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Howard Rodman

Former Chair

Affiliated Divisions:

John Wells Division of Writing for Screen & Television

Office: SCA 335

Howard A. Rodman is a screenwriter, novelist, educator. He is the the Past President of the Writers Guild of America West; professor and former chair of the writing division at the USC School of Cinematic Arts; and an artistic director of the Sundance Institute Screenwriting Labs. In 2021 he was elected a Governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences [AMPAS].

His films include Savage Grace, starring Julianne Moore and Eddie Redmayne; and August, with Josh Hartnett, Rip Torn, and David Bowie--both of which had their US premieres at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Rodman's screenplay for Savage Grace was nominated for a Spirit Award in the Best Screenplay category. His adaptations of Jim Thompson, David Goodis et. al. for Showtime's Fallen Angels anthology series were directed by Steven Soderbergh and Tom Cruise.

Rodman also wrote Joe Gould's Secret, which opened the 2000 Sundance festival and was subsequently released by October/USA Films. Rodman's original screenplay F. was selected by Premiere Magazine as one of Hollywood's Ten Best Unproduced Screenplays. His 1990 novel, Destiny Express, an historical romance set in the pre-war German film community, was blurbed by Thomas Pynchon, who called it "daringly imagined, darkly romantic--a moral thriller."  His latest novel, The Great Eastern — a sprawling, lavish anticolonial adventure, set in New York, London, Paris, India, and the North Atlantic in the late 1800s — was released in 2019 from Melville House Books. 

Writing in the New York Times, Keegan-Michael Key termed The Great Eastern, "my favorite read of the year.”  Jonathan Lethem called it “A historical phantasmagoria and ripping adventure.  Like twelve of your favorite movies at once, in full Sensurround." Steven Soderbergh said "“Howard Rodman’s powers of invention, connective synthesis, and grim humor are matched only by his literary ventriloquism and psychological insight.” The novel also received praise from Walter Mosley, Ricky Jay, Janet Fitch, Jake Gyllenhaal. An audiobook version was released in 2021 by Penguin Random House, and Rodman has been hired to adapt The Great Eastern as a limited series by GreatPoint Media, UK.

Starting as editor-in-chief of The Cornell Daily Sun, Rodman has published scores of articles in venues including The New York TimesThe Los Angeles TimesLos Angeles Magazine, and the Village Voice (for which he was a monthly columnist).

As president of the WGAW, Rodman led the union through a tense and ultimately successful negotiation to expand salaries and protections for writers.  He also founded and continues to chair the Writers Guild Independent Film Writers Committee. He has chaired FilmIndependent's Spirit Awards feature film jury and continues as the jury chair of the USC Scripter Awards.

He is a Fellow of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities; a member of the National Film Preservation Board; a former trustee of the Writers Guild Foundation, the Actors Fund, and the American Film Institute; and currently serves on several nonprofit boards, among them PEN/Los Angeles; the Franco-American Cultural Fund; Cornell in Hollywood; and the Brown University President's Advisory Panel on the Arts. 

Rodman's spirited 2011 celebration of the centennial of the fictional French arch-fiend Fantômas took him to Yale University where he delivered a paper; The New School, where he appeared on a panel; The Hammer Museum, where he showed one of Feuillade's classic films; NOIRCON, where he sang the villain's praises; and City Lights Books, where he participated in a four-day celebration.

Working with the Library Foundation of Los Angeles, USC, and the Writers Guild, Rodman has recently conducted public conversations with such writers as Tom Wolfe, Ricky Jay, Jeannette Seaver, Vince Gilligan, Geoff Dyer, and Lady Antonia Fraser.

In 2013 Rodman was named a Chevalier de l'ordre des arts et des lettres -- Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters -- by the nation of France.  He was also the sole 2018 inductee into the FinalDraft Screenwriters Hall of Fame, joining Aaron Sorkin, Nancy Meyers, Lawrence Kasdan, Paul Schrader, SCA'ers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, Steven Zaillian, Robert Towne, Oliver Stone, Callie Khouri, and Sydney Pollack.

In 2020 Rodman received USC's Associates Award for Artistic Expression, “the highest honor the University bestows on its members for significant artistic impact.”

He was married in 2017 to Mary Beth Heffernan, professor at Occidental College.