Bradley Avenue seemed to intersect with Hollywood Boulevard when students flew to California for two-week expedition courses focused on the entertainment industry over the January interim. LAX airport, palm trees, and sunny skies all said, “Los Angeles,” but it was the famous “Hollywood” sign in the hills that affirmed they were in the entertainment capital of the world. On the sidewalk along Hollywood Boulevard, pink marbled stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame boasted the names of celebrities. The famed Warner Bros. water tower stood sentry over Warner Bros. Studios, and driving down well-known streets like Sunset Boulevard and Rodeo Drive proved that the fantasy world of glamour and fame is indeed real.
Jed Schlanger ‘96 discusses
Seinfeld chats with students about Bee Movie
Doug Frank HON ‘06 explains
But this was not a sightseeing trip. It was experiential education at its best, as students gained an executive level examination into the world of entertainment that took them inside Paramount Studios, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Kodak Theatre, DreamWorks, and other hallmarks in entertainment. Dr. Bob Jacobs, professor of communication, and Dr. Ron Koperski, associate professor of communication, have each led separate expedition courses to Los Angeles for more than 20 years. Discussing his Commercial Film and Television Seminar, Jacobs said, “I take our kids to Hollywood to show them what they just can’t experience here at Bradley. That is, [to see] the rich and incredible variety of jobs and skills there are in the real world of commercial production. When they come back from this adventure, they are ready to focus and to speak with some authority about the career field they have chosen.”
The annual expedition courses teach students that success in Hollywood not only happens in front of the camera, but in each aspect of creating, producing, promoting, and distributing everything from CDs to major motion pictures. They hear success stories from alumni such as Tami Lane '96, Oscar-winning special effects makeup artist; David Horowitz ’59, consumer advocate and president of Fight Back! Productions; Jim Tanker ’72, director of television’s Big Brother; Jonathan Buss ’94, Emmy Award-winning television director, writer, and producer; Ryan Saul ’93, co-head of the literary department for Metropolitan Talent Agency; and others who have forged careers in the entertainment industry. Jacobs said the “former students working there now have become a rich networking pantheon for the next generation of grads.”
While Koperski had carefully planned an agenda geared toward public relations, advertising, and programming for his Entertainment Industry Seminar, a highlight of the trip was an impromptu visit by comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who wrote, is producing, and stars in the upcoming animated Bee Movie. At DreamWorks, production supervisor Jed Schlanger ’96 was explaining the world of computer-generated animation when Seinfeld walked in the door to record dialogue for the movie. He detoured to greet the group, to chat a bit, and to pose for pictures. Asked if he likes doing an animated film, Seinfeld quipped, “It’s great. You show up in a hooded sweatshirt, you say your lines for 15 minutes, and you’re gone.”
Some celebrity sightings were planned. The agenda included attending tapings of Ellen, where Ellen DeGeneres danced down the students’ aisle before interviewing the cast of Little Miss Sunshine; The Tonight Show, where they saw Jay Leno interview Paula Abdul; and The New Adventures of Old Christine, where students laughed at lines delivered by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Seeing the stars was a thrill, but the best lessons came from those whose names are not household words.
In one day alone, students met with a music executive who works with rappers, another music executive who works on movie soundtracks, a sitcom television producer, a movie producer, a casting director, and a movie publicist.