Thomas Schlamme

Active - 1989 - 1995  |   Born - May 22, 1950 in Houston, Texas, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Comedy Drama, Drama

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Biography by Sarah Sloboda

Thomas Schlamme gained an abundance of experience in the film industry during the 1980s and 1990s in directorial and production positions. Even his familial status incorporated his entertainment career, as he married Golden Globe-winning actress Christine Lahti in 1983. Schlamme and Lahti had three children together. Born on May 22, 1950, Schlamme was raised in Houston, TX. Starting off in television, he founded his own commercial production company in 1980, creating advertisements for plays in New York. Soon after directing Emmy-nominated "after-school specials," he became affiliated with big acting names like Bette Midler and Whoopi Goldberg. In 1989, he directed his first full-length feature, which was adapted from a play by Beth Henley, entitled Miss Firecracker. A light-hearted comedy, the film featured Holly Hunter and Tim Robbins. Several years later, Schlamme directed another comedy, this time featuring '80s and '90s Saturday Night Live star Mike Myers, called So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993). While maintaining his status as director for episodes of numerous prime-time television series, Schlamme became strongly affiliated with network TV, and would eventually step up to the producer level within the industry. Beginning with an episode of The Wonder Years, a retrospective drama featuring a young Fred Savage, Schlamme earned directorial credits on highly successful programming throughout the 1980s and 1990s. His NBC spots included episodes of the romantic comedy series Mad About You, the sitcom Friends, and the drama ER. In 1996, he worked with Charlie Sheen and Heather Locklear on Spin City. Taking on the law drama genre, he also directed episodes of The Practice, Ally McBeal, and Fox's Boston Public. Doubling up his billing as producer and director, he worked on the series Tracey Takes On in 1996. He acted as executive producer of The West Wing and Sports Night in the 1990s, also directing some of the episodes in the two series. In addition to his behind-the-scenes involvement on television, he appeared as himself in the biographical film about his wife in Intimate Portrait: Christine Lahti, which appeared on TV in 1998.

Movie Highlights

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  • Went to high school with Brent Spiner and Randy Quaid.
  • Formed his own commercial production company in 1980.
  • Wife Christine Lahti and eldest son Wilson appeared in his feature film directorial debut, Miss Firecracker, in 1989.
  • Directed the pilot episode of Spin City, starring Michael J. Fox, in 1996.
  • Frequent collaborator of screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, beginning with their work together on the series Sports Night.
  • Widely recognized within the television industry for his frequent use of the storytelling technique known as the "walk and talk."