By Anne Marie Coar & Desiree Zielinski
When you hear the words “spring break,” Cancun and Miami may come to mind. However, we decided to spend spring break in sunny California. We not only had fun, we also learned more about ourselves, and life in LA. Brent Scarpo, who spoke at Marywood University last semester as part of “The Road to Hollywood” seminar, was our guide for the trip. He has offered this program for several years now: “‘Spring Break Hollywood’ is an educational program where students gather together in Hollywood, CA and create miracles for themselves.” We spent much of Sunday exploring Palm Springs, taking in the sun, and seeing certain attractions, including the Palm Springs Art Museum.
On Monday, we visited CBS Studios, where we met Jamie Barnett, head of the Grip Department at CBS. She told us how she got her start in the entertainment industry and showed us the sets of CSI:NY and Parks and Recreation. Brent then took us to see Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and the Kodak Theatre, where they were in the process of setting up for the Oscars. We saw all the traditional tourist sights, such as the Hollywood Sign and Capitol Records. He then took us to the Griffith Park Observatory, which offers a beautiful view of the Los Angeles area.
Tuesday we met with Brian Valente, who also participated in the ‘Spring Break Hollywood’ trip four years ago; he now works at Sony Studios. We were able to tour Sony Studios and see several sets. Later that day we met Worthie Meacham, Bob Mackie’s assistant. Bob Mackie has designed costumes for Cher, Pink, and Carol Burnett. He let us try on some of the costumes in the warehouse and pose for pictures, which was amazing. We talked with him and he was so inspirational; one of the things he said was we have to live our own lives and follow our heart.
On Wednesday, we awoke at 4:00 a.m. to stand in line outside The Price is Right studio to ensure we’d get tickets to be in the studio audience. Once we received our tickets, we returned to the studio at 8:30 a.m., filled out some paperwork, surrendered our cell phones to the show (they don’t allow any type of recording device in the studio), and passed through security. Next, we, along with every other audience member, auditioned to be contestants on The Price is Right. This consisted of us standing in groups of 12 and having the producer ask us one question each. (The more prompt, bubbly, and funny you are with your response, the better chance you have of being a contestant.)
Around noon, we entered the actual Price is Right studio, which is much smaller than it appears on TV. The production assistants jumped up and down with signs to persuade audience members to cheer and applaud, but there really wasn’t need for extra encouragement. The excitement and enthusiasm in the audience was tangible. Host Drew Carey talked to the crowd during commercial breaks, cracking jokes and even dancing with a few people.
Brent was chosen to be a contestant, and we spent the rest of the episode screaming and cheering him on. He won the entire showcase, and we ran on stage for the last few seconds of the broadcast, jumping up and down and hugging everyone on the cast and crew. Brent said of the experience: “Some people would say winning The Price is Right showcase is a miracle and what I would say is that on a daily basis, each of us in life creates our own reality.”
Later that day, we visited the Screen Writers Guild Foundation, spoke with some of the staff, and viewed the pilot of AMC’s Breaking Bad. Then we listened to its creator Vince Gilligan talk about his inspiration for the show.
The next day, we toured John Debney’s recording studio. Debney has composed music for movies like The Princess Diaries and The Passion of the Christ. He was actually a few minutes late for our meeting because he was in the next room working on some last minute adjustments to the score for Iron Man 2. Debney was very kind and personable, and we enjoyed learning more about the music industry from a film perspective.
That afternoon we met Kwaku Alston, who is a photographer to a plethora of celebrities, including Teri Hatcher, Serena Williams, and the Obama family. He showed us around his studio, and we were able to view some incredible photos he had taken of these prominent people.
We were not the only ones who had an amazing time with ‘Spring Break Hollywood.’ Current junior Billy Gordan participated in the program when he was a freshman. “It was one of the greatest experiences in my collegiate career and in my life,” he said. “Money well spent!” One of his favorite moments was viewing Lars and the Real Girl and critiquing it in front of its screenwriter, Nancy Oliver. He also saw Wicked (and sat a row in front of NFL Pro Tony Gonzalez).
‘Spring Break Hollywood’ is one break we’d recommend all Marywood students take.