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All-time primetime: Phil Rosenthal

'Raymond' showrunner grew up on 'Honeymooners'

The care and feeding of an Emmy contender
All-time primetime
Ricky Gervais | Ty Burrell | Sarah Silverman | Phil Rosenthal | Ben Silverman | Taylor Holland

I think “The Honeymooners” is the grandpa of great sitcoms. It’s drop-dead funny, but it had a heart and soul. You cared about those guys.

“Your Show of Shows” is the best sketch show ever on TV, combined with the excitement and unpredictability of live television for an hour and a half every week. It was before my time, but the DVDs are readily available.

“Mary Tyler Moore” may be the best sitcom ever on TV. The writing and acting have been unsurpassed.

Steven Colbert is the Fred Astaire of comedians. I’m in awe of him — I think he’s a genius.

I didn’t see “Your Show of Shows” until I was 13 years old and someone took me to a movie theater to see a compilation. This just killed me, especially a sketch called “This Is Your Story,” which was a takeoff on “This Is Your Life.” It’s widely regarded as the funniest sketch ever done, and I have to agree.

“Honeymooners” was in reruns when I was growing up. I wanted to get into show business from seeing that show. I wanted to be Ed Norton. I didn’t know there was writing, directing and producing. I just saw him as funny: I wanted to be funny. I wanted to be him. Later, when I heard Art Carney was a fan of our show, I just about dropped dead.

All these shows have been great influences on me. I’m picking my favorites in this moment in my life, but there’s so many more that I love. “The Odd Couple” is just a classic sitcom with great writing and acting. Fantastic writing and acting, that’s what these great shows have in common.

The sitcoms I loved were the sitcoms that always took place on Planet Earth. They were real, believable and relatable, and didn’t break the reality for the sake of a joke, which made you care about the characters more. They were believable as human beings.

“The Simpsons” is just brilliant satire and one of the best shows ever made. It just took cartoons and transcended them. This was something that was for adults, that was for kids. It was about a family, and yet it was speaking to the culture and satirizing the culture around us. It was a seminal show. I can’t imagine TV without it now.

Phil Rosenthal has been nommed for 12 Emmys, winning twice for comedy series.

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