Monday, August 28, 2006

Saw III....who me? Eeeeewwwwwww....

Anybody recognize the particular bathroom I happen to be sitting in?

Truth is, the sight of blood makes me sort of queasy, and the idea of watching torture as a form of entertainment....well, it seems a bit twisted to me.

Good thing for Dan Heffner and his team, millons of movie fans don't share that point of view. Dan is the producer, along with Carl Mazzacone and Mark Berg, of the Saw movies: I, II, and (in production) III.

This summer,I spent a couple of days on the set of Saw III in Toronto, watching the wonders of special effects transform perfectly reasonable looking human beings into walking nightmares. (There's a scene in the movie that involves every gross thing you've ever heard or thought of, and a whole bunch of them I hope you haven't. Ick.)

But the process was fascinating, as was my discussion with Dan Heffner, whose filmography also includes film direction of a long list of some of the most famous films Disney ever made: Three Men and a Baby, Adventures in Babysitting, The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, and the Ernest movies, to name a few....)

By the time we were finished, Dan had agreed to come to Park to talk to students about his career, about making movies, and about getting into the business.

He'll be in Park on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 2 p.m. (hey, you can catch the Bombers game on ICTV Saturday night....) Mark your calendars. He's an amazing guy....and somebody you should know.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Park Alums, Faculty, and '06 Grads at the US Transplant Games

The US Transplant Games is an Olympic-style athletic competition for recipients of life-saving organ transplants. The event is presented by the National Kidney Foundation, and is held every two years in cities around the country. In June 2006 the US Transplant Games came to Louisville, Kentucky, with over 1200 athletes and 5000 family and friends supporting their efforts. The primary goal of the event is to raise awareness of the need for organ and tissue donation in the US, where 18 people die every day waiting for an organ transplant. Since 1990, the on-site video production efforts at this event have been managed by Stuart Katz (TV-R '83) who is also a part-time Park faculty member in OCLD.

This year Stuart thought it would be a good idea to stock the crew with as many IC people as possible, so 10 of the 15 members of the crew were Park alums. Working with TV-R Asst. Professor Peter Johanns to find the right mix of talent, the crew included:
Rick Stone '01 - Senior Producer
Craig Shuster '02 - Field Producer
Peter Busa '05 - Videographer
Chris Lavinge '06 - Videographer
Jason Edwards '06 - Videographer
Rory Schulman '06 - Audio Engineer
Steven Gallen '06 - Audio Engineer
Chip Drahos '06 - Audio Engineer
Ian McCarthy '06 - Post-production Coordinator

For four days non-stop, the crews covered the emotion, determination, and excitement of heart, liver, and kidney recipients competing in 13 team and individual sports. In many cases, the family members of the organ donors were on hand as well to see how their decision to donate saved lives and families. The National Kidney Foundation was highly impressed with the
work of the IC crew. Ellie Schlam, Director of Communications for the NKF said that "the closing ceremonies video was beautiful and though it seems impossible, even better than in 2004. The requests for that video began coming in as soon as the torch was extinguished. You made the Transplant Games a very special experience for thousands of people."

Photos from the event and the video produced on site in Louisville can be seen on the official web site for the event at

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Business of Entertainment: Want to have a clue what you're doing when you get there?

A year ago, a group of students came to see me to talk about a suggestion they had for the Park School.

I love it when that happens.

This particular group of students expressed concern that we were not preparing them well for the *business* of entertainment --- you know: things like knowing what a contract looks like (or should look like), creating a budget to support an independent film, pitching a project. They wanted an introduction to 'how things work' when you're starting out in the entertainment industry.

I invited them to present to the school's Administrative Council, my management team of department chairs. The group listened, and eventually, the Television-Radio Department decided to offer a course this fall: The Business of Entertainment.

Here's the really cool thing about this course: It's being offered in LA and Ithaca AT THE SAME TIME (isn't technology amazing?).

In order to offer the course here in Ithaca in a way that would truly reflect current practice in Hollywood, we decided to purchase two videoconferencing systems -- one for installation in Park, one for installation in LA. The course will have an instructor in both programs -- Kim Gregson in Ithaca and film producer Mitchell Block (Alone Across Australia, Big Mama) in LA -- and it will bring in experts -- lawyers, agents, marketers -- to talk about what they do, what you should look for, what you need to know. We're bringing the insight and professional experience of Hollywood home to Ithaca....without even leaving the building.

Here's the other unique thing about the course: it's being taught in modules. Three of them. Students in LA can choose to take one, two or three of the modules, for one credit each. Students in Ithaca MUST take all three of the modules, so it is basically just a very clearly structured three-credit course.

It's open to ALL juniors and seniors in the Park School. And to be honest, I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't find it helpful.

And finally, the course will be taught from 7 to 10 p.m. Wednesday nights; we had to schedule it like that in order to accommodate the students in LA (that time change thing).

Here's the schedule:

Module 1: Topic: Follow the Money: Accounting Basics for Media Professionals. Meeting dates: August 30, Sept. 6, Sept. 13, Sept. 20 and Sept. 27.

Module 2: Topic: Get Out of Jail Free: Contracts, Copyrights, Legalities for Media Professionals. Meeting Dates: Oct. 4, Oct. 11, Oct. 18, Oct. 25, Nov. 1.

Module 3: Topic: Sell Yourself, Sell your Project: Entrepreneurial and Marketing Basics for Media Professionals. Meeting dates: Nov. 8, Nov. 15, Nov. 29, Dec. 6, Dec. 13.

Interested? Email Virginia Mansfield-Richardson ( and she'll register you (it's a little tricky because of the modules; it'd be better to let her do it for you....)

And next time you see Kim Gregson in the hallway, please take a minute to thank her for being willing to take on yet another "new idea" in the Park School. It's a huge amount of work, energy and effort to organize and present a course as unique and multi-faceted as this one is going to be....and Kim's response? "Yeah, but it's going to be so cool...."

Don'tcha just love it?

Mac Battery Recall...but not the MacBook Pro models

This just in from Professor Ari Kissiloff, who's teaching our MacBook Pro course this fall:

Hi folks,

You may read in the news today that Apple just recalled around 2 million laptop batteries. The good news is that it generally doesn't affect the Macbooks, which are the models our students are coming in with.

The bad news is that it may affect you if you have a Powerbook or ibook g4 laptop

There is an unrelated and older recall on Macbook batteries sold from between February and May 2006. Most of our students won't have these, but you can check for details if you are concerned.

*If you have a powerbook or ibook G4*

visit to see if you need to get your battery replaced.

Master the MacBook Pro!

As you all know, this fall marks the debut of the Park School's new laptop program, and all of our first-year students will arrive on campus this weekend with a MacBook Pro in tow.

That's pretty exciting, if you think about how much that will impact the way we do things around here. Park is now wireless, and one-quarter of our students will have the same powerful multimedia tools -- across all kinds of media types: audio, video, Web, text....

We're providing lots of support for the program, including a full-time Help Desk. And we're offering three different kinds of instruction for first-year students in the program:

1. There will be two sessions presented by Apple reps that introduce the MacBook Pro and its programs to all first-year students.
2. There will be workshops offered through ITS focusing on specific applications -- Garage Band, iMovies, etc.
3. There will be a one-credit course offered by Professor Ari Kissiloff, "Introduction to MacIntosh" offered Thursdays from 12:15 to 1:05 p.m. in Park 285. You can register for the course online. (If you need more information, you can contact Professor Kissiloff at, or talk to the associate dean, Virginia Mansfield Richardson, in the dean's office.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


OK, so we were hoping the lobby renovations would be finished by today.

Yes, today -- just in time for the welcoming reception for the new class of Park Scholars.

Unfortunately, the scholars are in the building, but the building remains something of a work in progress.....though I have to say, it's in one heck of a lot better shape than it was a week ago at this time, and the construction foreman says they'll be outta here by Thursday. Latest. (No, really.)

One of the flat screens on the left as you come into the lobby will present the event information we used to have on the single plasma screen in the lobby. The large screen will (eventually) serve as our digital Hall of Fame: a series of short documentaries of our most successful alumni, reported and produced by (who else?) our students! This fall, watch this space for information about applying to join a team of two that will travel to visit a top alumnus (Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, or Mark Romanek, video music producer, or Mike Royce, executive producer of HBO's Lucky Louie....nice road trip, eh?)

There also will be a series of flat screens on the far wall, where the photography cases used to be (across from the food cart). The faculty will make a decision in September about the kinds of content they would like to present on those screens, which will (in turn) determine the kinds of hardware we'll install. Some may be live Internet or cable feeds; others may be computer feeds. Once we know what we want to display, we'll buy and install the equipment.

The ceiling is....well, talk about a work in progress. The lights have apparently gone missing in Canada. (Don't even ask.) But if you think it doesn't look finished, that's because it isn't finished. We're working on it.

And last, but far from least, the food cart WILL be in operation on Monday. At this point, hours are scheduled from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. I've asked Marriott about extending the evening hours, and they're more than willing to do that if the demand is there.

Please remember that the food cart will be in the lobby for this year only. In fall, 2007, we'll move the food service into Park 220, where we'll have a real Internet cafe, with chairs and windows and books to read. Oh, and food and the Internet, of course. The lobby location is designed just to establish for customers that there is food in the building -- before we move it down and around the corner.

Finally -- talk about facilities news! -- the digital photo lab was completed this summer; it's an extraordinary learning environment, state of the art in every way. And most of the classrooms got facelifts: new carpet, paint, etc. So we're clean, bright, fresh and ready to go for another year in the Park School.

Don't know about you, but I sure am looking forward to it.....

Monday, August 21, 2006

Welcome back!


It's been almost three months since the last time I shared great Park news with you all here on the blog....and you know, I missed talking to you all.

No worries. I'm back. And before you know it, you will be, too.

And when you get here, the first thing you need to do is race over to Park: The lobby renovation is still a work in progress -- it took ALL summer -- and yes, we're fixing the ceiling. But it looks one heck of a lot better than it used to, and when we get the flat screens installed on the big wall (now all wood paneling) and we get your work installed on the flat screens....well, it's going to look as dynamic, exciting and creative as the work that goes on in the building. Which is, of course, the whole point.

And yes, you won't believe it, but it's actually TRUE: The food cart has arrived. It's there, right smack in the corner of the lobby, as big and beautiful and about-to-be as full of real food as you always imagined it would be.

Isn't that amazing? I was beginning to wonder if we would ever get it done. But I do keep my promises. And that darned food cart is living proof.

All kinds of other amazing things happened this summer, too.

For starters, we won all kinds of national student media awards. I know, I know, you feel like we're ALWAYS winning national student media awards, and you're right: we are. But just think about it. Every time we win another one, we're beating out the other great communications programs all over the country.

And you know, when you think about how often we do that,'s pretty clear. Park really is the best of the best.

This summer, for example, iMPrint, our online student magazine, took first place in the online magazine competition sponsored by the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication. That's the professional organization of all the schools of mass comm in the country, and you can believe that every school with a magazine enters the competition. And we won. First place. The best. That's us. (Arizona State was second....close, but no cigar [as my grandfather used to say....]
(By the way, iMPrint's Recruitment Night is Wednesday, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. in Clark Lounge in Campus Center. Show up. It's a great magazine and an amazing group of students....)

And that's not all.

Buzzsaw Haircut was named "Publication of the Year" by Campus Progress, a division of the Center for American Progress. The magazine also won two first-place Campus Independent Journalism Awards, sponsored by the Independent Press Association -- one for economic/labor coverage for Julie Perg's ('06, OCLD) article "A Hunger for Ethics" and one for GLBT coverage for Meagan Murray's ('08, journalism) article "Paradox Found."

And that's not all.

We just found out last week that "Breaking the Cycle," WICB/VIC's entry into the College Broadcasters Student Production Awards, is a finalist in the "Best Radio Feature" category. Winners will be announced at the CBI Awards ceremony on Friday October 27th at the conference in St. Louis.

And that's not all.

"Taps," a film produced by four of our recent grads -- Vince Versace, Nogen Melamed, Mike Sanders and George Cuddy --
took first place in the Best Short Film category at the Rhode Island International Film Festival, beating out films produed by people like Gwyneth Paltrow and Adrien Greneir. The film has also been selected as a semi-finalist in the Angelus Student Film Festival, which screens in the Directors Guild in Hollywood.

And that's STILL not all.

Andrew Steeley was one of 14 college students nationwide selected as a recipient of a $5,000 scholarship by the Bayliss Foundation, the philanthropic organization of the radio industry. "These ambitious students were selected to receive the Bayliss Radio Scholarship because of their academic achievement and extracurricular radio activities, their passion for radio adn their desire to contribute to the overall advancement of the radio industry," the foundation announced.