All Posts Tagged With: "television"
Remembering the good times one tweet at a time
What students are talking about today (January 7th)
1. The new TV season is promising for university students, according to Alexander Quon of The Sheaf student newspaper. His list of shows to watch includes Buckwild, which he calls “essentially the country version” of Jersey Shore. “Redneck culture is blowing up right now,” he writes. It certainly is, thanks mostly to Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, which returned to TLC on Sunday. Returning this Saturday on HBO Canada is Lena Dunham’s smash hit Girls, a fictional-take on 20-somethings in New York centred around Hannah, an aspiring writer and generally clueless human being. Pick up this week’s issue of Maclean’s for a behind-the-scenes on set in Brooklyn. Oh, and hockey will soon be back too.
2. What a difference a weekend makes. The talk around Idle No More shifted from Friday’s big win to Monday’s big question. On Friday, Stephen Harper agreed to meet hunger striking chief Theresa Spence and other Aboriginal Canadian leaders a week later, which will mark a month after the high-profile protest began. But this morning an external audit into Attawapiskat’s finances by Deloitte surfaced and it doesn’t look good. There hasn’t been due diligence for most of the millions given to Spence’s band by the federal government. It’s a reminder of just how complicated these relationships can be. With questions over the chief’s spending on the front page again, Paul Wells points out that NDP leader Tom Mulcair neither met Spence nor called on Stephen Harper to meet her in his open letter. That’s starting to look like a smart move. Spence, meanwhile, did gain one new ally. Paul Martin, former Liberal prime minister, met her and called an inspiration to all.
Class uses HBO series to study issues in modern urban centres
Critically acclaimed HBO series The Wire, frequently the subject of discussion in film classes and at staff parties everywhere, is now the basis for a course at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., the gritty city the series was set in, reported the CBC.
I’ll admit I’m a little obsessed with the show, and suspect Omar Little quotes are now rampant at John Hopkins.
The crime drama is used in other courses at institutions such as Harvard and Duke universities to showcase the struggles against drugs and crime in a fictionalized inner city setting. However, this course, titled “Baltimore and the The Wire: A Focus on Major Urban Issues,” will be the first time the show been taught in Baltimore, and is the first to bring in people who worked on the show and those whose jobs were portrayed on the show.
The course was created by former city health commissioner and current county health officer, Peter Beilenson. Beilenson told student newspaper the JHU Gazette that he thought the show’s portrayal of life in Baltimore, which he felt reflected life in many other American cities, was “frighteningly accurate.” Beilenson said he felt that the show’s realistic portrayal of issues in modern urban centres would be beneficial for students.
“My idea was that instead of just having students read in a book about the problems plaguing modern American urban centres, they could watch them played out in The Wire and then hear them discussed and dissected by leading experts who are working to address those problems,” Beilenson said.
Written by former Baltimore Sun crime reporter, David Simon, and former police detective Ed Burns, the show dissected several different facets of the city of Baltimore, including the drug trade, police force, city government and bureaucracy, and the print news media, during its five season run from 2002 to 2008. In interviews Simon has described the show as being a portrayal of how people function within the modern American city, despite being presented as a crime drama.
Some critics have described the show as the greatest television series ever made, despite having a relatively small following. “When television history is written, little else will rival The Wire, a series of such ambition that it is, perhaps inevitably, savoured only by the appreciative few,” Variety magazine once wrote.
The class’s guest speakers have included former Baltimore police commissioner Ed Norris and Simon himself. The final assignment in the course requires students to write a paper outlining their suggested solutions for solving problems in the city.
If I could transfer from the University of Manitoba to JHU just to take this course, I would do it in a heartbeat. But that seems like a pretty extreme measure to fuel my Wire obsession.
Landing placement on a TV show like Lost or House can be a double-edged sword
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Many know of the University of Michigan through its famous alumni – Madonna, Gerald Ford, Arthur Miller. And . . . Gregory House, and Gerald and Karen DeGroot.
The first three names are well-known in the fields of public policy, music and theatre.
The last three aren’t even real.
House, the lead character on the Fox medical drama of the same name, is a Michigan medical school graduate, and the DeGroots are Michigan doctoral candidates who founded the mysterious Dharma Initiative at the centre of the ABC serial “Lost.”
Such tie-ins allow TV and film productions to be more authentic while at the same time providing universities with free advertising and the chance to up their coolness quotient.
“It’s fun for everyone – alumni and students – to see their university pop up in film,” said Lee Doyle, who heads up the University of Michigan’s film office.
And, while that may be, it sometimes can be serious business for Doyle and others who hold the equivalent job at major universities.
They have their school’s reputation to consider in weighing whether to allow it to be associated with a TV show or movie.
The University of Southern California, which sits in the heart of the entertainment universe, often receives requests to use its name in the form of diplomas, shirts, pennants and the like.
“If we feel that the script is a positive reflection of higher education in general, as well as USC specifically, then we will approve the use of the item,” said Torie Daves, the school’s director of campus filming.
Princeton University also weighs filmed entertainment pitches on a case-by-case basis. One of the considerations sometimes is whether the production supports a university effort or initiative.
“We try to look for synergies with the project,” said university spokeswoman Emily Aronson. “For instance, our interest in having more young women apply to the university and movies such as ‘A Cinderella Story,’ and ‘Spanglish,’ which featured female characters who apply to Princeton.”
Want to get to Hollywood? Start writing, start shooting, and don’t ever stop networking
After a tough day of classes, you’re sprawled out on the couch watching television. In a flash of inspiration, you suddenly realize that you hate your chemistry classes and would rather be a writer on a television show. You think to yourself, “Heck! I could totally write an episode of Heroes that is way better than this one.”
So you sit down at your laptop, fingers poised delicately over the keys, ready to become famous. But how can you actually make it happen?
“I think to be a writer, you have to write,” says Michael Baser, head of the writing for television and film program at the Vancouver Film School.
“To be a director or an actor, you have to be hired to give yourself validation. You can’t be up in your room doing Othello at night and say, ‘Ok, I’m an actor.’ But you can be in your room at night and writing a script, then having a script in hand – you are now a writer.”
Once that script is written, though, it needs to go somewhere. Ultimately – and perhaps unsurprisingly – that somewhere is Los Angeles, where who you know will make a big difference.
“The key thing in T.V. and film is that it’s a highly nepotistic business,” says Baser. He says his own career, in which he produced and wrote for shows including Three’s Company and Full House, started because he was talented but also because he knew the right people.
For someone sitting at home in Canada, making those connections might seem impossible. The key, according to Laura Doyle, screenwriting teacher at VFS and the British Columbia Institute of Technology, is getting your foot in the door.
“I started out in Television Production at BCIT learning to produce, shoot and edit. After I graduated, I got myself some jobs as a production assistant on set,” she says. This ultimately led to a job as a script coordinator and the opportunity to co-write an episode of Neon Rider.
From there, Doyle wrote for MTV and CBS, during which she lived – you guessed it – in Los Angeles. Her career blossomed to include music, some of which was featured on Dawson’s Creek.
What’s important for young writers to remember, say both Baser and Doyle, is the idea of being prolific – to keep writing, and if possible, producing lots of your own original content. The Internet can provide a perfect showcase for your blossoming genius.