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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism Alumni Cover California Wildfires 

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    As anyone who follows American media knows, stories about President Donald Trump and his administration have monopolized the news for months. But this week, an even bigger story dominated the headlines. Two massive California wildfires, one in the mountains of Northern California and the second in coastal Southern California, have devastated communities and resulted (as of today) in the deaths of more than 50 people. An additional 100+ people are missing.

    News coverage of these tragedies has served an important public service function. And two New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism school graduates are on the scene, documenting the fires and their aftermath.

    NYFA alum Celina Liv Danielsen, along with photographer Thomas Hass, are there working for the Danish television network DK2. Earlier this week, they visited what remained of a small Northern California town ironically called Paradise. It wasn’t an easy assignment, one which takes an emotional as well as physical toll…

    Broadcast Journalism Update Celina Liv Danielsen

    Celina Liv Danielsen

    Karen Hua is also a NYFA graduate. She is reporter with the NBC TV station in the Southern California city of Bakersfield. While not threatened by fire — at least not yet — area residents have experienced the side effects of these blazes for months. Karen wrote earlier this week:

    “The fires in Southern California are relatively close to us in Bakersfield. We’re a 2-hour drive from the Ventura/Malibu area, and we’ve been covering them extensively…

    “Ultimately I’m okay, and everyone in Bakersfield is safe — there aren’t too many trees in our city to spread flames. However, we’ve seen toxic air quality and heat as a result of the fires around the state this year. This summer was terrible with the Carr, Medicino, and Ferguson Fires. There were days when the entire city was advised to stay indoors. But we are fortunate we are all safe.”

    Broadcast Journalism Update Karen Hua

    Karen Hua

    There are many ways to cover the same story. A digital producer/editor, working at ABC News headquarters in New York, created a powerful story for the ABC late night news program Nightline. The story, distributed over multiple platforms, captured the sheer terror of what is taking place…

    Broadcast Journalism Update

    Public Television took a somewhat different approach. Friend and former colleague Miles O’Brian was in California shooting material for an upcoming episode of the popular Nova science series. While his focus was on previous wildfires, he and his team found themselves in the middle of a new “mega-fire,” an event so large that it literally creates its own weather. Miles was interviewed  on the PBS NewsHour, for which I once produced.

    Broadcast Journalism Update

    As commentator Richard Reinhold noted earlier this year in TVNewsCheck, increasingly local TV news reporters are becoming “first responders,” often arriving on the scene of major events at the same time (or even before) police, fire, and emergency medical teams. 

    That’s why it is so important that we get the story right. People will act on the information we give them. We have to make sure it is accurate.

    Broadcast Journalism Update

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    November 16, 2018 • Broadcast Journalism, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1172

  • How David Marshall Grant’s Persistence Led to His Success

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    This Monday, the New York Film Academy hosted a screening of ABC’s Brothers and Sisters with executive producer/show-runner David Marshall Grant. The event was moderated by Producer, Tova Laiter.

    In addition to Grant’s success in television as Executive Producer/show-runner of NBC’s Smash and ABC’s Brothers & Sisters, he is an accomplished actor and playwright. His first play, Snakebit, was nominated for both a Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award. His second play, Current Events, was produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club in 2000. His most recent play, Pen, opened in 2006 at Playwrights Horizons. As an actor, Grant is best known for playing opposite Richard Gere in Broadway’s Bent and for his Tony-nominated performance in Angels in America. His acting credits include film and television work in such projects as The Devil Wears Prada, The Stepford Wives, The Rock, Air America, And the Band Played On, Citizen Cohn, thirtysomething, Eli Stone, and Party Down.

    david grantAfter attending the Yale School of Drama, David went to the Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference in Connecticut where he did a workshop of Bent. He was very lucky to experience immediate success right out of school when the production, which was bound for Broadway, asked him to star opposite Richard Gere. “So much of life is what fate brings you, and so much of life is what you bring when fate shows up,” said Grant.

    It was during his time at the playwright’s conference that David became fascinated with story and by the idea that the way an actor’s mind thought could actually help you as a writer. This kept gnawing at him until one summer he began to write a play. He wrote 23 pages the first day, assuming he could have the production up and running in no time. However, he ended up working on the play for five years and it was never produced despite his efforts.

    When his acting career stalled after Bent, David started taking writing more seriously. His second play was entitled, Snakebit. It was twelve years before this film was produced on a very small scale at Grove Street Theater in New York. There was an audience of 53 people. One of these people was Peter Marks of The New York Times. Marks wrote a great review of the play, and the next day everyone was calling David. It seemed there was a renewed interest in him.

    At the time, David was auditioning for episodic television and not getting the parts, so he decided to “open the door that wasn’t locked” and become a writer. Although, even that became an immense struggle for David. Five or six years later, John Robin Bates called David and asked him if he wanted to be a story editor on Brothers and Sisters, and he hasn’t stopped working since then.

    David always tries to impress on his students that, “Failure is the norm,” and this industry is a long game. “You’ve got to keep your eye on the prize, and if it doesn’t happen today, it might not happen for the next five years. But that doesn’t mean you give up.”

    David was also one of the first brave actors to play gay characters, like he did in Bent, when other actors (straight or gay) wouldn’t. This was also at a point when David hadn’t been out with the public. In thirtysomething, David took the opportunity to play a gay character, even though he was convinced it would ruin his career. He brought up the point that there hasn’t been a major movie actor that has come out yet. You can’t be Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise and be known as gay.

    QUESTION: Can you give advice to actors who want to transition into producing?

    DAVID: An actor’s job should always be to figure out how he or she can support the STORY—understand what your place in the story is. You are a part of the larger thing—and that thing is everything—STORY.

    QUESTION: What are some of the roles of a show-runner?

    DAVID: Your first job is to come up with a story every week. You follow the story. Also, it’s about navigating personalities—the demands of the studio and the actors on the script. That’s what the show-runner does. In the process of pushing that story up the hill, he deals with every human being that touches that story.

    David’s story was inspirational in regards to the success one can achieve in this industry through endurance and never giving up. He made the point to say that you must consciously inspire yourself. “It really works by failing every single day, until the world sees,” he concluded.

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    October 11, 2013 • Acting, Film School, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Musical Theatre, Screenwriting • Views: 10028