to March 16, 1981), starring Ken Howard.)
According to the Los Angeles Times, in 1977 he filed a lawsuit accusing ABC, CBS, producers Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin, and others of stealing his ideas for Good Times, The Jeffersons (an All in the Family spinoff), and What's Happening!! Eventually, he says, he received a $1-million settlement and a small percentage of the residuals from Good Times, but the industry retaliated against him, labeling him difficult to work with and denying him the opportunity to pitch new scripts. Since Good Times ended, the only scripts he's written that have been produced by Hollywood are single episodes of The Wayans Bros. and of Moesha, the latter of which Monte has called "the absolute worst script I've ever written".
He took part of the settlement money to finance the production of a play he had written, titled If They Come Back. The play was a commercial failure, and significantly contributed to Monte's financial ruin.
After falling on hard times, by 2003, his drinking had worsened and he had developed an addiction to crack cocaine. He later declared bankruptcy and, by 2006, found himself living in a Salvation Army homeless shelter in Bell, California. He appeared to be maintaining sobriety there, as the shelter required regular drug tests, and he was actively pursuing further attempts to sell television and film scripts, as well as a self-published book called Blueprint for Peace. Late in 2006, Monte moved back to Chicago. Monte now lives in Portland, Oregon.