Abby Singer

Production Executive


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his two-hour Archive interview, Abby Singer (1917-2014) talks about his early career as an assistant director in feature films and television shows, including The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, Ford Television Theater and The Virginian. He describes what has become known as "the Abby Singer Shot" -- universal code for the penultimate shot of a production day. He recalls his time as a production manager on The Doris Day Show, Gunsmoke, St. Elsewhere, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, The Bob Newhart Show, and Hill Street Blues, among many others. He outlines his transition to becoming a production executive, and explains his responsibilities during a typical work week. Singer speaks of dealing with the varied personalities one finds on set, how he coped with everyone from stars to limousine drivers, and his philosophy of working with people -- which has served him well during his 40+ years in the business. He recounts being honored by his peers in the Directors Guild of America and gives advice to aspiring production managers. Stephen J. Abramson conducted the interview on September 19, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California.

"It is important for a production manager to treat everybody the way he wants to be treated. And never, ever be late on the set. Being on time to me is vital, but treating co-workers the way you want to be treated is one of the most important things in the world and I always have lived by that."

Highlights
Abby Singer on "the Abby Singer shot"
03:53
Abby Singer on being production manager on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
05:43
Abby Singer on making the transition from features to television with The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin
03:28
Abby Singer on leaving production to teach at AFI
03:40
Abby Singer on how he dealt with difficult personalities in his career
01:40
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on his experience in World War II; on early assistant directing jobs
On assistant directing The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin; on assistant directing Ford Television Theater, Wagon Train and various other shows; on "the Abby Singer shot"
On becoming a production manager and the duties of a production manager; on being production manager for The Virginian and Laramie
On being production manager for The Doris Day Show; on dealing with crews and budgets and production managers

Chapter 2

On being production manager on Gunsmoke and St. Elsewhere; on being production manager for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, and The Bob Newhart Show
On being production manager for The Tony Randall Show, T he White Shadow, and Lou Grant; on the responsibilities of a production executive and a typical work week; on being production manager for WKRP in Cincinnati and Newhart
On being production manager for Hill Street Blues and Bay City Blues; on being production manager for Remington Steele and St. Elsewhere
On the legacy of MTM and leaving MTM; on being recognized by the DGA; on being production manager for Major Dad and Burke's Law; on his retirement and teaching at AFI

Chapter 3

On advice to people getting into production management; on his career highlight and regret; on how he'd like to be remembered
B-roll: Abby Singer shows his DGA award, an Al Hirschfeld sketch of Abby Singer, and a script of "Hellcats of the Navy" signed by Ronald Reagan
Shows

Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, The

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Abby Singer on making the transition from features to television with The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin
03:28

Alfred Hitchcock Presents

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Abby Singer on assistant directing various shows
02:47

Bay City Blues

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Abby Singer on being production manager for Hill Street Blues and Bay City Blues
06:09

Bob Newhart Show, The (1972-78)

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Abby Singer on being production manager on Rhoda and The Bob Newhart Show
04:28

Burke's Law

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Abby Singer on being production manager for Major Dad and Burke's Law
02:11

Columbo

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Abby Singer on being production manager for Columbo
03:36

Doris Day Show, The

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Abby Singer on being production manager for The Doris Day Show
02:18

Ford Television Theatre

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Abby Singer on assistant directing Ford Television Theater
02:20

Gunsmoke

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Abby Singer on being production manager on Gunsmoke
01:11

Hill Street Blues

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Abby Singer on being production manager for Hill Street Blues and Bay City Blues
06:09

Jack Benny Program, The

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Abby Singer on assistant directing various shows
02:47

Laramie

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Abby Singer on being production manager for The Virginian and Laramie
02:59

Lou Grant

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Abby Singer on being production manager for Lou Grant
01:01

Major Dad

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Abby Singer on being production manager for Major Dad and Burke's Law
02:11

Mary Tyler Moore Show, The

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Abby Singer on being production manager on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
05:43

Newhart

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Abby Singer on being production manager for WKRP in Cincinnati and Newhart
02:37

Remington Steele

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Abby Singer on being production manager for Remington Steele and St. Elsewhere
09:53

Rhoda

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Abby Singer on being production manager on Rhoda and The Bob Newhart Show
04:28

St. Elsewhere

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Abby Singer on what makes a good production manager
02:38
Abby Singer on being production manager on St. Elsewhere
03:02
Abby Singer on being production manager for Remington Steele and St. Elsewhere
09:53

Tales of Wells Fargo

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Abby Singer on assistant directing various shows
02:47

Tony Randall Show, The

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Abby Singer on being production manager on The Tony Randall Show and The White Shadow
05:50

Virginian, The

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Abby Singer on being production manager for The Virginian and Laramie
02:59

WKRP in Cincinnati

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Abby Singer on being production manager for WKRP in Cincinnati and Newhart
02:37

Wagon Train

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Abby Singer on assistant directing Wagon Train
02:36

White Shadow, The

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Abby Singer on being production manager on The Tony Randall Show and The White Shadow
05:50
Topics

Diversity in Television

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Abby Singer on dealing with Affirmative action as a production manager
01:16

Minorities

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Abby Singer on dealing with Affirmative action as a production manager
01:16

Pop Culture

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Abby Singer on "the Abby Singer shot"
05:51

War

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Abby Singer on his time in World War II
01:02

Women

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Abby Singer on dealing with Affirmative action as a production manager
01:16

World War II

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Abby Singer on his time in World War II
01:02
Professions

Production Professionals

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Abby Singer on the duties of a unit production manager
03:36
Abby Singer on what makes a good production manager
02:38
Abby Singer on the main responsibilities of a production manager/executive, and a typical work week
02:41
Abby Singer on advice to people getting into production management and his influence in the business
02:02

Unit Production Manager

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Abby Singer on the duties of a unit production manager
03:36
Abby Singer on what makes a good production manager
02:38
Abby Singer on the main responsibilities of a production manager/executive, and a typical work week
02:41
Abby Singer on advice to people getting into production management and his influence in the business
02:02
People

Ward Bond

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Abby Singer on assistant directing Wagon Train
02:36

Doris Day

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Abby Singer on being production manager for The Doris Day Show
02:18

Peter Falk

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Abby Singer on being production manager for Columbo
02:36

Mary Tyler Moore

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Abby Singer on being production manager on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
05:43

Bruce Paltrow

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Abby Singer on being production manager on The Tony Randall Show and The White Shadow
05:50

Tony Randall

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Abby Singer on being production manager on The Tony Randall Show and The White Shadow
05:50

Grant Tinker

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Abby Singer on making the transition from Universal to MTM
05:57

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