David Isaacs

Writer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In the half-hour, solo portion of his Archive interview, David Isaacs recalls his first job in the television industry in the film department at ABC Television. He discusses consulting on the comedy series Leo & George, starring Judd Hirsch and Bob Newhart. He talks about his year as consulting producer for season two of Mad Men, collaborating with an all-female writing staff and show creator Matthew Weiner. He also outlines his then-current job as a writing teacher at USC. In the two-hour joint portion of their Archive interview, Ken Levine and David Isaacs recount how they met while in the military, and describe their early collaborative efforts, which culminated with the sale of a spec script to The Jeffersons. They detail their time writing for M*A*S*H and discuss the medical research for the show, writing for the various established characters, and penning specific episodes such as "Point of View," which garnered them an Emmy nomination. They touch on co-producing the short-lived sequel After MASH, and developing Cheers along with creators Glen and Les Charles. They describe the challenges of Cheers' first year, comment on winning an Emmy for the show, and discuss the chemistry between the characters of "Sam" and "Diane." Levine and Isaacs recount writing for the Cheers spin-off, Frasier, and talk of the challenges of making a supporting character the lead. They outline their collaborative process, how they deal with writers' block, and what they look for when assembling a writing staff. Stephen J. Abramson conducted the interview in a joint venture with The Writers Guild Foundation on September 29, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.

"What was great about 'M*A*S*H' was its uniqueness. It's the deepest and darkest of any situation comedy and was unafraid to tackle the humanity that was involved in war. They had to cope with the madness of it by acting out. I can't think of another show that's been quite like that or may ever be like that; taking on a subject matter that you would never associate with comedy." 

Highlights
David Isaacs on acting as a consulting producer for Mad Men  for Matthew Weiner
06:15
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on the writers' room with Glen and Les Charles at Cheers and how it differed from M*A*S*H
04:10
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on being nominated for an Emmy for the M*A*S*H episode, "Point of View"
00:27
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on the series finale of Frasier
01:43
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on advice to aspiring writers
02:41
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on television he watched as a child; on his first job in television in the film department at ABC; on becoming a writer
12:37
On consulting on George & Leo, starring Judd Hirsch and Bob Newhart; on acting as a consulting producer for Mad Men  for Matthew Weiner; on teaching writing at USC
14:36

Chapter 2

START OF JOINT INTERVIEW with David Isaacs and Ken Levine; on how they started working together; on their early collaborative writing process; on selling their first script, a spec for The Jeffersons
12:43
On how they came to write for M*A*S*H; on writing the drama of M*A*S*H; on doing the medical and military research for M*A*S*H; on the challenge of writing for established characters on the show
15:12
On writing various M*A*S*H episodes; on how the various cast changes affected M*A*S*H; on moving on from M*A*S*H in 1979 and the legacy of the show; on co-producing After MASH
14:19
On how they came to write for Cheers; on the writers' room at Cheers; on developing the characters of Cheers and writing for "Sam Malone" and "Diane Chambers"; on Shelley Long leaving the show
16:03

Chapter 3

On the relationship between "Frasier Crane" and "Lilith Sternin" on Cheers; on writing for "Sam Malone" and "Diane Chambers" on Cheers; on winning an Emmy for Cheers
13:25
On writing for The Simpsons; on writing for Frasier; on how "Frasier Crane" changed from Cheers to Frasier; on the relationship between "Niles Crane" and "Daphne Moon" on Frasier
16:56
On the series finale of Frasier; on the Frasier writers' room; on the death of Frasier co-creator David Angell on 9/11; on how they collaborate and deal with writers' block
12:40
On assembling writers' rooms for Almost Perfect and Mary; on The Writers Guild of America; on then-current projects and their relationship; on advice to aspiring writers and how they'd like to be remembered
16:49
Shows

AfterMASH

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Ken Levine and David Isaacs on co-producing After MASH
03:06

Almost Perfect

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Ken Levine and David Isaacs on assembling writers' rooms for Almost Perfect and Mary
05:09

Cheers

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Ken Levine and David Isaacs on how they came to write for Cheers
03:02
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on the writers' room with Glen and Les Charles at Cheers and how it differed from M*A*S*H
04:10
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on developing the characters of Cheers and creating the character of "Eddie LeBec," played by Jay Thomas
02:45
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on the relationship between "Sam Malone," played by Ted Danson, and "Diane Chambers," played by Shelley Long, on Cheers
04:27
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on Shelley Long leaving Cheers
01:40
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on the relationship between "Frasier Crane," played by Kelsey Grammer, and "Lilith Sternin," played by Bebe Neuwirth, on Cheers
07:14
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on writing for "Sam Malone," played by Ted Danson, and "Diane Chambers," played by Shelley Long, on Cheers
02:00
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on winning an Emmy for Cheers
04:12

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Ken Levine and David Isaacs on being nominated for an Emmy for the M*A*S*H episode, "Point of View"
00:27
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on winning an Emmy for Cheers
04:12

Frasier

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Ken Levine and David Isaacs on writing for Frasier
04:33
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on how "Frasier Crane," played by Kelsey Grammer, changed from Cheers to Frasier
03:58
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on the relationship between "Niles Crane," played by David Hyde Pierce, and "Daphne Moon," played by Jane Leeves, on Frasier
02:52
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on the series finale of Frasier
01:43
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on the Frasier writers' room
01:37
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on the death of Frasier co-creator David Angell on 9/11
02:31

George & Leo

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David Isaacs on consulting on George & Leo, starring Judd Hirsch and Bob Newhart 
03:02

Jeffersons, The

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Ken Levine and David Isaacs on selling their first script, a spec for The Jeffersons
02:42

M*A*S*H

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Ken Levine and David Isaacs on how they came to write for M*A*S*H
02:09
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on writing the drama of M*A*S*H
02:12
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on doing the medical and military research for M*A*S*H
03:46
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on being brought on staff to write for M*A*S*H and the M*A*S*H writers' room
03:49
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on the challenge of writing for established characters on M*A*S*H
02:25
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on "Hawkeye Pierce," played by Alan Alda, and "Max Klinger," played by Jamie Farr, being their favorite M*A*S*H characters to write for
01:28
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on writing the M*A*S*H episode, "Our Finest Hour"
02:29
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on writing the M*A*S*H episode, "Point of View"
02:55
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on being nominated for an Emmy for the M*A*S*H episode, "Point of View"
00:27
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on how the various cast changes affected M*A*S*H
02:20
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on moving on from M*A*S*H in 1979
01:29
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on the legacy of M*A*S*H
01:35

Mad Men

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David Isaacs on acting as a consulting producer for Mad Men  for Matthew Weiner
06:15

Mary (1985)

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Ken Levine and David Isaacs on assembling writers' rooms for Almost Perfect and Mary
05:09

Simpsons, The

View Show Page
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on writing for The Simpsons
05:34
Topics

9/11

View Topic
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on the death of Frasier co-creator David Angell on 9/11
02:31

Advice

View Topic
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on advice to aspiring writers
02:41

Characters & Catchphrases

View Topic
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on "Hawkeye Pierce," played by Alan Alda, and "Max Klinger," played by Jamie Farr, being their favorite M*A*S*H characters to write for
01:28
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on developing the characters of Cheers and creating the character of "Eddie LeBec," played by Jay Thomas
02:45
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on the relationship between "Sam Malone," played by Ted Danson, and "Diane Chambers," played by Shelley Long, on Cheers
04:27
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on the relationship between "Frasier Crane," played by Kelsey Grammer, and "Lilith Sternin," played by Bebe Neuwirth, on Cheers
07:14
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on writing for "Sam Malone," played by Ted Danson ,and "Diane Chambers," played by Shelley Long, on Cheers
02:00
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on how "Frasier Crane," played by Kelsey Grammer, changed from Cheers to Frasier
03:58
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on the relationship between "Niles Crane," played by David Hyde Pierce, and "Daphne Moon," played by Jane Leeves, on Frasier
02:52

Emmy Awards

View Topic
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on being nominated for an Emmy for the M*A*S*H episode, "Point of View"
00:27
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on winning an Emmy for Cheers
04:12

First Big Break

View Topic
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on selling their first script, a spec for The Jeffersons
02:42

Historic Events and Social Change

View Topic
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on the death of Frasier co-creator David Angell on 9/11
02:31

Pivotal Career Moments

View Topic
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on selling their first script, a spec for The Jeffersons
02:42

Pop Culture

View Topic
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on "Hawkeye Pierce," played by Alan Alda, and "Max Klinger," played by Jamie Farr, being their favorite M*A*S*H characters to write for
01:28
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on developing the characters of Cheers and creating the character of "Eddie LeBec," played by Jay Thomas
02:45
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on the relationship between "Sam Malone," played by Ted Danson, and "Diane Chambers," played by Shelley Long, on Cheers
04:27
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on the relationship between "Frasier Crane," played by Kelsey Grammer, and "Lilith Sternin," played by Bebe Neuwirth, on Cheers
07:14
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on writing for "Sam Malone," played by Ted Danson ,and "Diane Chambers," played by Shelley Long, on Cheers
02:00
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on how "Frasier Crane," played by Kelsey Grammer, changed from Cheers to Frasier
03:58
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on the relationship between "Niles Crane," played by David Hyde Pierce, and "Daphne Moon," played by Jane Leeves, on Frasier
02:52

Television Industry

View Topic
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on advice to aspiring writers
02:41
Professions

Show Creators

View Profession
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on assembling writers' rooms for Almost Perfect and Mary
05:09

Writers

View Profession
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on their early collaborative writing process
06:31
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on how they collaborate
04:02
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on dealing with writers' block
02:25
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on The Writers Guild of America
02:12
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on writing for different genres
02:15
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on advice to aspiring writers
02:41
Genres

Animation

View Genre
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on writing for The Simpsons
05:34

Comedy Series

View Genre
David Isaacs on consulting on George & Leo, starring Judd Hirsch and Bob Newhart
03:02
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on writing for M*A*S*H
26:25
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on co-producing After MASH
03:06
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on writing for Cheers (Part 1)
16:03
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on writing for Cheers (Part 2)
13:25
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on writing for Frasier
17:35
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on assembling writers' rooms for Almost Perfect and Mary
05:09

Drama Series

View Genre
David Isaacs on acting as a consulting producer for Mad Men  for Matthew Weiner
06:15
People

Alan Alda

View Interview Page
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on "Hawkeye Pierce," played by Alan Alda, and "Max Klinger," played by Jamie Farr, being their favorite M*A*S*H characters to write for
01:28

David Angell

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Ken Levine and David Isaacs on the death of Frasier co-creator David Angell on 9/11
02:31

Glen Charles

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Ken Levine and David Isaacs on the writers' room with Glen and Les Charles at Cheers and how it differed from M*A*S*H
04:10

Les Charles

View Interview Page
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on the writers' room with Glen and Les Charles at Cheers and how it differed from M*A*S*H
04:10

Ted Danson

View Person Page
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on writing for "Sam Malone," played by Ted Danson ,and "Diane Chambers," played by Shelley Long, on Cheers
02:00

Jamie Farr

View Interview Page
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on "Hawkeye Pierce," played by Alan Alda, and "Max Klinger," played by Jamie Farr, being their favorite M*A*S*H characters to write for
01:28

Kelsey Grammer

View Person Page
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on the relationship between "Frasier Crane," played by Kelsey Grammer, and "Lilith Sternin," played by Bebe Neuwirth, on Cheers
07:14

Judd Hirsch

View Person Page
David Isaacs on consulting on George & Leo, starring Judd Hirsch and Bob Newhart
03:02

Shelley Long

View Person Page
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on writing for "Sam Malone," played by Ted Danson ,and "Diane Chambers," played by Shelley Long, on Cheers
02:00

Bob Newhart

View Interview Page
David Isaacs on consulting on George & Leo, starring Judd Hirsch and Bob Newhart
03:02

David Hyde Pierce

View Person Page
Ken Levine and David Isaacs on the relationship between "Niles Crane," played by David Hyde Pierce, and "Daphne Moon," played by Jane Leeves, on Frasier
02:52

Matthew Weiner

View Interview Page
David Isaacs on acting as a consulting producer for Mad Men  for Matthew Weiner
06:15

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