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In Memoriam: Kim Manners, Supernatural Executive Producer And Director

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Kim Manners, executive producer and director for Supernatural, as well as long time producer and director for The X-Files, died on Sunday evening after a battle with lung cancer. Below is the official statement and reaction from Eric Kripke.

Supernatural executive producer and director Kim Manners passed away last night in Los Angeles, following a battle with cancer. Below please find a statement from Supernatural creator and executive producer Eric Kripke:

"Everyone at Supernatural is walking around in a daze, shocked and absolutely devastated. Kim was a brilliant director; more than that, he was a mentor and friend. He was one of the patriarchs of the family, and we miss him desperately. He gave so much to Supernatural, and everything we do on the show, now and forever, is in memory of him."

When I first started watching Supernatural, little did I know that I was reuniting with a director whose work I’d been watching most of my adult life. Something about the episodes he directed seemed very familiar, and one quick visit to IMDb told me why. His fingerprints were all over a wide variety of shows. He directed 52 episodes and was a producer for one of my favorite programs, The X-Files. It’s funny how when I watched TV back then I, like many others, only paid attention to Mulder and Scully, and cursed the name of creator Chris Carter when the mythology ran amuck. I seemed to gloss over the other names in the credits.

Apparently I did a ton of glossing over. One of the first TV shows I ever got into was 21 Jump Street. He directed nine of those episodes. The hubby and I are avid fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I was stunned to find his name under the directing credits for the episode “When The Bough Breaks.” I remember being forced to watch the awful The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. at my friend's house one evening, complaining how that was an hour of my life I’d never get back. Kim Manners even did seven episodes of that. Hey, a man’s gotta work.

Kim Manners always got the call for the season finales and season openers of Supernatural, his name tied to landmark episodes like “Devil’s Trap,” “In My Time of Dying,” “All Hell Breaks Loose Part II,” “No Rest For The Wicked,” and one of his last episodes, “Lazarus Rising.” He was known for taking episodes and, at pitch perfect moments, giving them intensity, heart, sensitivity, humor, and using every possible element at his disposal to deliver a story that kept viewers deeply involved from beginning to end. Sure, a director usually can pull that off here and there, but when Kim Manners managed to do that each time in a medium where there’s no time or budget for perfection, his record is stunning.

He had a gift for telling the story by filming the maximum emotional impact, using unique camera angles and close-ups and setting the perfect mood so that more came from the characters than just the lines on the page. Two scenes of perfection that instantly come to mind are Dean’s somber vigil over Sam in “All Hell Breaks Loose Part II” and the closing act of “Mystery Spot.”

He had the distinction of helming one of the most controversial episodes in television history, the disturbing tale of inbreeding in The X-Files’ “Home.” It bothered people so much it was banned from FOX after it aired. He also proved his ingenious ability to rehash the Groundhog Day premise, directing The X-Files’ “Monday” and Supernatural’s “Mystery Spot,” both considered to be among each series’ best. He was also the director for both parts of the final X-Files episode, “The Truth,” and we all knew his name was etched on Supernatural’s finale as well. We can’t fathom anyone else taking that spot behind the camera when that time comes.

He also knew how to seamlessly unfold the plot and keep audiences engaged even with the weakest of scripts. Many forget that he was there when Supernatural was finding its footing, drawing the short end and being forced to direct what many consider to be the worst episode of the series, “Bugs.” However, “Bugs” also provided some of the most amusing behind the scenes stories, some told by Mr. Manners himself.

They bring in six hundred bees, or however many bees, and I was like 'Oh my god, I can't wait to see the dailies!' But you watch the dailies and you can't tell there's one bee in that room – they just don't read on camera or they were too sluggish. (…) And you just start laughing because you put your crew in a room with hundreds of bees and then you can't even tell if there are any bees on camera. It's a bizarre job sometimes.

Bizarre job, indeed. The fact is he could do it all. One of his first directing gigs was Charlie’s Angels. His name is also attached to two Baywatch episodes as well. Given the fact he was largely responsible for pulling off the very steamy Sam/Madison sex scene in Supernatural’s “Heart,” he obviously had plenty of gratuitous experience to draw from. He could do complex scenes like that as well as action, suspense, horror, comedy, romance, sci fi, and mystery, cementing his reputation as one of the most versatile television directors in history.

Lucky for him he also had several outstanding actors at his disposal and knew how to work their strengths. Just look at a few of those that have been on the other side of his cameras: Robert Wagner, Stephanie Powers, Jaclyn Smith, Cheryl Ladd, Johnny Depp, Brian Keith, Fred Dryer, Gerald McRaney, Jameson Parker, Patrick Stewart, David Hasselhoff, Michael Chiklis, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, and Mitch Pileggi. Throw in two young actors by the name of Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, both growing substantially from his years of brilliance, and I have my TV dream list. It was likely his too.

The last episode he directed for Supernatural was the stunning “Metamorphosis.” Like others, I wondered why the show’s top director was missing from the credits for upcoming episodes, but none of us knew he was ill. We thought he was taking a break; after all, he’d earned it after his storied career. The announcement of his passing crushed us all, and we are having a hard time picturing the show without him.

To the family of Kim Manners and everyone who was close to him not only at Supernatural but at other shows as well, you all have my deepest sympathies. As Eric Kripke so eloquently said, everything done on the show now and forever is in memory of him. The same can be said for television in general. A brilliance like his will be sorely missed.

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About Alice Jester

  • raelee

    Beautiful tribute to Mr. Manners. Thank you.

  • http://blogcritics.org/ Phillip Winn

    Nicely done. I became a huge fan of Kim Manners from his work on The X-Files, and one reason I started watching Supernatural was his involvement. I hadn’t realized he’d directed the weak “Bugs” episode, but overall his work stands out as among the best.

    He will be missed by many.

  • Dair

    Lovely piece.

  • Legna Moned

    My deepest condolences to the family and friends of Kim Manners, Eric Kripke and the entire cast and crew of Supernatural. You express eloquently the brilliance of this gifted man – much love and kindness go out tonight to all who knew him and will miss him so very much. Personally, the episodes of Supernatural he directed left a deep and lasting impact on my heart. Thank you for the beautiful tribute to him.

  • http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeffreydeanmorgan/ morganslady

    Thank you for your lovely tribute to Kim Manners. I enjoyed reading the stories behind the episodes. I came to know of Kim Manners through the X Files and whenever I saw his name in the credits of Supernatural I knew it would be an outstanding episode. He will be missed. Prayers for his family.

  • Sandy

    What a lovely tribute. I was shocked at the number of tv shows he was involved with. I grew up with Charlies Angels and 21 Jump Street! My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. RIP Kim Manners. You will be sorely missed.

  • http://www.youtube.com/oneletterfromheaven Haven

    It’s been over 24 hours since the unofficial news of his death and it still makes me numb every time I think about it. Kim, we know the angels are watching over you, to all his friends and family, my prayers are with you now. Our show wouldn’t be as it is without Kim Manners. Although Kripke was the mastermind, Manners was the heart. And now millions of fans can feel their hearts ache at this sudden loss. R.I.P Mr. Manners, it was a pleasure to watch your work.

  • http://em-spn18.livejournal.com/ Emma

    When I read this news yesterday I was sure it was a joke, some sick horrible joke- surely THE director on Supernatural who we had all pegged to direct the season and series finals was not gone. This is a dark day indeed. Not only has the world lost a great talent, but from the many interviews and behind the scenes stories that we love to hear about so much the world has lost a great man.

    As with many others I too began to wonder where Kim had gotten to after Metamorphosis, and every time I saw he was to direct an episode of Supernatural knew without a doubt that it would be brilliant. His episodes were always among my favourites.

    My condolences to his friends and loved ones and his entire Supernatural family.

    Kim- You will be missed
    R.I.P.

    Emma
    Sydney Australia

  • Ashley

    Thanks so much; I’ve been reading every tribute I could find for the last two days, and this is definitely the best I’ve seen so far. This loss is so devastating for everyone (from the people who truly knew him to the fans who never will), but it helps to read such a nice memoriam from someone who clearly cared about Kim as well.

  • MCM

    Very well said; thank you for your wonderful tribute. This man was able to elicit the best from his actors because he gave of himself nothing less. Remember, loyalty begets loyalty as underscored by the poignant “bee story” during the filming of Supernatural’s “Bugs” episode, whereby Mr. Manners shunned the protective gear in empathy for his stars. His heart and soul were reflected in his work and we are all the richer for it. His legacy lives on in some of the best episodes of The X-Files and Supernatural. He will be greatly missed and I, too, extend my deepest condolences to Mr. Manners’ family as well as the Supernatural cast and crew.

  • Matt

    “Home” was the best X-Files episode ever. I remember rewatching it right after I’d seen it (I’d taped it) and first noticed Kim Manners as director. I’d always noticed his name at each episode since.

  • Grace

    Mr. Manners’ name sounded very familiar and then, after reading your article, I remembered that he had directed several episodes of my all time favorite show, SIMON & SIMON.
    Very sad for someone so talented and loved to die so young.

    R.I.P. Mr. Manners.

  • vichi

    Hi Alice,
    Lovely tribute to the great man Kim Manners was. Fans of his work all over the world are mourning for his loss. Our symphaty goes to his family and friends and to all the cast and crew of Supernatural. It will be hard to watch this season finale and to know that Kim is not a part of it. He id all the Spn finales and were great. And the way he and Jensen interacted was amazing. He did made the best of this show and he will be missed forever.
    RIP Kim Manners :( .

  • Jeff Goodwin

    I am very sad to hear that Kim has passed away. I had the pleasure of working with him in Rome, Italy on EMPIRE. He was a great guy and will be missed!

  • Liz

    Supernatural is one of my favorite shows, and Kim Manner’s episodes are always my favorite to watch. Thanks for this great tribute to him. He will be greatly missed.

  • Kat

    Beautiful tribute.

    It is a mark of the man’s genius that his fans–the vast majority of whom have never met him–grieve for his passing like he was a friend.

    In a way, he was a close friend to many of us. We welcomed him and his work into our living rooms for years. Viewing his credits was like taking a trip down Nostalgic Lane for me. Reading half of his directing credits was like “I loved that show when I was a kid!”

    I always knew anytime I saw his name appear as director of The X-Files, I could breathe easier. I may get mad at the complicated mythology, but I knew I would always love the directing.

    Kat

  • hermitme

    The man was a true genius and great human being. He really brought a lot to Supernatural and his work will be greatly missed.

    My heart goes out to his family and friends. We just lost a great artist and human being.

  • Macleod

    Thanks for this.
    Kim was what television can be.
    After working as a crew member over the years with Kim I can say that his “Rip the heart out of this Thing, and eat it” speech before the first shot Day 1 on a pretty insurmountable pilot still gives me chills.

    Cheers Kim,
    Macleod

  • WarriorSoul

    I remember his name from the “X-Files”. I know it was Chris Carters show, but I am sure Kim Manners had a lot to do with the high level of quality the show maintained for so many years. “Brisco County” was a great show too. I did not realize that he had been reduced to working on something like “Supernatural”. Oh well, I guess he had bills to pay like the rest of us. His talent will surly be missed.

  • M.

    That was lovely. He will be missed.

  • coltshot_1

    His talent and vision touched so many. My condolences to Mr. Manners’ family and friends. To say he will be missed is surely an understatement.

  • Tanya

    Mr. Manners will be sorley missed, my heart goes out to his family and co-workers as well as  Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. The man was an amazing person he really brought “Supernatural” to life. He will be missed.

  • cassi

    Great tribute Alice!
    I still have trouble believing that he won’t be here to do this year’s finale. *sigh* Sounds so unreal and wrong!

    Kim’s way of directing was so awesome, he always used the most interesting angles to tell the episode’s story.

    As soon as you saw that Kim was the director of an episode, you KNEW it was gonna be interesting and awesome!

  • Liz Frankfather

    Kim was one of my late husband’s students at Hancock College in Santa Maria, CA — which became PCPA. (My husband was actor William Frankfather.) Bill and I watched with pleasure and pride as Kim’s career took off, and his talent — so evident even as an undergraduate — grew, and was shared with so many. After Bill crossed over, one of my remaining pleasures was continuing to follow Kim’s work, always stamped with his unwavering requirement for high quality. Post-surgery complications kept me from my computer and TV news in late January, so I just learned of Kim’s tragic, too-young death. My heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues. In addition to his amazing talent Kim was a special man; he is sorely missed.

  • <3 dean and sam <3

    kim u are the best director i hve seen this now …. the episodes of supernatural are the best of all the other shows ….

  • Lee, India

    Thinking of you on your birthday Kim…like millions of other fans around the world. Just so happens that my fav episodes have your name in the credits. Love the way people just loved you…so loving, funny, and creative. Wish we got to know you on a personal level. Thank you for all your hard work..not gone unnoticed. We miss you.