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TABLE OF CONTENTS
First Cut, 1996 .01
Scripps College, 1997 .02
MTV News Talent .03
The News-Times, 02/06/97 .04
TV Guide: Insider, 05/31/97 .05
Vogue, 08/97 .06
People, 09/01/97 .07
TV Guide, 11/22/97 .08
Cosmopolitan, 12/97 .09
10. New York Post: Gossip, 01/18/98
11. Teen People, 02/98
12. Condé Nast Sports for Women, 03/98
13. Associated Press, 04/02/98
14. Twist, Aug/Sept 98
15. Rolling Stone, 09/17/98
16. Detour, 02/99
17. Elle, 05/99
MTV Online Search: serena altschul
[lists everything in the archives of MTV Online involving Serena]
First Cut, 1996
Choose Or Lose
MTV news correspondent Serena Altschul says teens pay attention when their
favorite band comes out and tells them to vote: "They're like, 'Yeah man, he was in
my living room last night, you know, and he's talking to me now."
Article Excerpt © 1996 KRON-TV
Scripps College, 1997
What Scripps Students Have To Say...
"The smallness of the College allows for unbelievable interaction.
The classes are not lecture to, but lecture with. They encourage
me to look at many different angles of an idea, whether it is a work of
art or a point in history. I make up my own mind, rather than being influenced
by the outside. It has really been a lesson in learning. From the first
class at Scripps we were encouraged never to be limited, but to explore
our own creativity and to cultivate and challenge our own ideas. This is
what I have taken with me."
MTV News Reporter
Class of 1996
Quote © 1997 Scripps College
MTV News Talent
As an MTV News Reporter, Serena Altschul's responsibilities include developing and writing news stories, conducting interviews, and
on-camera hosting. Based in New York City, Altschul hosts MTV's hourly news reports which cover
everything from music and pop culture to social issues and politics. Altschul is also the host of "MTV News:
Unfiltered," an innovative viewer driven news program. In 1996, Altschul contributed numerous stories to
MTV's "Choose Or Lose '96" political awareness campaign.
Prior to joining MTV News in January 1996, Altschul spent two years as an anchor/reporter for Channel
One News, formerly Whittle Communications. During her tenure there, Altschul covered a wide variety of
hard news stories in the U.S. and abroad.
Altschul has also produced a political feature documentary called "The Last Party." This film about the 1992 Presidential Election was
released in theatres around the country.
Altschul grew up in New York City.
Article © 1998 MTV Networks
The News-Times, February 06, 1997
The beat goes on and on for MTV reporter Serena Altschul
By Richard Huff
New York Daily News
News correspondent Serena Altschul didn't set out to be in the news business.
"I wish I could say that," Altschul said. "But it's the kind of career that found me."
Actually, now its MTV viewers who are finding her. Altschul joined the youth
and music-oriented network last year as a West Coast-based correspondent handling
political coverage. Her face time since then has soared, thanks to a relocation
to New York combined with the departure of Alison Stewart to CBS and a work
cutback by Tabitha Soren.
In addition to anchoring MTV's news briefs, Altschul is the new host of "MTV
News Unfiltered," a series that uses viewer-generated footage, airing next at
10:30 p.m. ET Sunday.
Altschul, 26, is the daughter of former New York Times reporter Arthur
Altschul and poet Siri von Reis. She got her start in the business at Claremont
(Calif.) College in 1992, when she helped a fellow student produce "The Last
Party," a documentary about the presidential campaign.
"It was a crash course," she said. "I was lucky to be surrounded by some
people who had a lot of experience."
That experience led to a correspondent's gig with Channel One, the
controversial news show supplied to schools around the country.
"I went down to the studio and had a couple of horrible reads," she said,
recalling that early gig. "I was so nervous I was shaking."
But the producers stuck with her and over time she grew more comfortable in
front of the camera.
Good thing. During a typical day, Altschul will write and tape news segments,
tape news items for MTV's syndicated radio program and work on upcoming stories
for the network's documentary unit.
"It's an ongoing education," she said.
"Every day I get to learn about things that I'm excited about ... I'm learning
about stuff that I otherwise wouldn't have access to."
Article © 1997 New York Daily News
TV Guide: Insider, May 31 - June 6, 1997
News Kid In Town
Serena Altschul drops anchor at MTV's revamped newscast
By Annabel Vered
When MTV needed someone to help cover the presidential campaign in 1995, Serena
Altschul was just the ticket. Not only had she produced a documentary about
the 1992 election, but she was a reporter for Channel One, an L.A.-based daily
news show supplied to 12,000 high schools. "[MTV] needed someone who could
deal with the political stuff as well as relate to young people and be
interested in music," the 26-year-old daughter of investment banker Arthur
Altschul and poet Siri von Reis explains.
Then last January, MTV moved Altschul to New York to fill in for Kurt
Loder as anchor of its hourly news reports. Though she's barely settled into
her new 23rd-floor MTVdigs overlooking the offices of The New York Times,
her duties are doubling: MTV will soon begin updating its news every 12 hours
instead of just daily. "They want it quicker, fresher, more frequently,"
Currently Altschul is finishing up a story about medicinal marijuana use for
MTV's health show, Mega-Dose (June 1). She has a passion for science,
but "along with [interviewing] NASA scientists, I want to get Prince
to talk to us," she adds. "I was so in love with his music in my
Now her tastes range from Me'Shell Ndegéocello to the Beastie
Boys, the Chemical Brothers to Puccini. "I shouldn't admit this as
an MTV personality,"; she says, "but if it weren't for being here, I
might still be listening to the same Squeeze or James Taylor albums."
Article © 1997 News America Publications, Inc.
Vogue, August 1997, p. 200, 204
The strongest endorsement for suits comes from the women who live in them.
Annie Leibovitz photographs three women who swear by their simplicity and ease.
By Brooke Astor
MTV's dynamic newswoman Serena Altschul, 26, loved Alexander McQueen's irreverent take on the classic Givenchy suit, a long way from the prim blue-and-white uniform that she wore as a schoolgirl at Spence, Manhattan's high-toned private girls' school. "It's such a wild suit," says Altschul, who could be describing herself when she adds, "It's serious, but it's fun and youthful. It's versatile I might wear it for the MTV music awards. But I could never do a serious interview in this suit. And we do do serious issues and serious shows. The suit is not a daily uniform at MTV; we have more flexibility. But generally I'm very comfortable in a suit. I'm so glad that short skirts are coming in again. They're great when you're on the move. I'm a big fan of Calvin Klein and Giorgio Armani but there's always a time and place for something with a lot of edge and flair."
Article Excerpt © 1997 by The Condé Nast Publications Inc.
People, September 1, 1997, p. 56
TV's 40 Most Fascinating People: Fresh Faces
Serena Altschul MTV News (MTV, daily)
Altschul, 26, recalls turning on MTV at age 11 in Manhattan to catch an
interview with her favorite artist, Prince. Now she's wielding the mike
on stories from school dress codes to the murder of The Notorious B.I.G. "It
feels good to give viewers something that might really excite them," she says.
THE BUZZ: "She will survive," says Grubbs.
"I feel very connected to my generation."
Article © 1997 Time Inc.
TV Guide, November 22 - 28, 1997
TV's Top 20 Sexy Stars
Ask MTV News reporter Serena Altschul who she thinks is sexy, and she
doesn't pick Diane Sawyer or Peter Jennings. She just says, "Ursula" -- as
in '60s Bond girl Ursula Andress. "She's a hottie. I think she's incredibly
sexy." Altschul has been heating up MTV's newscasts on a daily basis since
successfully subbing for anchor Kurt Loder in January. "There are some
reporters who are so beautiful that it's distancing," says Dave Sirulnick,
senior vice president of MTV News, who hired Altschul after seeing a tape of her.
Channel One schoolroom reports. "I thought Serena's beauty is more
inviting." The New York native is surprised to be considered attractive. "I was awkward and wholesome in high school," she says. "I sort of look at my awkwardness now as an interesting quality."
Married? No, but says she's "seeing someone"
Vitals: 27, 5' 7", green eyes
Most attractive attribute? "My bowling follow-through. I have a
real fondness for bowling these days."
Article © 1997 News America Publications, Inc.
Cosmopolitan, December 1997, p. 201
The Cable Girl
When MTV news reporter Serena Altschul talks, couch potatoes sit up and take
notice. Meet the downtown girl who’s turned hard news and hobnobbing with the
stars into must-see TV.
By Barbara Sgroi
Serena Altschul gets more face time on the tube than Diane Sawyer, more flack
about her hair than Jennifer Aniston, and more E-mail form horny men than she can
handle. Since the 27-year-old New Yorker joined MTV two years ago, millions of fans
have been tuning in to watch her dish with, to name a few, Madonna, Jakob Dylan,
Dave Matthews, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Jewel, Counting Crows, and Gwen Stefani.
One of her first assignments upon arriving at MTV was covering a megadecible
Metallica concert. "I was nervous--this was not the type of crowd you’d find at a
James Taylor gig," she confesses. Concealing her jitters, she dove into the mosh
pit to give viewers "a real sense of the sheer energy coursing through that crowd."
And while interviewing Beck at last fall’s MTV Video Music Awards, a man lunged
out of the crowd and clamped his arms around the singer’s neck. "Beck panicked and
gasped, "Get him off me!" says Altschul, who kept her cool as the cameras rolled.
"For the most part, the people who give me a tough time are the bigger rock
stars," she admits, recalling a recent interview with the Brit band Blur when their
"piss-off attitude" resulted in one-word answers. "You have to roll with the
punches. If you know your facts, there isn’t a lot people can say that’s going to
Besides, she’d rather replay the times she’s really clicked with a star. "I
liked Sheryl Crow a lot," says Altschul, who’s learned that what’s often mistaken as
attitude in stars is simply a made-for-publicity persona. "The Foo Fighters are as
wild off camera as they are onstage, but then someone like Marilyn Manson turns out
to be just a nice, normal guy."
Clearly, Altschul isn’t easily intimidated. But she was practically speechless
after recently interviewing The Artist Formerly Known as Prince--the one star she’d
been dying to meet. "I’m a huge fan! When I went backstage after the concert, I
just wanted to hug him. But unlike his stage persona, in person he’s incredibly shy."
Luckily, she doesn’t usually get tongue-tied--when Altschul makes a mistake,
millions are watching. "I’ve done live stuff where I’ve forgotten the name of an
album or tripped up on a word. The hardest part when you mess us on TV--or in
life--is learning that you have to move on."
Flubbing on network television isn’t half as mortifying as finding yourself naked
on the Web. These days, when this woman walks into MTV’s midtown Manhattan
headquarters, there’s a mountain of fan letters and E-mail waiting--especially since
faked nude photos of her hit the Internet. "The majority is from horny guys--or
comments about my hair," she says with a smile. "My favorite letter was a letter
from a high-school student who wanted me to be his prom date. When I turned him
down, he named his band the Serena Altschul Experience."
Any day or night on her job is worlds away from the lifestyle she grew up in as
part of one of New York City’s most prominent families. Her father, Arthur G.
Altschul, won respect as a writer at the New York Times before making his
mark--and his millions--on Wall Street. When her parents divorced, 2-year-old
Serena and her two siblings were raised by their mother, a Harvard-educated scholar
and poet, in a luxurious Fifth Avenue co-op.
After her senior year in a tony New York prep school, the 18-year-old volunteered
for the Junior Peace Corps and switched from socialite to social worker. Sent to
Montserrat, she spent three months helping start a day-care center and teaching math
and English to poverty-stricken children who lived on less per week than she was used
to blowing on lunch.
Still unsure of her career path, she moved to L.A. to attend the prestigious
Scripps College, majoring in English. Then Altschul put school on hold to work as
an assistant to mega film director Joel Schumacher and as an associate producer on
the 1993 documentary The Last Party, narrated by Robert Downey, Jr. She never
Hooked on broadcasting, she landed an audition at Channel One (the network that
reaches thousands of high-school classrooms) in 1993. Though she occasionally
squinted and stumbled over words, Altschul landed a job as an anchor-reporter.
Today, a star reporter, Altschul brushes aside the idea that men might find her
intimidating, although she admits she’s rarely asked out. "I don’t know why. I’m
totally approachable. I go for the Ben Stiller type, not the hottest guy in town."
Juggling a relationship and a pressure-cooker career does seem to have taken a toll
on her love life. For the past two and a half years, she’s had an on-again,
off-again romance with a music composer and producer. "For a while, we were each
other’s home-support system, but we we’re dating other people now."
Not even Serena knows what’s next for her. "People always ask me where I want to
be in 10 years--on 60 Minutes, 20/20? I’m not going to say no, but
I’m sure there’s also something else. I really want to make a difference." Stay tuned.
Article © 1997 The Hearst Corp.
New York Post: Gossip, January 18, 1998
50 most eligible bachelorettes in New York
Page Six By Richard Johnson with Jeane MacIntosh and Sean Gannon
They're chic. They're brash. And they're beautiful. Some are young and some are not so young. Some are rich and some not so rich. But they're all Women of the '90s.
They're the most eligible bachelorettes in New York.
In a very unscientific but exhaustive survey of experts in various fields, Page Six has come up with a list of the 50 most eligible single women in New York.
Here, in no particular order, are the official Page Six picks:
Serena Altschul, 26. The MTV News anchor-babe with a blue-blood pedigree has mesmerized music junkies with her good looks and professional delivery. Pro: Just broke up with her music composer boyfriend. Con: Says she goes for the "Ben Stiller-type" - which means her taste in humor is bad.
Article Excerpt © 1998 N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc.
Teen People, February 1998, p. 100-105
MTV's Serena Altschul: the secrets of my success
Wear hip clothes. Interview cool bands. Hang out at the MTV Video Music Awards. Sounds like the best job in the world, right? It isbut it's not the easiest one. Here's an inside look at life as an MTV news anchor
By Serena Altschul, as told to Jennifer Graham
ESPRESSO OR EXERCISE? That's the question I face every morning when I wake up. If I've got time I hit the gym, otherwise it's a double espresso to go. Then I grab a New York Times, pick up a bagel with cream cheese and tomato, jump on the subway (where people sometimes greet me with "Hey, News Girl!") and head for the MTV offices in Times Square.
By 9:30 A.M., I'm settled in my office and looking for potential MTV News stories. Today I read a survey in the New York Times that found that although giving condoms to teens may increase condom use, it doesn't necessarily increase the amount of sex teens are having. This is the kind of material I bring with me to the daily meeting with the MTV News team, where we go around the table and give suggestions. I always want to be prepared to contribute when they get to me. MTV News is mostly about music, but we also cover everything from teen pregnancy to violence in schools to drunk driving and drug abuse. For the next seven hours, the team prepares stories for the 5 P.M. read through, which is a quick rehearsal.
At 7:30 P.M. sharp we tape all the segments; it usually takes about a half hour. Of course, what's happening in the world doesn't always cooperate with our schedule. A huge story can break when we least expect it. But I don't mind those "Oh, my God, you have to go do a live segment right now!" situations. When Notorious B.I.G. was murdered last March, I got a call at around 6 that Sunday morning to come in to work. We used our connections and got information from the friends who were with the rap star when he died. MTV was on it immediately, and we were able to broadcast our first report later that same morning. It was a huge story for our audienceand a very sad one.
the road to MTV
People often think I went into journalism because of my dad, Arthur Altschul, who used to be a New York Times reporter, but that's not really true. Back in school I'd actually wanted to be a scientist. (I'd still love to be an astronaut!)
I grew up in New York City and attended the Spence School, an all-girls school (Gwyneth Paltrow went there). Then, I went to the Millbrook School, a high school devoted to community service projects. During one summer, I helped build church pews, repaint run-down houses and clean up neighborhoods with a number of other students. That work exposed me to a lot of hardship and made me want to work with people, to help give them a voice. I wasn't sure how to do this, though.
A change of scenery helped. I went to Scripps College, just outside of Los Angeles, where I majored in English. While in school, I worked as an assistant to the director Joel Schumacher on the set of the 1993 movie Falling Down. But by far the most interesting thing I did in college was helping some friends who were making a political documentary, The Last Party, which covered the 1992 presidential elections from a youthful perspective. Someone involved knew Robert Downey Jr., and he agreed to be the film's reporter. He got to ask the politicians all the tough questions. Watching him, I soon realized I wanted to be the one asking the questions.
I got that opportunity after college through a friend I'd worked with on The Last Party. He was working at Channel One Network, which produces a 12-minute daily news show that goes out to middle and high schools, and he helped me get an audition. It was the toughest-and longest-audition I could have imagined: I had to be a reporter and an anchor for the show for an entire week. But I survived. After that trial period, they hired me. I was really nervous. It was the first time I had done in-studio work and live interviews, and they just threw me into it without giving me much training. I was sent to Washington, D.C., to interview senators about issues that affect young people, like education and drugs. It was journalism boot camp.
For two years I reported on stories all over the world. I went to Jerusalem, Jordan and Tel Aviv, as well as to Hiroshima for the 50th anniversary of the World War II bombing. But the story that's made the biggest impact on me is the one for which I spent two days in a maximum security prison interviewing everyone: warden, guards, inmates. What other job would let me participate in something like that? Those kinds of stories change your life.
Then came MTV. In 1996, Dave Sirulnick, MTV's executive vice president of news and production, was looking for a Los Angeles correspondent and spotted me on Channel One. He called and asked me to come in for an interview. The idea of solely reporting on music news wasn't what drew me to MTV. It was the opportunity to work as an L.A. correspondent covering the Choose or Lose campaign leading up to the presidential election. How could I turn that down? At the time, Tabitha Soren was doing most of the on-air reporting, and I made it a point to learn as much from her as possible. She was supersupportive.
And so was MTV. One year after I started, I was asked to relocate to MTV's home office in New York City. I had been happy living in L.A. I had my dogs, a house and a backyard with a gardenand I'm a mean tomato grower. But when they offered me the opportunity, I hopped on a plane and headed east without thinking twice.
I didn't realize that I was flying into a promotion when I made that trip. The day after I arrived in New York City, I got my first assignment: to do the daily news that same day! In retrospect, not knowing what I was getting into worked to my advantage. Otherwise I would have been wrapped up in all sorts of anxiety and would have thought, "Oh, my God, am I gonna be able to do this?" It's best just to hold your nose, jump in and hope you don't sink.
But the daily news is just one part of what I do here. What really gets me fired up is the investigative reporting. This week I'm working on a news special about protesting. I got the idea when I was doing a story about the 10 P.M. curfew for people under 18 in San Diego. Our crew was there covering a group of teenagers and adults who felt the curfew violated the First Amendment right to assembleto meet and socialize. Their protest made me think, "How can we tell other young people how to stand up for their rights?" So we interviewed the San Diego City Attorney, the protest organizer and some activist groups, and I created a piece on how to go about protesting. Kids everywhere want to exercise their rights, and I think our job is to give them the information and the tools they need to do that. I know if I were back in high school or college I would be grateful for some of these tips.
All right, I'll admit it: Working at MTV has a lot of glamorous perks, like going to the Video Music Awards. But people don't realize how much preparation goes into my doing the show. For the whole week before the awards, my friends wonder, "Where did Serena go?" because I disappear to study up. I have to be ready to interview any band at any time. And the schedule always changes I might be all set to interview LL Cool J and then Beck shows up, and suddenly I'm talking to Beck. Just in case, I keep flash cards handy for all the artists (with album titles and recent tour facts).
I've interviewed lots of bands this past year at events like Lollapalooza (I loved talking to Tricky and Tool) and MTV's Spring Break festivities (I got to meet the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and I've been friends with them ever since). Some musicians find doing interviews easier than others do. Our job is to present the story regardless and to do our best to get past this.
Metallica was the first big rock band I interviewed for MTV. It was a challenge. The band members were all talking over each other, fans were screaming things to them and I could barely get a word in. But I learned so much from that. Now I just take control. I say, "Okay, we're going to a quiet place, like your trailer, now."
One misconception about me is that I'm part of the celebrity world. Actually, I usually meet the stars for the first time when we go on-camera. Most of my friends are people I grew up with, people I went to camp with, people I've met since moving to New York, or people who work in journalism.
Since I work a lot, I don't have much time for a personal life. For my birthday last October, I threw myself a midnight glow-in-the-dark bowling party. I invited all my friends, and we bowled for hours. It was great.
As for L.A., I don't miss it much. It can be an isolating place, because you're in your car all the time. Here, I'm on the subway saying hi to people everywhere. This has been the greatest year for me. I'm not sure what's next, but if anyone wanted to send me on a NASA mission to Mars I'd probably go: Just give me a chance and I'll try anything.
Article © 1998 Time Inc.
Condé Nast Sports for Women, March 1998, p. 108-111
MTV's Serena Altschul is part of a new entertainment generation that loves sportsand flaunts it
By Kim France
In 1981, when MTV debuted and declared itself the voice of all that was young, hip and cool, the prospect of anything sporty informing the new pop aesthetic made about as much sense as ESPN offering extended live coverage of Madame Butterfly. Back then, the worlds of sport and rock existed in their own distinct orbits, intersecting rarely, if at all (if a woman in a video was wearing a bathing suit, odds were she wasn't about to go for a swim). Aerobic and gym culture altered the landscape somewhat hen Madonna made it sexy to have an athlete's hard body. But Madonna's body was obsessively and carefully constructed and didn't necessarily speak to a love of sport. Then grunge ruled the airwaves, and anything as life-affirming as sports was way, way off the cool radar.
By 1992 the cable network had figured out that the adrenaline of rock was the same as the adrenaline of sports, and it created MTV Sports, spawning a generation of copycats. As heroin chic has receded, sports have imprinted the whole rock aesthetic: The look of No Doubt's Gwen Stefani-baggy sweats and tank tophas its roots in Southern California skateboarding gear, as do the images of neo-ska groups like Smashmouth and Sublime. Of course, ever since Run-DMC sang "My Adidas" back in 1986, sports and sports gear have been a crucial part of hip-hop. These days, sports and rock are inextricably linked, rock's aura boosting the glam quotient of sports, and vice versa. In fact, the sports-rock-glam nexus has become so prevalent as to be a given these daysthe most glamorous folks happen to be closet jocks, as we discovered when we interviewed 27-year-old Serena Altschul, MTV News reporter, and crusty Kurt Loder's fresh-faced counterpart.
Kim France: So. Serena Altschul, jock. Who knew?
Serena Altschul: [Laughs] I don't know if I'd call myself a jockmaybe a closet jock. If there's an opportunitywhether it's soccer, volleyball, riding, windsurfing, skiing, skateboardingI'm down for just about anything.
KF: Skateboarding? Are you good at it?
SA: No, I'm better at Rollerblading. My brothers used to skateboard, so I used to practice my 360s and 180s down the hallway in the house.
KF: You sound like more of an organized-sports girl than a get-on-a-treadmill girl.
SA: Yeah. For me, playing sports and exercising is really more a function of me having fun and trying to be healthy. I'm not counting caloriesit's about feeling good. I've been through the gym thing, thinking, "I'll go; I'll do my 25 minutes at the 75 percent heart rate," and that's just a no-win situation.
KF: It seems to me that there's a connection between sports and cool that hasn't existed before.
SA: It's very much in place now.
KF: There are sports references everywhere these days, especially in fashion. Why do you think this is so?
SA: All of a sudden, it's fashionable to be healthy, and that hasn't always been the case.
KF: So the sneakers on the runways, for example, are a sign of the backlash against heroin chic and the whole waif thing.
SA: Perhaps. For me there was never a backlash because I would never want to look like I was on drugs. To me, anything that reflects that you have a positive outlook is fashionable. And I think fashion has become more functional. The thing I loved the most about the most recent Donna Karan collection was this pair of scuba shoes: They were so simple and so functional, and they made a statement by not making any statement at all.
KF: When you were growing up, were sports considered geeky?
SA: I never thought they were geeky. I thought they were hip. All the cool girls played sports. I hope that never changes.
KF: And sports are one of the easiest ways for women to learn to be comfortable with competition.
SA: That may be true. I went to an all-girls' high school and an all-women's college, so I never really had a hard time asserting myself. From an early age we were not encouraged to sit in the back of the class and take second seat to the guys or the other women. And my parents always encouraged me to speak my mind and be competitive. I have a huge family, and every summer we were playing Frisbee or water polo, or we were trying to drown each other.
KF: Are you the youngest?
KF: So it was also a matter of cultivating survival skills. What's your earliest I-love-sports memory?
SA: Relay races. 'Cause I was fast.
KF: It's interesting what you said just now about girls' schools, because I think they've always been a place where it's okay, and even cool, to be a jock. Whereas, for example, at my high school in Texas the most rigorous thing girls were supposed to do was cheerlead.
SA: Now I think that's very challenging. There's a lot of thought and body things going on at the same time.
KF: True, but you're doing it in a skirt and a little funny hat and full makeup. And there isn't this sense that what's beautiful about it is actually the female body working.
SA: There was a point, when I was in high school, at which I realized the beauty of the female body working. I had picked up squash, and I started to get really into it. I was playing every day, with anyone who would play with me. I was getting better and better, and I thought, "Oh my God! I really feel like I'm coming to some mastery of this sport." And without noticing it, I had become more fit, and my body was responding the way I wanted it to. I felt a real connection between the body and the brain, and that was the first time it ever happened to me.
KF: Five years ago in rock music, the body was very deemphasized. There were a lot of pale, skinny rock kids....
SA: There's still a bit of that.
KF: But now it seems like the body more a part of it again, with all new electronic and dance music.
SA: I absolutely love that dance is a part of music. For me, music has ways involved moving, and if I'm moving I know I'm enjoying this music. If my foot is tapping or I'm dying to get up and dance, then I know I'm loving the track.
KF: What's on the Walkman when you're in the gym?
SA: Groovy hip-hop, R&B, something funky that you can get a bounce to.
KF: Do men and women work out differently?
SA: I'm sure there is a difference, but I definitely think women have as much competitve passion as men do, maybe more today than every before. I enjoy a good sense of competition.
KF: Extreme sports have become a kind of bellwether for a particular generation. Why do you think this is?
SA: I'm not trying to be obvious, but it's about pushing limits, stretching boundaries, changing. Extreme sports are diverse, so it's also about being forward thinking and modern.
KF: Have you ever snowboarded?
KF: Do you think the fact that you're an athlete makes you better at what you do?
SA: Again, I don't consider myself an athlete, but I have learned discipline and how to listen to my body through sports, and that's helpful when I'm burning the candle at both ends. I know what my limits are and how to perform at my best.
KF: What's your exercise regimen?
SA: I've got yoga. I'm also really enjoying Pilates these days. Tennis [courts are] right down the street from me, so that's like an evening thing. If I get home from work earlyearly is like sevenI go in there just to hit the ball around. I don't worry about form. It's whatever's available, depending on what news is breaking. If this is my lifeif it's about stress and work and coming in every day and being prepared and on camerathe solution and the antidote and the remedy for all of those things, for me, is that even if I come home and I'm exhausted and I feel like there's no way I can squeeze one bit of energy out, I stretch. It completely recharges me.
KF: I think people are often surprised that they have a natural capacity for one sport or another.
SA: Yeah. It's like, "Hmmm, I'm not a sedentary creature!"
Article © 1998 by The Condé Nast Publications Inc.
Associated Press, April 2, 1998
Five Questions With Serena Altschul
NEW YORK (AP) -- On Serena Altschul's cluttered desk at MTV, atop
a stack of newspapers and alongside a glass full of spring flowers,
rests a sticky bun the size of a laptop computer.
"Please," she begs, "eat some. I asked for just a small
piece, I swear."
It's not the first time Altschul has asked for a little and
gotten a lot.
In 1993, Altschul, now 27, was fresh out of college, logging
long hours behind the scenes as a production assistant in Los
Angeles. Helping produce "The Last Party," a chronicle of the
1992 presidential election, got her jazzed on news, so she jumped
at the chance for an interview at Channel One, the news service for
"I had lunch with the executive director, and I was so excited
just to hear about what they were doing. I was thinking it would be
so great to be a part of it somehow.
"And then he said, 'Why don't you audition?"'
She landed a position as an anchor/reporter, and for two years
covered news stories around the world.
MTV wooed her away in early 1996 to cover politics. Today, she
anchors hourly newscasts and hosts "MTV News Unfiltered." And
thanks to the "M" in MTV, she's more likely to sit down with
Marilyn Manson than with Al Gore.
Her current pet project is "True Life," a new documentary
series. Altschul anchored the first episode, an often harrowing
look at heroin use among teens in Plano, Texas. The show follows
the trail from the poppy fields of Mexico to the football fields of
suburban high schools. Bleary-eyed students reminisce about friends
who died; ultimately, several shoot up in a crowded, dirty bathroom
as the camera rolls.
The show ranks among Altschul's proudest achievements. Down the
line, she said, she'd like to explore youth militia and eating
While her subject matter can be grim, Altschul is no stranger to
glamour. Her father wrote for The New York Times before becoming a
high-profile investment banker. Her mother is a poet.
Well-connected and calmly beautiful, Altschul is a regular in the
Yet she is completely at home in her chunky black watch and
clunky black boots. She blushes, calls herself a geek, rhapsodizes
about the farmer's market, and when she points to veteran MTV
newsman Kurt Loder's office next door, she seems genuinely awed.
Her star may be rising, but Altschul is decidedly down to earth.
1. How did you build up trust in the kids in "True Life"?
Altschul: It wasn't easy. ... We went there with a good chunk of
time, knowing that this was going to take some connectedness,
talking to people eye to eye. We went to town hall meetings, to
youth centers, went to schools and just put the word out that we
were there to do this story, to talk to them, and if people wanted
to talk, please contact us. We tried to put it in their hands.
2. As you were reporting the story, do you think kids felt more
comfortable talking to people from MTV?
Altschul: It appears that way. Maybe because we took the time to
go down and talk to them and not put the pressure on. And also, I'm
young. I understand the anxieties and the depression. I was in high
school not too long ago. So I think they sort of identify with me.
They know that I care about them and am not just looking for the
3. How was it different for you interviewing these teen-agers
compared with interviewing celebrities?
Altschul: When you're interviewing a band, it's about
entertainment, about artistry and creativity, and their
inspirations and their musical goals. It's a different mind-set. I
mean, this is the 'True Life' series and it's about true life.
There are going to be horrifying and devastating stories, and there
are going to be great, inspirational stories.
4. How do viewers digest something like this among shows like
"Beavis & Butt-Head" and "The Real World"?
Altschul: Well, like on other networks, you might have soap
operas all day long, and then you have 'Nightline.' It doesn't
devalue one or the other. I hope people will tune in specifically
to see the show, but if they're catching it after 'Daria' and
'Beavis,' I think they'll get a lot out it anyway.
5. If you're just kicking back at home, what music are you
Altschul: I'm constantly getting stuff from labels, and from
friends, and just getting their vibe. I listen to electronica and
Ronnie Size. The new Madonna album is unbelievable. Also, James
Taylor, Jonatha Brooke. The Artist. R&B, funk. Virgin (the music
superstore) is right across the street, so on my way home, I'm
always spending way too much money in there.
Article © 1998 Las Vegas SUN, Inc.
Twist, Aug/Sept 1998, p. 46
What really goes on at MTV when the cameras turn off? We just had to know! So we
snuck backstage to the inside scoop on the vids, the shows, and the way cool hosts.
Serena Altschul: Giving us news we can use
Name: Serena Altschul
Hometown: New York City
Day job: MTV News reporter
Sign: Libra; she's outgoing, easygoing, and diplomatic.
Random Gwyneth Paltrow connection: Serena went to the same high school as
Gwynnie (Spence School).
Weirdest interview ever: Beck. "I was interviewing him at the Video Music
Awards and this dude comes up and puts his arms around Beck's neck. Beck was cool
as a cucumber--he said, 'Hey buddy, what's up?' Then I asked, 'Do you know this
guy?' He was like, 'I have no idea who he is.'"
Toughest interview ever: Blur. "They weren't very nice to me," she says.
(They answered most of her questions with one-word answers.) "You can't take it
Dating advice: Trust your gut. "Your first instincts about someone are
She's sort of a science dweeb: "Two of my favorite magazines are Nature
and Science. To me, that's pleasure reading." Who knew?
What she listens to: She's a HUGE Ben Folds Five fan.
No Way! moment: She borrowed a pair of Jill Stuart pants to wear while
covering the Tibetan Freedom Concert. "Two minutes before we go on the air, I sit
down, and the pants just tore right up the back," she says. "So the production guys
had to tape up the pants. It was horrifying."
She's got a band named after her: When a fan wrote her a letter asking her
to the prom, Serena politely declined. The guy was so thrilled to hear from her,
he named his band The Serena Altschul Experience. Now that's a compliment!
Article Excerpt © 1998 Heinrich Bauer Publishing
Rolling Stone, September 17, 1998, p. 62
The Cable Universe
In this multichannel age, there's something for every taste - class, trash, sex and
salvation - and a thin line between remote control and chaos.
By Rob Sheffield
MTV: Serena Altschul
To anyone who watches MTV, Serena Altschul has by now become as familiar as your next-door
neighbor. For two years you've seen the twenty-seven-year-old VJ delivering hourly
newscasts; talking to teenage heroin abusers in Plano, Texas, for MTV's "True Life" series;
and interviewing stars like Big Punisher ("an incredibly warm guy, really sweet") and Liz
Phair. But did you know she's a sci-fi geek? "Anything space related, I'm it," gushes the New
York native. "I still watch 'Star Trek,' even 'The Next Generation.' And I'm so grateful to
be part of this generation, 'cause I will get - hopefully - to watch all nine of the
'Star Wars' movies. What a great pleasure! I can't wait."
Article Excerpt © 1998 Straight Arrow Publishers Company, L.P.
Detour, February 1999, p. 85
Everyone needs space, but
in those who spend most of their time in the blinding limelight sometimes need it just a wee bit more ...
their if only to get away from us.
own But we're nosy.
And so, because where a person chooses to hide out tells a great deal about them, we've
little prodded some of our favorite luminaries to let us in for a limited peek at their private surroundings.
Compiled by Allison Oleskey
MTV News reporter, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens
"I grew up in New York City, so I love the concrete jungle.
But nothing compares to the spiritualness and soulfulnessthe recharging of my batteriesthat I feel when I go to the Botanical Gardens.
It's an environment that doesn't feel as if it's been meddled with by mankind.
It makes me feel like I'm getting out of the city, and reminds me of the smell of farms.
That may repulse some people, but I just love it.
I can feel the city just draining out of me."
Article Excerpt © 1999 Detour Magazine, Inc.
Elle, May 1999, p. 152-153
Does being successful automatically mean being sleep-deprived?
Not if you're one of these five women. We asked some of the busiest people we know how they manage their morningsthat sacred part of the day when bed still beckons and work hasn't officially begun.
Living in the fast lane isn't easy... but it's definitely worth it.
ALARM RINGS: 8 A.M.
When MTV news anchor Serena Altschul gets up every morning at 8 A.M., the first thing she thinks about is food.
"Eating is a priority," she says. "I don't think there's a morning I don't wake up hungry."
So she'll grab some yogurt, fresh fruit, and juice. "But," she adds, "that's not breakfast."
Breakfast is what comes later, after a trip to the Pilates gym near her Greenwich Village apartment.
When she's done, around 10 A.M., she'll call in to the office, and if an emerging news story requires her to head uptown to MTV, her morning ends right there, and she'll shower at the office.
(The full wardrobe and styling department usually solves the problem of what to wear.)
Usually, though, she gets to go home, and on the way she'll pick up some lox, cream cheese, and a bageland that's breakfast.
But other need to eat as well. Her apartment is full of plantsplants on the floor, plants of the sill, plants on every flat surface in betweenand she knows that if she doesn't tend to them in the morning, she won't remember to feed them when she gets home at night either.
So for fifteen minutes she waters, trims, and prunes, doting especially on the ficus, her favorite ("Because it's temperamental and requires attention"), while munching on the bagel.
And then it's time to go to work, which can mean only one thing: food.
"I always show up at the office with a bag of groceries," she says.
Before jumping onto the subway, she'll stop at a health food store in the Village, and whatever's fresh, she buys.
"I'm obsessed with fruits and vegetables," she says, while rummaging through a bag, enumerating today's haul: two yellow peppers, one green apple, one pear.
This will be her lunch which she'll eat while working.
Or, maybe it's more accurate to say, she'll work while eating it.
"Food," she says with a sigh, "is definitely an issue."
Article Excerpt © 1999 Hachette Filipacchi Magazines, Inc.