Father Mike Russo’s Sunday to Sunday Program Wins an Emmy

Carlos Torres '16 and Jake Slonecker From CutFocus with Father Mike RussoSaint Mary’s is pleased to announce that the online and cable TV program Sunday to Sunday, hosted by retired SMC Communication Professor Father Mike Russo, won a 2020 Emmy award for Outstanding Interview Program from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences S.F./Northern CA chapter. Director-editor Carlos Torres ’16, Matthew Soares ’12, and Father Mike were announced as winners on June 6 for their production of the episode “Father Chris Walsh,” which explores the priest’s work ministering to an African American congregation at Saint Raymond of Penafort in Philadelphia—a small but impactful degree of racial healing.

“We’re thrilled about this honor from the Academy,” said Father Mike. “It’s truly a culmination of the hard work and support from many, and a sign that our work is having an impact.”

“The award really moves our project forward,” Father Mike continued, saying it opens doors to access and distribution, and allows the program to further offer insight into inspired preaching. “We’ve been able to expand, and the more financial support we have, the larger we can make the scope of the project. I see it in probably two or three years ahead as being primarily a treasury of great preachers around the country and witnesses to the gospel.”

Torres, who majored in Communications SMC and owns the production company CutFocus, is overjoyed with the program’s success. “Our journey with Father Mike Russo and the rest of the Sunday to Sunday team has changed our lives, and we are honored to produce an award-winning televised series with him,” said Torres. 

Torres credits Saint Mary’s for his career path. “Shortly after I graduated from Saint Mary's College in 2016, I started CutFocus with my business partner, Jake Slonecker. During our first year of business in 2017, Father Mike hired us to develop three pilot episodes for a series he wanted to produce. In three short years, our no-budget pilot turned into a triple-awarded television series: a 2020 Emmy for Best Television Interview/Discussion-Program/Special, a 2019 Gabriel Award for Best Narrative TV Series and Storytelling, and a Second Place 2020 Gabriel Award for Hot Topic: Human Dignity- English Television. 

Father Mike surrounds himself with a number of Gaels in his work. “I've drawn on the collective success and insights of a whole range of Saint Mary's graduates,” he said, including attorney Eric Clarke ’90 and publicist Mitchell Woodrow ’16, along with Torres and Soares, who is a CPA.

During Father Mike’s teaching career, he taught courses that included the History of Media and Political Communication. And in Jan Term, he taught the popular course on Martin Scorsese and his films.

Since the program’s founding just three years ago, Sunday to Sunday has focused on applying contemporary cinematic production to highlight unique aspects of Catholic ministry, stimulate conversation, and bring to light the word of God. Father Mike is a longtime television producer, having begun his career at CBS News, beginning in 1969 as a production assistant for Walter Cronkite's broadcast of the "Man on the Moon, the Epic Journey of Apollo 11.”

The Saint Mary’s community congratulates the Sunday to Sunday team for their efforts and award.

FOR MORE INFO: To learn more about Sunday to Sunday, click here. Watch the episode here. You can also check out a clip of the award presentation with an acceptance speech by Father Mike. To learn more about CutFocus click here.