The proven education at VFS is built on a premise that the skills students learn here must prepare them for a lifetime of personal and professional opportunity. Our mission is to ensure that students come here and, in one year, learn what they need to move directly into the industry.
As part of this mandate, we involve prominent industry professionals in the development of our programs. These advisory boards serve as lifelines to the industry, providing students with direct connections to the professional world. Advisory board members come from many of the world's top companies, and include independent thinkers and scholars from their respective fields.
Anne Beatts is a TV writer-producer who won two Emmys as a writer for the original Saturday Night Live. At SNL, she and her writing partner Rosie Shuster created many of the most memorable characters, such as Todd and Lisa Lupner, Uncle Roy, Laraine Newman's Child Psychiatrist, Irwin Mainway, and Fred Garvin, Male Prostitute.
She created and produced the critically-acclaimed CBS sitcom Square Pegs, and co-executive-produced the first year of NBC's long-running hit series A Different World.
She and her producing partner Eve Brandstein recently executive-produced and co-directed thirteen episodes of John Waters Presents: Movies That Will Corrupt You, a film series for premium cable. They are currently working on a documentary about women in comedy, The Girl in the Room.
In 1999, Anne returned to SNL in prime time as a writer and creative consultant on NBC's Emmy-winning 25th anniversary special, for which she won her third WGA Award. In 1995-96 she was executive producer of The Stephanie Miller Show, a nationally syndicated late-night comedy talk show from Disney's Buena Vista.
Her directing credits range from prime-time episodic television to numerous Los Angeles theatre productions, both serious and comedic.
She was the first woman Contributing Editor of the National Lampoon and both performed and wrote for the National Lampoon Radio Hour. She has been published in numerous magazines, including Esquire, Playboy, Los Angeles Magazine, Vogue, Mirabella, Elle and Premiere. In 1997-98, her humor column Beatts Me! appeared weekly in the Sunday Los Angeles Times.
Anne co-edited the best-selling Saturday Night Live (Avon, 1977), Titters: The First Collection of Humor by Women (Macmillan, 1976), and Titters 101 (Putnam's, 1984), and co-authored The Mom Book (Dell, 1986). She contributed a chapter on "Men vs. Women" to Standup Comedians (Abrams, 1996).
Her work has appeared on Broadway in Gilda: Live and the Tony-nominated rock'n'roll musical Leader of the Pack.
As well as teaching sketch comedy writing and performing privately, she is an Adjunct Professor in the Writing Division of the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California.
She was recently honored by the Museum of Television and Radio as one of the medium's most influential women in their "She Made It" awards.
Susan Beavers is a Writer and Co-Executive Producer on CBS's hit sitcom, Two and a Half Men. She began her career in television answering phones, but soon worked her way up to Script Supervisor on such shows as Soap and Night Court.
It was on Night Court that Susan decided she would try writing and wrote a spec script for It's a Living. The script sold and she worked for a year writing freelance for shows such as The Facts of Life, Newhart, and Golden Girls. Her first staff position was on Growing Pains, and moved from there to Empty Nest. Upon leaving Empty Nest, Susan began to create and produce her own shows. In doing this, she had the opportunity to work with some wonderful people, including Valerie Harper and Dudley Moore.
Susan then decided that working long hours and being unmarried would not stop her from having a family. About 14 years ago, she began the process of artificial insemination. This procedure was new at the time and not all that popular. It was this experience and her new life as a single mother that inspired her to write a spec script called Oh Baby.
Much to her surprise, the Lifetime Network ordered two years' worth of the series. To date, this has been Susan's favourite writing for television highlight, saying that it was truly a refreshing and fulfilling experience to be able to raise a baby and write a comedy about it at the same time.
It was at this point that Susan was introduced to Chuck Lorre, the creator of Dharma and Greg and Two and a Half Men. She spent two years as a Consulting Producer on Dharma, and is presently working on her sixth year as Co-Executive Producer on Two and a Half Men.
Bruce Gilbert has been writing and producing since the late 1970s. He received an Academy Award Nomination for Best Picture and won the Golden Globe Award and the prestigious Humanitas Award. In all, his films have been nominated for 24 Academy Awards. His TV projects have been nominated for 11 Emmys and won 5.
He co-wrote and Associate Produced Coming Home, the first serious homefront story about the Viet Nam war from a major Hollywood studio. Directed by the great Hal Ashby, the film went on to receive 8 Academy Award nominations, winning in the categories of Actor (Jon Voight), Actress (Jane Fonda), and screenplay.
He then Executive Produced the nuclear thriller The China Syndrome, and produced the hit comedy Nine to Five and the classic On Golden Pond, which starred Henry Fonda, Katherine Hepburn, and Jane Fonda for the first and only time. The film garnered 10 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture for Mr. Gilbert and Best Director for Mark Rydell. Henry Fonda won the only Academy Award of his career and Katherine Hepburn won her record-setting fourth. The screenplay, by Ernest Thompson, also received the Oscar.
Mr. Gilbert then turned his attention to television, first Executive Producing the TV series of Nine to Five, which ran for three seasons on ABC.
Gilbert then changed formats again, Executive Producing the three hour mini-series The Dollmaker, which was nominated for six Emmys, including Outstanding Drama/Comedy Special and won two Emmy awards, Best Actress for Jane Fonda and Best Costumes. The director, Daniel Petrie, won the Directors Guild Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Specials. The screenwriters, Susan Cooper and Hume Cronyn, won the Best Adapted Drama Anthology award from the Writer's Guild of America.
Returning to feature films, Mr. Gilbert produced the Sidney Lumet-directed The Morning After, which garnered another Academy Award nomination for Ms Fonda and co-starred Jeff Bridges and Raul Julia.
Mr. Gilbert returned to writing with the screenplay for the HBO miniseries By Dawn's Early Light, which he also Executive Produced. The film starred James Earl Jones, who was nominated for an Emmy. The mini-series also won the Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Visual Effects.
In the 1990s, Mr. Gilbert produced the feature films Man Trouble, starring Jack Nicholson and Ellen Barkin, and Jack the Bear, starring Danny Devito. Jack the Bear co-starred Reese Witherspoon, who won the Best Youth Actress award from the Young Artist Awards.
Gilbert returned once again to television, Executive Producing for Turner Network Television the true-life drama Glory & Honor, about the discovery of the North Pole by explorers Robert Peary and African-American Matthew Henson. Henson's participation in the discovery of the Pole was previously little known, and he is now buried with full honors next to Admiral Robert Peary in Arlington National Cemetery. The film won a Golden Satellite Award for its star, Delroy Lindo, and an Emmy for composer Bruce Broughton.
Mr. Gilbert continues to develop stories for motion pictures and television. He has two grown children and divides his time between New York and California.
After earning an M.S. in Film Production from Boston University College of Communication, Maria worked in broadcast television and documentary filmmaking in the Boston market before pursuing a screenwriting career in Los Angeles.
Maria has worked at major Hollywood studios including Paramount, Universal, and Sony as well as in the independent film community. She has written on-staff, as a freelancer, has developed original television pilots, and has won numerous screenwriting competitions including the ABC/Walt Disney Company Writing Fellowship. Her screenplay, Billboard Dad, was the first Fellowship project ever produced.
With her writing partner, André Jacquemetton, Maria has written for some of the best known television shows in history, including Star Trek: Enterprise, Baywatch, Relic Hunter, and Highlander.
She is currently a Writer and Supervising Producer on the AMC series Mad Men, Emmy Award and Golden Globe winner for Outstanding Drama Series, and winner of the 2007 Writers Guild Award for Outstanding New Series.
Now in his 18th year as a working Hollywood screenwriter, James Jennewein has co-written (with partner Tom S. Parker) and sold over twenty motion picture screenplays, primarily in the field of family entertainment.
His credits include The Flintstones (Amblin / Universal), Richie Rich (Warner Bros.), Major League II (Morgan Creek / Warner Bros.), Getting Even With Dad (MGM), and Stay Tuned (Warner Bros.).
Having worked with such luminaries as Steven Spielberg, Joel Silver and animator Chuck Jones, as well as ever-mercurial movie stars and studio executives, Mr. Jennewein has experience in virtually every level of the business. Jim has also taught classes in High Concept Comedy in the Writer's Program at UCLA Extension, and has been a guest speaker at Cal Arts and the University of Notre Dame Film School.
His first young adult novel, RuneWarriors, also co-written with Mr. Parker, has just been published by HarperCollins. Set in the ancient world of the Vikings, it's a comic coming-of-age tale that puts a fresh twist on Norse mythology.
Prior to Hollywood, Jim worked as a writer in advertising. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son, and is fond of Billy Wilder, Preston Sturges, and anyone else who makes him laugh.
Joseph Staretski has worked in television comedy for 30 years as a writer, producer, executive producer, showrunner and show creator.
After graduating from UCLA, he wrote for Rhoda and Maude before moving on to Three's Company, which he wrote, then produced, and eventually co-executive produced. He then co-developed the show's spinoff, Three's a Crowd, with John Ritter. Cashing in on this early success, he led the development life at Viacom, Lorimar, and Reeves Television, where he co-created What a Country, a first-run syndicated comedy, and wrote and produced numerous pilots.
He later worked as a supervising producer for Coach, then co-executive producer for Cosby and Payne, an American remake of Fawlty Towers that starred John Larroquette, and as executive consultant for the Norm McDonald comedy A Minute With Stan Hooper. In recent years, he has had a cable pilot, The Temple, in development and has written two separate feature scripts about divorce.
Like so many other writers, Norman Steinberg's career began when he woke up one morning and said to himself, "What the hell am I doing practicing law? I hate myself." That was the day he quit and began a writing career.
Over almost 40 years, that career has taken him on a phenomenal ride through almost every area of media. He's an Emmy Award winner for his work on the Flip Wilson Show; a writer on David Frye's Grammy Awad winning album I Am the President; a screenwriter on many films including Blazing Saddles, My Favorite Year, Johnny Dangerously, Mr Mom, and the ever-popular Yes, Giorgio which ended Luciano Pavarotti's abbreviated film career.
He has also had a long career in television, having been the showrunner on many series including Cosby, The Ellen Burstyn Show, Mel Brooks' When Things Were Rotten and Raising Dad with Bob Saget. An HBO series he created entitled Chemistry is set to premiere in September of 2009. At present, Mr. Steinberg occupies the Parson Family Professorship in Writing at Long Island University's Brooklyn Campus where he will be overseeing an intensive two-year MFA program in Writing for Television.