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|Birth Place:||Profession:||Producer ... producer rock band member|
Tony Thomas was born into show business royalty, the son of famed comedian and successful TV producer, Danny, and at first tried performing, forming a rock band with friends from Los Angeles' University High School. The group performed on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and on "That Girl," which starred Thomas' sister, Marlo. But by the end of the 70s, he had settled into producing and in 1970 was associate producer on "Brian's Song," the award-winning TV movie about the relationship between two football teammates that crossed racial lines. On that shoot, he became close with Paul Junger Witt, the movie's producer, and in 1972 became vice president of his father's company with Witt as president. He produced "Fay" and his father's "The Practice" TV series, as well as "Satan's Triangle" and other TV movies before joining with Witt to form Witt-Thomas Productions, and with writer (of the "Maude" abortion episode) Susan Harris to form Witt-Thomas-Harris Productions in 1976. In 1977, the latter entity scored its first hit with "SOAP," the ribald, ground-breaking ABC series lampooning serials. It ran through the 1981 season, but which time Witt-Thomas-Harris had already launched its more successful spin-off, "Benson." Throughout the 80s and into the 90s, Witt-Thomas and Witt-Thomas-Harris combined to form one of the most potent sitcom suppliers in TV. While the company had its share of flops ("Tough Cookies," "The Yaegers," ""Hail to the Chief"), its reputation was far outweighed by its successes, which included "Golden Girls" (1985-82), "It's A Living" (1980-82, revived in syndication, 1985), "Empty Nest" (1988-95), and "Blossom" (1991-95). During the early 90s, the company had seven sitcoms on the airwaves at one time, including "Herman's Head," one of Fox's first successful comedies. From 1993, "The John Larroquette Show" was a critical and ratings success for NBC. Witt-Thomas also dabbled a bit in drama series with less success. It's "Beauty & The Beast" was nominated for an Emmy in 1988, but ran sporadically on CBS from 1987-90 while it tried, unsuccessfully to find an audience to match its critical acclaim. Thomas and partner Witt (Harris was only involved in some of their sitcoms) moved into film production in 1984 with the unsuccessful "First Born," about a teen protecting his mother from her cocaine-dealing boyfriend. In 1985, Witt-Thomas-Harris pacted with Disney for a film production agreement in exchange for the syndication rights to "Golden Girls." In 1989, Witt and Thomas joined Steven Haft to produce "Dead Poet's Society," in which Robin Williams was a poetry instructor at a boarding school. One of the hits of the year, Witt and Thomas arrived as feature producers, earning a best picture Oscar nomination. Yet, subsequent efforts -- with Warner Bros. from 1992 -- have not matched the success of "Poet's Society." "Final Analysis" (1992) and "Mixed Nuts" (1994) were box office disappointments. Despite his early stab at a music career and his highly visible father and sister, Tony Thomas has been known to be publicity show, rarely giving interviews. Yet, his affable, bearded face can be seen among the "A" list at Hollywood events from time to time.
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