The Recipients of This Year’s COM Distinguished Alumni Awards
Left to right, the 2012 award winners: Andy Cohen (’90), producer of Bravo series such as Real Housewives of New York City and Project Runway, and host of talk show Watch What Happens: Live; Colleen McCreary (’95), chief people officer at Zynga, producers of video games FarmVille and Mafia Wars; Orlando Bagwell (’74, ’77) , principal at the Ford Foundation, who runs Ford’s JustFilms initiative, which supports narrative filmmaking for public benefit; and Jason Sarlanis (’05), manager, E! Entertainment original programming and series development.
Dreaming Big, Hustling Hard
COM students blaze trails in Hollywood
By Rachel Johnson
In the video above, take a sneak peek at the BU in LA life of internships, classes and plenty of hard work.
In Los Angeles, reality doesn’t always live up to fantasy. The BU in LA semester, however, gives hopefuls a heavy dose of the practical experience they need to start realizing their dreams of Hollywood careers. And it shows in enrollment—in less than a decade, the number of students clamoring to go to LA has quadrupled. “A lot of students perceive Hollywood as all glitz, glamor and celebrity,” says Visiting Associate Professor of Film & Television Bill Linsman, director of the LA program. “We provide not only a dose of reality, but in many cases, that first step up the ladder. And that experience is invaluable.” Part of BU Study Abroad and fostered by COM and the College of Fine Arts, the LA semester allows students to choose from four different tracks: advertising & public relations, film & television, Los Angeles studies, and entertainment management & law.
Linsman loves exposing students to atypical entertainment industry employment options. While students may arrive with hazy dreams of the silver screen, the program lets them explore a range of Hollywood possibilities, and they often find their passion lies in an unexpected direction. “The range of industry that’s represented here is broad and deep,” he says. Whether it’s an excursion to the local PR firm, learning how to edit film and mix sound or interning at a camera rental house, he says, “students discover careers that they hadn’t necessarily considered before.”
The LA programs are multifaceted and intense. Students work in industry internships during the day and attend classes and lectures in the evening. On any given day, a student might punch out at a prominent ad agency and head to CBS Studios to listen to President of CBS Entertainment Nina Tassler (CFA’79) and Joel Silver—producer of Die Hard, The Matrix and Sherlock Holmes—discuss the film industry, or former star of FX’s The Shield Michael Chiklis (CFA’85) might drop by with some insider acting tips. “The teachers are all professionals working in the industry,” says Linsman. “Students learn how to network extensively, with one another, with alums and with people in the industry. They learn how to get the job.”
In fact, BU in LA alumni abound in entertainment. Program alum Mark DiCristofaro (CGS’06, COM’08) worked on Stephen Spielberg’s The Adventures of TinTin. Michael Gunn (’07) is a writer’s assistant for Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom. Alums of the advertising track work at TBWA/Chiat/Day, creating ads for Pepsi, Absolut and Apple. These alums are closely involved with BU in LA students, from providing internships to giving guest lectures and master classes, and Linsman says this connection is responsible for much of the program’s success.
The LA experience isn’t easy or for everyone. “It’s all in your approach,” Linsman says. “Don’t come to LA with an attitude of entitlement. Come with a deep, passionate determination that you’re going to succeed. The job will come; the ladder will be there. It may take longer than you think, but if you care about entertainment, if you smile, if you work at selling yourself, you will succeed.”
Did You Know?
Students in a COM narrative radio class last spring won the Associated Press award for best college documentary for their six-part series “Life Without Parole: Juvenile Justice?” which aired on WTBU shortly before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down life-without-parole sentences for juveniles. The class was taught by Associate Professor Anne Donohue (’89) of the broadcast journalism program.
COM grad returns to BU—on the other side of the desk
By Rachel Johnson
While Edward Boches is a fairly new faculty member here, he’s an old hand at BU. Since getting a bachelor’s from COM in 1976, he has served on COM advisory committees and employed COM students as interns at Mullen, an advertising agency that he co-founded.
Boches has the insider’s insight into how to thrive in the ever-changing landscape of mass communication. Recently appointed professor of the practice in advertising in COM’s Department of Mass Communication, Advertising & Public Relations, Boches arrives fresh from helping to launch Springpad, where he served as interim chief marketing officer. Winner of dozens of awards for creative excellence, Boches has spent the last 30 years (including 11 as Mullen’s chief creative officer) guiding entry-level college grads along their first steps into the advertising world. He has launched brands such as Monster.com, worked on big brands such as Google and General Motors, and created Super Bowl ad spots.
This fall, Boches is teaching Fundamentals of Creative Development and Portfolio Development, using his experience at Mullen and ad agency Hill Holliday to help students improve their portfolios and agency business savvy. Boches also serves as part-time chief innovation officer of Mullen, and writes the blog Creativity_Unbound.
Who says film grads can’t find work on Madison
Avenue? At least the fictional version. Two COM alumnae have succeeded in capturing the freewheeling, scotch-soaked advertising industry of the 1960s in the wildly popular AMC series Mad Men.
Maria Jacquemetton (’85) and her husband André Jacquemetton are the show’s executive producers, and they have co-written many episodes, including the fifth season premiere in March 2012. The pair visited campus last spring for a screening and discussion as part of COM’s Cinematheque film screening and speaker series.
“We can’t be in the same room together,” Maria revealed to BU Today when detailing the couple’s writing process. Visit www.bu.edu/today to learn more.
The March season 5 premiere was directed by Jennifer Getzinger (’90), who has directed several Mad Men episodes, including “The Suitcase,” which earned an Emmy nomination. She hosted a screening and Q&A of her award-winning episode at Cinematheque in the spring. Visit www.bu.edu/today to hear some of her thoughts.
Adventures in Journalism
Jeffrey B. White scholar combines wanderlust with reporting
For Morgan True (’12), a spirit of wanderlust— that itch to pack up and go—seemed always to compete with his interest in earning a journalism degree. As a COM freshman, he took a break from his studies to work in Puerto Rico, where he experienced a new culture and polished his Spanish. As a junior, he took off with some friends on a bicycling trek from his home in Seattle to southern Mexico (below).
But meanwhile, True practiced what he was learning in COM classes about reporting and writing. In Puerto Rico, he published an article in an airline’s in-flight magazine sharing his secrets for traveling on a student’s budget. During his cycling trip, he wrote a blog that received more than 20,000 hits.
The need to try out new scenery afflicted True again in his final semester. This time, he spent it in BU’s Washington, D.C., journalism program as a correspondent for the Cape Cod Times and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
That same adventuresome spirit piqued the interest of James and Dolores White, and True was named the first recipient of the Jeffrey B. White Memorial Scholarship, which is reserved for a journalism student in the Washington program.
“When we read Morgan’s essay applying for the scholarship, we were struck with the thought that he was doing the same kinds of things that Jeff would have done,” says James White. The Whites endowed the scholarship in memory of their son, Jeffrey (’01), pictured at left. In 2009, at age 32, the onetime Washington Post reporter died of cancer, cutting short a varied career in journalism that was inspired largely by his own experience as a graduate student in the D.C. program.
For True, the two interests of wanderlust and COM studies fit together perfectly. “These life experiences, when combined with the reporting experiences I’ve had under the guidance of my professors, have galvanized my resolve to become a journalist.”