Badgers on the Big (and Small) Screen

Scriptwriters use creative license to claim connections to Wisconsin.

UW–Madison has a starring role in movies and on television when writers and producers call on the university’s graduates, albeit pretend ones, to help tell their stories. Here are some of the UW’s most prominent fictional alumni:



CBS Home Entertainment

Allison Parker, one of the tenants on the original Melrose Place (played by Courtney Thorne-Smith), who got her foot in the door at D&D Advertising by working as a receptionist. She bragged on the show’s pilot episode about being an honors graduate from the UW.







Andy Schwartz/Universal Pictures

Will Hayes (played by actor Ryan Reynolds), whose life, including his relationship with his ten-year-old daughter, is followed in the movie Definitely, Maybe. He leaves Madison and his college girlfriend to move to New York and work on Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign.





Jack and Maddie Fenton, parents of Danny Phantom, the titular character of the Nickelodeon animated series about a teenage boy who is half ghost. The Fentons, who work as professional ghost hunters, attended the UW with Vlad Plasmius, Danny Phantom’s arch-nemesis. Plasmius dubbed Danny “Little Badger” and is a huge Green Bay Packers fan, too, thanks to writer Steve Marmel ’88, who worked on the show.



Getty Images

Donnatella “Donna” Moss (played by Janel Moloney), the ever-present assistant to Deputy White House Chief of Staff Josh Lyman (played by Madison native Bradley Whitford) on the award-winning show The West Wing. Moss attended the UW for two years before dropping out to support her boyfriend while he attended medical school.






Carin Baer/AMC

Harry Crane, member of the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce advertising agency on the show Mad Men (played by actor Rich Sommer). In season one, Crane mentions to Don Draper that he attended the UW and was a photographer for the school newspaper.

Published in the Summer 2011 issue

Tags: Alumni, Film, television

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