Originally created 08/11/05

Professor hopes book is helpful to his students

The day Steve Clements graduated from Brooklyn College in 1965, he asked his instructor what to do next.

"I went to my professor and said, 'OK, I've done it, now how do I get started? What do I do?'"

His professor said, "'Oh come on, Steve. You know that's up to you,'" said the Cree-Walker Distinguished Professor of Communications at Augusta State University.

Stunned by the lack of guidance, Dr. Clements said, he decided to find his own way and came across a book by Bob Shanks, who has written about writing for TV, that helped him launch a successful career in Hollywood. Dr. Clements' career has spanned television as a writer and a producer of more than 3,000 shows. Now the professor said he wants to help other people.

"That book taught me more than any class I ever took," he said, "and I decided it was my turn to teach the next generation."

Dr. Clements, who heads the TV-Cinema track and is the director of the Monday Night Film Series at Augusta State, recently published Show Runner: Producing Variety and Talk Shows for Television.

"After all this learning, a lot of my peers were driving cabs, doing jobs that had nothing to do with what they'd learned." he said. "Why was it not the responsibility of my college to show me how to get there as well as giving me the info I need to do the job well?

"Show Runner takes what I teach and gives it access to the future TV producers all over the country, and all over the world. It also addresses how, with all the lures of trying to become more and more successful, how I found my morality, my ethics, what I could and couldn't live with.

"The reality is, you can say I'm going to be a TV producer, but how to do it so you're working, what to do - this book demonstrates how. Also, it's fun because it's my autobiography, too. It's fun to have other people kind of live my life along with me by reading it."

Show Runner, which refers to the person who runs the show, shares Dr. Clements' struggles, highs and lows, chronicling what he calls three professional lives.

The first life talks about his first 10 years in the business, during which the Brooklyn, N.Y., native taught high school full time, taught at two colleges part time, earned his master's degree in theater direction and began working on his doctorate in educational theater.

While doing all this, he had a radio celebrity interview talk show, performed stand-up at nightclubs, worked off-Broadway doing theater, and appeared in soap operas and commercials.

"My day went from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m.," said Dr. Clements, who lives in Atlanta with his wife, Claudia, who helped edit the book. "I've always been driven. And that hasn't changed. I've had a lot of lifetimes."

The book also chronicles his second life, which was 25 years of going from California, back to New York, then to Florida, producing and writing for TV shows including Welcome Back, Kotter; Three's Company; The Dinah Shore Show; Hour Magazine; and Disney's The Mickey Mouse Club. (On the Disney program, he was the supervisor, producer and principal of the on-set school and managed a budget of $1 million per week.)

When Dr. Clements noticed the people getting the jobs he wanted were 30 years younger, it was time for his third life, he said, which led him to his job at Augusta State in 1999.

Dr. Clements gives detailed accounts of his experiences because he wants people interested in this profession to understand that they must learn much more than the theory.

"When it comes to TV and cinema, you've got to know your history, the technical aspects, how to write - and once you have all those, you have to know how to get the first job, where to look, how to present yourself and the materials necessary to succeed," he said. "Otherwise, I feel we (teachers) haven't served our students."

Dr. Clements said his goal with the book is simple.

"I want people to say I learned something and I had fun learning it," he said. "And that's also my goal as a professor. I hope my students did because I had fun teaching it. That's always been my life."


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