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Connecting the Future and the Past

Jul 31, 2006  •  Post A Comment

From the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is well known as the home of the prestigious Primetime Emmy Awards for excellence in television. Now its charitable arm, the Television Academy Foundation, is also raising its profile as it celebrates several milestone achievements.

The Television Academy Foundation has been pursuing its mission to preserve and celebrate the history of the medium and to educate those who will shape television’s future since its formation in 1959. Today the foundation serves as a bridge between the future of the industry and its past through its Archive of American Television, which captures in-depth interviews with TV pioneers such as Milton Berle, Walter Cronkite, Mary Tyler Moore and Ted Turner. As it approaches its 10th anniversary, the archive contains more than 2,500 hours of videotaped conversations and will soon reach the landmark completion of its 500th interview.

Last October, the foundation realized a longstanding goal to share the archive with a wider audience by making some of its exclusive interviews available through Google Video. The online offering has attracted more than 1 million views, and more interviews will be made available soon.

“The Archive of American Television is probably the most diverse, complete and fascinating resource of its kind,” commented Steve Mosko, chairman of the Television Academy Foundation Board. “We wanted to make sure that television students and fans around the world had access to this amazing resource.”

Television and film programs at colleges and universities around the country are now able to use these interviews as a resource. “In some courses a student is assigned an archive interview as part of the curriculum and writes their thesis project around the interview subject,” notes Terri Clark, the foundation’s executive director. “It’s important for students to understand the history of the medium if they hope to make a difference in its future.”

The foundation has also increased awareness of another of its flagship programs, the College Television Awards, through a media partnership with mtvU, MTV’s 24-hour college network that broadcasts to over 730 campuses and more than 7 million students nationwide. This year mtvU aired award-winning entries and behind-the-scenes highlights of the 27th Annual College Television Awards show on its college television network and broadband channel.

These and other efforts are part of a five-year strategic plan to raise the visibility of the foundation’s programs through additional partnerships, industry events and a targeted approach to getting industry leaders involved in the foundation. Even Donald Trump is pitching in, acting as celebrity host of the foundation’s annual Celebrity Golf Classic, a fund-raising event held this year on Thursday, Aug. 24, during Emmy week, at his Trump National Golf Club on the shores of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

“I am thrilled to be involved with the Television Academy’s foundation and am glad that I can provide an environment for celebrities and golfers to come together to raise money for an extremely important and vital organization,” stated Mr. Trump.

Building Awareness

More activity is set to come from the foundation’s newly formed New Leadership Council, made up of a group of executives, producers, agents and performers, which will host a Fall Season Launch party to help build awareness of the foundation’s track record of success in helping to launch careers in television through its Educational Programs and Services department.

The foundation has a longstanding reputation of quality education programs, which have been providing outreach to students for nearly 30 years. Its annual Faculty Seminar brings college professors from telecommunications and new media schools to Los Angeles for a five-day “intensive” with top television producers, innovators and executives. Eighteen years of seminars has built a nationwide network of educators who are current and connected to the industry.

Also, the foundation’s Student Internship Program, ranked as one of the top 10 internship programs in the country, offers college students an eight-week paid summer internship in one of 29 career disciplines throughout the television industry, from casting to business affairs, cinematography to emerging technologies.

The program is designed to provide students with hands-on professional work experience and in-depth exposure to the behind-the-scenes of the industry.

Many of the program’s alums have gone on to enjoy successful careers in television. “After spending two months in the writers’ room at NBC’s “American Dreams”-watching with admiration as scripts and characters were outlined, written, edited, re-written, torn up, rebuilt … all with the passion and integrity of great writers aiming to create great stories-I was hooked!” says former intern Rachel Axler, now a staff writer for “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.”

This year also marked the launch of the foundation’s educational DVD series called “Journeys Below the Line,” which gives students an exclusive, inside look at creative art and technical career opportunities within the television industry. The first program in the series went behind the scenes of the hit TV show “24” and took an in-depth look at editing. The second in the series, “`ER’: The PropMasters” was just released this month, and coming later this year will be the third installment, “`Lost’: The Cinematography Team.” All installments of “Journeys Below the Line” include a user resource guide CD-ROM that contains classroom instructional materials.

Yet another of the foundation’s recent developments is a memorial scholarship in honor of Fred Rogers, the creator and longtime host of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Sponsored by the Television Academy and Ernst & Young, the scholarship was created to support and encourage college students to pursue a career that furthers the values and principles of Fred Rogers’ work.

Each year, the foundation oversees the selection of two worthy recipients who receive $10,000 toward their work in children’s media research or program production.

With so many proud accomplishments, the Television Academy Foundation’s leadership, staff and volunteers are dedicated to doing even more to further its mission.

“We will continue to grow, to reach more people more effectively,” says Ms. Clark, the executive director. “It’s an exciting time for the foundation. We have a lot of great ideas and the will to make them happen.”