By Jeanne Sager
HOLLYWOOD, CA February 24, 2006 Come Oscar night, one Eldred family will be glued to the tube with fingers crossed.
Ask Kevin Marrinan what its like knowing his youngest daughters been nominated for an Academy Award, and he says what any dad would say.
Were very proud of her.
But, he confesses, its hard to really imagine its happening!
Kevin and Cathy Marrinans daughter Corinne will be sitting in the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood on March 5, waiting with the rest of the world to hear if her documentary, A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin, will win the Oscar for best documentary short subject.
This is the second documentary Marrinan has produced with partner Eric Simonson, and the second to be nominated for the prestigious award.
The duos On Tiptoe: Gentle Steps to Freedom, got the nod in 2000, but the Academy only recognizes two producers for each short subject documentary, so Marrinans name got bumped.
Officially, this is my first nomination, she said. Its very gratifying. I got into kind of the backstage world of this industry, and you usually dont go into that expecting to be recognized.
Its not like being an actor where you practice your Id like to thank the Academy speech in the bathroom mirror.
Marrinan caught the theater bug in her teens when the Catskill Actors Theater opened in Highland Lake.
Kevin did the electrical work at the theater, and he offered up Corinnes services to baby-sit the founders 4-year-old.
For a 13-year-old from the country, meeting theater people was an exciting and new world.
I knew this was the crowd I want to be with, she recalled.
So she went from baby-sitting to doing anything she could at the theater, helping build backdrops and working the box office.
It was kind of like joining the circus, but I didnt have to leave home, she recalled with a laugh.
Marrinan worked her way up to stage manager, spending her summers throughout high school and into her first few years at Boston University at the theater.
After graduating from the university in 1995 with a theater degree, Marrinan set off for Chicago.
Shed been told shed like the theater scene there, and the cost of living was much cheaper than New York.
They were right on both counts, and Marrinan spent five years in Chicago, started her own theatre company and worked at the well-known Goodman Theatre.
Over the years, plays at the theater have featured actors such as Harvey Keitel, William H. Macy, William Hurt and John Malkovich.
It was in Chicago that Marrinan met William Petersen.
At the time, the actor had been on television and done a number of movies, but he had yet to make his big hit CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
He told me his pilot had been picked up, Marrinan recalled. He needed somebody to help him out in L.A. because he was going to produce.
Petersen said it probably wouldnt last he surmised the show would be canceled after a few episodes.
I think we knew when we were filming the episodes that we were doing something different and special, she recalled. But there was this fear, Is America going to like this?
Were they going to be interested in the science or bored out of their minds?
Were they going to be turned off by the gross factor?
Six years later, Marrinan is still the associate producer for CSI and the two offshoot shows CBS airs, CSI: Miami and CSI: New York.
Shes one of the few employees working on all three shows.
Producer, she said, can mean one of a million different things.
It can just be a vanity credit for introducing two people, she said. It can refer to someone who put up a lot of money.
In her case, Marrinan is in charge of the CSI image in the marketplace, from the TV-to-DVD releases to merchandise licensing.
Making sure everything that makes it to the marketplace is accurate, she noted.
Her position has earned her a few writing gigs shes credited as co-author of The CSI Companion, a book published in 2004 by Simon and Schuster.
Six years in, Marrinan said the job still holds her interest.
I enjoy that its a little different every day, she said. Ive done enough jobs while I was in school chambermaiding and temping I know it can just be a grind.
Im grateful for the interesting people I get to meet.
The connections shes made helped Marrinan and Simonson fund their two documentary projects.
The duo met in Chicago Simonson was performing at the legendary Steppenwolf Theatre.
They planned to put together a five-minute piece on Ladysmith Black Mombazo (the South African a capella group best known for providing back-up on Paul Simons best-selling Graceland album).
But as they gathered footage, added concert shots and even traveled to South Africa, the film grew into a 58-minute tribute.
The documentary was nominated for an Academy Award as well as an Emmy and won an International Documentary Association Award.
Marrinan said she and Simonson decided to take a little breather, while she put her efforts into her full-time job with CSI.
But they soon found new inspiration in Norman Corwin, the man once called the king of radio.
As a CBS radio broadcaster, Corwin recorded the legendary A Note of Triumph, aired as America celebrated victory in Europe on V-E Day.
Hes earned his own Oscar nomination for the screenplay for Lust For Life, a biography of Vincent Van Gogh, and been inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame.
Simonson heard about Corwin on National Public Radio around the time that the duo began talking to Studs Terkel about the possibility of a film on his life.
Terkel, who Marrinan called the grand interviewer of the common man, declined, pointing them to Corwin.
We felt like wed uncovered a gem, Marrinan said of the now 95-year-old Corwin, who still teaches at the University of Southern California.
How did we not know about this guy? How do others not know about this guy? she asked. It was a real problem, that people dont know about him.
This is a guy who should be known about and celebrated.
With Marrinan and Simonsons connections in the industry, they put together a documentary on an $80,000 budget.
Which, by industry standards, is like what theyd spend on Coca-Cola on a movie shoot, she said with a laugh.
Theyre hoping to get a broadcast deal with a cable company and eventually see the film distributed on DVD.
The films nomination will hopefully bring attention to Corwins life and achievements, Marrinan said.
Ironically, at a special get-together for Award nominees, Marrinan was seated next to Best Director Nominee George Clooney who wrote and directed Good Night, and Good Luck, a film about one of Corwins contemporaries, Edward R. Murrow.
We actually had something to talk about, she said with a laugh.
Clooney requested a copy of the documentary, which she made sure got to his office.
Sitting at the luncheon with hundreds of easily recognizable faces, Marrinan said she felt a little out of place.
You feel like someones going to come up to you and say, You dont belong here, and kick you out, she said with a laugh.
Unlike most people in Hollywood, Marrinan said she doesnt have a sob story about her horrible childhood.
There wont be any tell-all book forthcoming, she said with a laugh. Ive got great parents. . . . I was very lucky to grow up somewhere so clean and beautiful.
You get a little antsy in your teenage years . . . but once you get out, you realize after a couple of years of living in the city or at school, you get how unique it is.
She credits her childhood with inspiration for where she is today, sitting in a Hollywood office with an Oscar nomination under her belt.
It seems like theres an award for every day of the year, but this is a big one out here and in many places around the world! she said.
Marrinan will be walking the red carpet with sister Amy who is flying out to attend the award ceremony on March 5.
Kevin and Cathy will watch the festivities on television in Eldred.
She always said she was going to Hollywood, Kevin said. And she did it!