Saturday Night Live Holds Short Film Fest

The Museum of Television & Radio presents "From Albert Brooks to the TV Funhouse: Selected
Short Films from Saturday Night Live," a 90-minute compilation package highlighting one of
SNLís most intriguing achievements, its emergence as network televisionís premier showcase
for short films. Running in both New York and Los Angeles from September 7 through October
21, 2001, Selected Short Films from Saturday Night Live will feature such films as Christopher
Guestís ìsynchronized swimmers,î a Walter Williamsís ìMr. Billî piece, and Tom Schillerís ìLa
Dolce Gildaî and ìDonít Look Back in Anger.î Screening times in New York are Thursday and
Friday evenings at 6:30 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays at 12:30 p.m. In Los Angeles,
screenings are Wednesdays through Sundays at 3:00 p.m. and Thursday evenings at 7:00

On October 11, 1975, Saturday Night Live arrived onto a late-night landscape dominated by
reruns and galvanized its young audience with a defiantly countercultural sensibility. Searching
for a ìnameî comedian to act as permanent host and draw viewers to a program otherwise
populated by unknowns, SNLís producers approached Albert Brooks, whose ìanticomicî
persona dovetailed with the showís underground flavor. Brooks declined, suggesting that SNL
book a different guest host every week. Instead, he would contribute a series of short films.

Brooks used the assignment as a de facto film school, turning out polished, satirical pieces on
show business that foreshadowed his work in features. His successor, Gary Weis-a former
apprentice of legendary director Sam Peckinpah-crafted whimsical slice-of-life documentaries
and wry character studies that contrasted sharply with Brooksís cutting ìinsideî humor. Tom
Schiller was SNLís next in-house filmmaker, an accomplished documentarian who had worked
with such luminaries as Willem de Kooning and Henry Miller. Schiller was a master stylist,
adept at parodying a wide range of material, and his pieces were filled with heady references
to the likes of Fellini and Picasso. Later in the showís run, cast member Christopher Guest
perfected his deadpan improvisational style in shorts like the classic îsynchronized swimmersî

SNL also welcomed films from a wide variety of outside contributors: Robert Altman offered a
piece featuring Sissy Spacek that referenced the identity games the two would explore in the
film Three Women. Eric Idle and Gary Weis debuted a segment of their parody, The Rutles,
on the show. Rutles editor Aviva Slesin contributed short pieces before winning an Academy
Award for her documentary feature on the Algonquin Round Table. Andy Warhol offered
elliptical musings on various topics. Tim Robbins gave his right-wing folksinger Bob Roberts a
dry run in an SNL short. Eclipsing all of the above in terms of popular impact was Walter
Williams, an accounting school dropout who submitted a bare-bones home movie featuring an
accident-prone little fellow made of modeling clay; Mr. Bill went on to become one of the most
beloved characters in the showís history.

The tradition continues today with Adam McKayís disquietingly absurdist pieces and Robert
Smigelís TV Funhouse, an umbrella title for a series of animated shorts that cloak pointed
social commentary in the guise of the Saturday morning cartoon shows of the seventies.

The Museum of Television & Radio in New York, located at 25 West 52 Street in Manhattan, is
open Tuesdays through Sundays from noon to 6:00 p.m., until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays, and
Friday evenings until 9:00 p.m. (theaters only). The Museum of Television & Radio in
California, located at 465 North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills, is open Wednesdays through
Sundays from noon to 5:00 p.m. and until 9:00 p.m. on Thursdays. Both Museums are closed
on New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Suggested contribution:
Members free; $6.00 for adults; $4.00 for senior citizens and students; and $3.00 for children
under thirteen. Admission is free in Los Angeles. The public areas in both Museums are
accessible to wheelchairs, and assisted listening devices are available. Programs are subject to
change. You may call the Museum in New York at (212) 621-6800, or in Los Angeles at (310)
786-1000. Visit the Museumís website at


Saturday Night Live Holds Short Film Fest