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Ten Minutes with Tom Schiller

"Saturday Night Live" writer for 11 years and documentary film maker



Photo by Jacque Lynn

Tom Schiller grew up in Los Angeles, the son of television writer Bob Schiller, who created “I Love Lucy” and won an Emmy for “All in the Family.” His dream of being a foreign-film director was sidetracked when he was invited to write for a new television show: “Saturday Night Live,” an opportunity that brought him success and a move to the East Coast. Schiller wrote for SNL for 11 years. It’s still going strong, and so is he.

Prior to writing for “Saturday Night Live,” you worked on several documentaries. How did you get that chance? 
I was always trying to get out of going to school, so I got a job as an apprentice to a documentary filmmaker named Robert Snyder, and I was allowed to get school credits for that. I worked on films about Buckminster Fuller, Anaïs Nin, and Willem de Kooning. Then we were assigned to do a film on Henry Miller.

What was that like?
Miller was a great mentor and we became good friends. I wanted to show him from my own point of view, so I made my own film called Henry Miller Asleep and Awake in 1967. It aired on PBS and became a hit. 

How did you segue from documentaries to writing comedy?
I met a Canadian named Lorne Michaels who was an apprentice on one of my father’s sitcoms. He said he had this idea for a late-night TV show. It was a way out of Los Angeles, so I took the chance. 

What was the most satisfying experience doing that show?
It was being able to make my own short films, which appeared on the show. I had all these popular comedic actors at my command. I could write anything I wanted and they didn’t censor me too much. In two weeks I could shoot, edit, and air a film with my name on it that reached a million viewers. That’s a great feeling of exhilaration.

What accounts for the staying power of SNL?
While it wasn’t a new format, it was aimed at my generation. For the first time we had the airwaves to ourselves and we could make fun and talk about smoking pot and being hippies and we had a built-in audience. 

How did you wind up in the northwest corner?
I lived half my life in LA when it was still charming and fun; then I spent the next part of my life in New York. When I met my wife Jacque we found this wonderful house in Cornwall. We’ve had it for 15 years.

How did the two of you meet?
She was working at an advertising agency and I was hired as a consultant. It was kind of love at first sight—one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me. 

Speaking of your wife, she is a writer as well. Have you ever collaborated?
We did about 500 television commercials together. She is now writing a children’s book that will be published in 2018.

What do you find appealing about living in Cornwall?
We love to do bizarre things like visiting abandoned amusement parks and checking out ski-resort restaurants. But we have also checked out every eating place within a hundred miles. We are constantly exploring and enjoying our life together. —Joseph Montebello

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November 2017

Come create new memories in a magical setting of over 100 holiday trees, elves and pixie dust. Enjoy shopping, live entertainment, raffle prizes and more! Featuring special kids events:...

Cost: Admission: Adults: $10 • Children & Seniors: $5• Kids under 5: Free

Where:
Crowne Plaza Hotel
18 Old Ridgebury Road
EXIT 2, I-84
Danbury, CT  06810
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Sponsor: Ann's Place
Telephone: 1-866-907-2314
Contact Name: Jack Bouffard
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17 years and going strong! This holiday, we’ll again be creating and donating Thanksgiving baskets filled with all the fixins’ to less fortunate families in the central Connecticut...

Where:
Lewis Mills High School
26 Lyon Rd
Burlington, CT
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Clarinetist Dr. Vincent de Luise, Soprano Becky Nesmith and Pianist Jenny Li will perform a classical chamber concert titled An Afternoon of Romantic Music. The Romantic period was one of the most...

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT  06793
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The WCSU Wind Ensemble, conducted by Fernando Jimenez, will perform Sunday, Nov. 19 at 4 p.m. in the Veronica Hagman Concert Hall of the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the...

Cost: $6.00

Where:
WCSU Westside Campus
43 Lake Ave Extension
Danbury, CT  06810
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In the summer of 1972 Jason rode a motorcycle from Connecticut to California, with stops in most of the Western States. The beauty he experienced on this trip ignited a lifelong passion for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
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Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
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The Department of Theatre Arts will present "EVITA" in the MainStage Theatre of the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the WCSU Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury....

Cost: $25

Where:
WCSU Westside Campus
43 Lake Ave Extension
Danbury, CT  06811
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Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
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Litchfield, CT  06759
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Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
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The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06059
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
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Sodexo will host a Thanksgiving Dinner from 4 to 8:30 p.m. in the Student Center Restaurant on the university's Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. Students can use a meal swipe and...

Cost: $9.75

Where:
WCSU Midtown Campus
181 White Street
Danbury, CT  06811
View map »

More information

In the summer of 1972 Jason rode a motorcycle from Connecticut to California, with stops in most of the Western States. The beauty he experienced on this trip ignited a lifelong passion for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
Website »

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This is the ideal opportunity for those who wish to learn basic conversational Spanish, as well as for those who wish to strengthen their verbal skills in the language.  All ages, stages and...

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT  06793
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In the summer of 1972 Jason rode a motorcycle from Connecticut to California, with stops in most of the Western States. The beauty he experienced on this trip ignited a lifelong passion for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
Website »

More information

The WCSU Chamber Singers, conducted by Kevin Jay Isaacs, and the Concert Choir, conducted by Cory Ganschow, will perform Tuesday, Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. in the Veronica Hagman Concert...

Cost: $6.00

Where:
WCSU Westside Campus
43 Lake Ave Extension
Danbury, CT  06810
View map »


Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In the summer of 1972 Jason rode a motorcycle from Connecticut to California, with stops in most of the Western States. The beauty he experienced on this trip ignited a lifelong passion for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In the summer of 1972 Jason rode a motorcycle from Connecticut to California, with stops in most of the Western States. The beauty he experienced on this trip ignited a lifelong passion for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Bridge Healing Arts Center Hosts an open house for practitioners of the healing arts to explore Connecticut’s first synergistic wellness community. Providers will now be able to refer...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bridge Healing Arts Center
304 Main Street
Farmington, CT  06032
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Sponsor: Bridge Healing Arts Center
Telephone: 860-710-5504
Contact Name: Vera Halina
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Dreaming of holiday shopping , strolling through a quaint New England village while sipping sparkling wine? Well, dream no more and come to Kent’s fifth annual Holiday Champagne Stroll....

Where:
Kent, CT


Website »

More information

In the summer of 1972 Jason rode a motorcycle from Connecticut to California, with stops in most of the Western States. The beauty he experienced on this trip ignited a lifelong passion for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Magician, Debbie O'Carroll, will present stage magic with lively theatre and lots of audience participation to entertain you and your Thanksgiving company.  Enjoy this colorful and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Dreaming of holiday shopping , strolling through a quaint New England village while sipping sparkling wine? Well, dream no more and come to Kent’s fifth annual Holiday Champagne Stroll....

Where:
Kent, CT


Website »

More information

In the summer of 1972 Jason rode a motorcycle from Connecticut to California, with stops in most of the Western States. The beauty he experienced on this trip ignited a lifelong passion for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

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