Emmy Award-winning sitcom director Jay Sandrich dies at 89


jay sandrichis a prolific sitcom director who has won Emmy Awards for his two most frequent works on. “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Cosby Show” He died Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 89 years old.

His wife, Linda Sandrich, said the cause was dementia.

Mr. Sandrich didn’t find himself funny, but he knew how to guide funny actors in half-hour episodes. He understood the mechanics of directing (move the cameras, not the actors) and knew how to make the scenes work.

“Sitcom directors have a reputation as traffic cops because it’s a writers’ medium.” James BurrowsHis directorial credits include “Cheers,” “Frasier,” and “Will & Grace,” and who sees Mr. Sandrich as a mentor, he said over the phone. “But Jay taught me to speak up and say what I think so you can not only parrot what everyone wants, but contribute to the show.”

By 1970, Mr. Sandrich was a sitcom veteran, but he didn’t believe he was doing “something great”; At this point, his works include “He & She”, “That Girl”, “The Ghost & Mrs. Muir” and perhaps most importantly “Get Smart”. Then, after another director left, he was asked to direct the pilot episode of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

Nothing worked when the actors gathered for a trial in front of the audience.

“It was a disaster,” told the Television Academy In an interview in 2001. “I don’t think we got six laughs.”

He then told the cast to trust the material and keep rehearsing. By the time the episode was recorded, the performances sharpened and there was laughter.

It describes a moment in the scene where Mary Richards, played by Miss Moore, is interviewing Lou Grant, played by Ed Asner, for a television news job. died last month), “Ed, I remember, when he said, ‘You have guts – I hate guts,’ he did it so loudly that the audience gasped. “He had found the perfect level.”

Over the next seven years, Mr. Sandrich directed 118 more episodes of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” including the series finale, and won two Emmys for his work on the series. He has also directed other series under the banner of MTM Enterprises, Ms. Moore’s company, such as “Rhoda”, “The Bob Newhart Show”, “Phyllis” and “Lou Grant”.

In the late 1970s, he directed 53 episodes of “Soap,” a soap opera parody of Susan Harris. He directed the 1980 film “Seems Like Old Times”, written by Neil Simon and starring Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase. It was a hit, grossing $44 million—about $139 million in today’s dollars—but it didn’t make another feature film.

Jay Henry Sandrich was born on February 24, 1932 in Los Angeles. His father, Mark, was a director whose films featured the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musical “Top Hat.” His mother, Freda (Wirtschalter) Sandrich, was a housewife.

As a child, Jay saw snow for the first time on the set of “Holiday Inn” (1942) with Astaire and Bing Crosby, directed by his father. Even if the snow was plastic, it was an exciting sight.

After graduating from UCLA in 1953, where he studied theater arts and cinema, he joined the Army and made training films for the Signal Corps.

After his discharge, W. Argyle wrote to Nelson, the company’s head of production. Desilu Productions — the production company of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz — and was hired as a second assistant director. “I love Lucy,” “Our Miss Brooks” and “The Bride of December”. He later discovered that Mr. Nelson had taken the job because he had assisted his father on a film many years ago.

Mr. Sandrich was assistant director on “The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour”, the successor to “I Love Lucy”, from 1957 to 1959.

had similar positions “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and in “Make Room for Father” in which he played the leading role. Danny Thomas, where he began his directorial career.

“I remember waking up in the middle of the night,” he told the Television Academy in horror before directing the first episodes of “The Father.” “I was terrified. No one was going to listen to me.”

People listened to him for the next 40 years.

In the 1980s, he directed 100 episodes of “The Cosby Show,” for which he won two Emmys. He directed the pilot episode in 1985. “Golden Girls” and played a critical role in casting Betty White, as Rose pure character and Rue McClanahan as voluptuous Blanche, the opposite of what was originally planned – partly because Mrs. White played a similar role as Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

“Jay Sandrich, with his genius, said that if Betty played another man’s hunger, they’d think it was Sue Ann being revisited. So let’s make it a Rose” Ms. White said at the “Golden Girls” meeting in 2006: It was staged by the Paley Center in Los Angeles. Pointing to Ms. McClanahan, she added, “There’s a real neighborhood freak to play Blanche.”

Mr. Sandrich continued to work in the 21st century. His last assignment was an episode of “Two and a Half Men” in 2003.

He married Linda Silverstein in 1984. He is survived by his daughter, Wendy Steiner, in addition to him; sons Eric and Tony; and four grandchildren. His marriage to Nina Kramer ended in divorce.

Mr. Sandrich’s relationship with “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” ended when the series itself ended in 1977. Later, while the cast was rehearsing the final episode, she remembered that Mr. Asner’s emotional line “I care about you” had brought tears to her. It flows from Mr. Asner’s eyes.

And when Ms. Moore spoke about how important her coworkers were to her, Mr. Sandrich said, “My only directive to her was to keep crying away for as long as possible.”

“If you see the show,” he added, “you see the tears well, and I started crying and the audience started crying.”



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