Thomas Schlamme Elected for Second Term as DGA President

The veteran television director and nine-time Emmy winner was voted to serve another two-year term Saturday in Los Angeles.
Thomas Schlamme 71st Annual Directors Guild of America Awards, Los Angeles, USA - 02 Feb 2019
Thomas Schlamme at the 71st DGA Awards
Matt Baron/Shutterstock

Thomas Schlamme has been elected for a second term as the Directors Guild of America president. This will mark his second, two-year term, which is typically the extent of a DGA presidency.

On Saturday, during the guild’s convention at DGA headquarters in Los Angeles, Schlamme was selected by acclamation of 155 delegates, representing more than 18,000 members.

“It is my honor to once again accept the position of President of the Directors Guild of America,” Schlamme said in a statement. “It’s a privilege I don’t take lightly. We’re in a time of immense change, and the next few years will be critical for the DGA and for our industry. I am focused and ready to lead us through our next negotiations, and to ensure that the creative and economic rights of directors and their teams are protected for years to come. And I am fortunate that serving alongside me is a dedicated, experienced team of fellow officers elected to represent our members.”

Schlamme made his mark in television, serving as an integral creative partner with Aaron Sorkin on “The West Wing,” “Sports Night,” and “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.” He also pulled double duty as a director and executive producer on “Mr. Sunshine,” “Manhattan,” and, most recently, “Snowfall.” His directorial credits include “E.R.” — where he helped popularize the use of “walk and talk” sequences, or lengthy tracking shots that create a more active visual image during long exchanges of dialogue — “Friends,” “Spin City,” “The Larry Sanders Show,” “Boston Public,” “Parenthood,” and six episodes of “The Americans.”

He won two of his nine Emmys for directing “The West Wing” and “Sports Night,” while taking home three DGA Awards for the same two series (twice for “Sports Night”).

Schlamme has also been a vocal advocate for increased inclusion in the directorial space. After seeing increases in the percentage of women directors and directors of color late last year, Schlamme said there was still more to be done.

“It’s encouraging to see that the compass is pointing in the right direction, yet progress is mixed,” Schlamme said in a statement at the time. “The bright spot here is that the doors are finally opening wider for women, who are seeing more opportunities to direct television. But it’s disappointing the same can’t be said for directors of color. The studios and networks who do the hiring still have a long way to go, and we are committed to continuing this important fight.”

As for the other elected positions, Mary Rae Thewlis will serve as national vice president; Betty Thomas was elected as secretary-treasurer; Lesli Linka Glatter will serve as first vice-president; second vice-president is Ron Howard; third vice-president Jon Favreau; fourth vice-president Laura Belsey; fifth vice-president Bethany Rooney; sixth vice-president Lily Olszewski; and assistant secretary-treasurer Scott Berger.

The national board — which Schlamme served on between 2005 and 2017 — will include Steven Spielberg, Jon Avnet, Karen Gaviola, Julie Gelfand, Todd Holland, Nicole Kassell, Kathleen McGill, Don Mischer, Christopher Nolan, Liz Ryan, and Oz Scott.

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