Q&A with Seth Jarrett and Julie Insogna of Syfy’s School Spirits

Seth Jarrett and Julie Insogna, creators of the series Celebrity Ghost Stories, took part in a conference call to discuss their new Syfy series School Spirits, airing Wednesdays at 10/9c.

Jarrett and Isogna have created original entertaining series for Disney, TNT and now Syfy. Seth began his career as a film and television producer and director at MTV, VH1 and the Oxygen channel. His skills in directing and storytelling led to a full-fledged career with television.

Julie started at a senior talent and music executive at MTV, Lifetime and Oxygen. She had success partnering talent with original television concepts and developing ideas with celebrities and musicians to create memorable scripted and non-scripted programming.

With this series, Seth explained, “The stories are all based on firsthand accounts. They’re all students, faculty or alumni. The story is built around first person storytelling.” They look for “compelling stories that viewers can relate to.” Julie chimed in to explain that they took a “very cinematic approach to the recreations on the show; we wanted them to feel like movies.”

School Spirits is different from other paranormal shows because Seth found people who could corroborate these stories and people who by nature are very skeptical. “It wasn’t good enough to just have someone sit down and tell us a story. They want to believe.” There are historians, professors, news reporters and even police reports to back the stories, making it important to bring as much of this information and multiple voices to tell their stories accurately.

The show also does a lot of interviews; everyone involved does an interview, giving them as much useful information and details as possible to recreate their stories. It takes a fairly good amount of time to put together an episode, Seth factors in “the casting process, finding multiple and reliable voices and good solid stories.” They are not looking for everyday bumps in the night, but true paranormal stories that will send shivers up and down viewers’ spines.

Seth and Julie also look for individuals who are willing to not only share such personal stories, but embrace their experiences and have people who are willing to look further into the unknown. “Not every campus is willing to embrace their experiences, and in some cases the hauntings are really deep-rooted in their own history.” In some cases they needed to bring people in and let them be in their own environment.

There have been so many paranormal shows and so many investigators who claim to have all the answers, of at least some of them. One thing that makes this show interesting is you are looking at things from a student’s perspective or a professor’s prospective, making it still everyday people. These are also people who are learning and skeptical in general as to what they see and how they ask questions.

Seth and Julie’s staff members have some pretty detailed accounts of their own regarding a few paranormal events they have experienced, and Seth and Julie have included some of them on the show. As for himself, Seth doesn’t remember any specific hauntings that happened to him when he went to school in Binghamton, but a few things have happened since then.

There is a list of colleges that Julie and Seth visited and several more that they would like to go to/ Julie suggests NYU in New York, and Seth agrees it would be a good choice. Some of the colleges they have been to already include Ohio University, Michigan State, Drew University in New Jersey and many more.

Seth felt that some of the smaller schools gave off more paranormal energy, including Lebanon Valley College or Sweet Briar, with the latter’s school energy coming from the daughter of the founder of the school of the school. According to Seth, “You can’t get more entrenched in the school history than that.”

The paranormal hauntings are also not all related to tragedies. They may be people who passed from natural causes, or it may just be from a violent death or a suicide. “What is amazing for us is the way people describe their experiences. The feeling of coldness in the air or the feeling of fingers touching their shoulders and being touched by a spirit.” Seth still believes, unfortunately, that many hauntings are related to tragedy.

There is always an eerie feeling Seth and Julie get when they do the interviews. The first episode is set at the University of Michigan, and Seth felt there was a “balance of creepiness and nervousness.” The story is rooted in steep school history. It is a “journey back in time with an interesting resolution.”

Seth and Julie found it to be a great test to find the right age group. Seth discovered that in some cases people were haunted by terrible evil, violent spirits, even though “School is supposed to be the best time of your life.” That is until you find yourself haunted, and not just by mid-term finals.

The oldest story Seth has come across is Genesco which takes place in 1884. He tries to find some of the older witnesses who may have been around when the spirits were human beings just living life, but it is not an easy task. Julie agrees, wanting to find the witnesses who knew the spirits for future episodes.

Seth and Julie found an interesting story at Slippery Rock University and the University of Michigan runs with a fraternity story. They believe they are being haunted there by “a violent spirit, a man who hung himself over 150 years ago, not too far from their fraternity house.”

Seth and Julie are not only looking for reaction from the people telling the stories, want the viewers to feel what these people have gone through. They want to tell good stories with legitimate purpose and well researched information helps.

Julie and Seth agree on the one person who had an impact on them while filming. It was a young man named Chris. His experience lasted for a long period of time. He had an emotional journey and we all felt for him.” Julie felt Chris impacted her on a personal level, yet admits that the stories are all scary and compelling.

Ultimately they are searching for even more honest and compelling, truthful stories. Follow them all on School Spirits, Wednesdays at 10/9c on the Syfy channel.

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What’s Hot on TV Tonight – Arachnoquake

I guess I’ve just always had weird sleep hours. I can remember when I was little waking up so early on the weekends that the Late, Late, Late Movie was still on. This picture of tonight’s Syfy movie, Arachnoquake, reminds me of a movie I remember watching early in the morning when I was young. A guy was somehow shrunk down, leaving him to have to do battle with a house spider. In tonight’s movie, spiders go on a murderous rampage through the Big Easy after being unleashed by an earthquake.

1. Casino. A Las Vegas casino run by the mob. Because of the mob and costars Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci, the movie always reminds me of GoodFellas. Sharon Stone and James Woods star as well. 1:45 PM CT Spike

2. PGA Tour Golf. Third round of Travelers Championship from TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, CT. 2:00 PM CT CBS

3. NASCAR Racing: Nationwide Series. Sargento 200 from Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI. 2:30 PM CT ESPN

4. U.S. Olympic Trials. Men’s 10-meter Diving finals. 3:00 PM CT NBC

5. The Blue Lagoon. This is the cheesiest movie, but it’s definitely a guilty pleasure of mine. I think I’m almost embarrassed to admit to how many times I have seen it. 3:00 PM CT Lifetime Movie Network

6. MLB Baseball. Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago White Sox. 6:00 PM CT Fox

7. U.S. Olympic Trials.Track & Field Finals. 7:00 PM CT NBC

8. How to Be a Gentleman. Andrew asks out a model, and Bert learns past events could have led to his commitment issues. 7:30 PM CT CBS

9. Arachnoquake. Massive earthquakes unleash giant albino spiders. Freed from their ancient subterranean prison, the spiders go on a murderous rampage through New Orleans. Starring Tracey Gold, Bug Hall, Ethan Phillips, and EDward Furlong 8:00 PM CT Syfy

10. Tanked: Unfiltered. A look back at the thanks built for an orthodontist’s office and an appliance store. 8:00 PM CT Animal Planet

11. Jack and Jill. Adam Sandler plays adult twins, male and female, getting together for their annual Thanksgiving visit. Katie Holmes, Al Pacino, Allen Covert, and Nick Swardson also star. 8:00 PM CT Starz

12. 48 Hours Mystery. A serial killer in Long Island is involved in a major break in a case. 9:00 PM CT CBS

13. The Firm. Mitch defends JOey’s best buddy in order to settle the score between the McDeeres and Moroltos, and Abby realizes something about herself. 9:00 PM CT NBC

14. Hooters International Swimsuit Pageant 2012. 9:00 PM CT FX

15. Dog the Bounty Hunter. Dog deals with problems from within his team as he follows person who was at one time law abiding. 9:00 PM CT A&E


Q&A with Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva guest star Patty Duke

Lifetime’s critically acclaimed hit series, Drop Dead Diva, is back for a fourth season on Sundays at 9/8c. The legendary Patty Duke (The Patty Duke Show, Valley of the Dolls),, part of the industry since 1958, guest stars on the series as Rita Curtis. She took part in a recentQ&A to discuss her character and what it is like to be Patty Duke. She is happy to be a part of the series because “It’s so much fun, and I discovered new things about the role as we went along.

Patty enjoyed the cast, and after fifty five years of working in this industry, she enjoyed the camaraderie on the set. There was not one person onset who was not gracious and kind.” She found star Brooke Elliott to have a great sense of humor. Patty had a blast on the set and really enjoyed working with her. “She’s brilliant and very loving, honest to God. I was just thrilled to have the opportunity to work with these people.”

Patty’s favorite moment working on the set involved even involved Brooke. “Oddly enough, it was the scene where Brooke has to go through pages and pages of lawyer stuff, and I felt that I was being transported by this creature who could not only remember all the words, but deliver them with such energy and intelligence.”

Patty enjoyed the role mainly for the comedic purposes. “Laughter is crucial to me.” That was one of the main reasons she accepted the role of Rita. She loves dramatic roles, but finds “comedy much harder than drama, but I’ll do both.” She is incredibly versatile and thrives off the energy of others. She also realized there is quite a bit of her character Rita in her.

A role that Patty still wants to conquer is Mary Lincoln, “The timing is perfect. I am now a year away and getting ready for the process to play Mrs. Abraham Lincoln. First we’ll play it in the museum in Illinois, and then at the Ford Theater.” She has missed her chance to play Mary Lincoln in the past and will not let the role slip away this time around.

Patty has done so much in her career with film and television and would love to be a part of the television show, Big Bang Theory. “I would feel that I’d died and went to heaven if I could get the part of Memaw on the Big Bang Theory.” Patty’s work with Richard Crenna has been some of her favorite work. “His work ethic, his sense of humor and grace … he’s gone seven years now but I still think of him and miss him.”

If you are looking for acting advice, Patty is certainly an amazing candidate to pass that along. “We have to be realistic; you should definitely have a day or night job. It’s very hard to be realistic when your passion is so great and you know in your heart that you do this play or film. It is one of the toughest industries to be a part of.”

Patty recently decided it was time to join the social networks. “I’m astonished at the speed the information is exchanged.” She is happy to be able to keep in touch with her fanbase and a new generation of fans. Patty discussed her proudest moment in regard to her career. “I guess I would have to say Miracle Worker and Birdbath, which was done on public television and written by Leonard Malfee.”

Patty’s amazing career continues. She is a legend who holds a special place in so many of our hearts. Be sure to watch her on Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva, Sundays at 9/8c. And as Patty says, “the last to laugh is to live.”

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