One of the reoccurring themes of this blog is that big things can come from small places. Most people don’t normally connect Granville, Ohio to Hollywood because…well, because they’ve never heard of Granville, Ohio. But there is a small liberal arts school there that was founded in 1831 and is now known as Denison University and it has produced a surprising amount of entertainment talent. (As well as legendary Ohio St. football coach Woody Hayes.)
Denison University is located in a rural area 27 miles east of Columbus, Ohio and happens to include as its alumni actress Jennifer Garner (Alias, Juno) , actor Steve Carell (The Office, The 40 Year old Virgin) Oscar-nominated screenwriter Jose Rivera (The Motorcycle Diaries), Emmy and Tony-winning actor Hal Holbrook (Wall Street, Into the Wild) and former Disney CEO Michael Eisner.
Since I’ve been writing about webisodes the last few days I’d like to focus on Eisner today. He graduated from Denison in 1964 with a degree in English and worked his way up to become president and CEO of Paramount Pictures in 1984. He moved over to Disney in 1984 and remained CEO until he resigned in 2005. (As a quirky side note my wife worked as a temp secretary for Eisner and Disney executive Frank Wells back in the mid-eighties. Part of my so close–so far away story.)
Since leaving Disney, Eisner has been busy with various entertainment ventures including the independent media studio Vuguru. Here’s been an early innovator of bringing web-based scripted programs not only to the internet but also working a deal with Verizon Wireless for V CAST video-enabled phones. One of the online programs he is connected to is The-All-For-Nots about an indie rock band.
A while back Eisner was asked by NewTeeVee what specifically attracted him about web content:
“I don’t look at it as web content. It is being distributed in a different mode. Hopefully [people] will forget whether it’s sitting on their lap or on a screen or on a desk, they’ll just be engaged in what the characters are saying. I don’t care about the technology, except that it opens up eyes to content.”
Updates: Just last week Steve Carrell retuned to Denison University to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Burpee’s Seedy Theatrical Company — an improvisational group he was a part of as a student.
Denison University also has a Department of Cinema.