‘Pitt Tonight’ nominated for two college Emmy awards


Jesse Irwin hosting the season finale of Pitt Tonight in April 2016. Will Miller | Staff Photographer

Following a first season that included a live autopsy, an acapella battle, and an appearance by Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, campus talk show “Pitt Tonight” has another reason to be excited leading up to Season Two: A college Emmy nomination.

Earlier this week, “Pitt Tonight” received two College/University Award nominations from the Mid-Atlantic chapter of The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS), the same organization behind the Emmys.

Along with nominees from schools such as Penn State University and Temple University, the show’s first episode was nominated in the “Arts and Entertainment/Cultural Affairs” category, and host Jesse Irwin was recognized in the “Talent” division. Judged by panels from other NATAS chapters, the winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in Philadelphia on September 24. The college-focused accolades are separate from those received by local television outlets and national daytime and nighttime programming.

“I think it’s just really nice to see that we can compete with other schools that do have film production programs and many more resources in that area,” Executive Producer Hayley Ulmer, a theatre arts major, said. “And that, you know, we’re just a group of kids trying this out and we were actually able to do something that was recognized.”

The show, which follows a standard late-night talk show format, consisting of a monologue, sketch comedy, guest interviews and music debuted on Dec. 14, 2015. The first episode featured stand-up by Irwin, pre-recorded skits, and guests Chancellor Patrick Gallagher and Ophelia Ferguson, a well-known cashier at Pitt’s main dining hall Market Central. Since then, Irwin and company filmed and produced four episodes in venues across campus, aired about a month apart.

Despite the acknowledgement, Irwin, a senior political science and interdisciplinary broadcast journalism major, is already looking toward Season Two, which will record at the Charity Randall Theatre on August 28. While appreciative of the nominations, he hopes the formal recognition will translate to more resources for the club.

Although Pitt has film studies and communications majors, Irwin said these classes are more based in theory than practical experience. This year, Irwin aims to gather support for a video production facility on campus for students looking for the skills they can’t learn in a classroom. Pitt currently partners with Pittsburgh Filmmakers in North Oakland where film students can practice filming and editing video.

“Having something like an Emmy nomination, while it sounds really cool — and it is really cool — I think it’s almost more of a statement to the administration saying, ‘Look, we’re serious about our craft. Feed us, because we’re hungry,'” Irwin said.