Roy Christopher

Production Designer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his nearly three-hour Archive interview, Roy Christopher talks about his start at NBC where he began in television production design on The Dean Martin Show. He describes his work in the 1970s on James Komack-produced series including Chico and the Man and Welcome Back, Kotter. He notes his work on several television specials, including The Richard Pryor Show and Our Town. He speaks in great detail about his design of the sets for the sitcoms Murphy Brown and Frasier. Finally, he talks about his considerable contributions to awards shows, including the Oscars, Emmys, and Grammys. Throughout the interview, Christopher discusses the craft of production design and his unique style of incorporoating contemporary ideas into his work. B-roll consists of over forty photos: the set designs for various Academy Awards and Emmy Awards shows, as well as stills from series and specials including The Dean Martin Show, The Jonathan Winters Show, The Richard Pryor Show, Our Town, The Midnight Special, Chico and the Man, Make Your Own Kind of Music, The David Steinberg Show, Frasier, and Murphy Brown. Karen Herman conducted the interview on June 30, 2006 in Los Angeles, CA.

"I'd like to teach designers how to read a script, how to break it down, how to think. What they're really paying for is your mind. They want you to be able to take verbal stuff, written stuff, and translate it into verbal terms -- that's an art. Open your mind to that. Read a poem and paint it."

Highlights
Roy Christopher on finding "Martin Crane's" chair for Frasier
01:32
Roy Christopher on his process for creating sets for Chico and the Man
02:26
Roy Christopher on working on The Dean Martin Show, and on working with the crew of the show
03:05
Roy Christopher on doing production design for Welcome Back, Kotter
03:51
Roy Christopher on designing the newsroom set on Murphy Brown, and on shifting styles from the 1980s to the 1990s and beyond
02:36
Roy Christopher on advice to aspiring production designers
01:55
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on building sets for plays in high school, and on early sets he built; on making art direction his career
On becoming an assistant art director on The Dean Martin Show; on working on The Dean Martin Show, and on working with the crew of the show
On working with Dean Martin on The Dean Martin Show; on doing art direction for The Pat Boone Show

Chapter 2

On the influence of Pop Art on the art direction on television; on the addition of "production designer" as a title in television and what the profession entails; on how production design has changed since he started, and on how computers have impacted the job
On how lighting has changed over the years; on the limitations of color shades when he started in the 1960s and 1970s; on doing production design for Chico and the Man, and on his decision to work on sitcoms; on working with producers on production design for shows like Chico and the Man, Murphy Brown, and Frasier
On his process for creating sets for Chico and the Man; on the death of Freddie Prinze, and on working with the cast of Chico and the Man; on doing production design for Welcome Back, Kotter

Chapter 3

On working with James Komack on shows like Welcome Back, Kotter; on doing production design for Hollywood Television Theatre ; on doing production design for the 1977 production of Our Town
On doing production design for The Richard Pryor Show; on dealing with changing fashions and styles over the years in production design; on doing production design for Midnight Special
On doing production design for the 1978 made-for-television movie Fame; on doing production design for All the Way Home

Chapter 4

On doing production design for Growing Pains, and for American Playhouse; on doing production design for My Sister Sam, and working with Diane English on that show
On doing production design for Murphy Brown, produced by Diane English and starring Candice Bergen, and on designing "Murphy's" apartment; on styles in the then-present (2006)
On doing production design for Wings; on doing production design for The Carol Burnett Show (1991), and on working with Carol and Lucille Ball; on how he came to do production design for Frasier

Chapter 5

On the budget he had to design Frasier, and on selecting the furniture and artwork for "Frasier Crane's" apartment; on designing different permanent sets for Frasier; on working with Kelsey Grammer on the show
On his biggest challenges in doing production design for Frasier; on staying with Frasier for its entire eleven-year run, on the end of the show, and on its popularity; on doing production design for NewsRadio and Just Shoot Me
On doing production design for Becker, starring Ted Danson; on doing production design for Freddie, starring Freddie Prinze, Jr.; on how he came to do production design for the Academy Awards, and on the first one he worked on, directed by Marty Pasetta

Chapter 6

On the process of designing the sets for the Academy Awards; on the challenge of keeping the Academy Awards fresh year after year
On how the Academy Awards have changed over the years, and on how it compares with production designing the Emmy Awards; on doing production design for the Grammys; on then-current projects
On his wife, Dorothy; on career highlights and regrets and on advice to aspiring production designers; on how he'd like to be remembered
On b-roll pictures from his career- his first Academy Awards set; 1981 Academy Awards set; 1984 Academy Awards set; 1987 Academy Awards set; 1990 Academy Awards set; 1992 Academy Awards set; 1994 Academy Awards set; 1995 Academy Awards set; 1997 Academy Awards set; 1999 Academy Awards set; 2000 Academy Awards set

Chapter 7

On b-roll pictures from his career- 2003 Academy Awards set; 2004 Academy Awards set; 2005 Academy Awards set; 2006 Academy Awards set; 2006 Academy Awards with Gil Cates; working on a sketch with his assistant; with Gil Cates; with producer Gary Smith; at a drawing table; on the set of The Jonathan Winters Show; with art director Henry Bumstead; with Karl Malden at the Motion Picture Academy; winning an Emmy Award; 1981 Emmy Awards set; Emmy Award set, 1981; set of The Richard Pryor Show; set of 1977 Our Town; The Midnight Special set; The Dean Martin Show set; set of Chico and the Man with Freddie Prinze and Jack Albertson; wide shot of Chico and the Man set; Make Your Own Kind of Music set; set of The David Steinberg Show; set of Frasier; with Ron Olsen on the set of Frasier; Murphy Brown set; with agent Larry Grossman; with his wife Dorothy Christopher; model of the Frasier set
Shows

Academy Awards, The

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Roy Christopher on how he came to do production design for the Academy Awards, and on the first one he worked on, directed by Marty Pasetta
04:09
Roy Christopher on the process of designing the sets for the Academy Awards
04:26
Roy Christopher on the logistics of the stage and moving the pieces of the set at the Academy Awards
04:40
Roy Christopher on the challenge of keeping the Academy Awards fresh year after year
01:59
Roy Christopher on how the Academy Awards have changed over the years, and on how it compares with production designing the Emmy Awards
04:18

All the Way Home

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Roy Christopher on doing production design for All the Way Home
03:09

American Playhouse

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Roy Christopher on doing production design for the American Playhouse production of "Paper Angels"
01:10

Becker

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Roy Christopher on doing production design for Becker, starring Ted Danson
02:33

Carol Burnett Show, The (1991)

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Roy Christopher on doing production design for The Carol Burnett Show (1991), and on working with Carol and Lucille Ball
04:34

Chico and the Man

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Roy Christopher on doing production design for Chico and the Man, and on his decision to work on sitcoms
04:18
Roy Christopher on working with producers on production design for shows like Chico and the Man, Murphy Brown, and Frasier
03:12
Roy Christopher on his process for creating sets for Chico and the Man
02:26
Roy Christopher on the death of Freddie Prinze, and on working with the cast of Chico and the Man
01:58

Dean Martin Show, The

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Roy Christopher on becoming an assistant art director on The Dean Martin Show
03:28
Roy Christopher on working on The Dean Martin Show, and on working with the crew of the show
03:05
Roy Christopher on working with Dean Martin on The Dean Martin Show
02:05

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Roy Christopher on how the Academy Awards have changed over the years, and on how it compares with production designing the Emmy Awards
04:18

Fame (1978)

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Roy Christopher on doing production design for the 1978 made-for-television movie Fame
01:46

Frasier

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Roy Christopher on working with producers on production design for shows like Chico and the Man, Murphy Brown, and Frasier
03:12
Roy Christopher on how he came to do production design for Frasier
02:34
Roy Christopher on the budget he had to design Frasier, and on selecting the furniture and artwork for "Frasier Crane's" apartment
04:37
Roy Christopher on finding "Martin Crane's" chair for Frasier
01:32
Roy Christopher on designing the Café Nervosa set for Frasier
01:23
Roy Christopher on designing the radio station set for Frasier
01:13
Roy Christopher on working with Kelsey Grammer on Frasier
02:15
Roy Christopher on his biggest challenges in doing production design for Frasier
01:42
Roy Christopher on staying with Frasier for its entire eleven-year run, on the end of the show, and on its popularity
03:02

Freddie

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Roy Christopher on doing production design for Freddie, starring Freddie Prinze, Jr.
02:48

Grammys, The

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Roy Christopher on doing production design for the Grammys
00:47

Growing Pains

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Roy Christopher on doing production design for Growing Pains
03:33

Hollywood Television Theatre

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Roy Christopher on doing production design for Hollywood Television Theatre
02:45

Legendary Curse of the Hope Diamond, The

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Roy Christopher on doing production design for The Legendary Curse of the Hope Diamond, and on working with director Delbert Mann
02:34

Midnight Special, The

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Roy Christopher on doing production design for The Midnight Special
03:23

Murphy Brown

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Roy Christopher on working with producers on production design for shows like Chico and the Man, Murphy Brown, and Frasier
03:12
Roy Christopher on doing production design for Murphy Brown, produced by Diane English and starring Candice Bergen, and on designing "Murphy's" apartment
04:59
Roy Christopher on designing the newsroom set on Murphy Brown, and on shifting styles from the 1980s to the 1990s and beyond
02:36

My Sister Sam

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Roy Christopher on doing production design for My Sister Sam, and working with Diane English on that show
02:42

NewsRadio

View Show Page
Roy Christopher on doing production design for NewsRadio and Just Shoot Me
02:19

Our Town

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Roy Christopher on doing production design for the 1977 production of Our Town
03:07

Pat Boone Show, The

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Roy Christopher on doing art direction for The Pat Boone Show
03:05

Richard Pryor Show, The

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Roy Christopher on doing production design for The Richard Pryor Show
03:27
Roy Christopher on tailoring the set to fit Richard Pryor's personality and comedic style for The Richard Pryor Show, and on designing around specific people in general
03:53

Welcome Back, Kotter

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Roy Christopher on doing production design for Welcome Back, Kotter
03:51
Roy Christopher on working with James Komack on shows like Welcome Back, Kotter
02:32

Wings

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Roy Christopher on doing production design for Wings
02:58
Roy Christopher on a problem he encountered when designing the set for Wings
01:22
Topics

Advice

View Topic
Roy Christopher on advice to aspiring production designers
02:04

Television Industry

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Roy Christopher on how production design has changed since he started, and on how computers have impacted the job
03:41
Roy Christopher on advice to aspiring production designers
02:04
Professions

Art Director/Set Decorator

View Profession
Roy Christopher on the influence of pop art on the art direction on television in the 1970s
03:01

Designers

View Profession
Roy Christopher on the influence of Pop Art on the art direction on television
03:01
Roy Christopher on how lighting has changed over the years
01:47
Roy Christopher on the limitations of production design in the early years
01:47
Roy Christopher on the addition of "production designer" as a title in television and what the profession entails
02:28
Roy Christopher on the limitations of color shades when he started in the 1960s and 1970s
02:15
Roy Christopher on dealing with changing fashions and styles over the years in production design
01:50
Roy Christopher on styles in the then-present (2006)
01:15
Roy Christopher on his style
01:57
Roy Christopher on advice to aspiring production designers
02:04

Production Designer

View Profession
Roy Christopher on the addition of "production designer" as a title in television and what the profession entails
02:28
Roy Christopher on the limitations of color shades when he started in the 1960s and 1970s
02:15
Roy Christopher on dealing with changing fashions and styles over the years in production design
01:50
Roy Christopher on styles in the then-present (2006)
01:15
Roy Christopher on his style
01:57
Roy Christopher on advice to aspiring production designers
02:04
Genres

Awards Shows

View Genre
Roy Christopher on how he came to production design for the Academy Awards, and on the first one he worked on, directed by Marty Pasetta
04:09
Roy Christopher on doing production design for the Emmy Awards and for the Emmy Awards
15:24
Roy Christopher on doing production design for the Grammys
00:47

Classic Anthology Series

View Genre
Roy Christopher on doing production design for Hollywood Television Theatre
02:45
Roy Christopher on doing production design for the American Playhouse production of "Paper Angels"
01:10

Comedy Series

View Genre
Roy Christopher on doing production design for sitcoms including Chico and the Man, Welcome Back, Kotter, Frasier, and Murphy Brown
15:49
Roy Christopher on working with James Komack on shows like Welcome Back, Kotter
02:32
Roy Christopher on doing production design for Growing Pains
03:33
Roy Christopher on doing production design for My Sister Sam
02:42
Roy Christopher on doing production design for Murphy Brown
07:35
Roy Christopher on doing production design for Wings
02:58
Roy Christopher on how he came to do production design for Frasier
02:34
Roy Christopher on doing production design for Frasier
17:12
Roy Christopher on doing production design for NewsRadio and Just Shoot Me
02:19
Roy Christopher on doing production design for Becker, starring Ted Danson
02:33

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

View Genre
Roy Christopher on doing art direction for The Dean Martin Show and The Pat Boone Show
11:43
Roy Christopher on doing production design for The Richard Pryor Show
07:20
Roy Christopher on doing production design for Midnight Special
03:23
Roy Christopher on doing production design for The Carol Burnett Show (1991), and on working with Carol and Lucille Ball
04:34

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

View Genre
Roy Christopher on doing production design for The Legendary Curse of the Hope Diamond, and on working with director Delbert Mann
02:34
Roy Christopher on doing production design for the 1978 made-for-television movie Fame
01:46
Roy Christopher on doing production design for All the Way Home
03:09
People

Lucille Ball

View Person Page
Roy Christopher on doing production design for The Carol Burnett Show (1991), and on working with Carol and Lucille Ball
04:34

Candice Bergen

View Person Page
Roy Christopher on doing production design for Murphy Brown, produced by Diane English and starring Candice Bergen, and on designing "Murphy's" apartment
04:59

Carol Burnett

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Roy Christopher on doing production design for The Carol Burnett Show (1991), and on working with Carol and Lucille Ball
04:34

Ted Danson

View Person Page
Roy Christopher on doing production design for Becker, starring Ted Danson
02:33

Diane English

View Interview Page
Roy Christopher on doing production design for My Sister Sam, and working with Diane English on that show
02:42
Roy Christopher on doing production design for Murphy Brown, produced by Diane English and starring Candice Bergen, and on designing "Murphy's" apartment
04:59

Kelsey Grammer

View Person Page
Roy Christopher on working with Kelsey Grammer on Frasier
02:15

James Komack

View Person Page
Roy Christopher on working with James Komack on shows like Welcome Back, Kotter
02:32

Delbert Mann

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Roy Christopher on doing production design for The Legendary Curse of the Hope Diamond, and on working with director Delbert Mann
02:34

Dean Martin

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Roy Christopher on working with Dean Martin on The Dean Martin Show
02:05

Marty Pasetta

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Roy Christopher on how he came to production design for the Academy Awards, and on the first one he worked on, directed by Marty Pasetta
04:09

Richard Pryor

View Person Page
Roy Christopher on tailoring the set to fit Richard Pryor's personality and comedic style for The Richard Pryor Show, and on designing around specific people in general
03:53

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