The Wire
The Wire

Tim Van Patten, born June 10, 1959 in Brooklyn, New York, USA, is an American television director, actor, screenwriter, and producer. He was an episodic director for The Wire. He directed three episodes for the series, contributing to the first three seasons. He helmed the episodes "Sentencing," "Stray Rounds," and "Back Burners."

He also worked with The Wire creator David Simon on the earlier series Homicide: Life on the Street. He has worked extensively for HBO directing episodes of the series The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, Deadwood, Game of Thrones, The Pacific, Rome, Sex and the City and Perry Mason. He has also directed episodes of Ed and Black Mirror.

As an actor, he is perhaps best known for portraying Mario "Salami" Pettrino on The White Shadow. He also played the villainous teenager Peter Stegman in Class of 1984 and Max Keller on The Master.


Van Patten worked as an actor throughout the 1980s, primarily in television before transitioning to his role behind the camera. He starred in the basketball focused high school drama series The White Shadow from 1978 to 1981. He portrayed basketball player Mario 'Salami' Pettrino. The show was created by Bruce Paltrow.

Van Patten had a three episode arc as Dean in Paltrow's next series St. Elsewhere. The role on the medical drama was his first collaboration with writer/producer Tom Fontana.

He cut his directing teeth on 1990s network television. He made his directorial debut in 1992 with an episode of the drama series Home Fires, which was created by Fontana and Paltrow. He worked extensively on the series Touched by an Angel, helming 31 episodes of the show between 1994 and 2000.

He reunited with Fontana on the series Homicide: Life on the Street. The show is based upon the book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by The Wire creator David Simon and focuses on the homicide unit of the Baltimore Police Department. Van Patten directed the third season episode "Nothing Personal" in 1995. The episode follows the members of the homicide team reeling from the suicide of Detective Steve Crosetti. Fontana developed the series from the book and co-wrote the episode "Nothing Personal" with James Yoshimura. Van Patten returned to Homicide in 1999, directing the seventh season episode "A Case of do or Die". The episode was written by Anya Epstein.

Van Patten directed three episode of the Dick Wolf series New York Undercover from 1997 to 1998. The crime drama focused on a police narcotics squad and starred Malik Yoba. a In 1999 he did his first work for HBO directing the first season episode of The Sopranos "The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti". The episode was written by the series creator David Chase and producer Frank Renzulli. He returned to work on the second season of The Sopranos in 2000. He directed the episodes "Commendatori", "House Arrest" and "Big Girls Don't Cry". "Commendatori" was written by Chase. The other two episodes were scripted by Terence Winter and marked the beginning of a long and successful collaboration between the two.

In 2001 Van Patten made his television writing debut with The Sopranos third season episode "Pine Barrens". He co-wrote the story for the episode with Winter and Winter wrote the teleplay. Van Patten and Winter won both the Writers Guild Award and the Edgar Award for the episode. "Pine Barrens" was directed by Steve Buscemi.[1] Van Patten also directed the episodes "Proshai, Livushka", "Second Opinion" and "Amour Fou" for the third season. "Proshai, Livushka" was written by Chase "Second Opinion" was written by Lawrence Konner. The teleplay for "Amour Fou" was written by Renzulli from a story by Chase. Van Patten was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Best Director for "Amour Fou."[2] Van Patten also began directing for the comedy series Ed in 2001.

Van Patten joined the crew of The Wire as an episodic director for the first season in 2002. He helmed the season finale "Sentencing." He also directed three further episode of The Sopranos for that shows fourth season; "Christopher", "Whoever Did This" and "Calling All Cars". Among the writers of "Calling All Cars" were Winter and freelance writer David Flebotte. Van Patten was again nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Best Director for him work on "Whoever Did This."

In 2003 he directed a second episode of The Wire - "Stray Rounds" for the show's second season. Later that year he worked on the HBO series Sex and the City. The show was in its sixth and final season which aired as two parts. Van Patten directed the penultimate episode of the first part "A Woman's Right to Shoes" and the mid-season finale "Boy, Uninterrupted". He returned to direct the two-part series finale "An American Girl in Paris" in 2004.

The Sopranos did not begin its fifth season until 2004. Van Patten directed a further three episodes for the fifth season; "Two Tonys" written by Winter, "Unidentified Black Males" written by Winter and Matthew Weiner and "Long Term Parking" written by Winter. "Long Term Parking" featured the departure of starring cast member Drea de Matteo. Winter won the Emmy for Best Writing in a Dramatic Series for "Long Term Parking". Van Patten was nominated for the Emmy for Best Director for "Long Term Parking." The fifth season of The Sopranos featured Steve Buscemi in a season long guest starring role as Tony Blundetto. Later that year he directed a further episode of The Wire for the third season "Back Burners."

In 2005 he directed a second season episode of the HBO Western Deadwood called "Childish Things" and a first season episode of the network's historical drama Rome entitled "Pharsalus". The Sopranos again spent more than a year on hiatus. Van Patten remained a director when they returned to the screen in 2006 to air a sixth and final season separated into two parts, following the model originated by Sex and the City. He directed four episodes for the first part; "Members Only" written by Winter; "Live Free or Die" written by Winter, Chase, Mitchell Burgess & Robin Green; "Johnny Cakes" written by Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider; and "Cold Stones" written by Chase, Frolov & Schneider. Van Patten was again nominated for the Best Director Emmy for "Members Only."

While The Sopranos was on mid-season hiatus he directed a second episode of Rome. The episode "Passover" was the season two premiere. Rome was cancelled after the second season. Van Patten returned to The Sopranos when the second part of the sixth season began in 2007. He helmed a further four episodes for the show; "Soprano Home Movies" written by Chase, Weiner, Frolov & Schneider; "Chasing It" written by Weiner; and "The Second Coming" written by Winter.

After the conclusion of The Sopranos Van Patten took his first producer credit. He became a supervising producer and director for the HBO World War II mini-series The Pacific. He directed the parts one, seven and nine for the epic. As a producer on the mini-series he worked with the other regular director Jeremy Podeswa. He also reunited with The Wire writer George Pelecanos. Van Patten was again nominated for the Best Director Emmy for The Pacific episode "Okinawa."

Van Patten came aboard as an executive producer prior for the pilot episode of the HBO period crime drama Boardwalk Empire. Terence Winter was already attached to adapt the book Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times and Corruption of Atlantic City and serve as an executive producer. Academy Award Winner Martin Scorsese was attached to direct the pilot and as an executive producer. The project's other executive producers were Stephen Levinson and Mark Wahlberg. The Sopranos writer Lawrence Konner was a co-executive producer for the first season. The series starred The Wire's Michael K. Williams as crime boss Chalky White and Van Patten's longtime collaborator Steve Buscemi as politician and criminal mastermind Nucky Thompson.

Van Patten directed four episodes for the first season; the second episode "The Ivory Tower" from a screenplay by Winter; the third episode "Broadway Limited" from a screenplay by supervising producer Margaret Nagle; the sixth episode "Family Limitation" from a screenplay by supervising producer Howard Korder; and the season finale "A Return to Normalcy" from a screenplay by Winter. Van Patten also co-wrote the season's seventh episode "Home" with freelance writer Paul Simms. "Home" was directed by The Sopranos veteran Allen Coulter.

Van Patten returned as an executive producer for the second season of Boardwalk Empire in 2011 and directed a further four episodes; the season premiere "21" written by Winter; the fifth episode "Gimcrack & Bunkum" from a screenplay by Korder, now co-executive producer; the eighth episode "Two Boats and a Lifeguard" scripted by Winter; and the season finale "To the Lost" again written by Winter. Van Patten was nominated for the Best Director Emmy for "To the Lost."

He helmed the pilot and the second episode of new HBO fantasy drama Game of Thrones in 2011 in the hiatus between the first and second seasons of Boardwalk Empire. An earlier version of the pilot had been directed by The Wire veteran Thomas McCarthy and Van Patten directed extensive reshoots with some roles being recast. Van Patten was nominated for the Best Director Emmy for the Game of Thrones pilot "Winter is Coming". He also helmed the second episode "The Kingsroad".

He returned as an executive producer for the third season of Boardwalk Empire in 2012 and directed the season premiere "Resolution," which was written by Winter. His former The Sopranos colleagues Diane Frolov & Andrew Schneider joined the crew as Co-Executive Producer's and writers for third season. Van Patten directed three further episodes for the third season: "You'd Be Surprised" written by Frolov and Schneider; "The Pony" written by Winter and Korder; and the season finale "Margate Sands" written by Winter and Korder. Van Patten was again nominated for the Best Director Emmy for "Margate Sands."

He returned as an executive producer for the fourth season of Boardwalk Empire in 2013 and directed the season premiere "New York Sour" from a screenplay by Korder, now a fellow Executive Producer. He also helmed three further episodes: "Erlkönig" again scripted by Korder; "The Old Ship of Zion" written by Korder and staff writer Cristine Chambers; and the season finale "Farewell Daddy Blues" written by Winter and Korder. Van Patten was nominated for the Best Director Emmy again for "Farewell Daddy Blues." Van Patten worked with The Wire writer Dennis Lehane on the fourth season of Boardwalk Empire, Lehane joined the crew as a consulting producer and writer.

Van Patten remained an executive producer for the fifth and final season of Boardwalk Empire in 2014. He directed the season premiere "Golden Days for Boys and Girls" from a script by Winter and the series finale "Eldorado," written by Korder and Winter. He was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Best Director for "Eldorado," marking the tenth time he has been nominated for that award.

Following the conclusion of Boardwalk Empire Van Patten worked with HBO on the development of Big Dead Place, becoming attached to the project as an executive producer. He directed a pilot for the proposed series but it was not picked up. The project was an adaptation of the book Big Dead Place: Inside the Strange & Menacing World of Antarctica by Nicholas Johnson about his work with the US Antarctic Program. It was initially developed by The Sopranos star James Gandolfini before his unexpected death in 2013.[3]

In 2017 Van Patten directed an episode of the Netflix science fiction anthology series Black Mirror, created by former television critic and huge supporter of The Wire Charlie Brooker. Van Patten directed the episode "Hang the DJ" which takes place within a simulation by a sophisticated dating app designed to find a perfect partner.

In 2020 Van Patten returned to HBO as an executive producer and regular director for their reimaging of the early 19th century crime drama Perry Mason.

Personal life

Van Patten was born in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in Massapequa, New York. He is the half-brother of Dick Van Patten and Joyce Van Patten, and the uncle of Vincent Van Patten and Talia Balsam. He graduated from Massapequa High School in 1977, in the same class as musician Brian Setzer and football player Brian Baldinger.



Season 1 credits
"The Target" "The Detail" "The Buys" "Old Cases" "The Pager"
The Wire" "One Arrest" "Lessons" "Game Day" "The Cost"
"The Hunt" "Cleaning Up" "Sentencing"
Season 2 credits
"Ebb Tide" "Collateral Damage" "Hot Shots" "Hard Cases" "Undertow"
"All Prologue" "Backwash" "Duck and Cover" "Stray Rounds" "Storm Warnings"
"Bad Dreams" "Port in a Storm"
Season 3 credits
"Time after Time" "All Due Respect" "Dead Soldiers" "Amsterdam" "Straight and True"
"Homecoming" "Back Burners" "Moral Midgetry" "Slapstick" "Reformation"
"Middle Ground" "Mission Accomplished"


  1. The Sopranos: Cast & Crew. HBO. Retrieved on 2014-08-06.
  2. Tim Van Patten. Television Academy.
  3. Variety article about Big Dead Place