Newhouse and VPA students go Hollywood

May 18, 2009

LA campus premieres this fall

Syracuse University today announced plans to establish a satellite campus program in Los Angeles, beginning in fall 2009, that will engage students in professional internships, specialized course work and regular interactions with industry leaders.

The program will be led by accomplished television and film producer Andrea Asimow, SU's director, Semester in Los Angeles Programs.

"Having worked in Hollywood for over 25 years, I am thrilled to be part of this effort to bring Syracuse University to Los Angeles so that students who wish to pursue careers in the entertainment industry can benefit from studying with and working for the many outstanding professionals who will be participating in this endeavor," says Asimow.

The program has been shaped jointly by SU faculty and a distinguished group of Southern California alumni.

Spearheading the program are campus founders Aaron Sorkin '83, multi-award- winning writer/producer and creator of The West WingRob Light '78, managing partner and head of music at Creative Artists Agency (CAA); Brian Frons '78, president, Daytime, Disney-ABC Television Group; and Larry Barron '87, senior vice president of programming, Fremantle Media North America.

Advisors come from the top ranks of the entertainment industry, including Fred Silverman '58, pioneering network television executive and producer; Jason Blumenthal '90, producer/partner, Escape Artists; Suzanne De Passe '68, chairman and CEO of De Passe 
Entertainment, Emmy Award-winning producer and former president of Motown Productions; Marshall Gelfand '50 , founder and a partner in the international business management firm of Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman, LLP; Andrew Gumpert '89, president of business affairs & administration, Columbia Pictures; Howard G. Phanstiel '70, G'71, CEO of Phanstiel Enterprises LLC; Phil Quartararo '77, music executive, former executive vice president of EMI Music North America and former president of EMI Music Marketing; and Doug Robinson, producer/partner, Happy Madison Productions.

Along with many of the advisors, several other prominent industry leaders will interact directly with students as guest lecturers, including Ron Meyer, president and chief operating officer of Universal Studios; Phil Gurin '81, president of The Gurin Co.; and longtime writer/producer/director Austin "Rocky" Kalish and his wife, noted writer/producer Irma Ginsberg Kalish '45.

The program will also tap into SU's extensive network of LA alumni for additional speakers.

"Together with my fellow Los Angeles-based Syracuse alumni, we are proud to be a part of SULA," says Light. "This program allows us to give back to the SU community in a meaningful way, while also providing the next generation of industry executives with a richly rewarding experience."

"The SU in LA program is a perfect illustration of our commitment to Scholarship in Action and preparing students for the world by embedding them in real-world experiences and exploration," says SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. "Students will spend an 
entire semester in LA being mentored by our incredible array of alums in Hollywood-testing their knowledge among industry professionals and, ultimately, getting a leg up in the increasingly competitive media and entertainment industries."

The semester program builds upon the previous successes of two longstanding SU experiential programs in LA:

  • In 1984, SU began the Los Angeles Industry Seminar, a weeklong program in which television-radio-film students from SU's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications gain first-hand knowledge of the television and film industries through one-on-one meetings 
  • with SU alumni in the business, visits to studio lots and observation of theater performances and television tapings.
  • In March 2006, SU launched the Sorkin in LA Learning Practicum-a weeklong immersion experience, funded by SU alumnus Sorkin, in which drama and film students from SU's College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) meet with actors, writers, talent agents, directors and producers; participate in workshops; and attend a live theater performance and meet the cast. 

A total of 28 Newhouse and VPA students-specifically from Newhouse's Department of Television-Radio-Film and VPA's multidisciplinary Bandier Program for Music and the Entertainment Industries-will spend the upcoming fall semester in LA. Over time, the University intends to expand the semester program into a multi-faceted SU campus in LA that will serve the collaborative initiatives of SU's other schools and colleges.

The fall semester students-all of whom will be starting their junior year-will be housed together in an apartment complex in the Toluca Lake district of North Hollywood.

Their semester will be built around a 20-hour-per-week internship matched to each student's interests and abilities; internships will span a range of disciplines, including animation, music, digital media, casting, editing, film and television development and production, pre- and post-production, and marketing and distribution.

In addition, they will attend classes in their respective majors convened at their living space and at the Universal Studios Hollywood lot. To complete their course load, they will be able to select from a variety of online courses offered by SU's College of Arts and Sciences.

"The strength of the Newhouse School is that we admit students of exceptional academic ability, then provide them with a liberal arts foundation plus industry- ready professional and technical skills," says Newhouse Dean Lorraine Branham. "The LA immersion program 
will provide that extra edge: our students will graduate knowing not only the programs and processes, but also the people and culture that drive the entertainment industry."

One of the most unique offerings in the LA Semester will be VPA's Bandier Program for Music and the Entertainment Industries, one of the first undergraduate, multidisciplinary programs in the country to prepare students for a career in the music and entertainment industry. It includes the study of music, communications, business and entrepreneurship with a strong liberal arts background, and combines course work at VPA with courses at the Newhouse School and SU's Whitman School of Management and College of Arts and Sciences.

The program was founded in 2006 and funded through a gift by SU alumnus Martin Bandier '62, chairman and CEO of Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC.

Additional information on SU's LA campus and the initial semester program is available at