Will Mackenzie

Director


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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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. He 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). Lastly, 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 such as an adaptation of Driving Miss Daisy. Gary Rutkowski conducted the interview on March 7, 2008 in Sherman Oaks, California.

"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."

Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood, 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 in New York 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 Kauffman 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

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Will Mackenzie on appearing on ABC Stage 67 , and on appearing in commercials and doing voice over
04:29

Bob Newhart Show, The (1972-78)

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Will Mackenzie on moving to Los Angeles and on appearing on Rhoda and The Bob Newhart Show, where he learned to direct for television
04:23
Will Mackenzie on directing The Bob Newhart Show
02:08
Will Mackenzie on working with Bob Newhart and Marcia Wallace on The Bob Newhart Show
02:40

Bosom Buddies

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Will Mackenzie on directing Bosom Buddies starring Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari
04:10

Caroline in the City

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Will Mackenzie on directing Caroline in the City
03:00

Dharma & Greg

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Will Mackenzie on directing Dharma & Greg
02:29

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Will Mackenzie on directing Scrubs starring Zach Braff, and on winning an Emmy Award for his work on that show
06:49

Everybody Loves Raymond

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Will Mackenzie on directing Everybody Loves Raymond starring Ray Romano and created by Phil Rosenthal
04:51
Will Mackenzie on working with the cast of Everybody Loves Raymond
04:40
Will Mackenzie on directing the Everybody Loves Raymond episode "The Christmas Picture"
01:15
Will Mackenzie on directing the Everybody Loves Raymond episode "Boob Job"
02:53

Family Ties

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Will Mackenzie on directing Family Ties for producer Gary David Goldberg
05:59
Will Mackenzie on a typical work week on Family Ties
06:37
Will Mackenzie on directing the Family Ties episode "A, My Name is Alex" featuring Michael J. Fox
07:49
Will Mackenzie on working with Meredith Baxter-Birney and Michael Gross on Family Ties
03:02
Will Mackenzie on Michael J. Fox's rise to fame during the first couple seasons of Family Ties
03:44
Will Mackenzie on blocking Family Ties
03:54
Will Mackenzie on directing the Family Ties episode "Birthday Boy"
02:11

Gimme A Break!

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Will Mackenzie on directing Gimme A Break! starring Nell Carter
04:16

Moonlighting

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Will Mackenzie on directing Moonlighting
05:50
Will Mackenzie on friction on the set of Moonlighting between Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd, and on the logistics of directing the show
06:44
Will Mackenzie on directing the Moonlighting episode "Atomic Shakespeare"
01:56
Will Mackenzie on directing the Moonlighting episode "Atomic Shakespeare"
13:30

Newhart

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Will Mackenzie on directing Newhart, and on cast changes including Peter Scolari and Julia Duffy
05:11

Reba

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Will Mackenzie on directing Reba starring Reba McEntire
06:05
Will Mackenzie on balancing the ensemble on Reba, and on the tone of the show
07:34

Rhoda

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Will Mackenzie on moving to Los Angeles and on appearing on Rhoda and The Bob Newhart Show, where he learned to direct for television
04:23

Scrubs

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Will Mackenzie on directing Scrubs starring Zach Braff, and on winning an Emmy Award for his work on that show
06:49

Taxi

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Will Mackenzie on directing Taxi and on working with Andy Kaufman on that show
01:51
Will Mackenzie on working with Carol Kane and Andy Kaufman on Taxi
02:22

Too Close for Comfort

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Will Mackenzie on directing the pilot for Too Close for Comfort starring Ted Knight
05:05

WKRP in Cincinnati

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Will Mackenzie on directing WKRP in Cincinnati
04:03

Welcome to New York

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Will Mackenzie on moving to New York City to work with Christine Baranski on the series Welcome to New York
01:40
Topics

Advice

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Will Mackenzie on advice to aspiring television directors
03:03

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Will Mackenzie on his friend and creative collaborator Barnard Hughes
02:18
Will Mackenzie on his mentors in the television industry
00:59

Emmy Awards

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Will Mackenzie on directing Scrubs starring Zach Braff, and on winning an Emmy Award for his work on that show
06:49

Pivotal Career Moments

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Will Mackenzie on his friend and creative collaborator Barnard Hughes
02:18
Will Mackenzie on his mentors in the television industry
00:59

Television Industry

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Will Mackenzie on pilots he wishes had gotten picked up including President of Love starring Van Johnson
03:45
Will Mackenzie on ageism in the television industry
02:20
Will Mackenzie on advice to aspiring television directors
03:03
Professions

Directors

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Will Mackenzie on how he went about finding directing jobs early in his directing career
02:13
Will Mackenzie on dealing with budgets as a television director, and on where he sits on a three-camera shoot
04:47
Will Mackenzie on setting the tone on his sets
03:52
Will Mackenzie on participating in the creation of title sequences
01:34
Genres

Comedy Series

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Will Mackenzie on working with Carol Kane and Andy Kaufman on Taxi
02:22
Will Mackenzie on directing Gimme A Break! starring Nell Carter
04:16
Will Mackenzie on directing the pilot for Too Close for Comfort starring Ted Knight
05:05
Will Mackenzie on directing Family Ties
31:05
Will Mackenzie on directing Caroline in the City
03:00
Will Mackenzie on directing Everybody Loves Raymond
13:39
Will Mackenzie on moving to New York City to work with Christine Baranski on the series Welcome to New York
01:40
Will Mackenzie on directing the Family Ties episode "Birthday Boy"
02:11
Will Mackenzie on directing Dharma & Greg
02:29
Will Mackenzie on directing Reba
13:39
Will Mackenzie on directing Scrubs starring Zach Braff, and on winning an Emmy Award for his work on that show
06:49

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

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Will Mackenzie on directing Moonlighting
14:30
Will Mackenzie on directing the Moonlighting episode "Atomic Shakespeare"
13:30
People

Christine Baranski

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Will Mackenzie on moving to New York City to work with Christine Baranski on the series Welcome to New York
01:36

Meredith Baxter-Birney

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Will Mackenzie on working with Meredith Baxter-Birney and Michael Gross on Family Ties
03:01

Peter Boyle

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Will Mackenzie on working with the cast of Everybody Loves Raymond: Peter Boyle
04:40

Zach Braff

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Will Mackenzie on directing Scrubs starring Zach Braff, and on winning an Emmy Award for his work on that show
06:49

Nell Carter

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Will Mackenzie on directing Gimme A Break! starring Nell Carter
04:16

Stockard Channing

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Will Mackenzie on working with Stockard Channing on various projects
01:28

George Clooney

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Will Mackenzie on pilots he wishes had gotten picked up including President of Love starring Van Johnson, and a pilot with George Clooney
03:45

Julia Duffy

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Will Mackenzie on directing Newhart, and on cast changes including Peter Scolari and Julia Duffy
05:11

Michael J. Fox

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Will Mackenzie on directing the Family Ties episode "A, My Name is Alex" featuring Michael J. Fox
07:49
Will Mackenzie on Michael J. Fox's rise to fame during the first couple seasons of Family Ties
03:44

Brad Garrett

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Will Mackenzie on working with the cast of Everybody Loves Raymond: Brad Garrett
04:40

Gary David Goldberg

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Will Mackenzie on directing Family Ties for producer Gary David Goldberg
05:59

Michael Gross

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Will Mackenzie on working with Meredith Baxter-Birney and Michael Gross on Family Ties
03:01

Tom Hanks

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Will Mackenzie on directing Bosom Buddies starring Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari
04:07

Jim Henson

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Will Mackenzie on making a pilot with Jim Henson featuring the Muppets
02:33

Van Johnson

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Will Mackenzie on pilots he wishes had gotten picked up including President of Love starring Van Johnson, and a pilot with George Clooney
03:45

Carol Kane

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Will Mackenzie on working with Carol Kane and Andy Kaufman on Taxi
02:22

Andy Kaufman

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Will Mackenzie on directing Taxi and on working with Andy Kaufman on that show
01:51
Will Mackenzie on working with Carol Kane and Andy Kaufman on Taxi
02:22

Ted Knight

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Will Mackenzie on directing the pilot for Too Close for Comfort starring Ted Knight
05:04

Joan Plowright

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Will Mackenzie on directing the unsold pilot Driving Miss Daisy starring Joan Plowright
03:14

Doris Roberts

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Will Mackenzie on working with the cast of Everybody Loves Raymond: Doris Roberts
04:40

Ray Romano

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Will Mackenzie on directing Everybody Loves Raymond starring Ray Romano and created by Phil Rosenthal
04:51

Phil Rosenthal

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Will Mackenzie on directing Everybody Loves Raymond starring Ray Romano and created by Phil Rosenthal
04:51

Peter Scolari

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Will Mackenzie on directing Newhart, and on cast changes including Peter Scolari and Julia Duffy
05:11
Will Mackenzie on directing Bosom Buddies starring Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari
04:07

Grant Tinker

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Will Mackenzie on learning to direct at MTM Productions and on working with Grant Tinker
01:27

Marcia Wallace

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Will Mackenzie on working with Marcia Wallace on The Bob Newhart Show
02:40

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