Carl Gottlieb

Writer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his five-and-a-half hour interview, Carl Gottlieb talks about his early years, and joining The Committee improv group in San Francisco. He discusses working with various members of that group, including Peter Bonerz, Del Close, and Avery Schreiber, and later collaborating with Howard Hesseman and Rob Reiner. He recounts writing for The Summer Brothers Smothers Show, which lead to a writing job on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Gottlieb recalls the tumultuous years on that show, including fights between CBS and the Smothers, which eventually led to the cancellation of the show. He speaks of working on several Flip Wilson Specials, which included Wilson, Peter Sellers, Richard Pryor and Lily Tomlin. He describes a short stint writing for The Odd Couple, which he left to write the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s classic “Jaws.” He recounts also working on the features “The Jerk,” and “Caveman,” which starred Ringo Starr. He concludes with a discussion of the craft of writing, and his career highlights and regrets. Dan Pasternack conducted the interview in a joint venture with the Writers Guild Foundation on October 24, 2018 in North Hollywood, CA.

“What I love about writing for television - for example I once wrote a World War I flying sketch for The Smothers Brothers. The following week, I went down to the set and there on the stage was a detailed World War I flying barracks. All you have to do is write it. And they make it.”

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Carl Gottlieb on the friendship between the writers on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, including Rob Reiner, John Hartford, Steve Martin, Bob Einstein, and non-show writer Albert Brooks (Einstein's brother)
Carl Gottlieb on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour winning Emmy Awards after it was cancelled
Carl Gottlieb on the origin of the "bigger boat" line in the movie "Jaws"
Carl Gottlieb on Tom Smothers battling CBS Standards & Practices department over the content of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
Carl Gottlieb on writing for The Odd Couple
Carl Gottlieb on what he loved about writing for television
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on radio and television shows he listened to and watched while growing up
On performing comedy shows in the Army with Larry Hankin; on being part of The Committee improv comedy group; on the San Francisco comedy scene in the mid-1960s
On The Committee establishing a theater in San Francisco; on the members of The Committee improv group, including Peter Bonerz, Del Close, John Brent and Avery Schreiber; on going to New York, but returning to San Francisco to work on long-form improv at The Committee's new theater
On working with Peter Bonerz, Howard Hesseman, and Del Close at The Committee improv group; on the sociopolitical content of his work in The Committee improv group, which led him into being a writer

Chapter 2

On how improv skills dovetail with writing skills; on The Committee in Los Angeles, and on Rob Reiner being part of a new improv group
On being hired to write for The Summer Brothers Smothers Show; on making the transition from writing supervisor of The Summer Brothers Smothers Show to writing supervisor of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and on Tom Smothers becoming more of a hands-on producer in the third season
On working with Steve Martin in the writers room at The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour; on the music sensibility of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour; on the friendship between the writers on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, including Rob Reiner, John Hartford, Steve Martin, Bob Einstein, and non-show writer Albert Brooks (Einstein's brother)
On teaming up with Lorenzo Music on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour to write monologues for the Smothers, and long-form sketches for guest-stars like Bob Newhart; on working with writer Murray Roman on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour; on getting his jokes and sketches on air on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
On Tom Smothers battling CBS Standards & Practices department over the content of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour; on Tom Smothers holding back the master tapes of episode of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour so that they could not be censored by CBS; on CBS approving the content of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour at various stages of production
On the cancellation of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour; on David Steinberg's sermons on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
On The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour winning Emmy Awards after it was cancelled; on the legacy of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour

Chapter 3

On doing comedy advertising spots during The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson; on writing for a series of Flip Wilson Specials (along with Lorne Michaels) after the end of The Filp Wilson Show; on working with Richard Pryor on the 1974 Flip Wilson Special
On working with Peter Sellers on the Flip Wilson Specials; on Flip Wilson's character "Geraldine" not appearing in the Flip Wilson Specials; on writing for The Odd Couple
On writing the feature film "Jaws" for Steven Spielberg; on doing rewrites for "Jaws" on the fly during production, and on the production of the movie; on the USS Indianapolis Speech in "Jaws"
On the "bigger boat" line in "Jaws"; on the technical challenge of filming "Jaws"; on John Williams' score for "Jaws"
On the casting of "Jaws"; on Richard Dreyfus and Robert Shaw in "Jaws"; on the huge success of "Jaws"
On the impact "Jaws" had on his career; on the legacy of "Jaws"
On writing the Steve Martin film "The Jerk," directed by Carl Reiner

Chapter 4

On directing the feature "Caveman," starring Ringo Starr
On what he loved about writing for television; on his writing process
On finding structure in his writing; on writing alone versus collaborating; on the process of editing and rewriting
On the Writers Guild of America; on mentorship; on advice to an aspiring writer
On the value of an education to a writer; on career achievements and regrets; on how he would like to be remembered
Shows

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Carl Gottlieb on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour winning Emmy Awards after it was cancelled

Flip Wilson Show, The

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Carl Gottlieb on writing for a series of Flip Wilson Specials (along with Lorne Michaels) after the end of The Filp Wilson Show
Carl Gottlieb on working with Richard Pryor on the 1974 Flip Wilson Special
Carl Gottlieb on working with Flip Wilson on the Flip Wilson Specials
Carl Gottlieb on working with Peter Sellers on the Flip Wilson Specials
Carl Gottlieb on Flip Wilson's character "Geraldine" not appearing in the Flip Wilson Specials

Odd Couple, The (1970-75)

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Carl Gottlieb on writing for The Odd Couple
Carl Gottlieb on working for Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson on The Odd Couple

Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The

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Carl Gottlieb on making the transition from writing supervisor of The Summer Brothers Smothers Show to writing supervisor of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and on Tom Smothers becoming more of a hands-on producer in the third season
Carl Gottlieb on working with Rob Reiner in the writers room of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
Carl Gottlieb on working with Steve Martin in the writers room at The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and on Lenny Bruce's influence on comedy at that time
Carl Gottlieb on the music sensibility of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, given that many of the writers and performers on the show were musicians
Carl Gottlieb on the friendship between the writers on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, including Rob Reiner, John Hartford, Steve Martin, Bob Einstein, and non-show writer Albert Brooks (Einstein's brother)
Carl Gottlieb on teaming up with Lorenzo Music on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour to write monologues for the Smothers, and long-form sketches for guest-stars like Bob Newhart
Carl Gottlieb on working with writer Murray Roman on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
Carl Gottlieb on getting his jokes and sketches on air on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
Carl Gottlieb on Tom Smothers battling CBS Standards & Practices department over the content of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
Carl Gottlieb on Tom Smothers holding back the master tapes of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour so that they could not be censored by CBS
Carl Gottlieb on CBS approving the content of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour at various stages of production
Carl Gottlieb on CBS cancelling The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour despite the show being in the top ten
Carl Gottlieb on David Steinberg's sermons on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
Carl Gottlieb on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour winning Emmy Awards after it was cancelled
Carl Gottlieb on the legacy of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour

Summer Brothers Smothers Show, The

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Carl Gottlieb on being hired to write for The Summer Brothers Smothers Show
Carl Gottlieb on writing for Glenn Campbell, host of the The Summer Brothers Smothers Show

Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The

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Carl Gottlieb on doing comedy advertising spots during The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
Topics

Advice

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Carl Gottlieb on advice to an aspiring writer

Censorship / Standards & Practices

View Topic
Carl Gottlieb on Tom Smothers battling CBS Standards & Practices department over the content of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
Carl Gottlieb on Tom Smothers holding back the master tapes of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour so that they could not be censored by CBS

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Carl Gottlieb on mentorship

Emmy Awards

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Carl Gottlieb on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour winning Emmy Awards after it was cancelled

First Big Break

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Carl Gottlieb on being hired to write for The Summer Brothers Smothers Show

Pivotal Career Moments

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Carl Gottlieb on being hired to write for The Summer Brothers Smothers Show
Carl Gottlieb on mentorship

Pop Culture

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Carl Gottlieb on John Williams' score for the movie "Jaws"

Television Industry

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Carl Gottlieb on Tom Smothers battling CBS Standards & Practices department over the content of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
Carl Gottlieb on Tom Smothers holding back the master tapes of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour so that they could not be censored by CBS
Carl Gottlieb on advice to an aspiring writer
Professions

Writers

View Profession
Carl Gottlieb on the sociopolitical content of his work in The Committee improv group, which led him into being a writer
Carl Gottlieb on how improv skills dovetail with writing skills
Carl Gottlieb on getting his jokes and sketches on air on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
Carl Gottlieb on what he loved about writing for television
Carl Gottlieb on his writing process
Carl Gottlieb on finding structure in his writing
Carl Gottlieb on writing alone versus collaborating
Carl Gottlieb on the process of editing and rewriting
Carl Gottlieb on advice to an aspiring writer
Carl Gottlieb on dealing with writers block
Carl Gottlieb on the value of an education to a writer
Genres

Comedy Series

View Genre
Carl Gottlieb on writing for The Odd Couple

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

View Genre
Carl Gottlieb on being hired to write for The Summer Brothers Smothers Show
Carl Gottlieb on writing for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
Carl Gottlieb on writing for a series of Flip Wilson Specials (along with Lorne Michaels) after the end of The Filp Wilson Show
People

Peter Bonerz

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Carl Gottlieb on the members of The Committee improv group including Peter Bonerz, Del Close, John Brent and Avery Schreiber
Carl Gottlieb on working with Peter Bonerz in The Committee improv group

Albert Brooks

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Carl Gottlieb on the friendship between the writers on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, including Rob Reiner, John Hartford, Steve Martin, Bob Einstein, and non-show writer Albert Brooks (Einstein's brother)

Glen Campbell

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Carl Gottlieb on writing for Glenn Campbell, host of the The Summer Brothers Smothers Show

Bob Einstein

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Carl Gottlieb on the friendship between the writers on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, including Rob Reiner, John Hartford, Steve Martin, Bob Einstein, and non-show writer Albert Brooks (Einstein's brother)

Howard Hesseman

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Carl Gottlieb on working with Howard Hesseman

Steve Martin

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Carl Gottlieb on working with Steve Martin in the writers room at The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
Carl Gottlieb on the friendship between the writers on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, including Rob Reiner, John Hartford, Steve Martin, Bob Einstein, and non-show writer Albert Brooks (Einstein's brother)
Carl Gottlieb on writing the Steve Martin film "The Jerk" directed by Carl Reiner

Lorne Michaels

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Carl Gottlieb on writing for a series of Flip Wilson Specials (along with Lorne Michaels) after the end of The Filp Wilson Show

Lorenzo Music

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Carl Gottlieb on the end of his and Lorenzo Music's writing partnership
Carl Gottlieb on teaming up with Lorenzo Music on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour to write monologues for the Smothers, and long-form sketches for guest-stars like Bob Newhart

Bob Newhart

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Carl Gottlieb on teaming up with Lorenzo Music on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour to write monologues for the Smothers, and long-form sketches for guest-stars like Bob Newhart

Richard Pryor

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Carl Gottlieb on working with Richard Pryor on the 1974 Flip Wilson Special

Rob Reiner

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Carl Gottlieb on The Committee in Los Angeles, and on Rob Reiner being part of another, Los Angeles-based improv group
Carl Gottlieb on working with Rob Reiner in the writers room of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
Carl Gottlieb on the friendship between the writers on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, including Rob Reiner, John Hartford, Steve Martin, Bob Einstein, and non-show writer Albert Brooks (Einstein's brother)

Carl Reiner

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Carl Gottlieb on writing the Steve Martin film "The Jerk," directed by Carl Reiner

Peter Sellers

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Carl Gottlieb on working with Peter Sellers on the Flip Wilson Specials

Dick Smothers

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Carl Gottlieb on Tom Smothers becoming more of a hands-on producer in the third season of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour

Tom Smothers

View Interview Page
Carl Gottlieb on Tom Smothers becoming more of a hands-on producer in the third season of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
Carl Gottlieb on Tom Smothers battling CBS Standards & Practices department over the content of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
Carl Gottlieb on Tom Smothers holding back the master tapes of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour so that they could not be censored by CBS

Steven Spielberg

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Carl Gottlieb on writing the feature film "Jaws" for Steven Spielberg
Carl Gottlieb on doing rewrites for Steven Spielberg's "Jaws" on the fly during production, and on the production of the movie

Ringo Starr

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Carl Gottlieb on directing the feature "Caveman," starring Ringo Starr

David Steinberg

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Carl Gottlieb on David Steinberg's sermons on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour

John Williams

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Carl Gottlieb on John Williams' score for "Jaws"

Flip Wilson

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Carl Gottlieb on working with Flip Wilson on the Flip Wilson Specials

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