Category Archives: News Featured

Sad news to report…
World-renowned radio personality Charlie Tuna has died.

One of the most influential voices in radio and television, Charlie grew up as Art Ferguson in Kearney, Nebraska before becoming a radio legend.

He guested at the NCC Salon in April 2008, where he regaled us with stories of his long career in showbiz, from playing records at the school dances in Kearney to becoming one of the biggest stars in morning radio, an announcer for game shows, and getting his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was an inspirational guest, a great Nebraskan, and we will miss him.

Check out his LA Times obituary…and Charlie’s own website to leave a memorial message.  RIP, Charlie!

Carson pic

$20 million gift will establish Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts at UNL

Lincoln, Neb., Nov. 6, 2015 – Those who want an education at the vanguard of new forms of filmmaking and emerging media – including virtual production, interactive and mobile media, film special effects, augmented and virtual reality, game design and more – will one day get the chance to study at the new Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The university on Friday announced a $20 million gift from the Johnny Carson Foundation, the charitable arm of the late entertainment icon and University of Nebraska alumnus Johnny Carson, to help create an academic program and facility focused on interdisciplinary learning, creativity and research in emerging media. Pending approval by the NU Board of Regents, the program will be led by the university’s Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film within the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts to provide a specialized emphasis in digital virtual production and design.

UNL and the University of Nebraska Foundation announced the gift during a celebration at the former Nebraska Bookstore building at 1300 Q St., which was purchased by the university in June. About 31,400 square feet of the 55,000-square-foot building will be renovated to be the center’s headquarters.

“Johnny Carson was an innovator of television, which was certainly the emerging media of his era,” said Allan Alexander, president and a director of the Johnny Carson Foundation. “Because of this and his legacy at Nebraska, we are especially pleased to support the education endeavors of many future generations who wish to follow in his footsteps as media innovators.”

Jeff Sotzing, an advisor to the Carson Foundation’s board of directors and Johnny Carson’s nephew, said, “This gift and what it seeks to build upon within higher education will absolutely make a difference in how students today and in the future learn about media and how they master modern trends and advances.”

UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman said the university is extremely grateful to the Johnny Carson Foundation for its on-going commitment to the lasting legacy of Johnny Carson on its campus.

“This generous investment will once again have an enormous impact on our students,” Perlman said. “Johnny Carson’s education at Nebraska prepared him to succeed in an era of change, and this gift ensures the university is able to prepare many future generations of students for careers in the ever-changing arena of media arts.”

Charles O’Connor, the Hixson-Lied Endowed Dean of the Hixson–Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts, said the gift helps the university build on the success of the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film and creates new opportunities for students to expand their knowledge of today’s emerging media art forms that are positioned at the intersection of film, design, computational technologies and commerce.

“This generous support will help the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film reach its goal of increasing access for students wanting to study film and emerging media while building a new program of real regional and national distinction,” O’Connor said. “The Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts is a vision that is unique, innovative and achievable. It will increase the working power of our graduates and their ability to contribute to the growing tech sector in Lincoln and Nebraska. It represents a long-term, strategic partnership between the Johnny Carson Foundation and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, establishing a signature legacy in the name of one of UNL’s most distinguished graduates.”

Graduates who complete coursework in the new program will be especially prepared with media arts skills that can be used in various professions, including filmmaking, game design, television production, theater, advertising, social media, business, architecture, science, education and agriculture, among others.

The university’s plan for the center includes hiring a director, offering new courses and curriculum, and officially opening the Johnny Carson Center in 2018. Plans also call for increased student enrollment.

The $20 million gift is directed for renovation and development of the center’s physical space and a permanent endowment at the NU Foundation to provide annual support for the Johnny Carson Center’s programs and future capital needs. The center will include design and editing labs, scoring and recording studios, video and audio editing rooms, classrooms, sound stage, faculty and staff offices and more.

The Johnny Carson Center will engage partners from across campus, other universities and the private and public sectors through an advanced development studio, emerging media arts symposium, master classes, internships and more.

NU Foundation President and CEO Brian Hastings said the university once again celebrates a long and generous history of support from Carson, the longtime “Tonight Show” host who grew up in Norfolk and who graduated from the university in 1949.

“Through the years, Johnny Carson and his charitable foundation have made incredible philanthropic investments that have bolstered the university’s education in key areas of theater, film, broadcasting and emerging media, truly increasing our strength in these areas,” Hastings said. “We cannot thank the Carson Foundation’s representatives enough for their care and vision.”

In 1978, Carson established the Johnny Carson Scholarship, a permanently endowed fund to provide awards to Nebraska high school graduates. He made a gift in 1988 to support the construction of the Lied Center for Performing Arts, and the black box theater adjoining the main stage was named the Johnny Carson Theater in his honor.

In 2004, Carson gave $5.3 million to support theater and film programs at the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts and to renovate and expand the university’s Temple Building, home to the theater program and where Carson studied.

After Carson’s 2005 death, the university received a $5 million gift from his estate to create an endowment to support programs in theater, film and broadcasting. The university’s theater arts department was renamed the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film.

The Johnny Carson Foundation has given $2.25 million since 2011 in support of the Johnny Carson Opportunity Scholarship Fund, a permanently endowed fund that provides annual scholarship assistance to students from Nebraska who study in the Carson School. In 2013, the foundation made a gift of nearly $600,000 for renovation of the Johnny Carson Theater.

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A Positive Social Network
Inspire. Encourage. Learn. Educate.
Many disabilities and diseases create daily battles that are fought by many people all over the world. Social media networks have created the ability to connect with others in a whole new way, however, while there has been continuous progression of mobile communication, social networking is currently missing the ability for these true heroes and models of inspiration who are dealing with a daily battle to stand out and show their journey to the world, until now…

Award-winning indie filmmaker (“Omaha (the movie)”, “Between Us”), Slamdance co-founder and Omaha-native Dan Mirvish is looking for a summer intern and most likely a fall one, too.  He’ll be doing a big PR push tied to a Kickstarter campaign for new, high-profile film. He’s looking for (unpaid) interns who can help with the social media side of the campaign, publicity, plus ideally some editing (and some shooting) additional media content as well as helping with general prepreproduction (setting up the LLC, filing forms, etc), organizing, and also early casting process. It’ll be fun, and with Dan, they’ll definitely learn a ton.  Ideal candidates should have some background/aptitude in producing, but also editing and some shooting.  We’ll be working out of Culver City. Email

THE READER: Nebraska’s Hollywood Connection

The ReaderDreamers from Nebraska, as from everywhere else, have flocked to Hollywood since the motion picture industrys start. Softening the harsh realities of making it in Tinsel Towns dog-eat-dog world, where who you know is often more vital than what you know, is the mission behind the Nebraska Coast Connection. This networking alliance of natives already established in Hollywood or aspiring to be is the brainchild of Todd Nelson, a Holdrege son who’s been in Hollywood since 1984. A former Disney executive, his company Braska Films produces international promos for CBS… Click here to read the full article in The Reader.

LA TIMES: Alexander Payne’s ‘Nebraska’ shows state’s deep roots in Hollywood

By Richard Verrier
November 20, 2013, 5:30 a.m.

Director Alexander Payne was greeted like a hometown hero Saturday night — more than 1,500 miles from his native Omaha.

Nearly 300 actors, writers, producers, crew members and students crammed into the Sherry Lansing Theatre on the Paramount Studios lot for a Q&A and screening of Payne’s newly released “Nebraska.”

The Oscar-winning writer and director of “The Descendants,”“Sideways” and “Election” was the guest speaker at the event, organized by the Nebraska Coast Connection, an unusual support group of Nebraskans who work in the film and TV industry.

The black-and-white film, with its depiction of small-town life in the Cornhusker State, is a point of pride for the group, which includes more than 1,000 people. In the movie, Bruce Dern plays an aging and acerbic man who travels across the Midwest with his son to claim a million-dollar sweepstakes prize.

“This movie has such a resonance for us because so many of us grew up in small towns,” said Todd Nelson, the group’s founder and a freelance television producer for CBS. “I’m so proud that [Payne] has introduced Nebraska to the world in a way that isn’t just football and Bruce Springsteen,” who made a best-selling album named after the state.

Billing itself as the “Nebraska mafia of Hollywood,” the Nebraska Coast Connection hosts monthly panel discussions with prominent Nebraskans, who come to talk about their work and offer advice to aspiring writers, directors and actors.

The meetings are typically held at the historic Culver Hotel in the old offices of Culver City founder Harry Culver — born in Milford, Neb.

The state’s roots in Hollywood run deep.

“We have Harold Lloyd, Montgomery Cliff, Marlon Brando, Fred Astaire, Henry Fonda, Dick Cavett — we’re a proud bunch,” Payne said.

Payne has been a longtime supporter of the Connection, coaxing cast and crew members from his films to be guest speakers and help Nebraska newcomers find careers and make contacts.

“I’m sure other states have some organizations, but I bet none of them are as large and well organized as the Nebraska Coast Connection,” Payne said. “It feels like being home.”

Nelson, a University of Nebraska graduate, launched the first Hollywood salon in 1995 with the help of the University of Nebraska Foundation, initially as a way to help his fellow home-staters network.

“Every job I had I would meet other Nebraskans, and none of them knew each other,” said Nelson, whose company Braska Films makes promos for CBS Studios International. “I thought if we could just band together, there must be 20 or 30 of us. Our first event, we had 200 people.”

The group’s network includes such high-profile figures as Marg Helgenberger, star of CBS’ “CSI” and “Intelligence”; Nick D’Agosto of Showtime’s “Masters of Sex”; Tim Schlattmann, writer and producer of Showtime’s “Dexter”; and Jon Bokenkamp, writer and creator of NBC’s “The Blacklist.”

Bokenkamp, who was a guest of the group last month, said the Nebraska Coast Connection gave an early boost to his career. He was fresh out of film school at USC and parking cars for a living when he met Nelson at one of the group’s events. The two hailed from the small city of Kearney, Neb., and quickly became friends.

Nelson encouraged Bokenkamp to enter a screenwriting contest, which he won, launching his career.

“That would have never happened had I not bumped into Todd and got to know him through this group,” Bokenkamp said. “It’s people from home who get you and understand what it’s like to be in a place like Nebraska, but also what it’s like to leave a place like Nebraska and explore the entertainment industry, which can be a very scary thing.”

Bokenkamp’s fellow Kearney native, Schlattmann, was a guest in fall 2011.

“So much of show business is networking, so when you have a group that has a common bond, it’s fantastic,” Schlattmann said. “I’ve certainly recommended people for casting that I’ve met through Connection and keep people in mind for future projects.”

Original Article at,0,653882.story#axzz2lCXi9Yfl