Burke says Lazarte is an exemplary alumnus not just because of his success story, but because of his track record of helping CCM students and recent grads through internships and mentoring.
“There’s a lot of great, talented kids out there that are just finishing school, who just don’t have that real-world experience yet,” Lazarte says.
When it came time for him and Hernandez to bring together a team for “McMillion$,” it was important for them to include someone just starting out. Recent CCM E-media grad Jared Bailey got the job.
“James and I are very much in the spirit of trying to bring people up,” Lazarte says. “We knew how hard it was for us when we both got out of college to try to get our foot in the door. We always felt like if we got to a place in our career that we could help a student with an internship, we should do it. We offered up an internship opportunity to CCM alums and there was one candidate who really stood out. [Bailey] joined us and is still out in L.A. now. He’s staying busy.”
So is this filmmaking duo. “I have to do a Reddit trilogy at this point,” Hernandez says, laughing, though he confirms he’s found more ideas on the site. “We’ll have some announcements of things that we’re gonna be doing next coming up really soon.”
And as “McMillion$” wraps up, it’s likely not the last time folks will hear of the rigged McDonald’s Monopoly game — actor/director Ben Affleck is working on a film based on the story, tentatively titled, “McScam.”
In the meantime, Lazarte will return to UC’s campus this spring to receive the CCM Young Alumnus Award at the college’s Convocation Ceremony — a fitting tribute for a promising grad who continues to pay it forward.
“I always try to connect with him when I am in L.A.,” Burke says, noting that Lazarte invited him to the Los Angeles premiere of “McMillion$.” “Despite the transformative impact Hollywood can often exert on people, Brian hasn’t really changed much at all from the sincere and genuine person he was when he was here at UC many years ago.”
Featured image at top: McDonald's Monopoly pieces displayed as evidence as seen in "McMillion$." Photo/HBO