Sam Haskell Bio
Sam Haskell, former Executive Vice President and Worldwide Head of Television for the venerable William Morris Agency, who, at age 52, was named in 2007 by TV Week as one of the 25 Most Innovative and Influential People in Television over the last quarter century, has authored the autobiographical memoir with life lessons, "Promises I Made My Mother."
Mr. Haskell, raised in Amory, Mississippi, resides in Los Angeles with his wife and Ole Miss college sweetheart Mary Donnelly Haskell, a former Miss Mississippi and current Martingale recording artist. They are both University of Mississippi graduates, have two children, Sam, IV and Mary Lane and are building a second home in Oxford, MS.
Mr. Haskell's memoir, an incisive, compelling, deeply personal and spiritually-enriching story about living a principled life in unprincipled times, was acquired in auction by Ballantine Books, a Random House imprint, by Ballantine Publisher Libby McGuire. Senior Editor Susan Mercandetti edited "Promises," co-written with multiple New York Times bestselling author David Rensin. It was published in 2009, and is a National Bestseller.
When the book was announced, Mr. Haskell recalled, "Since I was a kid, I've been guided by principles that shaped me into who I am today. Mostly I've my Mother to thank for that. She's not here for the telling of this story, of life's lessons learned, promises kept and dreams fulfilled, but I think if she were, she'd be smiling."
Mr. Haskell, widely recognized for rising to the top of a turbulent and often time conscienceless business with his character, integrity and value-system intact, is equally known for far-reaching philanthropic endeavors, notably serving as executive producer of "Mississippi Rising," a three-hour, MSNBC special hosted by Morgan Freeman which raised over $30 million for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
As Chairman of the Mary Kirkpatrick Haskell Scholarship Foundation founded in his mother's memory, Mr. Haskell's biennial "Stars Over Mississippi" benefit concerts in Amory have raised millions of dollars in college scholarship funds for Mississippi youngsters in need of financial assistance to further their education.
In addition, Mr. Haskell serves in a pro bono capacity as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Miss America Organization and Executive Producer of the Miss America Pageant telecasts.
Mr. Haskell moved to Los Angeles in fall, 1978, and fought his way into the renowned William Morris Agency mailroom, about which Mr. Rensin wrote extensively in his 2003 bestseller "The Mailroom: Hollywood History from the Bottom Up." By May 1980, he was promoted to agent in the TV Variety Department where he packaged specials starring Lily Tomlin, Lynda Carter, Debbie Allen, David Frost and Diana Ross.
In 1990, Mr. Haskell, whose unparalleled career at William Morris would come to span some 26 years, became the agency's youngest Senior Vice President. In 1994, he was named West Coast Head of TV and, three years later, Executive VP and a member of WMA's Board of Directors. In 1999, Mr. Haskell was appointed to the esteemed position of Worldwide Head of Television.
Mr. Haskell oversaw the "packaging" of all agency-represented network projects, including such mega-hits as
"The Cosby Show," Fresh Prince of Bel Air," "Mad About You," "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Lost," "Murphy Brown," "Sisters," "Suddenly Susan," "Live with Regis & Kathie Lee," "Diagnosis Murder," "King of Queens," "Las Vegas" and "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," among many others.
Prior to Mr. Haskell's retirement from WMA in late 2004, his clients included the inimitable: Bill Cosby, Kathie Lee Gifford, Ray Romano, Whoopi Goldberg, Debbie Allen, Delta Burke, Dolly Parton, George Clooney, Sela Ward, Marilu Henner, Martin Short, Kirstie Alley, Tony Danza, Sean Hayes, Michael Feinstein, Emily Procter, Lily Tomlin, Brenda Hampton, Darren Star, David Trainer, Marilyn McCoo, Joan Van Ark, Malcolm Jamal Warner, Swoosie Kurtz, Lucie Arnaz and His Royal Highness The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.