Making SNL

An Evening with the Directing Team from Saturday Night Live

June 8, 2019 An Eastern Region Special Projects Committee Panel Discussion

On June 8, DGA members gathered in the Guild’s New York Theater for a special evening honoring a DGA Award-winning classic series. Presented by the Eastern Region Special Projects Committee, Live from New York, It’s... An Evening with the Directing Team from SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE featured a panel discussion with Directors Don Roy King and Oz Rodriguez, Associate Directors Shane Kalman, Michael Mancini and Michael Poole and Stage Managers Gena Rositano and Chris Kelly. The discussion was moderated by Director Jerry Foley.

For nearly half a century, Saturday Night Live has provided a view of the world through the lens of sketch comedy. Poking fun at everything from politicians to everyday citizens, the legendary series has made viewers both howl with laughter and pause and think. The series and its accompanying anniversary specials have been nominated for the DGA Awards 15 times and won a DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Musical Variety for Director Beth McCarthy-Miller (Saturday Night Live with Val Kilmer & U2) in 2000 and four subsequent DGA Award wins for Director Don Roy King in the Variety/Talk/News/Sports/Series category for his SNL episodes with "Host: Jimmy Fallon" in 2017, Host: Dave Chappelle" in 2015 and “Host Justin Timberlake" in 2013 and in the Variety/Talk/News/Sports/Specials category for the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special in 2015.

Following a welcome from Foley, King, Rodriguez, Kalman, Mancini, Poole, Rositano and Kelly joined him onstage for a rousing conversation about what goes on behind the scenes illustrated by hilarious clips. Some of the topics included: the fast paced and demanding schedule of putting together a weekly show; the work flow in the control room as changes are made during the live show; how the film unit preps, shoots and completes a “film piece” in 48 hours; and how the Stage Managers coordinate the flow of talent and crew on the floor during a hectic live show.

After the panel discussion, the panelists took questions from the audience.


About the Panelists:

Don Roy KingDirector Don Roy King
King has directed thirteen seasons of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, work that has earned him eight Primetime Emmys and twelve nominations in addition to his previously mentioned DGA Award wins. King has been nominated another eight times for the DGA Musical Variety or Variety/Talk/News/Sports/Series category all for episodes of Saturday Night Live. Some of his other directorial projects include the feature films Romeo and Juliet and Memphis the Musical; the movies for television Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical and Putting It Together; the television specials Smokey Joe's Cafe: The Songs of Leiber and Stoller and numerous SNL related specials; and episodes of Survivor, The Early Show, Criss Angel Mindfreak, The Howard Stern Show, Kids Are People, Too and America Alive! King has won two other Emmys for directing The Mike Douglas Show; and for heading the design team that revamped the graphic look of CBS News. King has been a DGA member since 1972.

Oz RodriguezDirector Oz Rodriguez
Rodriguez grew up in the Dominican Republic where he started watching SNL because he heard Nirvana was playing one night. After film school in Los Angeles, he landed a gig at Funny or Die which led to directing sketches at Saturday Night Live. His other directorial credits include the upcoming feature Vampires vs. the Bronx, the comedy special Michael Che Matters and episodes of A.P. Bio, Detroiters, The Last Man on Earth, Maya & Marty and Newsreaders. Rodriguez has been a DGA member since 2011.


Jerry Foley Director Jerry Foley (moderator)
Best known for his work on Late Show with David Letterman where he directed more than 1,000 episodes, Foley's directing resume includes the movie for television Tomorrow Is Tonight, the television specials Emilio and Gloria Estefan: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, America Salutes You and Coming Home: Military Families Cope with Change; and episodes of The Alec Baldwin Show and Live on Letterman. Foley is a seven-time DGA Award nominee in the Musical Variety category, all for episodes of The Late Show with David Letterman. His eighth DGA Award nomination came in the Variety/Talk/News/Sports – Specials category for Tony Bennett Celebrates 90 - The Best is Yet to Come. Foley has been a DGA member since 1995.


Shane KalmanAssociate Director Shane Kalman
In addition to his work on SNL, Kalman’s resume includes the feature films Breakup at a Wedding and X/Y; the movie for television Benefits with Friends the pilots for the series Run and The Other Two and episodes of the series Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and the limited series Vinyl and The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst Kalman has been a DGA member since 2007 and has served as an alternate on the Eastern AD/UPM Council.


Michael Mancini Associate Director Michael Mancini
Mancini has been part of the production team for Saturday Night Live since joining the NBC family in 2011. He started his career in television as a page at CBS, where he remained for 26 years working his way up the ladder on shows such as The Early Show and CBS Morning News. Other CBS credits include CBS This Morning, CBS Saturday Morning, The Saturday Early Show, CBS Sunday Morning, Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer, 48 Hours and CBS News Special Events. He has also been part of five DGA Award-winning and seven Emmy Award-winning teams during his years at Saturday Night Live. Mancini has been a DGA member since 1988.


Michael Poole Associate Director Michael Poole
During his 20-year tenure at Saturday Night Live, Poole has served in various positions such as Audio Engineer and Video Editor before serving as an Associate Director for the past 10 years. In addition to his work at Saturday Night Live, Poole’s resume includes Maya & Marty, Adele Live in New York City and the 30 Rock Live Show. He has also been part of four DGA Award-winning productions of Saturday Night Live. Poole has been a DGA member since 2009.


Chris KellyStage Manager Chris Kelly
Kelly just completed his 19th season with Saturday Night Live. He began his career as MTV’s first intern in 1981. In addition to his work at Saturday Night Live, Kelly’s resume includes productions of the Tony Awards and the Video Music Awards, MTV Unplugged and VH1 Hard Rock Live, The Radio City Christmas Spectacular and 10 years at Sesame Street. He has been part of several DGA and Emmy Award-winning productions and two Peabody Award winning production. Kelly has been a DGA member since 1997.


Gena RositanoStage Manager Gena Rositano
Rositano has been a Stage Manager at Saturday Night Live for 22 seasons. She began her television career as an intern at MTV networks where she got a solid and diverse course in television production, working as everything from a production assistant to associate producer to fill in VJ. In addition to her work at Saturday Night Live, Rositano also served as a stage manager on productions including the series 30 Rock, Maya & Marty, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Spectacle: Elvis Costello with... and The Jon Stewart Show; the television specials Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Concert for Autism Education, Adele Live in New York City and Goodnight, Sweet Prince. She has also been part of four DGA Award-winning productions of Saturday Night Live. Rositano has been a DGA member since 1994.


About the Committee:

Special Projects is the educational and cultural arm of the Directors Guild of America. It provides opportunities for creative exchange with programs for members and industry colleagues to celebrate the history and achievements of its members, advance their professional skills, and prepare them for the technological changes of the future. The Eastern Region Special Projects Committee is chaired by Raymond DeFelitta. The Committee Members are Ted Bogosian, Gary Donatelli, Daniel Hank, Dennis W. Mazzocco, and Susanna Styron.

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