Gail Parent

Writer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her three-hour plus Archive interview, Gail Parent discusses becoming the only female writer for a variety show when she joined the staff of The Carol Burnett Show in 1967. She talks about her long stint on the show, working with Carol Burnett and writing for series regulars Tim Conway, Harvey Korman, and Vicki Lawrence. She describes writing for various comedy series and specials, including The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Tim Conway Show, and also speaks of penning her successful novel, "Sheila Levine is Dead and Living in New York." Parent recounts co-creating Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and writing for the classic comedy series The Golden Girls. She outlines working for Tracey Ullman on two shows, Tracey Takes On... and State of the Union, and talks of writing for Ullman's unique talents. Parent concludes with career highlights and regrets, and offers advice to aspiring writers. Nancy Harrington conducted the interview on July 16, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California.

"Being hired for 'The Carol Burnett Show' was exciting because they were not hiring women to do variety shows in those days. They didn't want a woman in the writers' room because they thought that a woman would inhibit them. Then here was Carol, willing to give us the job."

Highlights
Gail Parent on being the only female writer on a variety show when she was hired on The Carol Burnett Show
03:31
Gail Parent on coming up with ideas for sketches for The Carol Burnett Show  and the notion of a "department"
05:06
Gail Parent on co-creating Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
02:35
Gail Parent on writing for Rue McClanahan as "Blanche Devereaux" on The Golden Girls
01:31
Gail Parent on writing for Tracey Takes On...
02:57
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her early life and influences; on television she watched growing up; on meeting her writing partner Kenny Soames
On being hired to write for The Carol Burnett Show; on being the only female writer on a variety show in the mid-1960s; on the tone of the humor on The Carol Burnett Show
On her first days as a writer on The Carol Burnett Show; on the format of The Carol Burnett Show; on the writing process for the show
On what made her a good television writer; on working with her writing partner Kenny Soames on The Carol Burnett Show; on coming up with ideas for sketches for The Carol Burnett Show

Chapter 2

On writing for Carol Burnett on The Carol Burnett Show; on the sketches and cast of The Carol Burnett Show
On writing for Tim Conway on The Carol Burnett Show; on winning an Emmy for and the legacy of The Carol Burnett Show; on writing the special The Many Sides of Don Rickles
On writing The Tim Conway Show; on writing The Mary Tyler Moore Show; on writing the novel "Sheila Levine is Dead and Living in New York" and the specials From Hollywood with Love and Annie and the Hoods
On appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson; on writing for The Smothers Brothers Show; on co-creating Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

Chapter 3

On writing Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman; on writing the series Three Girls Three; on writing the feature "The Main Event" for Barbra Streisand
On writing the series Finder of Lost Loves; on writing Amazing Stories with her son; on joining the writing staff of The Golden Girls
On writing for the four females leads on The Golden Girls; on pushing the boundaries on The Golden Girls; on her favorite Golden Girls moments
On being nominated for Emmys for The Golden Girls; on the end of legacy of The Golden Girls; on writing for Tracey Takes On...

Chapter 4

On writing various characters for Tracey Takes On...; on the production and legacy of Tracey Takes On...
On then-current projects; on what being a writer means to her; on how television has changed for women since she started
On advice to aspiring television writers; on career achievements and regrets; on her legacy in the television business
Shows

Amazing Stories

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Gail Parent on writing Amazing Stories with her son
04:30

Carol Burnett Show, The (1967-78)

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Gail Parent on being the only female writer on a variety show when she was hired on The Carol Burnett Show
03:31
Gail Parent on writing for The Carol Burnett Show
04:03
Gail Parent on the tone of the humor on The Carol Burnett Show
03:33
Gail Parent on her first days on the job on The Carol Burnett Show
03:21
Gail Parent on the theme song and format of The Carol Burnett Show
03:39
Gail Parent on the popularity of The Carol Burnett Show
01:19
Gail Parent on the writing process of The Carol Burnett Show
06:54
Gail Parent on what made her a good television writer
00:58
Gail Parent on Carol Burnett wanting to stick to the script on The Carol Burnett Show
01:57
Gail Parent on working with her writing partner Kenny Soams on The Carol Burnett Show 
03:09
Gail Parent on coming up with ideas for sketches for The Carol Burnett Show and the notion of a "department"
05:06
Gail Parent on writing for Carol Burnett on The Carol Burnett Show
02:36
Gail Parent on writing the recurring sketch "Carol and Sis" on The Carol Burnett Show
01:04
Gail Parent on the movie spoofs of The Carol Burnett Show
04:20
Gail Parent on writing sketches for the guest stars of The Carol Burnett Show
03:47
Gail Parent on writing for Harvey Korman on The Carol Burnett Show
01:06
Gail Parent on writing for Vicki Lawrence on The Carol Burnett Show
01:40
Gail Parent on writing for Lyle Waggoner on The Carol Burnett Show
00:46
Gail Parent on writing for Tim Conway on The Carol Burnett Show
02:54
Gail Parent on winning an Emmy for writing The Carol Burnett Show
03:01
Gail Parent on the legacy of The Carol Burnett Show
01:58

Carol Burnett Show, The (1967-78): "Went with the Wind!" Sketch

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Gail Parent on meeting with Carol Burnett and Joe Hamilton and being hired to write for The Carol Burnett Show
04:08

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Gail Parent on winning an Emmy for writing The Carol Burnett Show
03:01

Golden Girls, The

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Gail Parent on joining the writing staff of The Golden Girls
06:57
Gail Parent on her evolving role on The Golden Girls
02:28
Gail Parent on writing for Beatrice Arthur as "Dorothy Zbornak" on The Golden Girls
02:26
Gail Parent on writing for Betty White as "Rose Nylund" on The Golden Girls
01:28
Gail Parent on writing for Rue McClanahan as "Blanche Devereaux" on The Golden Girls
01:31
Gail Parent on writing for Estelle Getty as "Sophia Petrillo" on The Golden Girls
02:50
Gail Parent on writing a balance between the four leads on The Golden Girls
01:14
Gail Parent on pushing the boundaries on The Golden Girls 
02:06
Gail Parent on her favorite Golden Girls moments
04:30
Gail Parent on being nominated for Emmys for The Golden Girls
01:49
Gail Parent on the end and legacy of The Golden Girls
01:59

Many Sides of Don Rickles, The

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Gail Parent on writing for The Many Sides of Don Rickles
06:23

Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

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Gail Parent on co-creating Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
02:35
Gail Parent on writing Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
04:21

Mary Tyler Moore Show, The

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Gail Parent on writing an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
03:55

Smothers Brothers Show, The

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Gail Parent on writing for The Smothers Brothers Show
05:34

Tim Conway Show, The

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Gail Parent on writing for The Tim Conway Show
02:01

Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The

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Gail Parent on appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
03:56

Tracey Takes On ...

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Gail Parent on writing for Tracey Takes On...
02:57
Gail Parent on the premise of Tracey Takes On...
02:27
Gail Parent on writing various characters for Tracey Takes On...
02:38
Gail Parent on the production of Tracey Takes On...
02:14
Gail Parent on writing for Tracey Ullman's various characters on Tracey Takes On... and the writing process for the show
05:42
Gail Parent on the legacy of Tracey Takes On...
01:15

Wings

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Gail Parent on writing for The Tim Conway Show
Topics

Advice

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Gail Parent on advice to aspiring television writers
01:29

Diversity in Television

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Gail Parent on being the only female writer on a variety show when she was hired on The Carol Burnett Show
03:31
Gail Parent on how the business has changed for women since she started
01:07

Emmy Awards

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Gail Parent on winning an Emmy for writing The Carol Burnett Show
03:01
Gail Parent on being nominated for Emmys for The Golden Girls
01:49

Historic Events and Social Change

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Gail Parent on being the only female writer on a variety show when she was hired on The Carol Burnett Show
03:31
Gail Parent on how the business has changed for women since she started
01:07

Television Industry

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Gail Parent on advice to aspiring television writers
01:29

Women

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Gail Parent on being the only female writer on a variety show when she was hired on The Carol Burnett Show
03:31
Gail Parent on how the business has changed for women since she started
01:07
Professions

Writers

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Gail Parent on what made her a good television writer
00:58
Gail Parent on advice to aspiring television writers
01:29
Genres

Comedy Series

View Genre
Gail Parent on co-creating Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (Part 1)
02:35
Gail Parent on co-creating Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
04:21
Gail Parent on writing for The Golden Girls
29:34
Gail Parent on writing for Tracey Takes On...
15:26

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

View Genre
Gail Parent on writing for The Carol Burnett Show (Part 1)
44:57
Gail Parent on writing for The Carol Burnett Show  (Part 2)
31:35
People

Beatrice Arthur

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Gail Parent on writing for "Beatrice Arthur" as Dorothy Zbornak on The Golden Girls
02:26

Carol Burnett

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Gail Parent on meeting with Carol Burnett and Joe Hamilton and being hired to write for The Carol Burnett Show
04:08
Gail Parent on Carol Burnett wanting to stick to the script on The Carol Burnett Show
01:57
Gail Parent on her first days on the job on The Carol Burnett Show
03:21
Gail Parent on coming up with ideas for sketches for The Carol Burnett Show  and the notion of a "department"
05:06
Gail Parent on working on the Carol Burnett specials
01:27

Johnny Carson

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Gail Parent on appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
03:56

Tim Conway

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Gail Parent on writing for Tim Conway on The Carol Burnett Show
02:54

Estelle Getty

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Gail Parent on writing for Estelle Getty as "Sophia Petrillo" on The Golden Girls
02:50

Mitchell Hurwitz

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Gail Parent on joining the writing staff of The Golden Girls
06:56

Harvey Korman

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Gail Parent on writing for Harvey Korman on The Carol Burnett Show
01:06

Vicki Lawrence

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Gail Parent on writing for Vicki Lawrence on The Carol Burnett Show
01:40

Rue McClanahan

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Gail Parent on writing for Rue McClanahan as "Blanche Devereaux" on The Golden Girls
01:31

Steven Spielberg

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Gail Parent on writing Amazing Stories with her son
06:18

Barbra Streisand

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Gail Parent on writing the feature film "The Main Event"
08:52

Tracey Ullman

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Gail Parent on writing for Tracey Ullman's various characters on Tracey Takes On...  and the writing process for the show
05:42

Lyle Waggoner

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Gail Parent on writing for Lyle Waggoner on The Carol Burnett Show
00:46

Betty White

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Gail Parent on writing for Betty White as "Rose Nylund" on The Golden Girls
01:28

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