Wednesday, April 19, 2006

RIP, Scott Brazil

I know I've been pissing and moaning the last couple of days about my stupid sinus infection, and it is painful and uncomfortable, but I got some really awful news today that, to borrow the cliche, put things in perspective:

Scott Brazil, the director-producer on "The Shield" (in addition to directing all the premieres and finales for the first four seasons, he also taught Shawn Ryan how to, you know, run a TV show), died on Monday of a horrible combination of Lou Gehrig's disease and lyme disease. His lungs gave out. He was only 50.

I can't pretend to call Scott a friend, but we talked many times, ate or drank together many times, and he was always a talkative, smart, funny, genuinely nice guy. TV is a writer's medium, not a director's, but he had no trouble taking a back seat to Shawn (or to the many great writers on "Hill Street Blues," where he got his start, or any of the other great dramas he directed). All he cared about was the work.

I hadn't seen him in a couple of years and didn't even know he was sick; I'm told that the ALS got so advanced that he wound up directing with a cane, then a walker, then (for the fourth season finale, the last "Shield" he directed) in a motorized scooter. Here's part of an e-mail I got from Shawn:
He was the kind of man and artist who often goes unnoticed by the public, but was responsible for so much of what is good about "The Shield" and other shows he worked on. While Michael Chiklis and I got more attention than we probably deserved, Scott was always hard at work, making sure the casting, look and direction on the show stayed consistent and top notch.

When he wasn't producing the show, he was on the floor directing himself, helming 11 episodes including many of our best. Simply put, despite our ability to get almost anyone we wanted to direct, he was our best director, every single episode. He preferred to stay in the background and merely smiled as others of us got the spotlight.
Rest easy, Scott. You'll be missed.

1 comment:

Dark Tyler said...

Thank you so much for the mention, Alan. Scott Brazil had always been one of my favourite unsung people in the industry; I first noticed his name during the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and later on when Shawn Ryan basically gave him credit for The Shield being so damn good, on several of his commentary tracks.

I love the way that for almost 3 decades he gave eveything for TV, helping so many shows who were in the development stage, or directing episodes for new shows that proved to be big successes later on (like Grey's Anatomy, Nip/Tuck, and of course Buffy, to name a few).

To me, Scott Brazil will always be one of the greats, because in mentoring Shawn Ryan and running The Shield, he helped create a show that will be remembered as a masterpiece 30 years from now.

R.I.P., Scott, and thank you.