If you’ve never imagined competing in full-throttle roller derby or spending a week in the woods with 200 musicians, maybe it’s because you haven’t seen IncredibleMAINE. The half-hour show, which airs weekly on Maine Public Broadcasting Network (MPBN), was created by Marilyn Taylor ’73 and her husband, Dave Wilkinson.
First-season episodes invited viewers to join fiddle, penny whistle and banjo players at Maine Fiddle Camp; go backstage at the Maine State Music Theatre; hike through Acadia National Park; and drink in the success story of Cold River Vodka.
“The show is about people who enjoy what they’re doing, which gives it universal appeal. But it also explores places that are unique to Maine and gets inside the heads of some incredible people,” explains Taylor, who has lived and worked in Hollywood, Boston, Atlanta, Santa Fe and Orlando, among other places. “We call it ‘hybrid TV’: part documentary, part magazine format, part music TV.”
Video projects for the Coca-Cola Company, Turner Broadcasting, IBM, Kimberly-Clark, Motorola, and other companies gave Taylor her start. She also worked with the VP of production for the Disney Sunday movie, and in promotions and product placement for Disney films including Good Morning Vietnam, Tin Men, and Stakeout.
Taylor credits Bentley (and her Dad) for helping to develop her business skills – and more. “They taught me how to think logically and see things in a conceptual context,” says Taylor, whose late father, William F. Lundy, graduated in 1933. Her experience as one of the first women enrolled at the college was valuable training for a male-dominated business world.
Indeed, Taylor’s first job as a Boston University grad student was staffing the sports information line for The Boston Globe, working nights alongside “tough, old-time sports writers,” she recalls. By day, she interned at WBZ-TV on the Sonya Hamlin Show, which was shot live. “I fell in love with the magical world of television.”
Taylor writes and produces IncredibleMAINE, while her husband serves as director and videographer. Each show features original music composed by Wilkinson and performed by his band, Sounds Incredible. (He had a Billboard Top 100 pick with a different band in the 1960s.)
“We have a synchronicity that helps both of us maximize our talents,” says Taylor, praising her husband’s “creative eye, technical skills and great sense of timing.”
The show’s host is LC Van Savage, an engaging 70-year-old woman whom Taylor and Wilkinson met upon moving to Harpswell from Washington, D.C., shortly after September 11, 2001. Originally called LC and Company, the production aired on 50 cable access stations for 18 months before Taylor brought the venture to MPBN. Now her sights are set on finding underwriters for the show’s extended run on MPBN and a hoped-for PBS pickup throughout New England.
“We see each show as a short film unto itself,” says Wilkinson. “We’re extremely lucky to work in a free environment that lets the stories unfold. I knew music and photography, but [Marilyn] taught me how to do video. She has the background and ability not only to create a product but also to make things happen.”
In fact, Taylor’s talent for showmanship emerged early. Fellow alumni may remember her taking to the streets of Waltham as a student, wearing a sandwich board sign that read “Send me to the Super Bowl $ .10.” National newswires picked up the story and Taylor scored a ticket to the big game and roundtrip airfare from a Boston travel agency.