TV Studio Changes Mind, Skips Middlebury Prom
Tuesday, June 05, 2012
Students dance at this year's prom at the Town Hall Theater. -
A California production company that offered the school $20,000 so its camera crews could film the Junior Prom changed its mind and didn’t come to the May 12 event. Now it says it has no plan to include the school and one of its students in its series of documentaries on American high school proms.
Ashley Howlett, who is graduating this week, said she was a little disappointed by Evolution Media’s decision. An Evolution producer told Howlett in April the company wanted to feature her in an hour-long program that would be televised on Lifetime Television Network. The episode would be part of a series of up to eight shows focusing on high school proms across the country.
The producers were drawn to Vermont by a photo Howlett posted on a farming blog showing her standing in front of the 16-ton John Deere 9220 tractor she drove to prom in 2011. Howlett drove a different farm vehicle to this year’s event.
“It was cool to be recognized by someone in California,” Howlett said. “But I understand [the decision not to come] from a business point of view.” Howlett said she was told the production company hadn’t been able to agree with a television network on a budget for the series.
Two producers at Evolution did not return repeated telephone calls seeking comment. A male staffer at Evolution who declined to give his name said, “There was no specific reason” Middlebury Union High School was cut from the project, and even if there had been, “We wouldn’t be able to give one.”
The series on American proms is still in the works, the staffer said, and production has begun. He declined to say if the film company chose another community over Middlebury, or if the series is being scaled back.
Middlebury hasn’t been booted from the list of possible locations for future prom shows, the staffer said.
“Just because the school wasn’t chosen for this go-around doesn’t mean that it might not be chosen in the next go-around,” he staffer said.” Shayna Weber, an Evolution producer, told The Tigers’ Print in April Howlett’s driving a tractor to prom was part of what appealed to the studio.
Although Evolution producers said previously the series would air on Lifetime Television Network, the staffer who withheld his name said no network deal has been announced, and there is no premiere date.
Many juniors and seniors who attended the prom hadn’t heard of the producer’s decision to cancel the Middlebury episode. They were surprised no cameras were at the Town Hall Theater to capture the event.
When High School Activities Director Sean Farrell learned the TV crew would not be coming to Middlebury, he encouraged the producers to go to the prom at Vergennes Union High School, which was held one week after Middlebury’s. Howlett drove to that prom, too, in a farm vehicle. But Evolution said no to that idea.
Farrell said not receiving the $20,000 fee – the poroducers called it “a location fee” -- posed no fiscal hardship for the school because officials never budgeted the money in the first place.
Evolution Media makes shows for several television networks, including High School Confidential, which runs on cable channel WE tv, and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, which runs on Bravo.