February 12, 2021
The Caucus 38th Annual Awards Gala Honors SCA Professor Gail Katz
By Jesus Nunez
Each year, the Caucus for Producers, Writers, and Directors holds a fundraising gala that recognizes some of the most engaging storytellers in the entertainment industry. The Caucus is an organization that provides thought leadership on the future of television and counts some of the industry’s most influential creators as members. It also has a foundation that has provides grants, scholarships, and mentorship to up and coming storytellers. The Caucus Foundation has given more than two million dollars to help film students complete projects and plans to expand its giving, with the goal of helping develop the next generation of breakthrough artists. “We want to help discover and mentor the next John Singleton; Shonda Rhimes or Chadwick Boseman; Alfonso Cuarón; Alejandro González Iñárritu; Guillermo del Toro…or even the next Steven Spielberg or Martin Scorsese,” foundation leaders said in an announcement.
This year, The Caucus will recognize USC Professor Gail Katz with the Educator of the Year Award and will be honoring her during its 38th Annual Awards Gala, on March the 4th. Professor Katz is the Interim Chair of the Film and Television Production Division, Professor of Cinematic Arts and head of the producing track at School of Cinematic Arts. She is the producer of Air Force One (1997), The Perfect Storm (2000), the television series Cashmere Mafia and The Agency, and the head of her own company, Gail Katz Productions. Katz’s projects have earned more than a billion dollars at the box office.
Katz is a tenured Professor who teaches CTPR 486/479, known as the Straight-to-Series Television Course. The two-semester class creates polished limited episodes television series, with high production value. The series which include Coventry, about a former soldier who learns that her memories of wartime experiences in Iraq have been scientifically altered; Side Effects, about a powerful family in the Big Pharma business; and Sugar Land, about an African American family from New York City who have been resettled in the Witness Protection program in Houston, are ready for air when the academic year ends.
Professor Katz was also instrumental in developing the School’s Virtual Production protocols when COVID-19 hit and in-person filming had to be suspended. Her efforts were profiled in USC News and Deadline. Ironically, one of Katz’s blockbuster thrillers is Outbreak (1995) in which Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo are caught up in the fallout as a deadly virus spreads in a California town.
The Caucus Awards Gala, which will be hosted virtually by Grey’s Anatomy actor James Pickens Jr. on March 4th. Other awardees include Aaron Sorkin (Writer of the Year); Susanne Bier (Director of the Year); Vin Di Bona (Caucus Legend Award); Marsai Martin (Inaugural Rising Star Award); and Jeanne and Tom Townsend (Humanitarian Award).