WMU News

Alumnus Andre Mika goes 'Back to Mayberry'

Nov. 10, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- When the "Andy Griffith Reunion Special: Back to Mayberry" airs on CBS television, Western Michigan University alumnus Andre Mika will be watching, and not just because he was a big fan of the original show. Mika spent five months earlier this year producing the TV special, which airs Tuesday, Nov. 11, at 8 p.m. EDT.

"Putting the show together was an amazing journey for me," says Mika. "I got to view over 175 episodes of the show, as well as research, meet and interview the entire surviving cast. I witnessed for myself the amazing longevity the show has--thousands of people gather each year for 'Mayberry' festivals across the country."

The original "Andy Griffith Show" aired for nine seasons, 1960-68, and has been in widespread syndicated distribution ever since. The comedy was set in Mayberry, N.C., where widower and Sherriff Andy Taylor (Griffith) and his son Opie (Ron Howard) live with Andy's Aunt Bea (the late Frances Bavier). Other regulars on the cast included Don Knotts (Deputy Barney Fife), the late Jack Dodson (Howard Sprague), Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle), and George Lindsey (Goober Pyle).

Mika discovered an original blueprint of the old courthouse used in the original show, and a team of set builders reconstructed it to serve as a backdrop for interviews with Griffith, Knotts, Howard and Nabors.

While at WMU, Mika sang for two seasons with Gold Company, the university's internationally recognized vocal jazz ensemble. He left the university during his senior year, when he was offered a job by Chevrolet to produce advertisements for national TV. His career took him to Chicago and Los Angeles, where he worked with Walt Disney Company and with Dreamworks.

Mika is currently employed as a producer with the Football Network in Louisiana, where he resides with his wife, Jami (Sackett), a WMU graduate. He has maintained contact with the WMU School of Music and in February was among the alumni who returned to sing as part of Gold Company's 25th reunion concert at Miller Auditorium.

Media contact: Thom Myers, 269 387-8400, thom.myers@wmich.edu

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