BY RUTH RICE
Johnstown native Ashley Hedrick is bringing the off-air happenings of a fictional local news crew online in a new Web series called “Live in 5.”
Hedrick, who graduated with a degree in communications and Spanish from Pitt-Johnstown in 2002, has been a full-time producer in New York City for the past seven years.
“UPJ didn’t have film, so my senior year I interned at WJAC-TV,” said Hedrick, who was known as Vuckovich then. Hedrick is her stage name.
At WJAC, Hedrick worked in field production with Jim Edwards and ran the robotic camera in the control room for the evening news.
While Hedrick was inspired by her newsroom experiences in Johnstown, she made it clear that none of what transpires in her fictional newsroom ever happened in her hometown.
She has brainstormed the fictional story of WIPU since February with Aubrey Mozino, executive producer and co-creator.
While the two women formed a production company and have written some of the episodes, they turned the writing duties over to a brother-sister team who have their own Web series.
Director Jim Garvey won the People’s Choice Award for best television pilot.
“Live in 5” was launched to the public in July and has seen more than 10,000 hits in its first month online.
“It’s what happens in the break room when they’re off the air,” Hedrick said.
“It’s a farce, and shows what the characters will do to get to the top. They have their own agendas and huge egos.”
The episodes, which are three minutes long, can be viewed at www.livein5.tv or www.liveat5site:youtube.com.
“We’re in negotiations for an online distributor,” Hedrick said.
After giving up full-time producing and studying acting for two years, Hedrick is able to combine her two interests.
In addition to producing “Live in 5,” she portrays one of the characters, Lesley Lovet, the ditzy tree-hugger who is obsessed with everything organic.
Lovet is the field reporter, but her personal mission is to get her space-aged health segments on the air.
Other characters include a geeky weatherman; annoyingly perky lead anchor Miss Perfect, played by Mozino; The Black Widow, a make-up artist who wants Miss Perfect’s job; and producer Debbie Downer.
Episodes already online have dealt with an on-air wardrobe malfunction, Tom Cruise being a celebrity guest and Miss Perfect having to enlist the help of arch rival The Black Widow.
Hedrick is acting and producing full time right now in addition to working on getting advertising and donations for “Live in 5.”
“I’m constantly auditioning,” Hedrick said. “Acting is what I always wanted, but I was intimidated. After working with celebrities like Jennifer Garner as a producer, I found out they’re just like me.”
Hedrick has produced shows for “Martha Stewart Living,” Style Network, MTV, Sony Music, Nike and the History Channel.
She foresees “Live in 5” getting picked up by network television.
“The show is within reach of being picked up by a network or being put on a network Web site,” Hedrick said.
Hedrick’s goal for herself is to act and produce on network television.
“Some of my friends are hitting it big on TV shows, so it’s just a matter of time,” Hedrick said.
While vacationing, Hedrick was brainstorming ideas and getting ready for a second season of “Live in 5.”
With her busy life, Hedrick finds it essential to get regular doses of Johnstown.
“I require a visit every three months,” she said. “I call it my green therapy. I just love Johnstown. You don’t realize what you have until you’re gone.”
While acting and producing take up her time, Hedrick, who lives in Hoboken, N.J., is obsessed with reading and watching HBO.
She also enjoys traveling, and when she sits in Central Park, she pretends it’s Johnstown.
What: “Live in 5,” a behind the scenes look at fictional television station WIPU.
Producer and actor: Ashley Hedrick, a native of Johnstown, and a 2002 Pitt-Johnstown graduate.
Available at: www.livein5.tv or www.liveat5site:youtube.com.