Arts Division to present ‘The Business of Entertainment’ panel of industry leaders

Brannon Braga
Jennie Morris
Steven Lafferty
Jon Moonves
Andrew Z. Davis

How does a film or television program go from concept to production?

Of course it all starts with an idea, but there are also countless behind-the-scenes deals that contribute to making it happen.

On Friday, November 6, in partnership with the Arts Division, six executives in the entertainment business--including several UC Santa Cruz alums--will share their knowledge with students and the community in a special panel discussion at the Music Center Recital Hall.

Titled The Business of Entertainment, it will cover the many hidden aspects of ‘making the deal’--such as content creation; what convinces a network executive to acquire a project; legal aspects of protecting directors, on-air and creative talent; and the challenges and pitfalls of physical production and distribution.

"As I have reconnected with many of our alumni in the film and television industry over the years, it was clear that they wanted to not only financially support our efforts in the arts, but also find a way to be involved with our students,” noted UC Santa Cruz arts dean David Yager.

“At the same time, our students need more exposure to real-life industry experience, so putting together this panel was a way to address both of these needs. It’s truly a win-win, for both our alumni and our students.” 

“I am extremely grateful to our panelists who are giving so generously of their time and expertise,” Yager added. “Our students have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of how their studies may lead to a career in the film or television industry. For some of our students this could be life-changing.”

The panel will be moderated by Emmy-nominated UC Santa Cruz alumnus Brannon Braga, who recently received a Peabody Award  as executive producer and director for the science documentary television series, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.

A creator, writer and executive producer of more than 300 episodes of the Star Trek series, Braga is currently a writer, executive producer, and co-creator of the drama series Salem, WGN America’s first original scripted series. His film credits include Mission: Impossible II, Star Trek: Generations, and Star Trek: First Contact.

The panelists will include Andrew Z. Davis, President of Production Administration at Sony Studio’s Columbia and TriStar Pictures. Davis has executive produced such films as In Time, starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried; the comedies Your Highness, starring James Franco, Danny McBride and Natalie Portman and Role Models starring Paul Rudd; the critically acclaimed coming-of-age drama, Love & Basketball; and Enemy of the State. His other producer credits include Sid and Nancy and Tapeheads.

Steven Lafferty is a partner and managing director at Creative Artists Agency (CAA). He oversees the television department, which represents many of the world’s most accomplished actors, writers, producers, directors, and production companies. CAA’s clients have created, executive produced, or starred in many of the most popular shows on television, including Empire, The Walking Dead, Orange Is The New Black, Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, The Good Wife, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, American Idol, CSI, House of Cards, and Veep.

Jon Moonves is a senior partner at one of the nation’s premier entertainment law firms, Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein & Lezcano. He represents actors, comedians, digital influencers, writers, producers, executives, and production groups in all aspects of the film, digital and television industries. Moonves has been consistently named to Variety’s “Hollywood Impact List”, The Hollywood Reporter’s “Power Lawyer” list, and “The Best Lawyers in America” list as one of the nation’s top entertainment lawyers.

UC Santa Cruz alumna Jennie Morris is Executive Vice President of Acquisitions, Research and Network Operations for the television network, Pivot. A seasoned television executive, she has nearly two decades of experience in domestic and international programming and marketing. Prior to joining Pivot, she was Vice President of Marketing for AMC/Sundance Channel Global, as well as Senior Director of Program Planning and Scheduling for the Sundance Channel. Earlier in her career, she also spent six years at Showtime Networks working in programming, international and new media departments.

David Korduner earned a B.A. with Honors in Economics from UC Santa Cruz (1985), a M.Sc. in Regional and Urban Planning Studies from The London School of Economics and Political Science (1987), and a J.D. from the UCLA School of Law (1992). He is now Associate National Executive Director of the Directors Guild of America, Inc., where he oversees the credits, membership, research, residuals, signatories, human resources, and IT Departments. Korduner is also a member of the UC Santa Cruz Foundation.

The Business of Entertainment panel will take place on Friday, November 6, from
 3 to 5 p.m., at the Music Center Recital Hall on the UC Santa Cruz campus. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the event web site, or contact the Arts Division Events Office at (831) 459-4731.