November 23, 2009
Broccolis Endow Chair
Bond Producers Invest in the Future of Cinematic Arts
By Cristy LytalWhen James Bond producer Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli and his wife Dana first started investing in USC, the film program did not have a single endowed professor's chair.
On the centennial of Cubby Broccoli's birth, family, friends and fans gathered to memorialize his legacy through the installment of Professor John Watson to the School of Cinematic Arts' 14th endowed chair. Several of the key creatives who brought Bond to the screen — including actors Timothy Dalton and Gloria Hendry and director Marc Forster — attended.
The event and reception took place in the school's newly christened Broccoli Theatre, following a James Bond film festival and exhibit presented by USC’s arts and humanities initiative Visions and Voices.
"We're here tonight to celebrate the legacy of one of the most significant producing teams in the history of cinema, Dana and Cubby Broccoli," said Dean Elizabeth M. Daley in her address. "What can you say? There's never been another team like it. As the creators of the Bond film franchise, they gave us a unique and endearing screen character that has thrilled millions of people around the world."
Cubby Broccoli's stepson Michael G. Wilson, who currently serves as franchise producer with his half-sister Barbara Broccoli, spoke on behalf of his family and the Broccoli Foundation. He recalled how Cubby Broccoli left the Long Island farm where he grew up and headed to Hollywood, where he landed jobs as an assistant director, agent and producer.
"What made Cubby such a fantastic producer?" asked Wilson. "In part, it was the same qualities that made him a wonderful man. He loved entertaining the public. He loved his work. He loved his cast and crews. And they in turn rewarded him with their loyalty."
Timothy Dalton, who starred in 1987’s “The Living Daylights” and 1989’s “License to Kill,” affirmed that Cubby and Dana Broccoli earned his admiration. “There are many producers you work with, but there are not many you learn from, and there aren’t many you respect and admire,” he said. “Cubby and his wife Dana, I respected and learned from, which is rare.”
After a short tribute film, Daley, Watson, Wilson and Barbara Broccoli ascended the stage and unveiled the newly endowed chair.
Watson, who produced 1991's "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," 1991's "Backdraft" and more than 300 hours of television, acknowledged the iconic status of the franchise and its producers. "By my calculations, it's going to be 50 years from when they shot the first Bond film in 1961 to when the next one comes out, which is just extraordinary," he said. "Thank you, Barbara and Michael, for this honor. I really appreciate you choosing me. I'm humbled by it."
The installment of the new chair reflects a long relationship between the School of Cinematic Arts and the legendary producing family.
"Cubby was convinced that what we were doing down here was important to the future and that ultimately the people we were training would work on his franchise, and they have," explained Professor Rick Jewell, who has been on the faculty since 1976 and teaches a class on James Bond. "Bob Elswit, for example, who's one of our top cinematography graduates, was the director of photography on 1997's 'Tomorrow Never Dies.' So it all came true. It's just so wonderful to be here tonight to see this all come to fruition."
View photos from the event