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Prime time people

By David Van Meter

Eric Letsche '94 arrived in Los Angeles in 1994.

The next day, the infamous Northridge earthquake hit, 6.7 on the Richter scale.

"Looking back, I think there might have been a message in there somewhere," Letsche said.

But he didn't listen, and apparently neither did Brenda Lindenberg '95 or Gwen Burgess '97, who arrived in L.A. after Letsche. All three now work for Columbia TriStar Television, part of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Letsche worked three years on the set of Roseanne -- "It was insanity" -- before landing his current spot as production coordinator of the Lifetime hit show Oh Baby!, now in its second season. Lindenberg and Burgess work as coordinators between the shows they watch over and the studios they represent. Between them they handle network shows such as Dawson's Creek, Mad About You, Dilbert, The Nanny, The King of Queens and shows for distribution including Ricki Lake, Donnie and Marie, Seinfeld and "virtually any game show you can think of." Burgess also works to distribute internationally old shows such as Who's the Boss and Charlie's Angels and to reshoot the scripts from shows like One Day at a Time and Bewitched for Mexico's Telemundo.

"It takes a lot of time starting out," said Lindenberg, who sent out 20 resumes a day with Elizabeth Harrison '95 when the two first arrived in 1995. "But once you get in and you can prove yourself and make contacts, you get a pretty good idea about how Hollywood works and the paths you can travel."

Burgess agrees. "When Brenda was producing Close to Home and I was producing Preston Hall (two high-profile radio-TV-film campus productions), if we had to make a $50 decision, it was like, 'Oh my God.' Now, we're dealing with $13 million budgets, and that's just for Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, syndicated shows.

"I still catch myself when I drive past the Hollywood sign, saying, 'What am I doing here?' Sitting in the Green Room at TCU, I never would have thought I would be working in a major studio.

"Now, if I can just shop on Rodeo Drive."