This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Not Just Football, Beef, And Corn...Nebraska's Johnny Carson School


This past weekend, I was surprised to open up The Los Angeles Times Sunday Edition to see a full-page ad dedicated to Nebraska. A strange moment passed: Was I reading The Omaha World-Herald, my hometown newspaper? I flipped back to the front page to double check. Nope, this was indeed The Los Angeles Times.

There, in plain view, was a photo of Johnny Carson, clutching an Academy Award, with an announcement of dedication to the new Johnny Carson School Of Theatre & Film…in Lincoln, Nebraska, previously known for football, sweet corn, and hunky steaks.

My home state of Nebraska continues to surprise me. Not so very long ago, I was a student at UNL where, as an undergraduate, I majored in advertising at the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. Film was my true passion, always had been, but working in the film industry was more of a pipe dream than a career path~ especially in a place like Nebraska.

Sure, I took some film classes, mostly studies of classic foreign films, but Nebraska didn’t have anything even resembling a film program of any magnitude. Temple Hall was certainly less-than-impressive, arts funding in local schools was being cut, Ballet Omaha was struggling, and Ak-Sar-Ben (where the Nebraska Film Commission formerly had their cramped offices) was razed to build an engineering school. Things certainly did not look promising…so I did what I felt I had to do…I left.

My, how times have changed. First, there was the Quest Convention Center and arena built in downtown Omaha, then came Film Streams (an independent theatre, recently opened in downtown Omaha), and now even an Omaha Film Festival is starting to get some recognition.

The new school, bankrolled by longstanding support and a very generous donation from the estate of Johnny Carson, perhaps one of Nebraska’s most well-known natives, offers studies in all disciplines including: film, production design, acting, directing, and theatre studies. The school will have all the facilities and the resources of big-time film schools including multiple theatre and performance spaces, editing suites (including both Avid and Final Cut Pro), a host of film equipment and cameras, and guest artists through the university affiliations with the Lied Center For Performing Arts as well as the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center.

These days, as I continue to work professionally in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, I’m quickly realizing that Omaha seems to be having a creative renaissance of sorts. It makes me proud (and just a tad jealous that there was no Johnny Carson School for me.)

The new facilities were formally dedicated on October 12, 2007.
For more information about the Johnny Carson School Of Theatre & Film, including admissions and dedication festivities, please visit the following links:

Johnny Carson School Of Theatre & Film

Daily Nebraskan

*Photo Credit: Beebo Wallace

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