EYE ON ALUMNI
SCOTT WEINSTEIN, B.F.A. Film ’97
As co-producer of NBC’s “Weekend Update” on Saturday Night Live, Scott Weinstein (B.F.A. Film ’97) is involved in every last detail of the news-parody segment, from graphics, to props and, of course, jokes.
Weinstein began working in television while he was an undergraduate in Pratt’s Department of Film/Video and Photography. “I started interning with the Discovery Channel after my sophomore year,” he says. “Then I started interning for Conan O’Brien…. I did that for a semester, and I thought ‘well, let me try SNL,’ so I ended up coming here and never left.”
That was back in 1998. Now, Weinstein is in charge of combing newspapers to decide what public officials, celebrities, and other subjects will be mocked in the next show. Then he works with a team of three writers who fill out the jokes and punch lines over the course of the next few days.
“At the end of each week we sit down and whittle a pack of several hundred jokes down to the 30 that we’ll do on Saturday,” says Weinstein.
“Weekend Update,” the groundbreaking comedy show’s satirical news broadcast, is the only segment to have aired in every episode of Saturday Night Live since its inception in 1975. First anchored by comedy veterans Chevy Chase and Jane Curtin, “Weekend Update” developed a form of parody that has since been employed over and over, from Comedy Central’s The Daily Show to The Onion newspaper.
Opportunities like the one at Saturday Night Live were what initially drew Weinstein to Pratt. “There’s always been that emphasis on getting real experience and getting your hands dirty early on,” he says.
Weinstein, who grew up in Virginia, discovered Pratt through his father Lawrence Weinstein, who graduated with a bachelor of architecture degree in 1965. “He always raved about it, and when I found out Pratt had a film program my dad was ecstatic,” says Weinstein.
“Weekend Update” has a history of producing stars. In his tenure as co-producer, Weinstein has worked with former anchors Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Jimmy Fallon. “The ‘Weekend Update’ hosts are usually the funniest people on the show,” Weinstein says. The segment’s mass appeal also attracts many of the people the show pokes fun at, and Weinstein has had the chance to work with former Alaska Governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin and former Vice President Al Gore, among others.
“Even [former New York governor David] Paterson, whom we were horrible to,” says Weinstein, “was excited to be on ‘Update.’”
In addition to education and experience, Pratt provided Weinstein with an affinity for the school’s home borough. Weinstein now lives with his wife Abby in Park Slope, Brooklyn. “I lived in Manhattan for a couple of years after I graduated, and I like Brooklyn better. It always feels like home.”
Weinstein stays involved with Pratt. He recently visited the writing program’s internship seminar to discuss his experience working with the show. Three students from the class have since acquired internships with SNL. Weinstein also collaborates on an outside project with a friend he met at Pratt; he and illustrator Chris Zaccone (B.F.A. Illustration ’98), a visiting instructor in the Department of Communications Design, create the web comic After-School Agent (www.afterschoolagent.com).
For Weinstein, Pratt was more than a college experience. It gave him the opportunity to explore the world of television, then launch a career doing what many people only ever dream of— producing one of the most iconic shows in the history of television.
“Pratt gave us those precious few years you have in college when you can try whatever idea you’ve got and get away with it,” Weinstein says.
— Benjamin Korman (B.F.A. ’11)
Photo: Kevin Wick