Jim Vescera, '78
Executive Vice President, Creative Director, NBC Entertainment Marketing
Q. What are you currently working on?
Network television is exciting because there are always new shows to launch. My team has just put the finishing touches on campaigns for The Cape and a new law show from David E. Kelley starring Kathy Bates called Harry’s Law. We are also right in the middle of our development season, meaning that in the next several weeks we’ll be reading many pilot scripts and deciding which ones will be made. Some of those produced pilots will then become part of NBC’s 2011–2012 television season, announced in May and premiering in September.
Q. Could you describe one person, experience, or series of events at Emerson that shifted the course of your career and that illustrates one of Emerson’s core attributes of creativity, collaboration, risk taking, and excellence?
After graduation, I worked in local television for a few years. Even though I did various jobs, I felt my career was languishing. That was when I was first impacted by the “Emerson Mafia.” I had a new boss, a fellow Emerson grad, and she urged me to take on the additional duties of running the promotion department. I was reluctant, but she insisted, telling me that a job in promotion would expose me to people at the network I otherwise wouldn’t meet. She was actually prepping me for my next career move, and suddenly a job became a career. Less than two years later, I joined NBC in the entertainment marketing department. I needed a push from someone with a broader view of our industry. Luckily for me, I worked for an Emerson graduate, all of who are known for helping jump-start the careers of others.
Q. Is there an example of how a classmate aided you with your career?
Several years ago, I heard from my former Emerson roommate. I told him that I was struggling to come up with creative ideas to promote NBC’s Thursday comedies. Although he had never worked in marketing or promotion, he asked if he could “take a stab at it.” Since he was always a terrific writer and I had a budget for freelance writing help, I hired him to generate some concepts. Within a day, he sent me a script for a comedy promo called English As a Second Language. It was hysterical. We shot the promo and for the next year it won every marketing award for which it was submitted—not bad for someone who “took a stab at it!”
Q. Are you professionally connected to other Emersonians?
There are far too many examples to list. The Emerson Mafia is present in every aspect of the entertainment business. I’ve worked for some, hired others,and collaborated with many more during the process of shows being pitched, produced,and marketed.
Q. What’s the single most important piece of advice you’d like to give to Emerson students?
It’s what you know AND who you know.