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September 15, 2009

Star Treatment

Hollywood Honors SCA’s 80th

By Jimmy Kelly

(Left to right) former AMPAS president Sid Ganis, Dean Elizabeth M. Daley and Hollywood Chamber of Commerce President, Leron Gubler. Photo: Roberto Gomez
On September 10, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce gave the legendary Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame a special detour along 37th Street to honor the School of Cinematic Arts with a coveted star for its 80 years of contributions to film, television and interactive media.

"This is the first time that we have ever recognized an educational institution," said Hollywood Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Leron Gubler, as he addressed students, faculty, staff and alumni in front of the new SCA complex. "USC has played a pivotal role in the building of the entertainment industry and we felt that SCA definitely deserved special recognition."

"Can you guys believe this?" an ecstatic Dean Elizabeth M. Daley asked the crowd. "On behalf of the SCA family, staff, faculty, students, past, present and future, thank you for this wonderful honor, thank you for once again confirming that the school is indeed an important part of this community. We are very humbled by the honor. What a wonderful way to mark our 80th anniversary."

Daley linked this milestone to another, February 6, 1929, the day that the first class of SCA students met for the school's inaugural course, "Introduction to Photoplay," with Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. as the special guest lecturer. Since then, over 10,500 students have graduated from SCA to become integral parts of the entertainment industry.

Daley took time to thank former Hollywood Chamber of Commerce chairman and Executive Director of Trojan Television Don Tillman, who "spearheaded this effort and truly made today possible."

Many USC graduates were on hand for the Walk of Fame ceremony, including John August '94, Peter Segal '84 and John Singleton '90.

(Left to right) Stephen Sommers (back), John Singleton, Pete Segal (back), Patricia Hitchcock O'Connell and family with Dean Daley. Photo: Steve Cohn
"I almost feel like we should be in class," said Singleton with a laugh. "I come here to campus and I just have this déjà vu."

Segal shared that déjà vu, looking back at his time here, when SCA graduated from "the stables" in 1983 to the original George Lucas Building. "It was so sad just walking across the loading dock. It's gone. It's where we lived."

"It's really exciting to come back and see the school resemble the spirit of what the school actually is," said August. "It's up to date, it's modern. The star is such a great capstone to the new building. It was great seeing the students get their pictures taken with the star that they can send back to their friends back in Iowa and everywhere else."

Students gathered with Dean Daley and the notable alumni for numerous photo ops, an instant time capsule capturing the link of multiple SCA generations brought together for the event. The ceremony featured multiple fanfares by the USC marching band and the unveiling of the star, complete with an explosion of camera flashes and, cardinal and gold, streamers set off by Dean Daley, Gubler and special guest, noted executive and producer Sid Ganis.

Ganis, who recently completed his final term as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS), has a long-standing history of supporting SCA endeavors.

Dean Daley with current students, faculty and staff.  Photo: Steve Cohn
"Many of those who are attending this school right now will one day have their own star, so there is a continuum that exists that kind of starts around here," said Ganis.

"The major significance is the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce embracing the long-standing value of SCA in the entertainment community and on a global basis," said Jason Squire, instructor of cinema practice.

Graduate production student Gavin Harrison chose to measure the award not in global terms, but in terms of time.

"It's such a cool thing to have a star," said Harrison. "It's one of those things that will last forever and you feel great to be a part of it."

His friend and fellow graduate production student, R.J. Olson, agreed.

"We wanted to be a part of that recognition, a part of history."