Exclusive Preview 5: The Write Environment with Sam Simon (The Simpsons)

Posted by on December 19, 2008 in Television | 0 comments

For the fifth installment in the DVD series The Write Environment, I was fascinated and riveted by Jeffrey Berman’s interview with the very talented and accomplished comedy writer Sam Simon.

Before I discuss his interview, I wanted to offer a chronological look at Simon’s impressive contributions to the world of the television sitcom (animated and human):

1981-82: Taxi (writer/producer)
1982-85: Cheers (writer/producer)
1987: The Tracey Ullman Show (writer/producer)
1987-88: It’s Gary Shandling’s Show (writer)
1989-present: The Simpsons (writer/producer/character designer)
1994-95: The George Carlin Show (writer/producer/director)
1995: The Drew Carey Show (writer/producer/director)

In addition, Simon also directed one episode of Friends and several of The Norm Show with Norm MacDonald (whom Simon believes to be one of the funniest people he’s ever met). In addition to 20 amazing years of The Simpsons, the man has worked with and written for some of the most incredible casts and entertaining personalities in television history, from Andy Kaufman and George Carlin to Drew Carey and Tracey Ullman.

Simon has been nominated for 13 Emmy Awards, and golden evidence of his 9 wins now line the shelf behind his desk. Unlike the other writers in The Write Environment series, however, Simon’s home office does not appear to be decorated with memorabilia from any of his shows. Given that he prefers the collaborative nature of the writers room at The Simpsons to writing alone, it does not seem like he spends a great deal of time at home in that space.

Prior to this interview, I was unaware that Simon had ties to the Bay Area. He went to Stanford (where he was a cartoonist for the student paper), and created cartoons for the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner before leaving to design characters as a storyboard artist.

That Sam Simon is a man of very high intellect is quite obvious, but not in an obnoxious manner. In fact, he is quite humble and is quick to give credit to all of the writers on his shows rather than take any of his own.  Simon was actually a child prodigy, and he became one of the youngest TV showrunners ever at 23 (Taxi).

One of the many highlights from his interview include the moment when Simon addresses how he feels about Family Guy. Very interesting…

On top of Simon’s extensive career, he has an incredibly charitable spirit. He created The Sam Simon Foundation, which rescues dogs from shelters and trains them to become hearing dogs for the deaf or hard of hearing.

The holidays are fast approaching, but it’s not too late to order Sam Simon’s interview or the entire DVD series of The Write Environment for the aspiring writers and television fans in your life! Click here to order through the official store.

I would like to thank The Write Environment’s creator/host Jeffery Berman and producer/editor Amy Gollnick for the opportunity to review this series. It has been a real pleasure to learn more about the lives and processes of such well-respected television scribes.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for my last sneak peek – an interview with Doug Ellin, who created and writes Entourage!

Happy holidays and safe travels to all you, and thank you very much for taking the time to read and visit this site.

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