Q&A With Alum Geoff Rosen
Geoff Rosen, class of 2003 communications graduate, has already had a varied career in daytime television – even winning an Emmy for his work with The Dr. Oz Show. Most recently, Geoff has landed the role of Co-Executive Producer for The Meredith Vieira Show. He recently sat down to answer a few questions for us about his time at Dreyfoos, his new position, and what it took for him to get there.
Q: Favorite Dreyfoos teacher?
A: Ms. Hubbard, Ms. Cathy Miller, Mr. Ruth, Mr. O'Brien, Ms. Laurie Marshall
Q: What is the most profound change you experienced at Dreyfoos?
A: I discovered, then nurtured, my passions. And connected with people who had similar desires.
Q: Is there something Dreyfoos could have provided that could have better prepared you for your college and career?
A: My television production class was designed perfectly for my personality. There was limited structure, but maximum support. I was asked to do "something" for the morning announcements - in other words, take the semester to create anything you want and you will be graded on that. And that's what I did. I always loved late night talk shows, so I decided to create one that would air at the end of the morning announcements. I named it "The Geoff Rosen Show." I asked a few music majors to be my band members and to write a theme song; I asked a visual arts student to design my set; I decided I would interview students who had "something to promote" (either a play they were in, a column they were writing for the newspaper, etc.). I spent my time conceptualizing the show, then writing my monologues, then ultimately editing it (and also editing promos for the show). We got a few episodes on the air - and it seemed to be well received. My teachers would sometimes let me leave class early just so I could work on it. The environment was amazing. I felt like I had support all around. And I was working. Hard. And I LOVED it. I hope that the emphasis is still on the arts – that's what made that school special.
Q: What made you get involved with television production?
A: My 8th grade television production class at MSOA (taught by Mrs. Cartagena). I created an "entertainment show" for the morning announcements with my classmate, Kelly Williams. We called it Popcorn Talk - and we'd review movies. It was my favorite part of the day.
Q: What was your first big break?
A: I moved to NYC in August after I graduated DSOA. I had applied to one school - Marymount Manhattan College. Truthfully, I really didn't care about which college I attended - I only cared about one thing: getting to New York City and working in television. Within two weeks, I started researching where "The Ricki Lake Show" taped. I always loved the show and secretly had a crush on her. I found the address, put on a suit, and walked down to the studio. I asked the woman at the reception desk how to apply to be an intern. She told me to fax a resume and gave me the number. I thought to myself, "They must receive hundreds of resumes and I don't want mine to end up in the pile." So I went to Payless and bought a 4-dollar pair of shoes. I sent my resume in a box with the shoe on top. In the shoe, I placed a scroll of paper that said, "Now that I have my foot in the door, please take a look at my resume.” Two days later, I was called for an interview. I was hired that day. I was thrilled. So excited. Just days before my 19th birthday - and it was the best gift. I went to the office at Marymount because I needed college credit - and that's when they told me, "No. You can't accept the internship. You haven't even completed one course here. We don't know you, and we can't put our name behind you." I said, "They met me for 15 minutes, and are willing to take a chance on me...you're not?" After much back and forth, they finally agreed to write the show a letter saying I could take the internship, but wouldn't give me college credit for it. I didn't care. I just wanted to work in television production, not sit in a classroom reading about television production.
After that semester ended, I left Marymount and transferred to Hunter College. During my internship, I was asked to grab something from the fax machine. I picked up two papers - one apparently was not for me. It said that someone had been let go and that there was an opening for a part-time travel assistant. I WANTED IT!!! I went to my internship supervisor immediately and asked for the job. She said she would talk to the boss. I waited by my cell phone for days (though it seemed like months) - and finally got a call to meet with the boss. She said she was hiring me, and she told me it was because of my positive attitude. It ended up being Ricki's last season, but I stayed with the company for 2 more of the shows they produced- “Judge Hatchett” and “Life & Style with Kimora Lee Simmons.” I was working in the travel and audience departments, but always wanted to switch over to the producing side and become a production assistant. Several positions opened during my time there, and I always asked, but I was never offered a job. Then came the call that put me on my career path. A supervising producer called me and said, "As you know, Martha Stewart is getting out of prison, and she's starting a new talk show. Are you interested in meeting with my friend who happens to be the executive producer?" I said, "OF COURSE!!" Fast forward a week, and I was sitting in Martha's pristine office, waiting to be interviewed. I met with two people - and weeks later was offered a production assistant job. When I told my current boss, she said, "You have burned a major bridge here." I thought to myself, "Sometimes you have to burn a bridge to build a better one.”
At “Martha,” I grew and became a producer. After 5 years there, I decided I wanted explore something else. So, I left and went to produce for Dr. Oz. I loved that man. So kind and compassionate and he had such a big vision. I was happy to be part of his show for a year and a half, but I realized very quickly that I didn't get into television to produce only medical segments. I wanted to produce celebrities and entertain people. So I took a risk and left Oz...and NY...to try out LA. I got a job on George Lopez's late night show, and LOVED it. But 4 weeks later, it was canceled. Not long after, I was called by one of the producers at Martha Stewart. They said, "Martha is going off the air and has 6 more weeks. We just had a producer quit on us. Would you come back to NY and help us out?" I wasn't working at that time (which was very depressing for me), and decided to do it. While I was there, a friend of mine who worked at "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire" texted me. She asked if I'd be interested in a supervising producer job at the show. Since I happened to be in NY, I said I'd meet with the executive producer. After that meeting, I knew if I got that job, I'd move back to NY for it. I got the job. And I moved back to NY. And that's where I met Meredith Vieira and ultimately the person with whom I'd develop Meredith's new show.
Q: You are currently Co-Executive Producer of The Meredith Vieira Show, tell us a bit about what that involves.
A: I developed the show with the executive producer - meaning I helped create the format of the show, design the set, cast the band, and hire the staff. Day to day, I am overseeing a team of producers, the content in the show (from celebrity interviews to heart-warming stories to performances) and the guests who are booked.
Q: How much does your role differ on a talk show than when you were involved with Who Wants to be A Millionaire?
A: On Millionaire, every day was about giving away money to people who deserved it. The Meredith Vieira Show is a variety show that changes daily and there are many more moving parts. But ultimately, it's about overseeing content and a brand, and making sure the host looks good.
Q: What do you feel has been the highlight of your career so far?
A: I love entertaining people. And if something I've written or created can help do that - take people away for a moment - that's the highlight. And I feel grateful every day.
Q: What recommendations do you have for our current DSOA students?
A: Don't get stuck into thinking there's one path in life. There's no book of rules. Write your own book. Be untraditional. Follow your gut. Remember that sometimes the biggest risk is NOT taking a risk. And NEVER lose appreciation for what you have. I don't think happiness can exist without appreciation - so always stop for a beat and soak it in.
Q: In a brief statement can you explain “What Dreyfoos means to me”?
A: A launchpad for creativity. If you take advantage of it.