Thomas Azzari

Production Designer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-hour Archive interview, Thomas Azzari talks about his early interest in art design and how he rose through the ranks of the CBS Art Department to become a set designer. He describes early set designing jobs on The Wild, Wild West, Gunsmoke, and Gilligan's Island, and recalls his time designing sets for The Della Reese Show and the St. Jude Children's Hospital Telethon. He discusses breaking into sitcoms with Barney Miller and Fish, as well as working on Newhart and Night Court. He then details his long association with Seinfeld, where he created hundreds of sets over the course of the show, including those for the celebrated episodes, "The Parking Garage" and "The Finale." He outlines his post-Seinfeld career, including stints on Caroline in the City, Spin City and Sports Night, speaks of changes in the industry, and discusses returning to the Seinfeld set for an arc on Curb Your Enthusiasm. Karen Herman conducted the interview on June 24, 2011 in Taos, NM.

"One of the major successes of 'Seinfeld' is that Jerry and Larry concentrated on writing. They had no production experience. I'd find out what sets they needed, how many entrances and exits there were, how many people were there in the scene. I would go away and design the sets. Then I would go to Larry and Jerry and show them what I had in mind. Eventually Larry just said to me, 'Tom, we trust you.'"

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Thomas Azzari on getting into the Art Department at CBS and becoming a set designer
Thomas Azzari on designing the bedroom set for the final Newhart episode
Thomas Azzari on set designing for the Seinfeld  episode "The Finale"
Thomas Azzari on returning to the Seinfeld set on Curb Your Enthusiasm 
Thomas Azzari on designing sets for theme parks
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on his early interest in art design; on working at CBS and becoming a set designer
On doing set design for Gunsmoke and various westerns; on set designing for Gilligan's Island and The Della Reese Show
On working for KTLA; on set designing for Fish and Barney Miller; on designing a set for the St. Jude Children's Hospital Telethon
On set designing for Newhart and working on the finale of the show; on set designing for Night Court

Chapter 2

On designing the sets for various feature films; on getting the job as set designer for Seinfeld; on the art department and cast of Seinfeld
On building the Seinfeld sets; on designing the set for the Seinfeld episode "The Parking Garage"; on working with Larry David and designing the sets for the Seinfeld episode "The Finale"
On the role of his sets on Seinfeld; on why Seinfeld was a success; on Seinfeld's influence on other sitcom productions
On designing sets for Caroline in the City, Spin City and Sports Night; on set designing for That's My Bush! and Coupling

Chapter 3

On redesigning the sets for Alice; on the products featured on Seinfeld; on designing sets for theme parks
On directing various television charity projects; on projects he's been working on since retiring from television
On teaching; on how the business and creative aspects of television have changed; on technical developments in television
On unions in television and advice to aspiring production designers; on returning to the Seinfeld set on Curb Your Enthusiasm and how he'd like to be remembered  
Shows

Alice

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Thomas Azzari on redesigning the sets for Alice

Barney Miller

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Thomas Azzari on doing set design for Fish and Barney Miller

Caroline in the City

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Thomas Azzari on set designing for Caroline in the City

Curb Your Enthusiasm

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Thomas Azzari on returning to the Seinfeld set on Curb Your Enthusiasm  

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Thomas Azzari on winning an Emmy for Fish

Fish

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Thomas Azzari on doing set design for Fish and Barney Miller
Thomas Azzari on winning an Emmy for Fish

Foley Square

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Thomas Azzari on set designing for Foley Square

Gilligan's Island

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Thomas Azzari on doing set design for Gilligan's Island

Gunsmoke

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Thomas Azzari on doing set design for Gunsmoke

Newhart

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Thomas Azzari on doing set design for Newhart

Night Court

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Thomas Azzari on doing set design for Night Court

Rawhide

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Thomas Azzari on doing set design for various westerns

Seinfeld

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Thomas Azzari on how he came to set design for Seinfeld
Thomas Azzari on set designing "Jerry"'s apartment on Seinfeld
Thomas Azzari on the job of set designing for Seinfeld
Thomas Azzari on the cast of Seinfeld
Thomas Azzari on the art department and the volume of sets at Seinfeld
Thomas Azzari on the timetable for building sets for Seinfeld
Thomas Azzari on designing the set for the Seinfeld episode "The Parking Garage"
Thomas Azzari on designing Seinfeld's New York street and various other sets
Thomas Azzari on designing the set for the Seinfeld episode "The Parking Garage" (continued)
Thomas Azzari on working with Larry David on Seinfeld
Thomas Azzari on set designing for Seinfeld after Larry David's departure
Thomas Azzari on set designing for the Seinfeld episode "The Finale"
Thomas Azzari on set designing for Tom Cherones and Andy Ackerman on Seinfeld
Thomas Azzari on how Seinfeld set a new standard for production
Thomas Azzari on why Seinfeld worked and the role of his sets on the show
Thomas Azzari on "Jerry"'s apartment and "Kramer"'s entrances on Seinfeld
Thomas Azzari on the art department on Seinfeld
Thomas Azzari on creating a graphics company with some of the Seinfeld art department
Thomas Azzari on all of the products featured on Seinfeld

Seinfeld: "The Finale"

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Thomas Azzari on set designing for the Seinfeld episode "The Finale"

Seinfeld: "The Parking Garage"

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Thomas Azzari on designing the set for the Seinfeld episode "The Parking Garage"
Thomas Azzari on designing the set for the Seinfeld episode "The Parking Garage" (continued)

Spin City

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Thomas Azzari on set designing for Spin City

Sports Night

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Thomas Azzari on set designing for Sports Night

West Wing, The

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Thomas Azzari on turning down the opportunity to set design for The West Wing

Wild Wild West, The

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Thomas Azzari on doing set design for The Wild, Wild West
Topics

Classic TV series episodes

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Thomas Azzari on designing the bedroom set for the final Newhart episode
Thomas Azzari on set designing for the Seinfeld  episode "The Finale"

Comedy

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Thomas Azzari on designing the bedroom set for the final Newhart episode
Thomas Azzari on set designing for the Seinfeld  episode "The Finale"

Memorable Moments on Television

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Thomas Azzari on designing the bedroom set for the final Newhart episode
Thomas Azzari on set designing for the Seinfeld  episode "The Finale"

Pop Culture

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Thomas Azzari on designing the bedroom set for the final Newhart episode
Thomas Azzari on set designing for the Seinfeld  episode "The Finale"

Technological Innovation

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Thomas Azzari on technological developments in television since he started his career

Television Industry

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Thomas Azzari on how the business of television has changed
Thomas Azzari on how the process of creating television has changed
Thomas Azzari on technological developments in television since he started his career
Thomas Azzari on the importance of unions in the television industry

We Laughed

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Thomas Azzari on designing the bedroom set for the final Newhart episode
Thomas Azzari on set designing for the Seinfeld  episode "The Finale"
Professions

Designers

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Thomas Azzari on designing the sets for Gunsmoke and The Wild, Wild West
Thomas Azzari on designing the set for the Seinfeld  episode "The Parking Garage"
Thomas Azzari on designing Seinfeld's New York street and various other sets
Thomas Azzari on the job of set designing for Seinfeld
Thomas Azzari on his advice to aspiring production designers 

Set Designer

View Profession
Thomas Azzari on designing the sets for Gunsmoke and The Wild, Wild West
Thomas Azzari on designing the set for the Seinfeld  episode "The Parking Garage"
Thomas Azzari on designing Seinfeld's New York street and various other sets
Thomas Azzari on the job of set designing for Seinfeld
Thomas Azzari on his advice to aspiring production designers 
Genres

Comedy Series

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Thomas Azzari on designing the set for Newhart
Thomas Azzari on doing set design for Night Court
Thomas Azzari on set designing for Seinfeld
Thomas Azzari on set designing for Spin City
Thomas Azzari on set designing for Sports Night
People

Andy Ackerman

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Thomas Azzari on set designing for Tom Cherones and Andy Ackerman on Seinfeld

Jason Alexander

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Thomas Azzari on the cast of Seinfeld

Danny Arnold

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Thomas Azzari on doing set design for Fish and Barney Miller

Tom Cherones

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Thomas Azzari on the job of set designing for Seinfeld
Thomas Azzari on set designing for Tom Cherones and Andy Ackerman on Seinfeld

Larry David

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Thomas Azzari on the job of set designing for Seinfeld
Thomas Azzari on working with Larry David on Seinfeld
Thomas Azzari on set designing for Seinfeld after Larry David's departure
Thomas Azzari on returning to the Seinfeld set on Curb Your Enthusiasm 

Sid Krofft

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Thomas Azzari on working on Sid and Marty Krofft's, The Lost Saucer

Marty Krofft

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Thomas Azzari on working on Sid and Marty Krofft's, The Lost Saucer

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

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Thomas Azzari on the cast of Seinfeld

Bob Newhart

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Thomas Azzari on designing the set for Newhart

Jerry Seinfeld

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Thomas Azzari on the job of set designing for Seinfeld
Thomas Azzari on the cast of Seinfeld

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