Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

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

Add your comment:

Connect With Us    

Sign-up for our event 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Catch the Vibe Newsletter

See this weekend's events in the area!
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading Local Professionals

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

February 2018

Robert Deyber (born August 1955 in Greenwich, Connecticut) is an American artist best known for literal visual portrayals of cliches, euphemisms, and idioms from the English and other languages....

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

Come see and shop for Xavier Ricolfi's new line of jewelry just in time for Valentine's Day!  French designer Xavier Ricolfi draws upon his industrial design background, ...

Cost: free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

There’s nothing better than wholesome fresh cheese! In this class, you will learn the how easy and fun it is to bring fresh cheese to your table or incorporate into your cooking. Controlling...

Cost: $65.00

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Robert Deyber (born August 1955 in Greenwich, Connecticut) is an American artist best known for literal visual portrayals of cliches, euphemisms, and idioms from the English and other languages....

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

Come see and shop for Xavier Ricolfi's new line of jewelry just in time for Valentine's Day!  French designer Xavier Ricolfi draws upon his industrial design background, ...

Cost: free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Robert Deyber (born August 1955 in Greenwich, Connecticut) is an American artist best known for literal visual portrayals of cliches, euphemisms, and idioms from the English and other languages....

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

Come see and shop for Xavier Ricolfi's new line of jewelry just in time for Valentine's Day!  French designer Xavier Ricolfi draws upon his industrial design background, ...

Cost: free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Robert Deyber (born August 1955 in Greenwich, Connecticut) is an American artist best known for literal visual portrayals of cliches, euphemisms, and idioms from the English and other languages....

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

Come see and shop for Xavier Ricolfi's new line of jewelry just in time for Valentine's Day!  French designer Xavier Ricolfi draws upon his industrial design background, ...

Cost: free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

The Loft Gallery will host Litchfield artists, Barbra Kraut and Joan Morosani, from February 21 through April 8. ​The exhibit will highlight abstract paintings by Ms. Kraut,...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Smithy and Loft Gallery
10 Main Street
New Preston , CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan
Website »

More information

Gaining confidence in the kitchen begins with being comfortable with a cook’s most important tool – a sharp knife. In this class, you will learn basic knife skills including how to...

Cost: 75.00

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Telephone: 860-355-0300
Website »

More information

KBJB Radio's Stand-up Comedy Workshop runs for 6 weeks Consists of 6 weekly 2-hour class sessions, a glamorous graduation show for family and friends to attend, an edited video of your...

Cost: 225.00

Where:
Inspirit Healing Studio
346 Main Street South
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: KBJB Radio
Telephone: 860-350-8152
Contact Name: KJ Johansen
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Robert Deyber (born August 1955 in Greenwich, Connecticut) is an American artist best known for literal visual portrayals of cliches, euphemisms, and idioms from the English and other languages....

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

Come see and shop for Xavier Ricolfi's new line of jewelry just in time for Valentine's Day!  French designer Xavier Ricolfi draws upon his industrial design background, ...

Cost: free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

The Loft Gallery will host Litchfield artists, Barbra Kraut and Joan Morosani, from February 21 through April 8. ​The exhibit will highlight abstract paintings by Ms. Kraut,...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Smithy and Loft Gallery
10 Main Street
New Preston , CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan
Website »

More information

EVERY THURSDAY | 7:30 PM - 10:00 pm Music | Spoken Word | Comedy | More Hosted by Don Lowe Hunt Hill Farm is excited to announce OpenMic night every Thursday night.  Please stop by to...

Cost: donation

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860.355.0300
Contact Name: John C. Maxwell III
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Robert Deyber (born August 1955 in Greenwich, Connecticut) is an American artist best known for literal visual portrayals of cliches, euphemisms, and idioms from the English and other languages....

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

Come see and shop for Xavier Ricolfi's new line of jewelry just in time for Valentine's Day!  French designer Xavier Ricolfi draws upon his industrial design background, ...

Cost: free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

The Loft Gallery will host Litchfield artists, Barbra Kraut and Joan Morosani, from February 21 through April 8. ​The exhibit will highlight abstract paintings by Ms. Kraut,...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Smithy and Loft Gallery
10 Main Street
New Preston , CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Robert Deyber (born August 1955 in Greenwich, Connecticut) is an American artist best known for literal visual portrayals of cliches, euphemisms, and idioms from the English and other languages....

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

Come see and shop for Xavier Ricolfi's new line of jewelry just in time for Valentine's Day!  French designer Xavier Ricolfi draws upon his industrial design background, ...

Cost: free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

The Loft Gallery will host Litchfield artists, Barbra Kraut and Joan Morosani, from February 21 through April 8. ​The exhibit will highlight abstract paintings by Ms. Kraut,...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Smithy and Loft Gallery
10 Main Street
New Preston , CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Grit and Grace

Megan Henry slides into the next chapter

Starting a Pool

New life springs forth as winter recedes

Sneaking Around

Trying to photograph a coyote

Art: Au Naturale

Syrup Time!

Historical tours of maple syrup
Edit ModuleShow Tags