Michael Essany has been in the tv business since he was a pre-teen Hoosier dreaming of a bright future in show business and how to make those dreams come to fruition. By the age of 14, he was filming a talk-show style program from his parents’ living room.
“When I was a kid, I knew that television was a medium that I wanted to be in and I was too impatient to wait to adulthood to pursue that passion,” Essany recollects about his early days getting into the business.
He dipped his feet in the water first in local cable television from about the age of 14, and by the time he was a freshman in college at Valparaiso University, only five years after his local television show began, it was picked up by the network E! to go national.
Where he got this drive at such a young age is easy for Essany to explain:
“My support base was in-home; my parents told me to dream big and go for it. I pursued interviews with celebrities, most shot me down pretty hard. That process helped me develop a thick skin and all the people who were against me and who didn’t want to be there, it stoked a competitiveness in me.”
He did get some big names though and had a break when Ed McMahon agreed to be on the show when Essany was only 14. He would go on to interview others such as actors Kevin Bacon, Mila Kunis and British celebrity chef, Nigella Lawson.
Essany’s show on E! would go on for two seasons and even be distributed overseas. All the while though, Essany remained in Valparaiso, finishing his degree in political science and getting married and having two young girls all while pursuing his passion for television that would lead him on a journey towards a new opportunity in TV.
Essany’s new show, The Goodnight Show with Michael Essany, is carried and distributed by Amazon and reaches a potential audience size that any show creator would be thrilled to have access to with its 79 million person subscriber pool.
“It all started about two years ago, when I was under contract with a production company in Los Angeles developing content for them and creating pilots for shows to bring to the networks and streaming programs and I developed this idea for a late-night talk/reality show for parents and the concept was very, very well received,” Essany recalled of the show’s inception.
This did not mean that it was all easy coasting from here though; the show almost went to Hulu for distribution, but Essany ran into a question that many in the business have as well: Do you compromise your vision to get a project produced? Essany opted to maintain the integrity of his dream show.
“They wanted to take the show to Los Angeles, and instead of using real parents, they wanted actors,” Essany explained, “Coming from a reality tv background, I already object to how unreal most reality tv programming is, so that was something I couldn’t stand behind.”
Additionally, moving the show just wasn’t an option for Essany, who is a proud resident of the region.
“I’m a proud Northwest Indiana guy, I’m a Valpo boy, and I loved when we did our show on E! that we brought the whole thing here. I’m always very pro-Indiana, I think it’s the crossroads of America for many reasons. There’s a little bit of everyone and a little bit of everything right here. So if you want to get a real sampling of American parents, American families, you don’t have to go very far to get it. That’s our target audience, so I wanted to do it here. “
Fortunately for him, he owned the rights to his work produced under the LA production company and opted to take his vision to Amazon. With Amazon, Essany also has free reign with his show, and a producer can’t tell him to relocate or change the format of his show; maintaining his vision for the show.
“I can feature the families and the local places of business and everything that I love about Northwest Indiana,” said Essany. Within the first few episodes, viewers will recognize many sites like Central Park Plaza, Valparaiso University, Zao Island and Innmans Bowling Alley. He wants to delve even deeper into the community and cover even more landmarks and people in the community he loves in the future.
Essany describes himself as a cheerleader for the region and wants to portray it in a positive light, something he takes as a personal responsibility.
The show itself is tailored to not just parents in the region, but is geared towards universally understood concepts to parents. The episodes tackle different critical issues that would be of concern to the average family like insomnia, hypochondria, social media and anxiety, and brings on experts to help put minds at ease and inform.
For his episode on insomnia, for example, Essany brought on a psychologist, Dr. Tiffany Simpson of Valpo, who walks the audience through what to do when your little one can’t sleep because they are scared. He also deals with the anxiety caused by social media and the fake news phenomenon going on right now and brings in a local journalist and professor as well as current Valparaiso University journalism students to talk about what to do to ensure responsible journalism and how to use critical analysis to determine what is real.
“Putting minds at ease is our objective and that’s what we do, mixed in with humor and silliness,” said Essany of the show.
Essany has completed and distributed three episodes so far with more soon to come. He’s taking the modern binge-watching formula used by streaming sites to release his episodes in blocks, rather than one at a time so viewers may look forward to more of the Goodnight Show with Michael Essany in the fall.