Hugh Wilson

Writer / Producer / Director


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his two-and-a-half-hour Archive interview, Hugh Wilson talks about his early years working for Armstrong Industries, which eventually led him to being a gopher for MTM Productions. He speaks of writing scripts for The Bob Newhart Show and The Tony Randall Show, and pitching WKRP in Cincinnati  to CBS with Grant Tinker. He details writing and producing WKRP in Cincinnati, and speaks of the cast, several classic episodes, the atmosphere in the writers' room, and the eventual cancellation of the show. Wilson outlines the creation and production of Frank's Place, for which he won an Emmy Award for the episode "The Bridge." He recounts creating the short-lived series Easy Street and The Famous Teddy Z, as well as his career as a feature film director with such movies as "Police Academy," "First Wives Club," and "Guarding Tess." He concludes by discussing his mentors, giving advice to aspiring writers and directors, and talking about how he'd like to be remembered. Adrienne Faillace conducted the interview in a joint venture with the Writers Guild Foundation on November 16, 2015 in Los Angeles, CA.

"Jerry Blum who was the general manager of WQXI told me that he had been fired from a Texas radio station for throwing turkeys out of a helicopter. I turned to Jerry and said, 'You just won me an Emmy.'"

Highlights
Hugh Wilson on pitching WKRP in Cincinnati to CBS with Grant Tinker
01:42
Hugh Wilson on the famous WKRP in Cincinnati episode "Turkeys Away" and the cancellation of the show
02:15
Hugh Wilson on his favorite characters to write for on WKRP in Cincinnati
01:25
Hugh Wilson on creating Frank's Place
05:12
Hugh Wilson on co-writing and directing the feature "Police Academy"
05:23
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on his family getting a television when he was seven years old
On going to work for Armstrong and how he started in television at MTM Productions; on working for MTM Productions and being on the set of The Mary Tyler Moore Show; on writing for The Bob Newhart Show, The Tony Randall Show, and learning to write scripts
On how WKRP in Cincinnati came about; on pitching WKRP in Cincinnati to CBS with Grant Tinker; on the audience for WKRP in Cincinnati and dealing with music rights for the show 
On the DVD releases of WKRP in Cincinnati; on the initial ratings of WKRP in Cincinnati; on the famous WKRP in Cincinnati episode "Turkeys Away" and the cancellation of the show
On the success of WKRP in Cincinnati in syndication; on the cast of WKRP in Cincinnati; on the atmosphere in the writers' room of the show and what he looked for in a writer

Chapter 2

On network notes he received about WKRP in Cincinnati; on the production of WKRP in Cincinnati
On notable WKRP in Cincinnati episodes; on the premise of WKRP in Cincinnati and coming up with the call letters for the show
On the theme song to WKRP in Cincinnati; on the cancellation of WKRP in Cincinnati and the legacy of the show
On co-creating Easy Stree t and creating Frank's Place; on the style and tone of Frank's Place; on the premise of Frank's Place
On the writing and network notes regarding Frank's Place; on winning an Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Writing for the show for the episode "The Bridge"
On the cancellation of Frank's Place and the difference between writing for television and writing for film; on the legacy of Frank's Place
On creating The Famous Teddy Z starring Jon Cryer and Alex Rocco; on co-writing and directing the feature "Police Academy"; on directing the feature "First Wives Club" starring Bette Midler
On his writing process and the then-current state of writing for features and for television; on his then-current favorite television shows; on his membership in the Writers Guild
On his then-current activities; on career mentors Jay Tarses, Allan Burns, and James L. Brooks; on what he likes about writing, producing, and directing for television
On advice to an aspiring writer and an aspiring director; on how he'd like to be remembered 
Shows

Bob Newhart Show, The (1972-78)

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Hugh Wilson on writing for The Bob Newhart Show and learning to write scripts
04:04

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Hugh Wilson on winning an Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Writing for Frank's Place  for the episode "The Bridge"
02:37

Frank's Place

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Hugh Wilson on creating Frank's Place
05:12
Hugh Wilson on the style and tone of Frank's Place
03:55
Hugh Wilson on the premise of Frank's Place
02:35
Hugh Wilson on the writing of Frank's Place
01:10
Hugh Wilson on network notes regarding Frank's Place
01:31
Hugh Wilson on winning an Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Writing for Frank's Place for the episode "The Bridge"
02:37
Hugh Wilson on the cancellation of Frank's Place and the difference between writing for television and writing for film
02:09
Hugh Wilson on the legacy of Frank's Place
02:32

Mary Tyler Moore Show, The

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Hugh Wilson on working for MTM Productions and being on the set of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
01:50

Tony Randall Show, The

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Hugh Wilson on writing for The Tony Randall Show
04:17

WKRP in Cincinnati

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Hugh Wilson on how WKRP in Cincinnati came about
04:16
Hugh Wilson on pitching WKRP in Cincinnati to CBS with Grant Tinker
01:42
Hugh Wilson on the audience for WKRP in Cincinnati and dealing with music rights for the show
06:23
Hugh Wilson on the DVD releases of WKRP in Cincinnati
02:20
Hugh Wilson on the initial ratings of WKRP in Cincinnati
02:17
Hugh Wilson on the famous WKRP in Cincinnati episode "Turkeys Away" and the cancellation of the show
02:15
Hugh Wilson on the success of WKRP in Cincinnati in syndication
00:51
Hugh Wilson on Gary Sandy as "Andy Travis" on WKRP in Cincinnati 
00:55
Hugh Wilson on Loni Anderson as "Jennifer Marlowe" on WKRP in Cincinnati 
00:58
Hugh Wilson on Gordon Jump as "Arthur 'Big Guy' Carlson" on WKRP in Cincinnati and the importance of actors being on time
02:31
Hugh Wilson on Frank Bonner as "Herb Tarlek" and Richard Sanders as "Les Nessman" on WKRP in Cincinnati 
03:21
Hugh Wilson on the atmosphere in the writers' room of WKRP in Cincinnati and what he looked for in a writer
04:43
Hugh Wilson on his favorite characters to write for on WKRP in Cincinnati
01:25
Hugh Wilson on network notes he received about WKRP in Cincinnati 
07:25
Hugh Wilson on the production of WKRP in Cincinnati 
04:15
Hugh Wilson on the WKRP in Cincinnati episode "Who is Gordon Sims?"
02:18
Hugh Wilson on the WKRP in Cincinnati episode "Fish Story"
01:13
Hugh Wilson on the WKRP in Cincinnati episode "Venus and the Man"
02:06
Hugh Wilson on the WKRP in Cincinnati  episode "Clean Up Radio Everywhere" and his favorite episode of the series
02:05
Hugh Wilson on the premise of WKRP in Cincinnati and coming up with the call letters for the show
03:07
Hugh Wilson on the theme song to WKRP in Cincinnati 
02:05
Hugh Wilson on the cancellation of WKRP in Cincinnati and the legacy of the show
01:58
Topics

Advice

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Hugh Wilson on advice to an aspiring writer and an aspiring director
01:21

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Hugh Wilson on career mentors Jay Tarses, Allan Burns, and James L. Brooks
00:58

Emmy Awards

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Hugh Wilson on winning an Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Writing for Frank's Place  for the episode "The Bridge"
02:37

First Big Break

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Hugh Wilson on going to work for Armstrong and how he started in television at MTM Productions
09:31

Pivotal Career Moments

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Hugh Wilson on going to work for Armstrong and how he started in television at MTM Productions
09:31

Pop Culture

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Hugh Wilson on the theme song to WKRP in Cincinnati 
02:05

TV Theme Songs

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Hugh Wilson on the theme song to WKRP in Cincinnati 
02:05

Television Industry

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Hugh Wilson on advice to an aspiring writer and an aspiring director
01:21
Professions

Show Creators

View Profession
Hugh Wilson on the atmosphere in the writers' room on WKRP in Cincinnati  and what he looked for in a writer
04:43
Hugh Wilson on his writing process and the then-current state of writing for features and for television
06:33
Hugh Wilson on the cancellation of Frank's Place  and the difference between writing for television and writing for film
02:09
Hugh Wilson on advice to an aspiring writer and an aspiring director
01:21
Genres

Comedy Series

View Genre
Hugh Wilson on writing for The Bob Newhart Show  and learning to write scripts
04:04
Hugh Wilson on writing for The Tony Randall Show
04:17
Hugh Wilson on creating, writing, and producing WKRP in Cincinnati
33:56
Hugh Wilson on creating, writing, and producing WKRP in Cincinnati
26:32
Hugh Wilson on creating, writing, and directing Frank's Place
21:40
Hugh Wilson on creating The Famous Teddy Z  starring Jon Cryer and Alex Rocco
04:29
People

Loni Anderson

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Hugh Wilson on Loni Anderson as "Jennifer Marlowe" on WKRP in Cincinnati 
00:58

James L. Brooks

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Hugh Wilson on career mentors Jay Tarses, Allan Burns, and James L. Brooks
00:58

Allan Burns

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Hugh Wilson on career mentors Jay Tarses, Allan Burns, and James L. Brooks
00:58

Jon Cryer

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Hugh Wilson on creating The Famous Teddy Z  starring Jon Cryer and Alex Rocco
04:29

Bette Midler

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Hugh Wilson on directing the feature "First Wives Club" starring Bette Midler
02:34

Tony Randall

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Hugh Wilson on writing for The Tony Randall Show
04:17

Jay Tarses

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Hugh Wilson on career mentors Jay Tarses, Allan Burns, and James L. Brooks
00:58

Grant Tinker

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Hugh Wilson on going to work for Armstrong and how he started in television at MTM Productions with Grant Tinker
09:31
Hugh Wilson on pitching WKRP in Cincinnati  to CBS with Grant Tinker
01:42

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