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.Rest easy, Scott. You'll be missed.
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.