Reality TV: 'Long Island Medium'
Issue: February 1, 2016

Reality TV: 'Long Island Medium'

The TLC series, Long Island Medium, not only follows Theresa Caputo as she meets clients and does readings, it also documents her sometimes zany suburban life in Hicksville, NY (a suburb on Long Island), with her husband and two children. The second part of Season 6 is airing now, and Season 7 is in production.

“The show has evolved as Theresa’s life has evolved,” explains Dominick Pupa, vice president of current series at Magilla Entertainment in New York City and executive producer of Long Island Medium. “Theresa is doing more readings out of the house now; she does only three or four readings a week at her place. Her son, LJ, is out of college and living in the city, and her daughter, Vic, is in college and lives at home.”

One of the challenges of the show is that “we never know the content — her readings are not planned,” Pupa says. “We start each show with what’s actually going on in her life. For example, she insists that her son come home to stay when he gets his wisdom teeth out but her daughter, who’s now home alone, has other ideas and calls Uber to pick him up. Or we’ll ask Theresa what she wants to do, and we’ll scratch ziplining off her bucket list.”

But readings are central to every show, and it’s important to take a respectful approach to the clients who seek Theresa’s services. “Her readings last one hour, and choosing what goes into a show happens in the field — it’s basically instinctual,” says Pupa. “The readings kind of edit themselves. The highlights of the readings are any indication a person gets of the healing they wanted when they came in, and we’ve seen some amazing validations.”

Clients are interviewed when they arrive and meet Theresa; they narrate what happens during the reading and explain the validations. They are interviewed again after the reading, “and you can see the difference in them,” Pupa says. “It’s a pretty transformative experience. My first day on the show two-and-a-half years ago, all the readings were emotional, and I started to cry. I looked at video village, and none of those people were crying. They said, ‘We’ve been here three years — this is nothing, just wait.’”

The show’s camera package, in Hicksville or on-location, features Panasonic HDX900 DVC Pro HD cameras, Canon 5D MK IIIs and the occasional GoPro. “We used GoPros for Theresa’s zipline adventure and in the car to set up readings as she drives to a client,” Pupa explains. “She went cross-country in an RV last season, and we wired the RV with GoPros and occasionally had an HDX900 in there with them.”

Post supervisor Kelly McDonald has been with Long Island Medium since Season 2. One of the changes in the last five seasons has been “how much post production we can do in-house” at Magilla Entertainment, she says. “In the past, we offlined in our facility then took the show to a post house. Now we finish here and make the LTO deliverables.”

The show occupies five to seven offline rooms (Magilla has 40 in its facility) where editors cut on Avid Media Composer V. with ISIS 5000 shared storage. One editor usually cuts an episode from start to finish. “Our editors are pretty self-sufficient; they have real producers’ eyes,” McDonald says. “They know what the audience wants to see and what the people getting readings will be comfortable broadcasting.” Pupa notes that 90 percent of the editors return from season to season; some have been with the show since it debuted.

The show’s color and conform are done in one of Magilla’s three Avid Symphony rooms. “The [process] is pretty well oiled at this point; from offline to color to the mix and delivery, it’s all very smooth. The only challenges sometimes are our speed of working,” says McDonald.

Glenn Ianaro of Kittens Creative, who has been with Long Island Medium since the beginning, mixes the show off-site; Magilla uses its Avid ProTools room for review.

“There’s not a lot of footage that goes unused,” notes Pupa. In the past year, the series has introduced themed episodes, which link readings with a similar client base: first responders, prospective brides, pregnant women. There’s plenty of material to target new themes each season.

“The show is simple in its processes: We want to be respectful and real, not glitzy,” says Pupa. “Theresa is a glitzy-enough person in her own right. We don’t need to add to that.”