Professor participates in prestigious TV powwow

By Megan Witos

Dr. Shawn Kildea meets Jay Roach, the director of Meet the Parents, Austin Powers and HBO political drama Game Change at the Faculty Seminar.

Rider communication professor Dr. Shawn Kildea received an honor that only a handful of individuals are given. He has been selected to participate in the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Foundation-sponsored Faculty Seminar, which took place from Saturday, Nov. 3 to Wednesday, Nov. 7.

Only 20 professors worldwide are chosen to participate in the seminar each year, which provides educators with a behind-the-scenes view of Hollywood.

Kildea has been a member of Rider’s faculty for about 15 years and began the application process last winter. He was informed on Sept. 2 that he had been picked. The fellowship included a five-day seminar in Los Angeles where he was given the opportunity to meet some of the most prominent writers, producers and directors in the film business.

Prior to his departure, Kildea expressed his gratitude and excitement over being chosen. He looked forward to the opportunity to see the entertainment industry in its element.

“The idea behind the seminar is to offer college professors opportunities to see how television entertainment works behind the scenes.”

While at the seminar, Kildea and the other attendees discussed entertainment trends and what it’s like to work in the industry with some Emmy-winning industry leaders.

“Emmy award-winning producers are at the highest level you can go in the industry,” he said. “We’re going to get a lot of interesting information. I have zero interest in meeting the actors; I’m much more interested in the show writers.”

Kildea hoped to make these connections for students wanting to intern in Los Angeles and set up meetings with several Rider alumni currently working in the industry in California. Kildea is looking forward to bringing back helpful information.

“It’s a great way to make contacts for students,” Kildea said.

Senior radio and TV major Jimmy Magrann was proud of his professor’s accomplishment.

“He’s a very funny and engaging teacher who really gives you valuable information that you’ll need in the field,” Magrann said. “Hopefully he learned a lot of useful tips and tricks and will pass them down in order to help us further ourselves after graduating.”

While he didn’t know which industry professionals he would be meeting with at the Faculty Seminar ahead of time, Kildea heard a few rumors. The one in particular that he hoped was true involved the producers from Modern Family, one of his favorite shows.

“I’d love to meet and talk with them,” Kildea said. “I love the writing so much on the sitcoms. I have a lot of students that want to write for Saturday Night Live and they have no idea how to get started. I’d like to know about the path they’d like to take to achieve those goals.”

Kildea aims toward keeping his students as connected to the industry as possible. His initial interest in going to Hollywood was in order to learn more about the production industry.

He was able to meet Jay Roach, the director of Meet the Parents, Austin Powers and Game Change.

His selection is an honor for the university, as attendance to the seminar is limited and schools who have a faculty member attend are not allowed to have any instructors apply again for five years. 

Kildea was very enthusiastic about the fellowship.

“I’m very excited to go out to California,” he said. “It’s quite an honor.”

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