Springfield, Ohio – Hollywood's loss has turned out to be Wittenberg's gain – at least for one week.
Thanks to the three-month-old strike by the Writer's Guild of America (WGA) that has brought most of America's entertainment industry to a standstill, Wittenberg University alumni Lauren Schmidt, class of 2000, and Dan Stroeh, class of 2001, have decided to return to their collegiate roots for a unique weeklong event titled "From the Hollow to Hollywood." They will be joined by Schmidt's colleague, Hollywood producer Michael Hissrich, for four days of speaking engagements and mentoring opportunities, Feb. 4-7.
A colloquium with the same title will take place at 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, in Ness Family Auditorium in Hollenbeck Hall. It will serve as the punctuation mark to what promises to be a significant interaction between three individuals who have found success in the entertainment industry and hundreds of Wittenberg students, many of whom aspire to follow in their footsteps.
The colloquium format is based on the Bravo network show Inside the Actors Studio, which features interviews with famous actors while clips of their work are shown on screen. Stroeh will play the role of the show's hosts, James Lipton, as he asks Schmidt questions about her budding writing career. Meanwhile, clips of the television shows she has worked on since graduating from Wittenberg will be shown in the background.
"What a wonderful opportunity for our students to see the creative work that our alums are doing and to be able to ask questions of them personally," said Associate Professor of English and Interim Chair of the Department Cynthia Richards. "We are really looking forward to this, and we're grateful that Dan, Lauren and Michael were willing to give so generously of their time and talents."
After working as an intern on the long-running NBC television show West Wing between her junior and senior years at Wittenberg, Schmidt returned to the show after graduation and spent six years as a writer's assistant and researcher. In 2003, she was nominated for a WGA award for an episode that she co-wrote, and she had her first solo episode of West Wing air in 2004.
An English major at Wittenberg and the recipient of the Literary Studies award as a senior, Schmidt is now a writer with ABC's new hit show Private Practice. A co-producer of the show, Schmidt wrote the entire episode that aired Nov. 21, 2007 – ironically, the last episode completed before the writer's strike. A native of Columbus, Schmidt lives in Los Angeles.
Hissrich has been a producer for critically acclaimed NBC shows West Wing, ER and Third Watch. In 2003 he joined Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney to produce HBO's critically acclaimed political drama K Street.
Stroeh, who double-majored in theatre and English at Wittenberg, won the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival National Student Playwriting Award in 2001 for his play it is no desert. Since graduation, he has written plays for The Kennedy Center's Education Department and Boston's Alarm Clock Theatre Company. He currently has several screenplays in development with Reel Farm Films Inc., and is working on his first novel. A native of Loveland, Ohio, Stroeh now lives in New York City.
The trio has a very busy schedule, including speaking engagements with English, communications and theatre classes, meals with professors and students, the aforementioned colloquium and even individual mentoring sessions with students.
Written By: Ryan Maurer