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USC Comedy Presents: 30th Anniversary Screening of HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE (1987)

April 4, 2017, 7:00 P.M.

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building, USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex, 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007

USC Comedy at the School of Cinematic Arts, SCA Council on Diversity & Inclusion, and MGM, invite you and a guest to attend a special 30th Anniversary Screening of

Hollywood Shuffle (1987)

Directed and Produced by Robert Townsend
Written by Robert Townsend and Keenen Ivory Wayans

Followed by a Q&A with Robert Townsend and Keenen Ivory Wayans
Moderated by SCA Professor Barnet Kellman

7:00 P.M. on Tuesday, April 4th
, 2017

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108
900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90089



About Hollywood Shuffle (1987)

This satirical look at the ambivalent relationship between Hollywood power brokers and African-American performers marked the writing, producing, and directing debut of Robert Townsend. The filmmaker also stars as Bobby Taylor, a struggling actor looking for his big break despite his family's and co-workers' reservations about his chosen career path. While working a day job flipping burgers, Bobby heads out to insulting cattle calls where white casting agents pass judgment on whether he seems "black enough." Meanwhile, he imagines himself playing Sam Spade, Rambo, and other movie heroes rather than the stereotypical roles actually available to him. When Bobby actually does win one such pimp-daddy part, however, he is forced to choose between accepting work that opens doors, but ultimately demeans him and returning to obscurity with his principles intact.

Hollywood Shuffle's enormous supporting cast includes a wealth of African American actors, from then-unknowns such as Damon Wayans to veterans such as 227 star Helen Martin. Self-financed and filmed on scraps of hand-me-down celluloid, the film helped establish actor Townsend as a director of note and also kick-started the career of co-screenwriter and co-star Keenen Ivory Wayans, who would cast Townsend in his own directorial debut the following year.

Provided courtesy of MGM. Rated R. Running time: 78 minutes.


About the Guests

ROBERT TOWNSEND (Writer, Director, Producer, Actor)

Award-winning artist Robert Townsend transcends any medium he touches whether he's performing stand up, acting, writing, directing, producing, or running a television network. The Chicago native, Townsend is often referred to as one of the "Godfathers" of the Independent Film World." With over 30 years in the entertainment industry, he has made an indelible mark in Hollywood with an extensive list of credits. Robert is a rare hyphen that does it all and has worked with the who’s who of Hollywood’s talented A-List from Halle Berry to Denzel Washington to Eddie Murphy to Beyonce. Townsend’s films and television shows have been nominated for over 30 NAACP Image Awards.

Townsend has created films and television shows that many consider classics, including The Five Heartbeats, The Meteor Man, Holiday Heart and Hollywood Shuffle which quickly catapulted him into international prominence. His personal journey is the ultimate story of an underdog succeeding against the odds; raised by a single mother of four in the gang and drug-infested West Side of Chicago. Townsend learned to survive the mean streets by using his wits, talents but also with the help of courageous people from the community that invested in him. Townsend lives to inspire and give inner city youth hope and champion the teachers and community leaders that support them. This was evident in one of Townsend’s recent projects that he directed and produced called In The Hive which starred Michael Clarke Duncan in one of his last performances and Loretta Devine who received an NAACP Image Award nomination for her portrayal as the real life educator and activist, Vivian Saunders. It tells the story of an African American teenager named Xtra who is stuck in between poverty, absentee parents, the gang life that is drawing him in and the teachers who refuse to give up on him.

Robert Townsend is a natural born storyteller that he uses his god given gifts of voice impressions and characters to masterfully engage the audience like none other. With comedy and drama, he transports the entire room to real moments in his life; sharing his unique story of surviving poverty and winning against all odds. Robert’s story leaves the audiences hopeful, inspired and changed for the better.

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The trail-blazing linchpin of a sprawling African-American family of comic entertainers, it was multi-talented writer/director/producer Keenen Ivory Wayans (born June 8, 1958, in New York City) who was the first to achieve national prominence by successfully creating, launching and hosting a landmark 1990s black-oriented comedy satire on Fox TV. That, in turn, ignited and advanced the careers of not only his younger siblings Damon, Kim, Shawn and Marlon, but others of his extended family as well including Jennifer Lopez, Jim Carrey and Jamie Foxx. The second of ten children of Howell Wayans, a grocery store manager, and Elvira Wayans, a social worker, Keenen attended Seward Park High School, and then majored in engineering at Alabama’s Tuskegee University. He dropped out during his senior year when the comedy bug hit him full force. Heavily influenced by Richard Pryor, he found only lukewarm success on the New York standup stage, deciding later to relocate to Los Angeles in order to pursue film and TV opportunities.

After being glimpsed in bit parts in such TV shows as CHiPs (1977) and Cheers (1982) and movies as Star 80 (1983), in which he played a standup comic, he found his first real break in a sudsy TV drama–the short-lived military series For Love and Honor (1983), in which he had a recurring role as Pvt. Duke Johnson, who aspired to become a professional boxer. After hooking up with comedian Eddie Murphy and earning writing credit on the star’s raunchy live performance feature Eddie Murphy Raw (1987), Keenen’s visibility rose. Partnering with actor/director Robert Townsend, he had his first film hit with Hollywood Shuffle (1987), a pointed satire highlighting the plight of the black actor in Hollywood. Done in hilariously stereotypical fashion, one great bit had detective Townsend battling a blaxploitation villain named Jheri Curl (Wayans).

Following this came another similar 1970s blaxploitation parody, the even bigger hit I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (1988) in which Keenen had the starring role and made his directorial debut. He played the revenge-minded, but not particularly macho Jack Spade alongside such icons of 1970s blaxploitation cinema as Jim Brown, Isaac Hayes and Bernie Casey. The film also featured several members of his family. The sketch-oriented, Emmy-winning variety series In Living Color (1990) was Keenen’s creative baby and ultimate pièce de résistance. He also turned the show into a family act as well with Damon, Kim, Marlon and Shawn all appearing on the irreverent series that showcased the deviously scathing social humor Keenen was infamous for.As host of the show he graciously spotlighted the comedy ensemble more than himself. Not only did the show introduce the public to a number of terrific black comedians, it made superstars out of brother Damon, as well as Jamie Foxx and Jim Carrey, the latter being one of the show’s few white regulars. Jennifer Lopez also got her start as one of the original hip-hop dancing, sexy Fly Girls.

Ironically, Keenen would be one of the first of the cast to leave the show over creative issues and contract disputes with the network. He felt Fox was overexposing the show, which would have reduced its monetary value once it turned to syndication. He abruptly left in 1992 and, by next season’s end; the rest of the Wayans clan had bailed as well. This unfortunately bitter and acrimonious incident led the one-time driving force to become more selective in his projects, while retreating more and more behind the scenes. In 1997, however, he produced The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show (1997), a party-themed talk show in which he served as the cool, urban-styled host. The set resembled a nightclub and the atmosphere was rowdy and jaunty.

Keenen also turned buff action star with the films A Low Down Dirty Shame (1994), which he wrote and directed, The Glimmer Man (1996), pairing up with Steven Seagal, and Most Wanted (1997). When it comes to outrageous satire Keenen has few peers. Come the millennium he directed the hilarious horror spoof Scary Movie (2000), which prominently displayed brothers Shawn and Marlon and is still one of the most successful feature films ever directed by an African-American. He also directed its first sequel, Scary Movie 2 (2001). Keeping that family affair going, Keenen directed Shawn and Marlon in White Chicks (2004), produced, wrote and directed Little Man (2006) starring Shawn Marlon and produced and wrote Dance Flick (2009) starring Damon Wayans Jr.

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About the Moderator

BARNET KELLMAN, Ph.D (Professor of Cinematic Arts)

Barnet Kellman made his feature film 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 ten-year run. His 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 arriving in Los Angeles, Kellman was a prominent director of American play premieres in New York City. He was educated at Colgate University and the Yale School of Drama. He received his Ph.D. from Union Institute at Antioch. A recipient of the prestigious Danforth Graduate Fellowship, and the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, he has traveled to observe the work of theatres throughout Europe and the United States. In addition to teaching at USC School of Cinematic Arts, he has been on the faculties of the American Film Institute, Columbia University Film School, CCNY, NYU, The Circle in the Square Acting School and has served as a resource person at the Sundance Institute June Lab, and the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center’s National Playwrights Conference. This past summer he staged the world premiere of Israel Horovitz’s play Out of the Mouths of Babes, starring Estelle Parsons and Judith Ivey, at New York’s Cherry Lane Theatre.

About USC Comedy at the School of Cinematic Arts

In 2010 USC became the first university in the nation to offer a program dedicated to training filmmakers in the art of comedy. USC Comedy at the School of Cinematic Arts offers instruction in the writing, directing, production as well as the history and theory of comedy. Students work with a distinguished, award-winning faculty of comedy professionals to discover and develop their comedic voices, while getting unrivaled access to the field through workshops, internships, demonstrations and screenings and festivals.

USC Comedy boasts an award-winning faculty that includes Jack Epps Jr. (The Secret of My Success, Legal Eagles, Top Gun), Barnet Kellman (Murphy Brown, Mad About You, George Lopez), David Isaacs (Cheers, Frasier, M*A*S*H*), Bill Prady (The Big Bang Theory), John Bowman (Saturday Night Live, In Living Color), Dave Goetch (The Big Bang Theory), Russ Woody (Drew Carrey), Mary Lou Belli (Girlfriends), and Tim Marx (Baby Daddy), to name just a few.

Our students benefit from the expertise and participation of SCA Comedy Alumni such as Jay Roach (Austin Powers, Meet the Parents), Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy), Peter Segal (Tommy Boy, Get Smart), Tim Story (Barber Shop, Ride Along), Gabe Sachs (Freaks and Geeks), Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air), and Nahnatchka Khan (Fresh Off The Boat), among many other luminaries and industry professionals.

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About the SCA Council on Diversity & Inclusion

The role of the SCA Council on Diversity & Inclusion is to promote and support inclusivity among students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, friends and industry partners. We urge each member of the SCA Family to participate in creating a learning environment that respects all creative voices.

The last Council meeting of the Spring 2017 semester will be on Monday, April 16th from 3:00-5:00pm in SCA 255. The second hour of the meeting is open to any SCA students, staff or faculty who wish to attend.

Visit the SCA Council on Diversity & Inclusion Website:

Check-In & Reservations

This event is free of charge and open to the public. Please bring a valid USC ID or print out of your reservation confirmation, which will automatically be sent to your e-mail account upon successfully making an RSVP through this website. Doors will open at 6:30 P.M.

All SCA screenings are OVERBOOKED to ensure seating capacity in the theater, therefore seating is not guaranteed based on RSVPs. The RSVP list will be checked in on a first-come, first-served basis until the theater is full. Once the theater has reached capacity, we will no longer be able to admit guests, regardless of RSVP status.


The USC School of Cinematic Arts is located at 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Parking passes may be purchased for $12.00 at USC Entrance Gate #5, located at the intersection of W. Jefferson Blvd. & McClintock Ave. We recommend Parking Structure D, at the far end of 34th Street. Metered street parking is also available along Jefferson Blvd.

Contact Information

Name: Alessandro Ago