MyViacommunity Stories: Fostering Hope, By Design

We caught up with Katie Dominguez, senior art director at TV Land, to talk about her volunteer work through Viacom’s pro-social branch, Viacommunity.

Eli Musser: How do you volunteer? What are you involved with?

Katie Dominguez: I’ve volunteered for a few different organizations through Viacom’s skills-based Talent for Good program, donating design and branding services. One organization is Graham Windham, a foster care agency in New York City that also offers schooling, health care centers and after-school programs. Another organization is called Integrate, and they provide services for those with autism who have gone to college and can’t land jobs. They also educate companies about autism and offer recruitment to help candidates with autism.

EM: How do you feel when you’re volunteering?

KD: I take it as a serious job. I always give 100 percent when I’m doing my work, so when I’m volunteering, even though I’m not getting paid for it, I’m definitely trying to do the best job I possibly can. At the end of the day, I’m just glad that I can help give my services to something that’s worthwhile.

EM: How do you feel about Viacommunity’s presence at Viacom?

KD: I think it’s great. I’ve been taking full advantage of it. Being able to share your skill sets is really nice. I think it’s great that Viacom has this opportunity for people to get out there and give back. I hope a lot of people do it and continue to do it. I think it makes Viacom a better company because it enriches their talent and provides a great service.

Get Schooled and the Chainsmokers Celebrate Tulsa School’s Soaring Graduation Rates

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Fresh off topping a billion and a half YouTube views of their smash hit Closer, the Chainsmokers used their ever-growing profile to acknowledge something special happening in Tulsa: soaring graduation and college acceptance rates at Webster High School.

In a partnership with Get Schooled, an organization founded through a partnership between Viacom and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the duo crashed senior day at the Oklahoma high school, where 90 percent of a diverse student body is eligible for free or reduced lunch. After dazzling students at an assembly, the band gave every member of the school’s senior class a ticket to their concert that night at Tulsa’s BOK Center.

“We wanted to inspire them to go off and do an art, or whatever it is after this, and if we can be a part of it, that’s great,” the Chainsmokers’ Andrew Taggert told Marty Kasper of News on 6, a local television news show, as he stood alongside bandmate Alex Paul following the assembly.

The Chainsmokers’ Andrew Taggert and Alex Paul address students at Webster High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Photo courtesy of Tulsa Public Schools.

Over the course of an ongoing four-year partnership with Diplomas Now, a national organization dedicated to improving retention and graduation rates, Webster’s graduation rate has jumped to over 75 percent from just over 50 percent, while the number of college-bound seniors has risen by 33 percent.

“The Webster High School community, in partnership with Diplomas Now, united the school around a common goal:  improved graduation,” said Get Schooled Executive Director Marie Groark. “Incredibly, they engaged every teacher and student in this work and in doing so have demonstrated to the nation what is possible when schools and partners work together. We are excited to recognize their hard work and success.”

The students seemed thrilled with the encounter. “I’m really excited,” Darius Arney told News on 6’s Kasper. “I can’t believe they’re actually here.” Check out the station’s full report from the school:

NewsOn6.com – Tulsa, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports – KOTV.com |

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The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Records Most Watched Week Ever

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Like a farmer welcoming rainclouds, Trevor Noah has turned something most of us would prefer to do without – the unending tumult pouring from Washington, D.C. – into a building block for something essential: humor.

It is a resource that appears to be especially welcome at this moment of astonishing political turmoil. Last week was The Daily Show with Trevor Noah’s most watched ever, with 1.045 million total viewers, a 36 percent increase over the same week last year. The achievement nudges the program closer to recording eight consecutive months of year-over-year growth among total viewers.

Noah may have had a little help driving ratings. “Noah’s ratings run this week is most likely due in no small part to the problems plaguing Trump,” wrote Variety’s Joe Otterson, referring to the president’s dismissal of the FBI director, ongoing investigations into Russian influence in the presidential election, and other issues.

Indeed, as the pace of news has accelerated under the new administration, The Daily Show has adapted. “Things have definitely sped up,” head writer Zhubin Parang told Vulture’s Jen Chaney in February. “We used to be able to predict what the show would be the afternoon before the day, and now we just can’t ever assume that the show we have planned at 7 p.m. the night before is going to be anything like the show that’s ultimately going to air the next day.”

What Noah and team do ultimately air is unfailingly an incisive examination of the day’s headlines. When news broke early last week, for example, that President Trump disclosed classified information to high-ranking Russian officials on a White House visit, Noah was ready:

“This sounds like a story that we would invent, right?” an astonished Noah asked his audience. “Trump invites the Russians into the Oval Office, and then, in his meeting, starts bragging, ‘I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day.’” Watch the full take below:

The day after that, the Justice Department appointed a special counsel – former FBI chief Robert Mueller – to investigate allegations that Trump campaign aides had colluded with Russia to influence last fall’s presidential election.

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A Celebration of Motherly Love: Ratings Soared for VH1’s Dear Mama Special

For the second year in a row, VH1 celebrated Mother’s Day with Dear Mama: An Event to Honor Moms. Halle Berry, Gladys Knight, Taraji P. Henson and Robin Thicke were among the A-list stars present at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California earlier this month, taking the stage to give thanks to their own moms and mothers everywhere.

With 1.7 million viewers tuning in to watch the amorous ceremony, it seems these stars aren’t alone in their insurmountable love and gratitude for their moms. Dear Mama was also among the top five most-tweeted shows the day it premiered.

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Everyone Loves Dwayne Johnson – and Seven Other Reasons You Must See Baywatch

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

With Memorial Day weekend, summer arrives in the American conscience. And what’s more summer (or more American), than Baywatch, that 242-episode icon that lives in everyone’s collective slow-motion memories of the 1990s?

The last episode wrapped a long time ago, but Paramount is bringing Baywatch back, refreshed and updated for the cinema, next Thursday, May 25:

Long-time fans likely don’t need a lot of incentive to don their red swim trunks and life jackets and get in line outside the theater. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Baywatch, however, here are eight reasons why you should stake out a spot in your favorite beach chair now:

1) Everybody loves Dwayne Johnson

The People’s Champion. The Rock. The Rock Obama. The future U.S. president?

Johnson is so perfectly suited to be so many things that when Paramount released G.I. Joe: Retaliation in 2013, he was the natural pick to star as heavy machine gunner Roadblock, one of the most popular Joes of all time.

And he plays a starring role as Mitch Buchannon, the jetski-riding, bad-guy chasing, refrigerator-carrying man about beach who leads the Baywatch lifeguard team. Who else would dive underneath a raging fire and emerge in the bowels of a burning yacht to save someone? And who doesn’t want to see that?

The answer: no one.

“In an age when it’s cooler to hate things than enjoy them, Johnson has carved out an improbable niche for himself, as someone it’s safe to like,” GQ’s Caty Weaver wrote recently. “Maybe you like him because he’s big and does fast things in slow motion. Maybe you like him because he had one song to sing in the children’s musical he was cast in, and he sang it with his whole heart. Undeniably, he is likable…”

2) Dwayne Johnson love Zac Efron (and so will you)

Johnson, who is People’s reining Sexiest Man Alive, recently endorsed costar Zac Efron – who plays Olympic gold medalist Matt Brody in the film – as a candidate to assume his title next year.

“Do I get a vote? Then yes, absolutely I could see that,” Johnson told People. “I could see one out of five happening, I can’t divulge that right now, but he’s in the top five.”

(L-R) Dwayne Johnson as Mitch Buchannon and Zac Efron as Matt Brody in Baywatch by Paramount Pictures, Montecito Picture Company, FlynnPicture Co., and Fremantle Productions. Photo credit: Frank Masi © 2016 PARAMOUNT PICTURES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

And what’s not to like? While Brody saunters onto the beach as a hotshot international swimming star, he reprises the role of affable dufus that Efron excels at. Buchannon mocks him as “One Direction” and makes him haul tandem refrigerators across the beach to prove himself. But that doesn’t stop Brody from leading monster parties, chasing criminals in “lifeguard pursuit” down the boardwalk, and, you know, leaping off a freaking motorcycle into the ocean.

3) But then again, the Rock loves everyone

The Baywatch beach is big, and there’s a lot of talent filling it up. On the Forces of Good side of the credits, Alexandra Daddario plays Summer Quinn, Kelly Rorhbach reprises the role of C.J. Parker, and Ilfenesh Hadera plays Buchannon’s second-in-command Stephanie Holden. Meanwhile, Priyanka Chopra, a former Miss World and one of the most popular Bollywood celebrities in India, tries out her evil cackling as Victoria Leeds, whose materialization in the Baywatch environs has directly corresponded with an uptick in violence and drug smuggling. The Rock, peering down from his lifeguard chair, nods approvingly at them all:

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