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School of Cinematic Arts Directory Profile

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Barnet Kellman, Ph.D.

Professor
Chair in Film and Television Production
Robin Williams Endowed Chair in Comedy

Affiliated Divisions:

Division of Film & Television Production

Email: bkellman@cinema.usc.edu
Work Phone: 213.740.3317

BARNET KELLMAN made his feature film directing debut with the 20th Century Fox screen adaptation of Key Exchange starring Brooke Adams. He went on to direct Dolly Parton and James Woods in Straight Talk for Disney, and Stinkers for Sony. He is perhaps best known as one of the preeminent directors of television pilots. He won two Emmy Awards and a Directors Guild Award for his work on Murphy Brown. In addition to the pilot, he directed the first seventy-five episodes of Murphy, as well as the series’ final episode at the end of its initial ten-year run, and the New Years’ finale of its 2018 reboot.  

Kellman’s other pilots include the acclaimed Mad About You, starring Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser, the long-running series Suddenly Susan starring Brooke Shields, The George Lopez Show, My Boys on TBS, and he created the Gene Wilder series, Something Wilder. In all he is responsible for over thirty pilots, more than half of which have gone to series. For over twenty years there was always at least one - and as many as six - of his shows on the air, along with innumerable episodes in reruns. Barnet directed the movie Mary and Rhoda, which reunited Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper, and has directed episodes of E.R., Alias, Ally McBeal, Monk, and The Middle. In all, he has received seven Emmy and three DGA nominations for his work on the small screen.

Before moving to Los Angeles, Kellman was a prominent director of American play premieres including on Broadway: Breakfast with Les and Bess.  Off-Broadway: Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, Key Exchange, The Loman Family Picnic, Friends, Domino Courts, The Good Parts, Heat. Regional: Defiled (Geffen), Domestic Issues (Yale), Benefit of a Doubt (Folger), Boom Boom Room (Williamstown). He spent eight seasons as a director at the Eugene O’Neill’s National Playwrights Conference and was an associate director of the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Most recently he directed the premiere of Out of the Mouths of Babes, starring Estelle Parsons and Judith Ivey, at New York’s Cherry Lane Theatre.

Kellman was educated at Colgate University and the Yale School of Drama. He received his Ph.D. from Union Institute at Antioch and is a member of the Los Angeles Institute of the Humanities.