`Good Morning, Miami’s’ Bill Prady Runs For Governor

Aug 4, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Although other California Democrats supporting incumbent Gray Davis in the October recall election are staying out of the crowded race for governor, sitcom writer-producer Bill Prady has paid his money to the registrar of voters and collected signatures to get into the race-to prove the whole thing is absurd and an outrageous waste of the taxpayers’ money.
“The actual purpose of the recall law is to remove from office somebody who has committed great malfeasance, and citizens should have a mechanism for doing that. That isn’t the case here,” Mr. Prady told me in his Studio City, Calif., office. He has recently become producer and showrunner of second-year NBC comedy, “Good Morning, Miami.”
“[Recall] should not be used because of buyer’s remorse,” he added. “We have regularly scheduled elections for that. But because the threshold [to run] has been set so low, the more people like me put themselves on the ballot, the sooner a real thing will happen. And that is changing the law so that this is not so ridiculously easy to do.”
A 43-year-old political novice from Detroit who has been a regular campaign contributor to the Democrats, Mr. Prady began his TV career at Jim Henson Productions, where he rose from writer to producer, winning two Writers Guild Awards. His credits include the “Presidential Inaugural Celebration for Children,” which won a Cable Ace Award. He went on to produce “Caroline in the City,” and spent four years as co-executive producer of “Dharma & Greg.” After developing projects last year at Fox, he joined “Good Morning, Miami,” working with executive producers David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, among others.
A few weeks ago some fellow writers invited Mr. Prady-a thin, quick-witted and amiable guy-on a trip to Las Vegas, where he got lucky at the craps table. “I won $3,500 to the penny, and there’s a tradition in our household that gambling winnings are to be spent on things that are frivolous and losses are to be lied about and said never to have occurred,” he explained. “So that $3,500 was burning a hole in my pocket. At the same time this recall election started to irritate me and I said, `Why is this irritating me? It’s because it makes a mockery of the political process, and making a mockery of things is what I do for a living.’ And I resent the intrusion into my professional life by politicians.”
His wife, mother of a 4-year-old, wasn’t happy, but Mr. Prady knew what he had to do. His colleague, Mr. Kohan, got it and signed on as campaign manager. “I understand why people would be skeptical,” Mr. Kohan said. “If I was in politics, I wouldn’t necessarily presume to say, `OK, I think I am qualified to create a sitcom.’ But Bill Prady is one person that I think can pull off both jobs.”
Since he is urging people to vote no on the recall, Mr. Prady isn’t counting on victory. However, he is prepared if drafted. “If elected, I intend to serve,” he said firmly. “I just have to go to a table read [for `Good Morning, Miami’] on Mondays and a rewrite on Fridays. But Saturday and Sunday, totally Sacramento, totally governor, passing bills. However, Thursday is tricky because that’s the day we shoot the show. Thursday is going to have to be all-sitcom. That’s how I am going to divvy it up.”
He feels his TV experience could really pay off: “I intend to solve the state’s problems in 22 minutes and 42 seconds, with two commercial breaks and a hug at the end.”
He collected most of the required 100 signatures of registered Democrats on his petition from other writers at Radford Studios, after visiting such shows as “Will & Grace,” “The Stones,” “Still Standing,” “Tracy Morgan” and “Gilmore Girls.” He also made stops at Chuck Lorre Productions and Warner Bros.
His campaign is a model of fiscal restraint. Mr. Prady will spend under $1,000, the threshold after which he has to register an official campaign committee and open a bank account. He had spent about $180 as of last week, mostly on campaign buttons.
Mr. Mutchnick is reportedly planning a low-budget fund-raiser at which pigs in a blanket and cubes of yellow cheese will be served. Any profits will go directly to charity. There is even a “War Room”-style guerrilla documentary under way.
Mr. Prady runs unafraid of being labeled a crackpot Hollywood dilettante. He insisted some in Tinsel Town do understand the common man. “Do we not put our Prada slacks on one leg at a time like everybody else in America? I think we suffer the same things. Our Mercedes break down just like their Mercedes. We know the pain of the ordinary person in a restaurant, asking for still water, and being served Vittel instead of Evian! We know this problem. People think we don’t relate, and we do.”
Maybe politics will bring Mr. Prady what he feels he can never find as a TV writer: “As a group, there is no amount of wealth or appreciation that could truly make writers feel good about themselves. Writers are kind of a bottomless emotional well.”
He does promise that if elected he will serve his full term. “In all fairness to the people of California,” said Mr. Prady, “once in the governor’s office, I won’t use it as a stepping stone to something higher, like a three-picture deal at Miramax.”
His biggest problem right now is how to fit his entire philosophy into the 250-word candidate statement for the sample ballot, and that is without any commercial breaks.