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JOHANNA TOMKIEL, .
CSU, LONG BEACH
BY WENDY RUTHERFORD
UI. OF TEXAS, AUSTIN '94 GRAD
THOUSANDS OF HOPEFULS FLOCK
to Hollywood every year, praying
for a big break. What they don't
know is that today's students are
finding a little fame (with even
less fortune) mere blocks from campus.
And although they might not get a star
on Hollywood Boulevard, movie or
television extras can start the clock on
their 15 minutes of fame.
"A lot of actors don't like doing [extra work],
but since I'm in college, I need all the money I can
get," says Rob Evors, a sophomore at Syracuse U.
Being an extra won't make you rich - pay ranges
from $30 to $75 a day.
Posmitive that Sly and Arnold's next adventure won't
be on location in Kansas? Don't be too sure. Filmmak-
ers found The Bridges of Madison County in Iowa, a
Tombstone in Arizona and A Perfect Worldin Texas.
"Absolutely every state has a film agency," says
Carol Pirie, communications director for the Texas
Film Commission. The state agencies provide hot
line recordings to give out production information
on movies being filmed in the state, including when
to show up for casting.
"A friend of mine was doing [extra work], and it
looked like fun," says Johanna Tomkiel, a senior at
California State U., Long Beach. "I went to a local
casting agency, gave them my $20 and got my pic-
ture taken. You tell them what talents you have -
everything from riding a bike and waitressing to
what kind of costumes you own."
Tomkiel has appeared in movies (The Net,
Showgirls), TV series (Chicago Hope, Party of
Five, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman) and a Soul
"The worst was when I was on Dr. Quinn,"
Tomkiel says. "I had been out late with my friends
the night before and had to get ready at 3 a.m. I had
to stay in a long, hot skirt and bonnet until 2:30 the
Quiet on the set!
So let's say you're hired as Joe or Jody Average
to play the part of background activity on a busy
street corner. What can you expect on the set?
"Sometimes the crew treats you like dirt," says
Andrea Lewis, a grad student at CSU, Northridge.
But Lewis remembers a time when, while shooting
an episode of Blossom, the late Bill Bixby took all
the extras aside.
"He said, 'Without you, there wouldn't be
classrooms full of people or crowded streets. Not
only are you all actors, but you're also people, and
don't let anyone tell you that you're worthless,"'
The days can be long (often more than eight
hours), and it's often a hurry-up-and-wait situation,
but sometimes the wait is worth it.
"The best set I've ever been on was The Net. It
was on location at the beach in Palos Verdes,"
Tomkiel says. "I got to put
on my bathing suit and hang
out with the extras all day."
Seth Zachary Nagel, a
senior at Ohio U., met his
current girlfriend, a fellow
extra, on the set of The Great
White Hype. He has played
everything from a computer
nerd to a rich teenager.
"While I was working on
Heat, [Robert] De Niro was
making faces at me over Al
Lewis took extra work to
the next level as a stand-in for
The Brady Bunch Movie and
Clear and Present Danger. "I
actually got to read lines with
Harrison Ford. Interacting
with a professional actor was
such a high. It's been two
years, and I still haven't got-J
ten over it," she says.
Being an extra can be an
easy segue for students from
the college world to the film
"You meet a lot of con-
tacts," says Kareem Ferguson,
a senior at the U. of Utah
who has appeared in Class
Act, Army of Darkness and
Love Kills and on Beverly
"I've used it as an opportu-
nity to get to know the busi-
ness better, and it's great expe-
rience," Ferguson says. "I've
stayed in touch with actors,
and they let me know about
unpublicized movies and who Being an ex
to send my resum to." every stude
"I'm ready for my close-up,
Is extra work the solution for stardom-starved
students? Maybe, maybe not. But it's definitely the
answer for starvingstudents. Extras are often treated
to a sumptuous meal.
"Being a college student - I'm stoked on the
food!" Tomkiel says. "They cater on location, serve
halibut, steak and sushi and have stuff for you to
snack on all day long."
Some students may use extra work to pay the
bills, but Lewis advises potential extras not to quit
their day jobs.
"The pay isn't worth it unless you're bored and
have nothing to do that day," Lewis says. "It's a
fun experience - when you know it's not your
Nagel advises would-be extras to be daring and
take risks. "If you want to do this professionally,
show them that you want to work. Impress them,
and they'll call you back."
Wendy Rutherford desperately wants to be an extra in the
next Star Wars trilogy. " AaronJ. Kearns, U. of California,
Davis, contributed to this article
For Mercy's Sake
TTENTION PROFESSORS. ATTENTION ALL PROFESSORS.
Mercy College is having a midnight madness Y
clearance sale. Enroll and retain a few students,
get a raise. But hurry -- students are going fast. $
It sounds like bargain basement
tactics, but administrators at Mercy
College, N.Y., are serious about
their offer: More students at the col-
lege means higher salaries for facul-
ty. Fewer students, however, means
a salary cut.
Last spring, when state and fed-
eral funding for financial aid was
reduced by about $2.2 million, the
school had to make up for the loss.
Administrators feared that if
they couldn't, they would have to
eliminate approximately 70 admin-
istrative positions. Instead, Ben-
jamin Weisman, chair of the busi-
ness and economics department,
proposed that the university deter-
mine salaries according to admission
and retention goals. Depending on
enrollment figures, faculty salaries
could be cut or increased by as
much as 7 percent.
According to Weisman, 85 per-
cent of the faculty voted for the
plan, but some worry about the
impact it might have on the quality
of higher education.
John DiElsi,.director of academ-
ic computing, says the plan will
encourage grade inflation. If profes-
sors are rewarded for retaining stu-
dents, the temptation to give higher
grades to keep students will
increase, he says.
Weisman counters: "The plan is
not about the faculty actively
recruiting students. They don't
work on a commission basis."
DiElsi's primary argument against
the plan is that it shifts the focus away
from academics and toward the busi-
ness of running the school.
"Faculty shouldn't have to think
about bringing in students," DiElsi
says. "Faculty should think about
providing the proper educational
atmosphere for the students that
admissions brings in."
As the only school in the coun-
try with such a plan, Mercy College
is sure to be monitored carefully by
other schools, says Joy Colelli, dean
of admissions at Mercy. With 500
more applications than last year, the
faculty is expecting a 7 percent raise
- but only final enrollment figures
KarinDavidson, Bucknell U., Pennsylvanial
Illustration by Chad Mansfield,
Colorado State U.
S ENIOR VICE PRESIDENT FOR HOME PAGE CREATION
and programming. Ah, no. Programmer and
designer in chief Ick. How about Webmaster?
Mmmm, now there's a job title - a bit pretentious, but
it's got moxie....
When you start free-lancing,
you've got to have a title. And it
seems that the new breed of
designers on the World-Wide Web
is going for the direct approach.
So, Webmaster it is.
Web junkies got dollar signs in
their eyes when Brian Pinkerton, a
grad student at U. of Washington,
became an instant millionaire by
selling WebCrawler - the sophis-
ticated search engine he created -
to online giant America Online.
AOL isn't the only mega-
company seeking out student
Websters. Huge companies like
Hitachi and AT&T are scouting
for college Web enthusiasts to
create their Web sites - the
new-age corporate business
"Students seem to know a lot
about the Web because they're
the ones who have the time to
play around on it and learn how
to use it," says Jeremy Hylton, a
grad student and Web designer
at Massachusetts Institute of
Students are doing more
than just playing around -
they're turning their websessions
"I started off doing my own
home page, which is the way a lot
of people start out," says Thomas
Karlo, a junior at MIT. Karlo's
home-page mastery has earned
him Web gigs with NewMarket
Ventures, a Boston-based comput-
er company, and National Public
Radio's Car Talk.
Hylton now earns an hourly
wage - most Webmasters cur-
rently make $10 to $65 an hour,
depending on their experience and
the complexity of the project -
and is working on the upcoming
Columbia House site.
One of our very own Webmas-
ters, Cabel Sasser (no, of course this
isn't a sly plug for the U. Web site
at http://www.umagazine.com), is
making his mark on the Web. After
his personal home page was award-
ed Cool Site of the Day in April,
1995, Sasser started getting calls
from companies looking for a Web
designer. His hit list now includes
sites for Fox Television, KIIS-FM
radio and the city of Los Angeles.
"The thing about the Internet
is that it's so easily accessible," says
Sasser, a sophomore at the U. of
Southern California. "I can do it
from my room. If I had to show
up at an office from eight to five, I
wouldn't make it."
Of course he wouldn't. A man
has to get his education.
Tricia Laine, Assistant Editor/
illustration by Josh Wilkes, Murray
State U., Ky.
Hooking up with
Remember when notebooks had
wire spirals and snagged your
sweaters? How we know then as
the little computersyou can take
anywhere. And for a pilot group of
freshmen this year at Northwest
MissourilU., they're constant com-
panions. Professors and students
both have the notebooks so they can
communicate directly. It's being
used for speech, health and well-
ness, math and English classes in
specially designed classrooms. The
95 freshmen paid an extra$395 to
be in the program and were only
allowed one elective ina conven-
tional classroom. Northwest hopes
to implement complete campuswide
notebook use by spring 1998. Now,
remember to raise your mouse if you
have a questlon....
Where do we keep the
The firststep is to admit you
have a problem. U. of Minnesota stu-
dents realized just how dependent
they are on the Internet this summer
when a fire destroyed the fiber-optic
cable that links the school tothe
international Internet. Christopher
Hyde, a senior, said the shutdown
put his life in perspective - "Like
when the lights go out and people
realize how modern we've become.
We still need to write and read and
interact one-on-one." Yeah, but you
can't download gamesfrom a piece
After almost 10 months of acade-
mic turmoil, Brian Evenson, author of
the controversial book Altmann's
Tongue, took a one-year leave of
absence from Brigham Young U. to
work in the English department of
Oklahoma State U. this year.
Administrators at BYU, which is
owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints and operated in
accordance with the Church's stan-
dards, questioned whether the book
violated the school's honor code.
At the time concerns were raised,
president Rex Lee and provost Bruce
Hafen met with Evenson to discuss his
upcoming third-year tenure review and
how the controversial book might affect
"If his future work follows the
same pattern of, for example, extreme
sadism, brutality and gross degrada-
tion of women characteristic of Alt-
mann's Tongue, such a publication
would, in our view, not further his
cause asa candidate for continuing
faculty status," Lee wrote in a memo
after the meeting.
The book of short stories has been
deemed "brilliant" by his editor at A. A.
Knopf Publishing and "a showcase of
graphic, disgusting, pointless vio-
lence" in an anonymous letter written
by a student to a member of the board
But Evenson defends the violence in
"[I wrote the book to] work against
this kind of violence-for-pleasure phe-
nomenon that I think our society is
caught up in," Evenson says.
Although some students back Even-
son, others like Ryan Nelson, a senior
who took critical interpretive writing
from Evenson, sees the controversy ina
"If we have to choose between aca-
demic freedom and support of the
Church, then I think we havea duty to
support the Church's standards if the
two are in conflict," Nelson says.
For Evenson, the choice between his
position at BYU and his work is clear.
"There are a lot of things that make
me want to stay," he says. "But at the
same time, the freedom for me to write
[the way I'd like to write] seems to be
something that will be denied tome
here, and that for me is the most
Shea Nuttall, Brigham Young U.
The new Lois and Clark? Student extras are
flying high in Metropolis.
tra brings out the beast in
18 U. Magazie * November 1995
November 1995 " x R 11