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."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Tony Thomas on learning about show business by being around his father, Danny Thomas
Tony Thomas on leaving Screen Gems and joining Danny Thomas Productions
Tony Thomas on how The Golden Girls came about
Tony Thomas on forming Witt-Thomas Productions
Tony Thomas on advice to aspiring producers
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
On his decision to be behind the camera; on meeting his producing partner Paul Junger Witt; on producing Brian's Song

Chapter 2

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

Chapter 3

On Susan Harris; on creating Soap; on the controversy of Soap
On the cast of Soap; on the cancellation of Soap; on creating the Soap spin-off Benson

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
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

Chapter 5

On producing Empty Nest, Beauty and the Beast, Herman's Head and Blossom; on producing The Secret Lives of Men
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

Benson

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Tony Thomas on spinning Benson off from Soap
Tony Thomas on the black community's reaction to Benson and its cancellation

Blossom

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Tony Thomas on producing Herman's Head and Blossom

Brian's Song

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Tony Thomas on producing Brian's Song
Tony Thomas on casting Brian's Song
Tony Thomas on his responsibilities as Associate Producer of Brian's Song and the reaction when it aired

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

Empty Nest

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Tony Thomas on Empty Nest
Tony Thomas on producing Empty Nest

Fay

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Tony Thomas on producing Fay with Lee Grant

Golden Girls, The

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Tony Thomas on how The Golden Girls came about
Tony Thomas on casting The Golden Girls
Tony Thomas on the cast of The Golden Girls
Tony Thomas on battles with Standards and Practices over The Golden Girls
Tony Thomas on favorite episodes of The Golden Girls
Tony Thomas on The Golden Girls going off the air

Golden Palace, The

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Tony Thomas on The Golden Palace

It Takes Two

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

John Larroquette Show, The

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Tony Thomas on producing The John Larroquette Show

Practice, The (1976-77)

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Tony Thomas on producing The Practice starring his father Danny Thomas

Soap

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Tony Thomas on the genesis of Soap
Tony Thomas on why Soap was considered groundbreaking
Tony Thomas on dealing with Standards and Practices regarding Soap
Tony Thomas on Cathryn Damon as "Mary Campbell" on Soap
Tony Thomas on Katherine Helmond as "Jessica Tate" on Soap (Thomas accidentally refers to Helmond as Cathryn Damon)
Tony Thomas on Richard Mulligan as "Burt Campbell" on Soap
Tony Thomas on Robert Mandan as "Chester Tate" on Soap
Tony Thomas on the casting of Soap
Tony Thomas on Billy Crystal as "Jodie Dallas" on Soap
Tony Thomas on Robert Guillaume as "Benson DuBois" on Soap
Tony Thomas on critical and audience reaction to Soap
Tony Thomas on his day-to-day production duties on Soap
Tony Thomas on Soap's cancellation in 1981
Tony Thomas on spinning Benson off from Soap
Topics

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Tony Thomas on dealing with Standards and Practices regarding Soap
Tony Thomas on battles with Standards and Practices over The Golden Girls

Diversity in Television

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

Minorities

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

Television Industry

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

Producers

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Tony Thomas on forming Witt-Thomas Productions
Tony Thomas on his day-to-day production duties on Soap
Tony Thomas on advice to aspiring producers
Genres

Comedy Series

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Tony Thomas on producing Soap
Tony Thomas on producing The Golden Girls

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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Tony Thomas on producing Brian's Song
People

Beatrice Arthur

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Tony Thomas on the cast of The Golden Girls

James Caan

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Tony Thomas on casting Brian's Song

Billy Crystal

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Tony Thomas on Billy Crystal as "Jodie Dallas" on Soap

Cathryn Damon

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

Estelle Getty

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Tony Thomas on the cast of The Golden Girls

Lee Grant

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Tony Thomas on producing Fay with Lee Grant

Robert Guillaume

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Tony Thomas on Robert Guillaume as "Benson DuBois" on Soap

Susan Harris

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Tony Thomas on meeting Susan Harris
Tony Thomas on Susan Harris' writing

Katherine Helmond

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

Robert Mandan

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Tony Thomas on Robert Mandan as "Chester Tate" on Soap

Rue McClanahan

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Tony Thomas on the cast of The Golden Girls

Richard Mulligan

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Tony Thomas on Richard Mulligan as "Burt Campbell" on Soap

Fred Silverman

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Tony Thomas on Soap's cancellation in 1981

Marlo Thomas

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Tony Thomas on the humor in his household

Danny Thomas

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

Betty White

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Tony Thomas on the cast of The Golden Girls

Billy Dee Williams

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Tony Thomas on casting Brian's Song

Paul Junger Witt

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Tony Thomas on his first show business job at Screen Gems and meeting Paul Junger Witt
Tony Thomas on partnering with Paul Junger Witt
Tony Thomas on early projects he worked on with Paul Junger Witt
Tony Thomas on his producing partnership with Paul Junger Witt

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