The Science of Laughter: An Evening with the Directing Team from The Big Bang Theory

The Science of Laughter: An Evening with the Directing Team from The Big Bang Theory

February 19, 2019 A Special Projects Committee panel discussion

In the hit CBS series The Big Bang Theory, two brilliant but socially awkward physicists and their equally geeky friends have their lives shaken up when the attractive young woman next door shows them how little they know about life outside of their insular world. On February 19, DGA members gathered in the Guild’s Los Angeles theater for the Special Projects Committee event, The Science of Laughter: An Evening with the Directing Team from The Big Bang Theory, a panel discussion with DGA members who work to bring the series to television.

Following a welcome from Special Projects Committee Chair Jeremy Kagan, the event kicked off with a screening of The Big Bang Theory episode "The D&D Vortex" directed by Mark Cendrowski. After the screening, Cendrowski and his Big Bang Theory teammates: Director/Line Producer Kristy Cecil, Director/Editor Peter Chakos, Director/Associate Director Gay Linvill, Director/2nd AD Nikki Lorre and Director/1st AD Anthony Rich, discussed what goes into bringing the show to life in a conversation moderated by Director Beth McCarthy-Miller.

You can listen to the panel by clicking the podcast episode embedded below. You can find more DGA podcast episodes here.


About the Panelists:

Mark Cendrowski Director Mark Cendrowski
Originally from the Detroit area, Cendrowski broke into the industry and joined the DGA in 1985 as a Stage Manager on the series What’s Happening Now! He continued to work his way up the ladder on series including Family Ties, Full House, Wings and All-American Girl before he began directing full-time on the sitcom Malcolm and Eddie. In addition to The Big Bang Theory, Cendrowski’s résumé includes shows like Ladies Man; The Jamie Foxx Show; The Hughleys; According to Jim; The King of Queens; Yes, Dear; Rules of Engagement; The Odd Couple; and The Big Bang Theory spinoff, Young Sheldon. He has been the recipient of two DGA Award nominations and an Emmy nomination for his work on The Big Bang Theory.


Kristy Cecil Director/Line Producer Kristy Cecil
After graduating from Penn State University’s film school, Cecil started her film and television career as a producer’s assistant on the hit multi-camera comedy, Caroline in the City. After working her way through up from Production Coordinator to Associate Producer on various shows and feature films. She has worked on The Big Bang Theory for 12 years where she went from Associate Producer and was promoted to Line Producer. Directing her first episode of The Big Bang Theory has been the highlight of her career. She has been a DGA member since 2018.


Peter Chakos Director/Editor Peter Chakos
Chakos is currently the Editor and Co-Executive Producer of The Big Bang Theory. In addition to this series, he has also edited, produced and directed several popular television shows including Cheers, Bob, Wings, Caroline in the City, Pearl, Dharma & Greg, Will & Grace, Two and a Half Men, 2 Broke Girls, Mike & Molly and Mom. He has garnered 25 Emmy nominations – including four wins. Chakos has been a DGA member since 1996.


Gay LinvillDirector/Associate Director Gay Linvill
Linvill has spent her entire career in multi-camera TV, starting as a page at NBC before maneuvering an internship on the daytime drama, Days of Our Lives, into a full-time PA job. Through 2,000 episodes on three soaps, she climbed the daytime ladder to Director and Supervising Producer and was Emmy-nominated on four directing teams. After producing and directing 300 episodes of two magazine shows and a talk show, she became the Audience Switcher for the final two seasons of the CBS sitcom Murphy Brown. Many sitcoms later, Linvill landed at The Big Bang Theory where she has been an Associate Director and Director. At the end of this season, she will have worked on over 850 sitcom episodes and 30 pilots. Linvill has been a DGA member since 1981 and won a Los Angeles-area Emmy Award for a documentary about outstanding LA women.


Nikki LorreDirector/2nd AD Nikki Lorre
Lorre started as the Stage Production Assistant on The Big Bang Theory pilot almost 12 years ago. She is now the show’s Key 2nd Assistant Director and has directed six episodes. She has also written the story for several episodes and has worked as 1st Assistant Director as well. Lorre has been a DGA member since 2008.


Anthony RichDirector/1st AD Anthony Rich
Rich has directed over 45 episodes of multi-camera comedy including 12 episodes of The Big Bang Theory and eight episodes of Mom. This season, he has directed multiple episodes of Man with a Plan, The Neighborhood and The Cool Kids. Other directing credits include episodes of 2 Broke Girls, Dr. Ken, Hot in Cleveland, Young & Hungry, The McCarthys and Kirstie. In 2014, he received a DGA Award nomination for directing “The Love Spell Potential,” an episode in the sixth season of The Big Bang Theory. A DGA member since 1991, Rich has also been the 1st Assistant Director for the entire 12-season run of The Big Bang Theory.


Beth McCarthy-MillerDirector Beth McCarthy-Miller (moderator)
A DGA member since 1994, McCarthy-Miller began her career at MTV directing such shows as MTV Unplugged, 1/2 Hour Comedy Hour, The Ben Stiller Show, MTV Video Music Awards and numerous high-profile concerts, including The Eagles: Hell Freezes Over. She later directed 11 seasons of Saturday Night Live. After leaving SNL in 2007, McCarthy-Miller directed multiple pilots and sitcoms such as Modern Family, The Good Place and 30 Rock. She has also directed dramedy projects like House of Lies; Californication; Veep, and the critically-acclaimed and award-winning series, The Kominsky Method. She has garnered 13 DGA Award nominations. She won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy Series in 2017 for the Veep episode “Chicklet” and in 2013 for the 30 Rock episode “Hogcock!/Last Lunch.” She was also nominated that year, together with Rob Ashford, in the Movies for Television and Mini-Series category for The Sound of Music Live! She was previously nominated in the Comedy Series category for 30 Rock episodes “Live from Studio 6H” in 2012, “Live Show” in 2010, “The Reunion Episode #304” in 2008 and “Somebody to Love” in 2007. She won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Musical Variety twice, in 2001 for America: A Tribute to Heroes (co-directed with Joel Gallen) and in 2000 for the “Val Kilmer and U2” episode of Saturday Night Live. She was also twice nominated in that category for Saturday Night Live episodes “Christopher Walken and The Foo Fighters” in 2003 and the 25th Anniversary episode in 1999. She was also nominated in 2015 in the Variety/Talk/News/Sports – Specials category for Adele Live in New York City.

About the Committee:

Special Projects is the educational and cultural arm of the Directors Guild of America. It provides opportunities for creative exchange with programs for members and industry colleagues to celebrate the history and achievements of its members, advance their professional skills, and prepare them for the technological changes of the future.

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