"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 necessary 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."
About This Interview
Will Mackenzie was interviewed for three-and-a-half hours in Sherman Oaks, CA. Mackenzie spoke about his early television guest appearances, his voice-over work in commercials, and his part in Broadway's "Hello Dolly!" He looked back on landing a semi-regular role on The Bob Newhart Show as the husband of "Carol" (Marcia Wallace). He described 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 talked about his work on the sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati and how the series launched the careers of Loni Anderson and Howard Hesseman. He gave his impressions of the chemistry between the leads of Bosom Buddies, for which he served as a season-one director. He recounted a story of a one-shot directorial job on Taxi and how despite his appearance in the episode, how he never actually met Andy Kaufman due to his star handling. He expressed his difficulty in working with Nell Carter on Gimme a Break!, but how she won him over with a rendition of "Amazing Grace," which she sung in one episode. He spoke in great detail about his long tenure on the sitcom Family Ties. For Family Ties, he commented on each of the main cast members, discussed Michael J. Fox's rise to stardom, and discussed 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 recounted 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 talked 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 discussed included Newhart (in its early seasons) and Scrubs (for which he directed, among others, an Emmy-nominated musical episode). Lastly, he spoke 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. B-roll consisted of several photos from Mackenzie's career (on stage with Barnard Hughes, with Cybil Shepard, with Ray Romano, with Reba McEntire) as well as a certificate given to him by Patricia Heaton for a Raymond episode he directed that won her the Emmy Award. The interview was conducted by Gary Rutkowski on March 7, 2008.