Saturday, October 10, 2015

Fall TV So Far...

OK, TV Majors! I know you're busy with projects as we hit week 6, but the Fall TV season is under way and all the faculty can only watch so much. We rely on you all to guide us so drop your 2 cents here or via email or on the department's social media pages.

I have made it through some of the new shows (and some of the returning) and here are my thoughts so far:

Quantico: Surprise fun here as this is more crazed dramatic soap/action/thriller than suspense (though there is some of that). I have no idea how it can last more than 1 season, but then again, How to Get Away with Murder is managing. Who's the terrorist? Secret twins! Fake gay man glasses! Can I get past the stunning combo of crazy beautiful stars who so far appear to be good actors to boot?

Blood and Oil: Have been intrigued enough by the cast and Dallas-meets-frakking premise to stay tuned. Totally getting my 80s fix on between this and Empire (hip hop/rap/soul meets Dynasty). P.S.--Cookie channeling Debbie Allen rocks my world.

Scream Queens? Cannot make up my mind on this one...The pilot was decent (especially the 2nd half). But seriously, where is the Jonas brother? And what be up with the daughter accusing her dad of being a murderer? (Sorry--the lead gal is way too bland and cannot carry the camp.) Gigi as the hag of Shady Lane--nice! This show makes me insane--they follow no internal logic (you're sequestered! Yet the next episode has half the campus venturing off-site to investigate crimes no sane undergrad would be into...) I kind of feel like Ryan Murphy hates college kids as he portrays them as really, really stupid and vapid. But now I have to see this through to its end. (Hate to say it--Scream on MTV is better...)

Returning dramas other than Empire: Good Wife continues to be the most cable-worthy drama on broadcast IMHO. Rolling over the cast smoothly flipping over who works with whom...And getting to see Jane Curtin as a judge a sheer moment of viewer beauty. Madame Secretary continues to balance charming humor with tension and ethical dilemmas--it's a pretty solid lineup and will make Sunday night battles interesting.

New sitcoms. OK--I soooo did not expect to like Grandfathered, but getting to see Josh Peck and John Stamos and my fave actress Paget Brewster together is a delight and the show is charming. The Grinder also brings together old faves (Rob Lowe and Fred Savage)...and it delightfully sends up our country's obsession with procedurals. Throw in the return of Brooklyn 99 and FOX is delivering on the sitcom front in the most sophisticated way compared to the other networks in the broadcast universe.

OK--must sign off. Have to catch up on other series I am way behind on. I must say, I find it intriguing that a lot of the new fare is catering to the Gen Xers, with "weird" nods to the older Millennials....(Don't get me started on how I stayed up late this week to watch Double Dare on The Splat, and am jouncing for more Clarissa and old Are You Afraid of the Dark and You Can't Do That on Television...)

Friday, September 4, 2015

First Day of Classes is Almost Here!

Welcome back (or welcome anew) as we start off our 2015/16 school year in TV with Convocation in Grant Park and classes September 8th! (Remember folks with Monday classes--you'll be 1 week "behind" with your Mondays, so follow your course schedule accordingly...)

There have been several changes in the TV Department over the summer. Our Student Activities Coordinator, Christy LeMaster, is off elsewhere in the world work-wise--but still teaching with us in Critical Studies (and our undergrad run journal WaterCooler is still running strong with some help from Faculty Sara Livingston ) Some of our tech support staff are also elsewhere and we are busily adjusting to the change in duties--so be sure to seek us out if you have questions or need help!

We also have a new faculty member from Los Angeles, Bill Rosenthal; he is already hitting the ground running with planning for FreqOut through to spring. We're excited to have another faculty member on board with experience in the industry! You'll find Bill in producing classes and he'll be in the 14th floor faculty office hallway with the rest of the crew.

I will be upstairs on the 15th floor as your Interim Chair with Eric Scholl as your Associate Chair. We also have a new Interim Dean in the School of Media Arts--Constantin Rasinariu--so if you see folks you don't know this year, jump in and introduce yourself. :D

If I'm your advisor, hang tight--you might be reassigned as the year goes on so we can ensure you get the full assistance for course advising you need.  They make me go to a lot of meetings as Interim Chair, so finding me might be trickier than usual. But in general I can be found on Mondays and Fridays, with occasional Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons in the mix.

I'm also sure to be busy trying to keep up with the over 400 new shows emerging this Fall--there has been a lot of insightful commentary recently about what the "glut" of solidly good shows out there says about the industry and the impact on our culture  I certainly had my hands full just this summer (I state here: Wet Hot American Summer the TV series was better than the movie--though truly it IS a package deal. Go watch both.) Right now I'm trying to vet what I'll test out to squeeze into the returning shows I cannot quit watching and the need to binge through the rest of Orphan Black. Rising to the top so far are the following:

The Grinder--Rob Lowe, Fred Savage. Nuff said.

Scream Queens--will provide me with my young adult storyline needs and continue the fun I've been having with Scream on MTV (do NOT spoiler that for me!)

And The Catch. Shonda Rhimes. And any excuse to see Peter Krause.

And since The Catch isn't until mid-season, The Muppets can tide me over.

And of course, don't forget--first night of the semester...

Because of the "busy" and because I will expect all of you to fill me in on the shows I don't get too, occasionally I'll host some open sessions in the TV Office for dropping by to chat. I can't feed all of you, so the basic rule is the first 24 students can score a donut. First session is Wednesday 9/30, 1-2pm--come tell me your thoughts on anything you've seen and l;et me know how your semester is going!

See you soon...

Sunday, June 28, 2015

I can tell you personally, but so can many of my former students...I aim to be an open-minded woman. But I am excited this weekend to see the SCOTUS decision about marriage in the states.

I was born and bred Catholic, and have a deep respect for the Christianity the infuses my upbringing and formed who I am as a human being.

I simply wish to have here, as a statement for ME as a representative of the Television Department, that we celebrate the recent Supreme Court decision as a movement forward in acceptance of our students' ability to embrace the full spectrum of creativity that is available to them. We may not all agree on the specifics of life and living, but if we can agree to respect each other and support each other as artistic professionals, then we will have moved our "world" forward "just enough."

Monday, June 22, 2015

I don't often do a short post on a film (gasp! I'm a TV prof! egad! :D)

But do yourself a favor as an incoming STORYTELLER. Go see Inside Out. Forget about animation(though abstract Danger Zone was brilliance). Just...

watch. revel in the story. remember what it was (is?) like to go through a major life change and be mad/sad/fearful/joyful-excited...and, yes, sad at what you are leaving behind you.

Inside Out works because it touches us--as little kids, as parents, as storytellers/story-READERS.

If you're new to Columbia this year, just go see it.
If you're "old" to Columbia this year, the same.

It might inspire you on many platforms.

NOW--someone score me the Lava short that preceded the film--sheer brilliance.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Welcome 2015 TV Department Students!

So--what are some of the starting basics you need aside from the 50,000 sheets of paper shoved at you already?

You have my welcome note from Orientation. So that and the info from Laura Levitt-Gamis gets you off to a great start. BUT...Here are some tips from the instructor perspective:

1) if books are assigned to the course, get them. You can find them cheap, any which way you want. But just get them--we don't assign a book if it's not actually useful. (and we teach classes assuming you've read...)

2a) "homework" in college is a different bag than in high school. A lot occurs online (know your class Moodle page--come see me if that sounds bizarre). The expectations are also different. While due dates count, in college a lot is about you learning to manage your time--a job you might have, family, extracurriculars...The "rule" is that for every credit hour you're enrolled, you should be spending 2-3 hours reading/creating/researching/studying. So if you're in a 3 credit class (the norm), anticipate at least 6 hours of outside class work on average per week for just that one class. I get that this means being a full-time student (15 credits)= a full-time job. This makes planning your semester important: when I was an undergrad, I worked 35 hours a week as a waitress, took 22 credits (yep--I was nutty that way!)--but got it done with room for fun and games because I worked to plan carefully. 2b) IF YOU ARE THE FIRST PERSON IN YOUR FAMILY TO TRY AT A 4-YEAR DEGREE, COME SEE ME. Your world is different and we have sources to connect you with others who understand your circumstances and can provide support..

3) Are you new to living in Chicago? OK--first--go explore as much as you can until the frigid winter hits! Find the following:

a) the Bean
b) Maggie Daly Park (trust me--some of the slides are total fun for non-kids and there's skating and rock climbing)
c) scope out the "hoods" as we refer to them...there's the 606 elevated track ( ) and the lakefront and tons of places to just exercise in nature!
d) find food!! CHEAP food! There are a gazillion ethnic neighborhoods in Chicago, most accessible by train. Mexican, Polish, South American, just need to dig it all up online. Near campus there is a good bounty-from good ole' fashioned chains to more independent eateries. No matter what, do yourself a favor and get Harold's Chicken at some point (on Wabash, right around the corner from our main building and Hackney's on Dearborn for a heftier meal good for parental visiting ( and for sure do Flaco's Tacos (

OK--I am a foodie and can direct you...

What are you watching right now that gets you excited about being in a television department?

Past students will tell you my TV tastes are hard to predict. Here's what's on my watch list in mid June:

--binging the rest of Orange is the New Black, Pretty Little Liars, The Fosters, Orphan Black, Finding Carter; getting my husband to catch up on iZombie so we can discuss; anticipating Switched at BirthThe Good Wife and Madame SecretaryHow to get Away with Murder, Empire, Hot Wet American Summer, Kimmy Schmidt, Transparent...NEED SOMEHOW to watch Scream Queens and Scream...

Point being there is just an abundance of truly innovative "TV" right now. So if you're "here"--well. embrace the journey!

Come see me... I'm in the main TV office most days other than when I'm teaching my Nickelodeon class or in meetings (or making sure my soon-to-be-second-grader is getting HIS homework done:D).