Richard Dresser is a Founder and President of the WGI. His many plays have been produced in New York, regional theater, and Europe. They include the widely produced Rounding Third, (made into the indie film Benched) and Below The Belt (filmed as Human Error). He wrote the book for the musicals Johnny Baseball (about the Curse of the Boston Red Sox) and The Holler, a bluegrass ghost musical. In television he’s written and produced on a number of series. He teaches in the graduate film school at Columbia University.
Lulie Haddad is the first Vice-President of the WGI. She is an award-winning documentary producer, director, and writer. She has worked on mostly on American History films for PBS. Earlier in her career she worked for ABC News, Wall Street Journal Television and VH1 as well as produced films in India and Mexico. She helped launch the Veterans Writing Program for the Writers Guild Initiative and helped run the workshops during its first years.
Willie Reale is the Second Vice-President of the WGI and writes for the stage and screen. He was nominated for two Tony Awards for A Year With Frog and Toad, which he wrote with his brother, composer Robert Reale. With his brother (and Richard Dresser) he has written (and is still writing) Johnny Baseball, which was produced at the American Repertory Theater.
Mr. Reale has an Academy Award nomination in the best song category for his work as a lyricist on the movie Dreamgirls and has won 3 Emmy awards for as the writer/producer behind the recent reinvention of 1970’s literacy classic, The Electric Company, on PBS. Willie has worked written extensively for network television and has been nominated 3 times for Writer’s Guild Awards.
In 1981, Reale founded The 52nd Street Project, an organization that brings inner-city children together with professional theater artists. He served as the theater’s artistic director for 18 years. He wrote 52 Pick Up, the Project’s how-to manual. The 52nd Street Project’s programs are currently being replicated at 14 sites across country and in Europe. In June of 1994, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in recognition of his ingenuity in creating theater and theater education programs for young people.
He is married to theater producer, Jenny Gersten. They have two children, Augustus and Leonardo.
Susanna Styron is the Secretary of the WGI, screenwriter, director and documentary filmmaker. Her writing credits include the Columbia Pictures feature Shadrach, starring Harvey Keitel and Andie MacDowell, which she also directed.
Susanna co-wrote, with Bridget Terry, the TV movies Back When We Were Grown-Ups and Into the Night for Hallmark Hall of Fame; and Taking Back Our Town and Crossing The Line for Lifetime. She wrote and directed for the TV series 100 Centre Street created by Sidney Lumet, and has written for the series Borgia created by Tom Fontana. Susanna wrote and directed the award-winning 2017 dramatic short House Of Teeth. Her documentary feature Out Of My Head premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and won Best International Documentary at Melbourne International Documentary Festival 2018.
Susanna’s non-fiction essays have been published in The Yale Review, Spin Magazine, The New York Times, and Real Simple magazine. She teaches Writing for Television in Columbia University’s graduate film program.
Christopher Kyle serves as Treasurer of the WGI. His film credits include Serena, starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence; Oliver Stone’s Alexander; and two films directed by Kathryn Bigelow, K-19: The Widowmaker and The Weight of Water.
His plays include Plunge and The Monogamist, both of which premiered at Playwrights Horizons; The Safety Net, which premiered at Broken Watch Theatre in New York; and Boca, which premiered at Charlotte Repertory Theatre.
He is a former Guggenheim Fellow in drama and a graduate of the MFA program in playwriting at Columbia University.
Fred Graver serves on the Executive Committee of the WGI and is a writer and producer in New York. He has been SVP of Original Content and Social at Discovery Communications and the Creative Lead for TV at Twitter.
Fred’s career spans comedy writing and producing (Late Night With David Letterman, Cheers, In Living Color, Jon Stewart), interactive producing (The MY Vh1 Awards, ZoogDisney), and creating shows that span the web and television (Best Week Ever). He has 7 Emmy Nominations (including one for the post-9/11 Concert for New York City) and 3 Emmys, as well as a NAACP award and a Webby.
Ann Toback, serves on the Executive Committee of the WGI and has been the Executive Director of The Worker’s Circle (formerly The Workmen’s Circle) since June 2008. For more than a century, the Worker’s Circle has been cultivating a proudly progressive, diverse and inclusive community rooted in Jewish culture and social and economic justice activism. A lifelong progressive activist – whose grandparents met at a union hall – and trained attorney, Ann previously served as a union leader at the Writers Guild of America, East, as the Assistant Executive Director during her tenor from 1999-2008. A highlight of Ann’s union career was successfully directing and organizing the 2007-2008 Writers Guild strike on the East Coast before coming to lead the Worker’s Circle.
During Ann’s tenure as the nonprofit’s first woman leader, she has led the Worker’s Circle through a reboot process, resulting in a new progressive Jewish learning-based mission rooted in intergenerational learning, cultural celebration, and applying a Jewish lens to social and economic justice activism.
Since announcing their new work, the Worker’s Circle is proud to have launched a growing network of eight Jewish cultural complementary schools, which attract many different kinds of families seeking community, hands-on Jewish learning, and social justice activism.
In 2015, the Worker’s Circle made the strategic decision to reengage around its progressive roots and launched a new activist agenda prioritizing the Fight for $15 campaign. During her tenure, the organization has worked fiercely to remain a bulwark in the fight for the dignity and economic rights of immigrants, fairness in labor practices and decent health care for all Americans.
Previously, Ann served as an attorney at Rosenberg and Shapiro. She attended Boston University School of Law (J.D., Mediation and Litigation) and SUNY Buffalo (B.A., English Language and Literature/Letters).
Tom Fontana is a Founder of the WGI and has written and produced such groundbreaking television series as St. Elsewhere, Homicide: Life On The Street, Oz, Netflix’s Borgia and, currently, Showtime’s City On A Hill. He has received, among others, three Emmy Awards, four Peabody Awards, three Writers’ Guild Awards, Four Television Critics Association Awards, the Cable Ace Award, the Humanitas Prize, a Special Edgar, the first prize at the Cinema Tout Ecran Festival in Geneva and three WGAE awards: the Evelyn F. Burkey Award, the Richard B. Jablow Award and the Ian McLellan Hunter Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Fontana serves on the boards of Stockings with Care, the WGAE Foundation, The NYPD Police Museum, DEAL, The Creative Coalition, The Acting Company, The Williamstown Theatre Festival, and Center for Creative Voices in Media.
Michael Weller is a Founder of the Writer’s Guild Initiative and a permanent member of the counsel of the Dramatists Guild of America.
Weller is the author of 40+ produced plays, the best known of which are Moonchildren, Loose Ends, Spoils of War, and Fifty Words.
Films: Hair (for Milos Forman), Ragtime, (for Milos Forman), Lost Angels (Hugh Hudson). Recently, he wrote the book for a musical based on the Boris Pasternak novel, Dr. Zhivago. An adaptation of the novel The Fill Catastrophe by David Carkeet, premiered at the Contemporary American Theatre Festival in July/August 2015.
Based on private mentoring throughout his career, he designed and developed the acclaimed Mentor Project for of the Cherry Lane Theatre, and served for it’s first ten years ten years as it’s Supervising Mentor.
He work has earned an Academy Award nomination, an N.A.A.C.P. Outstanding Contribution Award, Critics Outer Circle Award, a Rockefeller Foundation Grant and a Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award, and the Helen Merrill Award. The Broken Watch Theatre Company named their playhouse in his honor.
Chris Albers has been a monologue writer at Late Night with Conan O’Brien since 1995. He has also written for Late Night with David Letterman, Late Show with David Letterman, The Jon Stewart Show and Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, as well as numerous award shows and specials.
Chris is a past President of Writers Guild of America, East (2005-2007). Before being elected President, he served on the Council and was Chairman of the Organizing Committee. During Chris’s term as President, the Guild was finally able to organize the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. This led to organizing most of Comedy Central. In the first months of his term he scheduled a series of meetings with Writers Guild of America, West in neutral cities across the country. During those meetings the two unions reached agreement on a number of outstanding issues, which ended an extended period of hostility. Guidelines were put in place to ensure that the unions would work more as partners in the future.
Over the years Chris has been nominated for 15 Emmy Awards, and in 2007 he won an Emmy for his work on Conan. During that same time he has been nominated for 13 Writers Guild Awards, and won six. In addition to writing, Chris has co-produced numerous specials, including the GQ Men of the Year Awards and The Writers Guild Awards. He teaches a comedy-writing course at Columbia University’s Graduate Film School.
Stephen Belber’s plays have been produced on Broadway and in over 25 countries. They include Match (Broadway, Tony nom./Frank Langella), McReele (Roundabout), Dusk Rings A Bell (Atlantic Theater), Don’t Go Gentle (MCC), Geometry Of Fire (Rattlestick), The Power Of Duff (Huntington/Geffen), Tape (Naked Angels), The Muscles In Our Toes (Labyrinth Theater), A Small Melodramatic Story (Labyrinth Theater), Fault Lines (Naked Angels), One Million Butterflies (Primary Stages), Joan (ColtCoeur/HERE), We Are Among Us (City Theater, Pittsburgh), and others. He was an Associate Writer on The Laramie Project, and co-writer on The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. Belber has also written and directed two feature films, Management, (Jennifer Aniston/Woody Harrelson), and Match, (Patrick Stewart/Carla Gugino), and written the movies Tape (Ethan Hawke/Uma Thurman, directed by Richard Linklater), The Laramie Project (associate writer, HBO, Emmy nom. for writing), Drifting Elegant, and O.G., (Jeffrey Wright, HBO Films). Television credits include Law & Order SVU, Rescue Me, and pilots for HBO, F/X, USA, TNT, ABC, Fox, & History Channel. He’s currently writing a film about the Kent State shootings, to be directed by
Jay Roach, and is a consulting producer/writer on season one of the Edie Falco/CBS show Tommy. www.stephenbelber.com
Crowned the “Unknown King of Comedy” by New York Magazine, Andrew Bergman is the writer and director of The Freshman, Honeymoon In Vegas, It Could Happen To You, So Fine and Striptease. He has also written The In-Laws, Fletch, and co-wrote Soapdish, as well as The Scout and Oh, God, You Devil.
Bergman began his motion picture career at the very top, writing the story and co-writing the screenplay of the classic Blazing Saddles. He went on to write such other memorable comedies as The In-Laws, Fletch, and Soapdish. In fact these four Bergman movies, plus The Freshman, were nominated by the American Film Institute as among the greatest comedies of all time. In 2007 the Writers Guild of America awarded him the Ian McLellan Hunter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Writing.
Andrew Bergman has also written the Broadway hit Social Security, directed by Mike Nichols, which had a one-year run in 1986. His most recent work, the musical version of Honeymoon In Vegas, written with the composer Jason Robert Brown, ran on Broadway during the 2014-15 season. The New York Times called it “a classic Broadway musical…a revelation.”
Eric Bogosian is an actor, a celebrated playwright, and author of three novels and most recently, a non-fiction history. He was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his play Talk Radio, and is the recipient of the Berlin International Film Festival’s Silver Bear award, as well as three Obie Awards and the Drama Desk Award. In the spring of 2015, Operation Nemesis: The Assassination Plot that Avenged the Armenian Genocide was published by Little, Brown. He is married to director Jo Bonney and lives in New York City.
Marshall Brickman, born in Brazil of American parents, attended New York public schools and the University of Wisconsin, where he received a double baccalaureate in both science and music.
He entered show business first as a member of the folk group The Tarriers and then, along with John and Michelle Phillips, as one of The New Journeymen, a precursor of The Mamas and the Papas.
Trading in his Gibson Mastertone 5-string banjo for an IBM Selectric, he secured a position as writer/director on Candid Camera, America’s original reality show.
Fleeing Candid Camera as from a burning building, Brickman found solace as a writer and then head writer for Johnny Carson. In 1970 he left NBC to become producer/head writer of Dick Cavett’s late-night show on ABC.
Meanwhile he had started a collaboration with Woody Allen, a young comic who opened for the Tarriers at Fred Weintraub’s Bitter End, the legendary coffee house that provided exposure to upcoming talent in music and comedy. They worked at odd hours on screenplays and material for Allen’s early TV appearances, which provided Brickman with the impetus and economic freedom to pursue work outside the restrictive area of TV. Eagerly seizing the opportunity, Brickman watched Mr. Allen negotiate both the creative and practical issues confronting an artist working in a commercial environment; it was an experience like no other; Brickman learned things that can’t be taught and never laughed as hard as the time spent roaming the city with a certified genius, and discussing art, politics, women, the state of the business, and why Durwood Kirby was considered funny, even by people with college degrees.
Mr. Brickman’s film work as author (or co-author with Woody Allen) includes Sleeper, Annie Hall (Academy Award), Manhattan, (AA nomination) and Manhattan Murder Mystery. As film writer/director): Simon, Lovesick, The Manhattan Project, Sister Mary Explains it All. In television: The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson (head writer, 1967-’70); The Dick Cavett Show (head writer/co-producer, 1970-’72).
Brickman’s recording (with ex-Tarrier Eric Weissberg) of the soundtrack of Deliverance, released in 1970, contained the surprise hit “Dueling Banjos,” achieved platinum status, and remains a healthy seller over 40 years later.
His first foray into musical theater resulted in Jersey Boys, which won the Tony, Olivier, Helpmann, Grammy and many other awards worldwide, is in its eleventh year on Broadway, has been seen by twenty million people worldwide and is currently the 10th-longest running show in the history of Broadway.
Mr. Brickman’s other theatrical efforts include Turn of the Century, which played to capacity houses in Chicago, and The Addams Family, starring Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth, which ran for two years on Broadway and to date has had over four thousand first and second tier productions internationally.
In addition to his work in film and theater, Mr. Brickman has published in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Playboy and other periodicals. He is the 2006 recipient of the Writers’ Guild of America Ian McClellan Hunter Award for Lifetime Achievement.
His current project is a stage musical celebrating the life of western star Roy Rogers.
Carla Briscoe is a writer and performer. She has worked with The Barrow Group, The Cherry Lane, New Dramatists, The Kennedy Center, LAByrinth Theater Company, the Sundance Institute, IRT, Ars Nova, HB Playwrights, New Georges, the People’s Improv Theatre, the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, the NY International Fringe Festival and others.
She was a 2017 New York Innovative Theatre Award nominee for “Outstanding Performance,” and was a featured performer in HBO’s 2018 Women in Comedy Festival. For more info, please visit www.carlabriscoe.com.
Adam Brooks is a Canadian-born filmmaker, living in New York City.
He co-created and produced the TV show Imposters and was a writer, director and producer on Mozart In The Jungle.
His film credits include Definitely, Maybe, which he directed, French Kiss, Beloved, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Practical Magic and the Academy Award nominated short film, Duke of Groove.
He other directing credits include Almost You, winner of the Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, The Invisible Circus, and the pilot of Girlfriends Guide to Divorce.
Adam is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University. He was a three-term council member of the Writers Guild of America East and is on the board of Writers Guild Initiative.
Andrea Ciannavei is a writer, actor, teacher, producer and political activist.
TV: The Mayans MC (FX Networks), Season 2 of The Path (Hulu), Season 1 of Last Men Out (National Geographic); Season 1 of American Odyssey (NBC Universal), Season 2 of Copper (BBC America), Seasons 1 – 3 of Borgia (Canal Plus).
Plays: The Winstons, one act play commissioned by Hangar Theater, Deep Trees, The Hard Sell, 7 Captiva Road and Pretty Chin Up which received a development production at LAByrinth Theater Company (Artistic Directors: Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Ortiz) at The Public Theater.
Publications: Pretty Chin Up (Playscripts, Inc.) She has also been published in DAME Magazine.
For a decade, Andrea produced the Helen Deutsch Writing Workshops: free writing workshops for wounded warriors returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan (as well as their family caregivers) in Colorado, Minnesota, Ohio, Texas, New York, Los Angeles, and the American Military Hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. Sponsored by the Writers’ Guild Initiative and in partnership with Wounded Warrior Project. This workshop has expanded to include Witness to Innocence who advocate for death row exonerees.
Education: NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts’ Dramatic Writing Program and went on to Juilliard’s Lila Acheson Playwriting Fellowship 2008-2010.
Proud member of WGA.
Kia Corthron’s many plays have premiered in New York, London, and across the U.S. For her body of work for the stage, she has been awarded the Windham Campbell Prize, the USArtists Jane Addams Fellowship, and others. She serves on the Council of the Dramatists Guild and is a New Dramatists alumnus. In 2018 she co-produced an evening in New York of short plays focusing on the catastrophe in Yemen and U.S. responsibility for it, and she adapted her short musical contribution as an animated film that was screened in the 2019 We The People’s Film Festival in London, organized by the United Nations Association U.K. Her debut novel The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter won the 2016 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and was a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice. In television, she wrote for the fourth season of The Wire, which garnered a Writers Guild Outstanding Drama Series Award and an Edgar Award.
James V. Hart was born in Shreveport, Louisiana and grew up on Drive-In Movies and Saturday Matinees in Ft. Worth Texas. Soon after graduating from SMU in Dallas (class of ’69), he began producing films. His first feature film, Summer Run, opened the USA Film Festival at SMU in 1972.
Hart settled in New York City with his wife, son and daughter, and began his screenwriting career. His writing/producing credits include: Hook, directed by Steven Spielberg, based on an idea by Hart’s then six year-old son; Bram Stoker’s Dracula, directed by Francis Ford Coppola; Muppet Treasure Island, directed by Brian Henson; Contact, directed by Robert Zemeckis; Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, directed by Kenneth Branagh, as producer with Coppola and John Veitch; Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story, also directed by Brian Henson, a Jim Henson/CBS mini-series; and Tuck Everlasting, directed by Jay Russell for Disney, with Sir Ben Kingsley, Sissy Spacek and William Hurt.
Hart’s first novel, Captain Hook Adventures of a Notorious Youth, about the early days of James Hook at Eton before his adventures with Peter Pan, was published by Laura Geringer Books for Harper Collins in the fall of 2005. The novel was named one of the “Top Ten Young Adult Books” in 2006 by the American Library Association, and is due out in Germany in April, 2007. Hart is writing the sequel, Captain Hook Pirate King, for a 2009 release.
He adapted Clive Cussler’s best selling novel, Sahara, for Paramount Pictures and Baldwin Entertainment — starring Penelope Cruz and fellow Texans, Matthew McConaughey and Steve Zahn. Hart also contributed to Lara Croft – Tomb Raider II, also for Paramount and Lawrence Gordon Productions.
The Snow Goose, Hart’s adaptation of the Paul Gallico novel, is being directed by Christian Alvart, which Hart will also produce. He is currently adapting Ayn Rand’s classic and massive novel, Atlas Shrugged, for Baldwin Entertainment, starring Angelina Jolie.
J.V. is currently writing and producing his first animated spectacle with children’s book illustrator, home town friend and fellow SMU graduate, William Joyce, and the director-animator Chris Wedge who created Ice Age and Robots with Joyce. The new animated epic for 20th Century Fox, based on ancient faerie legends, will also be a series of books by Hart and Joyce beginning in 2009.
Ryan Kelly, Advisory Board, is a decorated Iraq veteran, Blackhawk pilot and an award-winning writer. He also served at Ground Zero during 9/11 recovery operations in New York City.
His work has been published by Random House, Samuel French, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), The PEN Center, The New Yorker, The Associated Press, The Denver Post and anthologized in Literature for Life, among others. His writing is the subject of an award-winning documentary, The Muse of Fire. He has testified before Congress on behalf of the NEA and his writing has been inducted into The Congressional Record, The U.S. Library of Congress and U.S. National Archives.
He has been a featured speaker at the Aspen Ideas Festival, and for several national corporations including Wells Fargo and Boeing, the NEA, The Library of Congress and U.S. National Archives as well as at film festivals, numerous colleges and universities and nonprofits. His plays have been performed in New York, London, The Kennedy Center, Los Angeles, Colorado, Nevada and Florida. Ryan holds an MFA in playwriting from Columbia University. He lives in Denver.
Susan Kim has worked as head writer, story editor, and writer on over 50 children’s series – live action and animation, across all platforms, and both nationally and internationally. She is currently showrunning a yet-to-be-announced series for Netflix, scheduled to drop in spring 2021. Prior to that, she was story editor on Hello, Ninja (Netflix) and Nickelodeon’s Welcome To The Wayne (Emmy nominations for Best Animated Series in 2018 and Best Writing in a Children’s Series in 2017). She also served as story editor on Sprout’s Astroblast! and PBS’ Dragon Tales. Other credits include: Starbeam, Clifford The Big Red Dog, Arthur, Rusty Rivets, Cyberchase, Peg + Cat, Jungle Junction, Octonauts, Wonder Pets!, Speed Racer, Handy Manny, Pocoyo, Ni-Hao Kai-Lan, Martha Speaks, Oswald The Octopus, Courage The Cowardly Dog, Reading Rainbow, The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, Are You Afraid Of The Dark?, and many others. She has received six Emmy nominations and four Writers Guild Award nominations for her work.
With her husband, Laurence Klavan, Susan has written two critically acclaimed graphic novels: City of Spies and Brain Camp (both with First Second Books). She and Laurence also wrote the young adult trilogy, Wasteland (Harper Collins.) She also wrote the nonfiction book, Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation (St. Martins) with graphic designer Elissa Stein.
Richard LaGravenese was born in Brooklyn, New York. He attended Emerson College and NYU’s Experimental Theatre Wing.
LaGravenese’s first professional gig was as a contributing writer for the Off Broadway revue A My Name Is Alice directed by Joan Micklin Silver.
Screenwriting credits include; The Fisher King (directed by Terry Gilliam, Oscar nomination): The Ref, (directed by Ted Demme), A Little Princess (directed by Alfonso Cuaron) Unstrung Heroes (directed by Diane Keaton) The Bridges of Madison County (directed by Clint Eastwood), Beloved (directed by Jonathon Demme), Rude Awakening (w/Neil Levy), and Water For Elephants (directed by Francis Lawrence).
LaGravenese has written and directed: Living Out Loud starring Holly Hunter, Danny DeVito and Queen Latifah Paris J’Taime, with Fanny Ardent and Bob Hoskins, Freedom Writers, starring Hilary Swank and Patrick Dempsey (HUMANITUS Award Winner for Screenplay) and P.S. I Love You, starring Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, Kathy Bates Lisa Kudrow, Gina Gershon, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Harry Connick Jr.
He co-directed and co-produced with Ted Demme the Seventies film documentary for IFC, entitled A Decade Under The Influence (National Board of Review William K. Everson Award winner for film history and an Emmy nomination for best documentary). He has also taught a 14 week Master Class for Screenwriting at Emerson College.
He lives in New York City and Connecticut with his wife and daughter.
Jenny Lumet is the author of Rachel Getting Married for which she received the 2008 New York Film Critics Circle Award, Toronto Film Critics Association Award, and Washington D.C Film Critics Association Award. She also received an NAACP Image Award. She is also the author of the screen adaptation of The Center Cannot Hold, The Language of Flowers, and doctored Remember Me, Bobbie Sue, Honeymoon With Harry. She is currently at work on the Untitled Monsters Project for Universal Studios.
She authored the pilots The Weissmans of Westport, Crazytown, and The Beresfords and consulted for Fox Television’s Sleepy Hollow.
Jenny is presently at work on a series Pilot for Amazon Television, and a series Pilot for CBS Television she has authored several other original screenplays including Kingdom Of Louie and Sambo. She serves on the Council of the Writers Guild of America East and the Board of the Writers Guild Initiative. She generated and chairs the WGAE’s first Diversity Caucus. She is an Executive Director of BINDERCON, a conference for Women and Non-gender conforming writers.
Jenny Lumet lives in Manhattan with her two children.
John Markus began his career in high school, supplying jokes about his rural Ohio hometown to Broadway columnist Earl Wilson. His early career included the revival of the animated Mighty Mouse, and Working Stiffs.
After an assignment on Paramount’s Emmy-winning Taxi, Markus joined the original writing staff of The Cosby Show, where he was Supervising Producer, Co-Executive producer and show runner until 1991. During his tenure, he wrote or co-wrote 67 episodes, earning an Emmy, a Peabody, back-to-back Humanitas prizes, and a People’s Choice award for “The Greatest Sitcom of All Time.”
He co-created the Cosby spin-off A Different World, and the Al Franken series, Lateline. He was consulting producer on The Larry Sanders show, co-writing the Emmy-nominated Ellen Degeneres episode, Ellen: Is She Or Isn’t She? His plays, The Sons of Liberty and The Fabulous Lipitones have been produced around America.
He created the Destination America television series, BBQ Pitmasters, which takes the first in-depth look at the world of competition barbecue. And has just finished The Kings of BBQ Barbecue Kuwait, an award-winning documentary film chronicling the mission of cooking authentic-style BBQ for our troops stationed in The Mideast. Mark has garnered many awards for his BBQ, including a PhB from the Kansas City Barbecue Society — an honorary status bestowed upon only a handful of proven Pitmasters.
Lowell Peterson has been Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East since 2008.
Peterson’s vision is a Guild that can be the center of writers’ creative and professional lives, even as the distribution, financial and artistic models continue to change. He has worked to increase opportunities for film and television writers. He continues to lead an effort to bring more diversity to writing rooms.
His digital media initiatives have included seminars and other events to explore the financial, technological, and artistic dynamics of new media; a digital media training program; and organizing creators in that sector. He worked to expand the skills of newswriters and ensure their continued relevance as broadcast news shifts to additional platforms. Under his leadership, the Guild’s organizing and communications capacity have been greatly expanded.
Peterson was partner in the law firm Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein where he represented a number of unions, including the Communications Workers of America, the Laborers, and the United Auto Workers. Representing laid-off workers in the Enron and WorldCom bankruptcies, he won tens of millions of dollars in severance pay, and in many other cases he defended unions from attacks on organizing and other activities.
Ruben Santiago-Hudson is a TONY and OBIE Award winner, and a force of nature . A triple threat in the greatest sense of the term as an actor, writer and director.
Ruben made his debut as a screenwriter with HBO’s Lackawanna Blues for which he received multiple honors including The Humanitas Prize, a Christopher Award, National Board of Review Honors, An NAACP Award and an Emmy, Golden Globe and a WGA nomination. Lackawanna Blues originally was commissioned by the prestigious Public Theater in New York City as a stage play. Ruben penned the play to pay homage to the remarkable woman that raised him in a boarding house in Lackawanna, New York. Ruben performed the play portraying almost three dozen characters accompanied by Blues master Bill Sims Jr. on guitar.
Ruben’s vast acting credits span the stage, Television and Film. On Film he starred opposite Halle Berry in Their Eyes Were Watching God, Denzel Washington and Russell Crow in American Gangster, Demi Moore and Kevin Costner in Mr. Brooks, Samuel L. Jackson in SHAFT, Al Pacino in Devil’s Advocate, and John Travolta in Domestic Disturbance to name a few.
Presently, Ruben is co-starring in the ABC television drama Castle with Nathon Fillion. Also for the small screen, Ruben portrayed the famed African-American chemist Dr. Percy Julian in the critically acclaimed PBS NOVA special Forgotten Genius, starred opposite Gregory Hines in The Red Sneakers for Showtime, in the Mini series American Tragedy with Christopher Plummer, Solomon and Shebawith Jimmy Smits and Halle Berry, marking the first time a biblical movie was made starring actors of color, and he starred opposite Christopher Reeves in Rear Window among many others. Ruben’s other Television credits include: Law & Order, The West Wing, Hallmark’s Little John, Canterbury’s Law, Whoopi, NYPD Blue, Early Edition, Third Watch, NY Undercover, Dear John and Michael Hayeswhich he co-starred in for CBS television.
Ruben made his Directorial debut with August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean at the McCarter Theater in Princeton, N.J. to rave reviews. Ruben then went on to direct GEM at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. Earlier this season Ruben directed a tribute to August Wilson and his legacy at The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.. Ruben’s New York directing credits include Mr. Wilson’s Seven Guitars and most recently Leslie Lee’s The First Breeze of Summer for The Signature Theater Company in New York City where Ruben currently holds the position of Associate Artist, facilitating the season honoring the historic Negro Ensemble Company. In the Spring of 2009 Ruben will direct Naomi Wallace’s Things of Dry Hours at New York Theater Workshop.
Ruben made his Broadway debut as Buddy Bolden in Jelly’s Last Jam, opposite Gregory Hines. Ruben’s portrayal of Canewell in August Wilson’s Seven Guitars won him an Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award cementing his place in the landscape of American Theater. Ruben’s most recent Broadway performance was as Caesar in August Wilson’s Gem’s of the Ocean opposite Phylicia Rashad. Ruben’s regional Theater and off-Broadway credits are too numerous to mention spanning 30 years and numerous wonderful roles.
Ruben received a Master Of Fine Arts degree from Wayne State University and an honorary Master’s Degree from A.C.T. in San Francisco, a Bachelor of Arts degree from S.U.N.Y. Binghamton and an honorary Doctor Of Humane Letters Degree from Buffalo State College in 2006. Other Awards and honors include Outer Critics Circle, Dramalogue, Clarence Derwent, Glen G. Bartle award from SUNY Binghamton, Distiguished Alumni Award from Wayne State University, three Audelco Awards. Blackfilmaker’s Award, a N.A.M.I.C. Award and an HBO Comedy Arts Festival Theater Award.
David Tucker, Advisory Board, is a Seattle-based playwright, photographer, novelist and filmmaker, David A. Tucker II has had several of his plays and musicals produced and/or developed at theaters across the nation, including Seattle Repertory Theatre, Abingdon Theater Co., ACT, Tacoma Actors Guild, and Foothill Theater Co. His theatrical works include Bullets, Smoke, The Nude, Veils, Persistence of Vision, Lubyanka, Baghdad (about his experiences commanding a military unit in Iraq), Under the Skin and North Wind Blowin’, a play with music.
Incorporating photography, music and video, his works often explore collisions of race, culture and political systems. As a photographer, his images has been exhibited in galleries throughout the West Coast and in New York. He recently had photographs on exhibition at Photographic Center NW, Blue Sky Gallery, Lightbox Photography Gallery and Springfield Art Museum. His photographic images can be viewed at www.davidtuckerphotography.com.
Tucker also teaches creative writing to wounded military veterans and their caregivers through the Writers Guild Initiative and is a long-time member of the Dramatists Guild.
The creation of Smoke is supported in part by grants from Artists Up and Artist Trust.