Terence Winter

Writer / Show Creator


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his four-and-a-half-hour Archive interview, Terence Winter describes his upbringing in Brooklyn, New York. He talks of attending a vocational high school (to learn auto mechanics), tells of his acceptance to NYU and to law school, and shares how he became a successful, unhappy lawyer. Winter then explains how he decided to leave New York for Los Angeles to follow his dream of becoming a sitcom writer. He recounts how he got his first agent, how he almost got hired on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and how he got a job writing for Sister, Sister. He describes the life-changing moment of getting hired as a writer on The Sopranos, speaks of working with David Chase and Matthew Weiner, and describes memorable episodes of the show, including the series finale. He talks of his development deal with HBO, which led to the creation of his own series, Boardwalk Empire. He details the characters, staff (including director Martin Scorsese), production, and storylines on the show and offers teasers for season four of the program. Karen Herman conducted the interview on June 18, 2013 in Brooklyn, New York.

"'You grow up and go to automotive high school. You graduate from that. You get into NYU which is unbelievable; you're the first person in your family to really go to college. You graduate from NYU. You get into law school. You're on partnership track in a major Manhattan law firm. You're going to quit that. You're going to move to Los Angeles, where you've never been, and you're gonna start writing scripts, which you've never written. That's your plan?' And I said, 'Yeah. And I know I'm right. I know this is my destiny.'"

Highlights
Terence Winter on teasers for season four of Boardwalk Empire
01:02
Terence Winter on wanting to become a sitcom writer and moving to LA
04:03
Terence Winter on directing and writing The Sopranos episode - "Walk Like a Man"
04:54
Terence Winter on writing characters for The Sopranos - "Tony Soprano"
04:46
Terence Winter on Martin Scorsese directing the pilot of Boardwalk Empire  
03:08
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on his father's death; on discovering crime and attending a vocational high school
23:50
On considering a career in the deli business; on learning he had a talent for writing and getting accepted to NYU; on working at night and being a full-time student during the day
13:08
On entering law school, knowing it wasn't for him, yet still graduating; on working for Merrill Lynch while in law school (during the late 1980s); on passing the New York Bar Exam, getting a job as an attorney, and being miserable
10:30
On beginning to learn about television and film writing; on wanting to become a sitcom writer and becoming a stand-up comic; on his mother's death and moving to Los Angeles; on writing spec scripts

Chapter 2

On writing a spec script for Doogie Howser M.D. and not getting hired; on writing additional specs and getting a day job as a paralegal
06:33
On getting an agent (at least on paper); on almost getting hired as a writer on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
05:16
On getting accepted to the Warner Bros. sitcom writers' workshop; on getting hired as a staff writer on the drama The Great Defender
05:49
On writing for The Cosby Mysteries; on writing for Xena:Warrior Princess and The New Adventures of Flipper
09:20
On writing for Sister, Sister; on almost investing in AOL and instead losing his nest egg; on interviewing for The Parent 'Hood, not getting a job, and falling into depression for a year
13:28
On writing for Diresta and The PJs
04:20
On getting hired to write for season two of The Sopranos; on the buzz surrounding the series, David Chase as a mentor, and writing comedy and drama into the scripts
14:27

Chapter 3

On the success of The Sopranos; on rules for writing The Sopranos and the writers' room on the show; on Steve Buscemi's work on The Sopranos
11:13
On writing the characters and relationships on The Sopranos
15:04
On story ideas on The Sopranos taken from his real life; on appearing on camera
04:00
On memorable episodes of the show; on the impact of 9/11 on The Sopranos
22:01
On working with David Chase, creator of The Sopranos
05:54

Chapter 4

On working with the other writers on The Sopranos; on planning the end of The Sopranos; on the series finale
12:05
On his development deal with HBO that led to the creation of Boardwalk Empire; on the budget for and development of the characters for the pilot of Boardwalk Empire; on Martin Scorsese directing the pilot
21:02
On casting and plotting out Boardwalk Empire
09:52
On the characters on Boardwalk Empire
16:40

Chapter 5

On the characters on Boardwalk Empire contd.; on a typical production week and working with HBO
08:19
On the opening sequence and music of the show; on his favorite episodes of Boardwalk Empire; on teasers for season four
13:32
On then-current projects aside from Boardwalk Empire; on career highlights and regrets and where he sees himself in ten years; on advice to an aspiring writer
09:22
Shows

Boardwalk Empire

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Terence Winter on his development deal with HBO that led to the creation of Boardwalk Empire
05:30
Terence Winter on his research for creating Boardwalk Empire, writing the pilot, and Martin Scorsese wanting to direct it
02:23
Terence Winter on the budget for and development of the characters for the pilot of Boardwalk Empire
04:40
Terence Winter on hiring a writing staff and gearing up for production on Boardwalk Empire  
05:21
Terence Winter on Martin Scorsese directing the pilot of Boardwalk Empire  
03:08
Terence Winter on casting Boardwalk Empire
07:09
Terence Winter on plotting out Boardwalk Empire
02:43
Terence Winter on the characters on Boardwalk Empire - "Enoch 'Nucky' Thompson"
02:30
Terence Winter on the characters on Boardwalk Empire - "Jimmy Darmody," his incest storyline with his mother "Gillian Darmody," and "Jimmy's" death
07:16
Terence Winter on the characters on Boardwalk Empire - "Gyp Rosetti"
01:52
Terence Winter on coming up with ways to kill characters on Boardwalk Empire
Terence Winter on the characters on Boardwalk Empire - "Margaret Schroeder"
01:55
Terence Winter on the characters on Boardwalk Empire - "Agent Nelson Van Alden"
01:31
Terence Winter on the characters on Boardwalk Empire - "Chalky White" and his relationship with "Nucky Thompson"
03:12
Terence Winter on the storylines on Boardwalk Empire
01:32
Terence Winter on a typical production schedule on Boardwalk Empire
01:41
Terence Winter on his working relationship with HBO (while doing Boardwalk Empire)
01:27
Terence Winter on the opening sequence of Boardwalk Empire
02:48
Terence Winter on the music on Boardwalk Empire
02:32
Terence Winter on the characters on Boardwalk Empire - "Eddie Cantor"
01:55
Terence Winter on his favorite episodes of Boardwalk Empire
01:38
Terence Winter on the press and reaction to Boardwalk Empire
01:31
Terence Winter on the fan base of Boardwalk Empire
00:57
Terence Winter on how many seasons he sees for Boardwalk Empire
01:09
Terence Winter on teasers for season four of Boardwalk Empire
01:02

Doogie Howser, M.D.

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Terence Winter on writing a Doogie Howser, M.D. spec script and expecting to get hired as a writer on the show
01:41

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The

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Terence Winter on almost getting hired as a writer on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
03:19

Mad Men

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Terence Winter on reading Matthew Weiner's pilot for Mad Men when Weiner interviewed for The Sopranos
00:57

Sister, Sister

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Terence Winter on writing for Sister, Sister and being a co-producer for one season
03:23

Sopranos, The

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Terence Winter on getting hired to write for season two of The Sopranos
08:14
Terence Winter on moving back to New York to write for The Sopranos
01:11
Terence Winter on the early writing staff of The Sopranos on season two and the buzz surrounding the show
02:36
Terence Winter on The Sopranos' David Chase as a mentor and writing comedy and drama into the scripts
02:26
Terence Winter on the success of The Sopranos
02:28
Terence Winter on rules for writing The Sopranos and the writers' room
03:48
Terence Winter on the relationship between "Christopher" and "Paulie" in the "Pine Barrens" episode of The Sopranos
04:57
Terence Winter on Steve Buscemi's work on The Sopranos
04:17
Terence Winter on writing characters for The Sopranos - "Tony Soprano"
04:46
Terence Winter on writing characters for The Sopranos - "Dr. Melfi"
01:16
Terence Winter on writing the relationship between "Tony Soprano" and "Dr. Melfi" on The Sopranos
01:50
Terence Winter on the relationship between "Tony Soprano" and "Carmela Soprano" on The Sopranos
01:43
Terence Winter on the children on The Sopranos and writing the parent-child relationships on the show
02:36
Terence Winter on writing characters for The Sopranos - "Junior Soprano"
00:51
Terence Winter on writing characters for The Sopranos - "Livia Soprano"
00:53
Terence Winter on his favorite characters to write for on The Sopranos  
01:09
Terence Winter on story ideas on The Sopranos taken from his real life
01:39
Terence Winter on appearing on camera on The Sopranos  
02:21
Terence Winter on memorable episodes of The Sopranos - "Long Term Parking" in which (SPOILER) "Adriana" gets killed
04:58
Terence Winter on The Sopranos getting darker as the seasons progressed
00:38
Terence Winter on the impact of 9/11 on The Sopranos
04:25
Terence Winter on memorable episodes of The Sopranos - "Members Only" in which (SPOILER) "Junior" shoots "Tony"
04:58
Terence Winter on memorable episodes of The Sopranos - "Live Free or Die"
02:08
Terence Winter on directing and writing The Sopranos episode - "Walk Like a Man"
04:54
Terence Winter on working with David Chase, creator of The Sopranos
05:53
Terence Winter on working with the other writers on The Sopranos
03:48
Terence Winter on planning the final season of The Sopranos
02:32
Terence Winter on the series finale of The Sopranos
03:27
Terence Winter on the legacy of The Sopranos and his biggest takeaway from the show
02:18

Sopranos, The: "Made in America"

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Terence Winter on the series finale of The Sopranos
03:27

Sopranos, The: "Members Only"

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Terence Winter on memorable episodes of The Sopranos - "Members Only" in which (SPOILER) "Junior" shoots "Tony"
04:58

Sopranos, The: "Pine Barrens"

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Terence Winter on the relationship between "Christopher" and "Paulie" in the "Pine Barrens" episode of The Sopranos
04:57

Xena: Warrior Princess

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Terence Winter on writing three episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess
02:24
Topics

9/11

View Topic
Terence Winter on the impact of 9/11 on The Sopranos
04:25

Characters & Catchphrases

View Topic
Terence Winter on writing characters for The Sopranos - "Tony Soprano"
04:46
Terence Winter on the characters on Boardwalk Empire - "Enoch 'Nucky' Thompson"
02:30

Classic TV series episodes

View Topic
Terence Winter on the series finale of The Sopranos
03:27

Creative Influences and Inspiration

View Topic
Terence Winter on The Sopranos' David Chase as a mentor and writing comedy and drama into the scripts
02:26

Drama

View Topic
Terence Winter on the series finale of The Sopranos
03:27

Fame and Celebrity

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Terence Winter on the buzz surrounding The Sopranos
02:03

Historic Events and Social Change

View Topic
Terence Winter on the impact of 9/11 on The Sopranos
04:25

Interactive Technology

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Terence Winter on how digital technology has affected his work
01:15

Memorable Moments on Television

View Topic
Terence Winter on the series finale of The Sopranos
03:27

Pivotal Career Moments

View Topic
Terence Winter on The Sopranos' David Chase as a mentor and writing comedy and drama into the scripts
02:26

Pop Culture

View Topic
Terence Winter on writing characters for The Sopranos - "Tony Soprano"
04:46
Terence Winter on the series finale of The Sopranos
03:27
Terence Winter on the characters on Boardwalk Empire - "Enoch 'Nucky' Thompson"
02:30
Terence Winter on the opening sequence of Boardwalk Empire
02:48

TV Theme Songs

View Topic
Terence Winter on the opening sequence of Boardwalk Empire
02:48

Technological Innovation

View Topic
Terence Winter on how digital technology has affected his work
01:15

Television Industry

View Topic
Terence Winter on the buzz surrounding The Sopranos
02:03
Terence Winter on the power of television
01:25
Professions

Show Creators

View Profession
Terence Winter on his development deal with HBO that led to the creation of Boardwalk Empire
05:30

Writers

View Profession
Terence Winter on wanting to become a sitcom writer
04:03
Terence Winter on rules for writing The Sopranos and the writers' room on the show
03:48
Terence Winter on directing and writing The Sopranos episode - "Walk Like a Man"
04:54
Terence Winter on working with the other writers on The Sopranos
03:48
Terence Winter on advice to an aspiring writer
00:54
Genres

Comedy Series

View Genre
Terence Winter on writing for Sister, Sister and being a co-producer for one season
03:23

Drama Series

View Genre
Terence Winter on getting hired to write for season two of The Sopranos
08:34
Terence Winter on the early writing staff of The Sopranos on season two, the buzz surrounding the show, and working with David Chase
05:02
Terence Winter on the success of The Sopranos; on rules for writing The Sopranos and the writers' room on the show; on Steve Buscemi's work on The Sopranos
11:13
Terence Winter on writing the characters and relationships on The Sopranos
15:04
Terence Winter on memorable episodes of the show; on the impact of 9/11 on The Sopranos
22:01
Terence Winter on working with David Chase, creator of The Sopranos
05:53
Terence Winter on  working with the other writers on The Sopranos; on planning the end of The Sopranos; on the series finale
12:05
Terence Winter on his development deal with HBO that led to the creation of Boardwalk Empire; on the budget for and development of the characters for the pilot of Boardwalk Empire; on Martin Scorsese directing the pilot
21:02
Terence Winter on casting and plotting out Boardwalk Empire
09:52
Terence Winter on the characters on Boardwalk Empire
16:40
Terence Winter on the characters on Boardwalk Empire contd.; on a typical production week and working with HBO
08:19
Terence Winter on the opening sequence and music of the show; on his favorite episodes of Boardwalk Empire; on teasers for season four
13:32
People

Steve Buscemi

View Person Page
Terence Winter on Steve Buscemi's work on The Sopranos
02:25
Terence Winter on casting Boardwalk Empire - Steve Buscemi as "Enoch 'Nucky' Thompson"
02:03

Eddie Cantor

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Terence Winter on the characters on Boardwalk Empire - "Eddie Cantor" (played by Stephen DeRosa)
01:55

David Chase

View Interview Page
Terence Winter on getting hired to write for season two of The Sopranos
03:15
Terence Winter on The Sopranos' David Chase as a mentor and writing comedy and drama into the scripts
02:26
Terence Winter on rules for writing The Sopranos and the writers' room
01:04
Terence Winter on writing the relationship between "Tony Soprano" and "Dr. Melfi" on The Sopranos
01:50
Terence Winter on the impact of 9/11 on The Sopranos
04:25
Terence Winter on memorable episodes of The Sopranos   - "Members Only" in which (SPOILER) "Junior" shoots "Tony"
03:34
Terence Winter on working with David Chase, creator of The Sopranos
05:53
Terence Winter on working with the other writers on The Sopranos
03:48
Terence Winter on planning the end of The Sopranos
02:32

Bill Cosby

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Terence Winter on writing for The Cosby Mysteries
00:55

James Gandolfini

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Terence Winter on the casting of The Sopranos
00:55
Terence Winter on memorable episodes of The Sopranos   - "Members Only" in which (SPOILER) "Junior" shoots "Tony"
03:34

Samuel Goldwyn, Jr.

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Terence Winter on Samuel Goldwyn, Jr. producing The New Adventures of Flipper
01:30

Robert Iler

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Terence Winter on the children on The Sopranos
01:09

Timothy Van Patten

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Terence Winter on Timothy Van Patten's dream inspiring an episode of The Sopranos
01:10
Terence Winter on memorable episodes of The Sopranos   - "Members Only" in which (SPOILER) "Junior" shoots "Tony"
03:34
Terence Winter on hiring a writing staff and gearing up for production on Boardwalk Empire  
00:11
Terence Winter on Tim Van Patten's role on Boardwalk Empire
00:41

Martin Scorsese

View Person Page
Terence Winter on his development deal with HBO that led to the creation of Boardwalk Empire
05:30
Terence Winter on his research for creating Boardwalk Empire, writing the pilot, and Martin Scorsese wanting to direct it
01:47
Terence Winter on Martin Scorsese directing the pilot of Boardwalk Empire  
03:08

Jamie-Lynn Sigler

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Terence Winter on the children on The Sopranos
01:09

Mark Wahlberg

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Terence Winter on Mark Wahlberg as a producer on Boardwalk Empire  
01:19

Matthew Weiner

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Terence Winter on Matthew Weiner writing for The Sopranos
02:13

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