Sharon Palermo Memorial Scholarship Fundraising Event

lukephoto512bb19eef57fLucas Palermo is a former president of NATAS and a longtime instructor at Columbia College Chicago.

The Sharon Palermo Scholarship is given in memory of my wife, Sharon, who passed away in 2005. The scholarship is co-sponsored by NATAS and the Columbia College Television Department and awarded annually to a senior television major.

We try to make the event a celebration of Sharon’s life, and in the past, have highlighted such things as readings, music, and theater performances in the past.

On February 8, we will be holding our 8th Sharon Palermo Memorial Scholarship Fundraising Event at Columbia College Television Studios at 600 S. Michigan Ave., from 2-5 pm.

This year we will be shooting two, live-streamed, television cooking shows with a live audience during the event on the
web site, airing at 2:45 pm and 3:45 pm.

The cooking segment comes because, as part of the fundraising activities this past year, I compiled two volumes of recipes that were Sharon’s favorites into a 2-volume cookbook with DVD. The sales of the books has been going very well, thanks to an appearance on Windy City Live in November were I appeared on their “home
cook” segment with the story of the cookbook and Sharon. You see during our 30-year marriage, we made a pact that we would have dinner with each other every night when humanly possible. It worked and we enjoyed those dinners so much that I decided to share the memories and food with everyone.

There will be a silent auction and raffles of some wonderful items including television station tours, flat screen TV, a week stay at our private home in Arizona, lottery tickets from all the states in the county, and many more, plus of our food and drinks!

Tickets to the event and copies of the cookbook can be purchased on the Sharon Palermo Scholarship web site.

If you can’t make the event, you can still watch it live. Hope to see you there!


Emmys 2013: Category 18a Winner Tracy Almeda-Singian

Credit: Kathleen Virginia Photography

“Did I put a sentence together?!”

That was the first question I asked my colleague and partner in crime Christian Robins, just after we walked off stage to accept the award for Outstanding Achievement for Commercials- Single Spot.

As I walked up to the podium that night, the only thing I could think of was just how many people we needed to thank. I think I mentioned it in my speech, but it takes an army to make good things happen and we were extremely fortunate to have the best team work on Brand Anthem.

Having a Brand Anthem is something my boss Jon Muir had wanted for a while and we were committed to make it happen.  We dove in right away… I wrote a script, started reviewing the footage that Robin Fenlon and I had shot over the past year and worked with our crew at Bridges: Christian, Chris Dilillo and Erica Hilbert. This was going to be our biggest project to date and I knew it was a going to go well when we hit the editing bay with a Bari meatball sandwich in hand! Haha J It is always a blast working with Bridges…they are amazingly insightful and sharp. Christian is a genius with the visual effects and came up with a super cool treatment for the piece. We are fortunate to have his talent every step of the way.

Wilson has been based in Chicago for almost 100 years, so we wanted to make sure that the music we chose had ties to the city. It was rad to get Chicago native Kaskade aka Ryan Raddon as part of this project. We chose Kaskade “Eyes”, which is one of the my favorite ‘get psyched’ songs of all time.

This spot really makes me smile because it is a culmination of a lot of hard work from our team and fun memories from on the road. Robin and I spent a crazy amount of time together trying to capture these great moments around Wilson in tennis. Robin is a former pro BMX’r that brings a unique look to our brand and he has been an important part of the Wilson team for a couple of years now. Most importantly, he is someone I can discuss my love of the fish eye lens with.

Credit: Onasis Odelmo Photography

My career as a WTA professional tennis player was cut short due to injury and there is no guide book on ‘how to transition from pro sports’ into a ‘normal’ job or life. If you ask any former pro athlete what they intend on doing after they play, most of the time they would not have a clear answer. I have been fortunate enough to have people that believed in me and my talent. Their support has led me to the some of my favorite moments in my life: coaching kids to receive a tennis scholarship to a Division 1 schools, directing a pro tennis tournament, raising over $350+k for a two children’s charities, starting Wilson social media, setting a Guinness Book of World Records and now WINNING AN EMMY! Tennis has given me so many unique experiences that I can never get enough of trying to put that passion on screen.

The Brand Anthem really represents everything Wilson Sporting Goods does in tennis. It is meant to inspire the next generation of tennis players. Wilson has been part of more winning moments in tennis than any other brand (with over 500+ Grand Slam titles won with a Wilson racket), but those results come from the hard work and dedication to our grassroots efforts at all levels of the sport: kids, coaches, players and partnerships. Roger Federer started playing Wilson when he was 6 and now owns almost every tennis record there is.. all playing with a Wilson racket. We wanted to have this spot represent that love and passion we have for tennis.

We would have never thought that we would win an Emmy, but it just shows that anything is possible with passion, determination and the right team in your corner.

It means a lot to us that Brand Anthem was recognized and that it resonated with our peers.

Thank you again.

Until later,

Tracy Almeda-Singian

PS And maybe I am biased now, but an Emmy sure beats a Wimbledon trophy! 😉


Emmys 2013: Category 14 Winner Sarah Moshman

Credit: Kathleen Virginia Photography

November 3rd, 2013 was a magical evening. To fully explain how special it was to win an Emmy that night I must start the story from the beginning.

For as long as I could form memories there have been Emmys all around my house. My Dad, Harvey Moshman won his first when I was 1 year old and over the course of his career in making quality television has won 26 of those beautiful golden statues. So when I say Emmys were everywhere – I mean in my living room, dining room, broken on the Christmas tree and one in my room so I could hold it in front of the mirror and practice my future acceptance speech. The Emmy has always been the symbol of excellence in my house and in my world. And although my humble father has never made it seem like an award was the mark of a good producer, I knew receiving that honor someday would somehow validate me and my career and put me in the same league as someone as talented and focused as him.

Credit: Onasis Odelmo Photography

That’s why on November 3rd, when our project was called as the winner of the Human Interest Category it was not only meaningful to the Girls on the Run organization, my family and friends, and to my amazing producing partner Dana Michelle Cook, it was a culmination of a dream I have had for myself for as long as I can remember. I will take this honor with me for the rest of my life and now I am seeing my old friend Emmy in a whole new way. I know now more than ever I am doing what I am meant to do I am so grateful to everyone involved in making this dream a reality.


Emmy’s 2013: Category 24a Winner Zach Christman

Zach Christman

Credit: Kathleen Virginia Photography

Zach Christman is a news editor for WMAQ-TV. He won two Emmys this year.

My Emmy experience has been one of change.  I’ve been working in the Chicago news scene since 2004, first primarily as an online journalist.  I was lucky enough to win several Emmys with that work, and I’m really proud of it.

A few years back, I started on a quest to become a better video editor.  It took some time, but I eventually worked my way into editing special reports and investigative stories at WMAQ.  This year was the first time I entered in the Craft-Editor category, and to win was really exciting.  If you watch my speech, I’m sure you can tell.  It’s a great feeling to have your peers recognize your work as worthy of an Emmy.  Especially when that work represents a new chapter in your career.


Emmy Submissions & “The Newsroom” Screening


Marcus RileyMarcus Riley is in his first term as president of the TV Academy, but during the day he’s a Content Producer at NBC Chicago specializing in New Media content. He’s a 7-time Emmy winner, a member of the NATAS national Board of Trustees and a graduate of West Virginia University’s Perley Isaac School of Journalism.

We just concluded one of our busiest times of the year — The Emmys Call For Entries season. Thanks for all of your great submissions and good luck. Your work will be sent to one of our 19 NATAS chapters throughout the country to be judged. The Emmys ceremony will be held in early November this year (exact date still pending), and expect the nominations event about five weeks before that.

We’re also proud to have teamed with HBO to offer a free screening of the first episode of the second season of “The Newsroom.” It’ll be held July 11th at 7 p.m. at Columbia College’s Film Row Cinema, and it’s FREE. (Click here to RSVP). Thanks to the folks at Columbia for granting us use of the theatre.

My dream was to have Jeff Daniels or Aaron Sorkin host the screening, but unfortunately we couldn’t make it work out. But you’ll still have the opportunity to get the first look at the new season, three days before it premieres on HBO. And if you didn’t catch the first season, you have a few days to get caught up!

It’s an example of the special type of programming we’d like to offer through the TV Academy, events that have particular significance to our industry. By the way, Anchorman 2 is scheduled to come out later this year… I’ll end with that tease…

In the meantime, keep following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and we’ll see you around soon!


If You Think It, It Can Happen

Steven Hurn is a Production Assistant with Harpo Creative Works | OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. He is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago where he studied Television Arts: Directing & Production.

I remember standing outside the beautiful, brand new, state of the art, State Street studio of ABC7 Chicago. As most people waited for their 15 seconds of Chicago news fame, I stood off to the side fixated on the inner-working’s of the live news set.

It was fascinating, it was exciting and it was real. I said to myself, ‘I am going to work here one day.’

Fast forward a few years later and it was official. I joined the new morning show as one of the first six interns. From an entire floor of empty offices, to a show with no name, no hosts and no set, I was able to see a show launch from the ground up. I was able to see a concept come to life.

It was an experience I am forever grateful for, fortunate to have been a part of, and one that I will never forget.
After six short months being a part of Windy City Live, my next dream soon became a reality. And it was also a goal that was prompted by an epiphany.

When I was a kid, I had the chance to visit Harpo Studios for a benefit where I volunteered to help at-risk children. As I stepped foot into the studio I knew this was exactly what I wanted to do. It was fascinating, and the energy I felt being in the space was like nothing I had ever experienced. To this day, I credit my perseverance in the field of television to that day I first visited Harpo.

And now I’ve worked at Harpo Productions for nearly two years. I’ve had the incredible opportunity to work on and produce commercials for the nationally-syndicated Dr. Oz Show and for the Oprah Winfrey Network, along with various other projects including the Rosie Show, Oprah’s Lifeclass, Super Soul Sunday, Oprah’s Next Chapter to name a few.

Expressing my interests, sharing my ideas and showing my strengths and talents, along with hard work, dedication and volunteer work have led me to where I am today.

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and if you can think it, it truly can happen.


Cautionary Advice for Aspiring On-Air Talent

George Blaise is a multimedia producer, television personality, accomplished composer and musician. His work in television, commercial production and public service campaign writing has earned him 3 Chicago Emmys 2 national Tellys and a National Community Broadcasters Award. Blaise is also a founding member of the award winning Maat Production Association of Afrikan Centered Theatre.

Do you really want to be an on-air talent? Seems like a simple enough question.

But I do not believe that you eager faces amongst the sea of “communications” majors aspiring to such really understand what is being asked in that simple inquiry. While an individual may certainly feel as though they understand the role of on-air talent in the grand scheme of television production (be it news, fiction or otherwise) based on what they have observed from the insulated comfort of the shiny side of the screen, the fact of the matter is they are deceived by the image.

We in television are in the business of creating illusions that are intended to focus human attention just long enough to insert into their psyche a previously absent need, then re-direct that attention to awareness of a merchant that will fill that synthetic need. We then profit from monetizing the number of humans we propose to re-direct based on a complex system of arbitrary metrics. On-air talent is the bait in this fishing expedition for eyeballs. You are not the brains. You are not the muscle. You are not the technician or the photographer or the editor. As on-air talent, your responsibility in the television endeavor is to simply be as watchable as possible to as many people as possible for as long as possible.

There are certainly exceptions to every rule but, for the most part, aspiring to be on-air is a public act of sheer vanity. You want to be on-air because you want people to look at you. You have a deep seeded desire to be seen. You are an unashamed narcissist. You crave attention; from friends, family and total strangers equally. And most of all, something inside tells you that you deserve the admiration of all those you encounter. This assessment may sound like criticism but it really is not. It is a warning as much as it is a test of your will to survive your career choice because as an on-air talent, you will at some point be confronted with the reality that you are perishable as ripened fruit.

Producers, writers, journalists, etc. can perpetually improve their knowledge and skill-set and adapt to the ways in which time alters and evolves the industry. Time is not so kind to talking heads. The public is not so forgiving of issues related to declining physical beauty. There will always be somebody more handsome, younger, fresher and more vibrant than you. This reality can be devastating for those that are simply unprepared or unaware of cold truth.

So ask yourself again and be really honest this time. Do you really want to be an on-air talent? If you still do, always remember that you may someday have to face a tragic, ego shattering slap in the face.

Unless, of course, you are an unashamed narcissist.


Can’t Stay Away

Jeanne Sparrow is an Emmy Award-winning television program host and reporter, a voice-over artist and top-rated and award-winning radio personality. She co-hosts “You & Me This Morning” every weekday on WCIU.

Michael Corleone said it best: “Just when I thought I was out … they pull me back in.”

But they can’t pull you back in unless you have unfinished business — something you want to, need to or are supposed to accomplish. I’m still trying to figure which one it was for me, but I doubt it really matters.

In 2005, when I left NBC5, I really thought I was done with broadcast TV. I loved my years in radio but didn’t want to go back because I’d worked for and with the best at the best station ever (WGCI) and didn’t need to top it. Still don’t.

I started doing television while I was there, then that became full time. After a few years, I was ready for a new challenge. I might have stayed, waiting around for it, but after seeing almost my entire family upended by Hurricane Katrina, I realized that life was too short to waste one minute not doing exactly what I wanted to do.

So I quit. Without a job. And it was the best thing I ever did. I spent almost 4 years freelancing, being what my best friend’s brother called “No Job Jeanne,” and loved every minute of it.

I did voiceover and on-camera work and taught broadcasting at the City Colleges, but most importantly, I enjoyed my life, friends and family, not just my job.

The funniest thing is, I never intended to do any of it. At least not at first. It was just a good time. The fact that I got paid to do it was always a bonus. From my first day at KNIR, the country music daytime AM station I worked at in my hometown during my senior year, I just KNEW nobody could make a living doing something so fun and easy. But when I got to Chicago, I saw you could. And how! Then my intent changed.

But when I got the call about hosting You & Me This Morning at WCIU, I knew in my gut that I had to. The show keeps changing and growing but somehow it remains my perfect fit. I work with an awesome team, great management and an amazing partner and I’m happy.

So now I find myself back in broadcasting full time. Back on mornings. Which is just hilarious, because there was a time I’d said I’d never do it again.

And that’s what getting pulled back in is all about.


Remembering Roger Ebert

Thea Flaum is the producer and creator of the movie-review show with Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel that ran for 35 years. She is a long time member of the Board of Governors, currently an Emeritus Trustee, and the former national vice-president of NATAS.

On a warm summer day in 1975, I met Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel at a North Side restaurant for lunch. Roger picked the restaurant because it was close to his house. When he heard this, Gene insisted on picking the restaurant the next time we met. And thus the sparring began — and was to continue non-stop for the next 23 years.

Of course, none of us knew it then.

I was a TV producer on an interesting mission — to create a new series about the movies. Roger loved the idea right away. It was clear to him that television was a perfect way to tell people about the movies because the film clips would show viewers what he was talking about.

2006 Silver Circle

Thea and Roger Ebert at his 2006 induction in the Chicago Silver Circle.

And as any one would have told you back then, it was highly unlikely that two guys from Chicago — Chicago! — were going to become nationally known film critics on PBS. But Roger, Gene and I believed. In fact, shortly after we began, I promised them that one day our show would be the highest rated series on PBS. And, after a few years, it was.

Along the way, Roger and I piled up a lot of memories. He used to arrive at my house on Sunday evenings, teleprompter copy in hand, so we could work on it together. We would sit at my dining room table, while he mastered how to write for TV, and only once during all my editing, did he grumble, “You know, Thea, I do have a Pulitzer Prize.”

As time went on, Roger got famous. He once called to tell me that he’d been recognized from TV by a woman at the airport in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but that she’d called out “Which one are you?” His great friend Bill Nack tells a story about walking into a busy, crowded, loud restaurant and the whole place suddenly going silent when Roger was

“Pay no attention,” he said. “It’s just TV.”

Nothing changed Roger — until Chaz. She was his soulmate. She brought him joy, a family and made his life “whole.” When Roger got sick, it was Chaz who brought him through, and helped him focus on new books, new TV shows, Twitter, his website, his blog — things that did not require that he speak, only that he think, and write. He called Chaz his “guardian angel.”

Roger had always been a great guy; Chaz enabled him to become a great man.

I was at the hospital with Roger and Chaz the Monday before Roger died. Josh Golden came in to show Roger the final version of his new website,

Roger looked it over, then wrote on the small pad he used to communicate. “Looks great. Even better than I hoped.” Then, gracious and eloquent to the end, he added: “Thank you. You have made me immortal.”

I certainly hope so.

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