With the sudden deaths of Isaac Hayes and Bernie Mac this weekend, I also want to mention the passing of another Bernie – Bernie Brillstein, a Hollywood manager, producer, and power broker who was behind numerous TV series including Hee Haw, The Muppet Show, ALF, and Saturday Night Live. Brillstein passed away on Thursday in Los Angeles from chronic pulmonary disease. He was 77.
Brillstein formed Brillstein-Grey Entertainment in 1991 with producer Bred Grey and together they produced programs such as Newsradio, The Larry Sanders Show, The Dana Carvey Show, and The Sorpranos.
Brillstein was also co-executive producer of one of my favorite TV series of all time – It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, which aired on Showtime and later on Fox. Starring Garry Shandling (who was also in The Larry Sanders Show), this series inspired me to begin writing. It’s a shame you can’t find the program anywhere, even on DVD.
In addition to his television work, Brillstein was the executive producer of many 1980’s films, including Ghostbusters, Summer Rental, Spies Like Us, and the big screen adaption of Dragnet.