This year’s Lewis B. O’Donnell Media Summit will explore “Behind the Scenes in Hollywood” in a day full of activities culminating in an all-star panel at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25, in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre.

Panelists will include Jeremy Garelick, writer, director, producer and co-founder of American High; Juliet Giglio, an associate professor of English and creative writing at SUNY Oswego and accomplished screenwriter; Vice President, Account Services and Digital+Production Operations at Paramount Global Aunree Houston, a 2000 SUNY Oswego graduate; and non-fiction television producer Christy Somers, a 2015 SUNY Oswego graduate.

The moderator will be Megan Mazzoccone, a 2007 SUNY Oswego graduate who is the career coach for the university’s School of Communication, Media and the Arts in Career Services as well as a theatre faculty member.

The event is presented by the School of Communications, Media and the Arts, and the panel presentation is free and open to the public.

Katie Karlen, a junior dual major in public relations and psychology, serves as event director of a student planning group, with Kate Salamida as assistant director. The student executive board fills the roles from planning to promotion to connecting with student media organizations in bringing together this day full of education and networking opportunities.

“We are showing students and faculty what happens behind the scenes and offering appreciation for those behind the scenes,” Karlen said. “There are so many roles in Hollywood I think people don’t realize. What we try to underscore in this field is that there are jobs for any major.”

Everything viewers see on a screen would not be possible without screenwriters, producers, set designers, costume designers, makeup artists and many more, and this summit provides some context to all the work that goes into entertainment.

Meet the panelists

Garelick’s notable journey began with a role as a writer on hit comedies such as “The Hangover,” and his directing debut in 2015 with “The Wedding Ringer” landed him a spot on Variety's prestigious “10 Directors to Watch” list. Garelick co-founded American High, a production company dedicated to crafting films that explore the diverse journeys of characters navigating their formative years. Under his leadership, this innovative studio has produced notable works like “Big Time Adolescence,” “Banana Split” and “Looks That Kill.” He was the executive producer for the YouTube Red show “Sideswiped” and directed the highly-viewed Netflix Original comedy “Murder Mystery 2,” starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston.

After selling 17 screenplays in Los Angeles, Giglio moved to upstate New York to teach screenwriting at SUNY Oswego, and has co-written (with her husband Keith) four high-profile Lifetime holiday movies: “A Very Nutty Christmas,” “Christmas Reservations,” “Dear Christmas” and “Reba McEntire’s Christmas in Tune.” Additional screenwriting credits include Disney's “Tarzan” and “Return to Halloween Town” and ABC’s “Noah” and “Pizza My Heart.” She also has written a textbook titled “Proof of Concept: Writing the Short Script”  and two novels with her husband, “The Summer of Christmas” and “The Trouble with Tinsel.” At Oswego, she teaches and mentors the next generation of screenwriters and storytellers.

Houston is a global creative and marketing operations executive and creative director, as well as a New York University-certified life coach. Prior to his current role, Houston was a vice president who led the marketing operations team for HBO’s programming sales division. At HBO, Houston and his team partnered with international broadcasters to produce marketing campaigns, promotional strategies and interactive experiences for HBO’s vibrant brand and award-winning programming including “Game of Thrones,” “Westworld,” “Big Little Lies,” “True Detective” and “Insecure.” He also serves on SUNY Oswego’s University Foundation and the School of Communication, Media and the Arts advisory boards.

With over eight years of experience in the nonfiction television industry, Somers holds multiple production credits across popular entertainment networks such as MTV, TLC, A+E, HGTV, Cooking Channel, Food Network, Travel Channel and more. Jumping from pre-production planning to directing shoots in the field, Somers now works in post-production as a story producer for MTV’s “Help! I’m in a Secret Relationship.” Prior producing roles range from hit shows like Cooking Channel’s “Man v. Food" to popular spin-offs from TLC’s “90 Day Fiancé.” During her time at Oswego, Somers spent a lot of time with student-run television student WTOP-10, serving as general manager her senior year. 

Mazzoccone has worked in the entertainment industry for the past 15 years. As a professional actor, she has been in many regional and national touring theatre productions, as well as film, TV and commercial projects. Some highlights of her work include “Bull” (CBS), “Cocoa” (Amazon Prime), “SHREW!” (world-premiere reading at the Savannah College of Art and Design [SCAD]), “Hamlet” (West End Theater, New York City) and “Sympathy Jones” (original musical cast recording). Mazzoccone also worked as a member of the VIP guest relations team for the Savannah Film Festival and the SCAD Atlanta TV Festival.

Day of activities

The professionals will also speak to classes and offer advice, and a Career Connectors networking event will allow current students to speak with young alumni to learn more about getting into the industry. The latter event will take place from 4:45 to 6 p.m. in Tyler Art Gallery. Karlen emphasizes the importance of these opportunities throughout the day.

It’s more than just a panel,” Karlen said. “It’s about having conversations with alumni who have big roles in the entertainment industry. A lot of people might want to get into these roles, and this is a chance to have a face-to-face conversation with those people behind the scenes.”

Career Connectors expected to take part include:

  • Amanda Ebrahim '16 M'19, account director at Fenton
  • Joshua Holfoth '20, associate producer on the CNBC events team
  • Destiny Lynch '15, an executive team leader in specialty sales at Target
  • Jackie McTigue '19, IATSE production coordinator

Karlen praised the passion of all the students involved in organizing these programs and noted what a big opportunity it is for the university to let them gain this experience with such a large event.

“I love it. I love working with people,” Karlen said. “We have such an amazing team. I love seeing everything come together. Every little thing is an important step. I really find it gratifying.” 

For more information on the Lewis B. O’Donnell Media Summit, or to watch the live stream of the Oct. 25 panel presentation, visit