Diane English

Producer / Show Creator


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her two-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Diane English discusses her upbringing in Buffalo, New York, where she first worked as an English and drama teacher before moving to New York City to pursue a career in playwriting. She describes how she instead landed her first industry job at public television station WNET, and began writing for the small screen --penning PBS' first television movie, The Lathe of Heaven. English outlines her first forays into half-hour comedies as a writer for Foley Square and for My Sister Sam, and speaks at length on the creation and production of her hit series, Murphy Brown. She divulges which actress she asked to play "Murphy Brown" before Candice Bergen won the role, and sheds light on the infamous debate on single-motherhood sparked by then Vice President, Dan Quayle. She chronicles the formation of her production company, Shukovsky/English, with husband Joel Shukovsky, and details her film and television work (The Women, Love & War, Ink) since Murphy Brown went off the air. Jenni Matz conducted the interview in a joint venture with The American Comedy Archives (at Emerson College) in North Hollywood, CA on February 8, 2007.

"I think I'm always trying to walk that tightrope between comedy and drama. I think you can't have one without the other. I try to keep my writing as grounded in reality as possible, try to keep one foot in the dramatic world and one foot in the comedy world, because I think they really enhance each other. It's tough to do. It requires perfect pitch sometimes, and I don't always have it, obviously, but that's what I try to do, and I think it has made my work a little different from other people's."

Highlights
Diane English on casting Candice Bergen for Murphy Brown
02:56
Diane English on the believable character of "Murphy Brown" and doing research with Dan Rather and Diane Sawyer
00:48
On the legacy of Murphy Brown
01:47
On her writing process
01:07
On the luckiest moment of her career
01:34
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her childhood and early influences; on her talent for writing
10:32
On her college theater teacher and mentor and moving to New York in 1971
07:59
On working in New York Public Radio at WNET Channel 13; on Theater in America and The Television Laboratory
07:58
On her TV column for Vogue
01:49

Chapter 2

On leaving public television and rewriting TV movie The Lathe of Heaven for PBS
05:07
On moving to Los Angeles and writing movies of the week including Her Life as a Man
06:18
On writing for CBS sitcom Foley Square
06:35
On writing for My Sister Sam
05:54
On creating Murphy Brown
05:10

Chapter 3

On who she wanted in a writer's room; on her producing partner/husband Joel Shukovsky and his role helping to cast Murphy Brown
10:26
On casting Candice Bergen as "Murphy Brown;" on her love for actors
05:54
On the characters of Murphy Brown
02:32
On the pilot of Murphy Brown; on the music in the opening sequence
05:40
On the focus groups for and audience of Murphy Brown
02:31
On the strong, believable character of "Murphy Brown"
02:52

Chapter 4

On the cast of Murphy Brown
12:06
On references to Dan Quayle on Murphy Brow n; on the character "Murphy Brown" becoming a single mother
09:09
On "Murphy Brown" battling cancer and making a serious situation humorous
02:39
On her favorite episodes and scenes; on the final episode of Murphy Brown
05:26

Chapter 5

On Candice Bergen and the character "Murphy Brown"
03:44
On the legacy of Murphy Brown
01:47
On Love & War, Double Rush and Living in Captivity
03:01
On changes in network television over the years; on working in different forms of media
02:44
On advice to aspiring writers; on her voice as a writer 
03:14
On winning her first Emmy; on her current projects - The F Word, Forty-Nine and ChangeThe Women
02:17
On future goals; on Ink
05:22
On how she'd like to be remembered
02:37
Shows

Double Rush

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Diane English on creating the show Double Rush starring Robert Pastorelli, David Arquette and D.L. Hughley
00:40

Foley Square

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Diane English on writing for CBS sitcom Foley Square
06:35

Her Life as a Man

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Diane English on her television movie, Her Life as a Man, with producer Larry Schiller
02:18

Ink

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Diane English on revamping Ink
05:01

Lathe of Heaven, The

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Diane English on PBS' first television movie, The Lathe of Heaven
02:29

Living in Captivity

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Diane English on Living in Captivity, created by Tom Palmer
01:22

Love & War

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Diane English on creating the show Love & War
00:59

Murphy Brown

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Diane English on creating Murphy Brown
05:09
Diane English on writing and casting Murphy Brown 
29:55
Diane English on Murphy Brown
29:20
Diane English on Murphy Brown
05:31

My Sister Sam

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Diane English on writing/producing for My Sister Sam
05:54
Topics

Characters & Catchphrases

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Diane English on naming the character of "Murphy Brown"
00:55
Diane English on what Candice Bergen brought to the role of "Murphy Brown"
00:59
Diane English on the strong, believable character, "Murphy Brown"
02:29
Diane English on "Eldin Bernecky" as "Murphy Brown's" Jiminy Cricket
01:57
Diane English on Candice Bergen's contributions to her character, "Murphy Brown"
03:44

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Diane English on her childhood and early influences; on her talent for writing
09:12

Emmy Awards

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Diane English on winning her first Emmy Award
00:54

Women

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Diane English on the network's thoughts on having a 40 year old woman as the main character of Murphy Brown
03:07
Diane English on character "Murphy Brown" becoming a single mother and Dan Quayle's response
07:24
Professions

Writers

View Profession
Diane English on loving writing for television
00:35
Diane English on her writing process
01:07
Diane English on being flexible with writing so actors can bring their own magic to the piece
01:23
Diane English on her voice as a writer
00:55
Genres

Comedy Series

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Diane English on writing for Foley Square
06:35
Diane English on writing/producing for My Sister Sam
05:55
Diane English on creating Murphy Brown
05:09
Diane English on Murphy Brown
29:55
Diane English on Murphy Brown
29:20
Diane English on Murphy Brown
05:31
People

Candice Bergen

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Diane English on casting Candice Bergen for Murphy Brown
02:56
Diane English on the rapport between Candice Bergen ("Murphy Brown") and Joe Regalbuto ("Frank Fontana")
01:10
Diane English on how much of herself is in the character of "Murphy Brown"
01:03
Diane English on "Murphy Brown" battling cancer and making a serious situation humorous
02:39
Diane English the emotional cast at the final episode of Murphy Brown
02:05
Diane English on Candice Bergen's contributions to her character, "Murphy Brown"
03:44

George Clooney

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Diane English on George Clooney guest starring on the final episode of Murphy Brown
02:05

Pat Corley

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Diane English on Pat Corley, "Phil" on Murphy Brown
00:51

Ted Danson

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Diane English on revamping Ink - Ted Danson's return to television after Cheers
05:01

Colleen Dewhurst

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Diane English on Colleen Dewhurst, Murphy's mother on Murphy Brown
02:28

Linda Ellerbee

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Diane English on her admiration on Linda Ellerbee and her influence behind Murphy Brown
00:54

Faith Ford

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Diane English on Faith Ford, "Corky Sherwood" on Murphy Brown
01:29

Barnet Kellman

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Diane English on Murphy Brown director Barnet Kellman and casting the part of Miles Silverberg
04:34
Diane English on Murphy Brown director Barnet Kellman
01:08

Charles Kimbrough

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Diane English on Charles Kimbrough writing a biography for his Murphy Brown character Jim Dial
00:17
Diane English on Charles Kimbrough, "Jim Dial" on Murphy Brown
01:09

Burt Metcalfe

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Diane English on writing for My Sister Sam, created by Burt Metcalfe
05:55

Bette Midler

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Diane English on Bette Midler guest starring on the final episode of Murphy Brown
00:53

Leslie Moonves

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Diane English on Les Moonves wanting her to revamp Ink
05:01

Bernie Orenstein

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Diane English on writing for CBS sitcom Foley Square with producers Saul Turtletaub and Bernie Orenstein
02:25

Robert Pastorelli

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Diane English on Robert Pastorelli, "Eldin Bernecky" on Murphy Brown
01:57

Dan Rather

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Diane English on the believable character of "Murphy Brown" and doing research with Dan Rather and Diane Sawyer
00:48

Joe Regalbuto

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Diane English on the rapport between Candice Bergen ("Murphy Brown") and Joe Regalbuto ("Frank Fontana")
01:10
Diane English on Joe Regalbuto, "Frank Fontana" on Murphy Brown
01:53

Julia Roberts

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Diane English on Julia Roberts guest starring on the final episode of Murphy Brown
00:53

Diane Sawyer

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Diane English on the believable character of "Murphy Brown" and doing research with Dan Rather and Diane Sawyer
00:48
Diane English on character "Murphy Brown" winning the most number of votes as the replacement for Diane Sawyer
00:41

Larry Schiller

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Diane English on her television movie Her Life as a Man with producer Larry Schiller
01:21

Thomas Schlamme

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Diane English on revamping Ink, with the pilot directed by Thomas Schlamme
01:30

Grant Shaud

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Diane English on Murphy Brown director Barnet Kellman and casting the part of Miles Silverberg
04:34

Joel Shukovsky

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Diane English on producing partner and husband Joel Shukovsky and pitching Murphy Brown
01:15
Diane English on how involved her husband, Joel Shukovsky is in their company's projects 
07:16

Mary Steenburgen

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Diane English on revamping Ink - Ted Danson's return to television after Cheers
05:01

Howard Stringer

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Diane English on Howard Stringer's advice to her on the controversy surrounding the character "Murphy Brown" becoming a single mother
01:47

Saul Turteltaub

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Diane English on writing for CBS sitcom Foley Square with producers Saul Turteltaub and Bernie Orenstein
02:25

Mike Wallace

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Diane English on Mike Wallace guest starring on the final episode of Murphy Brown
00:53

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