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 PC in Hollywood turning dreams into entertainment careers

Alumni; Art-Theatre-Dance-Music; CareerStandard
More than 50 students have toured L.A. studios and networked with alums in the industry in the past five years.
​​​Providence College students interested in film or TV careers are getting a firsthand look at the inner workings of Tinsel Town in an annual innovative immersion program that is beginning to mold career implications.

In the past five years, more than 50 students have joined PC in Hollywood for a unique experience led by alumni both in and outside the entertainment industry. They have been exposed to a variety of positions and leads in the field, including employment as directors, actors, agents, writers, producers, marketers, and artists.  

The program was launched by Hollywood-based film producer and media executive Todd Slater ’97, assisted by Steve Duryea ’82, regional development director in the College’s Office of Major Gifts. Through Slater’s connections, students are introduced to PC alumni in the entertainment world, providing an invaluable learning and networking experience that was unavailable to him when he was their age. 

“I know how difficult it can be to find a job, especially in the ultra-competitive world of film or media,” said Slater, who is the partner and co-founder of both Blue Fox and Slater Brothers Entertainment. 

He credited his education at PC with building the foundation that helped him succeed in this tough business. 

“Providence College was one of the key building blocks of my life. That’s why I’m always willing to give back and offer some guidance to future graduates. If I can do a little something to help and inspire others, it all adds up in the bigger picture,” said Slater.

On the most recent visit to Los Angeles, 12 PC in Hollywood students were accompanied by three College representatives who annually attend the program — Patti Goff, assistant vice president for integrated learning and administration in the Division of Student Affairs; Rev. Kenneth R. Gumbert, O.P., professor of film studies in theatre arts; and Duryea.

For three jam-packed days, the students participated in workshops, studio tours, presentations, dinners, networking, and mentorship opportunities with some of the roughly 40 PC alumni in the Hollywood entertainment industry and their associates in the business. 

The students met and listened to advice from people like Peter Farrelly ’79, executive producer and director of There’s Something About Mary and Dumb and Dumber, and Kary McHoul, senior vice president for programming and development at ABC Family and the wife of actor Terry Gatens ’88.

They also met with Mike Sablone ’98, director of development for Sunday Night Productions — so named because of the Sunday evening meetings Sablone held as an undergraduate with PC and other local students who had a passion for the entertainment field. These included actor and Sablone’s current business partner John Krasinski, who attended Brown University.

Charles Dewey ’09, assistant to Criminal Minds’ writer Breen Frazier, also shared his career story with the group.

Other highlights included visits to the Sony Pictures Studios and the Creative Artists Agency (CAA). The Sony tour was facilitated by Bridget J. McMeel ’96, who runs AMUSE, the TV/film division of Universal Uclick and Andrews McMeel Publishing. At CAA, the students met agent Charles F. Jennings ’04. One evening, the students had dinner at the home of Edward D. Cimini, Jr. ’76 and his wife, Mary, neither of whom works in entertainment but who support PC in Hollywood and the College. 
Duryea, who lives in a San Francisco suburb, is proud of the program’s growth and the opportunity it provides students intent on making show business a career. 

“We had a phenomenal trip once again this year. We keep getting better at it,” he said. 

Thanks to the influence of the PC in Hollywood program, which receives financial support from a dozen alumni in the Los Angeles area, several recent graduates are now forging their own careers in the entertainment industry.

English/creative writing major Tara R. McLaughlin ’13 credited PC in Hollywood for helping her land her position as an assistant in creative advertising at NBC Universal’s Focus Features. She works on the team that designs the posters, trailers, and marketing campaigns for Focus Features’ films. 

According to McLaughlin, PC in Hollywood was one of her best college experiences and opened her eyes to the industry’s many possibilities. 
“I never felt more supported by PC than I did on that trip,” said McLaughlin “Through the Friar alumni, I was able to secure an internship at a film production company in Los Angeles right after graduation. I could not be more thankful to Patti Goff, Steve Duryea, and Father Gumbert for putting it all together.”

Tyler T. Tierney ’14 is now working as a production assistant for The Price is Right game show. The American studies major said his 2013 PC in Hollywood trip emboldened him to follow his dream of one day becoming a television comedy writer.

“The program prepared me for my current position because I met so many different types of people working in the entertainment industry. It also gave me a better idea of how to reach my career goals,” said Tierney.

Victoria Caruso ’15 thanked PC in Hollywood and Goff for helping her land a marketing internship with Disney Parks and Resorts in California shortly after graduation. Caruso will put her business management degree to further use in her new position as a licensing undergraduate associate with Disney Consumer Products. 

“Coming from Boston, it was an easy transition moving out West since I had made so many connections from the PC in Hollywood trip,” said Caruso. “I would recommend any student to take advantage of this opportunity.” 

Current student Veronica Murphy ’17 (Westfield, N.J.) is already enjoying the benefits of PC in Hollywood. Last summer, she was offered an internship by William A. Humphrey ’77, general manager of Sunset Gower and Sunset Bronson Studios in Los Angeles, as a result of attending the trip in 2015. At PC, she’s an actress, most recently participating in Playhouse Creatures. After graduation, the theatre major and film minor hopes to launch her professional acting and screenwriting career. 

“I had an amazing experience on the PC in Hollywood trip,” said Murphy. “I saw that the Friar Family extends way beyond campus. PC in Hollywood gave me the courage to pursue my aspirations and learn that anything is possible if you work hard enough.”

TOP PHOTO: This year’s PC in Hollywood delegation visits the mailroom of Creative Artists Agency. Front row, from left: Laura Tavalone ’16, Valerie Podbelski ’16, Steve Duryea ’82, Rachel Krokenberger ’17, Katie Flanagan ’16, Katelyn Sudlik ’16, Meaghan Lynn Barros ’17, and Charles F. Jennings ’04. Rear: Trapper Phillips ’18, Sam Vaccaro ’16, Ryan Walsh ’16, Kelvin Oppong ’16, Steve Bean ’17, Andrew Butler ’16, and Patti Goff.   
FIRST INSERT: Tara R. McLaughlin ’13 at this year’s Golden Globe Awards.
SECOND INSERT: Veronica Murphy ’17 outside the Sunset Bronson Studios during her 2015 internship.

 

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