New baby! Comedy…maybe

March 1, 2010

THE OFFICE -- "The Delivery, Part 1" Episode 618 -- Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC

There’s a new addition coming to prime-time.

This week, in an hour-long episode of “The Office” Jim and Pam will finally welcome their much anticipated offspring.  Fans seem to be excited, there’s lots of media buzz  surrounding the life changing event, however television babies have a peculiar history of driving ratings down and causing loyal viewers to lose interest.  Especially when the babies arrive among a cast of single, middle class, upwardly mobile characters.

“Mad About You,” “Murphy Brown” and even “Friends,” to a certain extent, lost viewers shortly after they added a bundle of joy to the mix.

Will “The Office” suffer the same fate? Will adding a baby to the absurdity of office life make for higher ratings or will fans throw the show away with yesterday’s diapers.

Dr. Scott Gratson, director of the Communications Program at Temple University

Though some parents might disagree, when it comes to TV newborns just aren’t that funny,  said Scott Gratson, director of the Communications Program in Temple’s School of Communications and Theater.

“The idea of a very middle class office worker trying to handle a home life, a job, a relationship, and her own peace of mind is an image that invokes stress, and justifiably so. It doesn’t tend to make for good comedy,” Gratson said. “The Office episode seems to parody: the reality of the juggle. As real as it is for younger mothers, and parents for that matter, it is often not an image that is presented.”

Jazmyn Burton

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January 19, 2010

Communications major’s documentary studies female hip-hop in Japan

by Jeff Cronin for SCT News

Coma-Chi poses with director Maya Shipman, COMM, a senior.

Senior Maya Shipman, COMM, will soon screen her film 33 Queen, an introspective look into the hip-hop subculture in Tokyo, Japan. It will be featured as part of the Black Lily Film Series today Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. at the International House in Philadelphia.
Shipman explores the parallels between female artistry in the history of American hip-hop and the very recent rise of the presence of women in the Japanese hip-hop scene. It highlights the career of Coma-Chi, the first underground woman in Japanese hip-hop to achieve major success.

33 Queen was filmed while Shipman studied at Temple Japan.

“In my second week in Japan, I visited [an underground label’s] record shop in Shibuya. They invited me to a release party for a compilation that I found out had some good musicians on it. That is where I met Coma-Chi, one of the only other women at the party,” Shipman says.

She soon learned Coma-Chi’s story was similar to many other women in hip-hop in Tokyo and around the world. They have remained friends and have visited one another in Tokyo and Los Angeles since filming the documentary.

“This experience has definitely interested me in continuing research on women’s participation in social subcultures around the world,” Shipman says.

An MFA candidate in the Film and Media Arts Department is returning to Temple’s School of Communications and Theater this semester after being sidetracked in some very good ways.

Tom Quinn, who wrote and directed The New Year Parade, has been kept busy by the numerous honors the film has earned over the past several months. Its honors have come from the Slamdance Film Festival, the IFP Gotham Awards, the Philadelphia Film Festival and the Bend Film Festival, among many others.

Set against the backdrop of the Philadelphia Mummers Parade, the film follows Jack and Kat McMonogul over the course of a year as their parents divorce. It features real members of the South Philadelphia String Band. While the band initially agreed to let Quinn film them for two weeks, the members embraced the production, resulting in a two-year collaboration.

Visit the SCT blog site view Quinn’s recent appearance on the NBC10’s The 10! Show.

posted by Jeff Cronin for the SCT news blog

January 5, 2010

Will the Fox , Time Warner deal change future cable contracts?

Time Warner Cable Inc. and News Corp. recently ended a television-programming dispute that threatened FOX blackouts for cable television viewers in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and elsewhere.

According to the Wall Street Journal, News Corp. and other owners of major networks historically haven’t sought direct payments for their broadcast stations. Rather, they have used negotiations with cable- and satellite-TV companies to press for carriage of new channels, such as News Corp.’s FX or Walt Disney Co.‘s ESPN2, or for higher fees for existing channels. TV executives said the market for new channels is nearly saturated, so they are moving to squeeze more money from their existing networks.

The  new contract between Fox and Time Warner has the potential to change the way content providers deal with major cable carriers, said journalism professor Chris Harper.

“Fox is taking control of its content both on cable and on the Internet,”  Harper said. “It’s a good move for content providers who want to challenge cable and Internet aggregators like Google.  It’s kinda like Napster on a bigger scale. Let the games and the lawsuits begin.”

– Jazmyn Burton

Dustin Morrow

December 23, 2009

School of Communications and Theater assistant professor Dustin Morrow is a filmmaker, photographer, writer and media artist.

Among his recent works are two feature-length films, a dark comedy about the increasing automation of the American cubicle-dweller entitled The Working Man, and an anthology of shorts exploring contemporary Irish identity entitled Firinne: Searching for Ireland. Morrow is in post-production on Ground London, a short film about London’s urban landscapes; is in pre-production on Lay it Down, a narrative feature to be shot in the Pacific Northwest in 2010; and is supervising the editing of two films he recently directed – Laptop, a documentary about electronic music, and The Marriage of Figaro, a cinematic interpretation of the classic opera.

During the summers, Morrow teaches and produces films in London and Dublin.

Get to know Dustin and his work by visiting his website www.dustinmorrow.com

-Jazmyn Burton

MFA candidate Chinonye Chukwu received the 2009 Princess Grace Award in Narrative Film making.

The Princess Grace Foundation-USA honors six student filmmakers in the nation. Chukwu will receive $24,000 to produce her next film, Chidinma and Buchi, which will be shot in her native country of Nigeria late this year.

This national competition is entered by every major film school in the United. With three Princess Grace Awards in Narrative Filmmaking over the last five years Temple has received more awards in this category than any other school in the country.

Chukwu, a second year MFA candidate in Film & Media Arts, is an American citizen who was born in Nigeria. Her films feature new and complex representations of Africans and African-Americans with a focus on women and the challenges they face when attempting to build a dual identity.

For the Princess Grace competition, Chinonye submitted a proposal for her thesis film that will be shot in Nigeria in December 2009 and her recently completed production Igbu Kwenu!, which was shot during the FMA course in screen directing under the supervision of film and media arts professor Warren Bass.

Chukwu’s film Igbu Kwenu! received a 2009 Pennsylvania Independent Film and Video Association grant from the independent film community and the “Best Motion Picture Award” and “Best Screenplay Award” at Temple’s Diamond Screen 2009.

-Jazmyn Burton

Temple student films

August 18, 2009

To see the latest Temple student films, check out the department of Film and Media Arts video gallery

The program offers a four year undergraduate degree and a three year MFA degree to some 700 undergraduates and 40 graduate students. Many accomplished and successful media makers have gone through the program. They include Larry McConkey, (steadicam operator on Kill Bill, Vanilla Sky, Three Kings, and many other major studio films), Keith Fulton and Lou Pepe (Lost in La Mancha), Ross Katz (Lost in Translation), and Derek Guiley (writer on Chasing Liberty).