‘Top Grad’ to premiere Friday

After students spent much of 2010 planning it, the university’s first reality show, “Top Grad,” will have its premiere Friday on TCU Channel 20 and on its website, topgradtv.com.

Junior Julie Harrison, the show’s executive producer, said the show features 11 student contestants competing in various challenges in an attempt to showcase their wide-ranging abilities and poise.

“What we’re really striving for is to show a renaissance student, so someone who is a really well rounded student and a jack of all trades,” Harrison said.

Harrison, a film-television-digital media and communication studies double major, said she worked to oversee each part of the preproduction phase, including shaping the overall idea for the show, finding financial support and advertising to create a fan base.

She said it was a fantastic opportunity to learn the process of creating television shows.

“Any part that we have to go through, I am there overseeing every single process, which means I can really understand how a show is made, and that is so beneficial,” Harrison said.

Each episode, contestants will face a challenge in one of the university’s majors. Harrison said an example of a challenge might be recording vital signs just like a student studying in the nursing program would.

“We would set up a challenge where they would have to take someone’s vitals quickly, accurately and with a good bedside manner,” Harrison said. “The person who does that the best wins a prize, and the person who does that the worst obviously gets kicked off.”

After completing each challenge, four judges will critique each contestant’s performance. The judging panel will consist of two permanent judges, adjunct professor Punch Shaw and senior broadcast journalism major Katie Love, and two guest judges from the college of that week’s challenge.

“The two permanent judges are really looking at how well you represent TCU and the TCU ideal that we would like you to be,” Harrison said. “And the other two judges are representing how well you effectively showcase [the] major and follow the criteria well.”

The winner at the end of the season will receive a cash prize, the amount of which will be revealed in the show’s pilot episode, a feature article written in the university’s magazine and the bragging rights of being “Top Grad,” Harrison said.

The FTDM department usually creates a large project, like a television show, once every four years, Harrison said. In past years, soap operas and sitcoms were popular, but the department chose to create a reality show involving many students on campus.

“We realized that to keep up with the times we really need to do this reality show,” Harrison said. “We really need to focus on this genre since it’s so popular. And when you go into the industry, that’s really what you’ll be focusing on 8212; is most likely reality TV.”

Students in FTDM will work on creating the show during classes that focus on the parts of production. Video III, Directing, and Audio Production I classes will contribute to the show during class lab times in the spring semester.

Junior FTDM major Jena Krzeminski enrolled in Video III as the show’s supervising producer of production. She said she hoped the show would highlight the FTDM department as well as various majors around campus.

Krzeminski said she worked to prepare for the show by coordinating with the deans of the university’s colleges for the challenges, planning the equipment that would be needed for recording and creating a budget for the show, she said.

Harrison said crews began filming and creating the first episode Jan. 31. She said she hoped to tell a bigger story through each episode of the show.

“The story of reality TV really comes alive in the editing process,” Harrison said. “You see those interpersonal relationships at work within the show, and you can choose to focus on any central point that you want to because you have all this footage that you can draw on.”

“Top Grad” Quick Facts:

First episode airs at 7 p.m. Friday on TCU Channel 20 and on topgradtv.com.

Premiere Party:

6:30 p.m. Friday at the Brown-Lupton University Union Auditorium.

Open to the public.

Hollywood-themed party includes cast introductions and special screening of the “Top Grad” pilot episode.

After Party:

8:30 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday at Old Rip’s Tex-Mex Restaurant

Event is open to the public, and 10 percent of profits benefit “Top Grad” production.

Host: Senior FTDM major Xan Angelovich


Senior theatre major Corinne Hodges

Sophomore engineering major Melinda Smitherman

Sophomore writing and modern language studies double major Bill Hamlett

Sophomore FTDM major Marilyn Davis

Junior theatre major John Devereaux

Transfer student and FTDM major Joshua Thompson

Senior strategic communication major Kelsey Bond

Senior FTDM major David Crouch

Senior music and English double major Wesley Gentle

Junior theatre major Arrington Foster

Junior strategic communication major Megan Malone