Tag Archive | "school of communication"

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Cements Stardom in Hollywood

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Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Cements Stardom in Hollywood


By Robin Shear
UM News

Photo by Michael Tran/Getty Images

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s size 14 shoes and former pro wrestler mitts are immortalized in cement at the TCL Chinese in Hollywood. Photo by Michael Tran/Getty Images

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (May 21, 2015) – The earth stood still in Hollywood on Tuesday, May 19, as the star of the forthcoming earthquake-themed blockbuster San Andreas planted his powerful hands and feet in wet cement in front of the TCL Chinese Theatre.

Following in the foot and handprints of such legends as Marilyn Monroe and Robert DeNiro, UM alumnus Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, B.G.S. ’95, stepped into Hollywood history, immortalizing his size 14 shoes and former pro wrestler mitts ten days before the scheduled premiere of his new action movie, which opens May 29.

Surrounded by family and fans, Johnson, who has a string of winning films and TV appearances to his credit, underlined his personalized slab with the word “Blessed!” And right now he seems particularly so, heading into a summer that includes San Andreas, about a rescue helicopter pilot on a mission to save his estranged daughter in the wake of a massive earthquake in California, and Ballers, the new HBO series filmed partly on UM’s Coral Gables campus that’s set to debut June 21.

Introducing Johnson at Tuesday’s event, San Andreas director Brad Peyton said, “He’s humble, he’s gracious, he’s kind, he’s attentive.”

Thanking his family, team, and multitude of fans, Johnson recounted how seeing movie hero Indiana Jones at age 8 inspired him.

“I knew I wanted to be that guy who was charming with the ladies, cool. The tough guy—but doing it with a smile,” he said.

The future champion of Hurricanes football and World Wrestling Entertainment made his own whip out of a stick and string and then got his first pair of boxing gloves to start building himself physically—“anything I could do to change my life with my hands,” he explained.

Fast forward a few decades, and Steven Spielberg, the director of the movie that spawned Johnson’s  childhood hero, sent him a letter “out of the blue” that read, “You’re going for it. You keep going for it,” recalled Johnson before taking the cement plunge.

“I’m so proud of this moment. I’m so grateful. Not only does it symbolize hard work. It symbolizes the people I have around me supporting me in my hard work,” Johnson said, singling out his family, his team, and his fans, whom he called part of his “extended family.”

Johnson shares the iconic distinction with another UM alumnus and big-screen hero, Sylvester Stallone, B.F.A. ’98, who on June 29, 1983, became the 148th person to be honored by the theater.

This June 5, Stallone will be on hand during the University of Miami Alumni Association’s own blockbuster weekend in Los Angeles, California. The Rocky and Rambo star will be recognized for his outstanding career achievements with the Edward T. Foote II Alumnus of Distinction Award during the first-ever Regional Alumni Awards Ceremony.

The evening before, on June 4, the School of Communication and UM Alumni Association will join forces at the Directors Guild of America to present the 2015 ’Canes Film Showcase, featuring top student films from the Motion Pictures Program and a pantheon of judges from the industry, many of whom are alumni. The evening’s emcee will be Jason Kennedy, B.S.C. ’04, co-host of E! News.

 

 

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Motion Picture Students Adapt Stephen King’s 9/11 Story for the Screen

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Motion Picture Students Adapt Stephen King’s 9/11 Story for the Screen


By Maya Bell
UM News

UM alumnus Jonathan Franklin, the film's director of photography, shoots actress Juliana Harkavy "falling" from the World Trade Center on the patio of the Bill Cosford Cinema.

UM alumnus Jonathan Franklin, the film’s director of photography, shoots actress Juliana Harkavy “falling” from the World Trade Center on the patio of the Bill Cosford Cinema.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (May 15, 2015)—Facing certain death after the planes hit the World Trade Center, Sonja D’Amico jumps from a window. Yet as she plummets 110 stories, she is enveloped not by raging flames but by soothing thoughts of her beloved.

Last week, School of Communication students and graduates filmed that scene, adapted from a 9/11 story by Stephen King, in the unlikeliest of places—the patio outside the Bill Cosford Cinema. Of course, when the 30-minute nonprofit, noncommercial film premieres at film festivals, no one will know that. No one will see that actress Juliana Harkavy, who portrayed Alisha in The Walking Dead, was actually standing on an improvised stool, her wind-swept mane blown by a hand-held fan, as UM alumnus Jonathan Franklin rolled back and forth on a loaned camera dolly to capture her beatific expression.

But that’s the magic of movies, and of turning a compelling story into an even more compelling screenplay. Which is what Barbara Leibell, a lecturer in the School of Communication, hoped to share with students in her scriptwriting class when, in January 2014, she asked King’s permission to adapt The Things They Left Behind—his story about a man haunted by the appearance of objects that belonged to colleagues who perished in the twin towers—into a screenplay.

It wasn’t an unusual request. Through what King calls his Dollar Babies program, the best-selling author has probably launched a number of careers, including celebrated director Frank Darabont’s, by granting aspiring filmmakers the right, for the price of a $1, to adapt his stories for film. A week later, King gave his consent, and Leibell and about 20 of her students, both former and current, got busy.

Sara Werner, a graduate of the School of Communication’s Master of Fine Arts motion pictures program whose short on human trafficking, Aurora, won best film at the 2012 Canes Film Fest, is the director. She and Franklin, a fellow M.F.A. grad and the film’s director of photography, are shooting the script, written and adapted by Jake Gillman, who graduated May 7 from the School of Communication with a major in scriptwriting. He called the exhausting year-long process of getting the script “to the point we were satisfied” an “amazing opportunity” and the day last week when the crew recreated the collapse of the towers in the Miami office set of the TV show Graceland an “emotional, thrilling, humbling and really nerve-racking” experience.

“The office was a mess. There was soot everywhere. It was so real I had to step outside,” Gillman said. “Being from New York, 9/11 hits close to home. It’s a sensitive subject, so you want to do it and Stephen King’s story justice.”

Under Leibell’s guidance, Gillman and his team expanded King’s narrative. They turned their version of The Things They Left Behind into a dreamy love story, with actor Tom Frank, who appeared on Dexter, playing the bereaved boyfriend of the woman whose red sunglasses turn up in his New York apartment—donated by The Filling Station Lofts, a firm dedicated to fostering film and arts in Miami—a year after she jumped.

After reading the script, Mike Gabriel, the former CIO of HBO, and Missy Jenkins, former aide to Newt Gingrich, donated funds. Respected industry professionals, including David Frankel, director of The Devil Wears Prada and Marley and Me, and Howard McCain, director of Outlander, agreed to serve as mentors. And Maria Elizabeth, a hair stylist and make-up artist from Virginia, offered her services and time for free.

“When I read the script I cried. It spoke to me,” Elizabeth said outside the Cosford last week, in between freshening Harkavy’s lipstick and tousling her hair. “I think it will speak to a lot of people, so I wanted to be part of it.’’

Still, the students, who include costume designers from the Department of Theatre Arts and script supervisors from the College of Arts and Sciences, face the same daunting challenges many filmmakers face: long hours, no pay, and a limited budget. The producer, Xinyue Chen, an M.F.A. film student who already has spent countless hours securing permits and low-cost or donated locations and equipment, and negotiating salaries for the cast, (all Screen Actors Guild professionals who have agreed to work for $100 a day) says she’s running on adrenaline. But, she too, is thrilled with the opportunity.

“Every morning, I wake up stressed because I know there will be new troubles coming,” Chen said.”This film is a big challenge for student filmmakers. But when I see the footage we made together, I know it is worthy. I’m so proud of it.”

She and the rest of the students also know that adapting a King story could be a steppingstone, if not a career-maker. After all, Darabont, who adapted and directed two multiple Academy Award-nominated films, The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption, from two Stephen King stories, was one of the first Dollar Babies. He asked King’s permission to write and direct his first film, the author’s The Woman in the Room, when he was 24.

“King liked Frank’s work so much he continued working with him on major projects,” Leibell said. “So this is a great honor and opportunity for our students. No matter what happens, they’re all learning valuable filmmaking skills, getting material for their reels and resumes, and making a beautiful, meaningful film.’’

To support post-production costs of the film, email Leibell at DLeibell@miami.edu or call her at 305-582-6571.

 

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Brats, Baseball, and Brains: UM Celebrates 10th Family Day with the Miami Marlins


It wasn’t just another day at the ballpark, but a festive outing that celebrated outgoing UM President Donna E. Shalala’s remarkable 14-year tenure, the dedication of UM faculty and staff, their bonds with family, friends, and colleagues, and the promise of bright, young minds. The University of Miami’s annual Family Day with the Miami Marlins, held Saturday at Marlins Park in Little Havana, was all that and more. At the West Plaza, thousands of UM employees and their families and friends visited the Faculty and Staff Thank U tent, where they received orange U rally towels and enjoyed a panoply of pregame festivities, including face painting, autograph sessions with current and former Marlins players, photo opportunities with the Sebastian the Ibis and Billy the Marlin, and more.

Shalala, who was feted with a video tribute that played on the park’s jumbo screen, and UM Police Chief David Rivero threw out first pitches before the Marlins blasted the Philadelphia Phillies 7-0 in a stadium dotted with ’Canes waving those orange towels and pumping orange-and-green foam Us given to those who arrived early. But the Marlins weren’t the only winners, as the Miami Marlins Community Foundation awarded two generous scholarships to deserving ’Canes—Chelsea Mulkey, for her studies in the School of Education and Human Development’s Sport Administration Program, and the School of Communication’s Daniel New, who received the Suzanne Rayson Scholarship in Broadcast Journalism. Rayson, who served as the Marlins director of broadcasting from 2002 to 2008, passed away after a battle with cancer.

An estimated 19,000 UM employees and their guests participated in this year’s Family Day with the Marlins, the tradition begun 10 years ago to show the U’s appreciation for faculty and staff, who in addition to transforming lives every day through teaching, research, and service, have contributed more than $35 million to Momentum2: The Breakthrough Campaign for the University of Miami.

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Faculty and Staff Support the U: Media Management Expert Feels the Thrill of Changing Times, and Helping Others


Michel Dupagne

Michel Dupagne

Professor Michel Dupagne, Ph.D., recognizes the importance of scholarships in helping talented students in the School of Communication achieve their dreams. In 2005, he and his brother Alain established the Lucy Chatelain Endowed Communication Scholarship in memory of their mother. “I believe that providing scholarships to those in financial need is critical to the long-term success of the University of Miami,” he says. “I have been privileged to serve on the faculty for more than two decades, and it is a pleasure to support our future scholars.”

Dupagne is a nationally recognized leader in the small but growing field of media management, which focuses on the business side of the media industry. “We are trying to gain a better understanding of how the media industry is changing and evolving in the digital age,” he says. In keeping with that goal, Dupagne will earn an M.B.A. in management from the School of Business Administration in December.

“The media industry continues to splinter, moving away from its traditional focus on the mass markets toward almost every type of niche market you can imagine,” he says. “Advances in technology, such as streaming video, are also disrupting traditional business models, since consumers can now bypass a cable or satellite TV provider and get video content directly from an online site.”

Dupagne joined the School of Communication in 1994, after earning his doctorate in mass communications with a business minor from Indiana University. Since then, he has studied new communication technologies, international communication, media economics, and other issues. He also has conducted award-winning research on such topics as consumer high-definition television diffusion and educational use of podcasting. He coauthored the book High-Definition Television: A Global Perspective, and serves on the editorial boards of the American Communication Journal, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Journal of Media Economics, and Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly.

“This is a thrilling time to be in media management,” says Dupagne. “I feel very grateful that our University has supported my teaching and research, allowing me to develop professionally through the years. Now is a great time for me to give something back, and I encourage other faculty members and employees to contribute as well. Together, we can really make a difference.”

Read about other faculty and staff who support the U.

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Ethics Film Series 2015 Screenings


Ethics Film SeriesFor the ninth Ethics Film Series, the  Arsht Ethics Initiatives and UM Ethics Programs, the School of Communication, and the University of Miami Alumni Association is presenting three provocative films followed by lively debate  at the Bill Cosford Cinema, with the last screening, The Fog of War, taking place on Tuesday, April 21.  All screenings begin at 6:15 p.m. and are free, and open to faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the community.

Here’s the schedule:

Tuesday, March 24: Apocalypse Now

Presented in collaboration with UM’s Center for International Business Education & Research (CIBER).

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, and Robert Duvall, this 1979 film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, and won two, for Sound and Cinematography. Food will be provided after the 153-minute film.

Moderator: Otavio Bueno, professor and chair of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Tuesday, April 7: Last Days in Vietnam

This PBS film premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. It examines the difficult decisions faced by the Americans departing Vietnam under fire.

Introduction: Max Duke, vice president of Content and Community Partnerships at WPBT2, who arranged the screening.

Moderator: Daniel Suman, professor of marine affairs and policy at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science of the University of Miami, who has led eight UM study abroad trips to Vietnam.

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Tuesday, April 21: The Fog of War

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, widely viewed as the ‘architect” of the Vietnam War, is the focus of this 2003 documentary that won that year’s Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Is it a defense or an apology?

Moderator: Charles E. Neu, professor emeritus and former chair of Brown University’s History Department, an expert on the Vietnam War, and a member of a group of scholars who advised Secretary McNamara.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..For more information, please contact UM Ethics Programs at ethics@miami.edu or 305-243-5723.

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