Sam Simon

Writer / Producer


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, Sam Simon (1955-2015) talks about growing up in Beverly Hills, and shares tales of his early encounters with the likes of Elvis Presley and Groucho Marx. He describes his first show business jobs in animation, drawing for Bill Cosby's Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids and for other Filmation animated series. He chronicles breaking into sitcoms by writing a spec script for Taxi, which got produced and led to a job on the show's writing staff. Simon recounts his time as a writer and showrunner on Cheers, discusses the various personalities involved with creating and producing the show, and explains what he feels made the show a success. He outlines his time as a consultant for It's Garry Shandling's Show, as well as for The Tracey Ullman Show. He speaks of being writer, producer, and showrunner for The Simpsons in its early years, and gives his opinion on what has made the show a cultural phenomenon. He recalls various other projects, such as consulting for The Drew Carey Show, creating his poker show Sam's Game, and working with the animal rights organization, PETA. Karen Herman conducted the interview on April 13, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.

"Today in writers' rooms on sitcoms they require three jokes per page; they have checkmarks on the pages of how many jokes there are. I don't buy it. I don't think the audience cares about it, and I don't think it's good writing. 'Sam' and 'Diane' going at it for three pages where it's subtext and the audience knows there's going to be a pay off is great TV, but no one does it anymore."

Highlights
Sam Simon on how he came to write for Taxi
03:02
Sam Simon on working with Andy Kauffman as "Latka Gravis" on Taxi
02:50
Sam Simon on the development of The Simpsons  and the look of the show
03:29
Sam Simon on censorship issues on The Simpsons
04:36
Sam Simon on his advice to aspiring writers
00:30
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on growing up in Los Angeles; on drawing for animated series
On how he came to write for Taxi; on Jeff Conaway being fired from Taxi; on the writing process of the show
On the cast of Taxi; on his favorite episodes of Taxi; on the tone of the show
On the development of Cheers; on writing for Cheers; on consulting for It's Garry Shandling's Show

Chapter 2

On consulting for It's Garry Shandling's Show; on working on The Tracey Ullman Show; on the origin of The Simpsons
On developing The Simpsons; on audience and network feedback on The Simpsons; on censorship on the show
On the development of the characters on The Simpsons; on various elements of The Simpsons and the writing process; on the voiceover for the show
On leaving The Simpsons; on writing for The George Carlin Show; on consulting for The Drew Carey Show

Chapter 3

On consulting on The Drew Carey Show; on his animal activism and career as a boxing promoter; on Sam's Game
On writing for Anger Management; on how television has changed since he started; on advice to aspiring television writers
Shows

Cheers

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Sam Simon on the development of Cheers
01:35
Sam Simon on showrunning Cheers and what made the show work
03:34
Sam Simon on the legacy of Cheers
02:39

Drew Carey Show, The

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Sam Simon on consulting on The Drew Carey Show
02:16
Sam Simon on consulting on The Drew Carey Show
06:41

Friends

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Sam Simon on directing an episode of Friends and his directing in general
02:47

George Carlin Show, The

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Sam Simon on creating and writing The George Carlin Show
04:39

Howard Stern Show, The

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Sam Simon on his relationship with Howard Stern
03:12

It's Garry Shandling's Show.

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Sam Simon on consulting on It's Garry Shandling's Show
04:37
Sam Simon on consulting for It's Garry Shandling's Show
02:58

Simpsons, The

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Sam Simon on the beginning of The Simpsons
01:00
Sam Simon on making The Simpsons a series
03:52
Sam Simon on creating the world of The Simpsons
02:49
Sam Simon on the development of The Simpsons and the look of the show
03:29
Sam Simon on writing for The Simpsons
01:44
Sam Simon on his animation experience helping him with The Simpsons
00:56
Sam Simon on audience and network reaction to The Simpsons
02:08
Sam Simon on censorship issues on The Simpsons
04:36
Sam Simon on the development of the characters on The Simpsons
01:37
Sam Simon on the various elements of The Simpsons and the voiceover process
03:11
Sam Simon on his favorite Simpsons character for which to write
03:29
Sam Simon on his working relationship with Matt Groening on The Simpsons
04:38
Sam Simon on his favorite episode of The Simpsons
03:53
Sam Simon on leaving The Simpsons and becoming Executive Producer on The Simpsons
02:48
Sam Simon on the decision not to move The Simpsons forward in time
01:48

Taxi

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Sam Simon on how he came to write for Taxi
03:02
Sam Simon on Jeff Conaway being fired from Taxi
02:10
Sam Simon on writing for Taxi
03:43
Sam Simon on the writing process for Taxi
03:11
Sam Simon on the comedy of Taxi and dealing with the actors
03:10
Sam Simon on working with Andy Kauffman as "Latka Gravis" on Taxi
02:50
Sam Simon on the cast of Taxi
01:47
Sam Simon on favorite episode of Taxi and the tone of the show
04:31

Tracey Ullman Show, The

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Sam Simon on producing and directing The Tracey Ullman Show
01:44
Sam Simon on the process of writing The Tracy Ullman Show
01:04
Sam Simon on working with Tracey Ullman on The Tracey Ullman Show
01:33
Sam Simon on The Tracey Ullman Show sketches
02:39
Sam Simon on the beginning of The Simpsons
01:01

Who Wants to be A Millionaire

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Sam Simon on being a "phone-a-friend" on Who Wants to be A Millionaire
03:54
Topics

Advice

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Sam Simon on his advice to aspiring writers
00:30

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Sam Simon on censorship issues on The Simpsons
04:36

First Big Break

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Sam Simon on how he came to write for Taxi
03:02

Pivotal Career Moments

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Sam Simon on how he came to write for Taxi
03:02

Television Industry

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Sam Simon on censorship issues on The Simpsons
04:36
Sam Simon on his advice to aspiring writers
00:30
Sam Simon on how television has changed since he started
02:30
Professions

Show Creators

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Sam Simon on his advice to aspiring writers
00:30

Writers

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Sam Simon on his advice to aspiring writers
00:30
Genres

Animation

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Sam Simon on producing and writing The Simpsons
41:59

Comedy Series

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Sam Simon on writing for Taxi
24:27
Sam Simon on writing and producing Cheers
10:25
Sam Simon on consulting on It's Garry Shandling's Show  (Part 1)
04:37
Sam Simon on consulting for It's Garry Shandling's Show  (Part 2) 
02:58
Sam Simon on producing and writing The Tracey Ullman Show
07:02
People

Bill Cosby

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Sam Simon on drawing for Fat Albert and The Cosby Kids
05:08

Barry Diller

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Sam Simon on making The Simpsons a series
03:52

Matt Groening

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Sam Simon on his working relationship with Matt Groening on The Simpsons
04:38

Andy Kaufman

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Sam Simon on working with Andy Kauffman as "Latka Gravis" on Taxi
02:50

Groucho Marx

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Sam Simon on early celebrity encounters growing up in Los Angeles
03:23

Elvis Presley

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Sam Simon on early celebrity encounters growing up in Los Angeles
03:23

Garry Shandling

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Sam Simon on consulting on It's Garry Shandling's Show
04:37
Sam Simon on consulting for It's Garry Shandling's Show
02:58

Howard Stern

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Sam Simon on his relationship with Howard Stern
03:12

Tracey Ullman

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Sam Simon on working with Tracey Ullman on The Tracey Ullman Show
01:33

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