UCLA Spotlight


UCLA: Next — Student Cable Television

  • By Teri Michael, Todd Cheney
  • Published Mar 1, 2002 8:00 AM

It's not every day that two undergraduate students get to host their own television show, with potential viewership in the millions. But that is just what happened for Valerie Morrell and Alex Weed, undergraduate theater majors in UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television who successfully auditioned for roles as co-hosts of "UCLA: Next."


UCTV Website

The half-hour magazine-style show, created and produced entirely by UCLA undergraduate and graduate students from all across campus, profiles UCLA as a "city within a city" that thrives on the excitement of being a center for discovery, learning and intellectual discourse, giving the audience a view of the Westwood campus that outsiders rarely see.

Going beyond the stars of academia, the fast-paced show takes viewers on a guided tour of many little-known corners of campus. In shows already aired, Morrell and Weed have gone swing dancing with the campus ballroom dance club, visited the People Animal Connection at UCLA Hospital and - one of their favorites - donned germ-free suits to explore the "clean room" at the School of Engineering where silicon computer chips are produced. The future lineup includes interviews with noteworthy alumni, including basketball legend Bill Walton and dancer/choreographer Lulu Washington.

Weed came to his role with some theatrical experience. "In high school, we used to make funny movies for public access TV," he says. He and fellow students at Menlo Park High School also founded an improvisational theater group.

Morrell participated in improv classes, too, at St. Bernard's High School in Playa del Rey. "I have to act," she says. "I can't picture myself doing anything else."

Together, they call themselves 'the Dynamic Duo'. "I'm the straight one," Morrell says," - and he's the silly character."

A team of enthusiastic students complete the creative force behind the weekly broadcast. "I am so energized by this incredible team," said visiting faculty member Thelma Vickroy, who teaches the class responsible for producing the newsmagazine at the School of Theater, Film and Television.

"UCLA: Next" airs on cable channel LA36 in Los Angeles on Mondays at 9 p.m. and Thursdays at 10 p.m., and on the Beverly Hills Network, channel 35, on Thursdays at 10 p.m.