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November 4, 2013

Howard Rodman Awarded Chevalier Honor

Writing Professor Recognized by French Government

Writing for Screen & Television Professor Howard Rodman was recognized on October 31 by the French government as a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) for his contribution to the arts. A ceremony was held at the French Residence in Beverly Hills attended by industry, USC, Writers Guild of America and French Government friends.

Adrien Sarre, French Film & TV Office, Conculate General of France
in Los Angeles; Antonin Baudry, Cultural Counselor of the French
Embassy in the United States; Rodman; Axel Cruau, Consul General
of France in Los Angeles

“For American writers and filmmakers of my generation, French literature, cinema, theory and culture meant everything,” said Rodman. “Much of our work acknowledges that gift, and attempts perhaps in some small way to repay it. This recognition is wondrous, and I'm wildly grateful for it. It feels like coming home.”

Over the course of his diverse career, Rodman has been a novelist, screenwriter, and educator. He has served as WGAW Vice President since 2011, having previously sat on the WGAW’s Board of Directors for several terms. He is a professor and former chair of the Writing Division at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, an Artistic Director of the Sundance Institute Screenwriting Labs, a member of the Executive Committee of the Writers Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and a fellow of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities.

A longtime advocate for independent film, Rodman founded and chairs the WGAW’s Independent Film Writers Committee and has chaired Film Independent’s Spirit Awards feature film jury, as well as the USC Scripter Awards. He is a trustee of the Writers Guild Foundation, Vice-Chair of the WGAW’s Committee on the Professional Status of Writers (CPSW), and continues to serve on several non-profit organization boards, including the Franco-American Cultural Fund.

“In Paris, I came upon traces of Thomas Jefferson and James Baldwin, whom I think of as the fathers of my country,” Rodman said at the event. “There were bookstores, where I found first editions of Patricia Highsmith and Philip K. Dick. It was as if France had collected for me the very best of my own land, and allowed me endlessly to rummage the stacks of a fine and infinite library. And among those cobbled stacks I began to feel a sense of my own possibility. I became who I am.”

“Howard has shown unmatched talent and diversity in the arts over several decades,” said Antonin Baudry, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy in the United States. “This decoration speaks to his expertise and his passion for creation that is indeed contagious. His commitment to producing and sharing meaningful art—in his screenplays, novels, and as a professor—is truly admirable and rare. Howard’s advocacy for French culture in L.A. and the United States has been enormous and strong bridges have been built between the countries thanks to his dedication. I am honored to not only present him this award, but to call him a very dear friend.”

In the literary arena, Rodman’s 1990 novel, Destiny Express, an historical romance set in the pre-war German film community, was well-received. It was called “daringly imagined, darkly romantic—a moral thriller” by author Thomas Pynchon. Working as a journalist earlier in his career, Rodman started out as Editor-in-Chief of The Cornell Sun and published articles in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine, and the Village Voice, for which he was a monthly columnist.