I participated in the CBS Page Program from [dates redacted so I don’t feel old] and eventually used my position to get staffed on a network TV show. Here’s a rundown of everything you need to know about Page Programs, what to expect, and how to make it work for you.
How They Differ
CBS (Los Angeles/New York City)
The CBS Page Program in LA is heavily based around audience coordination. Loading in audiences, accommodating anyone with special needs, seating, restroom runs, distributing food for sitcom audiences, and loading out – that’s just a short list of the tasks you can expect. Working closely with shows is a great way to get to know the crew. CBS pages do not do studio tours. Departmental assignments are available but not frequent. The New York program is smaller and is primarily focused on assisting CBS Sports and News. The CBS program is part-time and has a term limit of 2 years.
NBC (Los Angeles/New York City)
The NBC Page Program, notoriously the most difficult program to get into, is mostly assignment based along with conducting tours at 30 Rock in NYC. There’s less audience coordination than the CBS program. Many NBC pages continue to work at NBC through connections they’ve made through department rotations and career ambassadorships. The NBC Program is full-time and has a term limit of one year.
Paramount (Los Angeles)
The Paramount Page Program is tour-based with minimal audience coordination. After an introductory period, pages are eligible for available assignments. The Paramount Program is part-time though hours can reach full-time during peak season. It has a term of 18 months to 2 years.
Getting into a Page Program can be serious business. First, they all ask that you have a four-year degree. Next, they mostly hire around peak television season when hours are abundant. It can be a long wait between applying and actually being called to interview. For instance, I applied in January and wasn’t hired until July. The best ways to gain an edge are by personal recommendation from a former page or current employee. Since I didn’t know anyone, I sent a message to an HR representative via LinkedIn after I applied online.
What To Expect
If you think page life is glamorous, you’re in for a rude awakening. There’s low pay, inconsistent hours, ugly outfits, and the lingering feeling that you’re so close, yet so far away.
Some people will be nice, others won’t be. The nicest people are often former pages who understand the struggle. Audiences can be difficult. Some people will complain about their seats. They’ll want special treatment, they’ll yell when they don’t get their way, they’ll want to stand where they’re not allowed, they’ll want to smoke in a “no smoking zone”.
Everything will be your fault according to everyone, and that’s just how it is. You’re fighting the urge to choke someone out (literally) and making something shake before your time in the program expires. You don’t want to be that page leaving the program with no options.
Making It Work For You
While you’re in the program, you have access to the studio lot, the ability to set up informational meetings within departments, panels, and temporary jobs. Don’t forget to utilize that.
For me, pilot season was a great time to walk around the lot and talk to people. In my free time after a shift, I would walk the lot, resume at reach, and soon, people started to recognize me from paging their show. This method eventually got me a job on a network sitcom after I handed my resume to the right production coordinator.
Most importantly, your fellow pages will be your greatest assets. As they start getting jobs throughout the entertainment industry, before you know it, you’ll have a pretty good network of people working for great companies.
Making Head Page
Making Head Page sounds nice. In many ways, it can be, but it’s a long road. Head Page is usually more senior than the other pages and basically the shift manager of the whole crew. It can open many doors. It looks nice on a resume and more people will know your name on the lot. In the CBS program, some Head Pages consistently work on the same show and are hired on the spot when a job opens up.
Where They’ve Gone
Since completing my program, many of my fellow pages have gone on to great things. Some companies include: CBS, Disney/ABC, NBC, FOX, Sony, E!, BET, VH1, Bravo, Marvel, Lionsgate, The Tennis Channel, American Idol, Empire, Last Man Standing, Bold & The Beautiful, The Price Is Right, Dancing With The Stars, The Talk, The Late Late Show, Modern Family, various pilots, various talent agencies, 1iota, On-Camera Audiences, and Audiences Unlimited.
TV History/ The Memories
One major thing to enjoy is you’re constantly surrounded by television history that you’ll carry for the rest of your life. Regis Philbin shook my hand, told me he was a former page, sighed, and said, “Stay focused.”
Morgan Freeman once gave me a cupcake. I witnessed Betty White crack jokes on the set of Hot In Cleveland. Everyone knows what happens at the Dancing With The Stars wrap party, stays at the wrap party… and I know what happened. You might even catch a glimpse of me on The Price Is Right, The Late Late Show, and The Talk.
Taking The Next Step
Now that you’ve completed your program, you’re free to chase your dreams within the entertainment industry (hopefully with a leg up). Good luck!
If you’re still unsure where to start, you might want to conisder signing up for Hired in Hollywood this Thursday. It’s totally free, and you’ll learn a lot in only an hour.