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Celebrating Good Stuff on the Telly

BUTV’s Bay State grabs national kudos

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BayState6_v.jpg

Bay State director Maddie Staszak (COM’11) blocks a crucial scene in this season’s finale. Photo by Jenn Carroll (COM’10)

Drugs, murder, and scandal on Bay State have earned Boston University notoriety, but not with lurid national media headlines. The student-run soap opera now incorporates the words “Telly award winner” as part of its title.

Bay State, the nation’s longest-running college soap opera, airs on butv10, a student-run operation airing on BUTV. The filming process is almost entirely handled by students, and it rivals professional work. Crafted from the combined efforts of more than 200 students, faculty, and alumni, the volunteers work 20-hour weeks on top of homework and jobs to put together such programs as Inside Boston, Terrier Nation, and BU Tonight.

“The goal is to provide a training ground for directors, writers, and actors who are here to practice,” says D. J. Capobianco (COM’10), the station’s general manager. “There is literally always something going on.”

The Telly Awards are the premier awards honoring outstanding local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programs, the finest video and film productions, and online film and video, created by media agencies, productions houses — and college students. This year more than 13,000 entries from 50 states were received. The awards have been handed out since 1979.

BUTV’s focus is more on serving the community than on gaining national recognition, Capobianco says, although the award does provide an ego boost. The station has been branching out in the BU community, covering BU Central events, shooting on location, even filming in the Castle (like the makers of 21).

“Actually we beat 21 to it because a month later they shot there over spring break,” says Josh Brown (COM’09), Bay State executive producer.

Although Kevin Spacey has not made an appearance, celebrities appearing on butv10’s programs include John Hodgman, a correspondent on The Daily Show and “PC” from the Mac commercials, and Larry Barron, senior vice president of programming at Fremantle Media, whose projects include MTV’s The Phone and Fox’s Osbournes: Reloaded.

Brown has worked at the station for four years, starting as a lowly production assistant with 28 other freshmen.

“The first day, one of the upperclassmen said that at the end of the year there would be only five of us left,” he says. “She was just about right. At the end of the year, there were only four left.”

But Brown stuck with the station as characters, production values, and appreciation slowly grew; he admits it took a while to build from being a plug during Admissions tours to today’s popularity.

Brown’s plans after graduation are to move to L.A. with three other Bay State alumni and try for a job in television. Stress and shenanigans on the set, he figures, might be as good a preparation for the real world as his classroom education.

Bay State taught me how to deal with high-pressure situations and work in a set environment,” says Alex Weinberg (COM’10), also an executive producer of Bay State. “It is almost like a fraternity or sorority — something that you can bond over. It’s a good networking tool.” The toughest part of his job, he says, is figuring out how to keep the show vital in the next generation’s incarnation.

Alix Foster (COM’98) has already experienced that rite of passage. She stumbled upon Bay State’s Facebook group years after graduating, and was amazed to see how far the show had progressed since her days of using huge antiquated cameras.

“I can’t believe this,” says Foster, after checking out BUTV10’s Web site. “Obviously the people really care about the show and pass that on to the next group of students.”

So what does this Telly award mean for the station? Capobianco hopes it puts a legacy of recognition in place, which will attract new talent.

“Not all programs have that, a legacy to pull from,” he says. “But all are creating a great product.”

Anna Webster can be reached at annaweb@bu.edu.

2 Comments

2 Comments on Celebrating Good Stuff on the Telly

  • Anonymous on 05.26.2009 at 10:02 am

    so bad it’s funny to watch.

  • Anthony on 05.26.2009 at 8:05 pm

    Bay State

    bay state is awesome

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