Jim Geoghan Executive producer and co-creator of The Suite Life of Zack And Cody
Class Of: 1969
Campus: Old Westbury Major: Bachelor of Fine Arts
From NYIT Magazine, Fall 2007:
Talk about a sweet life. James Geoghan (B.F.A. ’69), executive producer and co-creator of The Suite Life of Zack And Cody, can’t help but smile as he watches his television show become one of the top-rated cable shows in the United States.
“There’s a lot of gratification in writing and producing for television,” says Jim. “Mostly, it’s having your ideas turned into scripts, which are then shot as episodes.” Writing for theater and film can take several months before seeing the final product, he adds, but in television the turnaround is days and sometimes minutes. “When you’re shooting and a line of dialogue fails, you can write a new line while the cameras are resetting for another take. It’s a tremendous learning tool.”
Jim’s road to success was, at times, winding. After graduating from NYIT, he worked several different jobs, including eight years as a standup comic, before he decided to shift gears and start writing. He spent 22 years writing and producing for such shows as Silver Spoons, The Facts of Life, and Family Matters. The timing was perfect, as Disney executives were looking for talented writer-producers who knew family programming.
“For some unexplainable reason, network television has given up on so-called ‘family shows,’” Jim says. “Family sitcoms, however, are the mainstay of Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel. It was a good match for Disney and me. I did one pilot that didn’t go but the next one, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, did.”
And, boy, did it go. Currently in its third season, the show was nominated for a 2007 Emmy award for Outstanding Children’s Program and was one of the first TV shows available for download on iTunes. In addition, there are video games and a series of novels based on the hit show.
Jim lives with his wife of 29 years, Annie Gagen, a working actress, and his daughter, Genevieve, in California’s Hollywood Hills in an historically preserved neighborhood that was built in the 1920s.
Looking back, he credits NYIT with getting him hooked on writing and setting him on the path to success. And for that, he’s forever grateful.
“I had written comedy sketches in Assistant Professor Hal Gurney’s class. Without telling me, he had students perform the sketches months later. It blew my mind. Everyone was laughing. I was hooked. I knew I had to write comedy for a living. Nothing else would be right for me. Like any good college, NYIT let me take chances. It was a safe place to fail and an exciting place to succeed.”