Bill Davis

Producer / Director


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-hour Archive interview, Bill Davis (1931-2014) talks about his early days at the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) and becoming a television director during the medium's infancy. He describes moving to New York to work in television and getting his first American television job on The Jimmy Dean Show. He recounts working as a director in the 1960s, directing the specials Rogers and Hart Today, and Herb Alpert's The Brass is Coming, as well as several episodes of the controversial Smothers Brothers' Comedy Hour. He recounts his tenure directing the series Hee Haw, with its collection of country music acts and comedy, and speaks of the show switching from network to syndication. Davis chronicles working on several other variety shows in the 1970s, including The Julie Andrews Hour, The Jonathan Winters Show, and Cher, as well as Marlo Thomas' television special Free To Be... You and Me. He outlines other specials he was involved with, including one for the musical act The Carpenters and one with the Jackson family, and talks of directing a few sitcoms, including Head of the Class and Barney Miller. Nancy Harrington conducted the interview on April 26, 2013 in North Hollywood, CA.

"The most important thing for a television director is just to really listen to and pay attention to what a performer is; to listen to what their message is. If they were singers, to hear the subtext. To try to enhance their style and their performance."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Bill Davis on directing Free To Be... You and Me
Bill Davis on directing Hee Haw
Bill Davis on directing The Smothers Brothers' Comedy Hour
Bill Davis on directing The Carpenters' TV specials
Bill Davis on the challenges of being a freelance director
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on working at the Canadian Broadcasting Company
On how he came to produce and direct for the CBC; on directing live broadcasts; on directing The Jimmy Dean Show
On directing Hullabaloo; on directing The Smothers Brothers' Comedy Hour
On directing the music special The Brass is Coming; on directing Hee Haw

Chapter 2

On directing Hee Haw; on the cast of Hee Haw; on the cast and guest stars of the show
On directing The Jonathan Winters Show; on directing The Julie Andrews Hour
On directing specials for Lily Tomlin; on directing specials for John Denver
On directing Free To Be... You and Me; on directing Cher; on directing Dorothy Hamill's Winter Carnival

Chapter 3

On directing The Carpenters' TV specials; on directing The Jacksons; on his directing style
On working with the Jackson family; on directing Sinatra and Friends; on directing Super Stunt
On directing Bloopers and Practical Jokes, Barney Miller and Head of the Class; on working with crew and writers; on the evolution of his directing style
On how television has changed since he started directing; on advice to aspiring television directors; on career highlights and regrets
Shows

Barney Miller

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Bill Davis on directing Barney Miller

Cher

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Bill Davis on directing Cher

Free to be... You and Me

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Bill Davis on directing Free To Be... You and Me

Head of the Class

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Bill Davis on directing Head of the Class

Hee Haw

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Bill Davis on directing Hee Haw
Bill Davis on directing Hee Haw
Bill Davis on the cast of Hee Haw
Bill Davis on the guest stars of Hee Haw
Bill Davis on his favorite episode of Hee Haw and the legacy of Hee Haw

Hullabaloo

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Bill Davis on directing Hullabaloo

Jimmy Dean Show, The

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Bill Davis on how he came to work in New York on The Jimmy Dean Show
Bill Davis on directing The Jimmy Dean Show

John Denver Specials

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Bill Davis on directing specials for John Denver

Jonathan Winters Show, The (1967-69)

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Bill Davis on directing The Jonathan Winters Show

Julie Andrews Hour, The

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Bill Davis on directing The Julie Andrews Hour

Lily: Sold Out!

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Bill Davis on directing specials for Lily Tomlin

Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The

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Bill Davis on directing The Smothers Brothers' Comedy Hour

TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes

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Bill Davis on directing Bloopers and Practical Jokes
Topics

Advice

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Bill Davis on advice to aspiring television directors

First Big Break

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Bill Davis on his first job at the Canadian Broadcasting Company

Pivotal Career Moments

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Bill Davis on his first job at the Canadian Broadcasting Company

Television Industry

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Bill Davis on advice to aspiring television directors
Bill Davis on how television has changed since he started
Professions

Directors

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Bill Davis on directing shows from the booth
Bill Davis on his directing style
Bill Davis on the challenges of being a freelance director
Bill Davis on working with the crew and writers when directing a variety show
Bill Davis on the evolution of his directing style
Bill Davis on advice to aspiring television directors
Genres

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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Bill Davis on how he came to work in New York on The Jimmy Dean Show
Bill Davis on directing Hullabaloo
Bill Davis on directing The Smothers Brothers' Comedy Hour
Bill Davis on directing Hee Haw (Part 2)
People

Julie Andrews

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Bill Davis on directing The Julie Andrews Hour

Cher

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Bill Davis on directing Cher

Jimmy Dean

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Bill Davis on directing The Jimmy Dean Show

John Denver

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Bill Davis on directing specials for John Denver

Michael Jackson

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Bill Davis on working with the Jackson family

Frank Sinatra

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Bill Davis on directing Sinatra and Friends

Tom Smothers

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Bill Davis on directing The Smothers Brothers' Comedy Hour

Marlo Thomas

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Bill Davis on directing Free To Be... You and Me

Lily Tomlin

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Bill Davis on directing specials for Lily Tomlin

All Interviews

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