Q+A: '2 Broke Girls' Producer Tim Kaiser

Emmy-winning producer Tim Kaiser loves his hometown so much that he commutes regularly between Pittsburgh and Los Angeles.




Photos by Justin Merriman / courtesy Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
 

 

Tim Kaiser, 50, has television in his blood. His father, Lloyd Kaiser, was president of WQED for most of Tim’s childhood. The younger Kaiser grew up around the sets and got to hang with Fred Rogers himself.

After graduating from Westminster College in 1985, Kaiser worked in public television before moving to Los Angeles in 1988. Within two years, he landed his career-making gig as a producer on “Seinfeld,” where he won the first of two Emmy Awards. The second was for his work on “Will & Grace.”

Despite a thriving career in Hollywood, Kaiser says he grew homesick. Now, he commutes to LA during shooting season of the popular comedy series “2 Broke Girls,” for which he’s the co-executive producer. Kaiser rents a home there and flies back to Pittsburgh three out of four weekends a month to be with his family.
 

Why did you decide to go out West, and how did it go? 
My wife [Kristin] and I prayed about the move, and we decided to give it two years. If I didn’t make it then, we would look at it as a two-year vacation in sunny LA. We ended up staying 25 years. After several jobs as a production assistant, I landed a job running postproduction on a “Mary Tyler Moore” comeback show, which began my career.

You nixed plans to produce the show “Uncle Buck” to work on “Seinfeld.” Why? 
As you look at it now, it is a slam-dunk decision, but at the time, “Uncle Buck” was the next big hit. I was offered 13 episodes versus four on “Seinfeld,” [with “Uncle Buck” offering] almost double the money. No one really knew who Jerry [Seinfeld] was outside the comic world. I felt something really unique and different when I met with the “Seinfeld” gang. It was the controlled craziness/brilliance in a sense that intrigued me to make me take the gamble at age 26.

I suppose the real answer is that I was blessed to make the right decision. “Uncle Buck” was canceled after a few episodes, and “Seinfeld” went on for nine years and is considered by many to be the top sitcom of all time. It was the best professional decision I have ever made.

What does a TV producer actually do? 
I am brought in after the pilot script is written, and my job is to get that concept on the screen from beginning to end. I hire the crew and run the show.

Why did you come back to Pittsburgh?  For my wife and me, it was important to get back home, where we could safely raise our kids in the environment in which we were raised. We also have our families here, and we were able to reconnect and be part of each other’s lives. I am able to take care of my father in his older age, as it should be.

Your commute is intense. What effect has it had on your career? 
The bicoastal thing hasn’t really impacted me professionally in that I still get to pick and choose my projects. I kind of created this schedule. No one that I know of has ever done this at my level on a continuing series over eight months a year. I guess that makes me crazy?

What do you miss about Pittsburgh when you’re not here? 
When I am living in LA, the main [things] I miss about Pittsburgh, other than my family, [are] the spirit and loyalty of the people and the city. LA is such a big place that people don’t tend to feel like they belong anywhere. Unless LA sports teams are winning, people don’t care about them. Anyone from Pittsburgh will tell you the same thing: It’s a small town with a big heart.

Something that never gets old to me is that with all of my travel back and forth each week, I can go to the airport and not even look up my gate number. I can just walk down the terminal until I see a sea of black-and-gold jerseys with names like Lambert, Polamalu and Crosby, and then I know I am in a place that will get me home. 


Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

The Best Bars in Pittsburgh Right Now

The Best Bars in Pittsburgh Right Now

Many Pittsburgh bars have solid beer lists, well-mixed cocktails or a bartender who's handy with a shot and a story. We need more than that. What makes these bars the best?
View Pittsburgh & Its People From The 1850s Through Today

View Pittsburgh & Its People From The 1850s Through Today

#pixburgh: A Photographic Experience features images from the Sen. John Heinz History Center vault, which contains close to one million images. The show features a sampling of 400 images from the 1850s through today — including landmarks, fun, folly and floods.
In Concert: What's Next for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra?

In Concert: What's Next for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra?

Melia Tourangeau, CEO and president of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, looks to lead the ensemble forward after a discordant strike.
Restaurant Review: Umami in Lawrenceville

Restaurant Review: Umami in Lawrenceville

Umami sets the bar for izakaya openings in Pittsburgh. But its owners still have steps to take to keep raising the standard.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

See How Chess Made Le’Veon Bell a Better Running Back

See How Chess Made Le’Veon Bell a Better Running Back

Watch the video that reveals Bell’s talents that go beyond the football field.
Viral: Steelers' Most Famous Fight Song Synced to Lights

Viral: Steelers' Most Famous Fight Song Synced to Lights

See how a Leechburg man has transformed his home into the ultimate Pittsburgh Steelers shrine, but we must warn you, the song will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
RMU President Named to College Football Playoff Committee

RMU President Named to College Football Playoff Committee

Chris Howard will help decide which four teams will vie each year for college football’s national championship.
Watch: Preview of Fascinating Rachel Carson Documentary

Watch: Preview of Fascinating Rachel Carson Documentary

Carson, a native of Springdale, is credited with launching the modern environmental movement. She is the subject of a new “American Experience” documentary airing Jan. 24 on PBS.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

The Best Bars in Pittsburgh Right Now

The Best Bars in Pittsburgh Right Now

Many Pittsburgh bars have solid beer lists, well-mixed cocktails or a bartender who's handy with a shot and a story. We need more than that. What makes these bars the best?
View Pittsburgh & Its People From The 1850s Through Today

View Pittsburgh & Its People From The 1850s Through Today

#pixburgh: A Photographic Experience features images from the Sen. John Heinz History Center vault, which contains close to one million images. The show features a sampling of 400 images from the 1850s through today — including landmarks, fun, folly and floods.
In Concert: What's Next for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra?

In Concert: What's Next for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra?

Melia Tourangeau, CEO and president of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, looks to lead the ensemble forward after a discordant strike.
Restaurant Review: Umami in Lawrenceville

Restaurant Review: Umami in Lawrenceville

Umami sets the bar for izakaya openings in Pittsburgh. But its owners still have steps to take to keep raising the standard.
Daytripping: Have Musket, Will Travel

Daytripping: Have Musket, Will Travel

The rest is history at ye olde Colonia Williamsburg, the former capital of Virginia and now a restored revolutionary war-era village.
Talk of the Tahn: The Consequences of Trespassing

Talk of the Tahn: The Consequences of Trespassing

I snuck into a steel mill. Bethlehem, Pa. I’d been bragging about how big Pittsburgh’s industrial ruins were when a woman in a bar told me, “Bethlehem’s are bigger.” Size matters.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


See How Chess Made Le’Veon Bell a Better Running Back

See How Chess Made Le’Veon Bell a Better Running Back

Watch the video that reveals Bell’s talents that go beyond the football field.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Restaurant Industry Fundraiser to Aid Injured Chef

Restaurant Industry Fundraiser to Aid Injured Chef

Zach Behm was chef de cuisine at Cure in Upper Lawrenceville at the time of a July car wreck.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The quiet rise of Pittsburgh's tea scene gives us a few favorite gems.

Comments


The Trendy New East Liberty Hangout ... Primanti's?

The Trendy New East Liberty Hangout ... Primanti's?

The latest outpost of the popular local chain is housed in the former Verde space in Garfield.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Tomlin Needs to Be Tomlin Against Brady, Belichick

Tomlin Needs to Be Tomlin Against Brady, Belichick

The Steelers are going to have to attack the game to survive it, to grab it by the throat and choke it to the desired conclusion.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Tantalizing Textiles for the Table

Tantalizing Textiles for the Table

Check out the chic decor from Pittsburgh-based artist and designer Janice Nelson.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Scorsese's Silence Proves Worth the Wait (and the Weight)

Scorsese's Silence Proves Worth the Wait (and the Weight)

Reviews of "Silence," "Live by Night" and "Patriot's Day."

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Pittsburgh Romance: How Their Love Survived Long-Distance

Pittsburgh Romance: How Their Love Survived Long-Distance

From coast to coast and continent to continent, these couples showed that absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Urban Fit Co. Opening Flagship Shop in Sewickley

Urban Fit Co. Opening Flagship Shop in Sewickley

The locally owned active wear boutique is slated to open in March. Plus, get all the details on Pittsburgh’s new luxury residential real estate firm, Piatt Sotheby’s International Realty.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Pittsburgh Artist’s Work to be Featured at Thiel College

Pittsburgh Artist’s Work to be Featured at Thiel College

Benedict Oddi’s collection “Scouts and Nomads” will be on display in a campus gallery.

Comments