Tony Thomas

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, Tony Thomas talks about growing up as the son of Danny Thomas. He recalls visiting his father on the set of Make Room For Daddy, where he learned the basics of production literally "at his father's knee." He describes the start of his career at Screen Gems, where he worked as an associate producer on the acclaimed television movie Brian's Song. He speaks about teaming with producer Paul Junger Witt and their work together (later also with Susan Harris) on several successful television series. Thomas discusses his work on The Practice, starring his father, and recounts parting ways with his father's production company, which led to the creation of the controversial series Soap. He describes casting for the satirical series, issues with Standards and Practices, and some of the show's early storylines. He talks about his work on the spin-off series Benson and on several short-lived early '80's sitcoms. He then chronicles the creation, casting, and production of The Golden Girls. Thomas also outlines several later series he produced, including Blossom. Karen Herman conducted the interview in Century City on September 25, 2006.

"It occurred to me during the shooting of 'The Golden Girls' pilot -- 'What is this, All-Star game?' Watching Bea, Betty, Rue, and Estelle was like watching Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and all these guys play on the same team: a Dream Team. It was a magical moment."

Highlights
Tony Thomas on learning about show business by being around his father, Danny Thomas
10:57
Tony Thomas on leaving Screen Gems and joining Danny Thomas Productions
03:15
Tony Thomas on how The Golden Girls came about
05:15
Tony Thomas on forming Witt-Thomas Productions
05:10
Tony Thomas on advice to aspiring producers
01:50
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on humor in his household growing up and visiting his father, Danny Thomas, on the set of Make Room for Daddy
12:21
On his decision to be behind the camera; on meeting his producing partner Paul Junger Witt; on producing Brian's Song
15:42

Chapter 2

On casting Brian's Song; on joining Danny Thomas Productions; on producing Fay and The Practice
14:25
On this time working at Danny Thomas Productions; on forming Witt-Thomas Productions
13:51

Chapter 3

On Susan Harris; on creating Soap; on the controversy of Soap
10:37
On the cast of Soap; on the cancellation of Soap; on creating the Soap spin-off Benson
18:49

Chapter 4

On the cancellation of Benson; on producing I'm a Big Girl Now, It Takes Two and Hail to the Chief; on producing the feature film, "First Born"; on creating and casting The Golden Girls
14:00
On the cast of The Golden Girls; on favorite episodes of The Golden Girls; on the show's cancellation and The Golden Palace; on Empty Nest
14:06

Chapter 5

On producing Empty Nest, Beauty and the Beast, Herman's Head and Blossom; on producing The Secret Lives of Men
12:45
On the end of Witt-Thomas-Harris Productions; on advice to aspiring producers; on career achievements, regrets, and how he'd like to be remembered
Shows

Beauty and the Beast

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Tony Thomas on producing Beauty and the Beast
03:17

Benson

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Tony Thomas on spinning Benson off from Soap
02:04
Tony Thomas on the black community's reaction to Benson and its cancellation
01:15

Blossom

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Tony Thomas on producing Herman's Head and Blossom
02:37

Brian's Song

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Tony Thomas on producing Brian's Song
02:46
Tony Thomas on casting Brian's Song
01:41
Tony Thomas on his responsibilities as Associate Producer of Brian's Song and the reaction when it aired
01:31

Danny Thomas Show, The aka Make Room for Daddy

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Tony Thomas on his early home life being the inspiration for the series Make Room for Daddy
03:03

Empty Nest

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Tony Thomas on Empty Nest
01:11
Tony Thomas on producing Empty Nest
02:29

Fay

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Tony Thomas on producing Fay with Lee Grant
01:17

Golden Girls, The

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Tony Thomas on how The Golden Girls came about
05:15
Tony Thomas on casting The Golden Girls
01:10
Tony Thomas on the cast of The Golden Girls
05:43
Tony Thomas on battles with Standards and Practices over The Golden Girls
00:59
Tony Thomas on favorite episodes of The Golden Girls
03:10
Tony Thomas on The Golden Girls going off the air
01:35

Golden Palace, The

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Tony Thomas on The Golden Palace
01:28

It Takes Two

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Tony Thomas on producing It Takes Two, It's a Living, and Hail to the Chief 
02:52

John Larroquette Show, The

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Tony Thomas on producing The John Larroquette Show
02:17

Practice, The (1976-77)

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Tony Thomas on producing The Practice starring his father Danny Thomas
05:50

Soap

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Tony Thomas on the genesis of Soap
03:25
Tony Thomas on why Soap was considered groundbreaking
02:30
Tony Thomas on dealing with Standards and Practices regarding Soap
00:49
Tony Thomas on Cathryn Damon as "Mary Campbell" on Soap
01:01
Tony Thomas on Katherine Helmond as "Jessica Tate" on Soap (Thomas accidentally refers to Helmond as Cathryn Damon)
00:51
Tony Thomas on Richard Mulligan as "Burt Campbell" on Soap
00:34
Tony Thomas on Robert Mandan as "Chester Tate" on Soap
00:15
Tony Thomas on the casting of Soap
02:34
Tony Thomas on Billy Crystal as "Jodie Dallas" on Soap
01:51
Tony Thomas on Robert Guillaume as "Benson DuBois" on Soap
02:09
Tony Thomas on critical and audience reaction to Soap
02:32
Tony Thomas on his day-to-day production duties on Soap
02:43
Tony Thomas on Soap's cancellation in 1981
01:26
Tony Thomas on spinning Benson off from Soap
02:04
Topics

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Tony Thomas on dealing with Standards and Practices regarding Soap
00:49
Tony Thomas on battles with Standards and Practices over The Golden Girls
00:59

Diversity in Television

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Tony Thomas on the black community's reaction to Benson and its cancellation
01:15

Minorities

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Tony Thomas on the black community's reaction to Benson and its cancellation
01:15

Television Industry

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Tony Thomas on dealing with Standards and Practices regarding Soap
00:49
Tony Thomas on battles with Standards and Practices over The Golden Girls
00:59
Professions

Producers

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Tony Thomas on forming Witt-Thomas Productions
05:10
Tony Thomas on his day-to-day production duties on Soap
02:13
Tony Thomas on advice to aspiring producers
01:50
Genres

Comedy Series

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Tony Thomas on producing Soap
29:26
Tony Thomas on producing The Golden Girls
19:20

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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Tony Thomas on producing Brian's Song
03:12
People

Beatrice Arthur

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Tony Thomas on the cast of The Golden Girls
05:43

James Caan

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Tony Thomas on casting Brian's Song
01:41

Billy Crystal

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Tony Thomas on Billy Crystal as "Jodie Dallas" on Soap
01:51

Cathryn Damon

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Tony Thomas on Cathryn Damon as "Mary Campbell" on Soap
01:01

Estelle Getty

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Tony Thomas on the cast of The Golden Girls
05:43

Lee Grant

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Tony Thomas on producing Fay with Lee Grant
01:17

Robert Guillaume

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Tony Thomas on Robert Guillaume as "Benson DuBois" on Soap
02:09

Susan Harris

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Tony Thomas on meeting Susan Harris
02:17
Tony Thomas on Susan Harris' writing
01:37

Katherine Helmond

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Tony Thomas on Katherine Helmond as "Jessica Tate" on Soap (Thomas accidentally refers to Helmond as Cathryn Damon)
00:51

Robert Mandan

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Tony Thomas on Robert Mandan as "Chester Tate" on Soap
00:15

Rue McClanahan

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Tony Thomas on the cast of The Golden Girls
05:43

Richard Mulligan

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Tony Thomas on Richard Mulligan as "Burt Campbell" on Soap
00:34

Fred Silverman

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Tony Thomas on Soap's cancellation in 1981
01:26

Marlo Thomas

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Tony Thomas on the humor in his household
01:24

Danny Thomas

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Tony Thomas on his father Danny Thomas' interaction with an audience
03:20
Tony Thomas on dealing with this father's fame growing up
01:28
Tony Thomas on his home life being the inspiration for the series Make Room for Daddy
03:03
Tony Thomas on the humor in his household
01:24
Tony Thomas on his father Danny Thomas' reaction to his show business aspirations
01:03

Betty White

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Tony Thomas on the cast of The Golden Girls
05:43

Billy Dee Williams

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Tony Thomas on casting Brian's Song
01:41

Paul Junger Witt

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Tony Thomas on his first show business job at Screen Gems and meeting Paul Junger Witt
04:31
Tony Thomas on partnering with Paul Junger Witt
01:42
Tony Thomas on early projects he worked on with Paul Junger Witt
01:30
Tony Thomas on his producing partnership with Paul Junger Witt
00:53

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