Jim Berk is the Chair of the Executive Board of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and the former CEO of PodcastOne/Courtside Entertainment, a leading producer and distributor of podcasts with more than 200 shows and 1.5 billion annual downloads.
Previously, Berk was the CEO of Participant Media, whose ethos is that a good story well told can truly make a difference in how one sees the world, whether it is a feature film, documentary or other form of media. Under Berk's tenure, Participant greenlit more than 55 films including The Kite Runner, Food, Inc., Fair Game, Waiting for ‘Superman,’ Page One, The Help, Contagion, Lincoln, Citizenfour, Beasts of No Nation, Bridge of Spies and Spotlight, the winner of the 2016 Academy Award for Best Picture.
Previously, Berk was chairman and CEO of Gryphon Colleges Corporation, where he was responsible for the formation, platform acquisition and establishment of a private company operating for-profit post education schools. Before Gryphon, he served as president and CEO and board director for Fairfield Communities, Inc., America’s largest independent vacation ownership and resort companies. Prior to Fairfield, Berk was president and CEO of Hard Rock Cafe International, a global entertainment and leisure company in which Hard Rock Cafe is the core business. During his tenure, he expanded to 104 cafes in 29 countries, led the creation of a music label, a critically acclaimed weekly music TV series, live music venues, hotels and the NBA City. Before joining Hard Rock, Berk was the founding executive of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences Foundation. Creating a non-profit, entertainment production company, he produced live concerts, festivals, television programs and records, and led the creation of national programming including Grammy Showcase, Grammy in the Schools, Grammy Festivals and Grammy Records.
Berk enjoyed similar success as the youngest principal in the history of the 725-school Los Angeles Unified School District, when he was appointed principal of the Alexander Hamilton High School Complex in 1990. Prior to his principalship, he founded the Hamilton Academy of Music in Los Angeles, creating the largest comprehensive performing arts magnet in the western United States. His first job upon graduation, at the age of 21, was as a public high school music teacher. There, he reopened the music department and built the program to one of the largest music programs in California.
Berk also serves on the Board of the USC Rossier School of Education and the Executive Committee of the Executive Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. He is a voting member of the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.