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The Paper Machete Interview: Learning nothing about Oprah from Julienne Bilker

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The Paper Machete Interview: Learning nothing about Oprah from Julienne Bilker

Photo by Thomas Woytus

Say hello to The Paper Machete‘s Julienne Bilker, who is preparing for her Machete debute. Bilker is a theater writer at TimeOut, and a production assistant at Harpo studios. She’s been lurking around the Machete for some time, but Chris is finally letting her do more than hard labor.

(Photo by Thomas Woytus)

1:58 PM Kate: Hey Julienne, do you have a second?

Julienne: yep! sorry I meant to say I was around until 3, didn’t mean to make you scramble =)

Kate: No problem. Just wanted to make sure we nabbed you.
1:59 PM Anything special going on that makes this day so busy? Is The Paper Machete wearing you to the bone?

Julienne: ha, well, I think I’ve done more research in the last 2 days than I have since college
2:00 PM possibly more than I did in college, but that’s another story
I’m going to talk about the Marilyn Monroe sculpture on Michigan Ave, so I went to visit her this morning

Kate: I like that you’re treating her like a lady.
“Her” not “it.”

2:01 PM Julienne: yea, seems strange to call her “it”
other than that, I’m going to a trapeze class this afternoon (yes for real) and then the Bela Fleck concert later
so, I’m busy, but fun busy =)

2:02 PM Kate: Woah! Well I was going to ask you later about what else you’ll be doing this weekend, but apparently I should have asked you about your Thursday...

Julienne: haha
2:03 PM it’s true, my weekend isn’t nearly as exciting. I’ll probably spend all night Friday/all morning Saturday revising my piece
I’m one of those people who always finds something to fix

2:04 PM Kate: I hear perfectionists get the bone, or something like I guess it’ll work out for you.

2:05 PM Julienne Bilker: I hope so, I’ve been thinking about writing for the Machete since I first started going in January, so I was super excited when Chris asked me
2:06 PM we’ll see

2:07 PM Kate: We WILL.
I stalked your LinkedIn profile, and was super interested to see that you work/ed at Harpo with OPRAH.
Can you tell us a little bit about that? And only the juicy stuff.

2:09 PM Julienne: well, unfortunately my iron-clad confidentiality agreement means that I can’t give you too much good stuff. But maybe if you come by the Horseshoe on Saturday and buy me a beer...

Kate: Woah woah woah. We’re journalists over here! No bribes allowed.

Julienne: ha
well, the (not so juicy) basics:
2:10 PM I work in the Production Design Department - so my department takes care of the set and the lighting
I’m an assistant to the Production Designer and for the department as a whole

Kate: That sounds super cool.

2:11 PM Julienne: it’s certainly unique, and I work with a great crew

Kate: Does this mean you work with the Queen herself? Or not anymore? What exactly is going on over there?

2:13 PM Julienne: I’ve never worked directly with Oprah, sorry to disappoint.
Right now, the Oprah set is being dismantled, and the set for Rosie O’Donnell is being installed, or will be soon

2:14 PM Kate: And time will tell how she will be received...

2:15 PM Julienne: Yea - I actually really liked her old talk show, but I don’t know how the format of this one will compare.
2:16 PM I hope she brings some attention to theatre in Chicago, like she did in New York.
2:17 PM (When her show was on, I mean)

2:18 PM Kate: Yea, can you tell us a little bit about how your theater writing for TimeOut connects to your work in tv?

2:19 PM Kate: Some people see a big divide between television and theater; are your jobs more connected than they appear?

2:21 PM Julienne: Well, I think there is certainly theatricality in TV, and with Oprah, I think there have been a lot of theatrical moments.
2:22 PM But as far as my work goes, they’re pretty different.
My job for Oprah is mostly logistics - ordering building materials, booking crews, problem-solving, etc
2:23 PM I guess the biggest overlap with Time Out would be communication - the pace at Harpo can be pretty strenuous, so it’s important to communicate efficiently
With a 250 word limit for Time Out, being succinct and direct is key.

2:24 PM Kate: Yea 250 words...ouch.

2:25 PM Julienne: Yea, it was a rocky transition - I used to write theatre reviews for, and didn’t really have a word limit.
But I’ve gotten used to it

Kate: And as for Paper Machete, you’ve been doing a lot of behind the scenes work for them that seems to be similar to your role at Harpo.
2:26 PM Except now you’re writing, so I guess that’s more like TimeOut...

Julienne: For Paper Machete, I think most of the “work” I’ve done thus far is being a groupie.
I help out here and there when they need an extra hand.
2:28 PM They’re awesome people, it’s fun to hang out with them, even if you’re blowing up 500+ helium balloons all day, like a couple of us did for their fundraiser a few weeks back =)

Kate: Hahaha excellent.
Well, we’re excited about hearing your thoughts on the new lady in every Chicagoans life -- can we get a tiny preview of your thoughts?

2:30 PM Julienne: Hm, I’m still mulling over a lot of things, but, to be perfectly honest, if I’m sure of one thing about 26' Mega Marilyn, it’s that she’s completely ridiculous.

Kate: Fair. And I think most of us are in agreement.

Julienne: The shade under her legs was a nice break from the sun though, so, that’s good?

2:31 PM Kate: I like that! Optimistic.
Well thanks for talking to us, and we’re excited you won’t be spending your Saturday blowing up balloons for the Machete, for once.

Julienne: No problem! See you Saturday, I hope!

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