Thomas David Schlamme
May 22, 1950
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Thomas David Schlamme ( // ; born May 22, 1950) is an American television director, known particularly for his collaborations with Aaron Sorkin. He is known for his work as executive producer on The West Wing and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, as well as his work as director on Sports Night and The Americans .
Schlamme was born in Houston, Texas. He is Jewish, and his family escaped Nazi Germany the week before the Kristallnacht.He attended Bellaire High School in Bellaire, Texas.
Schlamme moved from his native Houston to New York City in 1973. After serving in several low level positions for production companies, he founded his own company, Schlamme Productions, in 1980. From there, he produced campaigns for a number of musicals, including Cats . He directed the first "I Want My MTV!" advertising campaign in 1981 for producer Buzz Potamkin, and singer/songwriter Amy Grant's 1985 music video "Find a Way" for producers Fred Seibert and Alan Goodman. Throughout the 1980s, he produced a number of specials on various entertainers including Whoopi Goldberg and Rowan Atkinson.
Starting in the late 1990s, Schlamme served as producer for shows such as Tracey Takes On... and has directed shows such as Ally McBeal , Boston Public , Friends , ER and Shaun Cassidy's cult favorite science fiction TV show Invasion . He is an executive producer of the American crime drama television series Snowfall which premiered on FX in July 2017. His production company is Shoe Money Productions.
"You almost never see how anyone travels from point A to point C [in most TV shows]. I wanted the audience to witness every journey these people took. It all had a purpose, even seeing them order lunch. It just seemed to be the proper visual rhythm with which to marry Aaron's words. I got lucky that it worked."
—Thomas Schlamme, on the "Walk and Talk" device.
Schlamme made his feature film directing debut with Miss Firecracker in 1989, and later directed the 1993 comedy film So I Married an Axe Murderer , starring Mike Myers. He had previously directed the filming of Spalding Gray's monologue Terrors of Pleasure in 1987. Schlamme also directed the pilot episodes of Spin City and What's Alan Watching?
He worked on the TV series Parenthood for NBC and the now-cancelled Pan Am for ABC. Schlamme has also directed multiple episodes of the 2014 series Manhattan .
In 2017, he was elected president of the Directors Guild of America.
Schlamme's nearly decade-long collaboration in television with writer-producer Aaron Sorkin began in early 1998 when they found they shared common creative ground on the soon to be produced Sports Night.Their successful partnership in television was one in which Sorkin focused on writing the scripts while Schlamme executive produced and occasionally directed; they worked together on Sports Night, The West Wing, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Schlamme would create the look of the shows, work with the other directors, discuss the scripts with Sorkin as soon as they were turned in, make design and casting decisions, and attend the budget meetings; Sorkin tended to stick strictly to writing.
Schlamme first worked with Aaron Sorkin on his short-lived ABC comedy/drama Sports Night , for which he directed 16 of its 45 episodes. Their biggest break was in 1999, teaming up again on their hit political drama The West Wing . He directed the pilot episode and from then on served as the executive producer until 2003. He directed 14 episodes of The West Wing in addition to serving as executive producer. In 2003, at the end of the fourth season, Schlamme and Sorkin left the show due to internal conflicts at Warner Bros. TV not involving the NBC network, thrusting producer John Wells into an expanded role as showrunner.
In early October 2005, a pilot script dubbed Studio 7 on the Sunset Strip for a new TV series, written by Sorkin and with Schlamme attached as producer, started circulating around Hollywood and generating interest on the web. A week later, NBC bought from Warner Bros. TV the right to show the TV series on their network for a near-record license fee in a bidding war with CBS.The show's name was later changed to Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip .
In September 2006, the pilot for Studio 60 aired on NBC, directed by Schlamme. The pilot was critically acclaimed and had high ratings, but Studio 60 experienced a significant drop in audience by mid-season. The show was cancelled after one season.
Schlamme's direction is characterized by use of a technique called the "walk and talk": sequences consisting of single lengthy tracking shots involving multiple characters engaging in conversation as they move through the set.Characters enter and exit the conversation as the shot continues without any cuts.
Schlamme resides in Los Angeles with his wife actress and filmmaker Christine Lahti.They have three children. He is the step-brother of attorney Solomon Wisenberg, who was Ken Starr's deputy during the Impeachment of Bill Clinton and questioned the president during the grand jury interview. He is the uncle of producer Dylan K. Massin, who produced 43 episodes of The West Wing , Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life , and other television series.
The West Wing is an American serial political drama television series created by Aaron Sorkin that was originally broadcast on NBC from September 22, 1999, to May 14, 2006. The series is set primarily in the West Wing of the White House, where the Oval Office and offices of presidential senior personnel are located, during the fictitious Democratic administration of President Josiah Bartlet.
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Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is an American comedy-drama television series created and primarily written by Aaron Sorkin. The series was about the production of a live comedy series, similar to Saturday Night Live. Produced by Warner Bros. Television, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip ran on NBC for 22 episodes, from September 18, 2006, to June 28, 2007. On May 14, 2007, NBC cancelled the series after one season. It is the only one of the four television shows created by Sorkin not to air for more than one season.
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"What Kind of Day Has It Been" is the 22nd episode of The West Wing, the season finale of the show's first season. It originally aired on NBC on May 17, 2000. Events circle around the attempted rescue of a US fighter pilot in Iraq, and the president taking part in a town hall meeting in Rosslyn, Virginia. The episode was written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Thomas Schlamme. "What Kind of Day Has It Been" is also the name of the first-season finales of both the series Sports Night and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, as well as the series finale of The Newsroom, all of which were created by Aaron Sorkin. It was also a quote by Leo in the fourth-season episode "Commencement" in the situation room. Sorkin claimed that he took the phrase from Robert Whitehead, lead producer of Sorkin's A Few Good Men, who used to start meetings at the end of rehearsal days by asking this question.
Walk and talk is a storytelling technique used in filmmaking and television production in which a number of characters have a conversation while walking somewhere. Walk and talk often involves a walking character who is then joined by another character. On their way to their destinations, the two talk. Variations include interruptions from other characters and walk and talk relay races, in which new characters join the group and one of the original characters leaves the conversation, while the remaining characters continue the walking and talking.
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"Pilot" is the first episode of the television series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. The episode was first aired in the United States on the NBC network on September 18, 2006. Written by series creator Aaron Sorkin, and directed by executive producer Thomas Schlamme, the episode introduces the chaotic behind-the-scenes depiction of a fictional Saturday Night Live type show also called Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
Alexander John Graves is an American film director, television director, television producer and screenwriter.
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The Newsroom is an American political drama television series created and principally written by Aaron Sorkin that premiered on HBO on June 24, 2012, and concluded on December 14, 2014, consisting of 25 episodes over three seasons.
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Pilot is the pilot episode of the television series Sports Night, written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Thomas Schlamme, which premiered on ABC in the United States on September 22, 1998. The pilot introduces viewers to a varied group of personalities working on a fictional late-night American sports show called Sports Night, on the CSC network.
"We Just Decided To" is the first episode of the first season of the American television series The Newsroom. It first aired on June 24, 2012 in the United States on HBO. "We Just Decided To" was written by creator Aaron Sorkin and directed by Greg Mottola. In the aftermath of his public tirade, acclaimed Atlantis Cable News anchor Will McAvoy returns to his job to find that most of his staff are leaving and his new executive producer is his ex-girlfriend, MacKenzie McHale and when some breaking news about a potentially disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico hits the network, the staff faces a new challenge.
The West Wing Weekly is an American podcast hosted by Hrishikesh Hirway and Joshua Malina. In each episode, the hosts discuss one episode of the television program The West Wing, which originally aired on NBC from 1999 to 2006. The podcast, which ran from 2016–2020, features various cast and crew members including series creator Aaron Sorkin, director Tommy Schlamme, series actors Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe, Bradley Whitford, Richard Schiff, Allison Janney, Janel Moloney, Marlee Matlin, and Dulé Hill, longtime series writer-producers Eli Attie and Lawrence O'Donnell, and many former government officials, academics, and pundits, among others.