By Brent Dorian Carpenter
Paris Barclay was born August 16, 1963 in Gary, Indiana. He attended La Lumiere Boarding Prep High School in La Porte, Indiana before heading off to Harvard.
Openly gay from an early age, Barclay originally harbored dreams of creating projects for the stage. While an undergraduate at Harvard, he wrote some 16 musicals, as well as contributing to the annual Hasty Pudding Theatricals productions. Moving to New York to pursue his goals, he studied under Stephen Sondheim and Charles Strouse at the ASCAP Musical Theater Workshop. He eventually saw his show, “Almost A Man,” adapted from a Richard Wright story, produced Off-Broadway.
After conquering substance abuse problems, Barclay landed a stint working in advertising, which in turn led to the opportunity to direct commercials. From there, he made the jump to music videos, collaborating with artists Harry Connick, Jr., Barry White, Luther Vandross and Bob Dylan. His music video reel convinced producer John Wells to hire him as a director for the short-lived series “Angel Street” (CBS 1992), and that connection with Wells eventually led to his directing for NBC’s Must-See TV hit “ER.”
Along the way, Barclay oversaw episodes of two other series, “Second Noah” and “Sliders,” before he settled in at Steven Bochco’s ABC hit “NYPD Blue.” His attempt to leap to the big screen resulted in the hit-and-miss comedy parody “Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood” (1996). Barclay has also directed an occasional telefilm, most notably the comedy Western “The Cherokee Kid” (HBO 1996).
Other directing credits include the movies “Clueless,” “City of Angels,” and “Moon Over Miami,” as well as episodes of “The West Wing” (another Wells show), “Cold Case,” “Diagnosis Murder,” “Dilbert,” “Silk Stalkings,” and “The Shield.” But his primary allegiance remains to “NYPD Blue,” where he eventually worked his way up to “fifth in command,” helming five episodes a year in addition to serving as supervising producer. After winning an Emmy Award for directing the 1997 episode “Lost Israel, Part 2,” Barclay parlayed his newfound prestige into a position as the co-executive director of the popular series in the 1999-2000 season.