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SMC makes video through eyes of Kelly Ripa

Annie Basinski | Friday, September 19, 2003

Though she may not have graduated from Saint Mary’s, television personality Kelly Ripa will portray a prospective student for the College in a public relations video. Saint Mary’s Public Relations Department hopes the video spoof will be aired on ABC’s daily talk show LIVE With Regis and Kelly. Last June, Saint Mary’s Director of Development Kay Ball met talk show host Regis Philbin, a Notre Dame alumnus and contributor to the University, during Reunion Weekend. Ball obtained Philbin’s address and later sent two Saint Mary’s T-shirts to the LIVE set – one for Philbin, another for Ripa. In mid-July, on a taping of LIVE, Philbin showed the shirts to the camera and audience. Philbin’s shirt read, “Where the heck is Notre Dame?” on the front and answered, “Across the Street from Saint Mary’s College” on the back. Ripa’s shirt read, “Saint Mary’s: Not a Girls’ School Without Men, a Women’s College Without Boys.” The studio audience cheered and applauded as Philbin held up the shirts. Ball chose the shirts because of their entertaining sayings. “They’re good conversation starters,” she said.The shirts, consequently, started a dialogue between Philbin and Ripa that constituted of Philbin telling Ripa, who never attended college, that she should apply to Saint Mary’s. The co-hosts chatted about the topic for several minutes and Philbin insisted that Ripa would love the College. During subsequent shows, Philbin referred to Saint Mary’s again and started a vocabulary “Word of the Day” list for Ripa so that she could begin studying for the SATs.Following the airing of the show, Saint Mary’s director of Public Relations Melanie McDonald said, “You can’t find publicity like that. [The Public Relations Department staff] decided that we were going to find a way to ride this wave.” The department came up with the idea to produce a mock campus tour video from the perspective of Ripa. The taping of the video began yesterday. Saint Mary’s class of 2003 graduate, Erin Schultz, a Theatre and Communications major currently living in Chicago, acted as “campus tour guide” for the video.The tongue-in-cheek production begins with Schultz pretending to meet Ripa at the Admissions Office in LeMans Hall. The camera serves as “Ripa’s” eyes as the tour ensues. The tour proceeds to a Regina residence hall room.”Around here, we like to call it Reege Hall,” in honor of Philbin, Schultz said, winking. Twenty Saint Mary’s students gathered in Moreau’s Little Theater to participate as extras in the film. The women, all wearing Saint Mary’s T-shirts, sat in the audience as Mark Abram-Copenhaver, an assistant theatre professor, pretended to lecture on acting techniques. Pointing to a TV monitor with a clip of Ripa acting on ABC sitcom Hope and Faith, Abram-Copenhaver said, “If you can master this same technique [used by Ripa], you can aspire to being a star,” as the extras frantically took notes.The extras also participated in a scene inside a classroom in Madeleva Hall. The filming ended with Schultz telling Ripa not to be worried about being a celebrity on campus because the students and faculty will not treat her differently and she will get a “real” college experience. Ironically, the next scene cuts to a door opening, revealing a red carpet and a crowd of students flashing cameras and holding bouquets of flowers.Andrea Rogers, from Grass Roots Media, a local video production company, volunteered to tape the scenes after being contacted by McDonald. She said she hopes the video will be edited and put together by the end of next week. The video will then be sent to LIVE, where it may or may not be shown on air in a future taping. The ultimate goal of the project is to get Philbin and Ripa to come to campus and conduct some sort of “academic showdown.” “Of course, there is always value in having a celebrity connection. We hope [getting Ripa involved with the College] gives Saint Mary’s a little bit of a ‘hipness’ factor,” McDonald said.