Students start late-night show
Senior Alan Linic helps write scripts and create sketches for “The Early Late Show.”

Following the lead of late night stars like Conan, Letterman and Carson, two JMU students will launch a new talk show this weekend, straight from the basements of Harrison Hall.

"The Early Late Show," created by senior media arts and design majors Aaron Sturgill and Doug Newton, is a student-run, JMU-based talk show premiering Saturday on the JMU on campus network (channel 55) at 6 p.m.

The David Letterman-style show will feature comedy skits, student musical performances and interviews with students, staff and faculty currently in the media.

"Basically, we want to get clean stuff on there, but stuff that would still appeal to a college audience, and obviously we want to keep it all relevant," Newton said.

The show began as a project for Sturgill and Newton's HD studio production class, SMAD 306. After receiving a positive response to their pilot show in class, they decided to see how far they could take it. They approached media arts and design professor John Hodges with an idea to use the studio in the Harrison Hall basement to produce a series of eight episodes.

"He loved it because there's an HD studio in the SMAD department that no one really uses, so he was all about helping us," Sturgill said.

In order to motivate students to get involved with the project, Sturgill and Newton decided to create a one-credit class practicum, SMAD 395. Hodges took the idea to Steve Anderson, the SMAD director, who approved. Then Sturgill and Newton began networking to find people who could help with the project.

Hodges acts as adviser, reviewing all material before it is recorded, but most of the organizing and networking is done by the students in the class. Newton emphasizes, however, that even though it is a student production, they strive for excellence.

"We want to make this show the best we can possibly make it," Newton said. "I don't want this to be a student thing; I want people to look at this and think it's professional."

The JMU Network currently shows university information.

However, because it is only available on campus, Sturgill and Newton are working to create a website where they will post all of the episodes along with other interactive material.

Mark Powell, a senior media arts and design major, will host the show. He has been working with his "partner in crime," Alan Linic, a senior English major, to write a script, coordinate guest appearances and create sketches.

"Really, what we emphasize to our writers is anything goes," Powell said. "Anything is open for a healthy lampooning." 

Linic, Powell and the other writers have held only one meeting so far, though throughout the winter break, they interacted online almost every day to plan and come up with fresh material.

"It's one thing writing something on paper, and it's a whole other thing trying to put life into it and get it on camera," Linic said. "So I'm really excited to see what the response is once it's filmed."

The plan for the first two shows is currently underway. The premiere will provide entertainment from the student band, Coach; an interview with the director of the new Forbes Center for the Performing Arts play, "Kiss Me Kate;" and a performance by the break dance club. The series will run every other Saturday at 6 p.m.

Contact Beth Cole at cole2ed@dukes.jmu.edu.