Robert Caminiti

Assistant Director


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his four-hour interview, Robert Caminiti talks about his early years and being hired by NBC. He recalls becoming a stage manager for NBC at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, where he worked on game shows, including Concentration, Winning Streak, and Jeopardy!, as well as the daytime serial The Doctors. He discusses working with news anchor Edwin Newman at NBC News, and outlines some of his own political stances. He chronicles his years working at Tomorrow with Tom Snyder, and relates how that show’s cancellation led to him becoming an assistant director for Saturday Night Live. Caminiti details his many years at Saturday Night Live, including his collaboration with the various directors of the show, his relationship with producer Lorne Michaels, and the various interactions he’s had with the cast over the years. He concludes with a discussion about the Directors Guild of America, and addresses the prospect of retiring in the then-near future. Jenni Matz conducted the interview on December 13, 2018 in Harrington Park, NJ.

"It’s not brain surgery, but it’s complex and if it goes wrong, it screws the whole network up. Being an assistant director can be a complicated operation."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Robert Caminiti on becoming a stage manager for NBC at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and why that job interested him
Robert Caminiti on covering the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago with Edwin Newman
Robert Caminiti on working Dick Ebersol and Lorne Michaels on Saturday Night Live, and on what made working as an assistant director on that show different from other shows
Robert Caminiti on the Directors Guild of America
Robert Caminiti on how Saturday Night Live dealt with 9/11
Robert Caminiti on working with Beth McCarthy-Miller when she was the director of Saturday Night Live
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood experiences, World War II and witnessing anti-semitism as a kid in New York City; on his earliest memories of watching television with his family
On being hired by NBC; on working in various departments at NBC in the 1950s and early 1960s; on becoming a stage manager for NBC at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and why that job interested him
On his duties as stage manager on Concentration, and on the Quiz Show Scandals; on working with producer Bob Stewart on Winning Streak; on the fast pacing and structured environment of being part of a crew on a game show
On working with Concentration host Hugh Downs and working with director Lynwood King; on stage managing for Goodson-Todman Productions' game shows; on learning to become a stage manager on the daytime drama The Doctors
On learning to work with actors on The Doctors; on his various duties as stage manager on The Doctors; on stage managing for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and on working at 30 Rockefeller Plaza
On assistant directing for Jeopardy!, and on working with producer Robert Rubin; on the difference between stage managing and being an assistant director; on what he enjoyed about working on game shows, particularly What's My Line?
On wanting to speak to Harvey Keitel when he hosted Saturday Night Live; on working on a couple of feature films, including "Quiz Show"; on Saturday Night Live director Dave Wilson, and on directing a drug raid for NBC News

Chapter 2

On his experiences working for NBC News and his lifelong interest in politics; on covering the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago with Edwin Newman
On NBC News head Reuven Frank; on assistant directors editing footage; on doing "complex edits" as an assistant director on Saturday Night Live, and on working with Lorne Michaels
On working with Don Pardo on various shows, including Saturday Night Live; on working on Wimbledon for NBC Sports; on assistant directing on Tomorrow with Tom Snyder
On Tom Snyder interviewing Charles Manson on Tomorrow; on Tom Snyder's professionalism on Tomorrow, and on Rona Barrett on the show; on his day-to-day duties on Tomorrow with Tom Snyder
On filling in as assistant director on Saturday Night Live before he was hired by them; on the end of Tomorrow; on being hired as assistant director on Saturday Night Live, and on why he was hired
On working Dick Ebersol and Lorne Michaels on Saturday Night Live and on what made working as an assistant director on that show different from other shows; on the pace and production schedule of working on Saturday Night Live

Chapter 3

On his collaboration with Saturday Night Live director Dave Wilson during the broadcast of the live show; on his state of mind during broadcasts of Saturday Night Live
On working with Beth McCarthy-Miller when she was the director of Saturday Night Live; on Don Roy King directing Saturday Night Live; on leaving his assistant directing position and becoming an editor on Saturday Night Live
On how Saturday Night Live dealt with 9/11; on making suggestions for sketches for Saturday Night Live, and on Don Pardo keeping all the Jeopardy! cards; on the Don Pardo bicycle story
On the behind the scenes employees staying with Saturday Night Live for years, and on working for Lorne Michaels; on his involvement in the first episode of Saturday Night Live; on the politics of Saturday Night Live
On working on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade; on how technology has impacted Saturday Night Live and the job of assistant director; on censoring John Belushi on Saturday Night Live, and on his favorite cast members
On producer Bob Stewart; on working on Another World and working for producer Paul Rauch; on advice for aspiring television production professionals
On various people with whom he worked in his career; on career achievements and awards; on the Directors Guild of America
On advice for aspiring assistant directors; on how he would like to be remembered; on people who helped him in his career
Shows

Another World

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Robert Caminiti on working on Another World and working for producer Paul Rauch

Concentration

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Robert Caminiti on his duties as stage manager on Concentration, and on the Quiz Show Scandals
Robert Caminiti on working with Concentration host Hugh Downs and working with director Lynwood King

Doctors, The

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Robert Caminiti on learning to become a stage manager on the daytime drama The Doctors
Robert Caminiti on learning to work with actors on The Doctors
Robert Caminiti on his various duties as stage manager on The Doctors

Jeopardy!

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Robert Caminiti on assistant directing for Jeopardy!, and on working with producer Robert Rubin

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

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Robert Caminiti on working on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

NBC News

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Robert Caminiti on Saturday Night Live director Dave Wilson, and on directing a drug raid for NBC News
Robert Caminiti on his experiences working for NBC News and his lifelong interest in politics
Robert Caminiti on NBC News head Reuven Frank

Saturday Night Live

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Robert Caminiti on wanting to speak to Harvey Keitel when he hosted Saturday Night Live
Robert Caminiti on Saturday Night Live director Dave Wilson, and on directing a drug raid for NBC News
Robert Caminiti on doing "complex edits" as an assistant director on Saturday Night Live, and on working with Lorne Michaels
Robert Caminiti on filling in as assistant director on Saturday Night Live before he was hired by them
Robert Caminiti on being hired as assistant director on Saturday Night Live, and on why he was hired
Robert Caminiti on working Dick Ebersol and Lorne Michaels on Saturday Night Live, and on what made working as an assistant director on that show different from other shows
Robert Caminiti on the pace and production schedule of working on Saturday Night Live
Robert Caminiti on his collaboration with Saturday Night Live director Dave Wilson during the broadcast of the live show
Robert Caminiti on his state of mind during broadcasts of Saturday Night Live
Robert Caminiti on working with Beth McCarthy-Miller when she was the director of Saturday Night Live
Robert Caminiti on Don Roy King directing Saturday Night Live
Robert Caminiti on leaving his assistant directing position and becoming an editor on Saturday Night Live
Robert Caminiti on how Saturday Night Live dealt with 9/11
Robert Caminiti on making suggestions for sketches for Saturday Night Live, and on Don Pardo keeping all the Jeopardy! cards
Robert Caminiti on the behind the scenes employees staying with Saturday Night Live for years, and on working for Lorne Michaels
Robert Caminiti on his involvement in the first episode of Saturday Night Live
Robert Caminiti on the politics of Saturday Night Live

Tomorrow (1973-82)

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Robert Caminiti on assistant directing on Tomorrow with Tom Snyder
Robert Caminiti on Tom Snyder interviewing Charles Manson on Tomorrow
Robert Caminiti on Tom Snyder's professionalism on Tomorrow, and on Rona Barrett on the show
Robert Caminiti on his day-to-day duties on Tomorrow with Tom Snyder, including filling in as director
Robert Caminiti on the end of Tomorrow

Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The

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Robert Caminiti on stage managing for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and on working at 30 Rockefeller Plaza

What's My Line?

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Robert Caminiti on what he enjoyed about working on game shows, particularly What's My Line?

Winning Streak

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Robert Caminiti on working with producer Bob Stewart on Winning Streak
Topics

9/11

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Robert Caminiti on how Saturday Night Live dealt with 9/11

Advice

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Robert Caminiti on advice for aspiring assistant directors

Historic Events and Social Change

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Robert Caminiti on his childhood experiences, World War II and witnessing anti-semitism as a kid in New York City
Robert Caminiti on how Saturday Night Live dealt with 9/11

Industry Crossroads

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Robert Caminiti on his duties as stage manager on Concentration, and on the Quiz Show Scandals

Quiz Show Scandals

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Robert Caminiti on his duties as stage manager on Concentration, and on the Quiz Show Scandals

Television Industry

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Robert Caminiti on his duties as stage manager on Concentration, and on the Quiz Show Scandals
Robert Caminiti on advice for aspiring assistant directors

Television and the Presidency

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Robert Caminiti on covering the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago with Edwin Newman

War

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Robert Caminiti on his childhood experiences, World War II and witnessing anti-semitism as a kid in New York City

World War II

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Robert Caminiti on his childhood experiences, World War II and witnessing anti-semitism as a kid in New York City
Professions

Assistant Director

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Robert Caminiti on the difference between stage managing and being an assistant director
Robert Caminiti on assistant directors editing footage
Robert Caminiti on how technology has impacted Saturday Night Live and the job of assistant director
Robert Caminiti on advice for aspiring television production professionals
Robert Caminiti on advice for aspiring assistant directors

Production Professionals

View Profession
Robert Caminiti on the difference between stage managing and being an assistant director
Robert Caminiti on assistant directors editing footage
Robert Caminiti on how technology has impacted Saturday Night Live and the job of assistant director
Robert Caminiti on advice for aspiring television production professionals
Robert Caminiti on advice for aspiring assistant directors

Stage Manager

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Robert Caminiti on the difference between stage managing and being an assistant director
Genres

Comedy Series

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Robert Caminiti on assistant directing on Saturday Night Live

Daytime/Primetime Serials

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Robert Caminiti on stage managing for The Doctors
Robert Caminiti on working on Another World

Game Shows

View Genre
Robert Caminiti on the fast pacing and structured environment of being part of a crew on a game show
Robert Caminiti on stage managing for Goodson-Todman Productions' game shows
Robert Caminiti on what he enjoyed about working on game shows, particularly What's My Line?
Robert Caminiti on stage managing for various game shows including Concentration, Jeopardy! and Winning Streak

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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Robert Caminiti on working on Saturday Night Live

News and Documentary

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Robert Caminiti on his experiences working for NBC News and his lifelong interest in politics

Sports

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Robert Caminiti on working on Wimbledon for NBC Sports

Talk Shows

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Robert Caminiti on assistant directing on Tomorrow with Tom Snyder
People

John Belushi

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Robert Caminitti on censoring John Belushi on Saturday Night Live, and on his favorite cast members

Hugh Downs

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Robert Caminiti on working with Concentration host Hugh Downs

Dick Ebersol

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Robert Caminiti on working Dick Ebersol and Lorne Michaels on Saturday Night Live, and on what made working as an assistant director on that show different from other shows

Reuven Frank

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Robert Caminiti on NBC News head Reuven Frank

Lynwood King

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Robert Caminiti on working with Concentration director Lynwood King

Don Roy King

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Robert Caminiti on Don Roy King directing Saturday Night Live

Charles Manson

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Robert Caminiti on Tom Snyder interviewing Charles Manson on Tomorrow

Beth McCarthy-Miller

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Robert Caminiti on working with Beth McCarthy-Miller when she was the director of Saturday Night Live

Lorne Michaels

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Robert Caminiti on working Dick Ebersol and Lorne Michaels on Saturday Night Live, and on what made working as an assistant director on that show different from other shows

Edwin Newman

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Robert Caminiti on covering the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago with Edwin Newman

Don Pardo

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Robert Caminiti on working with Don Pardo on various shows, including Saturday Night Live
Robert Caminitti on the Don Pardo bicycle story

Paul Rauch

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Robert Caminiti on working on Another World and working for producer Paul Rauch

Tom Snyder

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Robert Caminiti on assistant directing on Tomorrow with Tom Snyder

Bob Stewart

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Robert Caminiti on working with producer Bob Stewart on Winning Streak
Robert Caminitti on producer Bob Stewart

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