"Everything doesn't have to read funny to be played as a first-rate comedy -- it's in the interpretation... Gleason used to say, 'if it's funny, it's never going to go out of style because it makes you laugh'."
About This Interview
In his five-hour Archive interview, Leonard Stern (1922-2011) discusses his introduction to show business, writing jokes for Milton Berle. He describes his work in network radio, notably his work on "The Abbott and Costello Show," which led to writing in feature films for the duo. He describes his first writing work for The Jackie Gleason Show , particularly "The Honeymooners" sketches. He describes his work as a writer with Sydney Zelinka on many of the classic Honeymooners episodes during its one-year run as a series (1955-56), including "The $99,000 Answer," "Alice and the Blonde," and "The Babysitter." Mr. Stern talks about his Emmy-winning work as a writer on The Phil Silvers Show. He talks about his work as a writer on The Steve Allen Show in the 1960s and his later work that decade as a writer-producer on such series as I'm Dickens He's Fenster and Get Smart. As the executive-producer for Get Smart during its full run from 1965-70, Stern gives a full account of the landmark satirical show. Stern describes his work as creator-writer-producer of such series as The Hero ( 1966-67), He & She (1967-70), and The Governor and J.J. (1969-72). Finally, he talks about his work as writer-producer-director of McMillan and Wife (1971-76) and Lanigan's Rabbi (1967-77) and his later work on Partners in Crime (as creator and director, 1984), and Murphy's Law (as co-executive producer, 1988-89). Mr. Stern also describes his ventures in publishing, including his co-creation with Roger Price of Mad Libs. In Part II of his interview, Stern talks about knowing Academy of Television Arts & Sciences founder Syd Cassyd and comments on the early years of the Academy and the Emmy Awards. He also talks about his participation in the 2008 feature film version of Get Smart, starring Steve Carell. Gary Rutkowski conducted the interview in Los Angeles, CA on July 13, 2000 and Jenni Matz conducted the second session of the interview on August 20, 2008.