Coronavirus Updates: USC  |  SCA

March 25, 2008

RKO Expert

Rick Jewell Lands Academy Grant To Examine Classic Studio

By James Tella

Critical Studies Professor and Hugh M. Hefner Chair for the Study of American Film Rick Jewell has been named one of two 2008 Academy Film Scholars by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and is one of two recipients of a $25,000 grant from the Institutional Grants Committee of the Academy Foundation.

With the announcement of the award made on February 8, Jewell received the first half of his grant during a luncheon on April 18 hosted by the committee, which is the educational wing of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Rick Jewell, newly named Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Fellow.

“I’m very excited to get this grant primarily because it is coming from the Academy,” said Jewell, who will use the funds to write a book on the classic RKO Studio from the point-of-view of its management and the unique challenges faced by its leaders during the Hollywood studio system years. “The Academy constantly runs great programs related to the history of Hollywood cinema and they do so many important things that people don’t know about.”

Entitled RKO Radio Pictures: A Corporate History, Jewell’s book will pick up where the professor left off with his first recounting of the studio’s history in The RKO Story, which deals with the more than 1,000 films produced or released by the studio. RKO made such classic films as Citizen Kane, King Kong and the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musicals. It was taken over by Howard Hughes in 1948 and finally ceased production in 1957.

“I have a good deal of work to do,” Jewell noted saying that he plans to take full advantage of the Academy’s rich and extensive research library. “I’m looking forward to going back and filling in the gaps on my initial publication.”

Anticipating a finish date in three years, Jewell mentioned that his upcoming sabbatical in spring 2009 will allow him to do most, if not all, of his research.

“Once I’ve completed that, I’ll be anxious to start writing and get the book finished,” he said.

This year’s other Academy Film Scholars recipient is John Belton, a professor of film at Rutgers University, who will write about the evolution of color in motion pictures.