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 Best Restaurants 2015

Pittsburgh's Best Restaurants 2015

Which 33 establishments did our independent Restaurant Review Panel include among its top picks this year? Find them here.
The Right Recipe: Spy Inside 5 Killer Kitchens

The Right Recipe: Spy Inside 5 Killer Kitchens

Executive chefs often are given much of the credit for their restaurants’ success, but that praise would be hard to bestow if each did not lead an outstanding kitchen brigade.
The Beginner's Garden: How to Easily Create a Summer Eden

The Beginner's Garden: How to Easily Create a Summer Eden

From ferns to forsythia, there are ample growth opportunities for creating a gorgeous, low-maintenance garden this year in your own backyard.
PittGirl Believes She is Totally Right about the Pittsburgh Left

PittGirl Believes She is Totally Right about the Pittsburgh Left

In this case, as in most others, it's better to give than take.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Pittsburgh Magazine Wins 7 Golden Quill Awards

Pittsburgh Magazine Wins 7 Golden Quill Awards

Sponsored by the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania, the contest recognizes excellence in magazine, newspaper, broadcast and online journalism.
Got Tickets? Pittsburgh's Best, Biggest Food Event Is Weeks Away

Got Tickets? Pittsburgh's Best, Biggest Food Event Is Weeks Away

Join us on June 8 at Heinz Field for the 26th annual Best Restaurants Party.
Bow Wow: Pittsburgh Gets Props for Dog Parks

Bow Wow: Pittsburgh Gets Props for Dog Parks

The city earned a No. 1 ranking for giving our four-legged friends plenty of room to roam.
Idlewild Park Opening with New Ride

Idlewild Park Opening with New Ride

The park begins its 138th season this weekend.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Pittsburgh's Best Restaurants 2015

Pittsburgh's Best Restaurants 2015

Which 33 establishments did our independent Restaurant Review Panel include among its top picks this year? Find them here.
The Right Recipe: Spy Inside 5 Killer Kitchens

The Right Recipe: Spy Inside 5 Killer Kitchens

Executive chefs often are given much of the credit for their restaurants’ success, but that praise would be hard to bestow if each did not lead an outstanding kitchen brigade.
The Beginner's Garden: How to Easily Create a Summer Eden

The Beginner's Garden: How to Easily Create a Summer Eden

From ferns to forsythia, there are ample growth opportunities for creating a gorgeous, low-maintenance garden this year in your own backyard.
PittGirl Believes She is Totally Right about the Pittsburgh Left

PittGirl Believes She is Totally Right about the Pittsburgh Left

In this case, as in most others, it's better to give than take.
On Par with Arnie, She is America's 'Queen of Golf'

On Par with Arnie, She is America's 'Queen of Golf'

The world of golf may have been slow to embrace women, but Sewickley amateur Carol Semple Thompson always has found her way into the club.
Last in the Water But First at the Finish Line

Last in the Water But First at the Finish Line

Penn State Behrend swimmer Mia Pietropola’s deafness may give her competitors an advantage at the starting blocks. She beats them anyway.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module