The Pursuit of Excellence

This has been the theme of our trip – the pursuit of excellence. Drew came up with it and I feel it is rather fitting. Not just for this trip, as we meet with those who are best in the industry and study what they do and how they do it, but fitting for Drew as well. Monday was MLK day, alot of people were posting his quotes. There was one in particular that stuck out for me, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” That is Drew, that is this trip, that is UniquePublications – he took the first step when he couldn’t even see a single staircase out there!

And yesterday just seemed to capture this pursuit. John Shaffner gave us a tour of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. They recently moved into a new building, it was fabulous (to use Joe Stewart’s word!!) to see all of the accomplishments over the years. It’s one thing to sit on my couch and watch a show on the tv, but to see how it comes to life behind the scenes is truly magical. And I’ll be the first one to admit that I was wrong about how easy the life of an actor is. After seeing the run-thru’s and camera blocking for Two & a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory, showed me it’s not easy. They work 15 hour days. I have a new found appreciation for the industry.

Then to top off the night we went to the Hall of Fame Awards Show for The Academy. My first awards show!!! I could barely breathe I was so excited!! Amy Poehler was the host, alum from Saturday Night Live. Lorne Michaels and a lot of the cast sat at the table next to us. They were so gracious and took a picture with Drew. I got so tickled, one second I am taking a sip of my drink and turn to talk to the lady sitting next to me. The next second I see this wheelchair go zooming out of the corner of my eye – he was off!! He drove right up to Molly Shannon and started talking! It was classic! Candice Bergen, Charles Lisanby, Don Pardo, Gene Roddenberry, Dick Smothers, Tom Smothers and Bob Stewart were all inducted into the Hall of Fame. Some of those names I know you recognize, some you may not. I will tell you that I did NOT recognize Candice Bergen when she walked up on stage!! Maybe the change in her hair????

Lisanby is three-time Primetime Emmy Award winning director and production designer. One was for a special on Barry Manilow. Lisanby talked about the first time he heard of this invention called a television and said “he knew this was the beginning of something very important.” The Academy said what Lisanby didn’t know then was the importance television would play in his career, or how significant his contributions would be to the world of television. Let that sentence sink in for a minute. Because one day you will hear those same words spoken about Drew Bates!

Don Pardo is a staff announcer for NBC, better known as the announcer for Saturday Night Live!! We all know that voice! The man is 92 years old and still working. That shows a true love and passion for your job. That shows excellence!

Gene Roddenberry is a television writer and producer. I’ll give you a big hint on his claim to fame – “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.” For those of you who did not get the hint – Star Trek! In addition to his accomplishments with television, he was a decorated combat pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Continuing the excellence….

Everyone should know the Smothers Brothers. And for those that don’t recognize the name Bob Stewart, he is the genius that created many of the game shows you watched on tv growing up like The Price is Right and $10,000 Pyramid.

What made the night just perfect was sitting at the table with John Shaffner, Chairman and CEO of The Academy and Joe Stewart, Award winning set designer. John and Joe designed the set for Friends, I know we will all remember Monica’s apartment till the day we die!! That’s just one of the many lists of accomplishments they have. And seeing the permanent smile on Drew’s face as we watched the presentations and seeing the various talent that was in the room with us. Drew, this is just the start of your pursuit. I’m so glad I’m going on this journey with you!

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