From left: Will Blagrove, Aimee Jennings, Anna Jennings, Alexis Lauder, Oliver Riley-Smith, David Millbern, Lee Purcell and Quentin Lee cheer and dance while Jennifer Taylor sings karaoke
Ice cream made on the spot via a liquid nitrogen process that produces dramatic puffs of white smoke. An image of an ocean wave as the backdrop for playful poses with assorted props — pink flamingo pool toy, anyone? Karaoke with a live band. Cornhole and Connect Four. And tables laden with burgers, hot dogs and salads, topped off with watermelon coolers and other beverages. The setting couldn't have been more ideal for the Television Academy's Summer Evening BBQ, where Academy members enjoyed a fun night out.
Held on the plaza and in the Saban Media Center lobby at the Academy's NoHo Arts District headquarters, the event was an opportunity to catch up with friends, share lively conversations and simply relax a bit during a time of dual industry strikes.
Actress-host Marabina Jaimes (Performers peer group) and composer Alberto Anaya (Music peer group) spotted each other on the plaza and were still talking twenty minutes later. "I love the vibe," Anaya said of the evening. "I love the ambience. And I love that they have live music! That's a great choice."
As for Jaimes, who had been conversing with Anaya in his native Spanish, "I'm very happy to see so much diversity at the Television Academy," she said of the crowd. "This has been a long time coming. I'm thrilled to run into people like Alberto, to see how much he's grown since the last time I saw him at an Academy event. This incredible organization gives us the opportunity to network with people we would probably never have the chance to [otherwise]. I'm very grateful."
Married performers Melvin Jackson Jr. and Kelly Jenrette had fun with the karaoke band Casual Encounters, he singing James Brown's "I Feel Good" and she recording the video. "We are going through a very interesting time in our industry," Jenrette observed, "and to be around fellow artists, letting your hair down — or in my case, head wrap down — to have fun and let the worries of the day melt away, it's a good place to come and do that."
"We're in this together," Jackson added. "To come, wrap our arms around people, see their faces ... It's always good when the Television Academy does stuff like this, that we can just come in fellowship."
That human element was also meaningful to Gil DeGloria (Television Executives), though he had had a good time "surfing" at the Oh! Snap Studios ocean photo set, a prop shark in one hand and a drink in the other. Such a gathering is "particularly important in these challenging times for our industry," he said. "These events bring all peer groups together regardless of rank or position, and that's something technology can't replicate."
Respite from the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes notwithstanding, the work stoppage was definitely on people's minds. Longtime friends producer-UPM Kim Sherwood (Producers) and art director Harry Otto (Art Directors/Set Decorators) had bonded quickly with their new acquaintance, camera operator Michael Jarocki (Cinematographers), during a discussion about the current state of affairs.
"We've all worked in the business a long time. We love what we do. And we just want to get back to work," Jarocki said.
Meeting a potential work collaborator this night was an unexpected development for brand-new Academy member Kotomi, a composer who uses that name professionally and had been networking with fellow composers. As for the BBQ, "It was really fun," she enthused after the event had ended. "I could tell they made an effort to make it entertaining. The ice cream station [from SuperCool Creamery], where the ice cream was literally being made — I had never seen anything quite like that. And it was very showy — the folks [making and] serving it were such characters!
"It was a beautiful night," she added. "A great night to be out and meeting fellow creative folks."