mtvU announces semi-finalists for red carpet contest

It was the moment Rincey and I were waiting for - the phone call. We had lost a lot of sleep during week so the waiting might not be too bad in our state of mind. Saturday and Sunday came and no phone call. "OK... that's not bad. We still have Monday and Tuesday," we told each other.

It was Thursday morning, Rincey tweeted: "i've given up on mtvu and am moving on with my life. i can't live with all the suspense for this long."

She called me a few hours later, telling me to check the site. Our names were not included among the semi-finalists. Instead of being angry and screaming so that my neighbors could hear my ire, I decided to watch the 10 videos.

As a good journalist, I noted what I liked about each and decided to share my thoughts so that I could help others who might not want to watch all 10. Here is my Top 10-styled list, with number one being my favorite:

10. Diana Snyder, freshman - New York University
My main point of contention is the fact this candidate is a freshman. Good for her making it to the next round - the video is short and sweet. However, the video quality is a little lacking (OK graphics). Plus, I don't see Perez Hilton as a plus.

9 - Faheem Ahmed, senior - Rice University
The humor he places within the video escapes me. I'm surprised the Academy would allow mtvU to pick this (then again, MTV and Academy are polar opposites). There is a Britney Spears impersonation. A fake Tom Cruise jumps up and down on a bench. It's seems very banal to me.

8 - Nicole Lovince, senior - Bowling Green State University
I have to give her some credit because BGSU is near my hometown of Toledo, Ohio. However, the tributes end there. Her video comes off a little vain. Granted, most of the videos needed to include some self-love, but here it's a little overbearing. And the lighting is poor. Her video begins the celebrity name-dropping, which is peppered throughout a majority of the videos.

7 - Chantell Black, senior - Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
This video is full of energy and Chantell is very articulate (and the microphone volume is set to loud!). But I get lost when she mentions she was an intern at CNN in New York and was on the red carpet interviewing stars at the Tonys. She seems way too overqualified. What does she need this contest for? Her dream has already come true. She interview Ne-Yo and Chris Brown, "to name a few."

6 - Rachel Alig, senior - University of Cincinnati
Here, four reasons are given to pick Rachel as the correspondent. She has a contagious passion in her video. She even sparkles at times. I especially love when she interviews UC President Nancy L. Zimpher. That was an impressive get. Her hair was less impressive, though. It took away from her nice outfits and spunk. She would be higher up on my list if she would not have mentioned working for Nancy Grace - not a fan, to say the least.

5 - Nick Maslow, senior - University of Miami
Even if a little narcissistic and overly tanned, I have to give it to Nick for some of his interviews, especially the one with Academy Award®-winning actress Halle Berry. But still, what does he need from Oscar's red carpet that he hasn't already gotten?

4 - Dylan Steinberg, senior - Drexel University
Let me start off by saying I love his hair. Dylan seems like a Ryan Seacrest protégé, a friendly interviewer, but the problem is his seems slightly disinterested in his interviews, continuously looking back at the camera with a smug look on his face. Overall though, good video, it was well thought out.

3 - Justin Shackil, senior - Fordham University
Not a huge fan of the open, where Justin is standing in front of a green screen, talking with a weird voice and slightly bouncing. But the rest of the video is well done. The interviews are genuine and they're edited well to create a cohesive package. It especially love the snow at the end. We wanted it to snow, but it wouldn't the days we were filming.

2 - Megan Telles, sophomore - San Diego State University
I could watch this video multiple times without getting sick of it. Megan and her cameraman Andrew film with a great camera and have some great shots; without microphone issues, the video would have been near-perfect! I especially love the highway shot. Megan has a great personality and it shows through. I enjoyed when she said she would save the Academy and mtvU money so her and Andrew could take a road trip. (And that was an example of good hair.)

1 - David Distenfeld, junior- Duke University
And my number one choice is... David from Duke. Its opening - in which he poses the question "David Distenfel is two minutes away from winning a trip to the 2009 Academy Awards. How did he does it?" - almost wins my support outright. (The answer is C. "He was adopted by Angelina Jolie.") He goes on to talk about his addiction to award shows and movies and three things he loves about the Oscars. While cynical, his commentary is snarky and enjoyable. Plus, I'd love to see his interviews on the red carpet. He's got me intrigued.

Some of the semi-finalists litter their videos with names from celebrities. I understand interviews may help boost résumés, but I think this is the wrong approach for this contest. Maybe I was wrong to assume mtvU would want to help out hard-working journalists who have yet to get those big interviews. Granted, my opinion is a little irrelevant because mtvU did not pick my video, which is embedded below:

After posting this video, I noted in the "More Info" box that I recommended people vote for David Distenfeld. Here's part of the message he sent me, after seeing this:
This is David Distenfeld and I just saw the more info for your video. I really liked your entry... More important, thanks so much for recommending mine. Not exactly sure why you liked it so much, but, hey, who am I to complain.
So please vote for David here and if he makes it to the top three, I'll try to get an interview with him. Good luck, semi-finalists!

Update: David sent me this link to his Facebook group, created "to get out the vote (Obama-style)."

Have a great weekend everyone.

(Images of contestants courtesy


  1. I found this update very interesting. I enjoyed your video too!

    I appreciate your giving credit to me for the Halle Berry interview and a few of the others that are featured in my video. I must say that for every good interview I showed, there were a handful of times when I spent hours preparing for an interview or event and left empty handed.

    Though I am very fortunate to have experience on the red carpet, it did not come easy. To pursue my reporting dreams, I've gone nights editing instead of sleeping and have sometimes spent my last dime to get an outfit to wear in front of the camera. Before I had the chance to do celebrity interviews, I spent my high school years writing for my local newspaper. I reported on issues such as STDs, abusive relationships, charity groups, and subjects that hit home for teens. Back then, it was hard for me to get an interview with a stranger in the mall, let alone Will Smith.

    I was one of those kids in high school that no one thought would ever do anything with his life. I want to win this competition to inspire teens to not take 'no' for an answer and to challenge themselves. I want to show them that they can start off small by writing for their local newspapers and hopefully gain enough experience to someday report from the red carpet at the Oscars.

    Looking forward to my career after I graduate in May, I hope to get to the point where I can both interview celebrities *and* return to my roots and bring attention to the important issues facing this generation. Winning this competition would be a great step in that direction.

    Nick Maslow


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