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 Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Pittsburgh's Top 10 Things to Do in May

Pittsburgh's Top 10 Things to Do in May

These are the things we guarantee are worth your time, from dog walks to barbecues.
Best Doctors in Pittsburgh

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh

Our exclusive list of the region's 584 leading physicians across 76 specialities.
Endless Challenges: 48 Remarkable Hours with 8 Pittsburgh Doctors

Endless Challenges: 48 Remarkable Hours with 8 Pittsburgh Doctors

Follow eight physicians over two days as they perform surgeries, consult on end-of-life care, treat accident victims, discuss hospital programs –– and then reset and do it all over again.
The Commoner — Too Much of a Good Thing?

The Commoner — Too Much of a Good Thing?

Chef Dennis Marron designs a menu of modern-American fare at The Commoner in the downstairs space of Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

The Best Way to End Money Arguments with Your Roommates

The Best Way to End Money Arguments with Your Roommates

Yup, there's a (free) site for that.
C'mon, You Know You Want One. 18 Yorkies Need New Home

C'mon, You Know You Want One. 18 Yorkies Need New Home

Deciding who ultimately gets them is no easy task.
Impress Your Friends: Share Cool Stats about Pittsburgh's Steps

Impress Your Friends: Share Cool Stats about Pittsburgh's Steps

Did you know that if strung together, Pittsburgh’s public stairways would reach three-quarters of the way to the summit of Mt. Everest?
Somewhere, Paul Newman is Smiling About Johnstown

Somewhere, Paul Newman is Smiling About Johnstown

The town where the iconic actor filmed a cult classic has been rewarded for its hockey fervor.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Pittsburgh's Top 10 Things to Do in May

Pittsburgh's Top 10 Things to Do in May

These are the things we guarantee are worth your time, from dog walks to barbecues.
Best Doctors in Pittsburgh

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh

Our exclusive list of the region's 584 leading physicians across 76 specialities.
Endless Challenges: 48 Remarkable Hours with 8 Pittsburgh Doctors

Endless Challenges: 48 Remarkable Hours with 8 Pittsburgh Doctors

Follow eight physicians over two days as they perform surgeries, consult on end-of-life care, treat accident victims, discuss hospital programs –– and then reset and do it all over again.
The Commoner — Too Much of a Good Thing?

The Commoner — Too Much of a Good Thing?

Chef Dennis Marron designs a menu of modern-American fare at The Commoner in the downstairs space of Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh.
What Inspires Ray Gastil's Careful Plan for Pittsburgh's Future

What Inspires Ray Gastil's Careful Plan for Pittsburgh's Future

How will the city’s new planning director stoke Pittsburgh’s next generation of developments?
Dare to be Different — PittGirl's Better Ways to Use Social Media

Dare to be Different — PittGirl's Better Ways to Use Social Media

You can use social media to change your life and the lives of those around you in a positive way.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module