TV producer gives students dose of reality

Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

A television producer’s message to university students on Thursday was clear — anyone can be a success in the entertainment business, but it takes hard work and a belief in yourself.

David Wallach, a six-time Emmy-winning television producer, spoke to Eastern New Mexico University students at the Becky Sharp Auditorium and gave them advice on what to do to try to get into the entertainment industry.

Wallach has worked for many television networks such as CNBC, FOX, A&E, PBS and NBC during his 15 years in the industry. Wallach’s speech hit home for many of the students, because they said it wasn’t just an inspiration speech. Wallach said he experienced hard times, doing drugs, being divorced, overweight and feeling miserable.

“I thought it (the presentation) was really cool the way he brought in his personal experiences,” Lisa Hunter, an ENMU senior, said. “I liked how he came all the way to a small town. He made a great point about how he struggled in his life and was able to have a successful career.”

Wallach, who lives in Chicago, produced “The Real World” shows on MTV and “Starting Over” on the WB and TLC. Starting Over is about six women starting a new life.

Wallach made a good impression on Whitney Hobson, who is an ENMU senior.

“What stood out for me was when he said the keys to be successful is to be a leader,” Hobson said. “You have to lead yourself before you can be successful.”

Wallach shared some of his experiences as producer of “The Real World” in Philadelphia and as a consultant for “The Real World” in Chicago. Wallach said he attended a college smaller than ENMU.

Wallach said during filming of “The Real World” there were 75 people behind the scenes putting it together. He said producers had complete control of “The Real World” participants.

“You could not believe the amount of work that goes into one 1/2-hour show,” Wallach said. “It takes six weeks to make one 1/2-hour show.”

Wallach said the producers controlled the lights and only with permission could “The Real World” participants leave the house. He said “The Real World” participants had to take a blood test, AIDS test and FBI background checks.

Wallach said they were not allowed to have cell phones, to watch a television or read a newspaper. According to Wallach, if any participants touched any of the camera men, the participants were asked to leave.

Wallach said he gained a better understanding of women and their emotions from producing “Starting Over”. Wallach stressed several times that what he has learned from successful people is that they have two similar traits: A belief in themselves and confidence. Wallach said just last week he was hanging out with Jenny McCarthy and this week he is in Portales.

“What was really interesting was that there was no key (to being successful),” Hunter said. “Each of us, inside, can determine the path to be successful.”

Even though Wallach produced reality shows for television, he said he would like to see people away from their television sets enjoying life.

“I hope people start living,” Wallach said. Wallach has been in triathlons and climbed Mount Everest for a television production. “When I was climbing Mount Everest, my friend told me, ‘This is reality’. Ask the pretty girl out, go for a job.”