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Kick-Off Party Celebrates Rare Collaboration

November 4, 2002

By Carol S. Rugh

More than 100 members of the New York Chapters of the Media Communications Association-International (MCA-I) and the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) joined forces on September 23 to launch their 2002-2003 membership drives and programs. It was the first time the two groups had come together to network and discuss their roles in media production.

Lee, Joe, and Emma

Event producer Lee Spinelli, TV broadcaster and our host for the evening, Joe Franklin, and NY chapter president Emma Justice.

Event organizers Lee Spinelli and Emma Justice from MCA-I and Greg Kimmelman, Bob Shewchuck, and Bill Hanauer from NYNATAS spent months planning the evening’s activities, which took place at Joe Franklin’s Memory Lane Restaurant. Among the attendees were Maury Povich, noted television host and president of the New York NATAS chapter, and Joe Franklin, talk show icon and restaurateur, who is soon to be inducted into the NATAS Silver Circle, which honors outstanding lifetime achievement in broadcasting.

When asked about his upcoming award, Joe Franklin was quick to put it in perspective. “I’m celebrating 50 years in TV and radio. I’ve turned down every sort of lifetime achievement award because they sound so final. I still consider myself a work in progress, but I’m excited to be part of the Silver Circle.”

Mr. Povich welcomed the opportunity to speak to both groups as he joked with the crowd, “I’ve been fired a lot in this business and I know how beneficial the cross-pollination between broadcast and non-broadcast can be.” He invited everyone to make the most of the evening to share ideas. “We can learn so much from each other from a corporate, production, technical, or creative viewpoint. I’ve always believed the best ideas come from outside traditional television and MCA-I represents that in so many ways.”

Greg and Maury

Greg Kimmelman, NATAS Membership Chair, and Maury Povich, TV talk show host and president of NATAS, enjoy the networking hour.

Emma Justice, past president of MCA-I NY and the current director of development for the organization, stepped in for current president Corinna Sager who was on location in Italy. In her remarks, Emma described the evolution of ITVA into MCA-I. She noted that the membership of ITVA had gradually transitioned from corporate television into a wide variety of communications media including live events, streaming media on the Web, animation, graphic design, and print. “Media Communications Association-International is more representative of our unique mix. Tonight our organizations have much they can learn from each other.”

The Power of Networking

Members of both organizations took advantage of the opportunity to make new acquaintances and renew longtime contacts.

Pam Rutherford, a member of the Northern New Jersey chapter of MCA-I says she is a firm believer in promoting inter-chapter and inter-organization relations. “When we changed our organization’s name to MCA-I, it opened the umbrella for expanding into other media. I can see where we’re definitely going to benefit from that. Tonight’s event is a good example of how we can promote new friendships and do more business.”

Paul Noble, a member of NATAS for 20 years and the current chairman of public relations for the group agreed. “A meeting like this is 1 + 1 = 3. This type of event makes for the best type of networking.”

MCA-I member director Michael Huss echoed the evening’s sentiments, “We tend to become too insular by seeing the same people. Every opportunity we have to expand the circle of acquaintances is valuable. I’m looking forward to upcoming programs where producers, directors and writers share moments that have made their productions special.”


The Decibelles provided lively entertainment.

Promoting Member Programs Sign-up tables for both organizations welcomed new and returning members withinformation about upcoming events.

MCA-I’s year-long series of programs offers business and production information on a wide variety of topics. “These seminars provide our members with professional and instructional information they can use to get more business, make their productions better and deliver more persuasive presentations,” noted Gary Kahn, NY MCA-I Program Chairperson. Topics for the year include the use of music to build an emotional connection in a production, several business-related themes on successful business planning, and technical programs on editing, the Internet, special effects and more. For a complete schedule of MCA-I events, see sidebar.

MCA-I members could also see the variety of programs NATAS makes available to its members. Bill Hanauer, Executive Director of NYNATAS, invited everyone present to check into the depth of activities available.” We do more than the Emmys. The Emmy is our brand. Everyone recognizes the Emmy without necessarily understanding what it represents. It stands for what we do every single day to encourage better television. You are the future of better television. I invite you to become part of all that.” A complete calendar of NATAS events is available at

Entertainment Rounding out the evening’s activities were numerous raffle drawings and a performance by Donna Coney Island’s four-part female a cappella group, The Decibelles. Donna, an MCA-I member, led the quartet in a medley of songs that crossed several musical eras from Big Band and Doo Wop to more recent ballads.

MCA-I member Carl Levine summed up the evening’s appeal. “This gathering was a golden opportunity to see the continuing evolution of the TV industry. The talent pool in New York present here tonight is what makes it possible.”

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Carol Rugh is a freelance writer from Monroe, CT, with over 25 years of experience in all aspects of corporate communications. She can be reached at

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