Phi Kappa Psi - University of Iowa

Spring 2023 Newsletter

Iowa Alpha Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity at the University of Iowa

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From Phi Psi to the From Phi Psi to the Golden Age of Television Golden Age of Television Morgan Sackett '87 Shares How Iowa Alpha Prepared Him for the Entertainment Industry The hawkeye Iowa alpha Chapter of phI Kappa psI • sprIng 2023 INSIDE: shapIng our home and Brothers pg 2 CultIvatIng QualIty pg 3 alumnI updates pg 4 A lthough Morgan Sackett ' 87 is a fairly private person with no social media presence, you've likely heard of or seen his work. Morgan has two Emmy wins under his belt for Outstanding Comedy Series as an executive producer on Veep, and he has 14 Emmy nominations in total for his work on Veep, The Good Place, Parks and Recreation, and Hacks. To Morgan, though, it's not about the awards. The director and executive producer, who was lucky to land a production assistant role on Seinfeld early in his career, tries to find fun projects with people he likes to work with. Take the 2016 film Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, which struggled at the box office but became a revered comedy hit in the years since, for example. "When you're making these, it seems like a silly job working so hard to tell a joke on camera," he said. "But people love them and watch them over and over again. To me, it's more about hearing from and engaging with those people." Morgan is quick to note how many factors play into industry success, including hard work, talent, and plenty of luck. For every big-name project he can count himself a part of—he's also produced many pilots that went nowhere. "Like so many things in life, there are countless little twists and turns that make luck." A L E A R N I N G P R O C E S S Coming from "small town" Iowa, Morgan feels lucky to have found the positive group of Brothers in Iowa Alpha. At the time, the Chapter House seemed like a fun place, and he felt comfortable with the young men living in it. Iowa Alpha gave him a core group at a large university to make it feel more like home. Morgan remains close friends with lots of those Brothers today, including pledge Brothers he didn't think he'd click with in the early days; one friend, Bowen Campbell '87, even helped Morgan meet his wife. "I wasn't always successful in Phi Kappa Psi," Morgan recalls. "But you learn important skills as you go, and I think that is an important part of the process." Roles like recruitment chairman (for Iowa Alpha and later the IFC) and house president taught him to work with large groups of people with disparate personalities and move in the same direction. Several of Morgan's Brothers turned out to be talented, funny writers, preparing hilarious recruitment letters or instruction lists around the house. Those comedic tendencies made Morgan feel more comfortable when he started working with comedians in his career. F I N D I N G O U R P E O P L E The skills Morgan picked up from Phi Psi helped him find connections in California, where he moved, without knowing a soul, for work. Today, the process of working on a project reminds him of Fraternity life as well. "When you do a show, you work with, like, 120 people on a job that's usually a few months long," he explained. "Then you're working with another 120 people—sometimes the same, but a lot of new faces. It's a good way to meet people very quickly." Many of those projects have led to lasting professional connections. Morgan met Julia Louis-Dreyfus through Seinfeld, and both later worked together on Veep. He grew up watching Ted Danson on Cheers, worked with him and producer Mike Schur on The Good Place, and now all three have a Netflix comedy series in the works. Morgan also has a commercial production company with Kristen Bell, and he's worked with Parks and Recreation stars Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman on numerous other projects. "That's the most satisfying thing: you attract like-minded people from every show," he said. "And then, once you've done it as long as I have, you have a lot of great people to do projects with." A P A S T W O R T H P R E S E R V I N G As a young college graduate, Morgan was ready to pursue his ambitions outside of Iowa. While moving away from 'home,' he stayed in touch with a core group of Brothers, though, who enjoyed a reunion not long before the pandemic. Occasionally, he'll call Brothers he hasn't seen in years and feel an immediate comfort level— almost as though they're in college again. Iowa Alpha has had its ups and downs throughout its history, yet Morgan wants to perpetuate his experience through the young men today. While Morgan's not able to lend his time (proximity and capacity), he is happy to lend some financial support to the chapter as a way to help members and their journey at Iowa. "I don't know what motivates humans to keep preserving their past, but I think it's a good thing," he said. "I remember times when funds were tight, and if I can give a little something to take the burden off these students, that's worth it." W H A T ' S N E X T ? Currently, Morgan produces the comedy series Hacks. He's also producing the second season of the Apple TV+ series Loot with Maya Rudolph as well as the new Amazon comedy Primo. Morgan lives in Los Angeles, where he loves spending time on the water and going on trips with his family. There's no clear path to success in Morgan's line of work, but he suspects the "Midwestern Work Ethic" he learned from his parents was a big help. To that end, Morgan's biggest advice to Brothers is to stay curious and work hard. Sometimes, Morgan is still amazed by the major cultural impact these shows can have. "When I'm making them, it feels like they shouldn't be so important," he said. "But it's entertaining— it makes people think or makes them happy, makes them laugh or cry. Watching stories is a big part of what we all do."

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