Real World Inspirations
[compiled from e-mails from Tim Roessler]
The New York Times Advertising column ran a few pieces about the show talking about the show's portrayal of the adbiz, which most of the interviewees found accurate.
In turns out that the producers did preliminary research at Chiat/Day, now TBWA/Chiat Day, which as your correspondent pointed out, is a real firm. The episode was filmed in their LA headquarters, a gem designed by architect Frank Gehry who's won lots of attention lately for a museum he architected in Spain. Hershkowitz and Zwick based the interplay between Eliot and Michael -- and maybe some of the characterizaton -- on a writer/art director team at C/D that later founded their own agency, Rubin/Postaer. (It may be that Robaire Stein were the partners that the producers used and not Rubin Postaer - I get them mixed up sometimes, and it's been a while since I read the article.
There was, of course, lots of speculation about who in the ad biz was the model for Miles Drentel. A favorite candidate was Jay Chiat, founder of Chiat/Day, known for his combination of visionary management, charisma, creative excellence, and volatility. They denied this (to no one's satisfaction) and said the character was based on someone in the movie/TV industry, saying something like if that person with that character could survive in the entertainment industry, then he could in advertising as well. The name, though is taken from William Drenttel (note the spelling) a classmate of one of theirs and an extremely well regarded designer who has also done advertising art direction. His web site is excellent. Word has it that he's pretty different from Miles.
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