Glen Charles

Writer/ Producer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In their four-hour Archive interview, Glen and Les Charles were each interviewed in a solo half-hour session, and in a joint three-hour session. The writing-partners/brothers talk about their early years growing up near Las Vegas, Nevada and their decision in the mid-'70s to try their hand at freelance writing for television. They discuss selling their first script (to M*A*S*H) and breaking into staff writing at MTM Productions, where they worked as writer-producers on Phyllis and the final season of The Bob Newhart Show. They recall other writing assignments on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Betty White Show, and detail working with the cast and crew of the hit series, Taxi. The pair talk about both writing and producing the ABC run of Taxi (the show would run a final season on NBC) and chronicle the creation  of the series Cheers (with James Burrows). They outline their roles as producers and later executive producers of the show, discuss cast changes, and recall memorable episodes from the show's eleven year run. Gary Rutkowski conducted the interview on December 8, 2003 in Los Angeles, CA.

"I'm happy when somebody comes up to me and says that something I did made them laugh. To make people laugh is rare. I feel the same way about people that make me laugh. I'm very honored when they say that."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Glen Charles on beginning to write with his brother, Les
Glen and Les Charles on the chemistry between "Sam" and "Diane" (Ted Danson and Shelley Long) on Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on casting Kelsey Grammar as "Dr. Frasier Crane" on Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on the series finale of Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on Andy Kaufman's peculiar deal (with Tony Clifton) on Taxi
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on his Mormon upbringing; on growing up in Las Vegas
On his literary influences; on radio and television programs he enjoyed; on his high school and college years
On his first job after college and attending graduate school in Northern California; on working in advertising and recalling JFK's assassination
On beginning to write with his brother, Les; on getting an agent

Chapter 2

[START OF JOINT INTERVIEW WITH LES CHARLES] On writing spec scripts for The Mary Tyler Moore Show and M*A*S*H; on observing the filming of the M*A*S*H episode they wrote
On writing for The Mary Tyler Moore Show
On getting hired as story editors for the MTM show Doc; on writing for Phyllis; on working with MTM's Stan Daniels and Ed. Weinberger and what they learned from the pair
On working for MTM in the company's early days

Chapter 3

On an embarrassing anecdote about the show Phyllis; on Grant Tinker; on producing and writing for the last season of The Bob Newhart Show
On the series finale of The Bob Newhart Show; on working with James Burrows
On leaving MTM to produce Taxi; on production, writing, and the title sequence of Taxi

Chapter 4

On the writing process and writers on Taxi; on casting the show and working with the actors
On Andy Kaufman joining the cast of Taxi; on specific episodes of Taxi

Chapter 5

On dealing with the network and Standards and Practices on Taxi; on the show's cancellation
On creating their own production company and the early idea for Cheers; on creating the regulars on Cheers
On the casting process for Cheers; on their deal with NBC
On James Burrows' contributions to Cheers; on being their own bosses on Cheers and their initial plan for the series
On the physical comedy between "Sam" and "Diane"; on the writers' room on Cheers; on a typical work-week on Cheers

Chapter 6

On the Cheers theme song and title design; on the show's initially poor ratings and critical success
On casting Kelsey Grammar as "Dr. Frasier Crane"; on Shelley Long's decision to leave Cheers and how her departure affected the show; on Kirstie Alley becoming the female lead
On which characters on Cheers changed the most throughout the run of the show; on favorite episodes and filming in front of a live studio audience
On their favorite guest stars on Cheers; on the three-part finale and the surrounding press; on the legacy of Cheers

Chapter 7

On their involvement with the shows All is Forgiven and The Tortellis; on giving their blessing to Frasier; on their writing style
On then-current projects; on their proudest career achievements; on their mentors and how they'd like to be remembered
Shows

All is Forgiven

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Glen and Les Charles on their involvement with the shows All is Forgiven and The Tortellis

Betty White Show, The (1977-78)

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Glen and Les Charles on writing several episodes of The Betty White Show

Bob Newhart Show, The (1972-78)

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Glen and Les Charles on producing and writing for the last season of The Bob Newhart Show
Glen and Les Charles on the series finale of The Bob Newhart Show

Cheers

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Glen and Les Charles on the creation of Cheers, setting the show in Boston, and research for the bar setting
Glen and Les Charles on creating the regulars on Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on casting Cheers; on their deal with NBC
Glen and Les Charles on James Burrows' contributions to Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on being their own bosses on Cheers and their initial plan for the series
Glen and Les Charles on how "Sam" and "Diane" (Ted Danson and Shelley Long) worked together on Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on the writers' room on Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on a typical work-week on Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on the theme song of Cheers "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" (and how "People Like Us" was almost the theme)
Glen and Les Charles on Cheers' initial low ratings and how then-House speaker Tip O'Neil did a cameo
Glen and Les Charles on casting Kelsey Grammar as "Dr. Frasier Crane" on Cheers and the inspiration for that character -- a "Ralph Bellamy" type
Glen and Les Charles on Shelley Long's decision to leave Cheers and how her departure affected the show
Glen and Les Charles on which characters on Cheers changed the most throughout the run of the show
Glen and Les Charles on their favorite episodes of Cheers and multiple-part episodes; on filming in front of a live studio audience
Glen and Les Charles on their favorite guest stars on Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on letting other people take the reigns on Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on the three-part finale of Cheers - and writing a cameo for Bill Clinton
Glen and Les Charles on the series finale of Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on filming the series finale of Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on why Cheers went off the air
Glen and Les Charles on the legacy of Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on why Cheers was considered to have sophisticated writing

Doc

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Glen and Les Charles on getting hired as story editors for the MTM show Doc

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Glen and Les Charles on Cheers' early Emmy wins

Frasier

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Glen and Les Charles on giving their blessing to Frasier, a spinoff of Cheers starring Kelsey Grammar

M*A*S*H

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Glen and Les Charles on writing a spec script for M*A*S*H, which was the first script they sold 

Mary Tyler Moore Show, The

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Glen and Les Charles on how they finally got hired to write for The Mary Tyler Moore Show a whole year after submitting a spec script
Glen and Les Charles on the first spec script they ever wrote: for The Mary Tyler Moore Show 
Glen and Les Charles on getting hired to write for The Mary Tyler Moore Show a whole year after submitting a spec script
Glen and Les Charles on writing for The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Phyllis

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Glen and Les Charles on writing for the MTM show Phyllis and working with MTM's Stan Daniels and Ed. Weinberger
Glen and Les Charles on changes made to the MTM show Phyllis
Glen and Les Charles on an embarrassing anecdote about the show Phyllis

Taxi

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Glen and Les Charles on producing Taxi
Glen and Les Charles on producing and head-writing for Taxi
Glen and Les Charles on the premise and production of Taxi
Glen and Les Charles on the title sequence of Taxi
Glen and Les Charles on a typical work-week on Taxi
Glen and Les Charles on the atmosphere in the writing room of Taxi
Glen and Les Charles on the actors and the casting process on Taxi
Glen and Les Charles on Andy Kaufman's peculiar deal (with Tony Clifton) on Taxi and the character "Latka Gravas"
Glen and Les Charles on the "Sugar Mama" episode of Taxi with Ruth Gordon
Glen and Les Charles on the "Going Home" episode of Taxi, for which they won an Emmy
Glen and Les Charles on the "Honor Thy Father" episode of Taxi, featuring Jack Gilford
Glen and Les Charles on their favorite Taxi episodes and why the show was cancelled
Glen and Les Charles on dealings with the network and Standards and Practices on Taxi

Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The

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Glen and Les Charles on the series finale of Cheers

Tortellis, The

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Glen and Les Charles on their involvement with the shows All is Forgiven and The Tortellis
Topics

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Glen and Les Charles on dealings with the network and Standards and Practices on Taxi

Characters & Catchphrases

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Glen and Les Charles on the title character "Phyllis" on Phyllis
Glen and Les Charles on the character "Louie De Palma" on Taxi
Glen and Les Charles on the character "Alex Reiger" (played by Judd Hirsch) on Taxi
Glen and Les Charles on the basis of the character "Norm Peterson" on Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on the basis of the character "Sam Malone" on Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on the basis of the character "Coach" on Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on the basis of the character "Cliff Clavin" on Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on the basis of the character "Carla Tortelli" on Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on which characters on Cheers changed the most throughout the run of the show

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Glen Charles on being inspired by the book and movie version of "From Here to Eternity"; on his literary influences
Glen and Les Charles on their mentors

Criticism of TV

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Glen and Les Charles on Cheers' initial low ratings, good critical response, and then-House speaker Tip O'Neil's cameo

Emmy Awards

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Glen and Les Charles on Cheers' early Emmy wins

JFK Assassination and Funeral

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Glen Charles on JFK's assassination

John F. Kennedy

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Glen Charles on JFK's assassination

Memorable Moments on Television

View Topic
Glen and Les Charles on the series finale of The Bob Newhart Show
Glen and Les Charles on the title sequence of Taxi
Glen and Les Charles on the series finale of Cheers

Pop Culture

View Topic
Glen and Les Charles on the title character "Phyllis" on Phyllis
Glen and Les Charles on the character "Louie De Palma" on Taxi
Glen and Les Charles on the character "Alex Reiger" (played by Judd Hirsch) on Taxi
Glen and Les Charles on the basis of the character "Norm Peterson" on Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on the basis of the character "Sam Malone" on Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on the basis of the character "Coach" on Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on the basis of the character "Cliff Clavin" on Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on the basis of the character "Carla Tortelli" on Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on the theme song of Cheers "Everyone Knows Your Name" (and how "People Like Us" was almost the theme)
Glen and Les Charles on which characters on Cheers changed the most throughout the run of the show

TV Theme Songs

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Glen and Les Charles on the theme song of Cheers "Everyone Knows Your Name" (and how "People Like Us" was almost the theme)

Television Industry

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Glen and Les Charles on dealings with the network and Standards and Practices on Taxi

We Cried

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Glen and Les Charles on the series finale of Cheers

We Laughed

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Glen and Les Charles on the series finale of The Bob Newhart Show
Professions

Producers

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Glen and Les Charles on producing Phyllis and the last season of The Bob Newhart Show
Glen and Les Charles on being Executive Producers on Cheers

Show Creators

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Glen and Les Charles on being their own bosses on Cheers and their initial plan for the series

Writers

View Profession
Glen Charles on beginning to write with his brother, Les
Glen and Les Charles on the atmosphere in the writing room of Taxi
Glen and Les Charles on the writers' room on Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on their writing style
Glen and Les Charles on why Cheers was considered to have sophisticated writing
Genres

Comedy Series

View Genre
Glen and Les Charles on writing for the MTM show Phyllis and working with MTM's Stan Daniels and Ed. Weinberger
Glen and Les Charles on producing and writing for the last season of The Bob Newhart Show
Glen and Les Charles on producing and head-writing for Taxi
Glen and Les Charles on the writing process and writers on Taxi; on casting the show and working with the actors
Glen and Les Charles on Andy Kaufman joining the cast of Taxi; on specific episodes of Taxi
Glen and Les Charles on the creation of Cheers, setting the show in Boston, and creating the main characters
Glen and Les Charles on James Burrows' contributions to Cheers; on being their own bosses on Cheers and their initial plan for the series
Glen and Les Charles on the physical comedy between "Sam" and "Diane"; on the writers' room on Cheers; on a typical work-week on Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on casting Kelsey Grammar as "Dr. Frasier Crane"; on Shelley Long's decision to leave Cheers and how her departure affected the show; on Kirstie Alley becoming the female lead
Glen and Les Charles on the Cheers theme song and title design; on the show's initially poor ratings and critical success
Glen and Les Charles on which characters on Cheers changed the most throughout the run of the show; on favorite episodes and filming in front of a live studio audience
Glen and Les Charles on their favorite guest stars on Cheers; on the three-part finale and the surrounding press; on the legacy of Cheers
People

Kirstie Alley

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Glen and Les Charles on Kirstie Alley becoming the female lead ("Rebecca Howe") on Cheers after Shelley Long's departure

David Angell

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Glen and Les Charles on David Angell joining the writers' room on Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on giving their blessing to Frasier, a spinoff of Cheers starring Kelsey Grammar

Edgar Bergen

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Glen Charles on seeing Edgar Bergen in Las Vegas

James L. Brooks

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Glen and Les Charles on working with James L. Brooks on Taxi
Glen and Les Charles on the energy James L. Brooks brought to the writing room of Taxi
Glen and Les Charles on the co-creators of Taxi

James Burrows

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Glen and Les Charles on meeting and working with James Burrows
Glen and Les Charles on the Taxi episode that re-introduced "Reverend Jim"
Glen and Les Charles on James Burrows contributions to Cheers

Peter Casey

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Glen and Les Charles on Peter Casey and David Lee joining the writers' room on Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on giving their blessing to Frasier, a spinoff of Cheers starring Kelsey Grammar

John Cleese

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Glen and Les Charles on their favorite guest stars on Cheers - John Cleese

Bill Clinton

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Glen and Les Charles on the three-part finale of Cheers - and writing a cameo for Bill Clinton

Barbara Colby

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Glen and Les Charles on the death of Barbara Colby on Phyllis

Jeff Conaway

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Glen and Les Charles on the character "Bobby Wheeler" (played by Jeff Conaway) on Taxi

Stan Daniels

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Glen and Les Charles on getting hired to write for The Mary Tyler Moore Show a whole year after submitting a spec script
Glen and Les Charles on working with MTM's Stan Daniels and Ed. Weinberger
Glen and Les Charles on the co-creators of Taxi

Ted Danson

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Glen and Les Charles on casting Ted Danson and Shelley Long as the leads on Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on how "Sam" and "Diane" (Ted Danson and Shelley Long) worked together on Cheers

Tony Danza

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Glen and Les Charles on the character "Tony Banta" (played by Tony Danza) on Taxi

Dave Davis

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Glen and Les Charles on co-creator Dave Davis leaving Taxi
Glen and Les Charles on the title sequence of Taxi
Glen and Les Charles on the co-creators of Taxi

Danny DeVito

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Glen and Les Charles on the actors and the casting process for Taxi

Larry Gelbart

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Glen and Les Charles on writing a spec script for M*A*S*H, which was the first script they sold

Jack Gilford

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Glen and Les Charles on the "Honor Thy Father" episode of Taxi, featuring Jack Gilford

Ruth Gordon

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Glen and Les Charles on the "Sugar Mama" episode of Taxi with Ruth Gordon

Kelsey Grammer

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Glen and Les Charles on casting Kelsey Grammer as "Dr. Frasier Crane" on Cheers and the inspiration for that character -- a "Ralph Bellamy" type
Glen and Les Charles on giving their blessing to Frasier, a spinoff of Cheers starring Kelsey Grammer

Woody Harrelson

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Glen and Les Charles on Woody Harrelson coming in as the new bartender on Cheers

Marilu Henner

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Glen and Les Charles on the character "Elaine O'Connor-Nardo" (played by Marilu Henner) on Taxi

Judd Hirsch

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Glen and Les Charles on the actors and the casting process for Taxi
Glen and Les Charles on the character "Alex Reiger" (played by Judd Hirsch) on Taxi

Carol Kane

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Glen and Les Charles on Andy Kaufman teaching Carol Kane to speak "Latka's" native language on Taxi

Andy Kaufman

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Glen and Les Charles on Andy Kaufman's peculiar deal (with Tony Clifton) on Taxi
Glen and Les Charles on Andy Kaufman's character "Latka Gravas" on Taxi

John F. Kennedy

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Glen Charles on JFK's assassination

Cloris Leachman

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Glen and Les Charles on writing for the MTM show Phyllis
Glen and Les Charles on changes made to the MTM show Phyllis

David Lee

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Glen and Les Charles on Peter Casey and David Lee joining the writers' room on Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on giving their blessing to Frasier, a spinoff of Cheers starring Kelsey Grammar

Christopher Lloyd (actor)

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Glen and Les Charles on the character "Reverend Jim" (played by Christopher Lloyd) on Taxi
Glen and Les Charles on the Taxi episode that re-introduced "Reverend Jim"

Shelley Long

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Glen and Les Charles on casting Ted Danson and Shelley Long as the leads on Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on how "Sam" and "Diane" (Ted Danson and Shelley Long) worked together on Cheers
Glen and Les Charles on Shelley Long's decision to leave Cheers and how her departure affected the show

Bob Newhart

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Glen and Les Charles on working with Bob Newhart on The Bob Newhart Show

Rhea Perlman

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Glen and Les Charles on the basis of the character "Carla Tortelli" on Cheers

John Ratzenberger

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Glen and Les Charles on the basis of the character "Cliff Clavin" on Cheers

Gene Reynolds

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Glen and Les Charles on writing a spec script for M*A*S*H, which was the first script they sold

Brandon Tartikoff

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Glen and Les Charles on getting a deal at NBC with Brandon Tartikoff to do their own series, Cheers

Grant Tinker

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Glen and Les Charles on Grant Tinker creating a wonderful atmosphere at MTM
Glen and Les Charles on Grant Tinker and how he supported his writers at MTM

Ed. Weinberger

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Glen and Les Charles on getting hired to write for The Mary Tyler Moore Show a whole year after submitting a spec script
Glen and Les Charles on working with MTM's Stan Daniels and Ed. Weinberger
Glen and Les Charles on the co-creators of Taxi

Robin Williams

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Glen and Les Charles on the actors and the casting process for Taxi

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