I have the pleasure of being affiliated with Columbia College Chicago pretty consistently over the past 5 Decades. First graduating with a Bachelors of Arts Degree majoring in Television. Then as an 11 year member of the Board of Trustee and 4 year Co-Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee. And now as a member of The Columbia College Chicago Alumni Board and Chairperson of the Impact Committee.
The picture above is with family and friends in 1998 after receiving an award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Columbia College Chicago’. Below I am among our Columbia College Trustees participating in a graduation ceremony.
There have been many wonderful experiences in my tenure at Columbia. One highlight to share was being Semester in LA’s architect and founder, Bob Enrietto’s champion on the board of and Academic Affairs Committee that helped him get the Semester in LA program started. To this day Semester in LA is a keystone of Columbia’s Los Angeles West Coast outreach and continues to gain in impact for students and the entertainment industry under the Directorship currently of Karen Loop.
The picture below is with actor, Denny Franz, Semester In LA founder, Bob Enrietto and Columbia President at the time, Dr. Warrick Carter. Sorry to the lovely blond lady next to Denny… I do not recall her name
I continue to be an active part of Columbia College as a member of the National Alumni Board and Chairperson of the Impact Committee and am particularly proud of our current efforts to expand an official Columbia College Chicago Mentorship program. The joy from continuing my relationship with Columbia College Chicago makes my contribution a total win-win.
WMAQ-TV was my professional home for most of the 70's. Two shows I produced, other than the Emmy Winning Special, "NBC Salutes Chic Chicago", were "Chicago Camera", a 90 minute weekly LIVE telecast hosted by Jerry G. Bishop and Linda Alvarez. And "Small World" (yep we got the rights for the title) hosted by Paula Gordon.
Paula Gordon, center above with Britta Ebert Fayette (who worked with us both in production and as a performer - wonderful voice!) and Me on the right. "Small World" was dedicated to celebrating every possible ethnic event in the Chicago area, and as you may know the Chicago area is known for it's diversity. Most of these pictures are from "Small World" because.. these are the ones I have! Paula and DP Russ Divin (pictured below) and a variety of Directors and I experienced eating almost every ethnic food imaginable ... stories we would tell for many years because you really couldn't say 'no thank you'. We were in these people's homes and it would have been terribly rude to not at least taste their favorite dishes! So we did. Paula was particularly adept at acting enthralled by the food while on camera.. bless her!
Above with superb DP, (Russ Divin). We called him cameraman in the EJ (electronic journalism days) and very talented Director, Allan Kartun, who we often 'upgraded' to Director from his staff position of Associate Director. The other gentleman may be crew member Billy Kidd or someone from the event.. not really sure.
And here in the field with our extraordinary Associate Producer, Barbara Popovic.. this was her first TV job and she went on to run the Chicago Public Access Channel for many years!
Another note about "Chicago Camera". It was Live on location Sunday's for 2.5 years. We went everywhere and amazingly because of a dedicated technical staff and good planning we were never rained out. Associate Producer Anne Wendell and PA Joyce Rubin were the talented "Chicago Camera" staff working with an awesome technical crew at WMAQ-TV often led by Gene Cartright and Rick Cortright. These were pre satellite days and it's amazing what they did with our microwave dish trucks being the only way to get signals. Most of us remember those days very fondly and to this day Barbara tells me there is nothing that covers the positive activities in the Chicago area like "Small World" and "Chicago Camera" did!
Those that know me well, know I love to smile. I have been a ‘smiler’ since the early days.. often given odd looks by 'passer byes' and even by acquaintances. My favorite smiling story goes back to when I was Program Director at WNBC-TV in New York. From day one when I would walk down the hallways, either on the floor we occupied or other floors where the network folks were, I would smile and most often say hello. Well the looks I got, especially on the network floors, but also from my colleagues were humorous. I soon learned that this was not the ‘norm’ among executives. And no, it did not deter me.. I continued and continue smiling my way through life. Try it. Smiling at 'strangers' gets a variety of reactions but you never know how you may enhance that person you smile at's day.
Here’s an excerpt from Matt Kahn’s email on what he labels as his spiritual practice:
“A smile is a declaration of freedom shining out from your eternally liberated nature, shouting from the roof tops through the cosmic language of silence, “I am here. I matter. I exist for a reason.” A smile is a gift of emotional generosity, like a gift certificate of healing energy, where the receiver can decide where such energy can be best used for the evolution of his/her soul. A smile is a confirmation of alignment with Source and being settled in your highest Truth, only revealing the need for deeper transformations the moment you look away, pull back, and hide.
A smile is a high five exchanged between angels affirming the perfection of their victory no matter how circumstances come to be. A smile is a remembrance of Heaven sent from the purest space within you to awaken the purity of all. A smile is a symbol of awakened heart-centered consciousness affirming all that is whole, right, and perfect about this moment exactly as it is. A smile is a spiritual cease-fire that only brings defeat to the parts and aspects that were never created to go any further. A smile is a moment of profound surrender, no longer needing to hold anything together or manage a journey that is too busy taking care of you to brief you on its plan.”
I think smiling is over all more acceptable than it was back in the 80’s when I first lived full time in New York City… but I still get surprised looks from people even here during my walks in the Venice Beach and Canal areas!
Have a super smiling day!
Pictured above...This outstanding staff, crew and cast who were the team that put their 'all' into the pilot "Al's Open House".. it was an hour long venture that featured Al Roker in all kinds of fun situations, including looking for a 'Taper' at the zoo. The gag was of course nobody knew what a Taper was and we had a fun reveal at the end of the segment.
Our set was a replica of a 'home' living room (above), hallway, kitchen, etc. and guests would ring the bell and come in and out of the doors, etc. This was back in 1988... a technique that was not common then. Our primary Director Steve Grymes, Al and I (serving as EP & Producer on this one).. broke all the talk/variety show production rules.
NBC O&O's did not pick up the show.. but we all know the success that Al has had (and is having) in the news and talk show genre among other genres like movies (Hallmark), web series and Broadway! It was a delight working with him and this WNBC-TV team! Thanks Michael Drucker (pictured seated behind me) for saving and sending me this picture!
I have been blessed with many industry awards throughout my career.. the most public ones being 8 Regional Emmy Awards and One IRIS Award (for a show called "Strictly Business", the first local show of it's genre) from the Television Industry Organization NATPE. The first EMMY was as producer for a show called "NBC Salutes Chic Chicago". It was a music/variety extravaganza and a benefit performance. We produced it in conjunction with the opening of the Apparel Center in Chicago and we produced the event from beginning to end. I had the honor of working with the amazing choreographer Gus Giordano, the terrific Director Roger Lee Miller (who was our director on "Chicago Camera" and many other live and recorded programs), the wonderful Art Director, Jack Hackman and the stellar WMAQ-TV engineering and stage crews. It was a collaborative effort and I was able to use my live TV and music/variety show experience (The Della Reese Show, The Bob Hope Show, Chicago Camera) as well as a crash 'course' on the Fashion Industry to make the show the success it was for the industry and me personally.. You never forget your First Emmy!
7 additional Regional Emmy Awards garnered when I was Program Director and Executive Producer at WNBC-TV. Thanks Michael Drucker (pix top row center standing) for sending me this pix. Fond memories and gratitude to all the talented people that helped us make WNBC-TV a winning New York outlet!
(Pictured above... Bob Hope plaque presented to us by the military stationed in South Korea, an autographed pix from Bob and, also in the frame, me with Peter Allen one of the times he hosted Christmas at Rockefeller Center for us at WNBC-TV.)
Early in my career, the first time I lived in the Los Angeles, following my wonderful experience on The Della Reese Show as PA and then Associate Director, I was fortunate enough get a PA position on the Bob Hope Show. Worked a full year with them including the Christmas Around the World show before moving on to an Associate Producer position on Joanne Carson's V.I.P.s (a story for another time!)
That year our Hope Show troupe traveled to Vietnam, Thailand, England, Germany, Korea, Alaska, and even did a show on board the USS JFK carrier, in waters off the coast of Greece. Made a stop at West Point too. Nothing like being a young single girl among all those young West Pointers!…the stories I could tell. Bottom line, Bob Hope from my perspective, was a delight to work for and his energy ran circles around all of us ‘youngsters’. We all worked hard and played hard. At one point I figured I had 14 hours of sleep over 8 days. And honest.. it was all work. You see, the PA (moi) got to stay up all night getting scripts ready for the next day after going to the mandatory attendance events planned by the host country. Bob believed in fresh copy for each show and the copy never got to me before 9 or 10 pm at night. You haven’t lived until you spent the night typing and printing scripts for cast and crew! No complaints the trip was a once in a lifetime experience. Bob even bought me an Eskimo Doll when we were in Alaska at the end of the trip, and I was suffering from a terrible cold. An aside: when we got back to the states we were told that the reports from Associated Press said that Bob Hope was booed during the tour. I was there, doing timings from the front row. Never, No, Never did I or anyone else in the troupe, hear anyone boo. The audience was thrilled to have him and his troop of mostly lady performers, Lola Falano, Ursula Andress, Miss World and the ‘Ding-A-Lings” from the Dean Martin Show.. oh and Johnny Bench. So I learned early on to be skeptical about ‘reports’ and the press in general. I have great respect for true journalists to this day.. not so much for random reports. Bob.. thanks for the memories.. you brought great joy to many each Christmas... I AM grateful to have known and worked for you.
I have long been a fan of Frank Sinatra (still am) and had a crush on him when I was a teen. Blessed to have had the opportunities to see him in Las Vegas several times and even in concert in Pennsylvania once (that’s a whole story in itself). But I hadn’t met him in person until an amazing Soul, Arlene Francis, who was the cohost of a show called Prime Of Your Life came into my life.
(Picture above, Producer Chris Salvador, Co-Host Arlene Frances, Frank Sinatra and Executive Producer Me)
Knowing Arlene and Frank were good friends, I had asked Arlene early on in our business relationship if she would ask Frank to do an interview and she promised she would. But alas… after a couple of years the show was cancelled and Frank had not appeared. When I told Arlene about the cancellation she said.. I am sorry to hear that but I promised you Frank Sinatra and I will deliver before we are off the air. (the show was syndicated at the time). And she delivered.. we recorded enough for 2 episodes and it was a thrill for me. Our producer, Chris Salvador, found the perfect location and the show did very well. Bucket list …I didn’t know I had one but this would have been one if I did. Thank you Arlene, thank You Chris and thank you Mr. Sinatra.. an honor to have spent time with each of you.
At the time these pictures were taken I had no real idea who His Holiness The Dalai Llama was/is! Our Host, Dr. Russell Barber had told me he was a special Being/Guest and as Russ was great at understatement, I simply took his word for it. When Russ was able to get His Holiness as a guest on "The First Estate" Russ invited me to meet him and greet him in the traditional way of handing him a scarf. The rule was not to have physical contact with His Holiness.. the handlers pointed out. This was the early 1980's when I was Program Director at WNBC-TV in New York, and either the first or 2nd time The Dalai Llama had been to the United States. The magic of meeting him was palatable however it was years later before I learned that the fact that His Holiness accepted the scarf but then took my hand and shook it was very significant.
When Matt Kahn was at my home for a session, early on in Matt's career, when he saw the pictures (above) Matt said, ',,,you do know he took your hand in order to release you from your vows of poverty in past lifetimes.' No, I didn't but it was pretty cool to hear. I am eternally grateful to Russ Barber for setting in motion the opportunity, Matt Kahn for adding to the depth of the meaning of the meeting, my mother, Blanche Feder Cohen, for holding these pictures for me, and of course His Holiness The Dalai Llama for this wonderful meeting and all he does to make this world a better place. I AM Grateful.