Lee Shallat Chemel
As a female director working in television for over thirty years, Lee Shallat Chemel led the way for a lot of women in what was a largely male-dominated medium, helming episodes of TV sitcoms in a variety of styles and formats for well over 30 years beginning in the early 1980s. Lee Shallat was born on January 15, 1943 in Los Angeles, CA. (She added the surname of her husband David Chemel after their 1987 marriage.) Chemel launched her career as a stage director in southern California, beginning at the South Coast Repertory Theater in Costa Mesa. Chemel also directed for the stage at the Grove Shakespeare Festival in Garden Grove, and at the Matrix Theater in Hollywood. Chemel's first television credit came on the Linda Lavin sitcom "Alice" (CBS 1976-1985), but it was through the founder of The Matrix Theater that she was recommended for "Family Ties" (NBC 1982-89.) Female directors were chronically unemployed in television, and Gary David Goldberg, the creator of "Family Ties," felt the show could use a woman's touch, as well as someone with theater experience. Going from theater to television was not an easy transition, but after getting her feet wet with "Family Ties," Chemel went on to direct episodes of several major sitcoms of the era, including "Diff'rent Strokes" (NBC 1978-1985), "Full House" (ABC 1987-1995), "Newhart" (CBS 1982-1990), "Murphy Brown" (CBS 1988-1998), and more. As her career transitioned into the 1990s, Chemel directed episodes of Goldberg's next venture "Spin City" (ABC 1996-2002), workplace sitcom "Just Shoot Me!" (NBC 1997-2003), and the Brooke Shields vehicle "Suddenly Susan" (NBC 1996-2000), among many others. Going into the new millennium, Chemel directed several episodes of the acclaimed single-camera sitcom "Arrested Development" (Fox, 2003-2006, Netflix, 2013- ) and Amy Sherman-Palladino's charming comedy-drama "Gilmore Girls" (WB/CW 2000-2007). She was especially prolific on "The Middle" (ABC 2009 - ), directing nearly every episode of this sitcom about an average, somewhat dysfunctional Indiana family.