Paris Barclay at the DGA National Biennial Convention, where he was elected DGA President on June 22, 2013 in Los Angeles
June 30, 1956 |
Chicago Heights, Illinois, United States
|Alma mater||Harvard University|
|Spouse(s)||Christopher Mason (m. 2008)|
Paris K.C. Barclay (born June 30, 1956) is an American television director and producer, and the President of the Directors Guild of America. He is a two-time Emmy Award winner and is currently among the busiest single-camera television directors, having directed over 130 episodes of television to date, for series such as NYPD Blue, ER, The West Wing, CSI, Lost, The Shield, House, Law & Order, Monk, Numb3rs, City of Angels, Cold Case, and more recently Sons of Anarchy, The Mentalist, Weeds, NCIS: Los Angeles, The Good Wife, In Treatment, Glee, and Smash.
Currently, Barclay is executive producer and principal director of FX’s highest rated series ever, Sons of Anarchy, which aired season six in 2013 and has been renewed for a seventh and final season.
Between seasons of Sons of Anarchy, Barclay returned to directing music videos: helming LL Cool J's "Take It". Also, Barclay is currently developing a feature film biopic about the late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan starring Viola Davis, which he will direct and produce.
Barclay was born in Chicago Heights, Illinois. He attended La Lumiere School, a private college preparatory boarding school in La Porte, Indiana. On scholarship, he was one of the first African-Americans to attend the school. Barclay then went on to Harvard College, where he was extremely active in student musical theatre productions and the a cappella singing group the Harvard Krokodiloes. During his four years there, he wrote 16 musicals, including the music for two of the annual Hasty Pudding shows. Barclay attended both the La Lumiere School and Harvard with John Roberts, now the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. His Harvard roommate was novelist Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha.
Music video career
Following his graduation from Harvard, he worked as a copywriter and creative supervisor at Grey, BBDO, Cunningham & Walsh, and Marsteller. Barclay then moved into music video directing and production through his own company, Black & White Television. He directed music videos for Bob Dylan ("It's Unbelievable"), the New Kids On The Block ("Games" ), Janet Jackson and Luther Vandross ("The Best Things in Life Are Free" ). Most notably, he created eight videos for LL Cool J, including "Mama Said Knock You Out", which won awards from both MTV and Billboard—and went on to be listed by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 songs that shaped rock and roll. In 2013, Complex Magazine ranked "Mama Said Knock You Out" as one of the top 50 rap videos of the 1990s, crediting it with creating "one of the most crucial links in establishing the cultural bridge between boxing and rap." Barclay was often hired to direct videos for films, introducing audiences to House Party (1990), White Men Can't Jump (1992), Mo' Money (1992), Posse (1993), and Cool Runnings (1993), among others.
In 2012, Barclay directed his first music video in 16 years, working once again with LL Cool J and R&B star Joe on the video for "Take It".
Other notable videos from his career include:
Barry White and Isaac Hayes “Dark & Lovely”
Harry Connick, Jr. “Stardust” and “When My Heart Finds Christmas”
Mint Condition “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)”
While working mostly in television now, Barclay has put his music video experience to use in directing some of Glee's most memorable musical numbers. These include:
Also drawing on his music video experience was Barclay's episode ("The Coup") of the Steven Spielberg-produced NBC series Smash, in which TV Fanatic said that the Barclay-directed number for the original song "Touch Me", "pushed the boundaries from traditional Broadway show to music video level."
Film and television career
Barclay directed Shawn and Marlon Wayans' first feature film, Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood (1996) – also featuring Keenan Ivory Wayans, Vivica Fox, and Bernie Mac. Although it received mixed reviews, it was a box office success and has built a cult following since its release. Barclay also directed the HBO movie, The Cherokee Kid (1996), a Western dramedy starring Sinbad, James Coburn, Burt Reynolds, Gregory Hines, and A Martinez.
After directing episodes of ER, Paris directed and eventually became a producer of NYPD Blue. In three years there, Barclay would receive two Emmy Awards for best directing—the second of which was for the episode titled "Hearts and Souls"—a farewell to Jimmy Smits' character Bobby Simone that has been ranked one of TV Guide's 100 Best Episodes of All Time. Barclay has since reteamed with Smits again in his role as “Nero Padilla” on Sons of Anarchy.
In 2000, Barclay joined forces with a fellow NYPD Blue producers Steven Bochco and Nicholas Wootton to create City of Angels, a medical drama with a predominantly African-American cast including Blair Underwood, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Maya Rudolph, and Vivica Fox. The show aired on CBS for two seasons while winning two NAACP awards.
In 2002 he returned to the John Wells fold to produce and direct the pilot The Big Time, featuring Christina Hendricks, Dylan Baker, Molly Ringwald and Christopher Lloyd—which eventually aired as a two-hour movie. In the years that followed, Barclay worked on a wide variety of television dramas and comedies. He served as co-executive producer and producing director of the series Cold Case, for which he has also directed nine episodes. Other shows he directed in the decade include The West Wing, Huff, Law & Order, Numb3rs, Lost, House, The Shield, Weeds, Monk,The Good Wife, NCIS: Los Angeles, Sons of Anarchy, CSI, The Mentalist and numerous episodes of Glee.
In 2011, Barclay became the executive producer and primary director for the fourth season of FX's Sons of Anarchy, a role he continued through the sixth season, in which Barclay also directed 3 episodes, including the season premiere "Straw", which improved upon the ratings of season 5's Barclay-directed opener to once again become the highest rated telecast in FX history. Barclay will return as Executive Producer and Director for the seventh season of Sons of Anarchy.
Also in 2013, Barclay directed two episodes of Glee, “Diva” and “Lights Out”. For his work on "Diva", Barclay had been nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Direction in a Comedy Series, his second Emmy Nomination for Glee. In the same season, Barclay directed an episode of The New Normal and the penultimatle episode of the ABC series Last Resort. Barclay recently finished directing an episode of The Good Wife which will in January 2014, and is currently in production on the 100th episode of Glee.
Directors Guild of America
In June 2013, Paris was elected to be President of the Directors Guild of America, the first African-American and first openly gay President in the history of the Guild. After the vote, Barclay expressed gratitude for the honor and admiration for the Union's history, saying “I am profoundly honored to be elected President of the DGA...The DGA has worked for more than three-quarters of a century to advance the creative and economic rights of directors and their teams and I look forward to continuing this strong tradition of service. As the son of a glass blower and a tile maker from Chicago, I am extremely humbled to have the honor to serve in the footsteps of the legendary leaders of the DGA like Frank Capra, Robert Wise and Gil Cates.” Barclay was nominated for the Presidency by past-President Michael Apted, who said of him, “Paris’ qualifications for DGA president are exceptional... His understanding of the issues facing directors and their teams is outstanding and his ability to resolve problems and create solutions is beyond compare.” His nomination was seconded by Steven Soderbergh, who said of Barclay, “This is a great moment for our Guild; Paris will be a phenomenal leader as we move into the future.”
Before being elected DGA President, Barclay served four terms as First Vice President of the Directors Guild of America. He is the first African-American Officer in the history of the guild. While serving as First Vice President, Paris was also chair of the DGA’s Political Action Committee, whose mission it is to promote the interests of DGA members to state and federal lawmakers. Their top issues include battling online copyright threats and promoting production tax incentives. He also serves on the Western Directors Council and is co-chair of the Diversity Task Force, whose mission it is to promote the hiring of women and minority directors to networks and studios. In addition, Paris is a board member of the DGA-affiliated Franco-American Cultural Fund, which promotes cultural exchange between French and American directors.
Reputation in the entertainment industry
During his three decades as a director, Barclay has developed a strong reputation as a go-to director capable of working adeptly in multiple genres - described in a June 2011 article in Variety as a "highly adaptive force with the ability to control both TV detectives and scene-stealing gleesters". The same article ranked Barclay among the "Ten TV Directors Who Leave Their Mark."
Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter stated in an interview with The Star-Ledger that it wasn't until Paris came on board to direct that the show found its "groove", observing: "We had all those glitches in those first two or three episodes [...] We had (Paris) come in [...] and we all just started trusting what we were doing here." Later in an interview for Variety, Kurt stated "The great thing about (exec producer Paris Barclay) is that he's a writer and he's also a director [...] so he can get the scripts and understand the production realities of it but also understand creatively what the need for everything is."
In a piece for Vulture, television critic Matt Zoller Seitz cites Barclay as one of the few producer/directors who can “manage and drive the medium [of television]” as well as a writer-showrunner can. Seitz explains, “Directors tend to think in terms of images and moments; those skill sets aren’t often compatible with the left-brain requirements of managing a sitcom or drama (though there are always exceptions; see veteran TV director Paris Barclay’s executive-producer credit on FX’s stylishly nasty biker drama, Sons of Anarchy).”
Over time, many of Paris Barclay’s former assistants have gone on to great Hollywood success in their own right. One of his first assistants was Kevin Williamson, writer of Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, as well as the creator and Executive Producer of the hit television shows Dawson’s Creek, The Vampire Diaries, and The Following. Josh Barry, another former Barclay assistant, currently heads the television department at Prospect Park after working as an executive in Drama Development at ABC. Sam Martin, the former HBO executive (Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Lackwanna Blues) and film producer (Pariah) also once served as Barclay’s assistant. Jason Clodfelter, VP of Drama Development at Sony Television, is another former Barclay assistant.
Along with winning two Emmy Awards for NYPD Blue, Barclay has garnered seven total Emmy nominations—two for producing NYPD Blue, one for directing The West Wing, and two for directing Glee, most recently (2013) for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series for the Glee episode "Diva".
He has also received a Directors Guild of America Award for NYPD Blue and amassed 10 total DGA Award nominations for The West Wing (3), In Treatment (2), NYPD Blue (2), ER, House, and Glee. In 2007, he and Taylor Hackford were recipients of the DGA Robert B. Aldrich Award, for Distinguished Service to the Directors Guild.
Barclay received an NAACP Image Award for Best Drama Series as co-creator, writer, and director of the groundbreaking medical drama City of Angels, another Image Award for directing Cold Case, and a third Image Award for directing Smash. He has been nominated for the Image Award for Directing in a Drama Series every year it has been offered, from 2006 to 2012.
Also a writer, Paris received his first WGA Award nomination for co-writing Pedro with screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, marking the Oscar-winner's first WGA credit. The moving story of The Real World's Pedro Zamora garnered the team nominations for a GLAAD Media Award and Humanitas Prize.
Episodes directed by Paris for both Glee and In Treatment have become the recipients of the prestigious Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting. The Glee episode "Wheels" was also acknowledged at the 2010 Shane's Inspiration Gala, receiving the Visionary Leadership Award for shining a light on the abilities of those with disabilities.
The Glee episode, "Wheels" and CSI episode, "Coup de Grace" were both chosen for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Television Academy Honor, saluting "Television with a Conscience," in which the Academy recognizes achievements in programming that present issues of concern to society in "a compelling, emotional, and insightful way." Barclay also accepted the Voice Award from the US Department of Health and Human Services on behalf of In Treatment, for "incorporating dignified, respectful, and accurate portrayals of people with mental illnesses."
In June 2011, Advertising Age featured Paris on the cover as one of 2011's 50 Most Creative People, saying "Mr. Barclay brings an innate cultural awareness to shows." TV Guide also recognized his House episode, "Three Stories", as one of the 100 Best Episodes of All Time.
In addition to his honors in television, he also received the Bridge Award from the Cornerstone Theater in Los Angeles for over 20 years contributions to this theater. Barclay was named by POWER UP as one of the Top Ten Gay Men in Entertainment; the 2001 GLAAD Stephen F. Kolzak Award winner in honor of his outstanding representation of the LGBT community; the 2004 Pan-African Film Festival Pioneer Award; and the Founder's Award from Project Angel Food. Barclay received the 2012 Upton Sinclair Award from the non-profit Liberty Hill for "unwavering idealism and vision.". In 2012, he and husband Christopher Barclay were also awarded with the Family Values Award from In the Life Media, given to "individuals whose representation of LGBT families serve as an inspiration for all Americans.
Work in musical theater
In the theater, Barclay presented his original musical On Hold With Music at the Manhattan Theater Club in 1984, with a cast including Jason Alexander, Terry Burrell, John Dossett, Ray Gill, and Maureen Brennan. Based on his life in advertising, Barclay wrote and composed the sung through musical in its entirety.
In 1985, he wrote the book, music and lyrics for another musical drama entitled Almos’ a Man, based on a short story by Richard Wright – which had been developed in the second year of the ASCAP Musical Theater Workshop in New York, under the tutelage of Charles Strouse and Stephen Sondheim. It was produced that year at Soho Rep, receiving a mixed review from the New York Times’ Mel Gussow.
After years of directing, Barclay returned to composing in September 2001 with the premiere of a musical based on the collection of letters Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam. Called Letters from ‘Nam, the play featured Grammy winner Maureen McGovern, future Tony winner Levi Kreis, and David Burnham. Praised by most reviewers and opening days before 9/11, the Vietnam musical hit home emotionally with both those who performed in it, produced it, or experienced it.
In 2003, Barclay wrote songs for and co-directed “Order My Steps” for the Cornerstone Theater Company. The musical play, with book by Tracey Scott Wilson, dealt with the African-American church’s response to the AIDS epidemic. The Los Angeles Times call a “moving tale about the human toll of AIDS.”
Barclay returned to Vietnam with One Red Flower: Letters from ‘Nam, a reworked version of the musical was produced at the Village Theater in Issaquah to further acclaim, with Levi Kreis and David Burnham reprising their roles. Other productions followed, with the most significant being Eric Schaeffer’s “gritty and emotional” staging at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia in 2004.
In 2008, Barclay presented a reading of One Red Flower in Los Angeles to benefit New Directions, an organization that supports veterans of all wars. Maureen McGovern, Levi Kreis and David Burnham returned in featured roles, along with television stars Hunter Parrish and Josh Henderson. Although it was not a full production, again it received glowing reviews, described by Beverly Cohn in the Santa Monica Mirror as an “evening that had the audience smiling with a lump in its throat.”
Openly gay since late in his college days, he was a regular contributor to The Advocate for several years. Barclay married food-industry executive Christopher Mason, his partner of 10 years, in 2008. They are the parents of 2 adopted children, Cyrus (born 2003) and William (2005).
Directed episodes of (arranged in order from most episodes directed to least):
NYPD Blue (12 episodes; 2 Emmy Awards; also supervising producer)
The West Wing (3 episodes; 3 DGA nominations)
ER (3 episodes; DGA nomination)
Sliders (3 episodes)
The Good Wife (2 episodes)
Angel Street (2 episodes)
Second Noah (2 episodes)
Clueless (2 episodes)
Monk (2 episodes)
NCIS: Los Angeles (2 episodes)
Dirt (2 episodes)
Fastlane (2 episodes)
House MD (DGA nomination)
Weeds (DGA nomination)
- Untitled Barbara Jordan Biopic, starring Viola Davis (In development)
- Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood, starring Shawn and Marlon Wayans
- The Street Lawyer, based on the novel by John Grisham
- Dead Lawyers starring F. Murray Abraham
- "City of Angels" with Blair Underwood and Viola Davis for CBS
- Hate starring Marcia Gay Harden
- "The Chang Family Saves the World" written by John Ridley for ABC
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- Nero Padilla (Character)
- The Big Time (TV Movie 2002) - IMDb
- "Glee" Diva (TV Episode 2013) - IMDb
- "Glee" Lights Out (TV Episode 2013) - IMDb
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