Hot Sheet January-March 2020

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Judd Apatow — co-wrote, produced, and directed The King of Staten Island. The feature comedy inspired by the life of lead actor Pete Davidson was originally scheduled to premiere at South by Southwest. The film is currently scheduled to be released by Universal in Summer 2020.

John August ‘94 — is writing Toto, an animated musical for the Warner Animation Group. The movie is based on the book Toto: The Dog-Gone Amazing Story of the Wizard of Oz.

Alex Beachaum ’13 – Beachaum’s game Outer Wilds was nominated for multiple awards at the Game Awards and named Polygon’s Game of the Year.

Laura Bensick ‘14 - was given a script commitment by Fox for her one-hour drama Everyday Insanity. Bensick is also executive producing the project.

Jason Michael Berman ‘06 — will produce Shelter, a feature drama about a father who reconnects with his daughter after they are rendered homeless in a winter storm. The film stars Melissa Leo and Zazie Beetz, with Jen Gerber and David Rysdahl attached as director and screenwriter, respectively.

Adrienne Biddle ‘99 — is a producer of The Dark & The Wicked, a horror feature about a family that gathers on a small farm to mourn a dying person before coming across something evil lurking in the darkness.

Sean Bloom ‘11, Martzi Campos ‘16, and Jesse Vigil ‘05 ‘08 -- celebrated the release of their augmented reality game AR Box, an exciting magical escape room in a box, which they created in partnership with Google. The team also digitally debuted Klaxo Radio Hour. This original "haunted radio" project is now a free app on all major platforms.  

Eric Bjorklund ‘91 - Has been promoted to Vice President, Current Series at Disney Channel, where he supervises live-action series.

Nina Yang Bongiovi ‘99 - has co-founded AUM Group Multicultural Film Fund to develop and acquire creative IP, finance multicultural motion pictures, and invest in the next generation of storytellers.

Zoe Cheng ‘19 - is 1 of 13 writers selected for Walt Disney Television’s 2020 Writing Program.

Jon M. Chu ’03 — is set to produce and potentially direct a feature adaptation of Mary H.K. Choi’s bestselling YA romance novel Permanent Record for Warner Bros. The novel explores how social media influences relationships every day. Chu will also executive produce and direct ABC’s series pilot Triage. The medical drama will be a character-driven show which follows surgeon Finley Briar through three decades while also tracking the changes and breakthroughs made in the medical field during that time.

Sam Davis ‘16 - won the Texas Short award at SXSW for directing Just Hold On.

Jivitesh Dhaliwal ’20 – was named an IGDA Foundation Scholar, a program that draws on a panel of industry experts to select a group of students who are considered the “best and brightest.”

Ross Dinerstein ’05 — produced Glitch in the System, a documentary which poses the question as to whether life is merely a simulation. The feature documentary had been selected to make its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Susan Downey ’95 and Emily Ford ‘95 —produced The Age Of A.I, a YouTube documentary series. The eight-episode series takes a deep dive into the fascinating world of the most transformational technology in the history of humankind.

Tracy Fullerton ‘91 - was recently named a DiGRA (Digital Games Research Association) Distinguished Scholar. DiGRA is a large interdisciplinary community of games scholars.

Merawi Gerima’18 —won the Audience Award for Narrative Feature at Slamdance for Residue.

Tchavdar Georgiev ’00 — is a writer on Larry Flynt for President, a documentary which traces Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt’s bid for the White House despite being partially paralyzed from a shooting.

Robyn Tong Gray ‘14, Richard Emms ‘14, Raghav Bashyal ‘14, and Steve Cha– released their game apartment: a separate place, which began as a student project at USC.

Matt Hanisch ‘19 - wrote and directed the “design fiction” film Memio, about a device designed to help Alzheimer's patients. The project was recently screened at the Chinese Theatre.

Murilo Hauser ‘15 - wrote The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao whichwas selected as the Oscar submission for Brazil in the international feature film category.

Billy Higgins ‘03 — directed the short drama Shepherd's Gate. The film’s co-writer and lead actress
Michelle LaRue ‘11 is a USC alum.  The score was also done by USC alums Julia Newmann ‘03 and Cody Westheimer ‘01.

Zuxin Hou ’14 — will make her feature directorial debut with The Italian Recipe, a romantic comedy about a Chinese pop singer who travels to Rome and falls in love with a woman whose dream is to become a chef. This is a Italian-Chinese joint production with portions of the film being shot in both Rome and Beijing.

Ron Howard and Brian Grazer ’74 — produced Rebuilding Paradise, a documentary profiling several survivors from one of California’s the deadliest wildfires in 2018. Ron Howard also directed this project.

Casey Johnson — is writing the comedy pilot Workwife for ABC. The series is inspired by the real-life partnerships of co-hosts and longtime friends Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest, and writers David Windsor and Casey Johnson.

Camille Kanengiser ’15 and Max Pittsley ’15 – whose game ElemenTerra won Indiecade Europe’s Environmental Design Award.

Aaron Kaplan ’90 — has received numerous pilot orders this season, including: Pivoting, a comedy pilot for Fox; Housebroken, an animated comedy for Fox; Shining Vale, at Starz; American Auto, a comedy at NBC. Kaplan will also executive produce Good Vibes Only, a dramedy that follows a coming of age story set to the tunes of The Beach Boys, for HBO Max.

Kevin Ke ’20, Maryyann Landlord ’19, and Nicholas Pudjarminta ’20 – released the game Ama’s Momento, whichwon Indiecade’s Location Based and Live Play award.

Nahnatchka Khan ’94 — is co-writing and executive producing an Untitled Krysten Ritter Project, which is based on the upcoming book Serial Killer Anonymous by Charles Warady. Through her Fierce Baby Productions, Khan has also landed a series order at NBC for Young Rock, a single-camera comedy inspired by Dwayne Johnson. At ABC, Khan is producing the L.A. private school comedy Valley Trash.

Kyle Killen ’97 — has signed with Fox Entertainment to develop scripted series for the Fox network. He is also attached as the showrunner and executive producer of the upcoming Showtime drama Halo, which is based on the ultra-popular video game series of the same name.

Valerie LaPointe ‘07 - wrote and directed Lamplight, a Toy Story short film about Bo Peep’s secret past.

Bryan Lee ‘19  - has won the U.S. Competition Prize at the Glas Awards with his short animated film Cage Match. The short is about the fantasy a Japanese salaryman has when he enters a crowded elevator.

Alyssa Lerner ‘17 - has become a staff writer on Diary of a Future President, season 2, on Disney Plus.

Shawn Levy ‘94 — is producing Home Before Dark, based off the thriller novel by bestselling author Riley Sager. The story centers on a woman who returns to the house made famous by her father’s bestselling horror memoir and begins to wonder if the house is really haunted as her father claimed. Shawn is also producing Dash & Lily, an eight-episode holiday comedy based on the YA book series Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares.

Susan Lin ‘19 - opened her exhibit From Here to There: A Time Machine at theIrvine Fine Arts Center. The exhibit explores notions of ancestry, cultural time, and the precariousness of memory.

Sherry Marsh ‘83 — will serve as executive producer for the upcoming crime drama Tokyo Underworld. Based on Robert Whiting’s book of the same name, Tokyo Underworld follows the true story of Nick Zapetti, an American GI who relocates to Japan in the aftermath of World War II.

Zahir McGhee ‘09  - is currently developing an untitled restaurant drama with ABC. The working title is “Rice”.

Neal Moritz ‘85 - is producing the film Murder in the White House for Paramount Pictures. In the script, the president is murdered during a private dinner, and a female Secret Service agent has until morning to discover which guest is the killer, before a peace agreement fails and leads to war.

Elizabeth Newman ‘05 — is leaving CAA after nearly 15 years to join Fox 21 Television Studios as VP of Development.

Edson Oda ‘15 — won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance for Nine Days.

Tracy Oliver
‘10 — is writing and executive producing an Amazon half-hour comedy, formerly known as “Harlem”. The single-camera comedy following the lives of four black women – friends from their college days at NYU – as they navigate sex, relationships and chasing their dreams.

Channing Godfrey Peoples ‘11
- won the Louis Black “Lone Star” Award at SXSW for directing Just Hold On. This year’s jury winners were still chosen despite the festival's cancellation.

Robbie Pickering ‘06
— will serve as the showrunner for Gaslit, a series that focuses on the people surrounding the Watergate scandal. Gaslit will star Julia Roberts, Sean Penn, and Armie Hammer, and is based on the hugely popular podcast Slow Burn.

Ben Proudfoot ‘12 — is producing the Op-Docs series of short films Almost Famous in partnership with The New York Times. He is also listed in the Forbes 30 under 30 list.

Sam Rosenthal ‘13
- is featured in the LA Times for his game Where Cards Fall, which is featured in the Apple Arcade.

Tiller Russell ‘01
— wrote and directed Silk Road. The feature thriller is about the darknet marketplace.

Kerem Sanga ‘10
— wrote and directed The Violent Heart. The feature drama is also produced by USC alumni Shawn Levy ‘94 and Ross Putman ‘10.

Abby Sherlock ‘20
– was named an IGDA Velocity Scholar, a program that provides a springboard to careers in game development for the best and brightest up-and-coming people of marginalized genders in games.

Zaiver Sinnett ‘18
- is 1 of 13 writers selected for Walt Disney Television’s 2020 Writing Program. He has also had the opportunity to star in two recent episodes of Grey’s Anatomy as Dr. Zander Perez. Zaiver is a writer’s assistant on Grey’s Anatomy as well.

Chad Stahelski ‘90
- will potentially direct a Paramount Pictures high concept action film that captures the spirit of the great car movies.

Scott Stone
‘79 — is executive producing a reimagined version of the Nickelodeon game show Legends of the Hidden Temple for Quibi. The new iteration will be bigger and better as Stone and Co. will take some of the original elements of the show and set them in a scaled-up jungle setting with tougher challenges.

Yuting Su ‘16
– created a plush toy OCTOBO which placed in the finals of CES’s “Last Gadget Standing” competition.

Rawson Marshall Thurber ‘99
- will direct the heist pitch for Kingdom Come for Netflix.

Dave Tolchinsky ‘88
— wrote, scored, and directed the short film Cassandra. The psychological thriller follows a policewoman who, in the midst of trying to solve a series of murders, struggles to remember what happened at a farm in Illinois.

Pam Veasey ‘84 — is writing and executive producing the police procedural Cold Shoulder, for CBS. The show is based on the novel of the same name by Lynda La Plante.

Sheridan Watson ‘20
— won the prestigious David and Lynn Angell College Comedy Fellowship as a part of the Humanitas Prize pool for her script Lady Lazarus

Eve Weston ‘05 — her immersive show The Biznest won best project for television at CES, the world's largest technology conference.

Rayka Zehtabchi ‘16
- won the Texas Short award at SXSW for directing Just Hold On. This year’s jury winners were still chosen despite the festival's cancellation.

Aimee Zhang ‘19 and Michelle Olson ‘20
- are featured in a LA Times article titled Games Offer Some of the Most Nuanced Takes on our Global Climate Crisis for their game Plasticity, which teaches it's never too late to make a difference.

New TV Shows on the Air

68 Whiskey
Ron Howard (Executive Producer)
Brian Grazer ‘74 (Executive Producer)
Michael Lehmann ‘85 (Executive Producer)

Linda Chavez ‘07 (Co-Creator, Writer, Executive Producer)

The Good Lord Bird
Shea Kammer ‘05 (Co-Executive Producer)

Home Before Dark
Dana Fox ‘00 (Co-Creator, Executive Producer)
Dara Resnik‘03 (Co-Creator, Executive Producer)
Jon Chu ‘03 (Director, Executive Producer)
Alice Brooks ‘01 (Cinematographer)

Ryan Maldonado ’06 (Writer)

The Mandalorian
Rick Famuyiwa ’96 (Writer)

The Most Dangerous Animal of All
Ross Dinerstein ’05 (Co-Executive Producer)

Most Dangerous Game
Gordon Gray (Producer)

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist
Paul Feig ’84 (Producer)


New Films in Release

Birds of Prey
Evan Schiff ’04 (Editor)

Fantasy Island
Jeff Wadlow ’01 (Writer, Producer, Director)

Adam Habib ‘09 (Director of Photography)

Sonic the Hedgehog
Neal Moritz ’85 (Producer)
Debra Neil Fisher ’80 (Editor)

Prentice Penny ‘95 (Director, Writer, Producer)
Jason Michael Berman ‘06 (Producer)

The Way Back
Gordon Gray (Producer)
Jennifer Todd (Producer)