Bill Persky (born September 9, 1931) is an American Emmy Award-winning director, screenwriter, producer, and actor for television. With his long-time collaborator Sam Denoff, he wrote and created the television show That Girl starring Marlo Thomas. Their writing collaboration on episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show resulted in some of the show 's most popular episodes. He also directed 100 episodes of the situation comedy Kate and Allie. He also directed the situation comedies The Practice (1976) and Busting Loose (1977) and the movie Serial.