Bernie Brillstein

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Bernie Brillstein
Bernard Jules Brillstein

(1931-04-26)April 26, 1931
New York City, U.S.
DiedAugust 7, 2008(2008-08-07) (aged 77)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting placeHillside Memorial Park Cemetery
Alma materNew York University
Laura Smith
(m. 1967)
Deborah Ellen Koskoff
(m. 1975)
Carrie Winston
(m. 1998)

Bernard Jules Brillstein[1] (April 26, 1931 – August 7, 2008) was an American film and television producer, executive producer, and talent agent.

He began his career in the 1950s at the William Morris Agency before founding his own company in 1969 and later joining forces with Brad Grey to helm Brillstein-Grey Entertainment (now Brillstein Entertainment Partners), one of the most important and influential Hollywood talent management and production companies. He is remembered for producing successful TV programs like Hee Haw, The Muppet Show, and The Sopranos, and hit films including The Blues Brothers, Ghostbusters and Happy Gilmore.

Early life[edit]

Bernie Brillstein was born to a Jewish family[2] in Manhattan, to Moe Brillstein and Matilda "Tillie" Brillstein (née Perlman), who all shared the Manhattan home of his uncle, the vaudeville and radio performer Jack Pearl. Brillstein's father, a milliner, was the guiding force behind the building of the Millinery Center Synagogue, a synagogue located in the Garment District in Manhattan.[3]


Brillstein earned his way into show business in the mailroom at the William Morris Agency (WMA) in New York. He worked his way up to talent agent and by the 1960s, he was a manager-producer of television programming for the company. Still associated with WMA, he joined Management III in 1964 to continue talent management.[4] In the 1960s, he also co-founded the vocal group The Doodletown Pipers.

The Brillstein Company[edit]

By now living in Los Angeles, Brillstein formed The Brillstein Company in 1969. There, he continued to manage stars and develop television programming. He produced such popular television hits as Hee Haw, The Muppet Show[5] and Saturday Night Live.[6]

Brillstein later became manager of SNL alumni Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Martin Short, and executive producer Lorne Michaels, as well as Jim Henson (of Muppets fame) and Paul Fusco (voice and operator of ALF). He produced such other television shows as ALF: The Animated Series, and Normal Life. He was also exclusive producer to the animation sequel The Real Ghostbusters (based on the hit movie).

Brillstein-Grey Entertainment[edit]

In the 1980s, he met Brad Grey at a television convention in San Francisco. In 1991,[4] the two formed a production company, Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, which packages programming and manages talent. They were responsible for such shows as NewsRadio, Just Shoot Me!, The Larry Sanders Show and The Sopranos. As executive producer, Brillstein was responsible for such successes as The Blues Brothers, Ghostbusters, Dragnet, Ghostbusters II, Happy Gilmore and The Cable Guy. Brillstein sold his shares in the company to Grey, his one time protégé, in 1996. Grey sold his interest in the company in 2005.[6] He also represented Nick Swardson for six years prior to his death.[7]

Brillstein's 1999 memoir, Where Did I Go Right?: You're No One in Hollywood Unless Someone Wants You Dead, was co-written with David Rensin.[3] Two years later, he received the honor as recipient of a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame, on April 18, 2001. His second book The Little Stuff Matters Most, a humorous advice collection, was published in 2004.[8]

Personal life[edit]

In 1967, Brillstein married Laura Smith.[3][9] In 1975, he married Deborah Ellen Koskoff. In 1998, Brillstein married Carrie Winston Brillstein, a marriage that lasted until his 2008 death.[10]

Brillstein died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at a Los Angeles hospital on August 7, 2008, at the age of 77.[11]


He was a producer in all films unless otherwise noted.


Year Film Credit Notes
1980 Up the Academy Executive producer
The Blues Brothers Executive producer
1981 Continental Divide Executive producer
Neighbors Executive producer
1983 Doctor Detroit Executive producer
1984 Ghostbusters Executive producer
1985 Summer Rental Executive producer
Spies Like Us Executive producer
1987 Dragnet Executive producer
1989 Ghostbusters II Executive producer
1993 Hexed Executive producer
1996 Happy Gilmore Executive producer
The Cable Guy Executive producer
Bulletproof Executive producer
1998 The Replacement Killers
2000 What Planet Are You From? Executive producer
2002 Run Ronnie Run! Executive producer
2004 Jiminy Glick in Lalawood Final film as a producer
Year Film Role
2008 A Federal Case Acknowledgment


Year Title Credit Notes
1973 The Burns and Schreiber Comedy Hour Executive producer
1974 The Muppets Valentine Show Executive producer Television special
1981 Open All Night Executive producer
1982 The Valentine's Day That Almost Wasn't Executive producer Television special
1983 Sitcom Executive producer Television film
1983−84 Buffalo Bill Executive producer
1985 Big Shots in America Executive producer Television short
1986 Comedy Factory Executive producer
1986−90 ALF Executive producer
It's Garry Shandling's Show Executive producer
1987 CBS Summer Playhouse Executive producer
1987−91 The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd Executive producer
1988 ALF Tales Executive producer
The Boys Executive producer
1989 The Wickedest Witch Executive producer Television film
1990 Normal Life Executive producer
Don't Try This at Home! Executive producer Television film
A Very Retail Christmas Executive producer Television short
1991 Good Sports Executive producer
Space Cats Executive producer
1992 The Please Watch the Jon Lovitz Special Executive producer Television special
1995−99 NewsRadio Executive producer
1995−97 The Jeff Foxworthy Show Executive producer
Mr. Show with Bob and David Executive producer
The Naked Truth Executive producer
1996 For Hope Executive producer Television film
Mr. Show with Bob and David: Fantastic Newness Executive producer Television short
1996−2002 The Steve Harvey Show Executive producer
Politically Incorrect Executive producer
1997−2003 Just Shoot Me! Executive producer
1998 Mr. Show and the Incredible, Fantastical News Report Executive producer Television short
1999−2000 The Martin Short Show Executive producer
2001−03 Primetime Glick Executive producer
2001−04 The Wayne Brady Show Executive producer
2002 Next! Executive producer
2003 The Lyon's Den Executive producer
2003−04 Comedy Inc. Executive producer
2006 Heist Executive producer
Miscellaneous crew
Year Title Role
1986−91 The Real Ghostbusters Executive consultant
As an actor
Year Title Role Notes Other notes
1984 The Ratings Game Man in Le Boeuf Television film
2004 The Sopranos Himself
Year Title Role Notes
1984 The Ratings Game Special thanks Television film
1986 The Garry Shandling Show: 25th Anniversary Special Television special
2008 Saturday Night Live Dedicatee


  • Bernie Brillstein with David Rensin (1999). Where Did I Go Right?: You're No One in Hollywood Unless Someone Wants You Dead!. Little Brown Inc. ISBN 978-0-316-11885-9 (Chapter One online)
  • The Little Stuff Matters Most (2004). Bernie Brillstein with David Rensin ISBN 1-59240-079-5


  1. ^ "Brillstein, Bernie 1931-2008 (Bernard J. Brillstein, Bernard Jules Brillstein, Bernie J. Brillstein) - Dictionary definition of Brillstein, Bernie 1931-2008 (Bernard J. Brillstein, Bernard Jules Brillstein, Bernie J. Brillstein) - Free online dictionary".
  2. ^ Jewish Journal: "The Heroes of Jewish Comedy" by Tom Teicholz July 3, 2003
  3. ^ a b c Brillstein, Bernie; Rensin, David (1999). Where Did I Go Right?: You're No One in Hollywood Unless Someone Wants You Dead! (1st ed.). Boston: Little, Brown. ISBN 978-0-316-11885-9. OCLC 40954091. Retrieved September 21, 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Bernie Brillstein Biography" (PDF). Retrieved November 1, 2007.
  5. ^ Rose, Frank (1995). The Agency: William Morris and the Hidden History of Show Business. New York: Harper. pp. 261, 415.
  6. ^ a b "Brillstein-Grey Entertainment". Hoovers. Retrieved November 1, 2007.
  7. ^ "WTF with Marc Maron Podcast: Episode 88 – Nick Swardson / Joshua Tree". July 8, 2010. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  8. ^ "Books by Bernie Brillstein". ISBNS. Retrieved February 14, 2023.
  9. ^ "Marriage Announcement 15: Brillstein-Smith" (PDF). The New York Times. June 25, 1967. Retrieved September 21, 2015.
  10. ^ "Brillstein, Bernie 1931– - Dictionary definition of Brillstein, Bernie 1931– - FREE online dictionary".
  11. ^ Cieply, Michael (August 8, 2008). Bernie Brillstein, Film Producer, Dies. The New York Times

External links[edit]