Will Mackenzie

Director


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

Tab

About
About this interview

In his three-and-a-half-hour Archive interview, Will Mackenzie speaks about his early television guest appearances, his voice-over work in commercials and his part in Broadway's "Hello Dolly!" He looks back on landing a semi-regular role on The Bob Newhart Show as the husband of "Carol" (Marcia Wallace). He describes his transition into directing for television, which began with a single episode of The Bob Newhart Show, an opportunity he was given by MTM Productions head Grant Tinker. He talks about his work on the sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati and how the series launched the careers of Loni Anderson and Howard Hesseman. Mackenzie gives his impressions of the chemistry between the leads of Bosom Buddies, for which he served as a season-one director. He recounts a story of a one-shot directorial job on Taxi. He expresses his difficulty in working with Nell Carter on Gimme a Break!, and how she won him over with a rendition of "Amazing Grace.” He speaks in great detail about his long tenure on the sitcom Family Ties, and he comments on each of the main cast members, discusses Michael J. Fox's rise to stardom, and recalls memorable episodes (including the dramatic "A, My Name Is Alex," in which Fox's "Alex P. Keaton" has to deal with a friend's death). He recounts working with the cast and crew of Moonlighting and his direction of one of the series' most well-known episodes, the "Taming of the Shrew"-inspired, "Atomic Shakespeare." He then talks about his work as the main director of the early episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond and his long tenure as the main series director on Reba McIntire's sitcom Reba. Other series Mackenzie discusses include Newhart and Scrubs (for which he directed, among others, an Emmy-nominated musical episode). Finally, he speaks about his career mentors (actor Barnard Hughes, among others along the way) and some of the pilots he worked on that he felt should have gone to series, including an adaptation of Driving Miss Daisy. Gary Rutkowski conducted the interview on March 7, 2008 in Sherman Oaks, CA.

"I don't think you can learn what a director goes through unless you're on the set. That's where you learn to think on your feet. You realize these changes that are thrown at you. You realize how important it is to get along with different types of people -- even if you don't necessarily respond to them in the chemistry way, or you don't like them for what they stand for, or even how rude they are to you. Your job is to get a performance out of them, not to take them home and have dinner with them. You have to go back to liking actors, loving actors, understanding actors."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Will Mackenzie on appearing in various plays on Broadway, including "Hello, Dolly"
Will Mackenzie on directing the Family Ties episode "A, My Name is Alex," featuring Michael J. Fox
Will Mackenzie on directing the Moonlighting episode "Atomic Shakespeare"
Will Mackenzie on directing Everybody Loves Raymond, starring Ray Romano and created by Phil Rosenthal
Will Mackenzie on moving to Los Angeles and on appearing on Rhoda and The Bob Newhart Show, where he learned to direct for television
Will Mackenzie on directing the Family Ties episode "Birthday Boy"
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on his earliest experiences of television; on puppeteering at an early age, and on starting acting in school
On being trained as an actor at the London Academy and later at the Actors Studio in New York City; on appearing in various plays on Broadway, including "Hello, Dolly"; on making a pilot with Jim Henson featuring the Muppets
On appearing on ABC Stage 67, and on appearing in commercials and doing voice-over; on moving to Los Angeles and on appearing on Rhoda and The Bob Newhart Show, where he learned to direct for television
On directing WKRP in Cincinnati; on directing Newhart, and on cast changes, including Peter Scolari and Julia Duffy; on directing Bosom Buddies, starring Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari
On dealing with budgets as a television director, and on where he sits on a three-camera shoot; on directing Taxi and on working with Andy Kaufman on that show

Chapter 2

On working with Carol Kane and Andy Kaufman on Taxi; on directing Gimme A Break!, starring Nell Carter; on working with Stockard Channing on various projects, and on directing Too Close For Comfort
On directing Family Ties for producer Gary David Goldberg; on a typical work week on Family Ties; on directing the Family Ties episode "A, My Name is Alex," featuring Michael J. Fox
On working with Meredith Baxter-Birney and Michael Gross on Family Ties; on Michael J. Fox's rise to fame during the first couple seasons of Family Ties; on blocking the show
On directing Moonlighting; on friction on the set of Moonlighting between Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd, and on the logistics of directing the show; on directing the Moonlighting episode "Atomic Shakespeare"

Chapter 3

On directing the Moonlighting episode "Atomic Shakespeare"; on directing Caroline in the City
On directing Everybody Loves Raymond; on working with the cast of Everybody Loves Raymond; on directing the episodes "The Christmas Picture" and "Boob Job" for the show
On moving to New York City to work with Christine Baranski on the series Welcome to New York; on directing the Family Ties episode "Birthday Boy"; on directing Dharma & Greg and Reba
On balancing the ensemble on Reba, and on the tone of the show; on directing Scrubs, starring Zach Braff, and on winning an Emmy Award for his work on that show

Chapter 4

On pilots he wishes had gotten picked up; on his friend and creative collaborator Barnard Hughes; on setting the tone on his sets and on helping to create title sequences
On his proudest career achievements, and on his children; on ageism in the television industry, and on advice to aspiring television directors; on his mentors, then-current projects, and on how he'd like to be remembered
Shows

ABC Stage 67

View Show Page
Will Mackenzie on appearing on ABC Stage 67, and on appearing in commercials and doing voice-over

Bob Newhart Show, The (1972-78)

View Show Page
Will Mackenzie on moving to Los Angeles and on appearing on Rhoda and The Bob Newhart Show, where he learned to direct for television
Will Mackenzie on directing The Bob Newhart Show
Will Mackenzie on working with Bob Newhart and Marcia Wallace on The Bob Newhart Show

Bosom Buddies

View Show Page
Will Mackenzie on directing Bosom Buddies, starring Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari

Caroline in the City

View Show Page
Will Mackenzie on directing Caroline in the City

Dharma & Greg

View Show Page
Will Mackenzie on directing Dharma & Greg

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

View Show Page
Will Mackenzie on directing Scrubs starring Zach Braff, and on winning an Emmy Award for his work on that show

Everybody Loves Raymond

View Show Page
Will Mackenzie on directing Everybody Loves Raymond, starring Ray Romano and created by Phil Rosenthal
Will Mackenzie on working with the cast of Everybody Loves Raymond
Will Mackenzie on directing the Everybody Loves Raymond episode "The Christmas Picture"
Will Mackenzie on directing the Everybody Loves Raymond episode "Boob Job"

Family Ties

View Show Page
Will Mackenzie on directing Family Ties for producer Gary David Goldberg
Will Mackenzie on a typical work week on Family Ties
Will Mackenzie on directing the Family Ties episode "A, My Name is Alex", featuring Michael J. Fox
Will Mackenzie on working with Meredith Baxter-Birney and Michael Gross on Family Ties
Will Mackenzie on Michael J. Fox's rise to fame during the first couple seasons of Family Ties
Will Mackenzie on blocking Family Ties
Will Mackenzie on directing the Family Ties episode "Birthday Boy"

Gimme A Break!

View Show Page
Will Mackenzie on directing Gimme A Break!, starring Nell Carter

Moonlighting

View Show Page
Will Mackenzie on directing Moonlighting
Will Mackenzie on friction on the set of Moonlighting between Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd, and on the logistics of directing the show
Will Mackenzie on directing the Moonlighting episode "Atomic Shakespeare"
Will Mackenzie on directing the Moonlighting episode "Atomic Shakespeare"

Newhart

View Show Page
Will Mackenzie on directing Newhart, and on cast changes including Peter Scolari and Julia Duffy

Reba

View Show Page
Will Mackenzie on directing Reba, starring Reba McEntire
Will Mackenzie on balancing the ensemble on Reba, and on the tone of the show

Rhoda

View Show Page
Will Mackenzie on moving to Los Angeles and on appearing on Rhoda and The Bob Newhart Show, where he learned to direct for television

Scrubs

View Show Page
Will Mackenzie on directing Scrubs, starring Zach Braff, and on winning an Emmy Award for his work on that show

Taxi

View Show Page
Will Mackenzie on directing Taxi and on working with Andy Kaufman on that show
Will Mackenzie on working with Carol Kane and Andy Kaufman on Taxi

Too Close for Comfort

View Show Page
Will Mackenzie on directing the pilot for Too Close for Comfort, starring Ted Knight

WKRP in Cincinnati

View Show Page
Will Mackenzie on directing WKRP in Cincinnati

Welcome to New York

View Show Page
Will Mackenzie on moving to New York City to work with Christine Baranski on the series Welcome to New York
Topics

Advice

View Topic
Will Mackenzie on advice to aspiring television directors

Classic TV series episodes

View Topic
Will Mackenzie on directing the Family Ties episode "A, My Name is Alex", featuring Michael J. Fox
Will Mackenzie on directing the Moonlighting episode "Atomic Shakespeare"

Comedy

View Topic
Will Mackenzie on directing the Family Ties episode "A, My Name is Alex", featuring Michael J. Fox
Will Mackenzie on directing the Moonlighting episode "Atomic Shakespeare"

Creative Influences and Inspiration

View Topic
Will Mackenzie on his friend and creative collaborator Barnard Hughes
Will Mackenzie on his mentors in the television industry

Emmy Awards

View Topic
Will Mackenzie on directing Scrubs, starring Zach Braff, and on winning an Emmy Award for his work on that show

Pivotal Career Moments

View Topic
Will Mackenzie on his friend and creative collaborator Barnard Hughes
Will Mackenzie on his mentors in the television industry

Pop Culture

View Topic
Will Mackenzie on directing the Family Ties episode "A, My Name is Alex", featuring Michael J. Fox
Will Mackenzie on directing the Moonlighting episode "Atomic Shakespeare"

Television Industry

View Topic
Will Mackenzie on pilots he wishes had gotten picked up including President of Love, starring Van Johnson
Will Mackenzie on ageism in the television industry
Will Mackenzie on advice to aspiring television directors
Professions

Directors

View Profession
Will Mackenzie on how he went about finding directing jobs early in his directing career
Will Mackenzie on dealing with budgets as a television director, and on where he sits on a three-camera shoot
Will Mackenzie on setting the tone on his sets
Will Mackenzie on participating in the creation of title sequences
Will Mackenzie on advice to aspiring television directors
Genres

Comedy Series

View Genre
Will Mackenzie on moving to Los Angeles and on appearing on Rhoda and The Bob Newhart Show, where he learned to direct for television
Will Mackenzie on directing The Bob Newhart Show
Will Mackenzie on directing WKRP in Cincinnati, Bosom Buddies, and Newhart
Will Mackenzie on directing an episode of Taxi
Will Mackenzie on working with Carol Kane and Andy Kaufman on Taxi
Will Mackenzie on directing Gimme A Break!, starring Nell Carter
Will Mackenzie on directing the pilot for Too Close for Comfort, starring Ted Knight
Will Mackenzie on directing Family Ties
Will Mackenzie on directing Caroline in the City
Will Mackenzie on directing Everybody Loves Raymond
Will Mackenzie on moving to New York City to work with Christine Baranski on the series Welcome to New York
Will Mackenzie on directing the Family Ties episode "Birthday Boy"
Will Mackenzie on directing Dharma & Greg
Will Mackenzie on directing Reba
Will Mackenzie on directing Scrubs, starring Zach Braff, and on winning an Emmy Award for his work on that show

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

View Genre
Will Mackenzie on directing Moonlighting
Will Mackenzie on directing the Moonlighting episode "Atomic Shakespeare"
People

Christine Baranski

View Person Page
Will Mackenzie on moving to New York City to work with Christine Baranski on the series Welcome to New York

Meredith Baxter-Birney

View Person Page
Will Mackenzie on working with Meredith Baxter-Birney and Michael Gross on Family Ties

Peter Boyle

View Interview Page
Will Mackenzie on working with the cast of Everybody Loves Raymond: Peter Boyle

Zach Braff

View Person Page
Will Mackenzie on directing Scrubs, starring Zach Braff, and on winning an Emmy Award for his work on that show

Nell Carter

View Person Page
Will Mackenzie on directing Gimme A Break!, starring Nell Carter

Stockard Channing

View Person Page
Will Mackenzie on working with Stockard Channing on various projects

George Clooney

View Person Page
Will Mackenzie on pilots he wishes had gotten picked up including President of Love starring Van Johnson, and a pilot with George Clooney

Julia Duffy

View Person Page
Will Mackenzie on directing Newhart, and on cast changes including Peter Scolari and Julia Duffy

Michael J. Fox

View Interview Page
Will Mackenzie on directing the Family Ties episode "A, My Name is Alex," featuring Michael J. Fox
Will Mackenzie on Michael J. Fox's rise to fame during the first couple seasons of Family Ties

Brad Garrett

View Interview Page
Will Mackenzie on working with the cast of Everybody Loves Raymond: Brad Garrett

Gary David Goldberg

View Interview Page
Will Mackenzie on directing Family Ties for producer Gary David Goldberg

Michael Gross

View Person Page
Will Mackenzie on working with Meredith Baxter-Birney and Michael Gross on Family Ties

Tom Hanks

View Person Page
Will Mackenzie on directing Bosom Buddies, starring Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari

Jim Henson

View Person Page
Will Mackenzie on making a pilot with Jim Henson, featuring the Muppets

Van Johnson

View Person Page
Will Mackenzie on pilots he wishes had gotten picked up including President of Love, starring Van Johnson, and a pilot with George Clooney

Carol Kane

View Person Page
Will Mackenzie on working with Carol Kane and Andy Kaufman on Taxi

Andy Kaufman

View Person Page
Will Mackenzie on directing Taxi and on working with Andy Kaufman on that show
Will Mackenzie on working with Carol Kane and Andy Kaufman on Taxi

Ted Knight

View Person Page
Will Mackenzie on directing the pilot for Too Close for Comfort, starring Ted Knight

Joan Plowright

View Person Page
Will Mackenzie on directing the unsold pilot Driving Miss Daisy, starring Joan Plowright

Ray Romano

View Person Page
Will Mackenzie on directing Everybody Loves Raymond, starring Ray Romano and created by Phil Rosenthal

Phil Rosenthal

View Interview Page
Will Mackenzie on directing Everybody Loves Raymond, starring Ray Romano and created by Phil Rosenthal

Peter Scolari

View Person Page
Will Mackenzie on directing Newhart, and on cast changes including Peter Scolari and Julia Duffy
Will Mackenzie on directing Bosom Buddies, starring Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari

Grant Tinker

View Interview Page
Will Mackenzie on learning to direct at MTM Productions and on working with Grant Tinker

Marcia Wallace

View Person Page
Will Mackenzie on working with Marcia Wallace on The Bob Newhart Show

All Interviews

Q
S