Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

Friday Night Lights, Twitter and Vanderbilt

April 2 Update: Chronicle of Higher Education coverage of this story.

Okay, where to begin.

I used to watch the show Friday Night Lights fairly regularly, via Netflix, after reading the umpteenth review that, besides The Wire, it was some of the best TV out there. I lost touch with it and happended to be flipping channels two weeks ago on a Friday night when lo and behold, not only is it on, but one of the main characters, Lyla Garrity, is talking about coming to Vanderbilt in the fall. “Cool,” I thought. (I know, I’m deep).

A few days later I was logged into the Vanderbilt Twitter feed, and noticed a Lyla Garrity was following Vanderbilt. Checked out her feed, and it is written as if Lyla herself, the character not the actress, is writing the updates. Further, many of the people she is responding to and tweeting with are also show characters. Checked them out too, and it seems the Friday Night Lights folks have gone whole hog for Twitter. Many if not all of the main characters are posting updates and interacting with and giving fans some extra goods on the show’s twists, turns and touchdowns via Twitter.

Some of the latest news is that Lyla doesn’t think she’ll be able to attend her dream school, Vandy, because her dad went and squandered her college fund. She tweets about it. Unable to resist at this point and recognizing that I’m living in a strange time where I’m talking to television characters, I messaged her back to be sure she was aware of Vanderbilt’s Expanded Financial Aid program, that commits to meeting 100 percent of a family’s financial need without need-based loans. Why did I do this? To get the word out about the program to people that might not have heard of it, and to dip my toe a little further in the water of Tweetversation.

Despite its extensive, nearly smothering coverage in the media, many people still have this response to Twitter. This latest interaction – both on the part of the show, and our response, I think illustrates its permutations and implications are endless, until the next new thing comes along at least.

Lyla responded with thanks, saying the financial aid program is just what she needs right now. Do I smell a spin-off: Friday Night Lights: Nashville?

P.S. I recognize that I’m posting this unusual tale on April Fool’s Day, but I assure you, it is all true.

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Being part of the solution

Efforts to end illegal music downloading continue to point towards college campuses. This semester, Vanderbilt students are taking matters into their own hands in a class designed to come up with solutions to battle the practice and support musicians. What better place than Music City to have this discussion?

First-year students in the “Stealing in Music City” seminar at Vanderbilt University must devise a workable system for distributing music that delivers content for a reasonable price and allows songwriters, artists and other stakeholders to get paid.

“We are challenging the students to re-invent the music industry for a fair model of music distribution to compensate artists, consumers and labels,” said Holling Smith-Borne, director of the music library at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music. The class, divided into three groups, will propose three solutions during class on Dec. 2.

Illegal downloading by students is the focus of new requirements for Tennessee’s public and private higher ed institutions signed into law by Gov. Phil Bredesen Nov. 12 and is addressed in the recently reauthorized Higher Education Act.

Vanderbilt has been working for several years to combat the problem by partnering with student leaders to educate the campus about intellectual property laws, offering multiple legal downloading alternatives, such as Ruckus and Joost, through VUMix, and including a policy against illegal downloading in the student code of conduct.

Read more on VUCast.

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Commodore Steel Drummer teaches in Taiwan

Take a look at this great story and photos about a recent teaching trip to Taiwan by Mat Britain, director of the Commodore Steel Drum Bands (I’m told the Web site where this story appears is the largest steel drum Web site around). Note Mat is proudly displaying his black and gold in the first pic.

What’s that, you didn’t know Vanderbilt had steel drum bands? We sure do – check out this VUCast video about the First & Ten Steel Drum band, composed entirely of Vandy football players:

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D.C. and Hollywood:BFF?

From Serious Popcorn, the blog of media critic Martha Bayles, comes a discussion of a recent forum for Congressional and federal agency staff hosted by Vanderbilt’s Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy in D.C. on the export of American films and the tight relationship between Hollywood and Washington that facilitates it. Bayles’ post ran as an  op-ed in the Boston Globe and is a version of a chapter that will be part of her upcoming book, “The Washington-Hollywood Pact.” Very interesting discussion of the role the federal government plays in the global reach of American films, and calls out Curb Center director Bill Ivey’s take on it from his new book, “Arts, Inc.: How Greed and Neglect Have Destroyed Our Cultural Rights.” Take a look.

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Vanderbilt takes home five Emmys

That’s right – the Vanderbilt News Service’s own Pat Slattery and Emily Pearce won five Emmys Jan. 26 at the MidSouth Regional Emmy Awards. The awards were in the advanced media categories and won in recognition of Pat and Emily’s stellar online video productions. Read all about it here and watch the winners here. Topping off a wonderful night, Pat was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Silver Circle, which recognizes outstanding lifetime achievement in television. Congratulations, Pat and Emily!

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Grammy nomination goes to Blair prof

You may recall a report on this blog a few weeks ago that Vanderbilt had been nominated for 11 Emmy awards. Former student Al Gore won an Oscar last year. Completing the trifecta is Blair School of Music Professor of Ethnomusicology Greg Barz, who found out yesterday that he has been nominated for a Grammy. Barz earned the nod in Best Traditional World Music Album category for his album “Singing for Life: Songs of Hope, Healing, and HIV/AIDS in Uganda.” Congratulations Professor Barz! Read all about it.

I don’t need to point out that it’s kind of unusual for Emmy and Grammy nominations to be handed out to academics and a bunch of university staff. But that’s just how we roll.

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I’d like to thank the academy…

So, get this: Vanderbilt has been nominated for 11, count them, ELEVEN, Emmy awards for our rockin’ Web videos by the Mid-South chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. This marks the first time that Vanderbilt has been recognized with the opportunity to compete for the highest honor in television.

NATAS received more than 700 entries for this year’s competition, and
Vanderbilt received more nominations than anyone else in the new
Advanced Media categories. Following are our Emmy categories and
nominations:

Advanced Media Arts/Entertainment: First & Ten Steel Drum Band AND Star
Chamber

Advanced Media Documentary: Freedom Ride 2007 documentary (only
nomination in the category!)
Advanced Media Photographer: Pat Slattery

Advanced Media Public/Current/Community Affairs: Rev. James Lawson
Returns
Advanced Media Sports: Closer VU: Dee Davis AND More Than Just a Game
Advanced Media Video Editor: Pat Slattery
Advanced Media Writer / Producer: Emily Pearce, Lyle Jackson

Advanced Media Public/Current/Community Affairs: Scholar Identity Institute
Advanced Media Writer / Producer: Lyle Jackson

The Emmy Awards will be presented on January 26 – go ‘Dores!

And if that wasn’t enough, Pat Slattery has been selected by NATAS to be inducted into the Silver Circle, which honors quarter-century contributions to the industry. Phil Bell, the NATAS National Trustee, said “From the many deserving nominations we received, one person stood out for his exemplary work and for having touched so many others in the profession.” Congratulations, Pat.

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