Production manager dies at 96
Abby Singer, 96, a famed production manager whose name became synonymous for the next-to-last shot of the day, died Thursday in Los Angeles, according to his daughter, Jo Ann Singer. He had cancer.
The Harlem-born Abner E. Singer was a longtime production manager and assistant director who worked primarily in television from the 1950s through the '90s. He became famous for his efficient habit of preparing a crew for an impending move to the next scene by calling out the second-to-last shot.
Since the late '50s, it's been routine on sets for the penultimate shot of the day to be announced as "the Abby Singer" or "the Abby." (The final shot is nicknamed the "Martini.")
In his lengthy career, Singer worked on shows such as "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "Hill Street Blues" and "St. Elsewhere."
Singer once told the Directors Guild of America that he suspected his name became shorthand for the second-to-last shot in 1957, while working on the series "Wagon Train." Before he knew it, "the Abby Singer shot" caught on, he said, "like lightning."
"Working in TV, we made many moves per day — from the back lot to the stage, or from one stage to another," Singer said. "I'd say to the guys, 'One more shot and then we're moving,' so when we moved, they were all prepared. The time saved could add up to a full hour of shooting for the director."
Singer actively served in the Directors Guild of America, which in 1985 honored him with the Frank Capra Achievement Award, a career tribute for assistant directors and production managers.
Times staff and wire reports