13 questions with an alumna on the move
(expanded from the Fall 2012 edition of Badger Insider Magazine)
Although she was always a fan of show business, Mallory Mason grew up far from the spotlight of Hollywood in Madison. She never dreamed of a job in television — outside of possibly repairing them. But then she began her studies in Radio, TV and Film at the UW and her career possibilities took a star turn. Now in her role as Publicity Coordinator for CBS Television, Mason works primarily with reality shows such as Survivor, Big Brother, and The Amazing Race, coordinating media requests for each show’s contestants. She also handles many of CBS’ social media initiatives, running her department’s Twitter feed, @CBSTweet (boasting more than 100,000 followers) as well as their Instagram and Foursquare pages. Mason even has the chance on occasion to “Come on down!” and hang out on the set of The Price is Right. Now that’s a Badger who’s tuned in!
What’s a day in the life of a publicity coordinator like for you?
There really are no two days alike. I love that about my job. My main responsibilities include handling contestant press for Survivor and The Amazing Race, as well as working on my department’s Twitter and Instagram pages.
Do you have a favorite memory from your time at UW-Madison?
I have so many wonderful memories from UW. It is really hard to choose just one. My favorite memories were probably just hanging out with my friends and going to hockey games on the weekends.
How did attending UW-Madison prepare you for life in Hollywood?
About four years ago I was fortunate enough to receive an internship at CBS in the Program, Planning and Scheduling department that is offered to a UW student every summer. I met some amazing people who really helped me get to where I am today. If not for that internship opportunity offered through UW-Madison I don’t know if my dreams would have been made a reality.
You handled publicity for the latest winners of The Amazing Race, UW-Madison’s own Rachel and Dave Brown. How did it feel to have your home life and professional life intersect like that?
It was so much fun. I had family and friends calling me and asking me if I knew about them. They were clipping the stories from the papers and sending them to me. I had to tell them that I knew about the stories because I coordinated them! It was finally an opportunity for the people I know back home to understand part of what I do.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about reality TV shows?
I think the biggest misconception is that the shows aren’t real. I can speak for the shows that I work on, and they are very real.
What’s the most surreal moment you’ve had since being out in Hollywood?
I’ve had a lot of surreal moments. I’ve been able to travel on location for Survivor. This past location, in the Philippines, I saw the most beautiful beaches. Just the boat rides to this location were amazing … and oftentimes I had to remind myself that this is my job!
Better place to people watch: State Street or Hollywood Boulevard?
I’m going to say State Street. Hollywood Boulevard is all tourists. State Street has more personality.
What’s life like in Hollywood compared to Madison? How often do you get back to Madison?
Life is definitely different out in LA. The weather is warm all year! I miss home a lot, but since the majority of my family still lives in Madison I try to get home for all the holidays and some football games. I made it back for Nebraska’s inaugural beat down in the Big Ten. That was pretty fun.
If you had to be a contestant on one of the reality shows you work on, which would it be and why?
I would probably want to be on Race because they get to see the world and travel to really cool places.
Ever entertain thoughts of moving out from behind-the-scenes and going in front of the camera?
I’m very happy where I’m at – behind the camera. I would like to keep moving up in my career. I’m a coordinator right now so I have a long ways to go, but I’m very happy in publicity.
What do you enjoy watching on TV after a long day of working in TV?
My favorite show is The Vampire Diaries, but I pretty much have a different favorite show for every night of the week.
Okay, so who’s a bigger star in your eyes nowadays: Bucky Badger or Survivor host Jeff Probst?
That’s a tough question. Probst is a really great guy and an amazing host, but I don’t think he could keep up with Bucky on a game day. Nowadays Bucky has to be able to do 80 push-ups in a row and that’s just hard. Anyone that can do that is a pretty big star!
When’s the last time you got star-struck?
I was at the “Teachers Rock” concert that aired on CBS over the summer and I saw Garth Brooks. Just to see him was pretty amazing. I also worked the Grammy Awards this past year and to be around so many artists in one spot was really cool.