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The standouts: Brennan Mcnally

By Vy-Vy Dang-Tran

Feb. 10, 2011 4:19 a.m.

When third-year English student Brennan McNally arrived at UCLA, he was dead set on becoming a screenwriter. Little did he know that one day his life would include regular interactions with famous musicians and getting his guitar signed by the legendary Slash.

This is just one of the many perks that come with working as a music intern at “Conan,” Conan O’Brien’s late-night talk show that premiered on TBS in November. McNally landed the internship at “Conan” after working as a research intern for NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.”

“(When meeting famous musicians) I obviously have to act professional on the outside ““ but inside, I’m constantly grateful and giggling 24-7,” McNally said.

McNally works three days a week in between classes.

“(Brennan) is really mature for his age,” said Joseph Escobar, a third-year biochemistry student and McNally’s roommate since their first year. “I don’t think he’s missing out on (a college experience) ““ he’s doing what he likes.”

For McNally, it all started during the summer of his first year, months after halfheartedly sending in his application to NBC Universal, not expecting a reply and forgetting about the entire ordeal. Before he knew it, McNally was working in Burbank, getting coffee for NBC employees and going on runs all over Los Angeles ““ basically doing anything he was asked to do.

“One time (on “The Tonight Show”) I was asked to hold the cue cards for Conan O’Brien,” McNally said. “I was super nervous. I kept thinking to myself, “˜Don’t drop it. Don’t drop it.'”

McNally’s main duties at “The Tonight Show” included researching viral videos and potential guest stars for the show.

His most memorable find brought two extremes to the show: the world’s largest pumpkin, which weighed in at 1,700 pounds, and a 5-ton monster truck dubbed the Grave Digger.

“I couldn’t believe it. I had a semi-professional job, and here I was standing in the middle of a parking lot, watching a monster truck smash a giant pumpkin on television,” McNally said.

When “The Tonight Show” was canceled after seven months, McNally worried briefly about not being able to find work.

At the time, he also had a radio music show on UCLARadio.com. Looking to score tickets to a John Butler Trio concert, McNally tried to e-mail Ryan Kingsbury, the band’s manager, offering to review the performance on UCLARadio.com in exchange for free access to the show.

Unfortunately, Kingsbury’s guest list was full, but his consolation prize turned out to be a much better deal. Kingsbury granted McNally an hour-long phone conversation, during which he enlightened the young Bruin with an insider’s perspective on managing bands and set McNally up with an internship at Red Light Management, one of the biggest artist management groups in the music industry.

“I went to Bonnaroo (a four-day music festival held in Tennessee), and anything I wanted was mine, just because I said I was with Red Light Management,” McNally said.

In April, when O’Brien announced his TBS talk show “Conan,” McNally was called to rejoin the team as a music intern, which has been keeping him busy for the last three months, greeting the bands scheduled to perform and keeping them happy.

If there’s one thing that McNally’s experiences have taught him, it’s that he has to just let things happen.

“(I didn’t plan it, but) hitting “˜send’ on that one e-mail changed everything,” he said.

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Vy-Vy Dang-Tran
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