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Smithsburg graduate wins Emmy

November 25, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

SMITHSBURG - A former Smithsburg man's persistence earned him a gold statue when the 58th annual Creative Arts Emmy Awards were announced in August.

The "Required Reading" commercial made for Hallmark went from being a personal, favorite project for producer Scott Gardenhour to a critically acclaimed three-minute spot.

And just as the middle-aged man featured in the ad struggled to learn to read, those involved in the project struggled to get the go-ahead.

"I read the script and said, 'This is an amazing script, and it needs to get made,'" Gardenhour said.

The 1979 Smithsburg High School graduate said he believes that viewers have seen every ugly thing possible in entertainment, so he pushed for the production of "Required Reading" even though advertising agencies and Hallmark had rejected director David Harner's short story.

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That tale concludes with "Ed" reading a Father's Day card from his daughter, the first time he was able to do so.

"I think this 'Required Reading' project is one of my favorites because it's a great human-interest story, and I think today, they are rare because of the types of stories being told," Gardenhour said.

Gardenhour's California company, The Institute for The Development of Enhanced Perceptual Awareness, piggybacked the "Required Reading" commercial on another project, and produced it late last year. The spot was presented to Hallmark in December 2005.

"Our belief in the project was really validated when Hallmark reacted the way it did," Gardenhour said.

He said the chief of Hallmark's entertainment division cried when he first saw the commercial.

"He said it was the best spot they ever made," Gardenhour said.

"Required Reading" first aired in January on CBS before one of Hallmark's feature-length films. It was replayed on the Hallmark Channel.

The Institute, a commercial production company, is run by Gardenhour and Michael Bay. The company submitted "Required Reading" for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' consideration in the Emmy's Outstanding Commercial category, pitting it against thousands of other submissions.

Gardenhour, the son of Richard and Pat Gardenhour, said he "started getting an inclination" that the commercial might be faring well in voting when awards officials began requesting shorter versions of the commercial. Those would better fit within the show's constraints, he said.

"When you get the opportunity to do pieces of material like this that resonate with people and tears at their heart strings. ... This was actually a really rewarding project to work on," Gardenhour said.

Gardenhour was line producer on the 1998 movie "Armageddon," was executive producer of 2001's "Coyote Ugly" and an executive producer on 2001's "Pearl Harbor," according to the Internet Movie Database Web site.

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