The Gold Knight: 2012 Oscars college contest launchesWritten by James A. Molnar | The Gold Knight | email@example.com
Hofstra University junior Luz Pena and her cameraman Philip Robibero were given an opportunity few college students get. The duo won a nationwide contest to cover the Red Carpet for the 83rd Academy Awards last February.
The contest was sponsored by mtvU, MTV’s 24-hour college channel, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which puts on the Oscars. It was the third year of the partnership.
On Jan. 23, the Academy announced this year’s contest; however, it has a different partner: On The Red Carpet (OTRC). Sadly, University of Toledo students need not apply; only a handful of markets, with ABC-owned TV stations, are eligible. (See below for more information.)
Until Feb. 5, 2012, college journalists can enter to win a trip to the Red Carpet to cover the Oscars. Teams of three must submit a three-minute video to redcarpetjournalist.com that showcases their interviewing skills and proves why they deserve that spot on the Red Carpet. Teams must be made up of one reporter, one producer and one videographer.
Two teams will be selected from each of the ABC-owned television stations’ markets — Chicago, Fresno, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Raleigh and San Francisco — for a total of 16 finalist teams. These 16 teams will then be judged by an expert panel of Academy and KABC-TV employees to determine the contest winner. (Wendy McMahon, of KABC, confirmed to The Gold Knight that students outside of those markets are not eligible to enter.)
The winning team will be flown out to Los Angeles to cover Academy Awards pre-events, such as the Animated Feature Symposium, Foreign Language Film Award press event, the Makeup Artists and Hairstylists Symposium and the Governors Ball preview. The winning team will have the exclusive opportunity to work with KABC-TV’s OTRC team and report live during the “On The Red Carpet at the Oscars” pre-show (1:30–4 p.m. PT). The winning trio will also get rooms at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel, $100 for formal wear and/or complimentary tuxedo rental, $50 per day meal allowance, ground transportation to/from all off-site Academy Events and to/from LAX Airport, three seats in the backstage interview room during the telecast and access to the Governors Ball.
Judging criteria is as follows: 50 percent for skill as journalists and 50 percent for ability to professionally represent OTRC at the Academy Awards. Entrants must be 18 or older, currently enrolled and “a student in good standing in a college or university at the time of entry and physically located within “one of the following states within the counties representing one of the Eight (8) ABC Owned Television Station DMA’s: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Texas, North Carolina, Virginia, counties.” Find all the rules here. The contest ends at 6 p.m. local time on Feb. 5.
OnTheRedCarpet.com is a subsidiary of ABC. The website was launched in March 2012 in conjunction with the debut of “On The Red Carpet,” a show produced by KABC-TV in Los Angeles. The show airs mostly on the Live Well Network, a home, health and lifestyle subchannel network owned by Disney-ABC Television Group. It is available in more 60 percent of the U.S., according to the network’s website.
A handful of students have already benefited from the first three correspondent contests, including Pena.
The Hofstra senior, graduating in May, said the contest has opened up “incredible opportunities for my career.”
“Wining the Oscar Correspondent Contest helped me broaden my growth as a journalist and as a consequence, opened so many doors in this industry,” Pena told The Gold Knight, via email. “This contest was, without a doubt, an incredible blessing for my career.”
Pena recently won a FOX News scholarship and internship for this summer. The Ailes Apprentice Program leads to a job right after graduation, according to Pena.
“Being on the red carpet at the Oscars, and going through this entire contest taught me that my confidence and faith will only lead me to greater things,” Pena said. “At the beginning when I read about the contest it seem a bit surreal, but somehow obtainable. I won’t deny that there were times were a slight doubt would come in, but that’s were my faith will kick in.”
Pena also offers advice for students applying this year: “Only apply if you can see yourself as the winner. If you envision it, you’ve got it! This is not an easy contest, but nothing in life is, and the things that we work the hardest for are the most cherished ones. So work hard, believe in yourself, and have faith through it all.”
The Gold Knight also caught up with Megan Telles on the Red Carpet last year. Telles, who was a finalist during the first year of the contest, is very thankful for the contest.
“Not a lot of people get to come to the Oscars when they’re in college,” she said. “I’m so thankful for that competition because it really opened up so many doors.”
Emerson College student Terry Stackhouse is also thankful for the competition. Stackhouse, along with his partner Zach Cusson, won the contest in 2010.
“The experience of being on the Red Carpet was amazing. It was a dream come true for me,” Stackhouse, now a senior, told The Gold Knight Blog via email. “Standing there, interviewing the biggest names was a very surreal thing. I really enjoyed talking with them and didn’t have much difficulty in asking questions. I was prepared, and knew that in terms of my career, that hour or so on the carpet would be more important than just about anything I’ve done in my career.”
The Emerson student, now a senior, said that he wasn’t star-struck by being on the Red Carpet.
“I felt a good kind of pressure to perform, but I was not intimidated by their celebrity status,” he said. “Although, I’ll admit talking to Sandra Bullock was a pretty cool thing.”
His experience was also eye-opening, he said.
“Although Hollywood and the Oscars are important, I have no desire to report on the daily happenings of celebrities and gossip,” Stackhouse said. “That trip helped me realize that.”
Stackhouse is currently interning at New England Cable News and is enjoying it.
“I am excited and inspired by broadcast news and I can’t wait to continue working towards my goals,” he said.
Last fall, the Academy did not announce a fourth iteration of the contest with mtvU, as it had the previous three years. So what happened?
“We weren’t able to do the contest this year,” said Jake Urbanski, spokesman for MTV, “but we’re always evaluating ways to give students unique opportunities to showcase their talents on-air. We’ll keep you updated on any future contests or competitions.”
Partnering with OnTheRedCarpet.com makes sense for the Academy. The website is a subsidiary of ABC, produced by KABC-TV in Los Angeles. This directly connects the contest to the broadcaster of the Oscars. Dropping MTV may have also been a smart move. The network doesn’t always exude the class for which the Academy strives.
The downside of the contest is that countless college journalists will be left ineligible because they don’t live in the viewing area of one of the eight ABC-owned stations (in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Texas, North Carolina and Virginia).
In the end, however, it is a very good decision by the Academy to continue this competition.
This year’s Oscars are Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012, on ABC.
Toledo Free Press Lead Designer and Film Editor James A. Molnar blogs about all things Oscar at TheGoldKnight.com.