George Shapiro

Manager


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his nearly two-hour Archive interview, George Shapiro discusses his early years growing up in the Bronx, where he met his longtime business partner, Howard West, and describes working his way up from mailroom attendant to packaging executive at the William Morris Agency. He talks about his work with The Steve Allen Show and That Girl and details his decision to leave William Morris to form his own management company, Shapiro/West. He speaks at length on working with client Andy Kaufman, on negotiating Kaufman's intricate deal with Taxi and on Kaufman's premature death. Shapiro also comments on client Jerry Seinfeld, explains how Seinfeld got on the air and concludes with thoughts on the art of management and his philosophy on comedy. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview in a joint venture with the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College on February 12, 2007 in Los Angeles, CA.

"Bombing is part of the process of putting a good act together. You have to embrace it. You'll be in pain. You'll feel terrible. I've seen comedians crying after it… but bombing gives you the opportunity of knowing what doesn't work, and then starting new jokes. It's essential that a comedian bombs. Just stay with it, learn from it, and keep doing it. Get back on the horse -- there's a reason for that old cliché." 

Highlights
George Shapiro on being drawn to comedians
01:56
George Shapiro on Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld's integrity 
00:36
George Shapiro on the poor test response to the pilot of Seinfeld
01:05
George Shapiro on disagreeing with Andy Kaufman's inter-gender wrestling on television
04:20
George Shapiro on comedians bombing
00:49
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences
15:36
On becoming an agent with William Morris
07:11
On entertainment in New York in the 1950s; on being drawn to comedians and leaving William Morris to start his own company
14:17
On managing Andy Kaufman - on Kaufman's work on Taxi, on Tony Clifton, and inter-gender wrestling
28:09
On comedians bombing; on "Man on the Moon"
11:21
On people believing that Andy Kaufman is still alive; on his closeness with clients, including Jerry Seinfeld; on comedy
12:29

Chapter 2

On current projects; On Seinfeld and how moving the timeslot for the show changed its popularity; on tragedy and comedy
20:24
On the camaraderie of comics between Jerry Seinfeld and friends; On The Comedy Store and The Friar's Club
06:10
On "clean" comedy; on the cast of Seinfeld; on his proudest achievements; on dealing with celebrity egos; on whether it was all worth it 
16:32
Shows

Cheers

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George Shapiro on Cheers liberating Seinfeld
01:06

Merv Griffin Show, The

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George Shapiro on disagreeing with Andy Kaufman's inter-gender wrestling on television 
00:48

Saturday Night Live

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George Shapiro on how Andy Kaufman got the gig on Saturday Night Live
00:38
George Shapiro on disagreeing with Andy Kaufman's inter-gender wrestling on television
02:37
George Shapiro on Andy Kaufman reading The Great Gatsby on Saturday Night Live
01:19

Seinfeld

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George Shapiro on packaging Seinfeld
14:01
George Shapiro on the cast of Seinfeld
07:51
George Shapiro on being proud of working with Jerry Seinfeld on Seinfeld
01:46

Steve Allen Show, The (1956-61)

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George Shapiro on clients Bill Persky and Sam Denoff getting hired by Bill Dana on The Steve Allen Show
02:10

Taxi

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George Shapiro on how Andy Kaufman (and Tony Clifton) got roles on Taxi
07:15
George Shapiro on Andy Kaufman's work on Taxi
00:49

Your Show of Shows

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George Shapiro on Max Liebman booking talent at Tamiment and creating Your Show of Shows
01:28
Topics

Characters & Catchphrases

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George Shapiro on how Andy Kaufman got the role of on Latka on Taxi
07:15

Classic TV series episodes

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George Shapiro on Andy Kaufman reading "The Great Gatsby" on Saturday Night Live
01:19

Comedy

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George Shapiro on Andy Kaufman reading "The Great Gatsby" on Saturday Night Live
01:19

Pop Culture

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George Shapiro on how Andy Kaufman got the role of on Latka on Taxi
07:15
George Shapiro on Andy Kaufman reading "The Great Gatsby" on Saturday Night Live
01:19
Professions

Manager

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George Shapiro on managing Andy Kaufman - on Kaufman's work on Taxi, on Tony Clifton, and inter-gender wrestling
28:09
George Shapiro on managing clients
00:28

Representatives

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George Shapiro on managing Andy Kaufman - on Kaufman's work on Taxi, on Tony Clifton, and inter-gender wrestling
28:09
George Shapiro on managing clients
00:28
Genres

Comedy Series

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George Shapiro on how Andy Kaufman got the role of Latka on Taxi
07:15
People

Jason Alexander

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George Shapiro on casting Jason Alexander
01:02

Bernie Brillstein

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George Shapiro on his first day in the William Morris mailroom
02:42

James L. Brooks

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George Shapiro on how Andy Kaufman got the role on Taxi
07:15

Lenny Bruce

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George Shapiro on first seeing Phyllis Diller and Lenny Bruce perform
00:10

George Burns

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George Shapiro on booking Jerry Seinfeld for his 100th birthday party in 2054
01:23

Red Buttons

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George Shapiro on Red Buttons' comedy
01:39

Sid Caesar

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George Shapiro on Sid Caesar performing at Tamiment
01:28

Jim Carrey

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George Shapiro on "Man on the Moon" - the movie based of Andy Kaufman's life 
05:39

Imogene Coca

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George Shapiro on Imogene Coca performing at Tamiment
01:28

Bill Dana

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George Shapiro and Bill Dana on Andy Kaufman at the first American Comedy Awards
00:53
George Shapiro on clients Bill Persky and Sam Denoff getting hired by Bill Dana on The Steve Allen Show
02:10

Larry David

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George Shapiro on Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld coming up with the premise of Seinfeld
08:14
George Shapiro on how Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David ran Seinfeld
05:14

Danny DeVito

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George Shapiro on "Man on the Moon" - the movie based of Andy Kaufman's life 
03:33

Sam Denoff

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George Shapiro on clients Bill Persky and Sam Denoff getting hired by Bill Dana on The Steve Allen Show
02:10
George Shapiro on being proud of working with writers Bill Persky and Sam Denoff
00:25

Phyllis Diller

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George Shapiro on first seeing Phyllis Diller and Lenny Bruce perform
00:41
George Shapiro on first seeing Phyllis Diller perform
00:42

Dick Ebersol

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George Shapiro on disagreeing with Andy Kaufman's inter-gender wrestling on television and Andy getting voted off Saturday Night Live
02:37

Milos Forman

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George Shapiro on "Man on the Moon" - the movie based of Andy Kaufman's life 
03:33

Ben Griefer

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George Shapiro on his mentor, Ben Griefer, in the packaging department of William Morris
01:10

Lee Karsian

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George Shapiro on working for agent Lee Karsian
00:33

Andy Kaufman

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George Shapiro on client Andy Kaufman
28:09
George Shapiro on "Man on the Moon" - the movie based of Andy Kaufman's life 
05:39
George Shapiro on Andy Kaufman and Robin Williams performing at Carnegie Hall
02:04
George Shapiro on people believing that Andy Kaufman is still alive
02:25
George Shapiro on Andy Kaufman
00:35

Abe Lastfogel

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George Shapiro on leaving William Morris
00:30

Max Liebman

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George Shapiro on Max Liebman booking talent at Tamiment and creating Your Show of Shows
01:28

Warren Littlefield

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George Shapiro on meeting with NBC's Brandon Tartikoff and Warren Littlefield about a Jerry Seinfeld series
10:50

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

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George Shapiro on casting Julia Louis-Dreyfus
00:24

Steve Martin

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George Shapiro on Steve Martin's clean comedy
00:21

Lorne Michaels

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George Shapiro on how Andy Kaufman got the role on Taxi and the gig on Saturday Night Live
00:38

Rosie O'Donnell

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George Shapiro on casting Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Rosie O'Donnell read for the part of "Elaine"
00:22

Bill Persky

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George Shapiro on clients Bill Persky and Sam Denoff getting hired by Bill Dana on The Steve Allen Show
02:10
George Shapiro on being proud of working with writers Bill Persky and Sam Denoff
00:37

Elvis Presley

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George Shapiro on Andy Kaufman's idol Elvis Presley
00:35

Richard Pryor

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George Shapiro on Richard Pryor turning pain into comedy
00:59

Carl Reiner

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George Shapiro on how Carl Reiner informed him of a new comedian named Andy Kaufman
01:28
George Shapiro on Carl Reiner's support of Jerry Seinfeld
00:13
George Shapiro on being proud of working with Carl Reiner
01:35

Rob Reiner

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George Shapiro on bringing in cousin Rob Reiner's production company for deficit spending on Seinfeld
01:27

Michael Richards

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George Shapiro on casting Michael Richards
01:34

Chris Rock

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George Shapiro on Chris Rock's comedy
00:57

George Schlatter

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George Shapiro and Bill Dana on Andy Kaufman at the first American Comedy Awards
00:53

Jerry Seinfeld

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George Shapiro on Jerry Seinfeld bombing in a live performance
02:41
George Shapiro on client Jerry Seinfeld's humor
03:40
George Shapiro on Jerry Seinfeld and packaging Seinfeld
16:38
George Shapiro on booking Jerry Seinfeld for his 100th birthday party in 2054
01:22
George Shapiro on the first time Jerry Seinfeld performed (and bombed)
01:03
George Shapiro on how Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David ran Seinfeld
05:14
George Shapiro on being proud of working with Jerry Seinfeld on Seinfeld
01:46
George Shapiro on Jerry Seinfeld
00:48

Mitzi Shore

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George Shapiro on The Comedy Store, an improv started by Mitzi Shore
01:20

Barbra Streisand

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George Shapiro on first seeing Barbra Streisand perform in East Side clubs
01:02

Brandon Tartikoff

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George Shapiro on telling Brandon Tartikoff that Jerry Seinfled should have his own series
09:44

Ed. Weinberger

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George Shapiro on how Andy Kaufman got the role on Taxi
07:15

Jack Welch

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George Shapiro on Jerry Seinfeld not wanting a 10th season of Seinfeld
14:32

Howard West

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George Shapiro on leaving William Morris to go into management with Howard West
00:49
George Shapiro on his business partnership with friend Howard West
02:20

Robin Williams

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George Shapiro on Andy Kaufman and Robin Williams performing at Carnegie Hall
02:04

Bob Wright

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George Shapiro on Jerry Seinfeld not wanting a 10th season of Seinfeld
01:26

Bob Zmuda

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George Shapiro on booking Tony Clifton at Harrod's, but this time Tony was played by Bob Zmuda
01:04

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