Paul Smith ’78, referred to as McPaul Smith in the television-writing world, can now say he has a hit song. At the end of May and beginning of June, a song that he co-wrote, “Castaways,” was #1 on Spotify and YouTube for about a week. This was intriguing to Paul because “Castaways” was written back in 2003 when he was head writer and lyricist for the animated preschool series The Backyardigans. The song was recently made popular through the video-sharing app TikTok when teens and young adults started creating dances to some of The Backyardigans’ songs. “Castaways” went viral, and, while completely unexpected, Paul can now say that 18 years later, he wrote a hit song! Actually, he can say he wrote two hits because in addition to “Castaways” he wrote the song, “Into the Thick of It,” also from The Backyardigans, which has taken off on TikTok as well. Chances are, if you scroll through the app for just a few minutes, you will hear a video made to one of these songs. Learn more about Paul’s incredible success as a lyricist, screenwriter, and producer for numerous popular children’s television shows!
Cora Howey’s journey to the incredible career she has today began the day after she graduated from Penn State University when she drove to NYC with one month’s rent, no job, and big dreams. While it was intimidating, Cora knew she would be able to make it. She said, “at MPS, you never thought you couldn’t do something because they always told you whatever you want to do, you can, because look at what you’ve already done here.” She feels Mercyhurst Prep propelled her to where she is today.
Today, Cora Howey ’01 works for Meredith Corporation as the executive director of advertising for Entertainment Weekly. She graduated from Penn State University in 2005 with her degrees in advertising and art history. In moving to New York City, she pursued careers in both and ultimately found that advertising was the path for her. She began her career as an advertising sales assistant, which fueled her passion to become a sales representative. She knew that she would get to meet and entertain an extensive amount of people and while fun and exciting, she just truly has a passion for travel and meeting new and different people, so she knew it would be the perfect fit. Cora said this passion was fostered at MPS, “the curriculum influenced me so much to know there was more to the world, and I wanted to go out and find it.”
In 2008, she began her career with Entertainment Weekly. They brought on Cora to establish their digital platform, which was brand new at that point. She was then recruited by Parade, found in hundreds of newspapers around the country, to get their digital platform up and running. When she returned to entertainment weekly, she reached her goal of becoming a sales representative, and, just three years in, became the director of east coast sales. Last year, Cora was promoted to the executive director overseeing even more business and teams. Like most, the pandemic changed the way they had to go about their jobs, and they had to dig deep to find new business and meet their goals. She said her team was the highest performing team last year, which made her incredibly proud. Her true reward comes from mentoring her team and watching them grow and succeed as they did last year.
Through all her success, she has had a ton of fun along the way. A big part of her job is selling and attending celebrity events based around major award shows and television events like the Emmy and SAG awards. Over the years, she has met hundreds of celebrities at these events including, Will Smith, Melissa Etheridge, Chris Hemsworth, and Neil Patrick Harris, to name a few. She said she has always loved pop culture and will forever be grateful to have found a career where she gets to be a part of it.