Nick’s Sarah Landy’s Bottom Line: Helping the Under-Served Find Their Way in Higher Education

Stuart Winchester by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Sarah Landy has had a pretty great career so far.

Straight out of Skidmore College, she interned and assisted at Nickelodeon during the nascent days of the now-iconic Blues Clues, Several divisions and promotions later, she is vice president of preschool production and development, regularly flying out to collaborate with Nick’s animation teams in LA and partnering with production companies in Toronto, Vancouver and Dublin. The smash hit Blaze and the Monster Machines and the upcoming animated Butterbean’s Café are two shows she oversees as executive in charge.

As with any successful career, however, it began somewhere. And Landy traces that somewhere back to a network of counselors, relatives and mentors who supported her from a young age. Her parents set a life framework that all but guaranteed she would attend college. A sequence of advisors led her to choose Skidmore through an immersive college application and selection process. A college professor connected her with Dr. Alice Wilder, one of the head researchers behind Blues Clues and the person who helped Landy score her first internship.

Landy, left, with Alice Wilder, one of the head researchers behind Nickelodeon's hit show, Blues Clues.

Landy, left, with Alice Wilder, one of the head researchers behind Nickelodeon’s hit show, “Blues Clues.” Photo courtesy of Sarah Landy.

“I realize I had a lot of help along the way identifying what would be a good fit, guiding me through the application process, encouraging me to go visit – and I can’t imagine my life without it,” Landy recalls.

Unfortunately, not everyone receives such robust support. So when Bottom Line, an organization that helps low-income first-generation students get into and graduate from college, arrived in New York City from Boston five years ago, Landy knew immediately that she had found her cause.

“I have a passion for students and equal opportunity, and it felt like a really good match,” she said.

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What Kills More Americans Than Car Crashes or Guns? LISTEN for the Answer

Our nation is, without a doubt, in the midst of an addiction epidemic.

Nearly 21 million Americans are addicted to drugs or alcohol, making substance abuse as common as diabetes, and more prevalent than cancer. Drug overdoses killed more people in 2013 than car accidents and guns, and an alarming 1 in 7 people in the U.S. are now expected to develop a substance use disorder at some point in their lives.

So how do we turn the tide against this crisis?

It starts with getting rid of people’s long-held misconceptions. For many, that means removing the shame synonymous with substance abuse.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, who today released the first-ever Surgeon General report on alcohol, drugs, and health, sums up the challenge this way: “We need to change the way we see addiction – not as a moral failing but as a chronic illness that we should approach with the same determination as we do diabetes, hearth disease, and cancer.”

This issue has touched the lives of tens of millions of Americans across the country. It’s the impetus behind MTV’s powerful documentary on opioid addiction, Prescription For Change: Ending America’s Opioid Crisis.

And it’s why Viacom announced yesterday the launch of “LISTEN” an awareness campaign in partnership with non-profit Facing Addiction to break down the stigma of addiction, promote resources to help those struggling with substance use, and encourage people to approach America’s addiction crisis with empathy, not condemnation. As informed citizens, actively listening to others impacted by this disease is the first step toward progress.

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BET Leads With 5 of 10 Viacom Execs Named to Cablefax’s Most Powerful Women in Cable List

Stuart Winchester by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

“You have women in these pages who have made it their mission to lift others up,” wrote Cablefax editor Amy Maclean in their November issue, which was dedicated to the most powerful women in cable. “Women who are pioneering technological innovation. Women who are shrewd negotiators. Women who are speaking up in boardrooms. Who knows… maybe one of the Most powerful Women in Cable will someday be elected to the most powerful office in the land.”

We are proud to note that 10 of those women – and three of the top 50 – work for Viacom. That half of these get-things-done executives come from BET, including CEO Debra Lee, is unsurprising, given that network’s reputation for recruiting women to direct some of its most important programs. Earlier this week, Essence wrote a salute to the outsized impact that black women show runners – including Being Mary Jane’s Erica Shelton Kodish – were having on the television landscape.

BET is hardly alone in celebrating women. CMT, whose senior vice president of operations, Suzanne Norman, made the list, recently launched its annual Next Women of Country to showcase the best new talent in a genre that remains male-dominated. Viacom hosts a resource group open to all employees that is committed to championing women’s interests, and the company regularly partners with organizations such as Safe Horizon and Joyful Heart Foundation that assist women in need and promote women’s rights.

Underscoring the diversity that powers Viacom, many of these women also appeared on Cablefax’s recent list of top minority executives: Lee, BET CMO and marketing executive vice president Vicky Free, and BET programming executive vice president Zola Mashariki. Two other BET executives – Maureen Guthman and Connie Orlando – made the adjacent “Influentials” list.

We congratulate these dedicated women and thank them for their tremendous contributions to Viacom’s ongoing success. Click through below to see why Cablefax chose each of these individuals as industry standouts.

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Viacom Ad Sales’ Greg Cantwell Leads the Stocking Stuffing Assembly Line for Manhattan’s Homeless

Stuart Winchester by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Eleven years ago, Greg Cantwell had an idea.

It was Christmastime. Complaints rained around him, about the commercialization of Christmas, about the excess of presents.

So he asked himself, would anyone really care if he spent half as much on presents and put the other half toward something a little more worthy?

“I couldn’t think of anyone in my life who would care, so I thought, why not just do it?”

But where to put the resources? That wasn’t so hard, as it turned out. He’d been in New York a long time. He knew how difficult conditions were for homeless people, especially around the holidays.

So he and two friends met at his apartment, and they assembled a couple dozen Christmas stockings. They stuffed them with a toothbrush, toothpaste, socks, cookies, gum, candy canes, a McDonald’s gift certificate, a five dollar bill.

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Cantwell, right, stuffing an enormous pile of stockings at his Brooklyn apartment with fellow Operation Santa Claus volunteers Carlos Gonzalez and Viacom employee Judi Sadon. Photo courtesy of Operation Santa Claus

Then they threaded their way through Manhattan’s East Village and handed the parcels out to the homeless. They hit Tomkins Square Park and Washington Square Park and Avenue A and anyplace else where they could find someone who could use a little extra.

“We were astonished, the reaction we got from people,” Cantwell, a client planning director for Viacom Ad Sales, recalls. “They were just not expecting it.”

Operation Santa Claus was born.

Cantwell has repeated the effort each year since, generally on the weekend before Christmas. Planning starts a minimum of two months in advance, with a Go Fund Me page and an email blast and social media posts.

As donations accumulate, Cantwell and “Chief Elf” Luisa Alves, who works in Spike’s inventory team, coordinate to determine how many stockings they can afford and what will go in each. A mammoth trip to Costco follows. They fill four or five shopping carts. Cantwell orders the gift cards in bulk from McDonald’s.

On the designated day, Cantwell invites everyone out to his Williamsburg home for a sangria party. A mammoth assembly line snakes through his two-bedroom apartment. Dozens of volunteers drop up to 50 items in each stocking. In 2015, they assembled 250. The goal for 2016 is 300.

It’s a novel project, a flourish of goodwill and selflessness that pushes back against the relentless commercial tide of the holiday season. People have noticed. A few years ago, NBC local news in New York featured Cantwell and Operation Santa Claus in a segment:

Each year, the event grows larger. Each year, Cantwell rouses the volunteers with a speech just before they disperse across the city.

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We All Laugh the Same: Viacom Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month With Latinx Comedy Panel

Growing up, sitcoms were my main hub of comedy. I would watch shows like Everybody Loves Raymond with my Korean-American parents, who were trying to entertain themselves while expanding their English skills.

When I started working as a Viacom intern in the spring of 2016, I was exposed to a different type of comedy – political satire in the form of a mock newsroom. I had the opportunity to watch a live taping of The Daily Show With Trevor Noah. This experience taught me how diverse comedy could be. Noah is mixed-race and born in South Africa, yet he’s hosting a satirical talk show on a major cable network about American politics.

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Paramount Invites Local Schoolchildren for Halloween Screening of Charlotte’s Web

Stuart Winchester by Stuart Winchester, Viacom
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Each year, Paramount hosts a Halloween screening of its classic, Charlotte’s Web, for pajama-clad local schoolkids. This year, 1,500 children journeyed from the Santa Monica Blvd Community Charter School and the Van Ness Blend Elementary School to watch the film at the Paramount Theatre.

Paramount has actually distributed two versions of Charlotte’s Web over the decades: the first a fully animated 1973 film; the second a live-action 2006 version produced in part by Nickelodeon Movies. Take a journey back with the trailers below.

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Scarlett Johansson Soars in First Trailer for Paramount’s Ghost in the Shell

Stuart Winchester by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Scarlett Johansson comes tearing from the mid-21st century fantasia of a thrumming Japanese megalopolis in this film adaption of the highly regarded Ghost in the Shell anime franchise. Amid this frantic shadowy world of towering buildings and physics-defying tech laboratories, she roars as the pistol-wielding Major, the cyborg leader of the elite Section 9 task force, as she infiltrates criminal dens and tries to decode the mystery of her own identiy out of the pedestrian world around her.

The trailer above is the first for the film, which Paramount will release on March 31, 2017. The Rupert Sanders-directed thriller also stars Pilou Asbaek, Takeshi Kitano, Juliette Binoche and Michael Pitt.

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Nick’s Strong Programming Run Grows Deep Roots With Albert

Stuart Winchester by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Nick keeps rolling with its original movies this fall, first with the new Legends of the Hidden Temple dropping on Thanksgiving weekend, and now with Albert, which will feature the voices of Saturday Night Live’s Bobby Moynihan, Sasheer Zamata and Cheri Oteri:

The adventurous anthropomorphic  pine tree  bounces into towering forests, stows away in the back of a highway-charging truck, and even hitches a ride on a helicopter as  his rollicking band of fellow flora take on an unlikely gang of snowbound cactii.

Nick has been steamrolling along lately, spending five consecutive quarters as the top net for kids 2-11 and 2-5 behind hit shows such as The Loud House (which was renewed for a third season before the second even aired), Henry Danger and Blaze and the Monster MachinesThe network owns 12 of the top 20 shows on cable for the same demos, and recently announced that a 30th anniversary special commemorating its much-loved Double Dare will air later this month.

Albert will air Friday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m. ET.

“That’s What American Music Is All About” – Obama, BET Host Celebrity-Fueled White House Celebration

Stuart Winchester by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

BET loves President Obama. It’s not hard to see why. For eight years, the president has worked deliberately to help those who had long been overlooked, overseeing the legalization of same-sex marriage, overall economic expansion, the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba, and more.

To emphasize the point, the net recently put together this list of seven things they most appreciate about the soon-to-be-former president’s work:

The president has taken time to speak directly to BET viewers, most memorably in the wake of the killing of Michael Brown and other unarmed black men by police across the country, when he sat down with BET News’ Jeff Johnson to discuss the importance of peaceful protest to the health and evolution of our nation. Click the image below to watch the full interview:

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As much as Obama has driven change in national policy and added gravity to essential conversations on race and justice, he has also committed considerable energy to emphasizing the importance that sports and the arts play in American culture. Never has his dedication to the musical arts been more apparent than with BET’s farewell flourish to the president, BET Presents Love & Happiness: An Obama Celebration, which will air on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 9 p.m. ET.

The event, which the network hosted at the White House in October, features performances by Usher, Common, Janelle Monae, Leslie Odom Jr., The Roots, De La Soul, Jill Scott, Yolanda Adams, Bell Biv DeVoe, Michelle Williams and Kiki Sheard. Samuel L. Jackson, Angela Bassett, Bradley Cooper and Jesse Williams attended, reminiscing about Obama’s legacy.

Obama, whose reputation for comedic timing is legendary, seized a moment to re-dub the event “Barack Obama’s Block Party”:

Obama’s Block Party from Viacom on Vimeo.

This is one of a series of musical evenings the Obamas have hosted over their eight years in the White House, which have featured performers as diverse as Bob Dylan and Jennifer Hudson, carrying on a tradition of performance that stretches back to the administration of John Adams in 1801. Obama underscored the importance of elevating the country’s rich musical heritage to such a prominent stage in the nation’s capital.

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Introducing 2016 Viacom Employee Halloween Costume Contest Winner Allison Rube…Madonna at the 1984 VMAs

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Congratulations to Allison Rube (aka Madonna), on winning Viacom’s 2016 Employee Halloween Costume Contest.

Rube channeled the Queen of Pop’s iconic 1984 MTV VMA red carpet style with an all-white ensemble. Rube is a huge Madonna fan, and labored over finding each part of her costume—from the rocker-chic wedding dress to the white gloves and nameplate belt.

 

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Allison Rube may not have won a Moonman, but she’s the winner of Viacom’s 2016 Employee Halloween Costume Contest for her version of Madonna’s 1984 VMA ensemble.

We caught up with the winner to discuss her retro look.

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