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Students bring late night to Pitt - The Pitt News

Students bring late night to Pitt

Pitt Tonight will host its first show on December 14, 2015. Photo courtesy of Jesse Irwin

The event with the most buzz at Pitt last week wasn’t a sporting event — it was a student talk show.

With all 95 seats sold out, Jesse Irwin, senior political science and film studies major, will debut Pitt Tonight, Pitt’s first student talk show, Dec. 14. It will film its episodes in the Cathedral’s Studio Theater and will later appear online by finals week.

“The tickets sold out in 10 hours,” said Irwin. “But people should still join the wait list.”

All tickets for live filmings are free and available online on Pitt Tonight’s website. Students can get OCC credit for attending.

Pitt Tonight’s goals are twofold: In addition to creating a platform for Pitt students to showcase their hobbies and talents — “We’re considering a kid who eats a ton of cottage cheese”— the group aims “to provide a learning environment for kids who want to do television,” Irwin said.

Of the show’s 40-student crew, Mason Lazarcheff, senior film studies major and Pitt News videographer, and Will Sharples, junior marketing major and film studies minor, are the two production department heads who are constantly collaborating with Irwin. 

“Jesse and I pursued [Pitt Tonight] with a meeting with the chancellor at an event we were both working at [in May] called Intel [International Science and Engineering Fair],” Lazarcheff said. “The chancellor loved the idea, and we’ve been making the show ever since then.”

While Pitt’s Bradford campus offers a broadcast communications major, its Oakland campus does not.

“By creating this, I hope to not only create an opportunity for myself, but create an opportunity for people who want to be cameramen, who want to be marketing people, who want to be house band members and stage managers and writers,” Irwin said. “There’s so many aspects to it, and you can find a way to include anyone.”

Sharples is responsible for creating the features of the show that happen behind the scenes, like the prefilmed sketches that will air before episodes, and determining each episode’s games.

“I essentially take all the crazy ideas we have for the show and figure out how to turn them into an entertaining, real TV show,” he said.

There is no schedule or a set number of episodes that will air — the crew will use the show’s popularity among the student body to determine the show’s future.

“I believe this will be a tradition that may even grow to the heights of some of TV’s best late night talk shows,” Sharples said.

The production crew has been running efficiently in order to have everything ready for the first episode.

“So far we’ve only done prefilmed material and it’s been going very smoothly,” Lazarcheff said. “We intend on filming with a live audience and putting a full version of the show on our website for all of campus to see.”

The show will consist of three main segments — an interview, a talent portion and the comedy portion, which will house the prefilmed sketches. Pitt spokesperson Ken Service confirmed Chancellor Patrick Gallagher will help introduce Pitt Tonight by appearing as the show’s first guest along with a second surprise guest. 

“We want to showcase all that Pitt has to offer and get people excited about the school they go to,” Sharples said. “This idea was brought about not only by a love for TV and entertainment, but also by a love for Pitt.”

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