Walter C. Miller

Director


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 interview, Walter C. Scott talks about his early life, and his first television directing job, on NBC’s Sing Along with Mitch. He describes his experiences directing live television, including witnessing several bloopers, and directing The Bell Telephone Hour. He recounts being hired by Barbra Streisand to direct her 1967 special The Belle of 14th Street, and going on to direct several other variety specials for performers including Debbie Reynolds, Anne Bancroft, and Doug Henning. Miller details his long association as the director of The Grammy Awards, including working with artists, the technical challenges, and memorable moments. He discusses directing several other awards shows over the years, including the Country Music Awards, Tony Awards, People’s Choice Awards and the Latin Grammys. He concludes by speaking of career achievements and regrets, and advice he has given to his children about directing for television. Sally Jenkins conducted the interview on April 11, 2011 in Los Angeles, CA.

"One innovation I'd like to see on awards shows is a trap door. When a performer is going over, wrap it up, wrap it up, wrap it up and they don’t pay any attention to you, you just pull a string. It would make it a so much better awards show."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Walter C. Miller on a memorable blooper during a live broadcast of The Aldrich Family
Walter C. Miller on directing Comic Relief, with Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, and Billy Crystal
Walter C. Miller on leaving NBC to direct the Barbra Streisand special The Belle of 14th Street with choreographer Joe Layton
Walter C. Miller on directing Sinatra: Concert for the Americas and his friendship with Frank Sinatra
Walter C. Miller on a typical work day directing The Grammys, and on dealing with artists like Beyonce in relation to their performances
Walter C. Miller on Eminem and Elton John's duet on The Grammys
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on his first job in television, at NBC; on directing Sing Along with Mitch, starring Mitch Miller, and on directing a George Balanchine ballet
On his time as an engineer in the early years of NBC television, and on how that background helped him as a director; on a memorable blooper during a live broadcast of The Aldrich Family; on directing The Bell Telephone Hour, and on his music background
On a conversation he had with Milton Berle on the day of President John F. Kennedy's assassination; on filling in for the announcer on Hopalong Cassidy and on playing a prank on Don Pardo; on a blooper on The Bell Telephone Hour episode, "The Music of Romance" with Helen Hayes and Farley Granger
On leaving NBC to direct the Barbra Streisand special The Belle of 14th Street with choreographer Joe Layton; on directing various variety specials featuring Debbie Reynolds, Anne Bancroft, Jack Lemmon and Fred Astaire; on The Hallmark Hall of Fame production of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown"
On working on various variety specials with performers including Perry Como, John Denver, Johnny Cash, and the Osmonds; on directing Doug Henning's World of Magic, and on the challenges of doing magic on television; on directing Sha Na Na, which led to him directing The Grammys
On working with George Burns and Rodney Dangerfield; on directing Fame and Hangin' In; on directing Comic Relief and Liberty Weekend

Chapter 2

On directing Liberty Weekend, with Whitney Houston; on directing Sinatra: Concert for the Americas and his friendship with Frank Sinatra; on working with Jerry Lewis and Sammy Davis, Jr.
On directing HBO stand-up comedy specials for Steven Wright, Alan King, Howie Mandel, and Jerry Seinfeld; on directing Comic Relief with Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, and Billy Crystal; on directing the 1989 Presidential Inaugural Gala
On directing Dolly Parton's Christmas at Home; on directing A Capital Fourth; on directing The Country Music Awards
On directing and producing The Grammys; on the preparation he does to direct The Grammys; on a typical work day directing The Grammys, and on dealing with artists like Beyonce in relation to their performances
On how performers are chosen to be on The Grammys and on the logistics of putting on the show; on the biggest technical challenges of directing an awards show; on being unhappy with the results from a year he directed The Emmy Awards
On the experience of directing a live telecast, and on working with the performers; on how the audiences for The Grammys have changed over the years

Chapter 3

On memorable moments on The Grammys; on his longevity as The Grammys director, and on getting a special Grammy for his service; on being a consulting producer for The Grammys, and on his retirement from directing the show
On directing the Tony Awards; on various Tony Awards hosts, including Angela Lansbury and Rosie O'Donnell; on what makes a good awards show host and on directing the People's Choice Awards and the Latin Grammys
On working with Vince Gill; on liking directing more than producing, and on the challenge of doing both; on his friendship with Joseph Cates and on doing some sports directing for NBC
On advice he gave his children, who are both in the business, about directing; on how directing celebrities has changed over the years; on career achievements and regrets
On the secret to his success as a director; on how he would like to be remembered
Shows

...And Debbie Makes Six

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Walter C. Miller on directing ...And Debbie Makes Six, starring Debbie Reynolds

Aldrich Family, The

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Walter C. Miller on a memorable blooper during a live broadcast of The Aldrich Family

Annie, the Women in the Life of a Man

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Walter C. Miller on directing Annie, the Women in the Life of a Man, starring Anne Bancroft

Barbra Streisand Specials

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Walter C. Miller on leaving NBC to direct the Barbra Streisand special The Belle of 14th Street with choreographer Joe Layton

Bell Telephone Hour, The

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Walter C. Miller on directing The Bell Telephone Hour, and on his music background
Walter C. Miller on a blooper on The Bell Telephone Hour episode "The Music of Romance" with Helen Hayes and Farley Granger

Comic Relief Specials

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Walter C. Miller on directing Comic Relief for HBO
Walter C. Miller on directing Comic Relief, with Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, and Billy Crystal

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Walter C. Miller on directing 'S Wonderful, 'S Marvelous, 'S Gershwin, starring Jack Lemmon and Fred Astaire for which he won an Emmy Award
Walter C. Miller on being unhappy with the results from a year he directed The Emmy Awards

Fame (1982-87)

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Walter C. Miller on directing Fame and Hangin' In

Frank Sinatra Specials

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Walter C. Miller on directing Sinatra: Concert for the Americas and his friendship with Frank Sinatra

Grammys, The

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Walter C. Miller on directing Sha Na Na, which led to him directing The Grammys
Walter C. Miller on directing and producing The Grammys
Walter C. Miller on working with The Grammys producer Pierre Cossette
Walter C. Miller on the preparation he does to direct The Grammys
Walter C. Miller on a typical work day directing The Grammys, and on dealing with artists like Beyonce in relation to their performances
Walter C. Miller on how performers are chosen to be on The Grammys and on the logistics of putting on the show
Walter C. Miller on how the audiences for The Grammys have changed over the years
Walter C. Miller on Eminem and Elton John's duet on The Grammys
Walter C. Miller on Bono giving Frank Sinatra a lifetime achivement award on The Grammys
Walter C. Miller on his longevity as The Grammys director, and on getting a special Grammy for his service
Walter C. Miller on being an consulting producer for The Grammys, and on his retirement from directing the show

Hallmark Hall of Fame

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Walter C. Miller on the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown"

Hopalong Cassidy

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Walter C. Miller on filling in for the announcer on Hopalong Cassidy

People's Choice Awards

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Walter C. Miller on directing the People's Choice Awards and the Latin Grammys

Sha Na Na

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Walter C. Miller on directing Sha Na Na, which led to him directing The Grammys

Sing Along with Mitch

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Walter C. Miller on directing Sing Along with Mitch starring Mitch Miller, and on directing a George Balanchine ballet

Tony Awards

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Walter C. Miller on directing the Tony Awards
Walter C. Miller on various Tony Awards hosts, including Angela Lansbury and Rosie O'Donnell
Topics

Advice

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Walter C. Miller on advice he gave his children, both in the business, about directing

Bloopers

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Walter C. Miller on a memorable blooper during a live broadcast of The Aldrich Family
Walter C. Miller on a blooper on The Bell Telephone Hour episode "The Music of Romance" with Helen Hayes and Farley Granger

Emmy Awards

View Topic
Walter C. Miller on directing 'S Wonderful, 'S Marvelous, 'S Gershwin, starring Jack Lemmon and Fred Astaire for which he won an Emmy Award

Historic Events and Social Change

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Walter C. Miller on a conversation he had with Milton Berle on the day of John F. Kennedy's assassination

JFK Assassination and Funeral

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Walter C. Miller on a conversation he had with Milton Berle on the day of John F. Kennedy's assassination

Memorable Moments on Television

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Walter C. Miller on Eminem and Elton John's duet on The Grammys

Technological Innovation

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Walter C. Miller on his time as an engineer in the early years of NBC television, and on how that background helped him as a director

Television Industry

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Walter C. Miller on advice he gave his children, both in the business, about directing

Television and the Presidency

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Walter C. Miller on working as a technical director on political conventions in the 1960s
Walter C. Miller on directing the 1989 Presidential Inaugural Gala
Professions

Directors

View Profession
Walter C. Miller on how he goes about directing variety specials
Walter C. Miller on the biggest technical challenges of directing an awards show
Walter C. Miller on the experience of directing a live telecast, and on working with the performers
Walter C. Miller on liking directing more than producing, and on the challenge of doing both
Walter C. Miller on the atmosphere he likes to maintain on his sets
Walter C. Miller on advice he gave his children, who are both in the business, about directing
Walter C. Miller on how directing celebrities has changed over the years
Walter C. Miller on the secret to his success as a director
Genres

Awards Shows

View Genre
Walter C. Miller on directing The Country Music Awards
Walter C. Miller on directing and producing The Grammys
Walter C. Miller on being unhappy with the results from a year he directed The Emmy Awards
Walter C. Miller on what makes a good awards show host
Walter C. Miller on directing The Grammys
Walter C. Miller on directing the Tony Awards
Walter C. Miller on directing the People's Choice Awards and the Latin Grammys

Classic Anthology Series

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Walter C. Miller on directing The Bell Telephone Hour, and on his music background

Comedy Series

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Walter C. Miller on a memorable blooper during a live broadcast of The Aldrich Family
Walter C. Miller on directing Fame and Hangin' In

Drama Series

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Walter C. Miller on directing Fame and Hangin' In

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

View Genre
Walter C. Miller on directing Sing Along with Mitch
Walter C. Miller on leaving NBC to direct the Barbra Streisand special The Belle of 14th Street with choreographer Joe Layton
Walter C. Miller on directing ...And Debbie Makes Six starring Debbie Reynolds
Walter C. Miller on directing Annie, the Women in the Life of a Man starring Anne Bancroft
Walter C. Miller on directing 'S Wonderful, 'S Marvelous, 'S Gershwin starring Jack Lemmon and Fred Astaire for which he won an Emmy Award
Walter C. Miller on directing Doug Henning's World of Magic, and on the challenges of doing magic on television
Walter C. Miller on directing Sha Na Na
Walter C. Miller on directing Liberty Weekend
Walter C. Miller on directing Liberty Weekend, with Whitney Houston
Walter C. Miller on directing Sinatra: Concert for the Americas and his friendship with Frank Sinatra
Walter C. Miller on directing the 1989 Presidential Inaugural Gala
Walter C. Miller on directing Dolly Parton's Christmas at Home
Walter C. Miller on directing A Capital Fourth

Sports

View Genre
Walter C. Miller on doing some sports directing for NBC

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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Walter C. Miller on The Hallmark Hall of Fame production of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown"
People

Fred Astaire

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Walter C. Miller on directing 'S Wonderful, 'S Marvelous, 'S Gershwin, starring Jack Lemmon and Fred Astaire for which he won an Emmy Award

George Balanchine

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Walter C. Miller on directing Sing Along with Mitch starring Mitch Miller, and on directing a George Balanchine ballet

Anne Bancroft

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Walter C. Miller on directing Annie, the Women in the Life of a Man, starring Anne Bancroft

Milton Berle

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Walter C. Miller on a conversation he had with Milton Berle on the day of John F. Kennedy's assassination

Osmond Brothers, The

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Walter C. Miller on working on various variety specials with performers including the Osmonds

George Burns

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Walter C. Miller on working with George Burns on various specials

Johnny Cash

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Walter C. Miller on working on various variety specials with performers including Johnny Cash

Joseph Cates

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Walter C. Miller on his friendship with Joseph Cates

Perry Como

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Walter C. Miller on working on various variety specials with performers including Perry Como, John Denver, Johnny Cash, and the Osmonds

Pierre Cossette

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Walter C. Miller on working with The Grammys producer Pierre Cossette

Billy Crystal

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Walter C. Miller on directing Comic Relief with Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, and Billy Crystal

Rodney Dangerfield

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Walter C. Miller on directing Rodney Dangerfield in several specials

Sammy Davis, Jr.

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Walter C. Miller on working with Jerry Lewis and Sammy Davis, Jr.

John Denver

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Walter C. Miller on working on various variety specials with performers including John Denver

Whoopi Goldberg

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Walter C. Miller on directing Comic Relief with Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, and Billy Crystal

Helen Hayes

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Walter C. Miller on a blooper on The Bell Telephone Hour episode "The Music of Romance" with Helen Hays and Farley Granger

Doug Henning

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Walter C. Miller on directing Doug Henning's World of Magic, and on the challenges of doing magic on television

Whitney Houston

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Walter C. Miller on directing Liberty Weekend, with Whitney Houston

Alan King

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Walter C. Miller on directing HBO stand-up comedy specials for Steven Wright, Alan King, Howie Mandel, and Jerry Seinfeld

Angela Lansbury

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Walter C. Miller on various Tony Awards hosts, including Angela Lansbury and Rosie O'Donnell

Jack Lemmon

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Walter C. Miller on directing 'S Wonderful, 'S Marvelous, 'S Gershwin, starring Jack Lemmon and Fred Astaire for which he won an Emmy Award

Jerry Lewis

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Walter C. Miller on working with Jerry Lewis and Sammy Davis, Jr.

Mitch Miller

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Walter C. Miller on directing Sing Along with Mitch starring Mitch Miller, and on directing a George Balanchine ballet

Rosie O'Donnell

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Walter C. Miller on various Tony Awards hosts, including Angela Lansbury and Rosie O'Donnell

Don Pardo

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Walter C. Miller on playing a prank on Don Pardo

Dolly Parton

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Walter C. Miller on directing Dolly Parton's Christmas at Home

Debbie Reynolds

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Walter C. Miller on directing ...And Debbie Makes Six, starring Debbie Reynolds

Charles M. Schulz

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Walter C. Miller on his friendship with "Peanuts" creator Charles M. Schulz

Frank Sinatra

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Walter C. Miller on directing Sinatra: Concert for the Americas and his friendship with Frank Sinatra

Barbra Streisand

View Person Page
Walter C. Miller on leaving NBC to direct the Barbra Streisand special The Belle of 14th Street

Robin Williams

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Walter C. Miller on directing Comic Relief with Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, and Billy Crystal

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