Gary David Goldberg

Creator/ Director / Producer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his four-hour Archive interview, creator/producer Gary David Goldberg (1944-2013) reminisces about his early years, growing up in a close family in Brooklyn (which later was the basis for his Brooklyn Bridge series), and recalls his early adult years traveling the world. He recounts becoming interested in writing and taking a class, where his professor, Nate Monaster noticed his talent and pointed him towards television writing. He discusses his early writing assignments on The Bob Newhart Show and other MTM shows, including The Tony Randall Show and Lou Grant, where he worked as a producer. He describes the formation of his company Ubu Productions, and details the process of creating Family Ties, including the casting of Michael J. Fox, the basis of the characters and the topics covered in key episodes. Goldberg talks about his subsequent series, Brooklyn Bridge, a labor of love based on his early life. He then speaks about the other series for which he is well known, Spin City. He outlines how the idea for the show came about, discusses working with Michael J. Fox (who now was a co-executive producer) and shares how production dealt with Fox's battle with Parkinson's disease. Karen Herman conducted the interview in Brentwood, CA on January 30, 2007.

"I didn't have meanness in the comedy. The times that I tried to be darker or meaner or hipper didn't work. It just wasn't where I came from, and sometimes the writers would say 'boss, nobody says I love you. You can't say that anymore.' I go, 'well, we're going to say it.'" 

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Gary David Goldberg on his production company and how it got its name
Gary David Goldberg on the genesis of Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on why he loved MTM
Gary David Goldberg on re-teaming with Michael J. Fox for Spin City
Gary David Goldberg on how he learned that Michael J. Fox had Parkinson's disease, while working on Spin City
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early years and influences; on growing up in Brooklyn and how much his childhood influenced the shows he created; on loving sports; on his grandparents
On attending and dropping out of college; on living in Greenwich Village and meeting his future wife
On traveling the world; on never wanting to do a job he didn't like; on starting a daycare and how he got his start in television

Chapter 2

On his writing process; on graduating college at age 31; on identifying "the heart, the blood, and the mind" in creative people; on getting his first job in television and turning down an opportunity because it wasn't a good fit
On getting a job writing for MTM's The Bob Newhart Show
On becoming story editor and then producer on MTM's The Tony Randall Show
On why he loved MTM

Chapter 3

On writing for Lou Grant; on why he loves a studio audience and wanted to do more comedy
On his deal at Paramount; on the formation of his company, UBU Productions
On the genesis of Family Ties; on casting Michael J. Fox; on the writing on the show
On how Family Ties started as a show based on him and his wife, but changed to focus on breakout star, Michael J. Fox as "Alex P. Keaton"

Chapter 4

On the focus shifting from the parents to the children on Family Ties; on the Emmy-winning "A My Name is Alex" episode of Family Ties
On how Michael J. Fox's movie career impacted Family Ties
On hiring the cast and writing staff of Family Ties; on the atmosphere of the writers' room

Chapter 5

On assigning writing credits; on establishing the atmosphere on Family Ties
On casting Tracy Pollan (the future Mrs. Michael J. Fox) as "Ellen Reed" on Family Ties; on guest stars and some of the controversial and political themes of Family Ties
On Family Ties being part of the first NBC Thursday night line-up; on NBC wanting him to create more shows for the network

Chapter 6

On a spin-off of Family Ties; on Family Ties going off the air and the legacy of the program
On co-creating Day by Day
On Brooklyn Bridge; on staying true to the Jewishness of his childhood on Brooklyn Bridge
On creating Champs for Dreamworks; on hiring Bill Lawrence
On re-teaming with Michael J. Fox for Spin City

Chapter 7

On working with the actual Mayor's Office to create Spin City; on hiring inexperienced writers on Spin City
On the characters and guest stars on Spin City
On how he learned that Michael J. Fox had Parkinson's disease; on Michael J Fox's decision to leave Spin City; on deciding to continue the program after Fox's departure

Chapter 8

On Charlie Sheen's role on Spin City; on moving production from New York to Los Angeles; on favorite episodes of Spin City
On Battery Park; on adapting the film "Must Love Dogs"; on acting in The Adventures of Scooterman
On advice to aspiring writers; on how he'd like to be remembered
Shows

Bob Newhart Show, The (1972-78)

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Gary David Goldberg on writing for MTM's The Bob Newhart Show

Brooklyn Bridge (1991-93)

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Gary David Goldberg on creating Brooklyn Bridge and trying to recreate his childhood
Gary David Goldberg on staying true to the Jewishness of his childhood on Brooklyn Bridge; on the cancellation of the show

Champs

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Gary David Goldberg on creating Champs for Dreamworks

Day by Day

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Gary David Goldberg on co-creating Day by Day

Family Ties

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Gary David Goldberg on working with Michael J. Fox and the other actors on Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on the genesis of Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on casting Michael J. Fox on Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on the writing on Family Ties; on the great actors and great writers on the show
Gary David Goldberg on how Family Ties started as a show based on him and his wife, but changed to focus on breakout star, Michael J. Fox as "Alex P. Keaton"
Gary David Goldberg on the focus shifting from the parents to the children on Family Ties; on how the parents were based on him and his wife and real-life stories
Gary David Goldberg on the Emmy-winning "A My Name is Alex" episode of Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on how Michael J. Fox's movie career impacted Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on casting Justine Bateman as "Mallory Keaton" on Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on casting Tina Yothers as "Jennifer Keaton" on Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on casting Brian Bonsall as "Andrew Keaton" on Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on casting Marc Price as "Skippy Handelman" on Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on casting Tracy Pollan as "Ellen Reed" and hiring new writers on Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on assigning writing credits on Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on establishing the atmosphere on Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on casting Tracy Pollan (the future Mrs. Michael J. Fox) as "Ellen Reed" on Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on casting Courteney Cox on Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on Tom Hanks appearing on Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on controversial and political issues on Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on Family Ties being part of the first NBC Thursday night line-up
Gary David Goldberg on contract negotiations with NBC, Paramount, and Family Ties and developing new shows
Gary David Goldberg on ending the series and the legacy of Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on a possible spin-off of Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on the guest stars on Family Ties

Last Resort, The

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Gary David Goldberg on his show The Last Resort

Lou Grant

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Gary David Goldberg on writing for Lou Grant

Making the Grade

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Gary David Goldberg on his first show at Paramount, Making the Grade

Spin City

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Gary David Goldberg on re-teaming with Michael J. Fox for Spin City
Gary David Goldberg on working with the actual Mayor's Office; on the shooting style on Spin City
Gary David Goldberg on hiring inexperienced writers on Spin City
Gary David Goldberg on the political aspect of Spin City
Gary David Goldberg on the characters on Spin City
Gary David Goldberg on the guest stars on Spin City
Gary David Goldberg on the episode titles on Spin City
Gary David Goldberg on how he learned that Michael J. Fox had Parkinson's disease, while working on Spin City
Gary David Goldberg on Michael J Fox's decision to leave Spin City; on deciding to continue the program after Fox's departure
Gary David Goldberg on casting Charlie Sheen on Spin City
Gary David Goldberg on Spin City moving production from New York to Los Angeles
Gary David Goldberg on favorite episodes of Spin City and creating stories now not based on his real life
Gary David Goldberg on Spin City going off the air

Tony Randall Show, The

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Gary David Goldberg on becoming story editor and then producer on MTM's The Tony Randall Show
Gary David Goldberg on what he learned about being a producer from MTM's The Tony Randall Show
Topics

9/11

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Gary David Goldberg on the effect of 9/11 on Spin City

Characters & Catchphrases

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Gary David Goldberg on Michael J. Fox's character of "Mike Flaherty" on Spin City

First Big Break

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Gary David Goldberg on his mentor, Nate Monaster

Historic Events and Social Change

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Gary David Goldberg on the effect of 9/11 on Spin City

Memorable Moments on Television

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Gary David Goldberg on the Emmy-winning "A My Name is Alex" episode of Family Ties

Pivotal Career Moments

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Gary David Goldberg on his mentor, Nate Monaster

Pop Culture

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Gary David Goldberg on how "sha-la-la-la" was added to the Family Ties theme song
Gary David Goldberg on the theme song of Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on the theme song of Brooklyn Bridge
Gary David Goldberg on Michael J. Fox's character of "Mike Flaherty" on Spin City

Ronald Reagan

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Gary David Goldberg on Family Ties being the favorite show of Ronald Reagan and how the show reflected the Reagan era

TV Theme Songs

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Gary David Goldberg on how "sha-la-la-la" was added to the Family Ties theme song
Gary David Goldberg on the theme song of Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on the theme song of Brooklyn Bridge

Television Industry

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Gary David Goldberg on how television has changed since he started in the business

Television and the Presidency

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Gary David Goldberg on Family Ties being the favorite show of Ronald Reagan and how the show reflected the Reagan era
Professions

Producers

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Gary David Goldberg on what he learned about being a producer from MTM's The Tony Randall Show that he later applied on Family Ties

Show Creators

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Gary David Goldberg on the atmosphere of the writers' room on Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on assigning writing credits on Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on hiring inexperienced writers on Spin City

Writers

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Gary David Goldberg on the atmosphere of the writers' room on Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on advice to aspiring television writers
Genres

Comedy Series

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Gary David Goldberg on writing for MTM's The Bob Newhart Show
Gary David Goldberg on becoming story editor and then producer on MTM's The Tony Randall Show
Gary David Goldberg on the genesis of Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on the cast and the atmosphere of the writers' room on Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on the cast, themes, and success of Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on ending the series and the legacy of Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on creating Brooklyn Bridge and trying to recreate his childhood
Gary David Goldberg on re-teaming with Michael J. Fox for Spin City
Gary David Goldberg on the cast and guest stars on Spin City
Gary David Goldberg on Charlie Sheen's role on Spin City; on moving production from New York to Los Angeles; on favorite episodes of Spin City
People

Justine Bateman

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Gary David Goldberg on casting Justine Bateman as "Mallory Keaton" on Family Ties

Meredith Baxter-Birney

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Gary David Goldberg on how Family Ties started as a show based on him and his wife, but changed to focus on breakout star, Michael J. Fox as "Alex P. Keaton"
Gary David Goldberg on Meredith Baxter-Birney's real-life pregnancy on Family Ties

Michael Boatman

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Gary David Goldberg on the characters on Spin City - Michael Boatman as "Carter Heywood"

Barry Bostwick

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Gary David Goldberg on the characters on Spin City - Barry Bostwick as "Mayor Randall M. Winston, Jr."

George Clooney

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Gary David Goldberg on casting George Clooney in Knights of the Kitchen Table

Courteney Cox

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Gary David Goldberg on casting Courteney Cox on Family Ties

Michael J. Fox

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Gary David Goldberg on working with Michael J. Fox 
Gary David Goldberg on casting Michael J. Fox on Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on how Family Ties started as a show based on him and his wife, but changed to focus on breakout star, Michael J. Fox as "Alex P. Keaton"
Gary David Goldberg on the Emmy-winning "A My Name is Alex" episode of Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on how Michael J. Fox's movie career impacted Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on the chemistry between Tracy Pollan and Michael J. Fox on Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on re-teaming with Michael J. Fox for Spin City
Gary David Goldberg on his goals for Spin City
Gary David Goldberg on Michael J. Fox finding him an apartment in New York
Gary David Goldberg on how he learned that Michael J. Fox had Parkinson's disease, while working on Spin City
Gary David Goldberg on Michael J Fox's decision to leave Spin City

Michael Gross

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Gary David Goldberg on how Family Ties started as a show based on him and his wife, but changed to focus on breakout star, Michael J. Fox as "Alex P. Keaton"

Tom Hanks

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Gary David Goldberg on Tom Hanks appearing on Family Ties

Jeffrey Katzenberg

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Gary David Goldberg on talking with Jeffrey Katzenberg about what would become Spin City

Richard Kind

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Gary David Goldberg on the characters on Spin City - Richard Kind as "Paul Lassiter"

Bill Lawrence

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Gary David Goldberg on hiring Bill Lawrence on Champs (who would become his co-creator on Spin City)
Gary David Goldberg on teaming with Bill Lawrence to create Spin City

Heather Locklear

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Gary David Goldberg on Michael J Fox's decision to leave Spin City; on deciding to continue the program after Fox's departure

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

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Gary David Goldberg on co-creating Day by Day

Nate Monaster

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Gary David Goldberg on his mentor, Nate Monaster

Gary Nardino

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Gary David Goldberg on his deal with Paramount

Bob Newhart

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Gary David Goldberg on meeting Bob Newhart when he wrote for MTM's The Bob Newhart Show

Tom Patchett

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Gary David Goldberg on getting hired to write for MTM's The Bob Newhart Show
Gary David Goldberg on becoming story editor on MTM's The Tony Randall Show

Tracy Pollan

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Gary David Goldberg on casting Tracy Pollan (the future Mrs. Michael J. Fox) as "Ellen Reed" on Family Ties

Jim Preminger

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Gary David Goldberg on how he got his agent, Jim Preminger
Gary David Goldberg on his agent, Jim Preminger, looking out for his career, and taking what he felt was a "comedy writing fellowship"
Gary David Goldberg on Jim Preminger bringing on another team member to negotiate his deal with Paramount

Marc Price

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Gary David Goldberg on casting Marc Price as "Skippy Handelman" on Family Ties

Tony Randall

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Gary David Goldberg on becoming story editor on MTM's The Tony Randall Show

Ronald Reagan

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Gary David Goldberg on Family Ties being the favorite show of Ronald Reagan and how the show reflected the Reagan era

Gene Reynolds

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Gary David Goldberg on learning from Gene Reynolds on Lou Grant

Alan Ruck

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Gary David Goldberg on the characters on Spin City - Alan Ruck as "Stuart Bondek"

Jeff Sagansky

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Gary David Goldberg on creating Brooklyn Bridge for CBS

Charlie Sheen

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Gary David Goldberg on Michael J Fox's decision to leave Spin City; on deciding to continue the program after Fox's departure
Gary David Goldberg on casting Charlie Sheen on Spin City
Gary David Goldberg on catering to the network a bit when Charlie Sheen was on Spin City

Fred Silverman

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Gary David Goldberg on becoming story editor on MTM's The Tony Randall Show

Steven Spielberg

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Gary David Goldberg on how Michael J. Fox's movie career impacted Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on Steven Spielberg loving the pilot of Brooklyn Bridge  

Jay Tarses

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Gary David Goldberg on getting hired to write for MTM's The Bob Newhart Show
Gary David Goldberg on becoming story editor on MTM's The Tony Randall Show

Brandon Tartikoff

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Gary David Goldberg on NBC's Brandon Tartikoff originally not supporting casting Michael J. Fox on Family Ties, but being a huge supporter of the show

Grant Tinker

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Gary David Goldberg on arranging for Grant Tinker to write/produce for Lou Grant
Gary David Goldberg on advice from Grant Tinker that he followed on Family Ties
Gary David Goldberg on how Grant Tinker's protection of good shows would be a rarity today

Hugh Wilson

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Gary David Goldberg on becoming producer with Hugh Wilson on MTM's The Tony Randall Show

Tina Yothers

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Gary David Goldberg on casting Tina Yothers as "Jennifer Keaton" on Family Ties

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