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Brush with fame lands UT students on E! Network show

hillsbellas061518 Reality Stars of E! Network's Total Bellas made a visit to the University of Tampa to student run organization UTTV: Spartan News.
hillsbellas061518 Reality Stars of E! Network's Total Bellas made a visit to the University of Tampa to student run organization UTTV: Spartan News.
Published Jun. 15, 2018

Fallon Fischer and Carissa Economos donned comfy clothes and put their feet up Sunday night.

But they couldn't relax.

Excitement filled the living room of Economos' apartment in Orlando as Total Bellas flashed across the screen. They aren't diehard fans of the E! Network reality show, but as former leaders of the University of Tampa's student run media organization, UTTV: Spartan News, they eagerly awaited their television debut.

It all came about during UT's spring semester. Nikki and Brie Bella, known as The Bella Twins on WWE, made a visit to UTTV's studio with their mom Kathy Colace Laurinaitis to watch their mom's work as a meteorologist. Laurinaitis held dreams of broadcasting the weather even before she gave birth to her now grown twins.

Fischer said bringing this weather package to life for the Total Bellas star wouldn't be an easy task and took much preparation. UTTV didn't produce weather reports for UT students, so Laurinaitis would be UTTV's first weather reporter.

"I had to call my friend in the industry who is studying this to see what we need to include," said Economos, UTTV's former director of productions. "We all pitched in and it took a lot of rehearsal beforehand and constant revisiting and updating to make sure it was as accurate as possible."

Fischer, Economos and fellow students Teddy Arsenault and Nick Lewis along with UTTV adviser Christopher Boulton, assistant professor of communications, had to make sure everything was ready to go hours in advance. Once the family arrived Fischer and Economos noted how fun the experience was to help Laurinaitis through the many takes and tons of nerves.

"Kathy was nervous at first," Fischer said. "We had to coach her in the beginning. We really tried to have a good time and create a good environment."

The UTTV crew pulled it all together and worked quickly under pressure, according to Boulton.

"I'm proud of the students," Boulton said. "They stayed in control and remained comfortable despite being around celebrities, which was impressive. I think the show is good exposure for UT broadcasting. It shows our students can work well with anyone."

Lewis, UTTV's photographer for the project and recent graduate who studied Film and Media Arts, took the opportunity to see how professional crews work. Lewis said it was exciting to see how efficient and calculated they were with the entire show.

"The entire experience was surreal and I didn't expect to be a part of the show, but I'm glad that I had this opportunity because it turned into my first job after graduation."

Lewis occasionally freelances with the production company for Total Bellas, Bunim-Murray Productions, and has worked as a production assistant on the set of Total Divas, a docuseries following top WWE female superstars.

As the two watched Laurinaitis sign off for UTTV with a final "Go Spartans," they both couldn't contain their cheers. With Fischer no longer continuing with UTTV in the fall and Economos moving on after graduating from the University of Tampa in May, Total Bellas showcased one of their biggest projects of the year.

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"I'm speechless," Fischer said. "They were so nice and we saw everyone involved on the screen. I'm thankful for all the opportunties with UTTV. This experience is definitely going on my resume."

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