LEXINGTON, Ky. (September 17, 2021) – Students who dreamed of making their mark in the entertainment industry thought they should head to Hollywood, New York or Atlanta. But 10 students and alumni of the University of Kentucky’s College of Communication and Information (CI) added their names this summer to the credits of a new nationwide reality TV show without ever leaving Lexington.
“Relative Justice,” which premiered earlier this week on Monday, September 13, is the first nationally-broadcast television show recorded in Kentucky, and thanks to the college’s close ties to Wrigley Media Group (WMG) , students and alumni. were an integral part of the production team.
âWorking on a nationwide show was amazing in itself, but being able to be a part of something like this here in Kentucky was even better,â said CI alumnus Katie Sam Smith. âI am so happy that I was able to participate in something that not only launched my career but also benefited my home country by providing job opportunities and supporting local businesses. “
“Relative Justice” (check your local listings) is a family-based unscripted court show that “moves drama from the family room to the courtroom.” With 150 episodes of over 200 cases, viewers can expect a wide range of conflict and emotions, all from real people with genuine disputes, chaired by Justice Rhonda Wills, a Houston lawyer.
WMG is a full-service content creation company founded by Misdee Wrigley that works on everything from short web series to long network programming. The company recently converted the old Cinemark Woodhill Movies 10 into a full multimedia production facility, and the recording of “Relative Justice” ran there from May to August.
âThe industry is changing so that you can make quality TV shows and movies anywhere in the world that you can then deliver to networks,â said Ross Babbit, WMG Content Director and Executive Producer of â Relative Justice â. “Misdee Wrigley decided to invest in this community because she believes, and I believe, we all believe, that Lexington is the next hot spot for television and film production.”
The production of the first season of “Relative Justice” saw a team of show veterans half-short and half the inhabitants of Lexington. Along with other UK alumni, CI alumni and current students, many from the Media Arts and Studies (MAS) program made up a good part of the Lexington team. :
- Ross Allen (communication, 2019) is a full-time WMG production specialist and has been the key element. He made sure all the equipment on the set was working properly and was ready to fire. This involved not only fixing technical failures, but also adapting the lighting perfectly to each plaintiff, defendant and their accessories.
- Brianna Bellomo (MAS, 2021) was a stage production assistant. His daily responsibility was to set the scene. This included preparing each complainant on the show and reporting them at the start of each case.
- Sydney Carroll (MAS senior) was a production office assistant / runner. She worked with the executive in charge of production, kept records of winners, ensured guests were paid, and documented expenses on filming days. In post-production, she helped organize the show’s air dates and watched the first cuts, before airing.
- Will Casada (MAS, 2021) was a production office assistant and worked in craft services. He was responsible for all food handling, from serving breakfast and grocery shopping to planning catered lunches.
- Jack Dillender (MAS senior) was a control room production assistant. His main responsibility was to communicate with the remote producers and the showrunner. It also got TV ready remote witnesses via Zoom.
- Maurice Fleming (MAS, 2020) was a stage production assistant. He helped maintain the set, escorted audience members on and off the stage, gave directions to litigants, assisted the prop master, and made sure everyone on set followed the orders of the director.
- Austin Iannone (MAS, 2021) was the audience coordinator. He recruited audience members, greeted and briefed audience members on their appearance, and made sure each day of filming saw a full gallery of engaged audience members.
- Simon Relford (MAS, 2020) and Tatum Tucker (MAS, 2021) were creative production assistants. They each worked in groups of three with a producer and an associate producer to find interesting cases for the show. It has required the online and in-person amalgamation of a diverse group of people, from Lexington to Cuba. Once chosen, guests were booked, their stories pitched, and their legal work finalized before they could appear on the show.
- Katie Sam Smith (MAS, 2021) was responsible for COVID-19 compliance. She was tasked with keeping production running during a pandemic. This included applying social distancing and mask-wearing protocols, tracking employee and visitor vaccination cards, and overseeing COVID-19 testing for crew, talent, litigants and the public.
Among the other students and alumni were several volunteers from the UK Department of Theater and Dance, as well as two members of the team – theater graduates Lisa Cordonnier Hardin (1995) worked in real estate and Kim Dixon (1996) in makeup.
Although CI’s alumni and students had no experience working on a hearing show, their diligence and eagerness to learn impressed Lou Dennig, another executive producer of “Relative Justice.”
âBritish students compare themselves 100% to the ‘Emerson Mafia’ and the people at Syracuse University in Los Angeles,â Dennig said, referring to his experience as a guest lecturer at top universities in the United States. communication. âI had no idea the UK also had such a comprehensive program. And clearly the training that the students get in the UK is world class because people have come in, they have stepped up and they have done a great job.
For many CI alumni and current students of the Relative Justice team, the relevant training they received in the UK came from Kyra Hunting, Assistant Professor at the School of Journalism and Media. Hunting had the opportunity to watch his students in action as a member of the audience. Denning took advantage of a break in recording to lead the entire team in a round of applause for Hunting’s positive impact on the future of media.
âIt was incredibly rewarding to be able to watch our talented and dedicated students in their element on set,â said Hunting. âThe students who worked on this program were some of our best – creative, enthusiastic and professional – and it was so special to be able to see all the potential I saw in the classroom at work as they helped make a series. television that will be seen nationwide. Our students are as prepared and talented as students from anywhere in the country, and it was wonderful to see them have the opportunity to prove it and start their journey in the industry.
Real-world career experiences have been an integral part of CI, and WMG has been a strong partner in helping to train students as interns for several years. CI and WMG are working to grow their relationship to include even more opportunities such as ârelative justiceâ. The hope is that the best and brightest media students turned professional can have “Hollywood” careers here in their home countries.
In the Lexington area, âRelative Justiceâ airs on the CW Network Monday through Friday at 9:00 am EDT. For more information, please visit www.justicerelative.tv.