WEINBERGER, ED

U.S. Writer-Producer

Ed Weinberger is one of television's most respected writer-producers who, along with James L. Brooks, David Davis, Allan Burns, and Stan Daniels, comprised the heart of the MTM creative team. Weinberger has received numerous awards for his work, which includes a number of successful and/or critically acclaimed series for both MTM and his own John Charles Walters Company, of which he was a partner.

Weinberger's early TV experience includes writing for The Dean Martin Show, where he was teamed with Stan Daniels, who eventually became Weinberger's writing partner at MTM. Weinberger had also been a writer for Bob Hope, traveling with him to Vietnam. In the late-1960s, Weinberger wrote a screenplay about a divorced woman who struggled to make it on her own. Although never produced, Mary Tyler Moore Show creators James L. Brooks and Allan Burns saw a copy of the script and hired Weinberger during the series' second season.

In addition to his Emmy-award winning work on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Weinberger, along with Daniels, created and produced the MTM sitcoms Phyllis, Doc, and The Betty White Show. In 1977, Weinberger, with Brooks, Davis, and Daniels, were wooed away by Paramount, which was looking to finance other independent production companies for ABC programming. The MTM alumni welcomed the change, if only because the cozy MTM atmosphere was being gradually replaced by a growing bureaucracy that hampered creativity. Brooks, Davis, Daniels and Weinberger formed the John Charles Walters Company, which produced its most famous sitcom, Taxi, in 1978.

In Taxi, Weinberger and the other members of the new creative team were able to successfully echo the quality television that had become synonymous with MTM. Much like an MTM show, Taxi was a sophisticated example of humor derived from carefully-crafted character exploration. Taxi also pursued the "work-place as family" theme so prominent in the best of MTM sitcoms. Canceled in 1982 by ABC, Taxi was picked up by NBC for a continuing season. Thus, Weinberger helped deliver a second-generation of quality television that extended into the 1980s.

In 1983, after NBC also canceled Taxi, Weinberger seemed to take a giant step backward when he co-produced Mr. Smith, a sitcom featuring a talking chimp for which Weinberger provided the voice. This was not the first time Weinberger had used his voice-over talents; the sigh in the John Charles Walters Company end credit logo is Weinberger's, as well. In 1984, Weinberger was back on the quality track when he co-wrote the Emmy-award winning pilot episode for The Cosby Show. Weinberger's later production credits also include the disappointing-yet-wildly successful series Amen, as well as the critically acclaimed-yet-unpopular sitcom Dear John.

-Michael B. Kassel

 

ED WEINBERGER. Attended Columbia University, New York City. Married: Carlene Watkins. Writer for nightclub comedians; monologues for Johnny Carson, Bob Hope in Vietnam, Dick Gregory in Mississippi, and for Dean Martin specials; creator, writer, and producer of television comedy since the 1970s, working with Stan Daniels for the early part of his career. Recipient: nine Emmy Awards.

TELEVISION SERIES (selection)

1965-74 The Dean Martin Show (writer)
1972-77 Mary Tyler Moore Show (writer and producer)
1975-76 Doc (producer)
1975-77 Phyllis (writer and producer)
1977-78 The Betty White Show (producer)
1978-83 Taxi (creator, writer, and producer)
1983 Mr. Smith (creator and producer)
1989-91 Dear John (producer)
1984-92 The Cosby Show (co-creator and writer)
1986-91 Amen (creator and producer)
1989-91 Dear John (producer)
1991-92 Baby Talk (producer)

MADE-FOR-TELEVISION MOVIE

1978 Cindy (co-writer)

FILM

1984 The Lonely Guy (co-writer)

FURTHER READING

Feuer, Jane, Paul Kerr, and Tise Vahimagi, editors. MTM: "Quality Television." London: British Film Institute, 1984.

 

See also Amen; Cosby Show; Mary Tyler Moore Show; Taxi