Peter Tolan (born July 5, 1958) is an American television producer, director, and screenwriter.
Before leaving Scituate to pursue his creative talents in Hollywood, Tolan founded a theater group called YPST (Young People's Summer Theatre). The group performed broadway musicals and rehearsed at the local church. Tolan attended the University of Massachusetts for four years before dropping out. He and fellow writer-performer Linda Wallem formed a double act called Wallem & Tolan and began performing on the cabaret circuit in New York City at such venues as the Manhattan Punch Line. Broadway veteran Martin Charnin caught the act and worked with the duo to present it as an Off Broadway called Laughing Matters in 1989.
Tolan began his career writing for short-lived sitcoms Carol & Company and Wish You Were Here. After writing for and co-producing the first six episodes of Home Improvement he began writing for the hit series Murphy Brown, a three season tenure for which he would share an Emmy award for Outstanding Comedy Series (1992, as co-producer). In 1992 Tolan began writing for the HBO program The Larry Sanders Show, for which he received, in his capacity as co-/executive producer, three CableACE Awards for Comedy Series and an Emmy for co-writing (with series lead Garry Shandling) the series finale "Flip". After writing for several more programs (Ellen, Buddies), and creating the short-lived sitcoms Style and Substance and The George Wendt Show, Tolan co-created the ABC satiric comedy The Job with comedian Denis Leary, who would also star as an amoral and hedonistic NYPD detective. Though critically lauded, the series languished in the ratings and was canceled after two short seasons. Tolan went on to create the similarly short-lived sitcom Wednesday 9:30 (8:30 Central), a mid-season replacement about an idealistic television executive who joins a struggling network, that was canceled by ABC after only five episodes aired. In 2004, however, Tolan found success with the FX drama Rescue Me, again starring co-creator Denis Leary as New York City firefighter Tommy Gavin, who bears many similarities to Leary's character from The Job. The series has been well received by both critics and audiences, garnering Emmy nominations for Tolan and Leary and averaging 2.7 and 2.8 million viewers for its first and second seasons, respectively. It is currently (as of 2009) in its fifth season. Tolan, with former Friends star Matthew Perry has produced a pilot called The End of Steve, a dark-comedy about a depressed, foul-mouthed talk show host. It is currently being shopped to cable networks.