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“Maude,” the now-classic ’70s sitcom starring Bea Arthur and Rue McClanahan. There, she worked alongside a technical director who was calling the shots, and also a script supervisor. “You learn her job, because if something happens and she can’t come to work, you sit in that chair,” Young recalls being told. “I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ On the job training for the job

I’ve been dreaming of—what kind of fun is this?’” Young waited for her chance in that chair. Would the script

supervisor fall ill? Go on vacation? When wouldn’t she show up to work? “She always did,” Young says, laughing. “The thing is, I was

scared. ‘I’m not ready for this,’ I thought. But that supervisor had the greatest attitude, and I’ve taken it with me through my whole career. She said, ‘I’m going to be here for the next 10 years—been here for 20 already—but I’m going to show you everything I know, because if I ever can’t show up, you’d better know what you’re doing and make me look good.’ “She had great confidence in herself, and I adopted that

my whole life. I never was afraid of competition. I was always helpful, because there’s room enough for everybody if you’re good.” Sticking to that credo helped land Young a gig as

production executive on “Moonlighting,” the mid ’80s dramedy featuring Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis; a job on the set of “In Justice,” which ran in 2006 with Kyle MacLachlan as the show’s lead; and work on numerous TV movies, including the 1995 AIDS drama “A Mother’s Prayer,” starring Bruce Dern and Linda Hamilton. In 2004, Young joined “The L Word” as production manager.

Though the groundbreaking Showtime drama centered on a group of lesbian and bisexual women living in West Hollywood, the show was mostly filmed in Vancouver. Booking locations and assigning managers to the shoots, Young served as the show’s liaison in the States. Numerous directors on the show made her job “a real juggling act,” she says. Young’s role on the show lasted four seasons, stable work in an unstable business. Shows are canceled. Films get finished. As a freelance employee, steady employment is hard to find— and even harder to maintain. “This is not for the weak and timid,” says Thom, who’s

known Young now for over 40 years. “Sometimes in jobs you say, ‘That’s the job I want—it’s

perfect. ’ With Sally’s career, it’s, ‘What have you got? I’ll take it.’” In 2009, something happened that was, well, perfect. It

was a show called “Modern Family,” and its pilot—about the lives of the Pritchett-Dunphy-Tucker clan, and starring Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara and Ty Burrell—drew both critical and

commercial acclaim. This would become Young’s home for the next six years.

Home Sweet Home Having come full circle, Sally Young is right back where she

started—except, you know, with an Emmy. She graduated with minors in psychology and sociology in 1972, but it’s her major in family life that set the stage for her serendipitous future as a producer on a show about family. “Who would’ve guessed?” the 64-year-old says. “I didn’t

even know what a production manager was when I went to Hollywood, but I knew that I wanted to be behind the scenes, putting things together.” Young oversees the dramedy’s logistics: she deals with the financial aspects, including budgets and paychecks; she organizes schedules; and she readies schedules for the cast and crew. She also serves as peacemaker, a skill she says she developed while at EMU. In Young’s student days, Eastern offered a family life degree for students like Young who were interested in counseling. She pursued it only to find years later (and after, she admits, recasting it as “communications” on a couple of resumes) it would come in handy. “Oddly enough, I spend a lot of my time counseling,” she

says. “I do conflict resolution with crew members who don’t get along. There are a lot of nuances about actors, who are the most sensitive and messed-up people in the world. I understand the psyche—that they need to be heard, they need to be petted, or just feel something—and people don’t know unless they’ve studied it.” Young says “Modern Family” has a couple years left before it

bids farewell to viewers and Emmy voters alike. It will have been the longest producer gig of Young’s professional life. “In my earlier days, the thought of being on a series year after

year would have been claustrophobic,” she says. “I wanted to go off and do fun movies and do all kinds of different things. When ‘Modern Family’ came around, we didn’t know what was going to happen with it. We didn’t know it was going to be the mega success it is.” Back at Haab’s, and just after that curious waiter eyes her

Emmy, a hostess approaches the table, gushing about “Modern Family.” “My mother-in-law and I can’t wait for that show to come back every year,” the hostess enthuses. After the series finale airs, Young will have vacated her

waterfront house, and says she will eventually retire to Michigan, where she doesn’t just have family and friends—she has fans. 3

Eastern | SPRING 2015 27

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