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Sports, from left, Heather Digiacomo ’97, Kelly Breen ’92, Chris Edwards ’92, Emily Rusek ’95 and Barbara Callender-Hayes ’76


A classic Colgate connection

"Classic Sports Network would be nothing without Colgate."

Brian Bedol, CEO and co-founder of the cable channel ("where the legends play") was kidding the five alumni who work at the 24-hour all sports network that features classic contests, vintage shows and today’s perspective on the great moments of athletic history. But he was only half kidding.



Kelly Breen ’92 was the first of the Colgate contingent to sign on at Classic Sports. She was fresh from two years at Sotheby’s and the network was just out of the blocks. "I was the 14th employee," says Breen, who served as the receptionist, became Bedol’s assistant and today works in marketing. "I’ve been here for the evolution of the company," she says, remembering the days when Bedol and co-founder Steve Greenberg were buying up licensing rights from all the professional leagues and slowly building a staff.

Today Classic Sports Network features around-the-clock programming, is available in 12 million homes and was recently sold to ESPN.

"The great thing about working for Classic Sports," says Breen, "is that we’re all forced to wear many hats. In the beginning, it wasn’t structured and we didn’t have all the departments we have now. Being part of a start-up company means being exposed to everything. It’s such a team effort."

Rounding out the Colgate lineup are Barbara Callender-Hayes ’76, Chris Edwards ’92, Emily Rusek ’95 and Heather Digiacomo ’97.

Callender-Hayes is the director of marketing with responsibility for "image building," which includes work with cable and satellite companies, developing promotions and affiliate relations.

Edwards works as operations coordinator and in-house technician and has been with Classic Sports Network a year and a half. Before that he had been bartend-ing and working on screenplays. Electronic news gathering is satis-fying, but screenwriting is still a focus. "To be around people who are creative," says Edwards, "is a means to an end."

As luck would have it Emily Rusek’s résumé landed on Kelly Breen’s desk and, while the two didn’t know each other, the connection helped. Emily took over for Kelly as assistant to the CEO and is now in marketing.

"I do promotions with cable affiliates — helping with launch parties and bringing athletes to the systems. "It’s fun to get to know the talent," says Rusek.

Digiacomo, the newcomer in the group, was originally hired to work in the marketing department but has become assistant to the CEO. In addition to administrative duties, Heather answers fan mail ("I’d like to meet Joe Namath"), responds to e-mail and keeps a book of press clippings.

"I like this company a lot. It’s young and growing, which is good for someone like me. It’s only going to get bigger, with more opportunities."

Classic Sports Network: "where the legends play" and the Red Raiders work.


 



Back on the streets

According to John Romano ’70, Michael Hayes, the fictive U.S. Attorney of the Southern District of New York (with a nod to Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who held that very job before being kicked upstairs) has "a righteous edge."

Romano should know. He, along with Nicholas (Goodfellas, Casino) Pileggi, created the character, who is brought to life by David Caruso, the actor who helped launch NYPD Blue only to leave the hit show, and television, for an ill-fated stab at the movies.



Michael Hayes, which airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on CBS, marks Caruso’s return to the small screen and the latest credit in Romano’s impressive television career. Beginning as the executive story editor with Hill Street Blues, Romano has worked on both hits and critically acclaimed shows including LA Law, Cop Rock, Knots Landing and Sweet Justice. His Class of ’96 for FOX Network was, Romano says, "Colgate revisited. The show was one of my favorite experiences. I was able to write a season of pure autobiography."

Michael Hayes brings the Yale Ph.D. and former Columbia professor of English from ivy halls to mean streets once again. "Audiences want to see me get the bad guy, John," Caruso told Romano, one of the show’s executive producers.

"When Michael Hayes — when David Caruso — catches a bad guy, he does it with a little bit of the bite and edge that you feel about villains. To write for that kind of ‘sword-wielding good guy’ is a welcome challenge," says Romano.

Not only is Michael Hayes, a former cop who earned his law degree at night, fighting crimes the scope of which a precinct detective wouldn’t see, but his personal life — his brother is an ex-con whose wife and son adore Michael — is complicated.

"This is the most stellar vehicle I’ve ever been associated with," says Romano. "We’re playing at the big table. I’m proud to have smuggled Class of ’96 onto the air but there really is no such thing as small independent television. If you are in this business, the object is to do something first-rate and capture large audiences."

Whatever the ratings, critics have embraced Michael Hayes. Tom Shales of the Washington Post lists the show among the season’s five best and Terry Kelleher of PEOPLE writes, "The show has a moody, almost melancholy quality that distinguishes it from the rest of TV."

Says Romano, "I’m still building on everything I learned from writers and teachers at Colgate." He’s building a hit.





A new piano man

Rod McGreal ’90 teaches tennis by day and plays gigs at night. Such is the life of a singer/songwriter working to move his music career to the next level.

"It’s a nice, low stress life I’ve created for myself," says McGreal, who has just released a four-song cassette tape titled Höpenanger. The tape is a follow-up to Warming the Stone Child, his 1993 CD.



Both recordings and many of the clubs Rod plays in New York City feature his original music. On the Jersey circuit he mixes in hit tunes, but it is, and always has been, his own work that drives the artist.

"I was writing and playing at Colgate — nothing major — but someone from Student Activities found out and set up a Pub Night for me. They did everything, even offered to pay me. I lived in KED and invited everyone to come down."

That initial appearance led to performances all over campus and Nardi’s, the former home of the blues in these parts. "I opened for a lot of bands, including James Cotton, and made a lot of contacts I still use."

Höpenanger is a piano-based pop rock exploration of love, with its the "anger of loss and the hope of recovery." In the span of only four songs McGreal conducts quite a musical tour. The tape includes some New Orleans flavored piano, a harder rocking tune and a sensitive ballad that are getting noticed. Songwriter’s Monthly noted the tape’s "smart, refreshing music with solid writing" and Musician’s Exchange termed McGreal’s voice, "warm and melodic."

This former Colgate tennis player has served up an ace. JH