SAG Awards are like family for production manager from Buffalo Grove

  • SAG Awards production manager Adam Cohen, who grew up in Buffalo Grove and Wheeling, poses with his wife, Rachel Heller Cohen, before last year's ceremony.

    SAG Awards production manager Adam Cohen, who grew up in Buffalo Grove and Wheeling, poses with his wife, Rachel Heller Cohen, before last year's ceremony. Courtesy of Adam Cohen

  • SAG Awards production manager Adam Cohen, who grew up in Buffalo Grove and Wheeling, poses with his wife, Rachel Heller Cohen, before a past awards ceremony.

    SAG Awards production manager Adam Cohen, who grew up in Buffalo Grove and Wheeling, poses with his wife, Rachel Heller Cohen, before a past awards ceremony. Courtesy of Adam Cohen

  • Adam Cohen, who grew up in Buffalo Grove and Wheeling, works as a freelance producer for the SAG Awards and others. The ceremony airs Sunday, Jan. 19, on TBS and TNT.

    Adam Cohen, who grew up in Buffalo Grove and Wheeling, works as a freelance producer for the SAG Awards and others. The ceremony airs Sunday, Jan. 19, on TBS and TNT. Courtesy of Adam Cohen

  • Stevenson High School grad Adam Cohen poses with Shelley Fabares, his favorite actress and a former SAG Awards committee member. Cohen, who grew up in Wheeling and Buffalo Grove, is the show's production manager.

    Stevenson High School grad Adam Cohen poses with Shelley Fabares, his favorite actress and a former SAG Awards committee member. Cohen, who grew up in Wheeling and Buffalo Grove, is the show's production manager. Courtesy of Adam Cohen

 
 
Updated 1/19/2020 7:44 AM

To the public, the SAG Awards -- airing Sunday -- might look like just another movie and TV awards program.

But production manager Adam Cohen, who grew up in Buffalo Grove and Wheeling, calls it something else.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It's a Chicago family affair!" Cohen said. And he's not kidding.

When the TNT and TBS networks broadcast the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at 7 p.m. on Sunday, audiences won't know how many former or current suburbanites work behind the scenes to make the production happen.

Todd Cohen (no relation to Adam) grew up in Barrington and takes time off from his job as a Chicago criminal defense attorney to work the SAG show.

Production coordinator Mike Reyes hails from Oak Park.

Other production personnel include Buffalo Grove High School grad Jonathan Rosenberg of Arlington Heights; Morton Grove brothers Noah, Mark and Mike Simmons; interns Kelly Rogers of Elk Grove Village and Sheridan Hurtig of Mundelein; and Adam's wife, Rachel Heller Cohen, from Highland Park.

"We are like family, really," Adam Cohen said. "Everyone knows everybody. We keep in touch throughout the year, even though we only work together for three months.

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"When I got married, most of them came to the wedding, When my mom passed away, they sent me flowers and got me gift cards for meals."

Sunday marks Cohen's 16th SAG Awards show, the Screen Actors Guild's annual recognition of the year's best performances in television and motion pictures.

Cohen, 39, lived in Wheeling until he was 5. He lived in Buffalo Grove until he graduated from Stevenson High School, then went to Bradley University in Peoria as an accounting major.

That didn't last long.

"I realized very quickly working on tax returns and finances was not for me," he said. So he switched over to be a TV/movie major.

"The irony is that I now work with figures and budgets for productions."

As a freelance producer, Cohen has amassed an impressive resume of projects, among them "The Red Nose Day Special" and a March Madness Final 4 concert, along with "Pipe Dreams" and "Chasing The Dream" on the Golf Channel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

As the production manager on the SAG Awards, he does pretty much everything.

"I have my hands in every department," Cohen said. "I oversee the entire production. I hire the staff, supervise the production assistants and coordinators, handle the vendors, catering, security, order the internet fiber lines, keep the production accounts, make sure the payroll gets processed properly, order the bottled water, 350 walkie-talkies and tuxedos. If you need a golf cart for security, I'm the one you see."

Cohen admitted the SAGs can be stressful, but he says it's still a lot of fun.

"We've got this thing down, running smooth," he said. "The show responsibilities have become second nature at this point."

As soon as Cohen finishes the SAG Awards, he will turn his attention to his next job as the international production manager for the 92nd Academy Awards show on Feb. 9.

"My job is to take the main show feed and send it out into the world to all the countries that have paid to broadcast the Oscars, like Canada, Japan, France and India," Cohen said.

He works on three to 15 shows a year, but the SAGs are his favorite.

"I keep coming back to this show because it's a family."

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