Faculty: Writing for Television

Faculty

JILL GOLDSMITH (Fall/Winter/Spring Live Q&A and Spring Lecture Series)

Jill is a television writer and producer with credits on Emmy-winning series including NYPD Blue, The Practice, Ally McBeal, Law & Order, Boston Legal, and Rizzoli & Isles, and was a finalist for the Humanitas Prize for an episode of Boston Legal. She has sold projects to ABC, NBC, and Universal, and currently has a pilot in development. She has also been a featured speaker at numerous conferences and writing programs, and has appeared as a panelist on C-Span Close Up, CBS News, and CNN. Prior to writing for television, Jill spent seven years as a Public Defender in the Juvenile and Felony Trial Divisions of the Cook County Public Defender's Office in Chicago. She received her J.D. from Washington University School of Law, and served an internship with U.S. Senator Paul Simon on the Senate Judiciary Committee. She also received an MFA in Screenwriting from the UCLA School of Film, Television, and Digital Media, and is a contributing author to the book, Lawyers In Your Living Room! Law On Television, in which she wrote the chapter entitled, Writing For Television: From Courtroom to Writer's Room.

image050NEIL LANDAU (Fall/Winter Recorded Lecture Series)

Neil Landau is an award-winning screenwriter, producer, author, and screenwriting professor. His screen credits include the cult comedy Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead starring Christina Applegate; Melrose Place, The Magnificent Seven, Doogie Howser, M.D., The Secret World of Alex Mack, Twice in a Lifetime, MTV's Undressed, The Young & the Restless, Monarch Cove, and one-hour drama pilots for CBS, ABC, ABC Family (aka Freeform), Warner Bros., Disney, Lifetime, and Freemantle. His animated movie projects include the animated feature Tad: The Lost Explorer (aka Las Adventuras de Tadeo Jones) for which he earned a Spanish Academy “Goya” Award and Cinema Writers’ Circle Award for Best Adapted Screenplay (2014); Tad2 (Tadeo Jones and the Secret of King Midas), from Paramount, premiered in August, 2017 (once again to record box office). Neil is working on the Tad3 for a 2021 release by Paramount. He also co-wrote the animated feature Capture the Flag (also for Paramount); and the animated movie, Sheep & Wolves, for Wizart Animation (The Snow Queen), 2017 release. He’s currently Head Writer and Co-executive Producer on the new animated feature film Finnick for Riki Animation Studios, and serving as Co-EP and Executive Script Consultant on Mummies for 4 Cats Pictures and Warner Bros. Both are currently in pre-production.  Neil is Assistant Dean of Dean’s Special Programs at UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television. He also serves as Co-Director of MFA Screenwriting, Writing for Television, in the Department of Film, Television & Digital Media.  This Spring, Neil led the second annual Cannes Storytelling Institute in partnership with Vivendi/Canal Plus, the Cannes Festival du Film, the City of Cannes, and Université Côte d’Azur. This six-week intensive writing residency serves as a laboratory in which to develop eight original screenplays under a first-look deal with Vivendi/Canal Plus/Studio Canal.  In July, in his role as Assistant Dean of Special Programs at UCLA TFT, began a partnership with Festival d’Avignon, the world-renowned theatre festival. Neil is author of several bestselling books: 101 Things I Learned in Film School (Grand Central Publishing, 2010, now in 12 languages; to be reissued by Random House/Crown in 2020); The Screenwriter’s Roadmap (Focal Press, 2012, now in 10 languages); and The TV Showrunner’s Roadmap (Focal Press, 2014, now in 7 languages).  His fourth book, TV Outside the Box: Trailblazing in the Digital Television Revolution, published by Focal Press/Taylor & Francis/Routledge (2016), was sponsored by NATPE. His latest and fifth book, TV Writing On Demand: Creating Great Content in the Digital Era, was published in January, 2018 (Focal Press/Routledge).  Neil served for several years as Executive Script Consultant in the international divisions of Sony Pictures Television and Columbia Pictures. He gives lectures, keynotes, and hosts workshops around the world on the art and craft of screenwriting, including at USC School of Cinematic Arts, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, La Femis in Paris, Met Film School in London, University of the Andes in Santiago, Alexander Mitta Film School in Moscow, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Shanghai Film Art Academy, Starlight Media in Kiev, and Accademia Nazionale del Cinema in Bologna, Italy.  He’s a member of the WGA west, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and PEN west. He earned his BA in film and television at UCLA, and his MFA in Screenwriting at Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communications (home of the prestigious Peabody Awards) at the University of Georgia. 

SUSAN HURWITZ ARNESON

Susan is a television writer who received her MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA. Best known for her work as a writer on six seasons of South Park, and is currently a writer for Amazon's The Tick. In the past she has also been a Consulting Producer on NBC's Mr. Robinson with Craig Robinson and a writer on ABC's Malibu Country starring Reba McEntire and Lily Tomlin, and the Fox animated series Bordertown. Susan has developed several television series and sold pitches to Fox Television Animation, MTV and others.

image042KAREN BARNA

Karen is a television and film writer whose credits include The Mountain and Step Up 2: The Streets. A graduate of the Warner Brothers Television Writers Workshop, Karen is currently developing a film adaptation of a historical travelogue, among several other projects. She was a Screenwriting Instructor for Dan Decker's The Screenwriters Group, is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and an active member of the Writers Education Committee and E-Publishing Committee at the WGA.

image045ARI EISNER

Ari is a graduate of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts Film and Television Program.  A television, feature, video game and ezine writer, he's written for the CBS sitcom Still Standing and has had pilot deals with Warner Bros., Touchstone, MTV, Warner Horizons, Fox 21, MGM and NBC Universal.  He's taught writing and directing at the Inner City Filmmakers program and is a member of the Groundlings improv group, and a Second City graduate.  He co-created the trailer mash-ups 10 Things I hate About Commandments, Must Love Jaws, and Glen & Gary & Glen & Ross which were featured on CNN and in Rolling Stone and Time Magazine.  10 Things I hate About Commandments is on display at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City. He's currently developing a pilot for IMGlobal television and Muse Entertainment.

image046STEPHEN ENGEL

Stephen's weekend work of writing screenplays eventually led to his departure from being a lawyer to his success as a television creator, writer, director and producer on such hit series as Dream OnMad About YouJust Shoot Me and The Big Bang Theory. A graduate of Tufts University, Engel continued his education at NYU and earned a law degree. He then joined a New York firm, and spent his weekends writing screenplays, leading to assignments for producers including Joel Silver and Steven Spielberg. Ultimately, Stephen quit his law job and -- in the words of his parents -- "flushed thousands of dollars of education down the toilet" to write full-time for television and movies. In 1991, Engel moved to Los Angeles to write for the award-winning HBO comedy Dream On. He spent four years on the series, serving as the showrunner the last two years. Engel went on to create and executive produce CBS's Work With Me, starring Nancy Travis and Kevin Pollak; NBC's Inside Schwartz, starring Breckin Meyer; and ABC's The Big House, starring Kevin Hart. Engel currently resides in Pacific Palisades, California with his wife and two children. 

JENNIFER FISHER

Jennifer is a television writer/producer whose credits include Titus, Wanda at Large, The Bill Engvall Show, and Ellen, where she was part of the Emmy Award-winning staff that wrote Ellen’s “coming out” episode, aka The Puppy Episode.  She’s had pilot deals with Twentieth Century Fox, NBC/Universal, Touchstone, Warner Bros., Warner Horizon, and has pitched and sold multiple half-hour comedy pilots, with producers including Lisa Kudrow’s Is or Isn’t Entertainment and Zadan and Maron’s Storyline Entertainment.  A Los Angeles native, Jennifer received her BA in Film and Television from Cal State University Long Beach.  She's currently developing an hour-long dramedy and avoiding as much gluten as humanly possible.

image051KELLY FULLERTON

Kelly was most recently executive story editor for ABC Family's critically-acclaimed show, The Fosters.  Previous credits include: the NBC show Next Caller  and  MTV's hit comedy Awkward.  Kelly received her M.F.A. in screenwriting from UCLA as part of the television showrunner track.  At UCLA, Kelly was the recipient of the Sidney Sheldon award for her feature script Always a Bridesmaid, and she won the Zaki Gordon Award for her feature Clarity.

image043GEOFF GEIB

Geoff received his MFA in 2010 from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television where he won the Michael Minor and Robert Green award in screenwriting. He was a staff writer on the final two seasons of Medium and has written and developed multiple original scripts with Glenn Gordon Caron, the creator of Moonlighting, including the sale of his drama pilot Happy Accidentsto CBS Paramount. He has taught at CSULB, the graduate school at Hollins University, and in the Professional Program at UCLA. Geoff's IMDb page also proudly lists the PA work he did on Gilda Radner's Greatest Moments from 2002 and his dramatic turn as the 'Lightswitch Guy' in the hopefully never seen independent film Ante Up.

DON HANDFIELD

Don is a filmmaker, screenwriter, comic book creator, producer and novelist. He is the co-creator of History Channel's drama series Knightfall. The series was one of the top cable drama launches of 2017. Season 2 recently finished airing with Mark Hamill (Star Wars) co-starring. Handfield’s first comic series THE RIFT was picked up by Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment for the final episode of the reboot of Amazing Stories anthology that aired on Apple +. His latest graphic novel LOOT (to be published in 2021) is currently in development as a streaming series, and his book UNIKORN was picked up by Armory Films (MUDBOUND, PEANUT BUTTER FALCON) for development into a feature film.

Handfield is currently producing along with Marc Platt (LA LA LAND), the adaptation of SWITCHED ON, the critically-acclaimed book from John Elder Robison at Focus Features with Emma Frost (White Queen) adapting. Handfield is also producing the US-remake of top grossing Vietnamese horror film, HOUSEMAID, with CJ Entertainment (SNOWPIERCER, PARASITE) that was adapted for the US market by Academy-Award winning writer Geoffrey Fletcher (PRECIOUS).

Handfield developed and produced THE FOUNDER starring Michael Keaton and KILL THE MESSENGER starring two-time Academy Award nominated actor Jeremy Renner, with whom Handfield co-founded production company The Combine. Handfield wrote and directed the Saturn Award winning film TOUCHBACK starring Kurt Russell and Christine Lahti. Handfield also wrote the novel, which was a top seller on Amazon and received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly.

Handfield recently became a partner and Board Member of Scout Comics & Entertainment, one of the top indie publishers of the current age. ABC Studios recently optioned the Scout series HENCHGIRL, and Amazon is currently developing the series LONG LOST. Handfield’s comic book series THE MALL was optioned by Ivan Reitman’s Montecito Pictures. His upcoming YA Graphic Novel LOOT was optioned by Blue Ant Media for adaptation into a TV series. Handfield also behind acclaimed comic series THE SOURCE and THE DARK AGE, the latter of which became the best-selling series ever for publisher Red 5.

His short film My Name Is starring French Stewart won best short at several film festivals including the top prize at the Atlanta Film Festival, qualifying it for entry into the Academy Awards. He was named one of the top new faces of independent film by Filmmaker Magazine in 2005 and has written screenplays for Warner Brothers, DreamWorks, Paramount and Lionsgate, among others.

image047CHUCK KIM

The son of Korean immigrants, Chuck proved his geek cred by forgoing his acceptance to law school to be an editor at DC Comics.  After working several years on such characters as Batman, Superman, and Aquaman, Chuck moved to Los Angeles and worked for E! Online as a reporter. He got his big break when he was picked as a writing fellow in the Disney/ABC writing program.  Chuck wrote for several seasons on the NBC hit series Heroes, as well as comic books, with characters ranging from the Powerpuff Girls to the X-Men to Superman.  His animation work includes Ben 10 and Dexter's Laboratory. He still remains proud of designing the lower half of a short-lived version of Aquaman's costume. He lives with his husband David and mixed-breed labrador Lilly.

ANDREW ORENSTEIN

Four days after graduating from the University of Western Ontario in 1992, Andrew Orenstein left his native Canada and headed to Hollywood. Since that time, he has written and/or produced over 500 episodes of television, spanning many genres, from sketch comedy to half-hour sitcom to one-hour drama. His first break came when he was hired as one of the original staff writers on the hit NBC series 3rd Rock from the Sun. He stayed for 100 episodes, rising to the rank of producer. Since then he’s written for a variety of series including Malcolm in the Middle, Everybody Hates Chris, and the CBS medical drama, Dr. Vegas, starring Rob Lowe and Amy Adams. Mr. Orenstein also created the sitcom Package Deal for City TV/Hulu, and Just Add Magic: Mystery City for Amazon TV. Most recently he co-created the single camera children’s mystery, Ghostwriter, for Apple TV.

JOHN PARDEE

John is a television writer, best known as executive producer on the first 6 seasons of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives.”  With nearly 30 years experience in the business, he started his career in sitcoms, amassing a resume filled with shows, some memorable, some not, all of which bought him a show-offy house just below the giant Christian cross on the Cahuenga Pass, next to the homeless encampment on the left.  Some additional TV credits include “The Five Mrs. Buchanans,” “The Crew,” “The Jeff Foxworthy Show,” “Cybill,” “Bob Patterson,” “Some Of My Best Friends,” and “Jane By Design.” John graduated from CSU Fullerton with a BA in Telecommunications, and holds a MA in the art of not taking to your bed when your pilot isn't given a slot on the Fall schedule.

MARK SARACENI

Mark has written and produced over 150 hours of TV's most original and highest rated content including The Sopranos, The X Files, EZ Streets, JAG, Law and Order, The Practice, Cover Me, Farscape and Mystery Woman for studios including HBO, Paramount, Fox, Universal, CBS, and SyFy. He also wrote and produced animated TV including Steven Spielberg's Tiny Toons, Batman, Aladdin, Little Mermaid, Taz-Mania and 2 Stupid Dogs for Warner Bros., Disney, and The Cartoon Network.  He has three Emmy Nominations for best writing and a Golden Globe award. He worked in production on multiple seasons of sitcoms including NBC's Spencerand Under One Roof. But his career began in NYC, where—after working Off-Broadway as Stage Manager on The Fantasticks and on the Broadway shows Sophisticated Ladies and Piaf—he became Production Manager and Producer for over 100 national TV commercials. Campaigns included, "Got Milk?," the Diet Coke product launch, Miller Lite's "Tastes Great/Less Filling," Dr Pepper's, "I'm A Pepper!" and ongoing ads for McDonalds, Budweiser, Heineken, Volvo, Ford, Nike, Pepsi, Oil of Olay, and Clairol—all while moonlighting as a production assistant and all-around go-fer on TV specials at Rockefeller Music Hall, Broadway theaters, and for MTV music videos.

image048JULIE SAYRES

Julie is an award-winning screenwriter, whose credits include the film Reaching for the Moon,  for which she won the best adapted screenplay award by the Brazilian Academy of Letters and was also nominated for best adapted screenplay by the Brazilian Academy of Cinema.  She worked on the writing staff of the television series  Midnight Caller, and wrote episodes for Gabriel's Fire and "Beggars and Choosers, among others.  She was a co-creator and supervising producer of the CBS one-hour drama, Four Corners.  She has also written many movies for television, including  A Walton Easter, Dallas Reunion and the mini-series Knot's Landing: Back to the Cul-de-Sac.  She currently has two feature films in development, one in the U.S. and the other in Brazil.  Aside from her work as a screenwriter, she's also an adjunct professor of screenwriting at USC School of Cinematic Arts and Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television.  She has a B.A. from New York University and an MFA from Goddard College.

TIM STACK

With over 35 years experience in the entertainment industry, Tim started out as an actor and joined the Groundlings in 1980 working with such notables as Paul “Pee Wee Herman” Reubens and the late Phil Hartman. Small movie roles and TV guest shots led to him to getting his first series, Reggie in 1983, then Our Time in ‘85, and Parker Lewis Can’t Lose in 1989.  While all of this was going on he began writing.  With two TV movies and some TV sit-com episodes to his credit, he got his first staff job in 1993 on a show called On Our Own.  He was able to combine the two talents, acting and writing, in ’94 by co-creating and starring in the talk-show spoof, Nightstand With Dick Dietrick.  In 2000 he did the same by partnering with FX and Howard Stern for the Baywatch spoof, Son of the Beach.   Since then he has been a Writer-Producer on the shows My Name Is Earl, Raising Hope, The Millers, and most recently, Kirby Buckets.   As a Producer, he currently has a mini-series in development at HBO based on the 1950’s Las Vegas hotel, The Moulin Rouge.

HUGH STERBAKOV

Hugh has sold television and feature scripts to cool places including Disney, Paramount, Fox, SyFy and Freeform, and developed projects with awesome people like Seth Green, Mila Kunis, Donald De Line, Gale Anne Hurd, Ben Stiller and the team at Midnight Radio. He created, wrote and executive produced Transylvania, a pilot for CBS Television Studios and the CW, which was produced but didn’t go to series. His therapist says he’ll get over that someday (but she’s lying). He also co-created and wrote the critically acclaimed comic book Freshmen, authored the novel City Under the Moon, and has two Emmy nominations and an Annie Award for Robot Chicken. He’s currently writing Lucid, a tech thriller for Warner Bros. and Blumhouse, with Ashton Kutcher slated to direct. Just like the Fresh Prince, he was born and raised in West Philadelphia. But that guy is a huge movie star, and Hugh has an MFA in screenwriting from UCLA. So… call it a draw?

image044JOHN STRAUSS

John credits as a screenwriter include There's Something About Mary, Santa Clause II, Santa Clause III, starring Tim Allen and The Lizzie McGuire Movie starring Hillary Duff  and Freebirds, a computer animated feature, starring Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson.  Box office receipts of the aforementioned films total in excess of a billion dollars internationally. Additionally, with Free Birds partner David Stern, John is currently writing a computer animated feature, Renaissance, for Prana Studios. He also produced  You Again for Touchstone Pictures, starring Kristen Bell, Sigourney Weaver and Jamie Lee Curtis at Disney.  He's currently producing a feature film comedy, The Brag, for 5x5 Media.  On the television side, John executive produced, the Golden Globe winning series, Mozart in the Jungle for Amazon Prime and has also executive produced , In Plain Sight for USA Network, as well as The Client List, for Lifetime Network.  John is currently writing a television pilot, Over the Top, for the Freeform network, featuring several YouTube stars. He's also writing a pilot for truTV, called Playa del Sol, based on a Swedish format of the same name, and starring Rhys Darby.  He is also adapting There's Something About Mary as a Broadway musical.

image054MATTHEW THOMPSON

Matthew is a television writer whose credits include My Name is Earl and Raising Hope.  In addition to writing professionally, he's also worked as a script consultant, helping to improve dozens of pilots and spec scripts.  In his spare time he's an Emmy-nominated songwriter and a "Best Dad" nominated father.  He also often writes about himself in third person.

image053GAIA VIOLO

Gaia was born in Italy, moved to London as a teenager and graduated in Classics at an Ivy League University, UCL (University College, London). While in Europe, she worked on several Italian TV shows and British commercials. Gaia has attended USC for screenwriting and graduated from the UCLA MFA Screenwriting Program, where she won the UCLA Writers Showcase and was a recipient of the Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award.  After receiving the awards, two of her TV pilots were sold to Sony Television and Sony Crackle. She has taught a series of lectures at UCLA for the Professional Program in Producing and is currently an in-house writer in the Disney live action program. She is repped by CAA, Madhouse and Myman Greenspan. 

image049RICK WILLIAMS

After receiving his certificate from the UCLA Professional Program in Screenwriting (where he won the Professional Programs Screenplay Award), Rick went on to earn his MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA as well.  As a Masters student, Rick won several awards including the William J. and Lee Phillip Bell Fellowship in Television, the Jack Nicholson Prize in Screenwriting, and Honorable Mention in the UCLA MFA Showcase.  Rick began his career as a paid Story Analyst for such companies as ABC Television, Walt Disney Studios, Paramount Television, Out of the Blue Entertainment (Sony Pictures), Hopscotch Entertainment, and The Gersh Agency.  As a feature writer, Rick developed a sci-fi action script for Josephson Entertainment/Fox Studios.  As a TV writer, his credits include Star Trek:Voyager, Jessie, Kickin' It, and the animated shows Packages From Planet X, Marvel's Avengers Assemble, and American Dad! where he served as a staff writer.  Along with his writing partner, Rick recently served as a staff writer on the Nickelodeon show Bella and the Bulldogs. While working at Nickelodeon, Rick and his partner sold a pilot, which they are currently developing.  Rick's greatest love is writing and sharing his knowledge with students.  Just kidding -- it's bourbon and being sarcastic. 

DANIELLE WOLFF

Danielle credits include several series for Marvel Television, prime-time dramas for Fox, several web series, and Kyle XY Continuum, which received a nomination for an Interactive Media Programming Emmy. Her stage credits include Weightless, which has appeared at the Attic Theatre in Los Angeles and off-Broadway at the Producers Club in New York, as well as Eating Existentialism and Huntsville, a radio play broadcast on NPR. Her writing has also appeared in several publications, and her debut collection of short fiction, Mass Ave, was published.

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310.825.6124
professionalprograms@tft.ucla.edu