Brooks. Sakai first met Brooks in 1977 while working as a go-fer at John Charles Walters Productions, the company behind the sitcom "Taxi" (ABC, 1978-82; NBC, 1982-83). During the shows run, he worked his way up to director and producer. In 1984, he joined Brooks' newly-formed production company Gracie Films and was eventually named as president. In that capacity, he oversaw a number of TV sitcoms, the Emmy-winning variety series "The Tracey Ullman Show" (Fox, 1987-90) and its Emmy-winning animated spin-off "The Simpsons" (Fox, 1990- ). Among the failed series he produced were "Sibs" (ABC, 1991-92) and "Phenom" (ABC, 1993-94).
Sakai has had better luck with his big screen projects. He served as executive in charge of production on the Oscar-nominated "Broadcast News" (1987), directed by James L Brooks, Penny Marshall's "Big" (1988) and Cameron Crowe's underrated "Say Anything" (1989). In 1996, he moved up to executive producer, handling those chores on the acclaimed but little seen "Bottle Rocket" and Crowe's highly successful "Jerry Maguire", which earned five Oscar nominations including one for Best Picture. He followed with Brooks' Oscar-nominated "As Good As It Gets" (1997) which teamed Helen Hunt, Jack Nicholson and Greg Kinnear.