Thomas Carter

Actor / Director


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 Carter talks about his early years and his first roles as an actor on M*A*S*H, Good Times, and What's Happening!. He recalls getting cast on the CBS drama The White Shadow as "James 'Hollywood' Wayward" and convincing producer Bruce Paltrow to allow him to direct several episodes. He discusses his move away from acting into full-time directing and talks of directing several episodes of Hill Street Blues. He outlines directing a second pilot for the medical drama St. Elsewhere, and setting the tone of that show. Carter talks about directing the pilot of M iami Vice, and inventing the look and feel of the show, which Brandon Tartikoff had conceived as "MTV cops." He speaks of directing and producing the award-winning series Equal Justice as well as the acclaimed made-for-television movie Don King: Only in America and the miniseries A Year in the Life. He concludes by discussing race and the television industry, mentioning career highlights, and offering advice to aspiring television directors. Stephen J. Abramson conducted the interview on November 18, 2013 in Beverly Hills, CA.

"I used television as a laboratory. I thought we should be experimental: to elevate television beyond what people were seeing with light, with music, with sound. Television today is in many cases more exciting than a lot of film. That's an outgrowth of the work that we were doing back then. Cable has allowed the doors to be blown off, but I think that's where it began."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Thomas Carter on being cast as "James Hayward" on The White Shadow
Thomas Carter on the African-American cast of The White Shadow and fan reaction to the show
Thomas Carter on directing the pilot for St. Elsewhere 
Thomas Carter on directing the pilot for Miami Vice
Thomas Carter on his directing style
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on moving to Hollywood
On early acting roles; on appearing on M*A*S*H, Good Times and What's Happening!; on appearing on Szysznyk
On being cast as "James Hayward" on The White Shadow; on the premise of The White Shadow; on his character on the show
On the cast of The White Shadow and working with creator Bruce Paltrow; on fan reaction to The White Shadow and his fame; on becoming interested in directing

Chapter 2

On directing The White Shadow; on leaving The White Shadow and the end of the show; on the legacy of The White Shadow
On directing Hill Street Blues; on working with Steven Bochco and the cast of Hill Street Blues; on what he brought to the show and its legacy
On directing Fame; on directing St. Elsewhere
On the cast and legacy of St. Elsewhere; on directing the pilot for Miami Vice; on casting Miami Vice

Chapter 3

On shooting the Miami Vice pilot; on being known as "The Prince of Pilots"; on directing Under the Influence and A Year in the Life
On producing and directing Equal Justice; on addressing racial issues on Equal Justice; on winning an Emmy for the series
On directing the series Under One Roof; on the portrayal of African-Americans on television; on producing Don King: Only in America 
On his directing style; on career highlights; on advice to aspiring television directors and his legacy in television
Shows

Cop and the Kid, The

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Thomas Carter on early acting roles

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Thomas Carter on winning an Emmy for directing Equal Justice

Fame (1982-87)

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Thomas Carter on directing Fame

Good Times

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Thomas Carter on appearing on Good Times

Hill Street Blues

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Thomas Carter on directing Hill Street Blues
Thomas Carter on working with Steven Bochco on Hill Street Blues
Thomas Carter on directing the cast of Hill Street Blues
Thomas Carter on what he brought to Hill Street Blues as a director
Thomas Carter on what he learned from directing Hill Street Blues
Thomas Carter on working at MTM Productions
Thomas Carter on the legacy of Hill Street Blues

M*A*S*H

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Thomas Carter on appearing on M*A*S*H

Miami Vice

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Thomas Carter on directing the pilot for Miami Vice
Thomas Carter on casting Miami Vice
Thomas Carter on shooting Miami Vice in Miami
Thomas Carter on working with Michael Mann on Miami Vice
Thomas Carter on Jan Hammer's theme song to Miami Vice

Midnight Caller

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Thomas Carter on producing and directing Midnight Caller

St. Elsewhere

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Thomas Carter on directing the pilot for St. Elsewhere 
Thomas Carter on the cast of St. Elsewhere
Thomas Carter on the end and legacy of St. Elsewhere

Szysznyk

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Thomas Carter on early acting roles
Thomas Carter on appearing on Szysznyk and working with James Burrows

What's Happening!!

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Thomas Carter on appearing on What's Happening!

White Shadow, The

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Thomas Carter on being cast as "James Hayward" on The White Shadow
Thomas Carter on the premise of The White Shadow
Thomas Carter on his White Shadow character "James Hayward"
Thomas Carter on the challenges of playing a high school student on T he White Shadow when he was in his twenties and how the character of "James Hayward" developed
Thomas Carter on the production of The White Shadow
Thomas Carter on working with Bruce Paltrow on The White Shadow
Thomas Carter on working with Mark Tinker on The White Shadow
Thomas Carter on the cast of The White Shadow
Thomas Carter on the African-American cast of The White Shadow and fan reaction to the show
Thomas Carter on how his fame from The White Shadow affected him personally
Thomas Carter on directing his first episode of The White Shadow
Thomas Carter on leaving The White Shadow and the end of the show
Thomas Carter on the legacy of The White Shadow
Topics

Advice

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Thomas Carter on advice to aspiring television directors

Diversity in Television

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Thomas Carter on the African-American cast of The White Shadow  and fan reaction to the show
Thomas Carter on addressing racial issues in the series Equal Justice
Thomas Carter on the portrayal of African-Americans on television in 2013
Thomas Carter on dealing with racism in his career

Emmy Awards

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Thomas Carter on winning an Emmy for directing Equal Justice

Historic Events and Social Change

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Thomas Carter on the African-American cast of The White Shadow  and fan reaction to the show
Thomas Carter on addressing racial issues in the series Equal Justice
Thomas Carter on the portrayal of African-Americans on television in 2013
Thomas Carter on dealing with racism in his career

Minorities

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Thomas Carter on the African-American cast of The White Shadow  and fan reaction to the show
Thomas Carter on addressing racial issues in the series Equal Justice
Thomas Carter on the portrayal of African-Americans on television in 2013
Thomas Carter on dealing with racism in his career

Television Industry

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Thomas Carter on advice to aspiring television directors
Professions

Directors

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Thomas Carter on being known as "The Prince of Pilots"
Thomas Carter on his directing style
Thomas Carter on how being an actor helped him as a director
Thomas Carter on advice to aspiring television directors
Genres

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

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Thomas Carter on directing Hill Street Blues
Thomas Carter on directing Miami Vice  (Part 1)
Thomas Carter on directing Miami Vice (Part 2)

Drama Series

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Thomas Carter on acting in and directing The White Shadow  (Part 1) 
Thomas Carter on directing The White Shadow (Part 2)

Medical Dramas

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Thomas Carter on directing St. Elsewhere
People

Debbie Allen

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Thomas Carter on directing Fame

Steven Bochco

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Thomas Carter on working with Steven Bochco on Hill Street Blues

Joshua Brand

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Thomas Carter on directing the miniseries A Year in the Life

James Burrows

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Thomas Carter on appearing on Szysznyk  and working with James Burrows

John Falsey

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Thomas Carter on directing the miniseries A Year in the Life

Don Johnson

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Thomas Carter on casting Miami Vice

Michael Mann

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Thomas Carter on working with Michael Mann on Miami Vice

Bruce Paltrow

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Thomas Carter on the premise of The White Shadow
Thomas Carter on working with Bruce Paltrow on The White Shadow

Timothy Van Patten

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Thomas Carter on the cast of The White Shadow

Mark Tinker

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Thomas Carter on working with Mark Tinker on The White Shadow

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