Monday, November 25, 2013

Getting Through These Last Few Weeks...

Just some words of late-night advice (see? Teachers stay up late, too! :D) Most of you out there in Columbia-land are alternately planning travel home to see family and friends, cramming in pre-production on a shoot/script/paper/presentation, and wondering how you'll EVER get through to week 15.

You will. I promise. Here are some friendly tips, rooted in my own schedule right now and vague memories of my college days...

1) if you've been stellar with attendance and have room for that day off, now is a good time to take it. Cash in on the sleep, or dive into that assignment. CAVEAT: DON'T SKIP OUT IF THERE ARE PROJECT PRESENTATIONS AND SUCH--your peers need you there when they're (literally) showing their stuff.

2) Beaver's Donuts. Any other food trucks. If you must be out and about in the cold Chicago-street-wind-tunnels, get ye some hot grub and coffee from a truck.

3) Really--if you're struggling and panicking, please talk to your teachers. Don't wait until week 15. Ask that question--I promise it's not a stupid one--and own up to both your limitations AND what you're capable of doing. The silent student is the student we WANT to hear from the most. And do a solid to your friends and roommates--if you see THEM struggling, pass this on and give them support instead of judging. You just never know what someone might be facing and feeling.

4) Embrace Thanksgiving, for at least one full day. If you're with family and friends, practice "the Columbia speech" that explains why you're pursuing a degree in the arts and how that can in fact land you a viable career and a happy life. If you're "stuck" here in Chicago, make the most of it--there are TONS of good movies out, ice rinks are opening, and watching the tourists on Michigan is actually genuinely comical. And give real thanks, even if you're facing crazy uncles and old friends you are struggling to connect with and final projects that seem doomed to failure. (If there's anything that irks us teachers more, it's giving up in the home stretch. IS THERE EXTRA CREDIT? FIND THE TIME TO DO IT! REMAINING OFFICE HOURS? MAKE AN APPOINTMENT!) You are in college, pursuing your true goals (or figuring out what those are), and somebody somewhere hopes you're headed for happiness and fulfillment; there are many worse scenarios you could be facing. (Take another kind of walk down Michigan Avenue...)

4) Build in a break post-Thanksgiving week...Watch The Sound of Music live on NBC with Carrie Underwood. You know you want to. And at the very least you might catch a live mishap. Take part in the Holly Jolly Trolley event run by Radio and being distributed through the TV Department

5) Please, as a teacher and mom here, for the love of all that is holy, get at least ONE decent night of sleep.

Catch you on the after-tryptophan side...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Busy October in TV Land!

Alright folks--especially student-folks!  It's a busy month in October for TV stuff, so here are some tidbits first about upcoming events:

Cinema SlapDown--Girls!--on October 9th, at Film Row (8th floor of the Film Bldg), Chair if TV Michael Niederman and Huffington Post TV critic Maureen Ryan will debate the pros and cons of HBO's Girls, screening a few episodes. You get to ask them questions and offer your 2 cents! EXTRA CREDIT HISTORY STUDENTS: Attend and write up 2-pager that summarizes the debate and ties it to what we've discussed about gender so far (due week 9)

Bethany Rooney, acclaimed TV director--visiting on October 10th at 6pm,  room 1301 of the TV Dept. Bldg.

Parents' Weekend--weekend of October 18th...I'll be around somewhere :D on Saturday morning and happy to meet with any parents. Let me know if yours are coming so we can try to meet up!

RESOURCES: The Workroom

Located on the third floor of 916 S. Wabash, The Workroom is a multi-purpose construction/fabrication/open studio resource space. It is open to all students, regardless of department. Students are able to use the Workroom to work on projects and gain creative advice or support from the Workroom Staff if needed. The Workroom offers basic tools and materials used for construction, such as, scissors, glue (wood and white), rulers, hammers and screw drivers, and much more. The Workroom also offers some storage for in-progress projects. If the Student knows they will be using the space for a specified time frame, students are able to reserve space to ensure a place to work.

The Workroom also offers Workshops each semester that are free and open to all Columbia College students. Each Workshop is offered twice and varies in topic.  

To access the Workroom, students can walk in during our office hours, Monday through Friday, 12pm-7pm.

Emmy Thoughts:

Generally blah...still miffed that Tatiana Maslany didn't get nominated. And love Modern Family but enough already! Dead people montages never work, nor really does song and dance at the Emmys (or Oscars). Mayim Bialik (sp?) was robbed--though the lady from Nurse Jackie had the best acceptance speech ever.

New Show Thoughts:

I'm abysmally behind...but have liked Brooklyn 9-9, though maybe I'm just a little in love with Andre Baugher? :D EXTRA CREDIT HISTORY STUDENTS: watch any episode of a NEW fall BROADCAST show this term. Then write up a 2 pager that describes your episode and the show and relates it to the history of TV in some way. (Due last week of class.)

OK--off to more HIMYM catchup and such...Parenthood at the top of my list (though Parks and Rec made me cry a little this week too--in a good way...)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

School is Starting...

All right, folks--school starts in about 1 week!

My first blog of the academic year is mostly aimed at newbies (both firsters and transfers). If you're old school or alum, simply stay tuned her for my random TV thoughts (and alum per a fundraising event at Second City)...

NEW TO COLUMBIA IN ANY WAY? Please attend Convocation this Friday (there's food!) Give yourself time for the following:

1) book buying/finding

2) seek out where your classrooms are (not on paper--I mean physically go find the rooms because the first week is a crazy mess of students and slow elevators and hidden rooms). BEST TIP: show up 10 minutes early the first 2 weeks. If you're TV, ask John or Avery (our security guards) where to go and tell them I (Sharon Ross, TV) sent you.

3) get on your class pages--likely Moodle. See what's there. Ask about what isn't there. IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT MOODLE IS, SEND ME AN EMAIL AT

4) Figure out your nutritional needs ("nutritional" here used lightly--but hey--I AM a teacher!): There are some really amazing food trucks in the Chicago Loop that can broaden your horizons fairly cheaply beyond Dunkin (though they are quick on Harrison and Wabash), DQ, etc. Start here: South Loop is you. "General Loop" is walkable. West Loop will likely take too much time. My recs: and Also, when you need a slightly nicer lunch (parents in town?)--go to Hackney's and when you're jonesing for Mexican in-between classes go to Flaco's Tacos (next to Hackney's--they're quick and cheap)

5) The Dean of the School of Media Arts, Robin Bargar, knows his caffeine. And you should try to meet him once by start of Junior Year if you are in the School of Media Arts. Deans have taught and their job is to serve student development.

6) Now the teacherly advice: Make a point of meeting your teachers. Don't wait until you're frazzled...Find out their office hours and drop by for 10 minutes to say hi. Each of your teachers is busy with a gazillion things, but THEY WANT TO MEET YOU! We're not Gods/Goddesses, but we know an awful lot about Columbia that could be of use to you.

OK--Now on to my random TV thoughts (which is what most of this blog is):...

Teen Wolf (yeah, I know: "Teen Wolf?" you say?) is a great show. Think Buffy you Whedon fans...Everyone discounted that show, too, until it became hip. If you're into teen tropes, like Xander or Nathan Fillion--give Teen Wolf a chance on iTunes or Hulu...

Under the Dome-I've been enjoying but it seems crazily network slow.

ABC Family rocks my world. (I am learning a smidge of sign language, reveling in a depiction of a lesbian-led foster family, and [as all my past Teen TV students will attest to] ridiculously addicted to all things PLLiars. 

There actually look to be some new inventive broadcast series this Fall. Stay tuned for my reactions. I am still upset about the cancellation of The B#@$%* in Apartment 2-something..."

I'm over 40. The Good Wife is pretty much the best drama on broadcast (Parenthood a close second). If you're a true TV geek, you'll watch these shows for dialogue alone...

I am still (choose your word) "irritated" that Orphan Black got shunted in the Emmys. While it's relevant that NetFlix had nominations, Orphan Black kicks butt against those shows and actors. Did you like Fringe?  For the love of all that is holy to you, watch Orphan Black.

I like "Blurred Lines." I cannot explain why (musically, yes--video not so much.) Hannah Montana at the VMAs ruined it for me.

ALUMS--PALERMO SCHOLARSHIP EVENT 10/29/13. Long and short is a Second City event (bits of food, drink, silent auction, improv show just for us). Money goes to scholarships for TV students, the best of the best. We're aiming to offer 2 scholarships instead of 1. Tix are pricey in this economy, I know--but either consider the value of the event or donate what you can. Email me for more info.

So-check back!  Come see me!  I am (for TV students) your Associate Chair so don't be shy. And if you're not TV but just need some tips or advice, I am non-major discriminatory.

ps--I have a kid starting kindergarten...i.e., my posts don't come on a regular schedule! :D This may also result in the occasional Teen Titans Go review...:D


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pop Culture this Week: Death, Boredom, and Faux Hipness

What a wearying weak in media culture...Let's start with the Emmy noms, which bored me to tears. Most everyone (and show) is deserving--though I stake my claim that House of Cards--while not a bad show--is not all that great, either. Orphan Black was a better show, along with The Good Wife (once they took care of the Kalinda debacle)--and definitely Tatiana Maslany was robbed. There was more to like (or rather, less to yawn at) in comedy with Louie and Louis CK, Pohler (though Parks and Rec got robbed), and Mayim Bialik MUST win this year for Big Bang Theory, please! The only real surprise was Justin Bateman for Arrested Development. The award for faux hipness goes to the House of Cards could turn into a really great show, but it's not there yet and I think the nominations are the Emmys way of saying: "See! We're hip and not afraid of Netflix!" So, yawn...yet again.

Another Faux Hipness award goes to Rolling Stone magazine for its cover photo of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect. I don't buy their rationale that his age matches their readers' demos, and his image (pulled from one of his social media accounts) is important because it urges us to ask how someone "who looks like that" could potentially have done such horrible things. It's instead Rolling Stone seeking to garner a big buy by having a controversial cover. It very well may be that the story inside is a good and important one, but cover images matter and tell their own story. I'd chalk it up to bad judgement, but I think the editors knew exactly what they were doing when choosing this cover.

Faux hipness award extraordinaire goes to CBS and Big Brother. I've chatted about this on FaceBook so will just reiterate that an inability to publicly chastise the crazies in the house this year is tantamount to condoning the racism and homophobia. And the fact that it took too long for CBS/BB to even acknowledge on air that anything had occurred (reserving the vitriol for the paid web stream) is broadcast ostrich syndrome (head in sand! can't see it! doesn't exist!). It's not hip to hide behind "it's reality TV--a social experiment--" if you have to be publicly "made" to actually air the social experiment's most revealing moments.

Last, very sad news per Cory Monteith of Glee. It will be interesting to see if the producers decide to address his death's linkage to heroin in some way and not just write him out in a blase way. It's a chance for the show to address a serious issue--if they did gun violence last spring, they owe it to their viewers to examine the rise in heroin usage among teens and young adults as well.

Tune in...I'll likely return again right at the top of the semester!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Have finished Orphan Black...

Hands down, can't remember the last time I saw such a stellar first year of a show. I wish I could go into a TV coma until it returns. Can someone explain to me why U.S. TV can't figure out the glorious advantages of short seasons, inexpensive co-productions, and the guts to say "I don't need 3 years off before I return?" (sorry U.S. cable, but if you need more than 6 months to bounce back from a 10-12 ep season, you're just spoiled...)

The rest of my July will be catching up on fun summer fare (mostly ABC Family) and researching for the book and deciding what shows I have to screen for my Nickelodeon Network class. (Not a bad way to spend July.)

New students--give me your thoughts on summer TV you're watching! (And if you're brand new students, be sure to attend the Weeks of Welcome at Columbia--it's a blast and will give you a true sense of what Columbia is like...)

Now must wrap my first official night off by watching Pretty Little Liars...:D

Sunday, June 23, 2013

OK--I usually go dormant in summer

BUT...Between the new ABC Family shows, the upcoming Under the Dome and The Bridge, and tonight's penultimate season of Mad Men ending, I gotta give a few thoughts (albeit randomly).

Perhaps this will give my upcoming new students a sense of my personality (which is admittedly a late-night/early morning one--sue me, I'm a mom of a 5 year old). So here's my take on summer TV so far and I'll update here-and-there as I'm able before our Fall term starts.

1) Mad Men. If you're not watching you should be. If you're in my TV History class or Sara's Mad Men class, for god's sake get caught up. (It will make the 1 week we spend on 1960s TV so much easier on you...). I enjoyed the season (and not just because I identify with Peggy and adore James Wolk). This season, to me, refracted the first perfectly. Don't wanna spoil and happy to come to Sara's class in the fall to expound--let's just say every character slipped through the looking glass of season one. My prediction? Season 7 is somewhere between 1971-72... (and if you think Megan is gone, just think about what you know of soaps and twins and Patty Duke--watch what Don watches closely...)

2) No good TV in summer? Hogwash!  All depends on what you're looking for. Teen Wolf has been kickin it and this is their first monster season episode number wise, so you know you're in for a good slow burn. As far as I'm concerned, this is Boy Buffy flipped--and even though I'm a feminist, I'm good with that largely because of Stiles and  Lydia. (Don't tell me you don't think Xander and Cordelia when you watch these two.) Switched at Birth continues to impress (though it's been a bit slow) and Pretty Little Liars is keeping me guessing (esp. with the reappearance of Allison's mom obviously off meds or rocker)...And I did not think I would like The Fosters but I do so far. Haven't done Twisted yet but will catch up on that from the DVR in July...

3) The Bridge and Under the Dome both look promising.

4) and a final plea--it's over but I'm catching up now--if you haven't watched it, PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS SNAP FUN TV WATCH ORPHAN BLACK! (and don't dare spoiler it for me because I have 4 eps left). Woman deserves an emmy nom (and it's a hoot seeing Degrassi actors in a sic-fy-i show...)

OK--newbies and old students...More after I've caught up from sumer chairing and shifted into summer TV catch-up mode. Once we near the new season (hardee had) of school you'll get more regular posts of things TV, Columbia College TV Department, etc....

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

COME TO THE LUKE PALERMO COOKING DEMO! Part of Manifest...Maybe you'll be hungry around 6pm? :D Studio A, 600 ACC. Luke will cook recipes he's collected with his dearly departed wife Sharon. Maybe you'll want to order one of his cookbooks, aimed at those who are looking for easy dinners for 1-3 folks...

Monday, April 8, 2013

Heading into the Home Stretch...

and the School and TV Department have a lot of events coming up that you may want to venture out to explore.

Are you a junior or senior?  Be sure to sign up and prep for TV Premiere Industry Night. Bring your reel, scripts, business cards, and best foot forward as we screen work for industry professionals and give you time to meet and greet for internships and/or employment. Visit this link for more info:

Interested in documentaries and our Chicana perspectives on the world? See Lourdes Portillo's work and speak with this Chicana documentarian; her visit is a part of "Doc Week," when multiple filmmakers in this genre visit Columbia and screen their work.

TV History students looking for extra credit? Anyone else looking for a Saturday Night Live like nite out but can't swing the ticket to NYC? Come to FreqOut 2013, the TV Department's live sketch comedy show. We bring in a live studio audience to watch the show at the Media Production Center (and also stream it live online). If you're doing the extra credit, view the show and give me 2 pages on how what you see (in terms of production, genre, content) can be connected to any aspect of TV's History that we've covered this semester.

And just for fun, ever wonder sometimes how writing papers about TV history and social issues can help you out? TV alum Lena Waithe had to write things like this for me--she went on to find a place for herself as an African American woman in the industry, something that motivated the kind of paper topics she chose. Last month she won a prestigious award from the Writers Guild of America for diversity in comedy writing.

Friday, March 15, 2013


Please tell your students!!  In the past, several students have found jobs through the contacts that were made at this event.
Member or student? RSVP at our Career Day RSVP page. Non-member? Purchase a ticket online
Free for Students and TV Academy Members // $5 for all others
Saturday, April 6, 2013 - 12:30 to 3:30 pm
Ferguson Auditorium, Columbia College - 600 S. Michigan, Chgo
Some of the Panelists confirmed include:
Kris Gutierrez- co-anchor of the CBS 2 Chicago morning news
Mary Margaret Bartley – Scenic Designer with M&M Productions.

Jeff Hinkle – Asst. Art Director, WCIU
Kristina Ballas – AD/Director, WGN
Mike Locashio – General Assignment Photographer/Editor, WLS
Hear from outstanding Chicago TV professionals — leaders in their field — about job availability, job qualifications, internships, educational requirements, and the background needed for a television job. After an initial presentation by the panel members, the program will be open to questions and discussion. Please note that this is not a job fair.  

Friday, March 8, 2013

Stray Columbia TV Events (and Other...)

Hello alum and students!

In the past few weeks, Columbia Learning Community students worked with instructor Matt Till to create an instructional video on school safety procedures...Nice to see our students helping younger ones produce their own work for the good of their immediate community! School Safety

We also have coming up in the TV Department some fabulous Box Lunches, where professionals come meet with students to tell stories of life in the trenches of TVLand and give tips (for more info contact Here is the current schedule:

March 21st- Kevin Cross, Comcast Sports Net Chicago
April 11- Mary Lou Belli, Emmy Award Winning Director
April 21- Rob Morhaim WCIU Morning Show

The Box Lunches occur mostly in Studio A, 15th floor, 600 South Michigan. HISTORY OF TV STUDENTS...If you attend Mary Lou Belli's tak and find out about the shows she's worked on that pertain to issues of African Americans represented on TV, there's extra credit in it for you! Attend, and then write up a 1-pager about what she said and tie it to what we've learned about race and TV so far for points!)

Famed Latina documentarian Lourdes Portillo is also coming to the TV department the week after spring break! Keep an eye out for when there will be screenings and talks with her...

and last, just for fun...If you're into reality TV (either loving it or hating it), check out Burning Love. The second season is online and the first is airing on E! Anyone in my classes who reads this far and can tell me who is the panda girl gets bonus points...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oscars on TV...Eck

OK-- I love me my Oscars...It gives me the chance to wax ad nauseum about the un/deserving films and actors and dish on the poorly dressed (sorry--when you have that much money and support. you best do your best).

My short 2 cents (since it's late and Kimmel is coming on and will be infinitely more entertaining)...(there's your hint...) DO THE OSCARS MAKE FOR GOOD TV? (even when a Colum student is on screen...)

Well, it may depend on how you define TV. In terms of per TV event--eh? Poorly paced...when I can host a party with 2 toddlers and 2 junior high gals AND get them all off to bed and not miss a beat?  That would be the epitome of slow. Hand to holy, I skipped 45 minutes and didn't miss a thing.

Seth McFarlane was top-notch--funny and charming and talented when they gave him some screen time. The front matter was great...and then it went down-hill in terms of pacing and content/order of content:

--How is playing the Bond theme over and over a "montage" of songs? When will the Academy learn to shift smaller categories--as much as I respect short docs and short live-actions--to cable like the Emmys do? Why do I need to see the cast of Chicago--an okay movie... but hardly on a par with something like The Godfather of The Graduate or hell, even ET...referenced over and over again?

Folks, learn about producing live...and I guess scripting live? The only tweets I could find during the actual show were from Britain, which means even McFarlane couldn't rescue this for the key demo they hired him for. One of you out there in Columbia TV should be able to fix this I hope.

Meantime...Semester in LA info sessions are this week...look for the SILA info page on Columbia's website and attend if you think you might be interested in the next 2 years...

(still, happy per Lawrence and her trip up the stairs, and the Argo best pic win--while not my pick--was expected and sweet--esp. if you subscribe to my J-Garner theory)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Come Meet a Real Live TV Producer and Writer!

On Thursday February 21st, the Television Department will be hosting TV writer-producer Jeff Vlaming in a Q&A session moderated by me :D. Jeff Vlaming is a television writer and producer who has worked extensively in Hollywood.  He’s written and produced a number of notable genre and non-genre series alike, including The X-Files, Northern Exposure, Fringe, NCIS and Battlestar Galactica.  Most recently he was co-executive producer of MTV’s Teen Wolf. He's also worked on Xena and Reaper, so he knows the world of cult, netlets, and original syndicated programs.

Jeff will be visiting various writing classes throughout next week, but the Q&A is a chance for those of you not in TV writing classes to hear him speak and ask questions. (Feel free to tell me if there's anything you'd like me to ask him specifically about.)

The Q&A is in Studio A (TV Department, 15th floor, ACC). Please arrive by 12pm and the talkin' will run through 1pm.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

scholarship opp--due soon!

ANY College Student (grad or undergrad) may apply for the Feb. 15th, 2013 deadline.  It is a new year and applicants are needed for College Improvement's Cash Scholarship.  Students may apply directly and get details at or students may print the attachment.

Monday, January 28, 2013


Welcome back, everyone! I thought I'd start off spring (rather literally feels like it's spring, too, today) with my 2 cents on awards season so far...It's one of the best parts about the first few weeks of the semester :D.

I have yet to see Lincoln or Les Mis (and am waiting til cable, as I'm not terribly interested in either enough to fork over the money--unless any of you tell me differently?) I'm thinking this year's Oscars should actually be fun for betting, with so many awards going to Argo and Affleck and him not being nominated. My votes so far are going to Silver Linings PlayBook, which I found infinitely better than Zero Dark Thirty on pretty much every count. I'm actually fascinated with how much I disliked 0D30--maybe it's just the hype that's irritating me...or that the acting in SLP was top notch, and that SLP actually had a cohesive narrative and a point to make...

Per TV, the awards are coming in as I expected from the Golden Globes, SAG, AFI--though I continue to insist that Amy Poehler is being robbed more each year.

For best TV of last week, please make sure you see the pentultimate episode of 30 Rock--the Willy Wonka referencing alone was worth it. Be watching BunHeads as that's returned in fine form. And join me in mourning the passing of Don't Trust the B_ in Apt. 23, sadly cancelled which now means there's a loss in my sitcom life--that show was so much fun!

Looking forward to your career future this term? Then look into the ATAS internships this summer (deadline March 15th); it's a paid gig and a great opportunity to break your way directly into the industry in categories ranging from writing to casting to kids TV--just about every category you might imagine (see

Looking just to get through the first week? Look for Beaver's Donut truck on Wabash and Van Buren, 7:30-11:30am, 1/30/13.  Beyond delicious and will get you through that 9am class ( (Bring cash...)