"Autumn Strebor" (played by Jess Colavita '07) and "Seth Lohan" (Joe Sabia '06) are two of the major characters in "The BC." (Photo by Sherwood Tondorf)
A Standing 'O' for 'The BC'
Campus cable TV parody of popular Fox show 'The OC' has audience beyond Chestnut Hill
By Greg Frost
You can almost see the receptionist in Campus Ministry roll her eyes as a caller asks to speak with Donald MacMillan, SJ, Boston College campus minister turned cult TV star.
"He might not take your call. He's got such a swollen head now with all this attention," she says with a hint of playful sarcasm.
"You'll probably have to go through his agent."
Fr. MacMillan hasn't retained an agent - at least not yet. But as one of the stars of "The BC," a home-grown parody of the wildly popular Fox television drama "The OC," he has spent a lot of time doing press interviews as the spoof generates media buzz both locally and nationally.
What started as a grainy take-off on the trailer for Fox's hit soap opera has become an increasingly slick and popular production at BC, viewed on the campus cable TV network and also available via the show's Web site, www.the-bc.com. Several hundred students attended the premiere of the second episode on Oct. 12 in Devlin 008, and reporters from media outlets like the Boston Herald, Boston magazine, Newsweek and local Fox affiliate WFXT-TV have come calling with questions.
Fr. MacMillan still hasn't seen the original Fox show, but it doesn't seem to have affected his ability to tackle the part: The priest plays himself, a good-hearted Jesuit who comes to the aid of a student expelled from Boston University and gives him a second chance at BC.
Campus Minister Donald MacMillan, SJ - shown with "The BC" co-stars Joe Sabia (right) and Woody Tondorf ó has enjoyed his stint on the show. "That's what we Jesuits do," he says. "We try to get involved in all the elements of the studentsí lives ‚ cultural and social as well as spiritual." (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)
The cleric is clearly enjoying his role, which has him discussing the finer points of hip-hop music and playing video games, among other things. The Web site www.insidehighered.com, which wrote about "The BC" this month, says the priest "steals every scene he's in."
Fr. MacMillan says in addition to being a lot of fun, the project has helped him discover a whole new element of his Campus Ministry job.
"That's what we Jesuits do," he says. "We try to get involved in all the elements of the students' lives - cultural and social as well as spiritual."
"The OC" tells the tale of Ryan Atwood, a rough-around-the-edges kid who is given a second chance by a good-hearted Orange County lawyer and finds himself in an unfamiliar new world of luxury SUV-driving high school students. In "The BC," the rough-around-the-edges kid is "Woody Atryan," who after being booted from BU and landing at BC finds himself in an unfamiliar new world of preppy college students.
Masterminding this epic are seniors Joe Sabia and Woody Tondorf, the show's co-writers and co-stars: Tondorf portrays the troubled Woody Atryan, while Sabia plays the part of Seth Lohan, described on the show Web site as "an existential hero in the spirit of Holden Caufield, Benjamin Braddock, or any John Cusack character from the late 80s."
Sabia says one of the biggest perks of being involved with the project is getting to see another side of people like Fr. MacMillan and Vice President and Special Assistant to the President William B. Neenan, SJ, who makes a cameo appearance in the second episode.
"There is nothing more satisfying than seeing administrators mixing it up and relating to student culture," says Sabia. "If anything good comes of this, it's the fact that the community gets to see some very respected Jesuits, faculty and administrators one notch closer to participating in student life."
Sabia says interest in the parody has soared in recent weeks. The show's Web site now receives around 5,000 hits a day, up from 500 from when the spoof first went online.
Keeping up with all the attention "The BC" has generated is no small task, says Sabia, who acknowledges that he's occasionally had to rely on his professors' good will in juggling his suddenly over-active schedule.
"It's become a full-time job," Sabia says of the project. "I'm getting by."