April 28, 2016

Mark Burnett Endows Chair to Support the SCA Summer Production Program

David Weitzner installed as first Mark Burnett Endowed Chair

By SCA Staff

USC Provost Michael Quick, Dean Elizabeth M. Daley, Mark Burnett and David Weitzner.

Mark Burnett, Emmy–winning producer and President of MGM Television and Digital Group, was honored on April 27th at the USC School of Cinematic Arts for the establishing The Mark Burnett Endowed Chair at the USC School of Cinematic Arts (SCA). The endowment will support the School’s Summer Production Program and it’s first chair holder is the program’s Director, SCA Professor David Weitzner.

“These are landmark moments in the history of a School. There is nothing that honors faculty more than an endowed chair.” said SCA Dean Elizabeth M. Daley. “Mark Burnett’s generosity is truly transformative to the School of Cinematic Arts and, combined with the leadership of David Weitzner, the Summer Program will continue to have a critical role in shaping the young women and men who will go on to take up leadership positions in the entertainment industry.”

Weitzner met Burnett in the summer of 2013, when Burnett’s son was a student in the summer program. Another summer student that year was Fatema Hussaini, a young filmmaker from Afghanistan whose  film, Being Woman, about the life of women in her country, brought Burnett to tears. When Hussaini decided she wanted to remain in the United States, Weitzner reached out the Burnett for help and the two men developed a friendship which successfully helping her gain U.S. residency.

At the dedication ceremony, Burnett expressed how happy he was to support Weitzner’s vision for the Summer Program, which offers more than thirty classes each year. It serves seasoned media professionals and college students who come to SCA from around the world to learn new skills. Summer program attendees have included media makers from Latin America, Asia and Europe. The program also has classes for high school students who are curious about filmmaking. Burnett praised Weitzner’s ability to provide criticism and encouragement.  “I was immediately taken with David. He’s the C.E.O. The Chief Encouragement Officer. He knows when you have to give constructive criticism. You have to tell them the truth. But he’s such a loving guy that he can do the job,” Burnett told the audience gathered in the School’s Ray Stark Theater. “The School of Cinematic Arts, and the Summer Program, is such a brilliant school because it spots the people with the charisma and vision to go forward in this business and teaches them the craft,”

“Mark [Burnett] has been more generous to me than I have any right to expect,“ Weitzner said in his remarks. “For this great honor, I am deeply humbled and deeply appreciative. Mark is a gold standard for what a man should be.”

It’s the School’s twenty-sixth endowed position,a record for programming in the cinematic arts nationwide.

The Mark Burnett Endowed Chair joins a long list of positions endowed by entertainment industry luminaries, organizations, companies, and SCA parents such as the Dana and Albert R. Broccoli Charitable Foundation, Dino and Martha DeLaurentiis, The Cecil B. DeMille Foundation, Electronic Arts, Hugh M. Hefner, The Estate of Mona and Bernard Kantor, Walter and Marcia Kortschak and Kortschak Investments, L.P., The George Lucas Family Foundation, Marcia Lucas, Stephen K. Nenno, Patricia Hitchcock O’Connell, Victoria Oakie, the Mary Pickford Foundation, Katherine and Frank Price, Microsoft Corp., Stephanie Rothman, Steven Spielberg, Ray Stark, Time Warner, and the Wunderkinder Foundation.

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