Monday, October 06, 2008

Is there life after TV news?

Former WPLG Local 10 anchor Steve Alvarez 'interviews' Angelina Jolie.



A few years ago I worked at Channel 10 News. After I was there about 3 years an amazing thing happened. I got tired of working in TV news at exactly the same time they got tired of having me work for them. It was beautiful while it lasted.

One of the friendships I formed was with Steve Alvarez who worked as a sports reporter/anchor at Channel 10. He later switched to being a news anchor.

Steve and I worked weekends at Channel 10 along with another Steve, weekend news producer Steve Owen who is now assistant news director (and also a friend) at 10.

Weekends at a TV station can be boring and depressing but I could always count on the Steves to lighten things up.

In 2001 Steve left Channel 10, sold his Pinetree Drive house on Miami Beach and moved to Los Angeles with his wife and two kids. Once there he launched a new career in the movies.

He sent me an e-mail this weekend telling me of his latest gig. He's in a new Clint Eastwood film, "Changeling." It stars Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich and...Steve Alvarez.
Steve wants all his friends in Miami to know there is life after TV news!

I'll let Steve pick up the rest of story....
Getting let go by WPLG was the best thing that ever happened to me. I got out of the local TV news rut and began to see there was a whole different world out there, other than the tunnel vision of local news. When I first started in news more than 20 years ago, we actually covered news. Now, its all the same entertainment, scandal, trash TV that has taken over the industry. I couldn't be happier to be out of it.

My family moved to Los Angeles in 2001 and we've never looked back. I figured since local news was all becoming entertainment, why not work in it legitimately. I moved into producing and directing on a number of reality shows over the years, working on everything from travel shows, to dating, you name it, and its all great fun. The biggest bonus, I never have to wear a suit and tie again!

My wife, who was a producer/writer for WSVN in their special project division, has become a top show runner in reality television. She's been working as an executive producer on some of the top series on the air.

And now, some people may have seen a familiar face on the screen at the local movie theater. Yes, that's me, in the trailer for the new Clint Eastwood directed movie "Changeling" starring Angelina Jolie. I landed a part with two lines in a pivotal scene. I can't begin n to tell you how exciting it was to be directed by a legend like Clint Eastwood, and to act in a scene with a superstar like Angelina Jolie. It was fantastic. It was all I could do to keep my knees from knocking.

Its a period piece, from 1929, so we were all in costume. The suit I wore had been made for actor Tom Skerritt, for another film. So I count that as another one of my "Hollywood connections."

It's a lot more fun to play a reporter in a movie, than to actually be one. When you cover local news, they don't give you your own dressing room, apply makeup, feed you, and treat you like a V.I.P. Movies are definitely more fun to make.

Prior to that, I've had roles on about a dozen network shows , including "The Practice", before it became "Boston Legal", "Nightstalker" the short lived series on ABC, three appearances on "Invasion" also on ABC, "Commander in Chief" on ABC, many on-camera appearances for Jimmy Kimmel live, on ABC..are you beginning to get the picture? Even though I've been off the air at WPLG for the last 8 years, but I still keep showing up on their channel. I've also had two roles on HBO'S hit series "Big Love". I had a role on "Criminal Minds" on CBS, and I have been doing regular voice-over work for "Jimmy Kimmel Live" for several years.

So, at age 56 (Yes, I said it. 56, my birthday was last month)

I am still experiencing new adventures. If I had stayed in local news, none of that would have happened. I never would have been in a dozen TV shows and a Clint Eastwood movie, never would have had the great fun of producing wild and wacky reality shows, and my wife would never had gotten the opportunity to excel as a producer/director. I wish I had the money in the bank I had when I was working in Miami; but that's about the only thing I miss.

A few years ago, my wife and I also got into renovating houses; and have done very, very well in renovating and selling 4 homes in the last 8 years. We're both self-employed, so we can work in TV when we want, and work on houses when we want. We've rebuilt several here in Los Angeles from the ground up, doing a vast amount of the work ourselves. Its always an adventure, moving from one house to the next, taking on the task of renovation, and then selling it for a large profit. That's something else I could never do if I was working in local news. I would never have had the time.

I have learned that life is a journey, and you need to enjoy every twist and turn of that road along the way. That's what I am embracing now, and having a great time. "The Changeling" comes out on October 31st.

After seeing it in theaters, make sure you rent it when it comes out on DVD months from now....I'll thank you when the residual check arrives!
Here's the trailer for "Changeling." Steve's in the crowd reporters at the train station.

Looks like a great movie! There's more info at the movie's website.

Congratulations Steve!

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