February 18, 2014

IPELS Panel Provides Insightful Perspective of Entertainment Industry

On February 11, four seasoned entertainment professionals gathered at the Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law Society (IPELS) Entertainment Law 360 panel to share their experiences in the field.

IPELS President Jennifer Brown, who plans to become an entertainment lawyer, organized the panel as a joint event for Regent Law and School of Communication and the Arts students.

Sylvia Hutson, Derek Leonidoff, Jennifer Brown, Lou Isakoff, Mark Paladini
“I wanted to host an event that would educate others about the intricacies of the industry and what to expect when going into this field,” she says. “By inviting Regent Law and Communications students, I hope to begin a professional relationship between the two schools.”

The panel included local Talent Agent Sylvia Hutson of Hutson Talent Agency, Regent University and CBN General Counsel Lou Isakoff, Esq., Actor Derek Leonidoff, and Director, Producer, and Regent University School of Communication Professional-in-Residence Mark Paladini. The panelists encouraged students to work hard and work late, take risks, be creative, and be wary of unethical practices.

Attorney Lou Isakoff advised future entertainment lawyers that backgrounds in business law, labor law, international law, and accounting are extremely helpful. Overall, he says experience is the ideal training ground.

With more than 30 years of industry experience, Hutson cautioned students to be wary of “shady” practices. She described her experience with a talent school that invited her to critique students. When she asked to review the video of performances, she learned the company only pretended to record their clients. Huston says similar practices occur regularly, but there are no laws in place to protect aspiring actors.

Professor Paladini offered advice applicable to anyone who has ambitious professional dreams. He remarked that working long hours and doing grunt work are merely a rite of passage to success. His casting credits, which include well-known movies such as The Mask and Mortal Kombat, are a testament to his advice.

Actor Derek Leonidoff used humorous stories to encourage students that creativity opens doors of opportunity. He recounted his three attempts at establishing a relationship with an agent in California. After two rejections, he created an Easter basket that included toys for her dog, his photo, and his reel. He received a call from her, which initiated a relationship that has lasted about two decades.

Student feedback regarding the event has been strong. Brown, a third-year law student, hopes the events marks continued collaboration between Regent Law and the School of Communication.

Click here to view a video of the 360 Panel.

February 11, 2014

Beloved Pixar Actor Visits Campus

By Amanda Morad | February 11, 2014

John Ratzenberger
Photo by Tim Kay

He's known more classically for his role as Cliff Clavin, the know-it-all mailman from the television sitcom, Cheers. But in the last two decades, John Ratzenberger has lent his voice to every Pixar film since Toy Story in 1995.

On Wednesday, Feb. 5, Ratzenberger visited Regent University's School of Communication & the Arts and talked to students about show business, Hollywood and faith.

"Hollywood sets the beat for culture and customs," he explained. "And Washington marches to that beat. People who give millions to politicians should be giving it to production companies in Hollywood, because that's where the messaging comes from."

Ratzenberger has been named the sixth most successful actor of all time based on his box office sales. His advice was taken to heart by student actors, writers, directors and producers—Ratzenberger has done it all. He started the improvisational comedy group, "Sal's Meat Market," in Bridgeport, Conn., while a student at Sacred Heart University, and made his way to the Golden Coast by the late 70s. He recognized the value of making relationships in the early days.

"The most important thing you're doing here is building a network," he said. "Because the people you're training with are coming up with you. Dig into each other's projects. Don't think you're going to start the hard work later after graduation. It's now."

For the actors in particular, he gave sound advice for being a person that people want to work with. "When you're in it for the long haul, you're not thinking about resumes," he explained. "You're thinking about whether you want to spend every single day with that person for months. Is this somebody I want to spend time with? That's the question everybody's asking."

Equally important for everyone was Ratzenberger's advice about set and meeting etiquette: "Never show up on time. If you're on time, you're late. I can't stress that enough. Show up at least 20 minutes early—everywhere. Nobody wants to hear your excuses."

Ratzenberger wore his Cliff Clavin-esque humor on his sleeve, entertaining a full Studio Theatre with stories from different sets, making up the character of Cliff in the audition room, and even defending his Christian faith to those who don't share it.

"I come at it from a history perspective," he explained. "I kindly remind people that Christians are responsible for the university system and most of Western civilization. That usually shuts 'em up."

Tempering the light-hearted with the heart-felt, Ratzenberger reminded students of what's really important. "You can only be a celebrity for your generation," he said. "If you put your whole heart and soul into this business, it's not going to love you back. Show business does not love you back.

"Your agent won't be next to you when you're breathing your last. It'll be your family, the people who love you. All the fun stuff eventually runs out, but family's what matters."

He took questions from students and faculty, with a brief discussion on faith-based film.

"There's not a lot of money involved in faith-based films and that's a problem, " he said. "Before the 60s, all films were faith-based. Good always won. Then drugs and Easy Rider came along and people found it made money. That's how we got where we are today. We're confused, and we need a clear view of the stories we're telling and the influence they have on us."

With that, he challenged students to make the jump. "We need more Christians in Hollywood. In New York. Chicago," he said. "This business needs you."

As a former ship deckhand and carpenter, Ratzenberger is also a spokesperson for the American manufacturing crisis. His new series, American Made is an offshoot of the Made in America TV documentary series he produced and hosted for the Travel Channel in 2004. It debuts in September.

February 4, 2014

Theatre Professor's House is Featured in a Commercial during the Super Bowl.

Did you see the Super Bowl this past Sunday?  You may not have been avidly watching the game, but one of the commercials may have caught your eye.  For those of us who know Theatre professor, Eric Harrell, it is no surprise that he and his wife Holly's beautiful home starred in a Priority Automotive commercial.  Here it is for your viewing pleasure: Priority Automotive Homecoming Commercial.

The Show Must Go On!

Last week, Virginia Beach got hit by what Regent students are fondly referring to as "The Snow-pocalypse of 2014."  The school closed for two days and much frolicking in the fluffy white flakes ensued, but even the snow couldn't stop our avid theatre-goers from risking life and limb to see William Nicholson's Shadowlands.

One might think that, with the University closed, many patrons would want to stay indoors and not risk the roads and freezing temperatures to see a lesser-known play (let's face it, we're a beach town), but as usual, our patrons surprised us in the best possible way.  According to the house manager, Sarah Grice, 132 patrons filled the seats in the Studio Theater on Thursday . . . far more than expected or anticipated.  "At one point, we were so busy that a fellow off-duty house manager who was seeing the show that night got up and helped seat patrons" said Sarah.

Upon leaving the theater, patrons were noticeably touched by the brilliantly told story.  Brandy Caldwell, a Regent alumnus who was visiting from New York for the express purpose of seeing the show, had tickets for both the Thursday and Friday night performances.  After seeing it for the second time on Friday she shared "I'm so glad I was able to see it twice.  There is so much loveliness to take in; you just don't notice it all the first time."

Special thanks to Dr. Michael Kirkland for his time and effort and to Dr. Robertson for making special provision for the show to go on!

Regent during Leon.  Photo credit: Josiah Blizzard.

Regent Alumni Form New Chicago-based Theatre Company.