Where Are They Now: TV/Film EditionBy Jay Turner
Editor’s note: The following story ran in the Canton Citizen’s 21st annual Salute to the Fine Arts, a six-page supplement that was included in the June 7 print edition. Click here for more on this feature-packed issue of the Citizen.
For nearly four decades the Canton High School TV/film production program has served as an incubator for aspiring media professionals, nurturing their passions while equipping them with the tools to succeed in a highly competitive yet ultimately rewarding industry.
One of the most visible indicators of the program’s success has been the great number of alumni who have gone on to have careers in the field, whether it be as a broadcaster, a filmmaker, or even as a marketing or public relations specialist. The Citizen recently caught up with some of these alumni, and regardless of how many years or miles they have traveled from home, they all look back fondly on their time at CHS and remain grateful for the training they received under TV production teachers Ernie St. Jean and Ed McDonough.
Heading west to the entertainment capital of the world, Richard Branca (’74), one of the very first students to enroll in St. Jean’s TV production course, has carved out quite a career for himself in the movie industry. A graduate of Norwich University, Branca is currently the executive vice president of post production at Sony Pictures, where he oversees 280 employees, including “10 re-recording stages, three Foley stages, three ADR stages, and a world renowned scoring stage.”
Although he now makes his home in California, Branca remains “deeply connected” to Canton, where his brother Bill is a police officer and his sister-in-law Nadya is the animal control officer. Branca has also hosted CHS students at Sony Pictures twice in the past five years, and he credits his own experiences at the school with helping to shape his career path.
“I’m very excited about the prospects of the CHS students and their advancements in the art of film production,” added Branca in an email to the Citizen.
To Branca’s point, one recent alumnus, John Cortizo (’07), is already well on his way to a successful career less than a year after graduating from Emerson College. Now residing in Brooklyn, Cortizo has found work as a camera assistant on the award-winning CBS legal drama “The Good Wife.” Prior to that, he was the lead transportation coordinator on another critically acclaimed CBS program, “The Amazing Race,” and had also served as a camera assistant on the Food Network’s “Fat Chef,” in addition to work as a production assistant for various films and television programs.
An award-winning filmmaker going back to his days at CHS, Cortizo has also directed the B-roll unit for a television special called “Run Run Revolution” and has produced several commercials for a Canton-based consumer protection company.
Staying in the Big Apple, another CHS alum, Lee Goldberg (’90), is living out his dream as a meteorologist for WABC-TV, where he anchors the Accu-Weather coverage on the station’s evening news program. According to his bio on the Eyewitness News website, Goldberg’s passion for weather began at the “tender age of 12 after he built his first weather instruments out of shoeboxes and milk cartons,” and by age 14, “he was giving his first weather broadcast to his hometown of Canton on Canton Cable.”
Another CHS graduate who has found her calling in New York is Hayley Russman (’03), who was recently hired by Condé Nast — one of the country’s top magazine publishers — to serve as a senior marketing manager for the popular food magazine Bon Appétit. Russman, who was the host of “School Days” and the editor-in-chief of the CHS newspaper, previously served as the brand manager for RealClearPolitics.com and has also held positions at WGBH and CBS News.
Moving on to the world of broadcasting, at least two alumni who got their start calling Bulldogs’ games are now doing so on a much bigger stage. Tim Hagerty (’00) is now the voice of the Tucson Padres, the San Diego Padres’ Triple-A affiliate, while former Bulldog broadcast partner Mike Demos (’02) is the assistant director of athletic communications and women’s basketball broadcaster at Division 1 Siena College.
Hagerty, who has been honored with multiple Edward R. Murrow awards, has broadcasted over 1,000 games in his career. He’s also a freelance reporter for Fox Sports Radio and Sporting News Radio, and he recently became a published author with the release of his first book, Root for the Home Team: Minor League Baseball’s Most Off-the-Wall Team Names and the Stories Behind Them.
Demos has also built quite the resume since leaving CHS, having served as the play-by-play broadcaster for three minor league baseball teams in addition to his work at Siena. He has also served as an occasional fill-in host on the ESPN Radio affiliate in Albany and has called a number of collegiate games on Time Warner Cable Sports.
Staying in the realm of sports, another Canton alum, Bill Titus (’80), has enjoyed a fascinating and successful career as a TV production freelancer. Voted “Most Flirtatious” by his CHS classmates, Titus got his start at Cable 8 and now does a lot of work for NESN, including operating the low third base camera for Red Sox home games and doing replay for all Bruins home games. Titus has also done camera work for numerous concerts, boxing matches, Patriots and Celtics games, and even the Scrabble Championship for ESPN.
Meanwhile, a more recent graduate, Nick Jones (’09), has started to generate income through his own freelance video company, Nick Jones Creations. Currently studying broadcast journalism at Suffolk University, Jones has won two Suffolk “Rammy” awards in the short fiction and music video categories and is the general manager of the school’s production club. He also recently scored a full-time internship at Allen & Gerritsen, one of Boston’s top advertising agencies.
Other notable program alumni include:
* Martin Stevens (’82), owner of Metaphoric Pictures, which has produced one feature-length film, “The Dead Time,” and is currently producing another, “The Haunting Presence.” Voted “Most Artistic” by his CHS peers, Stevens is also the founder and president of Glidecam Industries, Inc., a manufacturer of video camera stabilization equipment.
* Dean Reddington (’03), a web producer at CBSBoston, where he writes news stories and manages content and social media for WBZ-TV, 98.5 The Sports Hub, and WBZ NewsRadio 1030. A graduate of Quinnipiac, Reddington previously worked at NECN.
* Pat Leonard (’05), a digital media producer for The Pulse Network in Canton, an online network that specializes in content creation and social media marketing for various business and consumer brands. Heavily involved in the TV production program while at CHS, Leonard previously worked as a volunteer at Cable 8, as well as a radio DJ and street team coordinator for Curry College radio, 91.5 FM.
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