IN MOTION (backup) V.3 - USC Cinematic Arts



IN MOTION (backup) V.3 - USC Cinematic Arts
Stark at 25
We’ve Only Just Begun!
By Meredith Goodwin
ay Stark and Art Murphy won’t be there when the Peter Stark Producing Program holds its 25th
anniversary reunion celebration on October 1. But their spirits will be present when 25 years of
producing program in the academic and film world.
Above: Ray Stark surrounded by an early group of “Starkies” circa 1989
Below: Jay Roach at the 2005 commencement ceremony
Producer Andrew Licht ’81 (The Cable Guy, Waterworld), one of the first class of Stark graduates, has been
Wells (ER, The West Wing), are writer-producers in televi-
tapped to produce the festivities under the guidance of Lawrence Thurman, who has directed the program
sion. Some, like Neal Moritz (XXX, The Fast and the
since 1991. (Details will be coming soon, so stay tuned to
Furious) and Stacey Sher (Erin Brockovich, Pulp Fiction), are
successful Stark Program graduates come together to celebrate what is inarguably the premier
As entertainment insiders have long known, “Starkies” are entrenched throughout the industry on both the
creative and business sides. Some, like Polly Cohen (Senior Vice President, Warner Bros.), Robert Greenblatt
(President of Entertainment, Showtime), Peter Kang (Vice President, 20th Century Fox), and James Whitaker
(President of Production, Imagine), are executives at major companies. Some, like Evan Katz (24) and John
Making the Grade
Drew Casper Receives Major Teaching Award
he School’s Academy Award winners aren’t
evening’s emcee. “What a love-fest for Drew!” one
the only ones who’ve been basking in the
awed spectator was heard to utter.
celebrity spotlight recently. Rapturous
applause greeted legendary critical studies professor
Drew Casper in March as he received the Associates
Award for Excellence in Teaching during the USC
Academic Honors Convocation.
Before, during, and after the elegant ceremony, Casper
was surrounded by legions of admiring friends and
fans, including USC President Steven B. Sample, the
Casper is the first cinema-television faculty member
to receive this prestigious award, which is the highest
accolade the USC faculty bestows on its members for
outstanding teaching. Casper was presented with a
beribboned medal, a formal citation hand inscribed
on vellum, and a check for $5,000.
In selecting Casper from a highly competitive field of
nominees, the award committee cited the “extent of
(continued on page 4)
Declaration of Independence
By John Zollinger, M.F.A ’02
ddressing a sea of eager faces packing the
“Upon your graduation, many of you are saying ‘free
Shrine Auditorium for this year’s com-
at last, free at last.’ Not so. Not so,” mused the avun-
mencement ceremony, veteran independ-
cular producer, wagging his index finger at the crowd.
ent filmmaker Saul Zaentz gave the class of ’05 a
“You alone will keep yourselves responsible for all you
bittersweet send-off, lauding them for finishing their
must do to be even partially free as a human and as
studies, but cautioning them about potential pitfalls
a professional.”
on the path ahead.
sound editor Thierry Couturier (The X-Files), have gone on
to great success in what some might consider non-traditional
Starkie fields.
(continued on page 2)
What’s Inside
3 Scribe Support
Writing students beat the odds with help from
Operation Win
6 In the Right Mood
By Meredith Goodwin
producing feature films. And others, like Emmy-winning
(continued on page 11)
Animation Chair Kathy Smith receives prestigious
USC honor for Indefinable Moods
7 Going Global
Looking at the world through cinema with Assistant
Professor Priya Jaikumar
12 Lost and Found
Alumnus Javier Grillo-Marxuach on getting Lost
and finding success
14 The Look of Love
Audiences are falling in love with the passionate
seniors of Backseat Bingo
15 Picture This
Close encounters with Tom Hanks, Michael Moore,
Bruce Rosenblum, and John Wells
In Print and Online
Stark at 25
(continued from page 1)
Indeed, The New York Times ran a major story about the enormous success of just one graduat-
Cultivating Pasadena: From Roses
to Redevelopment
Interactive DVD-ROM
ing class (1994). Alumni have received every major industry accolade, including the Best Picture
Oscar (producer Edward Saxon, for Silence of the Lambs, in 1991). And some don’t even wait to
graduate before scoring their first success.
Marsha Kinder, Executive Producer
Rosemary Comella, Creative Director
The Danube Exodus: Rippling
Currents of the River
Traveling Installation
Marsha Kinder, Executive Producer
Drug Wars: The Political Economy
of Narcotics
University of Minnesota Press, 2004
By Curtis Marez
The Game Localization Handbook
Charles River Media, 2004
By Heather Maxwell Chandler
How to Build a Great Screenplay
Art Murphy
St. Martin’s Press, 2004
“My friend’s cell phone went off in the middle of class during our first year in the program,”
By David Howard
recalled John August ’94. “She answers it and tells everybody, ‘Al Gough and Miles Millar just
sold their script for $1 million!’”
The Movie Business Book
“It’s very difficult after selling a script to come back to class!” admitted Millar. But they did, and
(Third Edition)
the duo continues to make show-business history: Gough and Millar (both ’94) wrote the original
Simon and Schuster, 2004
story for Spider Man 2 — the third-highest-grossing movie worldwide in 2004 — and created the
Jason E. Squire, Editor
hit television series Smallville.
Two legendary men, working behind the scenes as all good producers do, provided the vision
Three Winters in the Sun: Einstein
and leadership that launched the Peter Stark Producing Program. It was the brainchild of cele-
in Califor nia
brated film critic and reporter Art Murphy, whose USC graduate course on the economics of
Interactive DVD-ROM
Marsha Kinder, Writer and Producer
the motion picture business was so popular during the mid-1970s that he was urged to create an
entirely new program — the first of its kind in the nation — to train film and television producers and executives about the business side of their business.
Kristy Kang, Creative Director
Vectors: Jour nal of Culture and
Technology in a Dynamic Ver nacular
Tara McPherson, Editor
Cultivating Pasadena: From Roses to Redevelopment
Lawrence Thurman
Several studios provided seed money for the fledgling program, but it really took off in 1979
when Murphy received a phone call from one of the biggest producers in town — the late and
great Ray Stark. He and his wife, Fran, made the then-extraordinary gift of $1 million, and a
grateful Murphy named the program in honor of the Starks’ late son, Peter.
The Starks subsequently endowed the Fran and Ray Stark Chair for the Study of American Film,
which is held by the program’s current director, Lawrence Turman. Turman has an extensive body
of work as a motion picture and television producer (he produced The Graduate) and serves on
The Danube Exodus: Rippling Currents of the River
2| |in
fall 20042005
the board of the producer’s branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Operation Win Scores Big
“The Stark Program not only has played an important role
By Elizabeth Randall. M.F.A. ’05
in the development of the USC School of CinemaTelevision, but its unique — and sometimes daring —
approach to teaching the art of producing has grown into a
new educational paradigm,” said Dean Elizabeth Daley.
“The worlds of academia and entertainment are indebted to
he debut of the new Operation Win program was a screenwriting-contest coup for writing division
alumni, whose work made a huge impression on organizers of the Austin Film Festival and the Walt
Disney Studios/ABC Entertainment Writing Fellowship Program.
The prestigious Disney/ABC program named four USC alumni to its illustrious ranks. Jonathan Howard, M.F.A. ’04
Ray Stark for making this program a reality.”
represents Operation Win as one of 11 Disney/ABC television fellows, while Whitney Anderson, M.F.A. ’04; John
Early Stark Program graduates recall Murphy as a no-non-
Carr, M.F.A. ’04; and Damian Saul-Romay, M.F.A. ’04 fill three of the program’s four available film spots.
sense former Navy lieutenant who ran the program with an
“The showing of our writers in the
iron fist. “He started screaming at us like we were midship-
Disney/ABC Fellowship Program
men, and I thought this was the biggest mistake I’d ever
has been nothing short of phenom-
made in my life,” recalled John Wells ’82. “But it ended up
enal,” said Howard A. Rodman,
being a terrific experience for me because we really learned
chair of the Division of Writing for
from people, and met people, and did things that I never
Screen and Television.
thought I’d have an opportunity to do.”
Operation Win claimed another
What makes the Peter Stark Producing Program so excep-
notable triumph when Tim
tional is that it is the first — and most admired — stand-
Croteau, M.F.A. ’04; and David
alone producing program in the world. Other university pro-
Stassen, M.F.A. ’04 placed as final-
ducing programs have tried to model themselves on the Stark
ists in the celebrated Austin Film
Program, but none have been as successful as the original. In
Festival with their script
addition, as is the case with most of the School’s faculty, vir-
Lumberjack Jones.
tually all Stark Program professors are working professionals.
Operation Win offers administra“We had amazing professors and guest speakers,” recalled
tive and financial support to thesis
Stacey Sher ’85, “because Art felt it was important for us to
students who submit their work to
interact with people who were doing the jobs, who under-
contests and fellowship programs.
stood the reality of the film business, who understood how
Created to promote the exceptional
hard it was to get something made well — get it written,
work of writing division students,
budgeted, and marketed well. We were constantly exposed
Operation Win has already fulfilled
to people at the top of their game.”
New Disney/ABC fellows Damian Saul-Romay, Whitney Anderson, John Carr,
and Jonathan Howard
Murphy’s famous tough-love approach has continued
“The lectures, screenings, and round table events are wonderfully informative, but the real reason to fly all the way to
through the years as well. Today, Stark students march
Austin is the networking,” said Croteau about his film-festival experience. “In the four days I was there, I spoke with
lock-step to a program designed by Turman. Peter Kang ’96
several Academy Award–winning writers about their craft.”
the promise of its name.
describes his experiences in the program under Turman’s
direction as “like having gone through boot camp.”
Likewise, the School’s Disney/ABC fellows enjoy great networking benefits. “We are meeting with professionals from
Disney and all over the industry almost every day,” said Saul-Romay.
“We do work them to death,” admitted Kathy Fogg, associate director of the Stark Program. “I always tell students,
‘If you can imagine yourself doing anything else with your
“Everyone at Disney, from assistants to high-level executives, has made it clear that their door is open to us, and that’s
really exciting,” noted Anderson, whose script, Psychic 101, tells the story of four Ivy League students who are desperate to raise $100,000 after a class psychology experiment goes awry.
life, do it!’”
It’s an intense experience, to be sure. “The Stark Program
was like they were casting The Real World and put 25 extroverts together in a room to see who would survive,” said
August. “I was completely terrified of most of them at first.”
It’s ideal training for the real world. In the words of Damon
Lee ’94, “Every day is like a 100-yard dash. And I start ten
Carr emphasized that fellows are paired with executives best suited to developing their scripts. “It’s a wonderful
opportunity to grow and sustain strong relationships with the people best positioned to help us in our careers.” His
fellowship-winning script, The Great Blondin, tells the (mostly) true story of a world-famous 19th century tightrope
walker whose bravery inspires a timid manager to overcome his fear of life and win the heart of the woman he loves.
“My professors encouraged me to run wild with my particular style and voice,” said Carr. “And this is exactly what
the powers at Disney enjoyed about my submission.”
yards ahead, because of the Stark Program.” That’s a com-
Saul-Romay was taken by surprise when his submission, 24 Hours Ago, a dark tale about a doctor who has the worst
mon sentiment, judging by the praise heaped upon the
day of his life, earned him a Disney/ABC fellowship. “I didn’t think I had a chance. Fortunately, Operation Win and
program by generations of Stark graduates.
the folks at Disney proved me wrong.”
Their enthusiasm is returned by Turman, who noted, “My
Looking ahead, Rodman sees a bright future for Operation Win. “We look forward to building upon these successes
friends and show biz pals continually congratulate me on
and developing the strongest and most robust structures possible, so that our students’ work can find its best footing
‘giving back.’ They don’t understand or appreciate how
in the outside world.”
much I’m (actually) ‘getting.’”
Frank Biondi, Jr.
John Calley
Barry Diller
Lee Gabler
David Geffen
Brian Grazer
Brad Grey
Jeffrey Katzenberg
Alan Levine
George Lucas
Don Mattrick
William M. Mechanic
Barry Meyer
Sidney Poitier
Frank Price
Barney Rosenzweig
Scott Sassa
Steven Spielberg
John Wells
Jim Wiatt
Paul Junger Witt
David L. Wolper
Robert Zemeckis
Laura Ziskin
Peter Benedek
Alan Berger
Stuart Bloomberg
Jon Feltheimer
Lee Gabler
Ted Harbert
Sam Haskell
Tony Jonas
Kerry McCluggage
Leslie Moonves
Rod Perth
Frank Price
Peter Roth
Scott Sassa
Herb Scannell
Scott Stone
Toper Taylor
John Wells
Paul Junger Witt
summer 2005 in motion
Shows on the Air
Making the Grade
(continued from page 1)
recognition and support given to [Casper] by both faculty and students who unanimously
highlighted his ‘transformative’ and ‘life-changing’ impact on his students…His many letters
of support repeatedly note his passion for knowledge and his love of learning; his deep
commitment to teaching and his devotion to the life of the mind; his consistent focus on
student learning…”
eneath a bright blue canopy of cloudless sky,
8 Simplemore
One Thing
10,000 members
of theMichael
Class ofBostick,
Executive Producer
2004 — along with some 40,000 beaming parents, friends, and family members — celebrated the
24 Evan Katz, Co-Executive Producer
University of Southern California’s 121st Commencement
on Friday,
May 14.
Offield, Associate Producer
The USC School
of Cinema-Television’s
Brian Grazer
and Ron Howard,
Executive Producers; Lisa Parsons, Staff Writer the Shrine
Auditorium, its longtime home. Said Sonny Calderon, who
M.F.A. Bob
the Division
of Writing
for Screen
received hisLegal
and Television that day, “Having it [graduation] at the
“Drew Casper is one of our best-known and best-loved professors,” said Dean Elizabeth Daley.
“He has gained national renown for his ability to animate large undergraduate classes, and
he is widely considered to be a pioneer in creating the model for introductory film classes.
Students clearly thrive under his tutelage.”
Many generations of cinema-television students have packed into the Eileen Norris Theatre
Complex’s Frank Sinatra Hall each week to watch Casper perform his teaching magic. “Drew
had powers no one else had — powers to enthrall, entertain, open vistas for students,”
Shrine — which is gorgeous — somehow feels like you’re
Miami into
being initiated
the Maeda,
community (even
Pratt told
Jr., Consulting
7-time AcademyHousewives
Award winner Gary
graduates Producer
to embrace the unexpected: “Knowing what’s going to happen
John Wells,
it’s boring in life.”
next is boring
in the Executive
movies, and
The Ellen DeGeneres Show Derek Westervelt,
though we’re not — yet).”
Coordinating Producer
Drew Casper
recalled Carrie Kirshman, a critical studies student in the mid-1980s. “He was just a powerful force. He taught me about film, whereas other people taught me about theories that you
apply to film. I took every course he offered while I was at USC.”
“Drew is a legendary teacher,” noted Tara McPherson, chair of the Division of Critical
Studies. “He has an extraordinary ability to make course materials come alive for students
The festivities began on a high note, with a special screenFear Factor Matt Kunitz, Executive Producer
ing of the School’s new 75th anniversary documentary,
the Past/Creating
the Robert
Future. Borden,
Written and
Lopez Show
by Tiller Russell (‘01) and produced by Jill Aske (‘01), the
Rhimes, Executive
of the School
deftly traces
the evolution
House Bryan Singer, Executive Producer
skillful blending of rare archival footage and recent photoLas
Michael Berns, Co-Executive Producer
and interviews.
and to engage each of them on a personal and individual level. They consistently hail his
courses as life changing. We’re very lucky to have him on our faculty.”
Stalking through his large lecture classes, Casper calls to mind someone touched by the gods,
climbing over rows of seats to confront a student with a piercing question, sparring with a
student unwise enough to arrive late for class, or suddenly launching into song and dance to
clarify an obscure point.
“You never want to miss a class,” said Jeremy Berg, M.A. ’05, who has been Casper’s student,
we know
Stu Bloomberg
Executive Producers
dawn of the “talkie” era when Douglas Fairbanks Sr., the
of Motion
Picture ArtsSupervising
and Sciences’
president, urged USC to add film studies to its curriculum.
Medium Ronald L. Schwary, Executive Producer
From that pivotal moment, there was no looking back for
“Monk Randy Zisk, Executive Producer-Director
teaching assistant, and course reader. “You just have to be there, to see who he’ll pull up on
stage this time to dance the Hoochi Koochi with him.”
Jonathon Komack-Martin, B.A. ’88, agreed: “He’s so damn amusing! His classes are like
theater. I actually take my dates to Norris Theatre to see Drew perform!”
But there’s far more than just fun and games in a Casper course. “He went deeper into
the subject matter than any other professor I had,” said Peter Ventrella, M.A. ’94. “His
knowledge was so vast it was inspiring. He’ll do anything to convey the flame of his passion
for films, and he takes it as a personal offense if you’re not as excited about the subject
matter as he is.”
Everyone who has seen Casper teach cites his exceptional passion. Christopher Cooling,
The O.C. Doug Liman and Josh Schwartz, Executive Producers
M.A. ’99 and a critical studies Ph.D. candidate, mused on the link between Casper’s love of
the subject matter of cinema and his love for the calling of teaching. “What most impresses
Smallville Greg Beeman, Al Gough and Miles Millar,
me about Drew Casper,” he said, “is that these are one and the same passion — watching
Executive Producers; Brian Peterson and Kelly Souders, Producers;
movies would be unthinkable without knowing that he will be able to discuss them with his
Todd Slavkin, Producer
students in lecture, and his joy for teaching is itself a direct extension of his joy for this most
Third Watch John Wells, Executive Producer
Veronica Mars Dan Etheridge, Co-Producer
The West Wing John Wells, Executive Producer
vibrant of art forms.”
Casper, who has held the Alma and Alfred Hitchcock Chair for the Study of American Film
since it was established in 1998, was first hailed for his teaching three decades ago. Delta Kappa
Alpha bestowed its award for teaching excellence on Casper when he was a new critical studies
instructor in the early 1970s, shortly after he earned his Ph.D. in Communication Arts at USC.
In 1991, the USC chapter of the Mortar Board National Senior Honor Society “tapped” him
for excellence in teaching. Last year, President Sample acknowledged Casper’s teaching prowess
4 | in motion fall
2004 2005
by inviting him to speak at USC’s Board of Trustees confer-
responding to Casper’s enthusiasm. Lisa Majewski, B.A.
across in the two-hour sermons that follow, as he main-
ence (Casper’s presentation, “Fate of the Art: Teaching Film,”
’96 and M.A. ’98, was a teaching assistant and course
tains his animated and energetic demeanor throughout,
was reportedly the highlight of the trustees’ weekend).
reader for Casper. “At the start of a class, you’d often see
sharply fluctuating between frenetic highs and solemn
students slumped down in their seats,” she said. “But after
lows, and always keeping the students unsure of what to
they experienced the energy and passion of a Drew Casper
expect next.”
When asked what makes him such an extraordinary educator, Casper replied simply that “the Lord gave me this
talent.” He is quick to give credit to his grammar school
teachers as well. “The Sisters of St. Casimir were my first
class, they’d be sitting straight up in their seats and waving
their hands to be called on.”
Without a doubt, intensity permeates Casper, whether
he’s in or out of the classroom. “There’s simply no sepa-
teaching models,” he said. “They showed me how to do it.
Komack-Martin agreed, “To many students, college is
ration of work and leisure for the man,” said Cooling.
To this day, I am indebted to my first-grade teacher, Sister
about seeing how little work you can do, and how many
“His commitment to his work fuels his play, and his love
Gemma, and also to my eighth-grade teacher, Sister Helen
times you can miss class,” he said. “But it’s just impossible
of that play energizes his work. This, more than any-
Eremick.” He has taken care to remain close to both of
to be in a Drew Casper class and not stay focused on the
thing, is what I think his students most fundamentally
these cherished mentors who, now in their 80s, continue to
subject. He always manages to inspire the uninspired.”
respond to in the experience of his classes, whether they
visit Casper during the Christmas holidays.
“To call him a teacher seems too reductive of a title,” said
realize it consciously or not. They’re being instructed not
only in terms of a curriculum, but also in how to live
Casper went on to study with the Jesuits and was ordained
Robert Buerkle, M.A. ’03. “He needs a term much larger
a Jesuit priest. This education helped to crystallize his view
than that. He needs a term that encompasses the passion,
of teaching as a form of ministry. “Talking passionately
the theater, the emotion, and the love contained in each of
It’s a lesson that many generations have taken to heart.
about films in class becomes a vehicle we use to reach out to
his classes. But for lack of such a term, I’ll stick to my per-
“Over the years, I’ve interacted with thousands and thou-
each other in terms of emotions and where we are in our
sonal favorite: the Drew Casper experience.”
sands of students,” Casper said, “seeing them energized,
lives,” he said. “It’s like going to mass in the nourishment of
spirit it provides. I know I’m not traveling alone when I
teach film — it’s a time when people come together, when
mind meets mind, and heart meets heart as well.”
This love for his subject — and for his students — may be
Buerkle explained, “As his teaching assistant, I’ve been
witness to Drew Casper behind the scenes, watched him
prepare for the opening curtain (metaphorically speaking),
and seen him getting psyched up just as intently as the
most theatrical of performers. And that preparation comes
their lives as fully and as richly as possible.”
inspired, and involved because they have learned to look
at what they see in a new way. This is the heart of what I
do, what keeps me delighted with my work, what keeps
me preparing for the next class, and the next. It is my
belief that teaching validates my being.”
It does indeed, Drew, it truly does.
why even the most disengaged students find themselves
to our friends and alumni on their successes this past awards season.
Academy Awards
MPSE Golden Reels
Caleb Deschanel, Cinematographer
The Passion of the Christ
Achievement in Cinematography
Taylor Hackford
Feature Film
Richard Anderson
Shark Tale
Sound Editing in an Animated Film
Taylor Hackford, Director and Producer
Achievement in Directing
Best Motion Picture
Jeremy Kagan
Crown Heights
Children’s Program
David Bondelevitch
A Separate Peace
Music Editing in Long-Form Television
Golden Globes
Tom Johnson
The Polar Express
Sound Editing in an Animated Film
Tom Johnson, Re-recording Mixer
The Polar Express
Achievement in Sound Mixing
Jeffrey Katzenberg, Producer
Shark Tale
Best Animated Feature Film
Jeffrey Katzenberg, Producer
Shrek 2
Best Animated Feature Film
Brian Grazer, Producer
Best TV Series–Drama
Brian Grazer, Producer
Arrested Development
Best TV Series–Musical or Comedy
Jeffrey Katzenberg
Shark Tale
Sound Editing in an Animated Film
Jeffrey Katzenberg
Shrek 2
Sound Editing in an Animated Film
ACE Eddies
Robert Greenblatt, Producer
American Family
Best Mini-Series or
Motion Picture Made for TV
Terilyn Shropshire
Mini-Series or Motion Picture for TV
Brad Grey, Producer
The Sopranos
Best TV Series–Drama
Chuck Michael
Team America World Police
Sound Editing in an Animated Film
William Stich
The Sopranos
One-Hour TV Series
Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Producer
Best TV Series–Drama
Gary Rydstrom*
MPSE Career Achievement Award
Taylor Hackford, Director
Best Motion Picture–Musical or Comedy
Henry Bumstead
Million Dollar Baby
Production Design/Contemporary Film
Ron Howard, Producer
Best TV Series–Drama
Caleb Deschanel
The Passion of the Christ
Feature Film
Ron Howard, Producer
Arrested Development
Best TV Series–Musical or Comedy
Robbie Greenberg*
Iron Jawed Angels
TV Movie/Miniseries/Pilot for Basic or Pay TV
Evan Katz, Producer
Best TV Series–Drama
Nathan Hope*
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
Episodic TV Series
Charles Pratt, Jr., Producer*
Desperate Housewives
Best TV Series–Musical or Comedy
Leonard Maltin*
ASC Lifetime Achievement Award
Walter Salles, Director
The Motorcycle Diaries
Best Foreign Language Film
Richard Moore*
ASC President’s Award
Matthew Weiner, Producer
The Sopranos
Best TV Series–Drama
George Lucas*
Inaugural MPSE Filmmaker’s Award
Robert Zemeckis
The Polar Express
Sound Editing in an Animated Film
John Wells, Producer
Outstanding Drama Series
Laura Ziskin*
David O. Selznick Achievement Award
John Wells*
David Susskind Achievement Award
Jeffrey Katzenberg*
Milestone Award
Matthew Weiner*
The Sopranos
Norman Felton Producer of the Year Award
Robert Zemeckis*
Lifetime Achievement Award
Bryan Fuller
Episodic Comedy
John Furia Jr. *
Honorary Service Award
NAACP Image Awards
John McLaughlin
Penn & Teller Bullshit!
Comedy/Variety Series
David Geffen, Producer
American Idol III
Outstanding Variety Series or Special
Casandra Morgan*
Guiding Light
Daytime Serial
Taylor Hackford, Director*
Genius: A Night for Ray Charles
Outstanding Variety Series or Special
Star Price
Penn & Teller Bullshit!
Comedy/Variety Series
Taylor Hackford, Director*
Outstanding Motion Picture
Jeremy Kagan, Director
Crown Heights
Outstanding Television Movie, Mini-Series, or
Dramatic Special
Terilyn Shropshire, Editor
Outstanding Television Movie, Mini-Series, or
Dramatic Special
For more information, visit
Congratulations to anyone we may have
missed. If we overlooked you, please
contact us at [email protected]
*Award Recipient
summer 2005 in motion
Recent Releases
Are We There Yet?
the Indefinable
David Weiss, Writer
by Jacqueline Angiuli
Blade Trinity
n inspiring and innovative artistic tour de force, Indefinable Moods was created
by Kathy Smith, chair and associate professor of the Division of Animation and
Digital Arts, to “explore symbols and landscapes in nature and link these
to the psychological hopes, fears, and desires that exist in every culture.”
David Goyer, Writer-Director
Juliet Snowden, Eric Kripke, Writers
This remarkable multidimensional animated work has screened at — and been honored
by — film festivals and art exhibitions throughout the world, including the 2002 USA Film
Festival (Best Animated Short), the 2002 Convergence Art Festival (Best Animated Film),
John Ottman, Composer
and the 2001 Rhode Island Film Festival (first-place prize in the Experimental Category).
Eric Sears, Editor
And Indefinable Moods was accorded yet another prestigious commendation when Smith was
presented with a Phi Kappa Phi Faculty Recognition Award at USC’s 24th Annual Academic
Honors Convocation in March 2005.
Kevin Feige, Executive Producer
Gary Foster, Producer
Friday Night Lights
Brian Grazer, Producer
James Whitaker, Executive Producer
Andy Tennant, Director
The Hunting of the President
Dana Stoltzner, Executive Producer
I Am David
Paul Feig, Writer-Director
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Gray Marshall, Visual Effects Supervisor
Robert Yeoman, Director of Photography
Camden dream sequence — Indefinable Moods, created by Kathy Smith
The touchstone for academic and research excellence at USC, the Academic Honors
Los Angeles Plays Itself
Convocation brings together members of the university community in a celebration of stu-
Thom Anderson, Director
dents and professors whose outstanding achievements have brought distinction to USC and
contributed to the advancement of knowledge. Said USC President Steven B. Sample of the
Million Dollar Baby
evening’s honorees: “They are active contributors to what is taught, thought, and practiced
Henry Bumstead, Production Designer
in their fields of study, and their creativity, their discoveries, and their dedication to academic
and research excellence enhances USC’s stature as one of the most influential and productive
The Polar Express
universities in the world.”
Robert Zemeckis, Producer-Director
Taylor Hackford, Producer-Director
Breck Eisner, Director
Josh Oppenheimer and Tom Donnelly, Writers
Seed of Chucky
David Kirschner, Producer
Son of the Mask
Debra Neil-Fisher, Editor
Lawrence Guterman, Director
Tim Story, Director
Tornado sequence — Indefinable Moods, created by Kathy Smith
The Magic of Movie Editing
Professor Edward Finegan presented the Phi Kappa Phi Faculty Recognition Awards,
John Bailey, Director of Photography
which specifically recognize faculty for “scholarly, scientific, or creative works which can
Mark Jonathan Harris, Writer
make a contribution of the highest order to their respective disciplines.” Phi Kappa Phi was
impressed not only by the wit and beauty of Indefinable Moods, but also by its “complex and
The Wedding Date
haunting combination of digitized oil paintings and music.” Smith was one of only four
Dana Fox, Writer
USC faculty members selected to receive the Phi Kappa Phi honor this year.
6| in motion summer 2005
Faculty Focus
Priya Jaikumar
by Jacqueline Angiuli
riya Jaikumar was working in advertising and
Britain and India, 1927–1947 will be published by Duke
together with thinking about ideology and social, cultural,
broadcast journalism in India when her grow-
University Press in 2006.
and economic issues, and connect it all to the particular
ing interest in the social frameworks of media
Can you tell us a little about the undergraduate
historical context of the film.
led her to Northwestern University’s Department of
Honors Seminar course (“Thinking Globally”)
Why did you decide to leave the journalism
Radio/Television/Film. She completed her Ph.D. in Film
that you taught last spring?
profession to study film?
I wanted to think about globalization, but not in the tradi-
Print media has a long history in India. So what I trained
tional top-down way of corporations looking for markets.
in initially was journalism and advertising because I was
That’s part of it, in terms of Hollywood looking for other
always interested in media but, at that point in India,
markets and the transnational nature of the film industry
there was no kind of theoretical course — it was more
today. But I also wanted to look at other cinemas’ responses
practice-oriented. I was fascinated by my field, but in
to global events, to the things that make the world global
addition to wanting to cover the stories I was covering,
today. One of them is capitalism. But there are other kinds
I also wanted to write about what social frameworks
of global exchange. The question of how the interlinked
allowed these kinds of stories to be told. I wanted more of
experiences of the civil rights movement in the U.S. and
a challenge — to think about the politics, the ideology
decolonization movements around the world affected films,
behind it. And so, while I was working for television,
for instance. These are connections that make us think of
I also applied to graduate school at the same time.
Studies in 1999. From 1999 to 2002,
Priya worked as an assistant professor
of film in the English Department at
Syracuse University, teaching courses
and seminars on film history, film
theory, cinema and the nation state,
and identity in cinema. She received
her department’s undergraduate
teaching award in 2002. A recognized
expert in the areas of British cinema,
Indian cinema, film aesthetics, film policy, theories of postcolonialism, globalization, and transnational state and cultural formations, Priya now is in her third year teaching
graduate seminars and undergraduate courses in the
Division of Critical Studies at the USC School of CinemaTelevision. She has published critical essays in a variety of
the world as a place in which an event in any one place has
consequences for another location, or inspires other movements, and I think when you see films from different countries you are opened up to that network of imagination.
After I earned my Ph.D., I went to Syracuse to work in an
English department that was teaching film. I think the
plus of it was that I had to make cinema relevant to
another discipline, so it kept me honest in a way — I was
publications, including Cinema Journal, Film Quarterly,
One of the things I do in all my classes is to use a kind of
talking about why it’s important to study this medium.
The Moving Image, Screen, and World Literature Today, and
triangulated method that brings in historical and theoretical
But, on the other hand, I really wanted to be in a film
in anthologies like Hollywood Abroad. She is currently
approaches, as well as the formal elements of filmmaking.
program with the infrastructure and support to teach cin-
working on issues of regional identity and cultural labor in
Film is such a specific form, so you have to be able to
ema, and to have a common vocabulary of analysis, which
Indian cinema. Her book Cinema at the End of Empire:
appreciate sound and images and editing, and put that
is why the job at USC is exactly what I was looking for.
To read the complete interview with Priya Jaikumar,
Curtis Marez
please log on to
By John Zollinger
ver the past 30 years the United States has
say “University of Spoiled Children,” so my image of USC
Why do you feel it’s
undergone perhaps one of the most profound
was different than it turned out to be. I was pleasantly sur-
important to investigate
periods of social evolution in its history. The
prised. I knew about the quality of the institution, but I
Latino studies in the
roles of “majority” and “minority” are in total flux, and
was surprised by the diversity of students from all sorts of
Cinema School?
with that change comes a total rethinking of what it
different backgrounds. Professionally, it’s also been a
means to be an “American.” Cinema — both the art form
Marez: I don’t think we can
unique opportunity. As a critical studies academic, I was
and the School — are in a unique position to influence
assume anymore that film and
used to just talking to other academics about things on
that change, says Associate Professor Curtis Marez, who
media simply reflect the world
that track. But here at USC, it’s particularly exciting to be
has gone from a childhood in California’s vast Central
around us. They shape the world
able to talk to new colleagues in other divisions of the
Valley to being a leading voice in Chicano and Latino
around us. One of the things that
Cinema School.
I argued in Drug Wars was that the media doesn’t just
You teach with those colleagues on occasion.
reflect or represent important policy issues like the war on
What comes from such collaboration?
drugs, but actually shapes the war on drugs. What I meant
studies. The Berkeley-trained Ph.D. arrived at USC in
2003. His first book, Drug Wars: Race, Rebellion and
Modernity, which deals with how media portray the drug
trade and how that in turn influences public policy, came
Marez: We bring different, but complementary things to
out in 2004. He’s currently at work on a second project,
the class. Last year I taught with Doe Mayer from produc-
tentatively titled Virtual Chicanos.
tion. One of the things that I appreciated is that she had a
Two years ago you made a major career jump,
leaving UC Santa Cruz for the Southland.
How has that worked out?
real hands-on understanding of film and media making.
She raised questions about the relationship between ethics
and film and media form that were coming from a very
different perspective than mine as a critic. I’d make these
by that is while most people in the U.S. don’t have any
direct experience with drug traffic or drug enforcement,
they can often recall scenarios, images, scenes from films
and television shows. The media really help bring a lot of
the issues to people’s imaginative horizons and provides
them with the resources they use to make sense out of
their political realities.
Marez: It’s been wonderful and a little surprising. When
“big-picture” observations, but Doe would often look at
To read the complete interview with Curtis Marez,
I was at Berkeley the T-shirts at the football games would
them from a more basic perspective. She would remind us
please log on to
that real people make movies.
Thank You!
On behalf of the USC School of Cinema-Television, I would like to thank the many alumni and friends who responded to
last year’s annual appeal. Your contributions to the USC School of Cinema-Television’s 75th Anniversary Fund. Your generous support is deeply appreciated and will help secure the future of the country’s first — and most celebrated — educational program for film, television, and new media. With your continued involvement and enthusiasm, there can be no
doubt that our next 75 years will be just as amazing as our first 75.
summer 2005 in motion
Alumni Quick Takes
was director of photography on the A&E movie The
story of the DC Comics hero The Flash Lee Haxall
Brooke Ellison Story and is the director of photography
’81, won an Emmy for editing the pilot episode of the
Harvey Deneroff ’65, will be the new chair of illus-
on the NBC mid-season series Crazy for You Kerry
Fox series Arrested Development Lynn Hendee ’81,
tration at the Savannah College of Art and Design
McCluggage ’76, will produce an hour-long TV
David Foster ’53, has signed a deal to turn the life of
drama based on the book Misdemeanor Man Charles
Olympic downhill skier Picabo Street into a feature film
Pratt ’78, is one of the producers of the ABC series
Taylor Hackford ’68, will produce the series E-Ring
Desperate Housewives Scott Stone ’78, will serve as an
for NBC George Lucas ’66, received a Lifetime
executive producer for the show Extreme Justice Miles
Achievement Award from the American Film Institute
Hood Swarthout ’73, won the Spur Award for his
and the inaugural Filmmaker’s Award from the Motion
new novel The Sergeant’s Lady Robert Zemeckis ’73,
Picture Sound Editors Walter Murch ’67, will be
is developing the latest draft of Jonathan Franzen’s book
the editor on Universal Pictures’ Jarhead
The Corrections with an eye toward directing the film, and
will produce the feature The Reaping for Warner Bros.
Wayne Powers ’ 93
will produce The Tutor for Phoenix Pictures Michael
Lehmann ’85, will direct the comedy Mary Warner
for Arclight Films Neal Moritz ’85, will produce
the horror feature Prom Night for Original Films and,
along with Ori Marmur ’93, will produce the spy
thriller The Executioner’s Game for Columbia Pictures
Bob Osher ’81, is an executive producer on the
Bravo series Project Greenlight John Ottman ’88,
Miles Hood Swarthout ’73
composed the music for the Sony Pictures Classics feaHeather Chandler ’85
ture Imaginary Heroes Wayne Powers ’83 and
Donna Powers ’84, are writing the script for the
Stu Bloomberg ’77, is executive producer of the
ABC series life as we know it Andy Friendly ’73,
Gregg Araki ’85, wrote and directed the feature
has been named president of the Hollywood Radio and
Mysterious Skin Todd Black ’82, will produce the fea-
TV Society Brian Grazer ’74, will produce an unti-
ture Chad Schmidt for Escape Artists Trey Callaway
tled romantic comedy for Imagine Entertainment and will
’89, is executive producer of a half-hour anthology skein
produce the feature Vivaldi Robbie Greenberg, ASC,
for Fox TV Studios Heather Chandler ’85, pro-
received an ASC Outstanding Achievement Award in the
duced the Xbox version of Ghost Recon 2 and authored
cable movie competition for Iron Jawed Angels (HBO)
The Game Localization Handbook Karen Croner ’87,
sequel to Paramount Pictures’ The Italian Job
Michael Rymer ’85, directed the USA series
Battlestar Galactica Gabe Sachs ’84, will write the
script for the remake of the 1984 college comedy
Revenge of the Nerds and is co-creator/executive producer
of the ABC series life as we know it Peter Segal ’84,
will direct the comedy Dealbreaker for Paramount
Stacey Sher ’85, will produce a feature based on the
upcoming book No True Glory: The Battle for Fallujah
is writing the features Tulia, Daughter of the Queen of
Bryan Singer ’89, is executive producer of the Fox
Sheba, and Dexterity, and producing her script The Tribes
series House, will executive produce the feature The
of Palos Verdes Tim Doyle ’87, is an executive producTriangle for SCI FI Channel, and will develop and direct
er on the ABC series Jake in Progress Bob Ducsay ’86
a feature based on the article U Want Me 2 Kill Him
and Stephen Sommers ’93, will produce the feaSuzanne Todd ’86 and Jennifer Todd ’87, will
tures Argonauts (Ducsay also will edit) for DreamWorks
produce All You Need Is Love for Revolution Studios
and Airborn for Universal Studios Paul Feig ’84, will
write and direct the feature Star Girl Gordon Gray
’86, will produce Invincible for Disney-based Mayhem
Pictures David Goyer ’88, will produce the feature
Jon Bokenkamp ’95, will adapt the short story
J. Mitchell Johnson ’75, received the Santa Fe Film
Fall, will direct the English-language remake of The
Night and Day You Are the One for Bobker/Kruger
Festival’s Best Southwest Film award for World without
Invisible for Spyglass Entertainment and DreamWorks,
Films Brumby Boylston ’95, recently launched
Waves, which he wrote and directed Paul Maibaum ’75,
and will produce and direct the feature adaptation of the
National Television, a design group that produces ani-
J. Mitchell Johnson ’75
8 | in motion summer 2005
mation for a variety of media Michael Caldwell
’90, produced the feature Hard Candy for Vulcan
Productions Steven Cantor ’95, is producing the
Whitney Anderson ’04, John Carr ’04,
HBO series Family Bonds Ronnie Christensen ’94,
Jonathan Howard ’04, and Damian Saul-
wrote the script for the horror feature Smoke Polly
Romay ’04, were awarded Disney/ABC writing
Cohen ’95, brought the script for License to Wed to
fellowships Aaron Coleman ’02, penned the lyrics
Warner Bros. Productions and will supervise production of
for Imelda, a new stage musical about the former first
a film based on the article U Want Me 2 Kill Him
lady of the Philippines Greg DeCuir ’01, wrote the
Matthew Ehlers ’92, has been commissioned by Made
Up North Productions to write the screenplay for Jump
Lisa Parsons ’ 01
script for the feature Big Time Freaks Josh
Greenberg ’00, will write the script for the new
Drain” from CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS) Rian
Johnson ’96, wrote and directed the feature Brick
Damon Lee ’94, is anchoring his Deacon
Entertainment at Focus Features by inking a first look
pact Garrett Lerner ’95, was co-executive producer
adventure comedy Delaware McCloud Ben Haber ’00,
will co-produce All You Need Is Love Chad
Michael ’03, wrote and directed the new feature
The Writer Jennifer Nieves ’02, has joined Penn
Station Entertainment as director of development
of the NBC series LAX Steve Loh, ’98, is producing
the indie feature Pope Dreams Ori Marmur ’93 and
Neal Moritz ’85 will produce the spy thriller The
Executioner’s Game for Columbia Pictures Don
Jon Bokenkamp ’ 95
Murphy ’98, will produce the feature Sleepless Knights
for DreamWorks Jack Orman ’93, will write the
Trevor Engelson ’98, and Nick Osbourne ’97,
will produce the romantic comedy License to Wed Gary
Fleder ’93, is a director on the ABC series Blind Justice
Russell Friend ’95, is co-executive producer of the
NBC series LAX Samantha Goodman ’92 and
Andrew Stern ’92, wrote the script for the
Paramount feature Dealbreaker Luke Greenfield ’94,
has signed separate film and TV pacts with Regency
Enterprises and 20th Century Fox TV Gerald
Haynes ’97, wrote and directed the short film
script for the feature The Code Nick Pustay ’95, has
been hired by Fortress Entertainment to adapt Elizabeth
Swado’s Dreamtective Ben Queen ’96, is writing the
script for the Warner Bros. feature Slanted and
Enchanted Herbert Ratner ’96, wrote the script for
the feature Mr. Lucky Mark Gibson ’94 and Philip
Halprin ’93, will write the script for a comedy feature
that is being developed for Snoop Dogg Jason
Shuman ’96, will produce the features The Burrowers
and Mr. Lucky John Singleton ’90, directed the
Aaron Coleman ’ 02
Lisa Parsons ’01, has been hired as a staff writer for
the Fox series Arrested Development Ian Richter ’02,
is a producer on the Cartoon Network series Hot Wheels
AcceleRacers Brad Webber ’02, won the Step Up
Film Festival’s grand prize for best drama short for his
film Still Life
revenge tale Four Brothers and also produced the urban
pic Hustle & Flow, which was acquired by Paramount
Motion Picture Group for $16 million in a multi-pic deal
Josh Greenberg ’ 00
Hysteria, which was accepted into the 2005 Pan African
Film Festival Patrick Hogan ’98, wrote and direct-
Current Students
Stephen Sommers ’93, and Bob Ducsay ’86,
Mike Brinker, Vincent Diamante, Todd
will produce the features Argonauts for DreamWorks and
Furmanski, Erik Nelson, and Glenn Song
Airborn for Universal Studios James Vanderbilt ’99,
created Dyadin, a two-player adventure game that was
has signed a deal to adapt former counterterrorism czar
selected as a winner at the 2005 Independent Games
Richard A. Clarke’s book Against All Enemies: Inside
Festival Student Showcase, the country’s most prestigious
America’s War on Terror Clay Walker ’94, produced
game competition for students Hazel Meeks has been
the Plan B Productions documentary The Cole Nobody
selected for the New York International Independent
Knows, based on Freddy Cole’s life and music
Film and Video Festival 2005 for her short film
Sometimes, Seriously, Never
ed the indie feature Pope Dreams Nathan Hope ’95,
received an ASC Outstanding Achievement Award in the
episodic series competition for the segment “Down the
summer 2005 in motion
Great Moments
Sidney Poitier and Leonard Maltin at the 466 screening of
the 1967 schoolroom drama To Sir, With Love
Oscar-winning producers Arnold and Anne Kopelson with
the staff of [email protected] (the live, nightly interview program
on Trojan Vision Television): Andrew Sevanian, Elizabeth
Newman, Lisha Yakub, and Michael Hoy (left to right)
Students Jill Siegel and Joe Frankel flank writer-actor Eugene
Levy (Best in Show), who participated in the Zaki Gordon
Speaker Series, hosted by the Division of Writing for Film
and Television
Alumna Stacey Sher, M.F.A. ’85, and
Michael Shamberg discuss the role of a
producer with Leonard Maltin
Jason Squire (left), instructor of Cinema
Practice, with writer-director Alexander
Payne (Sideways), who talked about the rigors and structure of movie making during
a session of CTPR 386 (Art and Industry
of Theatrical Film)
Jay Roach talks with audience members after a screening
of Meet the Fockers, the finale of the 75th Anniversary
Screening Series
Writer-producer-director-animator Bill Plympton
(Hair High) with Professor Christine Panushka
Rebecca Kearney, vice president of marketing at
United Artists, with a 466 student after the screening
of the documentary The Yes Men
Legendary animator Ray Harryhausen with one of
his original puppets from the film Jason and the
Argonauts (1963)
10 | in motion summer 2005
Declaration of
(continued from page 1)
First Class!
Graduating Interactive M.F.A.s
Mark Cinema Milestone
By John Zollinger, M.F.A. ’02
Drawing on nearly 60 years of music and film experi-
“I’ve finally come to a point in my academic career, as
ence, including being the driving force behind Academy
well as my life, where I’ve found the thing I want to do,
Award winners like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,
which revolves around game design and game produc-
Amadeus, and The English Patient, Zaentz peppered
tion,” Brinker said. “It’s been a wild ride and I’m
students, faculty, and family members with quotes and
confident I’ve found that one love,” he continued.
receive the first degrees in Interactive Media ever
This year’s commencement exercises held special mean-
conferred by USC.
Introduced by Frank Price, a USC trustee and chair of
ing not only for newly minted graduates like Brinker,
As the newly minted M.F.A.s collected their diplomas,
the School’s Board of Councilors, as “an independent,
but also for veteran cinema-television hands Jay Roach
the ceremony underscored the tremendous growth of
hands-on visionary with a rare knack for bringing com-
and Robert Zemeckis.
the discipline, which over the past eight years has
observations he has culled throughout his lifetime.
he USC School of Cinema-Television made
history once again this spring when six students from the Division of Interactive Media
ascended the proscenium at the Shrine Auditorium to
evolved from a handful of classes to a full-fledged
division with an endowed faculty chair, state-of-the-art
labs, and a reputation as one of the nation’s preeminent
interactive programs.
“This is a tremendous moment for the students and for
the division,” said division Chair Scott Fisher. “The students worked incredibly hard over the past three years
to turn their visions into reality. And in doing so, they
played a vital role in developing the program itself.”
Independent filmmaker Saul Zaentz gives a bettersweeet send-off to the class of ’05
plex, epic stories to the big screen,” Zaentz pulled no
Roach, who earned his M.F.A. in 1986, received the
punches when it came to describing the industry many
Mary Pickford Outstanding Alumnus Award, which
in the room will soon be entering.
is bestowed upon alumni who have made an indelible
“The most damning trait of all the studios is they are
like flies. Flies eat honey or excrement with equal
appetite and the studios make their pictures the same
way,” said Zaentz to a roar of laughter. “The more layers
of so-called decision makers, the more you may be
assured that disaster will not be left to chance.”
Zaentz began his career in the Bay Area as a record distributor and later became owner of Fantasy Records, the
first company to record Dave Brubeck, Lenny Bruce,
and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Success in the record
trade funded his interest in films and enabled him to
start the Saul Zaentz Film Center in Berkeley. In addi-
impact on the entertainment industry. Past honorees
include William Fraker, Conrad L. Hall, Alan Ladd Jr.,
Michelle Manning, Walter Murch, Gary Rydstrom,
Stacey Sher, David L. Wolper, Robert Zemeckis, and
Laura Ziskin.
“The other honorees overcame tremendous obstacles
to create fantastic epic films that changed the world,”
said Roach, director of comic hits such as the Austin
Powers series and Meet the Parents. “I spent six days
and hundreds of thousands of dollars flushing a dog
down a toilet,” he added, referencing his blockbuster
Meet the Fockers.
tion to the Oscars his films have racked up, he was the
Earlier in the day, the university conferred an honorary
recipient in 1996 of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts
doctorate upon Zemeckis, director of The Polar Express,
and Sciences’ prestigious Irving G. Thalberg Memorial
Forrest Gump, and the Back to the Future series. The
Award “For Consistently High Quality of Motion
degree was given in recognition of his innovative use of
Picture Production.”
technology to take storytelling to dazzling new heights,
As members of the graduating class transition from
school to a trade known for chasing the latest craze,
Zaentz encouraged them to remain true to their own
voice. “Whatever you believe in has a much better
his contributions to the education of the next generation
of filmmakers, and his loyalty to USC. Zemeckis spearheaded the multi-million dollar drive that resulted in the
construction of the digital arts center that bears his name.
Michael Brinker, William Carter, Todd Furmanski, Kurt
MacDonald, Tripp Millican and Stephanie Weinstein, the
Division of Interactive Media’s first graduating class, toasts
a historic moment.
From Virtual to Reality
In the 1990s, the confluence of increased computing
power, greater connectivity, and ample capital for investment transformed interactive media — games, museum
installations, immersive training environments, and
mobile applications — from a set of niche interests into
an economic powerhouse.
Early on, leaders of the School of Cinema-Television
recognized this trend and the demand it would create for
professionally trained personnel. Although they were
venturing into uncharted academic territory, faculty and
students pressed ahead, applying the time-tested philosophy that underpins the School’s five other divisions.
“The goal of this School is not to turn out students who
are merely specialists in a particular technology,” said
Dean Elizabeth Daley. “Rather, by exposing students to
all facets of the discipline, our intention is to nurture
chance of happening than something you think is what
The class of 2005 — 435 members strong — received a
thinkers and creators who have a solid understanding of
they want. Never — and I use a strong word — never go
total of 271 undergraduate degrees, 158 master’s degrees,
their field and a critical perspective on how it fits into
in with something that’s what you think the audience
and 6 doctorate degrees.
the larger realm of society and culture.”
wants to hear or see.”
That foundation has served the Division of Interactive
For Michael Brinker, who was part of the first group to
Media well during a time of exponential progress.
graduate from the Division of Interactive Media (see
What began in 1997 as a single track in the production
First Class!, at right), the film-school experience was all
(continued on page 13)
about finding that voice.
summer 2005 in motion
| 11
Illustrious Alumnus
by Justin Wilson, M.F.A. ’98
You started out as an executive. Can you talk
Going back to USC, were there any particular
about that transition from network executive
professors or classes that really had an impact
to network writer?
on you?
Marxuach worked as a writer-producer on a number of TV
I had a master’s degree from USC in screenwriting, so my
Absolutely. I was fortunate to be there when Frank Daniel
dramas. With stints on such shows as Boomtown, The
focus was not to become an executive. But you know when
was teaching — I’m sure he continues to be a legend in the
Pretender, and Charmed, he has demonstrated a great deal
the graduate screenwriting program ends and you graduate,
department. David Howard, who was head of the depart-
of versatility, as well as the ability to let his own voice shine
they send out a letter of the synopses to all the agencies?
ment and my thesis advisor, was tremendously supportive,
After earning his master’s degree from the Division of
Writing for Screen and Television in 1993, Javier Grillo-
not just of my work, but of the idiosyncratic pockets of my
vision. He had a real passion for [writing] and was just a
great teacher of the theory of screenwriting.
When you go into the screenwriting program and you take
Nina Foch’s class, that’s also going to make an impression.
She’s an extremely powerful person who has a very definite
point of view, and the things you learn from her you’re
going to continue to use throughout your career.
Without slipping into hyperbole, I use the things I learned
from USC on a day-to-day basis. They’re the tools of story
analysis and story creation that formed the foundation for
what I do.
So now you’re on a show, you’re working, and
you have to execute someone else’s vision of the
show. How are you able to manage that while
you’re finding your voice and demonstrating
something distinct about your writing?
If you can’t check your ego at the door, you probably don’t
belong in television. Which seems contrary to popular
opinion, because a lot of people believe that all writers are
egomaniacal. But when you are a paid writer or writer/
producer on someone else’s television show, you are going
to try to fulfill their vision. You have to find within yourself
the way to manifest your own creativity while fulfilling
their vision. That’s a creative challenge that not everybody
Alumnus Javier Grillo-Marxuach is a writer and supervising producer on the smash TV show Lost
may want to take.
For me, it’s a very fulfilling thing to go in and write a script
within the parameters of network series television. Grillo-
The script list?
that is in the voice of Damon [Lindelof, co-creator and
Yes, the script list. I had written a $120-million action
producer of Lost ] or J.J. [Abrams, co-creator and producer
movie for a 50-year-old Puerto Rican actor. Who I guess at
of Lost ] that still has my own personal stamp on it. That’s
the time would have been Raul Julia. Then he died…so,
when you are truly successful as a television producer,
that didn’t exactly set the world on fire...I was working at
because that’s what we do. If that’s something that you can’t
Why is television so appealing now for writers
Kinko’s and trying to figure out what I was going to do
reconcile with, then you’re probably better off writing fea-
like yourself?
with my life, what I was going to write next, and becoming
tures or doing something that will allow you to have more
very frustrated. And I got the opportunity to interview for
of that idiosyncratic voice.
this [executive] job with NBC, through USC actually…It
I think that what happens in a TV show is, if you come in
began as something that I thought, “Wow, this will be a
slowly through the margins, your voice starts to seep into
good way to know a piece of the business and have a posi-
the creative process. A show begins by being someone else’s
tion inside.” And after I took that job, I felt like it was the
show, but if you’re able to successfully contribute to that
place to be for a writer. I really enjoyed talking to TV writ-
show it becomes, not your show by any means, but a staff
ers, and working on the development of pilots and things
show. The mark of a well-run, well-designed show is that it
like that. That job was kind of like my second master’s
accommodates a lot of different viewpoints within the
The limitation that you have as a television writer is that,
degree. It was very specifically a master’s degree in televi-
greater structure. And the creativity really falls into the cat-
unless you create your own series, you are working in some-
sion, and how the TV industry works.
egory of…writing a haiku: I need to have this many lines, I
I was involved in … a show called Seaquest. The executive
need to have this many paragraphs. Can I do that and still
producer took a liking to me, or maybe he just didn’t want
give it my own personal identity?
Marxuach may not be a household name yet, but the
success of this year’s smash hit Lost has given him some
well-deserved recognition. (Just don’t ask him to reveal
any of the island’s secrets.)
I think it’s very easy to feel that features are the sexier arena.
The profile is very high and it’s a very glamorous world.
Television is a place where individual writers can really
establish a voice and create a larger body of work faster.
You develop your skills a lot faster because you’re writing
in a much more consistent pattern, and it’s a much more
writer-friendly world than features.
one else’s universe. I don’t think one is better or worse, but
I know a lot of writers who have written a dozen features
that haven’t gotten produced. The one thing about television is that the great majority of what I have written has
been produced. I get to see it on its feet, and a month later
I’m writing another thing. And you’re constantly moving
and constantly pushing at the limitations. That’s why I find
it more attractive.
12 | in motion summer 2005
to get notes from me anymore — I’m not sure which one it
was — and he offered me a job. The hardest part was getting the job at the network, which was a three-month
interview process.
First Class!
(continued from page 11)
When you first started Lost, did you have a
division with adjunct faculty ballooned in 2002 into an independent division, offering an intensive
feeling the show would be as big as a hit as
three-year course of study in which M.F.A. students gain exposure to the full spectrum of interactive expe-
it is now?
riences, from mobile media to immersive media to game design. In addition, an undergraduate degree
I try not to think about it in those terms. I thought we were
working on a noble endeavor and one that was very experimental because it was filmed very quickly. I was brought in
program in Interactive Entertainment has just been approved by the university’s curriculum committee for
the division to begin in Fall of 2005. (The division also offers an undergraduate minor in Video Game
Design and Management, presented in conjunction with the Viterbi School of Engineering.)
before the pilot script was finished as part of a four-writer
In 2002, Fisher assumed the division chair, bringing
think-tank, to come up with ideas for what the series should
with him an extensive background as a media artist
become, based on the pilot. And out of that think-tank a lot
and interaction designer whose experience stretches
of stuff came up: character back stories, ideas for develop-
from government to industry to academia. Since his
ment of the show, what’s on the island. Never in a million
arrival, the faculty has grown even further to include
years would I have guessed that it would be the hit that it is.
eight professors and eight adjunct professors, as well
Partially because I just thought, “Let’s make it good and see
as two staff members.
if it sticks.”
“The M.F.A. brought the caliber up,” said Chris Swain, who started as a part-time instructor in 1999
On Lost, is there a “bible” that you refer to so
and became a full-time assistant professor in 2004. “We had real faculty, real organization, and students
that each of the writers knows where the show
who actively sought us out,” he added.
is going?
This climate of experimentation was aided immensely by the broad swath of expertise Carter and his
At the very early stages of the show, we sat down and brain-
classmates brought to the program, said Visiting Associate Research Professor Perry Hoberman. “We
stormed for two months while the pilot was being filmed.
have people with backgrounds in computer science, cinema, theater, arts, music,” Hoberman noted.
J.J. and Damon knew certain things that they wanted. We
“They’re from all over the place and with the kinds of projects they are doing, they have to draw on the
knew what the island was — very clearly — and we knew
types of experience they and their colleagues have in many disciplines.”
what the monsters were. Within the rubric of that, we knew
that certain things have to happen —that they’re going to
build a raft, that the pregnant girl has to give birth. Once
you have certain things in the macro [plan] of the show, you
start putting up signposts that you can follow. That’s how
Lost is being created.
J.J. and Damon created a vision, and from that we move to
what is going to happen over the season. Then you sort of
work your way out from the big picture to that smaller picture, and the more signposts you throw up at each level, the
more you know where you are going. It gets interesting: You
Critical Mass
The division received a major boost in 2004 when Electronic Arts (EA), the world’s leading interactive
entertainment software company, made a multimillion dollar investment in the future of interactive
media education at the USC School of Cinema-Television.
The donation supports the development of the division’s gaming track, officially named the Electronic
Arts Interactive Entertainment Program, as well as the Electronic Arts Endowed Faculty Chair, which
is a rotating position held for one to two years by leading figures in interactive entertainment. Bing
Gordon, EA co-founder, chief creative officer, and executive vice president, assumed the first seat
earlier this year.
draw yourself a map, follow it and you give yourself enough
Advances in programs, faculty, and funding were matched over the past three years by an equally robust
gray area so that if an actor’s really good and you want to
physical expansion. The Interactive Media Lab and the Immersive Media Lab are both situated in the
write an expanded part for him, you can do that. If some-
cinema-television complex; the Mobile Media Lab is in the Annenberg Center; and the Electronic Arts
thing happens — if someone has a great inspiration as one
Game Innovation Lab and the Zemeckis Media Lab (ZML) are housed in the Robert Zemeckis Center
of the writers, you say, “Wow, let’s use that” and then you
for Digital Arts.
modify where you’re going on the journey to that. You can
take a detour if you’re driving cross-country and you know
you have to stop here, here and here. That frees you up to
say, “You know what? The world’s biggest ball of twine is
over here. Let’s get off on this exit and go see the world’s
With its cutting-edge technology, the EA Game Innovation Lab serves as a research space and think tank
where new concepts in game design, play, and usability are developed, prototyped and play-tested. The lab
features an array of equipment, from PCs sporting high-end graphics cards, to a usability room set up
with one-way mirrors and video cameras that let researchers and developers monitor how players interact
with games.
biggest ball of twine and then let’s drive back to Denver,
which is where we have to be by episode 12.” You can’t go
The adjoining ZML classroom features seamless, wrap-around video projection screens on three of the
into a show like this and make it up as you go along. But if
room’s walls, creating a space for second- and third-year students to develop and display their work. This
you have the vision, then you have the freedom to play with
spring, the room hosted the inaugural session of the “Pass Through” exhibition. The event, which will be
it more and still know where you need to get to.
held each year before commencement, showcases the graduating class’s thesis projects, which this year
included mobile media and games, as well as experiential and immersive installations.
Aren’t there are a lot of questions from fans
about where Lost is going?
The Next Level
Yeah, there are. You try to answer one, and then maybe for
For the new graduates, the future looks promising. “It’s a burgeoning industry and it’s only going to get
one you answer you throw out a couple more. Some of them
more interesting,” said Carter, who had four job interviews in the weeks prior to commencement.
are questions that we can’t answer. Telling you what the
island is, is like having David and Maddie [from the ’80s TV
Likewise, the division’s future seems just as promising, with the official launch of a bachelor’s degree
show Moonlighting] hook up. The moment you know what
program this fall, continued updates to the facilities and equipment, and the expansion of the cross-
the island is, the show will lose a lot of its interest because all
disciplinary programs that the division has already initiated with other schools and departments at
of a sudden you go, “Oh, well, that’s what it is, now we
USC and beyond.
know.” But within that, there are all sorts of secrets and mys-
“Interactive Media — and by that I mean both the field and the division — are at a pivotal moment,
teries and things that we can plant and then pay off.
much like the Internet was in the early ’90s,” Fisher said. “I couldn’t even begin to tell you what things
will look like three years from now, but I do know these grads and the ones who follow will have a hand
To read the complete interview with Javier Grillo-
in determining that future,” he added.
Marxuach, please log on to
summer 2005 in motion
| 13
Backseat Bingo
Ahead of the Filmmaking Curve
By Jacqueline Angiuli
hen Ruth moved into Sid’s apartment complex, the 82-year-old widower
found love. And his granddaughter, Liz Blazer, M.F.A. ’03, found the
inspiration to create her acclaimed animated documentary, Backseat
Bingo, which premiered at the School of Cinema-Television’s annual First Look Film
Festival in the fall of 2004.
Sid, deeply despondent after losing his wife of 60 years, was “instantly transformed” by his
love affair with Ruth, said Liz. “Hair grew out of the top of his head for the first time in a
half century,” she recalls. “My grandfather giggled, danced, and wrote love letters.”
Comedy Arts Festival, and the International Documentary Association are just a few of
the many organizations that awarded Backseat Bingo their highest honors.
The enthusiastic response probably shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. More than
20 percent of the U.S. population will be 65 years or older by 2030, and the first baby
boomers will reach the age of 60 in 2006. This means that an unprecedented number of
Americans are trying to understand the evolving role of older persons in society — just as
Liz Blazer sensed when she saw Ruth and Sid’s relationship beginning to unfold.
Seniors talk about love and intimacy in the animated documentary Backseat Bingo
Liz was struck by how the vitality of Sid and Ruth’s relationship seemed to stand in stark
But Liz emphasized that it was the education she received at the USC School of
contrast to most assumptions about older people and romance, so she set out to make a
Cinema-Television that enabled her to turn her artistic instincts into film reality.
film that would explore the intimate lives of senior citizens.
“What excited me most about the program initially was that USC offered the opportunity
“I asked around for months, searching for a group of passionate seniors who were willing
to study animation within the context of the film school, instead of as a segregated anima-
to talk about sex,” said Liz. “I finally found Robert, a 93-year-old composer who intro-
tion department in an art school,” she noted. “The School of Cinema-Television is excep-
duced me to his clique of fabulous friends. They were excited about being interviewed
tional because of its philosophical commitment to teaching not only the technical tools of
and quite candid, knowing that the final film would be animated.”
the trade, but also critical thinking and — most important — the art of storytelling.”
Liz, the sole animator, director, and producer of Backseat Bingo, chose to make a docu-
The success of Backseat Bingo has encouraged Liz to continue to explore the intersection
mentary featuring animated characters, knowing it would help audiences shed their
of the animation and documentary genres. She is currently working on a short —
preconceptions about aging and focus on the actual message about companionship and
Fitting Room Confidential is the working title — that will address the issues surrounding
the universality of romantic longing. “I wanted to show these folks in the most wise, vital,
female self-image by illustrating the “humorous, compassionate, often silly, and some-
and compassionate way that I could — literally, animated,” she explained.
times painful interactions” that occur in the hidden worlds of the dressing rooms of dis-
The completed project — a “cut-out film” that was created by scanning watercolor draw-
count clothing stores.
ings, fabrics, and printed textures and using Photoshop and After Effects for assembly and
“Liz Blazer is a wonderful spirit and a true humanitarian,” said Kathy Smith, chair of
animation — earned Liz not only a master’s degree from the School’s Division of
the Division of Animation and Digital Arts. “Her work is imbued with a sensitivity and
Animation and Digital Arts, but also an avalanche of accolades from across the country
maturity that comes from having elderly parents and a sincere interest in the fragility of
and around the globe. Film-festival audiences from California to Croatia have embraced
life and the transience of existence,” Smith observed, adding, “She never fails to find
this insightful, imaginative five-minute masterpiece, and Animation Magazine, the HBO
some sense of emotion or humor in even the smallest moment.”
Sith’s Digital Dazzle
t was “déjà vu all over again” when a capacity
As Dean Elizabeth Daley noted, “A smaller collection of
Another highlight of the afternoon was an appearance
crowd filled Frank Sinatra Hall in the Norris
guests assembled at the very same venue back in 1977 to
by alumnus Ben Burtt ’75, the sound designer on all of
Theatre Complex on May 15 to enjoy prerelease
watch a special screening of the first Star Wars movie, so
the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films and picture editor
screenings of Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith,
we are very honored that George [Lucas] agreed to let us
on Episodes I, II, and III. Burtt joined the festivities to
courtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd. and 20th Century Fox.
screen the finale to this landmark series here as well.”
participate in a question-and-answer session with
Thanks to the digital file server provided by Avica
Technology and the digital projector already donated to
14 | in motion summer 2005
School’s editing track.
the School and installed in Norris Theatre/Sinatra Hall by
Burtt talked about the care taken by the filmmakers to
corporate partner Christie’s, guests saw Episode III the way
connect the threads between all the Star Wars films in the
George Lucas wanted it to be seen — completely digitally.
final installment, adding that “they are very enjoyable
And the USC audience cherished every magical
Ben Burtt ’75, Academy Award nominee and longtime
George Lucas collaborator, discusses his role as a film editor
and sound designer on Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge
of the Sith
Associate Professor Norman Hollyn, head of the
threads to follow.”
moment. Alumni, faculty, students, and friends greeted
Recounting his experiences working on Episode III, Burtt
the first notes of John Williams’s score with eager
said that there was “a tremendous amount of … experi-
applause, cheered for their Jedi heroes during the spec-
mentation going on in the editing room.” The prolific
tacular battle scenes, and offered a thundering ovation as
Burtt — he also created the voice of E.T. — went on to
the credits rolled.
encourage aspiring filmmakers to get a broad education
but also to “become an expert in several things so you
have a developed point of view.”
USC Is in the “Flow”
at Sundance ’05
Mixing with Moore
By Justin Wilson, M.F.A. ’98
raving streets choked with snow
banks and throngs of festival-goers,
more than 200 alumni, students,
faculty, and friends joined the School of
Cinema-Television’s annual cocktail party at
Café Terigo to celebrate the 20-plus USC-affiliated projects that were presented at this year’s
Sundance and Slamdance film festivals.
The January event — sponsored by Avid,
Moviefone, and Stella Artois — drew a record
Michael Phillips, senior production designer at Avid
Technology, Nelson Cragg, M.F.A.’03, and Dean
Daley at the School of Cinema-Television's annual
Sundance reception
crowd, all of whom were buzzing about the award-winning fiction features Hustle & Flow
(produced by John Singleton, B.A. ’90) and Brick (written and directed by Rian Johnson, B.A.
’96), as well as the documentary The Fall of Fujimori (directed by alumna Ellen Perry).
As in years past, short films proved an excellent way for current students like Ari Sandel
housands flooded McCarthy Quad last October for an outdoor
screening — featuring exclusive unreleased footage — of Michael
Moore’s Palme d’Or–winning documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. Hosted by the
School of Cinema–Television and the USC Program Board, this unique
event drew students from across campus, who stood shoulder-to-shoulder to
watch the now-legendary film and lob questions at its controversial creator,
Michael Moore. The university-wide screening and question-and-answer session were preceded by a reception attended by the Academy Award–winning
filmmaker and a small group of faculty and students.
(writer-director of the musical West Bank Story) and Michael Hoy (producer of the Slamdance
entry Lower East Side Stories) to participate in the Park City festivities.
Sandel summed up his experience as a first-time filmmaker by saying, “The difference between
Hanks Gets Real
going to Sundance and showing a film at Sundance is that going as an observer is more fun,
but showing a film is more exciting. That’s because the chaos and crazy schedules combined
with all of the constant networking takes its toll, but when you are presenting a film the stakes
are higher. The experience was a real success for me and the film.”
David Greenspan, M.F.A. ’01, director of the new feature comedy Mall Cop, is a Park City veteran, having participated in Slamdance four years ago as the writer-director of the Palme d’Or–winning short Beancake. “I ran into a number of other USC alumni and students at Slamdance,” said
Greenspan, describing the collegial environment at Park
City. “I met Kori Bunds, a current 546 director, whose
508 was in Slamdance. We shared USC war stories and
bonded. I did feel like part of the family.”
Hoy seconded this notion, saying, “In a funny way,
Park City started to feel like a home away from home.
The Trojan presence at Sundance and Slamdance,
Alumni Ravi Malhotra, Ashley Jordan, Kim
Ray, and Donovan Eberling at Sundance ’05
whether students or alumni, filmmakers or supporters,
was so strong and it really solidified for me why I go to
USC. There are so many students and alumni from ’SC who have a determination to make an
impact on the world and so many of them are actually doing it. It really made the film world
feel even smaller than it already does. It’s just really great when you can mention something
n February, the inimitable Tom Hanks took the podium in Frank Sinatra
Hall — much to the delight of the capacity crowd of students who had
gathered there to hear their idol share his perspectives on the role and impact
of non–fiction filmmaking. Hanks showed clips from such esteemed film and
television projects as Band of Brothers, Saving Private Ryan, Apollo 13, and
Ken Burns’ The Civil War, and reflected that the most enduring films all have
“the three Es” — they entertain, enlighten, and educate. A lively questionand-answer session, moderated by Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
Michael Renov and Professor Mark Harris, concluded this remarkable twohour program.
like 290 or 310, and people actually know what you’re talking about!
Adds Kim Ray, M.F.A. ’04, co-writer of West Bank Story, “Sundance is what you make of it,
whether you’re a participant or have something in the festival … It’s fun to be there with a
WB Hosts Students
group of USC people because you’re never at a loss for what to do at any hour of the day.”
The USC cocktail party was particularly enjoyable, she said, because “You’re in a room filled
with people who not only have things they worked on in the festival but are also working on
new projects. It’s really exciting.”
AOL Annoucement
merica Online, the world’s leading interactive services company, and the USC
School of Cinema-Television recently joined forces, launching an initiative that
will take online content and entertainment to exhilarating new heights in the coming years.
The partnership got off to a picture-perfect start this April
when Moviefone, a division of AOL, helped underwrite the
School’s First Look Film Festival and hosted the festival’s
opening-night celebration. Moviefone will continue to support First Look — and furnish new platforms for
showcasing student work — as part of a multifaceted AOLSteven Yee (general manager of
AOL Movies), alumnus Jon
Turteltaub, and Larry Auerbach
at the April First Look Festival
USC agreement.
Stay tuned for more details about this exciting partnership!
hen Josh Schwartz, creator of the smash-hit television series The
O.C., and Bruce Rosenblum, executive vice president of Warner
Bros. Television Group, hosted a lunch for 18 cinema-television students on
the WB lot in March, club sandwiches weren’t the only things on the menu.
Students relished the opportunity to learn about the realities of a television
career firsthand from two of the giants in the business. The luncheon was
the second in a successful new quarterly series organized by Rosenblum and
designed to connect students interested in careers in television with
successful alumni in the field. Rosenblum and film and television impresario
John Wells, M.F.A. ’82, hosted the inaugural luncheon event in January.
summer 2005 in motion
| 15
The Write Stuff
Summer Program Heats Up
By Jacqueline Angiuli
By Duke Underwood
out the first pitch” (by ringing the bell signal-
cademic ambition doesn’t tend to run very high in the summer, when the
siren song of cool ocean breezes lures so many people away from cities and
college campuses. But for the determined band of film, television, and new media
enthusiasts who enroll in the USC School of Cinema-Television’s renowned
Summer Program, the opportunity to hoist heavy camera kits and work in darkened editing rooms will prove to be a much bigger draw than any sandy stretch
of beach. And this year, in addition to offering an ever-growing catalogue of classes
to USC students and the general public, the Summer Program is hosting a series of
one-of-a-kind events.
ing the beginning of the first five-minute
In collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute of Los Angeles, Filmmaking,
round). Then students took their places oppo-
Italian Style — a new production course and the Los Angeles incarnation of the
site representatives from such entertainment
popular filmmaking course offered in 2002 and 2003 at Cinecittà Studios in
heavy-hitters as CAA, Endeavor, Fox, FUSE,
Rome — will bring legendary screen siren Claudia Cardinale to the USC campus.
ICM, Paradigm, Sony Pictures, UTA, Warner
Cardinale and her work will be honored on July 28 at a special event in the
Bros., and William Morris.
Norris Theatre Complex’s Frank Sinatra Hall.
The format is a bit like speed-dating, with
The Summer Program will also welcome television industry figures who will
students allotted five minutes each to discuss
participate in stimulating panel discussions about award-winning television. Paul
their scripts with invited agents, managers,
Feig, B.A. ’84, creator of Freaks and Geeks and director of Arrested Development,
and creative executives, who are positioned at
and Robert B. Weide, Emmy Award–winning director and co-executive producer
separate tables around the room.
of Curb Your Enthusiasm, are among the creative leaders slated to appear.
dressed writing students from the School of
“We see this as our screenwriting debutant
Other Summer Program participants include visual effects trailblazer Ray
Cinema-Television, and about three dozen
ball,” said Terris Feldman. “We walked into
Harryhausen (Clash of the Titans) and Italian actress and director Asia Argento
entertainment industry representatives. But
that ballroom not as 52 aspiring screen
(Last Days).
this was First Pitch, the annual student-run
writers, but as 52 professional screenwriters.”
event that introduces USC’s latest crop of
The results have been astounding. Students
screenwriters to industry decision-makers by
Consulate and Instituto Luce in Rome to present a two-evening look at propa-
are taking meetings and gaining representa-
way of an evening of rapid-fire storytelling.
ganda films, both documentary and narrative, that were produced in Italy and
tion; script requests are up more than 30 per-
So characters of all kinds filled the space,
Austria between the two world wars.
cent over last year; and the responses are still
creatively conjured by graduating M.F.A.
pouring in.
here they were —an exiled warrior, an
ing pitches would result in script requests or
eccentric circus family, a former bad-
minton champ, an agoraphobic schoolteacher, a Goth-wannabe, and a pony named
Twinkles — all gathered together on a warm
spring evening inside the Four Seasons
Hotel’s elegant Beverly Hills Ballroom.
First Pitch 2005 Director Hayley Terris Feldman ’05
with alumni Josh Schwartz ’99 (left), and James
Vanderbilt ’99 (right)
Of course, to most casual observers the
expansive, light-filled room held only several
rows of small round tables, 50 or so smartly
Hosts — and cinema-television alumni —
Josh Schwartz (creator of The O.C.) and
James Vanderbilt (writer of Basic and The
Rundown) were invited by First Pitch 2005
Director Hayley Terris Feldman ’05 to “throw
and B.F.A. students who hoped that long
weeks of fine-tuning screenplays and rehears-
Now that’s a happy ending
On July 20 and 21, the Summer Program will collaborate with the Austrian
Please log on to for more details and updates. If you
would like to receive information about special events, send your e-mail address
to [email protected]
Dean Elizabeth M. Daley
University of Southern California
School of Cinema-Television
George Lucas Building, Room 209
Los Angeles, California 90089-2211
Associate Dean,
External Relations
Marlene Loadvine
Jacqueline Angiuli
Jessica Brownell, Meredith Goodwin,
Cindy Villaseñor Iwanaga, Elizabeth Randall,
Ann Spurgeon, Duke Underwood, Justin Wilson,
John Zollinger
Abraham George, Lindsay Trapnell
Leslie Baker Graphic Design
Copy Editor
Lisa Killen
Contributing Photographers
Dan Avila
Hao Gu
Randall Michelson,
Elizabeth Randall
Alberto Rodriguez/Alan Berliner Studios
Ann Spurgeon
Lindsay Trapnell
Address service requested

Similar documents

we`re #1 comedy gets a chair year in review not your mama`s industry

we`re #1 comedy gets a chair year in review not your mama`s industry Barry Diller Lee Gabler David Geffen Brian T. Grazer Brad Grey Jeffrey Katzenberg Alan Levine George Lucas Don Mattrick Bill M. Mechanic Barry Meyer Sidney Poitier John Riccitiello Barney Rosenzwei...

More information