Behind the studio desk and out-of-view of the cameras, Lainie Perri’s silver sequined shoes dangle a foot above the floor. Her long brown hair is pulled back in a slightly mussed ponytail. Moments before filming starts, she removes and tucks away a light-up wristband, a memento from a recent Taylor Swift concert.
At 9, Lainie has an early start in showbiz. She can thank her dad, Jim Perri, and his Finger Lakes Community College colleague Jeff Kidd.
During lunch breaks and afterhours over the last six months, the trio created a show called “Lunch Bytes with Lainie” in which Lainie and her dad review movies and TV shows, offering the unique perspectives of their generations. Kidd is the show’s producer, working behind the cameras and in the control room in the TV studio on FLCC’s main campus in Hopewell.
Launched as a fun and informal project, “Lunch Bytes” has its own YouTube channel, Facebook page, listing on IMDb and followers that include Lainie’s grandma in Lyons and movie buffs in Mexico, Poland and Vietnam.
Starting Sept. 9, each weekly segment will air at noon on Sundays and 6 p.m. on Fridays on the local public access TV channel, Finger Lakes Television, Spectrum cable channel 1304.
“I thought it was just going to be one small segment my grandma was going to watch and maybe my dad’s friends on Facebook,” Lainie said. “I think it’s really cool that people on the other side of the world have seen it.”
Kidd is the college’s video engineer and technician. Jim works as the production manager and teaches theater classes in the visual and performing arts program. They connected over hallway conversations about TV shows and movies, especially those including superheroes or Jedi.
“We’d talk a lot about ‘80s movies; we’re both very nostalgic,” Kidd said. “Jim and I had very strong opinions about certain movies, and we always wanted to find a fun way to express them.”
They didn’t put much thought into it, though, until Lainie accompanied her dad to work on a snow day. To keep her entertained, Jim and Kidd offered a tour of the TV studio. She and her dad sat behind the desk onstage and pretended to be show hosts, reviewing the most recent movie they’d seen. Kidd, a seasoned cameraman and producer, saw their dynamic and started filming.
“After that, Lainie started coming to Jeff and I and asking, ‘Can we do it again?’” Jim said.
They obliged, filming 15- to 20-minute episodes during work lunch breaks when Lainie didn’t have school.
The reviews started with a focus on their shared love of “Star Wars.” Spoiler alert: Neither dad nor daughter cared for Disney’s “The Last Jedi,” as evidenced by the show’s title, “The Last Jedi … I’ll Ever Pay to See.” Another episode, “My Dad Fixes Star Wars: Our Story Concept for Episode IX,” has nearly 30,000 views, especially after it was shared by a “Star Wars” critic with a wide following. On the show’s YouTube channel, the episode garnered 59 viewer comments.
“Why are you not writing these movies? Sigh. Great stuff,” one commenter wrote.
Another wrote, “It’s so clear how much your daughter loves and admires you. That makes me feel great. Seeing families enjoying and having an amazing relationship is priceless. Keep being a terrific dad.”
A viewer from England offered to create an introduction to air before each episode. Kidd filmed Jim and Lainie in front of a green screen and sent the footage to the fan, who turned it into an animation in which they appear to be flying through outer space in the Millennium Falcon.
Since the reviews expanded beyond “Star Wars,” Kidd and Jim produced a new introduction for the show. Filmed at the Ohmann Theatre in Lyons, it is a re-creation of the intro to “At the Movies” with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.
Over the course of about two dozen episodes, Jim and his daughter have examined everything from “Avengers: Infinity War” to “Hotel Transylvania 3.” They sometimes compare classics and their contemporary remakes. Lainie prefers the 2017 “Jumanji” starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson over the 1995 Robin Williams classic, but likes the 1985 TV show “MacGyver” far better than the modern version. She liked it so much, in fact, that she asked her dad for a “MacGyver”-themed party for her eighth birthday. Her ninth birthday party theme was inspired by the ‘80s show “CHiPs.”
They since added “Lunch Bytes” spinoffs, including “Lunch Bits” and “Lunch Bytes to Go.” Lainie’s 4-year-old brother, Colton, sometimes makes cameo appearances.
Lainie has plenty of time to decide what she wants to do when she grows up. She said she likes the idea of working in the film industry or becoming a writer like her mom. For now, she’s content in her role as co-host and executive producer, the latter a title suggested by Kidd, who she calls Mr. Jeff.
When asked what she likes best about the show, Lainie was quick to respond.
“I like being with my dad,” she said.
FLTV is available on cable in Ontario and Wayne counties. Visit fingerlakestv.org/live to watch the webstream.