Professor Jack Lugar is in his first year as a full-time communications professor. After living in Los Angeles for several years, he and his family moved back to his hometown of Indianapolis. He is married to Elisabeth, and has two sons, Conrad and Ethan, and a daughter, Cali.
Q: When you were in college and grad school, what was the process of actually deciding to move to Los Angeles? A lot of people dream about doing it, but few actually do.
A: I am from Indiana, which is why I gravitated back to Indianapolis—which is where I was born and raised. I was a communication studies major in undergrad at Taylor University, and I studied media management at Regent University in Virginia Beach. I spent two years there with a real itch to get out to Los Angeles for pretty much the whole time I was there. After we finished grad school, we went straight to Los Angeles. We gave ourselves a month there, we found an apartment we could rent, and we spent time trying to make connections. While we were there, I had a friend send me a letter about a potential lead for a job through Warner Brothers, which is pretty much the only way to get hooked up with someone in that industry—to know someone with a connection, and she said she thought she would potentially be able to land us jobs there. So, shortly thereafter we headed back home to Indiana, packed up our U-Haul and officially moved there.
Q: When you got there, what were the jobs you actually had?
A: My first job was as a production assistant on a show on CBS out there, and I did that for a year. We were on the same lot as Seinfeld and Rosanne, so that was pretty cool. During that time, I got to know Louie Anderson some, and after a year or so as a PA, he asked me to go with him to do a cartoon and be assistant to the producer on his show Life with Louie, which was on Fox. I was there for a year, and then he hired me to do all of his development and touring. So I worked directly with his business manager to keep his life and schedule in order. After I left working for Louie, I entered a Warner Brothers comedy workshop, and my script got picked up, and that was eventually how I got my first writing job, on the show Wanda at Large on Fox. We followed American Idol, so we did really well during that time, but then we got moved to Friday and it went downhill. I worked on some other pilot projects while I was out there, but sitcoms were dying at that time, so my wife and I decided to make a career change and head back to Indiana and go to law school. I had an interest in real estate law, and I practiced at a few different firms, but I realized pretty quickly that I wasn’t getting much fulfillment out of it. I was doing real estate separately on the side, and I was making more money doing that anyway, so my wife and I decided to start a real-estate business under Century 21. She’s a great marketer, and our skills really went well together.
Q: What was the process of coming to AU as a full-time professor?
A: While I was doing real estate, I was also adjunct teaching at AU. I had been talking a lot with Don Boggs about how I really enjoyed the classroom setting and interacting with students, and that was kind of the motivation there. It was great to talk about movies and get to talk with students about a lot of the things we both were interested in. So, when a door opened and there was spot at AU, I had to do a lot of debating and thinking about making the move, but I am definitely glad I am here. It was pretty a tough decision to leave the real estate thing, just because it was something we had started from the ground up, and we turned it into a real successful operation. We had built a lot of clientele and put a ton of effort into the whole thing, so it wasn’t an easy thing to do. But like I said, I am really happy I came here.
Q: You have written a few books. Can you tell me about them?
A: My first book is called “The Starving Artist’s Diet.” It’s a humor book, and it’s kind of quirky, but usually when people read it, they like it—it’s gotten a good response, I think. It was an idea that I thought was pretty funny—merging dieting and art and humor. I wrote that book in 2010. My second book I actually wrote with my wife, and it is called “Hollywood Break-In.” It’s an overview of what we did, and it talks about how to move to Los Angeles and make it work and find a job. It’s really just a guide to LA. What I thought other books didn’t do in this arena was they would talk about jobs, but they would never talk about how people like us, from the Midwest, even get out there. We wanted to answer questions like: Where do you even live out there? When we went there, there were no resources on how to find housing. People don’t realize a lot of time how big Los Angeles really is. You can look online and find cheap prices for housing, but when you get there, you’re an hour or more outside the city, even though it’s still technically LA. Living that far outside the heart of LA isn’t obviously ideal when you’re trying to break into the industry. I wrote that book in 2013. I also hope to have a book out in May, and it’s a children’s chapter book called “Katz Pajamas.” It’s about a cat who’s a private eye. It’s all self-published, probably because I am not motivated enough to go seek out publishers, but also because I feel like self-publishing is a resource that can be successful, too. The idea came to me about three or four years ago, but I sat down over this past Christmas break and actually wrote the book.