A funny thing happened on Bill Schultz’s way to becoming a high-powered lawyer.
He got bit by the entertainment bug.
“I couldn’t wait to be a college student, paving the way for my future career as a lawyer, as a basis for pursuing my stated dream of becoming a justice of the United States Supreme Court. When I scored a 763 on my LSAT — 99th percentile — I thought my dream was in the bag.
“But after a trip to LA in my junior year, the glitter of Hollywood got under my skin. A career as a screenwriter or songwriter in the entertainment business was the new dream. Law school was out of the picture — being accepted to University of Pennsylvania would have meant three years in Philly and more snow and ice.
"Not a chance,” says Schultz, president of LA’s Home Plate Entertainment and a four-time Emmy-winning animator whose credits include ‘The Simpsons,’ ‘King of the Hill,’ ‘Garfield & Friends’ and ‘Clifford the Big Red Dog.’
“I loved the campus, from the Illini Union to Assembly Hall for Illini basketball games featuring Eddie Johnson or music concerts to the South Farms for jogging or Memorial Stadium for Big Ten football. I spent so many nights in the undergrad library, with the vending machines stocked with nutritional crap in the tunnel connected to the building.
“I remember when cable television came to Champaign-Urbana and we were given the opportunity to use their tape studio to start Student Television and immediately began producing our own programs for broadcast on the local cable access channel. I loved the Music Building on campus, which had several dozen ‘piano rooms’ — small 10 x 10 rooms, each with a great Steinway or Baldwin Grand piano. I would lose myself in there for hours every night after studying at the library or Union, creating my own repertoire and letting off musical steam.
“By the end of my senior year, I had made it clear to everyone that law school was out and LA was in, immersing myself in TV production, a couple of film classes, and playing in a rock band — Contraband — with some guys from the dorms. We played gigs at campus hot spots, including Mabel’s.
“The town has changed so much but the campus and the buildings are and were so memorable.”