The 70th Annual Emmys Hits Close to Purchase College

by Danielle Sarubbi


Ben Green, Melissa Shakun, and their former professor David Grill at the Creative Arts Emmys after party. Photo Courtesy of David Grill

Purchase alumni were in abundance among Emmy nominations this year, with seven former students in the spotlight for the prestigious award. Two recent graduates, Melissa Shakun ‘08 and Ben Green ’15, each received an Emmy for their hard work on “Jesus Christ Superstar Live,” with Shakun’s award for her art direction and Green’s for his lighting direction on the show.


This is Green’s second nomination, as he also was nominated for his lighting direction for the 90th Academy Awards in March.


“Superstar was constantly moving which is more engaging, so it’s easier to pay attention, but we have a lot more rehearsal time for Superstar,” said Green. “We were there for three weeks, probably, rehearsing on site, whereas the Oscars, we’re in the room for maybe ten days.”


Green earned his Emmy in the same category as his former lighting professor and Purchase alumnus, David Grill ‘86, who was nominated for his work as the lighting director for the Super Bowl LII Halftime show Starring Justin Timberlake.


“It really does feel good,” said Grill, whose former students earned their awards in areas they studied in the Design Technology program at Purchase. “One ten years out and one – you know, geez – yesterday basically, got out of the door and now has a freaking Emmy. I need to watch my ass now.”


Grill is currently working on Super Bowl LIII’s Halftime Show. He can’t tell anyone who the performer is yet, but says that everyone will know soon enough.


Green is currently working on lighting an upcoming sports competition called “The Titan Games,” which will have Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the host.


Former Design Tech students weren’t the only ones honored at the 70th Emmy Awards.

Edie Falco ‘86 was nominated for her role as Leslie Abramson in Law & Order True Crime: The Mendez Murders. Falco has a new movie out on Netflix called, “The Land of Steady Habits.”


Adina Porter ‘84 earned her first Emmy nomination for her role as Beverly Hope in American Horror Story: Cult. You can see Porter every Wednesday night in the new American Horror Story: Apocalypse.


Behind the scenes of the lighting for "Jesus Christ Superstar Live." Photo Courtesy of Ben Green

Coming up on Oct. 1, the 39th Annual News and Documentary Emmys will be held in New York City, where former studio production majors Dan Romer ‘04 and Saul Simon MacWilliams ‘05 are nominated for their work as co-composers on the Netflix Original, “Chasing Coral.”


“Chasing Coral” is a new Netflix Original documentary about divers, photographers and scientists setting out on an ocean adventure to discover why the reefs are disappearing and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world.


“I grew up an environmentalist, my parents are environmentalists. It’s like all I want to do is save the planet,” MacWilliams says. “I think the two big helpful things about this documentary, aside from amazing directing and a brilliant staff and crew that worked on it, is you can connect really well with the characters. A couple of them were just so intellectual and so crucial towards drawing you in and bringing so much human qualities to this animal that nobody really understands how they work.”


MacWilliams is currently working on scoring a new film which has yet to be revealed.

Meanwhile, Romer scored the sound for Netflix’s “Maniac” starring Emma Stone and Jonah Hill. You can hear Romer’s music when the show premieres Sept. 21.


In the meantime, if you want to hear more of their work, you can listen on MacWilliams' and Romer's Spotify pages.

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