Imagine a cross between the Jerry Springer Show and the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, or a marriage between MTV and CNN. The result might look something like Point Taken, a new, live TV show on BTV, Brown's cable channel.
As conceived by the eight students who work in front of and behind the cameras, Point Taken is a political roundtable that brings four participants to a trendy Faunce House set and lets them loose on a controversial topic. "You never know what's going to happen," says host and creator Malina Brown '01, a comparative literature concentrator. "We're looking for the candid comments, the offbeat." The show aired Wednesday nights last fall before temporarily going off the air while Brown goes to Paris for her semester abroad: such are the perils of student-run television.
In its six episodes, Point Taken has focused on topics such as education reform, modern feminism, and urban revitalization. Even though the show's audience is almost all students, guests have included Providence Mayor Vincent A. "Buddy" Cianci Jr., who talked about the media's relationship with celebrity, and new Providence School Superintendent Diana Lam. "We're pretty professional," says director Corey Binns '00, "considering we're on the third floor of Faunce."
Brown typically gets things going by posing a broad question ("What is the state of education?") then stepping aside to allow free rein to the four guests, who are comfortably planted in animal-print chairs and on a black leather couch. As the cameras roll, executive producer Bryan Tallevi '01 writes such stage directions as "Ask a question, Malina" or "One minute to commercial" on large note cards. Meanwhile, director Binns and the three cameramen try to anticipate which guest will speak next.
Brown previously worked for Loveline, a BTV production that has gone as far as showing a naked body being painted. "We're never going to have someone being painted naked on this show," Brown says. "I think we're testing a different kind of limit." Tallevi says the show is bringing some highbrow respectability to the cable channel. A few professors, he says, have even assigned an episode for class.