Peter Bonerz

Actor/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, Peter Bonerz talks about playing orthodontist "Jerry Robinson" on The Bob Newhart Show and his work as a director for that series as well as Murphy Brown and Friends. Bonerz notes his first TV part on The Addams Family and how star John Astin taught him television technique. For The Bob Newhart Show, he fondly recalls working with the ensemble and the casual atmosphere on the set. On Murphy Brown, he comments on the working relationship between himself and creator Diane English and star Candice Bergen and discusses the infamous incident when then US Vice President Dan Quayle criticized the show. He describes the ensemble on Friends, and talks about the memorable Rachel/Ross kiss he directed in season two. He comments on several other TV projects he worked on through the years including: 9 to 5, E/R, Foley Square, and Home Improvement. Jim McKairnes conducted the interview on April 27, 2010 in North Hollywood, CA.

"The idea of Bob Newhart being a listener, I think was the genius of 'The Bob Newhart Show.' A psychologist is by definition a listener. And if you go back in Bob's early material, he was always a listener, a looker, a reactor."

Highlights
Peter Bonerz on his Bob Newhart Show character "Jerry Robinson" and the other characters in the ensemble
02:28
Peter Bonerz on the legacy of The Bob Newhart Show
01:07
Peter Bonerz on working with George Burns on George Burns Comedy Week
00:53
Peter Bonerz on the successful combination of show creator Diane English and star Candice Bergen on Murphy Brown
02:00
Peter Bonerz on directing actors
00:43
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early interests; on overcoming stuttering; on performing in variety shows; on seeing Second City in Chicago and meeting Paul Sills
On performing professionally in improv with The Premise in New York City; on getting drafted into the Army; on joining the improv group The Committee in San Francisco; on his first TV part on The Addams Family (and not getting the series The Double Life of Henry Phyfe); on learning TV technique from Addams Family star John Astin; on learning not to improv lines (and upsetting the writers) but to improv "business"; on the importance of an audience in performing comedy
On the popularity of Bob Newhart's comedy albums; on meeting Newhart on the set of Catch-22; on getting hired on The Bob Newhart Show and the original premise of the show; on his Bob Newhart Show character "Jerry Robinson"; on the atmosphere on the set of The Bob Newhart Show; on the socializing of the cast; on the enjoyment of both acting and directing; on the "open set"
On why he wanted to direct; on a special effect he ordered for the episode "A Love Story"; on the decision to end The Bob Newhart Show; on the show's legacy
On working with Carroll O'Connor on Archie Bunker's Place; on acting on 9 to 5 and his disagreement over the direction the show was taking; on working on Suzanne Pleshette Is Maggie Briggs
On working with George Burns on George Burns Comedy Week; on creating effects on the sitcom E/R in front of a live audience; on working with show creator Diane English on Foley Square; on not seeing much of executive producer Mike Nichols on The Thorns

Chapter 2

On the successful teaming of Diane English and Candice Bergen on Murphy Brown; on working with both English and Bergen; on a typical workweek in series TV
On the Murphy Brown episode "Full Circle," in which Murphy's learns of her mother's death (the episode was dedicated to the late Colleen Dewhurst); on the Murphy Brown episode "Uh, Oh, Part 2," and Bonerz's opinion of how Murphy's pregnancy affected the show as well as his opinion of then U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle's criticism of Murphy's single motherhood 
On what actor Grant Shaud brought to his Murphy Brown character "Miles Silverberg"; on the guest stars and recurring actors who appeared on Murphy Brown; on Rodney Dangerfield's correction to the writers when he guested on Home Improvement
On the emotions during filming of the finale episode of Murphy Brown; on TV series "legacies"; on his favorite TV, such as Your Show of Shows and The Wire ("it's in my view the best television ever made")
On the experience of directing Friends -- on the writing, the ensemble; on Friends playing internationally; on the Friends ensemble and their characters
On the Ross/Rachel kiss from season two's "The One Where Ross Finds Out"; on Tim Allen's demeanor and humor on the set of Home Improvement; on auditioning for sitcom Three Sisters (a return to acting for Bonerz)

Chapter 3

On teaching at USC; on directing actors; on creating good morale as the key to leadership as a director
On how he feels about his own "celebrity"; on volunteering; on directing; on his sons; on his life achievements
Shows

9 to 5

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Peter Bonerz on acting on 9 to 5 and his disagreement over the direction the show was taking
01:57

Addams Family, The

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Peter Bonerz on his first TV role, as a guest star on The Addams Family episode "Morticia the Writer"
01:29

Archie Bunker's Place

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Peter Bonerz (briefly) on working with Carroll O'Connor on Archie Bunker's Place
00:36

Bob Newhart Show, The (1972-78)

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Peter Bonerz on getting hired for The Bob Newhart Show, and the shows original premise
01:15
Peter Bonerz on his Bob Newhart Show character "Jerry Robinson" and the other characters in the ensemble
02:28
Peter Bonerz on the atmosphere on the set of The Bob Newhart Show, and keeping the show on schedule as a director
00:46
Peter Bonerz on the socializing of the cast of The Bob Newhart Show
00:51
Peter Bonerz on his enjoyment both acting and directing for The Bob Newhart Show
00:59
Peter Bonerz on how open the set was for The Bob Newhart Show of all the shows then being produced at MTM
00:45
Peter Bonerz on why he wanted to direct for The Bob Newhart Show
01:40
Peter Bonerz on ordering a rigged up iron to create a special effect on The Bob Newhart Show episode "A Love Story"
01:01
Peter Bonerz on the decision to end The Bob Newhart Show
00:51
Peter Bonerz on the legacy of The Bob Newhart Show
01:07

Double Life of Henry Phyfe, The

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Peter Bonerz on auditioning for (but not getting) the lead in The Double Life of Henry Phyfe
01:29

E/R

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Peter Bonerz on creating effects on the live sitcom E/R
01:59

Foley Square

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Peter Bonerz on working with show creator Diane English on Foley Square
02:48

Friends

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Peter Bonerz on the experience of directing Friends— on the writing, the ensemble
03:10
Peter Bonerz on the Friends ensemble and their characters
02:43
Peter Bonerz on the Ross/Rachel kiss from the Friends season two episode "The One Where Ross Finds Out"
01:17

George Burns Comedy Week

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Peter Bonerz on working with George Burns on George Burns Comedy Week
00:53

Home Improvement

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Peter Bonerz on Tim Allen's demeanor and humor on the set of Home Improvement
01:12

Murphy Brown

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Peter Bonerz on the successful combination of show creator Diane English and star Candice Bergen on Murphy Brown
02:00
Peter Bonerz on working with Murphy Brown show creator Diane English
01:55
Peter Bonerz on working with Murphy Brown star Candice Bergen
02:33
Peter Bonerz on the Murphy Brown episode "Full Circle," in which Murphy's learns of her mother's death (the episode was dedicated to the late Colleen Dewhurst)
02:18
Peter Bonerz on the Murphy Brown episode "Uh, Oh, Part 2," and the criticism of Murphy's single motherhood by then U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle
08:48
Peter Bonerz on what actor Grant Shaud brought to his Murphy Brown character "Miles Silverberg"
01:25

Suzanne Pleshette Is Maggie Briggs

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Peter Bonerz on working with writer Charlie Hauck on Suzanne Pleshette Is Maggie Briggs
01:31

Thorns, The

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Peter Bonerz on not seeing much of executive producer Mike Nichols while working on The Thorns
01:14
Topics

Comedy

View Topic
Peter Bonerz on ordering a rigged up iron to create a special effect on The Bob Newhart Show episode "A Love Story"
01:01
Peter Bonerz on the Ross/Rachel kiss from the Friends season two episode, "The One Where Ross Finds Out"
01:17
Peter Bonerz on the Murphy Brown episode, "Uh, Oh, Part 2," and the criticism of Murphy's single motherhood by then U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle
08:48

We Celebrated

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Peter Bonerz on the Ross/Rachel kiss from the Friends season two episode, "The One Where Ross Finds Out"
01:17

Women

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Peter Bonerz on the Murphy Brown episode, "Uh, Oh, Part 2," and the criticism of Murphy's single motherhood by then U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle
08:48
Professions

Actor

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Peter Bonerz on learning not to improv dialogue, but to create "business" to add to his performance
01:09

Directors

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Peter Bonerz on directing actors
00:43
Peter Bonerz on creating good morale as the key to leadership as a director
00:37
Genres

Comedy Series

View Genre
Peter Bonerz on his first TV role, as a guest star on The Addams Family episode "Morticia the Writer"
01:29
Peter Bonerz on auditioning for (but not getting) the lead in The Double Life of Henry Phyfe
01:29
Peter Bonerz on The Bob Newhart Show
19:28
People

Tim Allen

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Peter Bonerz on Tim Allen's demeanor and humor on the set of Home Improvement
01:12

John Astin

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Peter Bonerz on learning TV technique from John Astin (star of The Addams Family)
01:29

Candice Bergen

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Peter Bonerz on working with Murphy Brown star Candice Bergen
02:33

George Burns

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Peter Bonerz on working with George Burns on George Burns Comedy Week
00:53

Diane English

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Peter Bonerz on working with Murphy Brown show creator Diane English
01:55

Bob Newhart

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Peter Bonerz on the popularity of Bob Newhart's comedy albums
00:37
Peter Bonerz on how open the set was for The Bob Newhart Show of all the shows then being produced at MTM
00:45

Grant Shaud

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Peter Bonerz on what actor Grant Shaud brought to his Murphy Brown character "Miles Silverberg"
01:25

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