Although not a well-known name to those outside the industry, Arlene Sanford became one of television's most prolific directors, with nearly 100 TV directing credits since the early '80s. Not one to be tied down by any specific genre, Sanford's directorial output spans all types of genres and mediums, including everything from multi-cam sitcoms like "Coach" (ABC 1989-1997), to made-for-TV-movies such as 2009's "12 Men of Christmas" (Lifetime). Throughout her career, Sanford has also made the leap into directing features. Her feature directorial debut came in 1996 when she helmed the spoof comedy, "A Very Brady Sequel," starring Gary Cole and Shelley Long. The film received mixed reviews, but proved that Sanford had the chops to easily helm projects on both the big and small screens. In recognition of her directorial work on TV, Sanford was honored with two Primetime Emmy nods, as well as nominations by the Director's Guild of America, thus underscoring her status as one of the small screen's most sought after and revered female directors.
A native of New York, Sanford's introduction to the world of television came in 1980 when she wrote an episode of the popular sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes" (NBC 1978-1986). Rather than continue a promising career as a sitcom writer, however, Sanford chose to spend the next five years writing, directing, and producing a short film, "Welcome Home," starring Jamie Lee Curtis. After the film made the rounds on the festival circuit, Sanford realized that she preferred working behind the camera as a director. The following year, Sanford landed one of her first small screen directing gigs, helming an episode of "Designing Women" (CBS 1986-1993). She continued directing TV shows throughout the remainder of the decade, including several episodes of one of television's first half-hour dramedies, "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd" (NBC 1987-1991), as well as various episodes of the short-lived series "Duet" (Fox 1987-89) and its sequel "Open House" (Fox 1989-1990). The latter show was best known for being the sitcom debut of a then unknown comedian named Ellen DeGeneres. In 1989 she also directed an episode of the much beloved sitcom "Newhart" (CBS 1982-1990), titled "Another Saturday Night."
Sanford continued her prolific television directing career into the 90s, winning a CableAce Award for her work on HBO's critically-acclaimed "Dream On" (1990-96), while also directing episodes of network sitcoms like "Friends" (NBC 1994-2004) and "The Naked Truth" (NBC 1995-98). Sanford's big break in features came in 1996 when she was asked to helm the broad studio comedy "A Very Brady Sequel." Although the film received mixed reviews, it opened up several new doors in Hollywood and in the years that followed Sanford directed the Jonathan Taylor Thomas-starring holiday comedy, "I'll Be Home for Christmas" (1998), as well as the made-for-TV Christmas comedies, "12 Men of Christmas" and "Good Luck Charlie: It's Christmas!" (Disney Channel, 2012). Having already been nominated for a Primetime Emmy for directing a 1999 episode of "Ally McBeal" (Fox 1997-2002), Sanford received her second Emmy nod, this time for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series, for a 2004 episode of the law firm dramedy "Boston Legal" (ABC 2004-08). Powerhouse writer and producer David E. Kelley created both series. Sanford continued her exhaustive directorial output well into the 2010s, having directed episodes of "Pretty Little Liars" (ABC Family 2010- ), "Necessary Roughness" (USA Network 2011-13) and "Franklin & Bash" (TNT 2011-14) in 2013.
Director (Feature Film)
Wrote an episode of "Diff'rent Strokes"
Wrote, produced, and directed the short film, "Welcome Home"
Directed 11 episodes of HBO's "Dream On"
Feature directorial debut with "A Very Brady Sequel"
Directed eight episodes of "Desperate Housewives"
Directed four episodes of "Pretty Little Liars"