Steve Levitan

Show Creator / Producer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-hour Archive interview, Steve Levitan describes his early interest in creative writing. He talks of his multiple internships in radio and television, and discusses working in television news for several years. He recalls his switch to advertising, working for the Leo Burnett agency in Chicago, and explains his desire to attempt to write for sitcoms. Levitan then outlines getting his big break and talks of his first job in the business - writing for Wings. He shares why he left Wings, how he came to work for The Larry Sanders Show, and how he became a writer on Frasier. He speaks of writing several episodes of The Critic, developing Just Shoot Me!, and working on Greg the Bunny, Stark Raving Mad, and Stacked. He then details co-creating Modern Family and starting Picture Day Productions with Christopher Lloyd. Levitan describes selecting the format of the show, chronicles the casting process, and touches on pitching the program to several networks. Karen Herman conducted the interview on June 15, 2012 at FOX studios in Los Angeles, CA.

"Get in the business with great actors who are brilliantly funny and they'll save you. You'll write brilliant scripts, hopefully most of the time, but occasionally you won't and they'll make them seem brilliant."

Highlights
Steve Levitan on Ty Burrell as "Phil Dunphy" on Modern Family
04:55
Steve Levitan on working with child actors
01:59
Steve Levitan on winning multiple Emmys for Modern Family
04:47
Steve Levitan on casting Laura San Giacomo in Just Shoot Me!
00:34
Steve Levitan on pitching a script for Wings to David Angell, Peter Casey and David Lee (creators of the show) and being asked to become a staff writer
04:55
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early years and influences; on his interest in creative writing; on not being afraid of failure
11:18
On being drawn to performing and writing in high school; on attending the University of Wisconsin at Madison and doing local radio and TV internships
09:34
On working for ABC News in Madison right after college; on aspects of working in news that he did and didn't like
07:08
On moving back to Chicago and working for Leo Burnett advertising; on the moment he considered writing for sitcoms, and making the connections that got him a job in the industry
14:08
On his first writing job for Wings; on the writers' room at Wings and almost not getting asked back for season two
16:08

Chapter 2

On writing two episodes for the animated series The Critic; on leaving Wings and writing for The Larry Sanders Show; on working on The Larry Sanders Show, feeling like he didn't know the show, and being asked to leave
18:37
On getting hired on Frasier; on what he learned from working on the show
04:16
On developing Just Shoot Me! and casting the show; on his favorite episodes of Just Shoot Me ! - including "Slow Donnie", and the finale of the show
22:40
On working on Stark Raving Mad and Greg the Bunny
07:40
On Stacked with Pamela Anderson
05:27

Chapter 3

On why he started Picture Day Productions with Christopher Lloyd
06:05
On co-creating Back to You (starring Kelsey Grammer) with Christopher Lloyd; on realizing he no longer wanted to do multi-camera shows
06:03
On co-creating Modern Family with Christopher Lloyd; on selecting the format and structure for the show
08:33
On the actors he originally had in mind for Modern Family; on pitching and casting the show
31:52
On winning Emmys for Modern Family; on then-upcoming storylines on Modern Family
06:15
Shows

Critic, The

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Steve Levitan on writing two episodes for the animated series The Critic
03:28

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Steve Levitan on winning multiple Emmys for Modern Family
04:47

Frasier

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Steve Levitan on wanting to leave Wings to work on the other David Lee/Peter Casey/David Angell show Frasier
04:15
Steve Levitan on getting hired on Frasier by Christopher Lloyd
01:54
Steve Levitan on the most important thing he learned while working on Frasier
01:00
Steve Levitan on working with Kelsey Grammer on Frasier
01:22

Just Shoot Me!

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Steve Levitan on developing the premise for Just Shoot Me !  
09:53
Steve Levitan on running his own show for the first time - Just Shoot Me !  
01:16
Steve Levitan on working with NBC on Just Shoot Me !  
01:14
Steve Levitan on his favorite episodes of Just Shoot Me ! - including "Slow Donnie"
03:41
Steve Levitan on the finale of Just Shoot Me ! and regretting leaving the day-to-day operations of the show after two-and-a-half years
02:24
Steve Levitan on the finale of Just Shoot Me ! and the show having several different timeslots over the years
00:54

Larry Sanders Show, The

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Steve Levitan on turning down working on Frasier and taking a job writing for The Larry Sanders Show
02:32
Steve Levitan on getting hired to write for The Larry Sanders Show and suddenly becoming showrunner
02:35
Steve Levitan on working on The Larry Sanders Show, feeling like he didn't know the show, and being asked to leave
06:02

Modern Family

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Steve Levitan on writing a pilot that would become true to life when Modern Family went on the air
00:42
Steve Levitan on how he and Christopher Lloyd co-created Modern Family
02:37
Steve Levitan on selecting the format and structure for Modern Family
05:56
Steve Levitan on the actors he originally had in mind for Modern Family
00:41
Steve Levitan on pitching Modern Family and deciding to go with ABC
03:12
Steve Levitan on pitching Modern Family and deciding to go with ABC
00:33
Steve Levitan on the characters and the actors who portray them on Modern Family
20:02
Steve Levitan on using storylines taken from his real life on Modern Family
02:42
Steve Levitan on casting Ariel Winter and Nolan Gould on Modern Family
04:42
Steve Levitan on winning multiple Emmys for Modern Family
04:47
Steve Levitan on then-upcoming storylines on Modern Family
01:18

Wings

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Steve Levitan on how he got his first writing job at Wings
06:42
Steve Levitan on what happened to his initial story idea for a script at Wings
01:13
Steve Levitan on the writers' room at Wings and almost not getting asked back for season two
06:37
Steve Levitan on his increased role at Wings and leaving after four years
06:26

Wonder Years, The

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Steve Levitan on writing a spec script for The Wonder Years and making the connections that got him a job in the industry
04:13
Topics

Characters & Catchphrases

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Steve Levitan on Ed O'Neill as "Jay Pritchett" on Modern Family
01:45
Steve Levitan on Sofia Vergara as "Gloria Delgado-Pritchett" on Modern Family
03:17
Steve Levitan on Julie Bowen as "Claire Dunphy" on Modern Family
02:49
Steve Levitan on Ty Burrell as "Phil Dunphy" on Modern Family
04:55
Steve Levitan on Jesse Tyler Ferguson as "Mitchell Pritchett" on Modern Family
01:07
Steve Levitan on Eric Stonestreet as "Cameron Tucker" on Modern Family
01:42
Steve Levitan on Rico Rodriguez as "Manny Delgado" on Modern Family
03:01
Steve Levitan on Sarah Hyland as "Haley Dunphy" on Modern Family
01:19
Steve Levitan on Ariel Winter as "Alex Dunphy" on Modern Family
01:27
Steve Levitan on Nolan Gould as "Luke Dunphy" on Modern Family
01:16

Diversity in Television

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Steve Levitan on wanting to have a gay couple raising a child as one of the central families on Modern Family
00:37

Emmy Awards

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Steve Levitan on winning multiple Emmys for Modern Family
04:47

LGBTQ

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Steve Levitan on wanting to have a gay couple raising a child as one of the central families on Modern Family
00:37

Memorable Moments on Television

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Steve Levitan on his favorite episodes of Just Shoot Me ! - including "Slow Donnie"
03:41

Pop Culture

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Steve Levitan on Ed O'Neill as "Jay Pritchett" on Modern Family
01:45
Steve Levitan on Sofia Vergara as "Gloria Delgado-Pritchett" on Modern Family
03:17
Steve Levitan on Julie Bowen as "Claire Dunphy" on Modern Family
02:49
Steve Levitan on Ty Burrell as "Phil Dunphy" on Modern Family
04:55
Steve Levitan on Jesse Tyler Ferguson as "Mitchell Pritchett" on Modern Family
01:07
Steve Levitan on Eric Stonestreet as "Cameron Tucker" on Modern Family
01:42
Steve Levitan on Rico Rodriguez as "Manny Delgado" on Modern Family
03:01
Steve Levitan on Sarah Hyland as "Haley Dunphy" on Modern Family
01:19
Steve Levitan on Ariel Winter as "Alex Dunphy" on Modern Family
01:27
Steve Levitan on Nolan Gould as "Luke Dunphy" on Modern Family
01:16
Professions

Writers

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Steve Levitan on the moment he considered writing for sitcoms, and making the connections that got him a job in the industry
08:52
Steve Levitan on the writers' room at Wings
03:58
Genres

Comedy Series

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Steve Levitan on the writers' room at Wings and almost not getting asked back for season two
03:58
Steve Levitan on developing the premise of, casting, and running Just Shoot Me !  
22:40
Steve Levitan on co-creating and casting Modern Family
40:25
Steve Levitan on winning multiple Emmys for Modern Family and on then-upcoming storylines on the show
06:15
People

David Angell

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Steve Levitan on pitching a script for Wings to David Angell, Peter Casey and David Lee (creators of the show) and being asked to become a staff writer
04:55

Julie Bowen

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Steve Levitan on Julie Bowen as "Claire Dunphy" on Modern Family
02:49

Ty Burrell

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Steve Levitan on Ty Burrell as "Phil Dunphy" on Modern Family
04:55

Peter Casey

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Steve Levitan on pitching a script for Wings to David Angell, Peter Casey and David Lee (creators of the show) and being asked to become a staff writer
04:55

Michael Dinner

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Steve Levitan on writing a spec script for The Wonder Years and making the connections that got him a job in the industry
04:13

Kelsey Grammer

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Steve Levitan on working with Kelsey Grammer on Frasier
01:22
Steve Levitan on working on Stark Raving Mad and Kelsey Grammer being the inspiration for the show
01:09
Steve Levitan on co-creating Back to You (starring Kelsey Grammer) with Christopher Lloyd
03:57

Brad Grey

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Steve Levitan on the events that led to a meeting with Brad Grey and hearing that Garry Shandling had lost faith in Levitan
02:45

David Lee

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Steve Levitan on pitching a script for Wings to David Angell, Peter Casey and David Lee (creators of the show) and being asked to become a staff writer
04:55

Warren Littlefield

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Steve Levitan on Warren Littlefield's support of Just Shoot Me! only after the pilot aired with great ratings
00:41

Christopher Lloyd (actor)

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Steve Levitan on why he started Picture Day Productions with Christopher Lloyd
02:12
Steve Levitan on co-creating Back to You (starring Kelsey Grammer) with Christopher Lloyd
06:03

Ed O'Neill

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Steve Levitan on Ed O'Neill as "Jay Pritchett" on Modern Family
01:45

Tony Shalhoub

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Steve Levitan on being asked to remove Tony Shalhoub as the lead in Stark Raving Mad
01:37

Garry Shandling

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Steve Levitan on working with Garry Shandling on The Larry Sanders Show
05:56

David Spade

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Steve Levitan on casting David Spade in Just Shoot Me!
02:28

Sofia Vergara

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Steve Levitan on Sofia Vergara as "Gloria Delgado-Pritchett" on Modern Family
03:17

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