Gail Mancuso Q&A: ‘Modern Family’ director

After more than two decades of directing TV comedies, Gail Mancuso picked up her first-ever Emmy last year for helming the "Modern Family" episode "Arrested." She is back to defend her title, this time with the complicated episode "Las Vegas."

In our recent webcam chat, she showed off her Emmy and its custom-built suitcase, revealing, "For some reason I was super nervous, and all of a sudden you see the cameraman come over close to get your close-up. It's like these things start building, and your heart starts fluttering, and my husband is holding my hand. It really is an amazing feeling, and I'm so honored."

Mancuso received her first-ever Emmy nod in 2011 for the "Modern Family" episode "Slow Down Your Neighbors." She lost to another of the show's helmers, Michael Spiller, who won for "Halloween." After prevailing with her second bid in 2013. This year, she contends for an episode shot on location in Las Vegas and guest starring Fred Armisen, Stephen Merchant, and Patton Oswalt.

Of this installment, she says, "I'm so proud of this episode. It's designed to start kind of slow and steady, and then it builds into this great third act where it's this rapid-fire dialogue and people coming in one door and going out the other. It's about the three families in three adjoining suites in Las Vegas on the Excelsior Level. It was so complicated to map it out and keep it straight that I actually color-coded my script with each person's room."

For this year's Best Comedy Directing competition, Mancuso is up against Paris Barclay ("Glee"), Louis C.K. ("Louie"), Jodie Foster ("Orange is the New Black"), Mike Judge ("Silicon Valley"), and Iain B. MacDonald ("Episodes"). Although "Modern Family" has won this category three straight years, our current Gold Derby odds have her in second place just behind Foster.

Mancuso's directing career began in 1991 with the classic comedy "Roseanne"; she went on to helm 51 episodes. She then directed many episodes of "Friends," "Dharma and Greg," "Gilmore Girls," "Scrubs," and "30 Rock." She has already done 15 episodes for "Modern Family" and plans on being back for more in its upcoming sixth season.

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UPLOADED Jul 29, 2014 7:48 pm