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."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Abby Singer on "the Abby Singer shot"
Abby Singer on being production manager on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Abby Singer on making the transition from features to television with The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin
Abby Singer on leaving production to teach at AFI
Abby Singer on how he dealt with difficult personalities in his career
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

Alfred Hitchcock Presents aka The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

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Abby Singer on assistant directing various shows

Bay City Blues

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

Bob Newhart Show, The (1972-78)

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

Burke's Law

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

Columbo

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Abby Singer on being production manager for Columbo

Doris Day Show, The

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Abby Singer on being production manager for The Doris Day Show

Ford Television Theatre

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Abby Singer on assistant directing Ford Television Theater

Gunsmoke

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Abby Singer on being production manager on Gunsmoke

Hill Street Blues

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

Jack Benny Program, The

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Abby Singer on assistant directing various shows

Laramie

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Abby Singer on being production manager for The Virginian and Laramie

Lou Grant

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Abby Singer on being production manager for Lou Grant

Major Dad

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

Mary Tyler Moore Show, The

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Abby Singer on being production manager on The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Newhart

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

Remington Steele

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

Rhoda

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

St. Elsewhere

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Abby Singer on what makes a good production manager
Abby Singer on being production manager on St. Elsewhere
Abby Singer on being production manager for Remington Steele and St. Elsewhere

Tales of Wells Fargo

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Abby Singer on assistant directing various shows

Tony Randall Show, The

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

Virginian, The

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Abby Singer on being production manager for The Virginian and Laramie

WKRP in Cincinnati

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

Wagon Train

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Abby Singer on assistant directing Wagon Train

White Shadow, The

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

Diversity in Television

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Abby Singer on dealing with Affirmative action as a production manager

Minorities

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Abby Singer on dealing with Affirmative action as a production manager

Pop Culture

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Abby Singer on "the Abby Singer shot"

War

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Abby Singer on his time in World War II

Women

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Abby Singer on dealing with Affirmative action as a production manager

World War II

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Abby Singer on his time in World War II
Professions

Production Professionals

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

Unit Production Manager

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

Ward Bond

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Abby Singer on assistant directing Wagon Train

Doris Day

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Abby Singer on being production manager for The Doris Day Show

Peter Falk

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Abby Singer on being production manager for Columbo

Mary Tyler Moore

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Abby Singer on being production manager on The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Bruce Paltrow

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

Tony Randall

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

Grant Tinker

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Abby Singer on making the transition from Universal to MTM

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