Students' film traces 'Whatever Happened to Saturday Night?'

Before World War II, downtown Champaign was humming every
Saturday night, with dances on the rooftop of Robeson's
department store, movies at the Virginia and Orpheum theaters,
and a counter packed with people sipping sodas at Vriner's
fountain.

Before television, and before the automobile removed people's
lives from downtown areas, Saturday nights were glamorous and
special, something people looked forward to the whole week,
according to the documentary, "Whatever Happened to Saturday
Night?" The program will premier at 8:30 p.m. Feb. 9, and will be
repeated at 9:30 p.m. Feb. 11 on WILL Channel 12.

Produced by the UI department of journalism's student documentary
unit, the program examines the changing nature of American
Saturday nights. The film won a regional Emmy for 1994 College TV
Production from the National Academy of Television Arts and
Sciences.

Two past documentaries by UI student journalists - on drinking on
campus and date rape - also won regional Emmys. Unlike the past
issue-oriented films, this documentary puts a mirror to a social
institution, said Jerry M. Landay, professor of broadcast
journalism who teaches the documentary course.

Landay said he's been teaching students how to use TV as a slate
to tell important, meaningful and relevant stories. Most teaching
stories are told now by corporations, he said.

"They used to be told by parents, churches, schools and community
elders," he said. "My hope is that the storytellers we've taught
in documentary form will help bring storytelling back to where it
belongs - on public television and produced by people who have
something to tell, not something to sell."



UIUC -- Inside Illinois -- 1995/02-02-95