Back to the beginning

by Jamie Jenson

October 1, 2018

Dan Kaplow ’87 brings three decades of television and film expertise to a Syracuse-area project

Dan Kaplow '87
Dan Kaplow '87

For television producer Dan Kaplow, it all started when he washed Dick Clark’s Jaguar. 

“That’s a great story,” Kaplow says.

When he was a student at Newhouse, Kaplow met Clark during a class trip to Los Angeles. Clark, an alumnus of Syracuse University, had agreed to meet Newhouse students who were looking to connect with successful alumni. Clark talked to the group for several hours and promised to help them with their careers if he could.

After graduation, Kaplow and his friend drove out to California, hoping Clark would make good on that promise.

When Kaplow got to LA, he was surprised when the entertainment mogul asked him to wash his car. Kaplow didn’t know it at the time, but this was Clark’s way of finding out what kind of worker he was. Kaplow agreed, and after seeing how meticulously Kaplow had completed the task, Clark offered him a job as assistant talent coordinator for “American Bandstand.”

After the boost from Clark, Kaplow’s career took flight. He has produced shows such as “United States of Tara” and “Trophy Wife,” and worked with some of the greatest names in Hollywood, including directors Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson. A series he produced with Amblin TV and Paramount Television in Atlanta, “The Haunting of Hill House,” will be available on Netflix in October. He also served as executive producer for a movie starring Kate McKinnon and Taylor Schilling called “Family,” which will hit theaters later this year.

Even with his demanding schedule, Kaplow still found time to help a friend, Jeremy Garelick, with a new project Garelick started in the Syracuse area.

Garelick and his business partner, Will Phelps, created a production company called American High. Their goal is to make high school-based movies and other low-budget projects. Last August, Garelick purchased A.V. Zogg Middle School in Liverpool, a suburb of Syracuse, for $1 million. The location is now called Syracuse Studios.

Garelick plans to start a training program at the school this fall, which will be operated by his nonprofit, The Academy at Syracuse Studios. One of the goals of the organization is to work with area colleges to provide internships for students who are interested in movie making.

“[The students are] getting a chance to do things that normally we would wait to go to LA to do, but they’re getting that here,” says Michael Schoonmaker, chair of the television, radio and film department. “They have a sincere interest in a lasting relationship and believe in teaching students and creating an educational environment through experience.”

Newhouse students have been interning with American High for the past year, with glowing reports on both ends, Schoonmaker says.

“It is the real deal and I feel us getting better from this partnership and it’s giving our program more professional credibility,” Schoonmaker says. “They recognize the value that hard-working, committed students can give, and when these students go to Hollywood or New York, it’s a great thing to have on the résumé. 

Kaplow shares in this overall enthusiasm, and when Garelick called him to talk about his venture in Syracuse, Kaplow says he was immediately on board.

“I was in Atlanta and I flew up to Syracuse to help him and [Phelps] set up a little bit,” Kaplow says. “Together, Jeremy and Will did all the work. I helped them a little bit with organization and infrastructure ideas and goals—stuff they needed to put in place.”

Kaplow says he is happy to help Garelick in any way he can.

“I will do whatever he asks me to do,” Kaplow says. “Jeremy is a very important person in my career and my life, as a friend. And so whatever he needs me to do, I am there for him.”

Jamie Jenson is a graduate student in the magazine, newspaper and online journalism program at the Newhouse School.