TV Conference in Vegas
What happens in Vegas won't stay in Vegas when Bradley faculty and students attend the National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) Conference from January 26-29. Dr. Greg Pitts, associate professor of communication and the NATPE Education Foundation's director of faculty and student programs, has annually attended the conference with his students since 1993.
From Brett Lemick ’08…
To assure that you, my readers are informed and alert, my last blog is a prerequisite to this post. So go read my previous post and I will wait [crosses arms and taps foot]. Okay…ready? Good.
I would like to share one of my more exciting (and surprising) experiences that I had here at NATPE. After I spent a full day with Ben Silverman, the co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and NBC Universal, I had the pleasure of escorting him and his father Stanley to the NATPE honoree dinner later that night. Upon arriving, Ben asked me to add one more seat to their table.
When adding the extra spot to the reservations, I inquired about the guest, and a man stepped forward and said in a deep British accent, “Telegdy. Paul Telegdy.” Right when I heard his name, I immediately knew who this gentleman was. I recognized his name from signing up to work his upcoming speaking panel, Reality Recession. Paul Telegdy is NBC’s executive Vice President of alternative programming. He previously worked at BBC and is responsible for the hit show Dancing with the Stars. Okay, back to the story.
“Telegdy. Paul Telegdy,” he said (again, in his British voice). I introduced myself, gave him my business card with my website (www.thatInternatNATPE.com) and told Mr. Telegdy how excited I was to hear him speak tomorrow. He modestly said, “I can’t promise it’ll be entirely exciting.” Oh, how wrong he was. The next day, I was blessed with the opportunity to hear him and three other media professionals speak about the struggles and successes of network reality television shows. Afterwards, I charged through the crowd as Telegdy raced to the door and thanked him again and reminded him about my business card. He then said, “Yes. That intern at NATPE.” He remembered! I was in.
Honestly, there is so much more I have to say, but cannot fit in this post. By this time next year, I hope to be busy with an exciting job in television. But if I’m not, I will certainly be back at NATPE. All righty, I’m off to go arm wrestle my roommate (and new best friend) Ross. We just met this week, and he’s one of the 42 new friends I look forward to keeping in touch with.
From Brett Lemick ’08…
“Will you be Ben’s guy tomorrow?”
I’d love the chance, just give me the word.
“Yes, you be Ben’s guy tomorrow.”
You may be wondering, “Who exactly is Ben?” Well I’m glad you asked. That’d be Ben Silverman, the co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and NBC Universal. As for the “guy,” that lucky fellow happened to be me. This was the actual text message conversation I had with Jimmy Fox, Ben Silverman’s personal assistant.
Here I was thinking that I’d only be passing out fliers and pushing in chairs at NATPE, but then it hit me: I just signed up to escort Mr. Ben Silverman, one of the most powerful men in television, around Las Vegas for an entire day. From guiding him through the crowds, to joining him in the limousine (or even carrying his wallet), I was Ben Silverman’s right-hand man. Not only that, but his father, Stanley (a well-known music composer), tagged along for the trip as well.
With such opportunity around me, I was glad I decided to make business cards with a link to my online resume.
My business card came in handy when being introduced to some of the top media executives in my field. As for meeting the “media big-wigs,” I had no problem.
Stanley Silverman had taken me under his wing by making it his own personal mission to get me a job. “Brett, I’d like you to meet Ed Wilson, with Chicago Tribune. You can work for Ed and stay in Chicago so your mother won’t worry.” With such down-to-earth grace, it was easy to forget that this man was a multi-millionaire with a media mogul as a son.
Stanley’s friendly introductions continued throughout the day, “Brett, this is John (Ferriter) from William Morris.” But John isn’t just some employee of the William Morris Agency; he happens to be the Senior Vice President. Ben and Stanley Silverman only hung out with the best of the best: Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon, Barack Obama, and now…Brett Lemick.
From Dassie Rice ’11…
One of the perks of interning at the NATPE conference is being able to listen to many of the panel discussions while monitoring the session. I was working a session today that especially piqued my interest. The topic was “Whose Reality is It Anyways?” It was about reality TV – my guilty obsession, just like millions of other people in the world. Project Runway, America’s Next Top Model, Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares, The Girls Next Door, and Sunset Tan–you name it, I’ll watch it.
The panel was made up of Lisa Berger, EVP of Original Programming and Series Development for E! (Comcast Entertainment Group); Tony DiSanto, the President of Programming for MTV; David Hudson VP of Unscripted Programming, Specials, and Franchises for TBS and TNT; and Marc Juris, EVP and General Manager of truTV/In Session. These are the very people who made possible shows such as Keeping Up with the Kardashians, College Life, Solitary and many other reality shows. I could definitely relate to this discussion.
They debated about the future of reality TV and compared the definition of reality TV from five years ago to today. Many think they have the perfect idea for a reality show, but there is a formula that involves character, story arc, and shock factor.
I also had the chance to briefly meet the celebrity known as Flavor Flav. And yes, he was just as you might expect him, strolling around with his entourage, stopping for the occasional photo ops, sporting his large clock and fur jacket and chatting it up with the ladies. Who knows what celebrity or potential employer I will be fortunate to have a chance meeting with next?
From Krystina Russell ’09…
The United States’ economic uncertainty affects broadcasting just like any other industry. The challenge for broadcasters is to find solutions to current economic problems as well as plan for future technological changes. I attended a session entitled “How Broadcasters Thrive in this Economic Climate” on Tuesday at NATPE. Some of these problems were addressed, and possible solutions were put on the table for debate.
In Ballroom F of the Mandalay Bay, a simple stage supported the knowledge given by some of the most influential figures in media. The luncheon included the power triplet of Ira Bernstein, co-president of Debmar-Mercury; Brandon Burgess, chairman and CEO of ION Media; and Ed Wilson, president of the Tribune Broadcasting Company in Chicago. As I sat feet away from the men who produce and distribute shows like Tyler Perry’s House of Pain and run the largest independent broadcast groups in the U.S., I could barely wait for the audience to finish their lunches so the discussion could finally begin.
While the wait staff cleared the tables, I listened to the influential men, and I began to understand how the economic failures we have seen in the past months have affected this field that I know and love. The lack of funds that stations are now experiencing has altered the way executives introduce new shows to audiences, the view of competition between media outlets, and employee duties.
They also discussed how media companies must now create new business ventures to keep afloat in this economy, and that the world of broadcasting as we know it is changing. They said the Tribune Company merged its TV and newspaper entities to easier sell its brand and cut costs. Additionally, incentives are now being used to motivate employees to sell, sell, sell the brand. Those efforts include mass emails naming the company’s top sales person and rewarding him or her with a $2,500 check.
Other proposals for the future included stations engaging in global news sharing, which a Fox executive described. This allows the various news network affiliates to retain a partnership and more efficiently cover news in their communities. Footage or information could be shared, while each station is still able to keep its exclusivity and originality.
With the overall theme of this discussion ending in “cutting cost equals success,” I realized the innovative ideas TV executives are creating to maintain their stations in this time of economic strife. While these TV executives are challenged to provide quality content for their viewers, they’re trying to keep costs at a reasonable level to preserve the stations. While walking out of the ballroom full of knowledge, I was satisfied with the inside look I was given into the future of broadcasting.
From Dassie Rice ’11…
The 2009 NATPE Conference officially began on Monday, January 26. However, for us lucky interns, work started two days earlier. It is really amazing to be part of the team that works so hard to make this conference possible.
As I stood most of Monday – sorry feet/ankles/knees – and directed people to various places, I realized how much fun I was having just watching people and assisting them to their destinations. I know it doesn’t sound like a blast, but I had the opportunity to strike up conversations with so many people. What’s better than getting the chance to visit with actual professionals in your field of study?
Socializing with the other interns has been very entertaining, as well. After talking to several and spending most of my time with them, I realized how talented and fascinating they were. I definitely expect to keep in contact with many of them long after the conference is over.
So far, the atmosphere is buzzing with excitement, and it is only Day 1. I’m certainly looking forward to the next few days, which can only lead to more opportunities, excitement, and networking.
From Krystina Russell ’09…
The National Association of Television Producers and Executives (NATPE) annual conference brings together interns from across the nation to participate in a week’s worth of extraordinary events for the media world. As a nameless face in the crowded room of interns on Friday night, I felt a mix of nerves and anxiety about this new experience I was to embark on.
While Dr. Pitts and Sheri Beam, the intern coordinators, gave stellar explanations of what was to happen in the coming days, I began to sit on the edge of my seat. From Monday to Thursday I will be listening in on discussions by some of the industry’s head honchos like Anne Sweeny, the president of ABC-Disney Television Group, and I’ll have an insider’s view of the world I soon hope to join post-graduation. I’ll also have a chance to observe some of the newest technologies from companies like LG and Panasonic. With exhibitors including Adobe, CBS Paramount International Television and Lionsgate, I realize how incredibly lucky I am to be in the position to intern for this conference.
As the intern introductions began, I noticed the other extraordinary college students assembled to assist the NATPE staff. The group includes a Swedish swimmer, a Chicago songwriter, and a Taiwanese native to name a few. We come from colleges and universities from all corners of the country and have different backgrounds, but there is one common bond we share – our love for the TV industry.
All 42 interns have an interest in the media field including sales, journalism, and production, and our needs would soon be met in the large exhibition hall at the Mandalay Bay Resort. As we shed our shy exteriors and really started to get to know one another, the enthusiasm in the air was apparent. We knew the next few days would hold many new experiences and lots of hand-shaking opportunities that could possibly change our lives, and we could not wait!
By Brett Lemick ’08
42 red jackets march on by,
Resumes in hand, jobs on mind, dreams in heart.
The city that never sleeps boasts and hosts our electronic lives.
Molds are made, ready to be filled.
Potential-pulling students prepare for chaos.
Doors begin to close as disappearing bills fade.
Alas! Our doors fling open!
The chaos awaits.
From Dr. Greg Pitts, associate professor of communication…
Bradley University is proud to be part of NATPE; since 2001, students from the Department of Communication have served as NATPE conference interns. NATPE is a wonderful learning experience for students and faculty as we attend information sessions and meet many of the leaders and industry executives who are responsible for the programs we watch. During the conference, we’ll preview some of the programs and issues that will affect what we see on our televisions.
NATPE is a global, non-profit organization dedicated to the creation, development and distribution of televised programming across all media platforms. Annually, NATPE members meet to buy and sell program content that we’ll see on our local and national television channels, and through online viewing and mobile video.
Brett Lemick ’08, Krystina Russell ’09 and Dassie Rice ’11 will blog about the annual conference this week.
For more information on NATPE visit: