The Chairman and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment addressed 2014 graduates of USC‘s School of Cinematic Arts today at the Shrine Auditorium near the LA campus. Prior to Jim Gianopulos‘s speech, Marvel President and USC alumnus Kevin Feige received the school’s Mary Pickford Alumni Award, remembering his own time as a Trojan and sharing advice for the program’s aspiring filmmakers. Gianopulos joined the SCA Board of Councilors last year. Here’s a full transcript of Gianopulos’ speech, followed by highlights of Feige’s:
Congratulations Kevin on receiving the Mary Pickford foundation Award. It’s very well deserved for the great Marvel films you’ve produced, and I wish you continued success, as long as your movies aren’t opening on the same weekend as ours!
Dean Daley, distinguished faculty, guests and—most important—all of you graduates in the class of 2014—it is an honor and a thrill for me to be here today.
I’d like to make one thing clear right away—I am not here to give you life-changing advice. As someone who’s worked in Hollywood for many years, the only thing I can tell you with certainty is… stay off the 405.
I have no easy answers, no mandated rules for living, no reminders to floss. The great journey you’re about to embark upon will be about exploring questions and finding your own answers to them, and trust me, it’s way better than thinking you have all the answers already.
Former Good Morning America Sunday co-anchor Willow Bay today was appointed the director of USC’s School of Journalism. “The breadth of Willow Bay’s experiences, skills and talents is extraordinary,” said Ernest Wilson III, dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism of the former ABC, CNN and NBC correspondent and Lifetime producer. “Her leadership will help our innovative school aggressively continue our path of creating and defining the digital future.’ Currently an editor at the Huffington Post and a special correspondent for Bloomberg News, Bay will take over her duties at USC in July. “I look forward to leading the school as it educates and inspires the next generation of journalists and public relations professionals for the future and contributes groundbreaking academic research into these fields,” said Bay today. Bay is married to Disney CEO Bob Iger.
Screenwriter John Ridley and the late Solomon Northup, author of 12 Years A Slave, won the 26th annual USC Libraries Scripter Award for best book-to-film adaptation. The winner was announced tonight at a black-tie gala, chaired again by Taylor Hackford and Helen Mirren and held at the Doheny Memorial Library on the USC campus. Ridley was moved to tears in discussing Northup and his memoir as he accepted the award. “There’s a very special relationship that forms between the writer and the originator,” said Ridley, who was joined by several of Northup’s descendants at the ceremony. Ridley praised the novelist and spoke about how adapting the book has been a new and different experience. “The clarity with which he wrote, the evocative language…” Ridley said. “Until I read Solomon’s memoir, I didn’t know what being a writer was about.” Read More »
One after another, groups of USC engineering students, ranging from thirtysomething doctoral candidates down to baby-faced undergrads, trooped to the stage today. Each pitched their newly honed and toned startup companies before a roomful of potential investors, supporters, and — in a changeup for both — executives from old-line venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and old-line Hollywood talent agency UTA.
The Viterbi Startup Garage Day featured presentations from nine teams (another group couldn’t make the event), all recently done with an intensive 12-week program to build a working tech product and get it on the market. In some cases, Viterbi’s program was a last stop to fine tune a product built on years of research and work. Other companies had been mere proposals last spring. All the young entrepreneurs are hoping to benefit from a program that’s giving them some unexpected friends in influential places.
“Early-stage entrepreneurs need two things: help with business development and access to capital,” said Ashish Soni, the Viterbi School of Engineering faculty member who runs the first-year program. “Kleiner provides access to capital. A lot of what UTA does is dealmaking. You can replace that celebrity (the agency would typically represent) with a startup.” Read More »
USC will launch a three-year research effort called the Edison Project to figure out key issues of the emerging entertainment economy surrounding new creators of content, new platforms and distributors of that content, new business models to finance their work and new metrics to measure success. USC Annenberg professor Jonathan Taplin, who heads that school’s Innovation Lab, announced the project’s general outlines during a keynote speech Friday at the Digital Marketing & Analytics Summit in Los Angeles.
Taplin told a ballroom of entertainment and tech executives that sector after sector of the entertainment business is showing signs of trouble, from the long-staggering music industry to a movie business that launched numerous bombs this past summer, to an ad business that’s consolidating and automating. These problems are happening even as the world’s entertainment-consuming middle class is booming, and creation of digital media has jumped nine times. Traditional entertainment, meanwhile, is seeing revenue growth barely keep pace with inflation. And, he said new ways of thinking about entertainment are needed to deal with such issues as piracy. Read More »
Steven Spielberg and George Lucas participated in a panel yesterday to open USC‘s new Interactive Media Building in LA. Alum Lucas’ foundation contributed $45M of the $50M cost of the new digs, which is part of the School Of Cinematic Arts. The pair predicted a paradigm shift for movies that Spielberg says will begin after several mega-budgeted tentpoles “crash to the ground” (he used the terms “implosion” and “meltdown” to describe it). In the future, Lucas posits, there will be fewer films in fewer theaters, tickets will cost $50-$150 apiece, and everything else will end up in your living room. From CNBC:
David Bloom is a Deadline contributor. All six major Hollywood studios and a raft of major tech firms have joined to solve compatibility and other issues with next-gen “cloud computing” tools they are increasingly using to create, collaborate on, distribute, protect and archive movies and other media. Dell, EMC, Rackspace and EVault are among the big tech firms taking part. The Entertainment Technology Center at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts will manage the joint standard-setting effort, called “Production in the Cloud.” Ex-Sony Pictures tech executive Ken Williams, now the ETC’s executive director and CEO, said the studios are trying to avoid another round of format wars, such as those that dogged Hollywood with Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD or VHS versus Betamax. Such format wars bring “uncertainty, inefficiency, and confusion to the marketplace, and (slow) product adoption and business growth for all players,” Williams said. “This effort will work to avoid those pitfalls in the evolution of production.” The same cloud-computing revolution that has powered the rise of consumer online services such as Google Apps, Dropbox and Spotify is also transforming high-end services used in Hollywood such as editing video, sharing it with post-production and visual-effects companies and distributing the finished products to various outlets. The initiative also will develop standard formats for archiving films and providing security among other core functions.
The goal of the Viterbi Startup Garage is to keep early-stage engineering companies and their entrepreneurs spawned from USC‘s engineering program in the region via the first LA-based accelerator backed by a big university. It’s the latest move from UTA to work with early-stage companies in media and entertainment as well as other business sectors. Among its initiatives, the agency recently incubated ShopHers, an e-commerce business focused on high-end designer fashion brands, and it also has equity stakes in and has provided advisory services for companies like AwesomenessTV, Andover Games, Playcast, Gold Run, Media Morph and Kevita. It also has an equity position in an as yet unannounced denim company. “We have been proudly advising technology startups for many years, and the Startup Garage will give us an opportunity to be even more hands-on with inspiring entrepreneurs who are working on groundbreaking ideas,” said Brent Weinstein, Head of Digital Media, UTA. “So many early-stage companies are media-focused or media-adjacent, that we feel Los Angeles is the ideal place to launch an accelerator in partnership with world class partners like USC and KPCB.”
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has backed more than 500 ventures including, famously, media companies like Amazon and Google.
The USC Viterbi School of Engineering has about 1800 undergraduate and 3800 graduate students and … Read More »
While deep-pocketed folks like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas get buildings named after them for big donations, director Bryan Singer has made history by becoming the first alumnus of USC‘s School Of Cinematic Arts to have one of the school’s six programs of study named in his honor. USC’s Dean Elizabeth M. Daley said today that SCA’s Division of Critical Studies has now been named the Bryan Singer Division of Critical Studies in honor of the filmmaker’s $5 million gift. The X-Men and Superman Returns director, who is prepping Fox’s X-Men: Days Of Future Past for a summer 2014 debut, graduated from the Critical Studies division in 1989; his Jack The Giant Slayer for Warner Bros opens March 1. “In a way, I began my career in the Division of Critical Studies at USC”, he said. “Watching great films and learning how to think about film from the faculty transformed me as an artist and as a person. I am honored to give back to the division and the school, which gave me so much.” Read More »
Ron Meyer turns 68 on Tuesday. So on the eve of his birthday, he finally made a public statement about the August rumors that he would be involuntarily or voluntarily exiting his job at Universal Studios soon. On a panel at the inaugural symposium of the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy this afternoon, Meyer was asked by the moderator about “these rumors he might be leaving” the President/COO job he has held atop Universal Studios since 1995. Ron’s reply was as follows: “I wouldn’t know what to do retiring. So I have no plans to retire. I like what I’m doing and, as long as they will have me, I can stay.”
I immediately phoned Meyer afterwards and asked if he would expand. “What more is there to say?” he answered. Well, actually quite a lot. Because it’s a case study in how parent company Comcast failed miserably in stopping the rumors or doing damage control on behalf of the Universal brass.
The rumor that Comcast was going to replace Meyer with Stacey Snider first surfaced in the New York Post at the start of August. That usually unreliable newspaper had erroneously posted at least once before that Meyer was about to be fired. The Meyer-Snider rumor then was repeated by The Hollywood Reporter. Whose Kim Masters is widely regarded as the most consistently inaccurate reporter covering Hollywood. As an NBCU flack told me at the time, “She’s called us 20 times saying Ron is being fired or kicked upstairs – and been wrong 20 times. And even when we told … Read More »
Arnold Schwarzenegger held his inaugural symposium of the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy this afternoon. James Cameron was scheduled to attend but was a no-show – described as “on a creative roll” working on the script for the Avatar sequel – despite prior billing and decades working with Arnold on movies like The Terminator and True Lies. Universal Studios President/COO Ron Meyer joined the former Governor as well as Lionsgate Motion Picture Group co-chair Rob Friedman, Imagine Entertainment chairman Brian Grazer, and American Idol mentor/Interscope Records boss Jimmy Iovine on “The Power Of People and Innovation — Media/Hollywood Leader’s Perspectives” panel. Read More »
Gary Ross, director of the international blockbuster The Hunger Games delivered the commencement address today to graduates of USC’s School of Theatre. Nursing a cold, Ross enthusiastically urged the class to “live life fully.” At the same time, the director warned the 2012 grad class that he wasn’t going to “sugarcoat” the years of struggle they would likely have ahead as actors. Ross told the students that even if they found success in “the churning industry of global media” to always remember that “people who want to be stars get their teeth capped. People who want to be actors go to work.” Ross, who received USC’s Scripter Award in 2004 for Seabiscuit, spoke for about 15 minutes.
The U.S. State Department and the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts selected 29 films for an international cultural outreach initiative dubbed the “American Film Showcase.” The worldwide series of events, also in conjunction with Film Independent and the International Documentary Association will feature documentaries, narratives, animated shorts and more. The showcase is an extension of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s concept of “smart power diplomacy.” The idea is to showcase U.S. ideals through a range of soft diplomatic tools that “reflect diversity” in contemporary American life.
In addition to screening the 29 films to overseas audiences, the program will involve filmmakers and experts who will participate in lectures, master classes and in other settings focusing on filmmaking, digital technology and emerging media. “American film is a unique way in which we can engage audiences, especially youth, worldwide,” according to a statement by Ann Stock, assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs. ”For generations, film has opened the doors to dialogue. This international exchange initiative harnesses the power of film. The American Film Showcase brings people together and strengthens those relationships for the benefit of the global community.” Read More »