Dee Caruso 1928-2012

Legendary Comedy writer was respected TFT Screenwriting Professor

Posted on May 30th 2012 in Obituary

TFT screenwriting professor Dee Caruso died Sunday, May 27, 2012 of pneumonia at his home in Brentwood, California. He was 83.
Caruso started his career writing for nightclub comedians such as Don Adams and Martin & Rossi. He and his writing partner, Gerald Gardner, went on to write shows for comedians Jack Benny, Jerry Lewis, Don Adams, Don Rickles, Debbie Reynolds, Robin Williams, Bill Cosby and The Smothers Brothers.
Caruso and Gardner were the head writers for the original TV series “Get Smart,” created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry. They also penned an unusual game show, “Screen Test,” which starred their “Get Smart” leading man, Don Adams.

The pair created the TV series “The Monkees” and were the show’s head-writers and producers. They wrote for “The Red Skelton Hour” and co-produced and co-wrote the teleplay for a sitcom pilot called “The Pickle Brothers.” The story was typical of any 1930’s Marx Brothers film and starred the comedy group “The Uncalled for Three.”

Caruso and Gardner wrote feature films, as well, including “The World’s Greatest Athlete,” for Disney, and “Which Way To The Front” and “Doin’ Time,” for Warner Brothers. Their “Gilligan’s Island” episode with Phil Silvers and two of their “Get Smart” episodes were picked as among the top fifty sitcoms.
They also teamed up for several TV movies, including “How to Break Up a Happy Divorce,” which they wrote and produced, starring Barbara Eden, and “Break Up,” with Bernadette Peters and Bruce Davison.

Caruso was nominated for a prime time Emmy for “That Was The Week That Was” with David Frost. For ten years he co-taught a class with his wife, Sandra, called ‘What’s Funny, What’s Not,” at UCLA Extension. After that he served for20 years as a Professor of Screenwriting at TFT.
Caruso is survived by his wife of 47 years, Sandra Caruso, and his four-legged friends, Pinochle and Shadow.

Services will be held Sunday, June 3rd @ 3:00 pm at Pierce Brothers Westwood Memorial Park, 1218 Glendon Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90024.


Jamaa Fanaka – 1942-2012

Writer-director of hit “Penitentiary” was a key figure of the 1970s’ “LA Rebellion” movement at TFT

Posted on April 9th 2012 in Obituary

TFT alumnus Jamaa Fanaka ’73, MFA ’79, the writer-director of the hit “Penitentiary” series who was a key figure of the LA Rebellion movement at the School in the 1970s, passed away on Sunday, April 6, in his South Los Angeles apartment. He was 69.

According to the “Los Angeles Times, ” Fanaka “later made headlines with his legal battles alleging widespread discrimination against women and ethnic minorities in the film and television industry:”

The Mississippi-born Fanaka was still enrolled in the UCLA film school when he wrote, produced and directed his first three feature films, financed with competitive academic grants and funds from his parents: “Welcome Home, Brother Charles” (1975), “Emma Mae” (1976) and “Penitentiary,” which was both a critical and box-office success.

In his review of “Penitentiary,” The Times’ Kevin Thomas wrote that Fanaka “has taken one of the movies’ classic myths, the wrongly imprisoned man who fights for his freedom with boxing gloves, and made it a fresh and exciting experience.”

“What ‘Penitentiary’ says,” Fanaka told The Times in 1980, “is that no matter what kind of situation one is confronted with, within each of us is the wherewithal to triumph.”

Three of Fanaka’s films were screened late last year in “L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema,” a UCLA Film & Television Archive film series featuring movies by African American and African former students who attended the UCLA film school in the 1970s and early ’80s.

Horak, who was one of the curators of the film series, said Fanaka’s films are “extremely interesting because they navigate a path between basically Hollywood-style filmmaking and independent filmmaking — very low budget, but at the same time very close to the community. He used amateur actors in secondary roles and shot in the community, and the stories came out of that community.”

In a tribute to Fanaka published on the UCLA Film & Television Archive website, Horak writes:

I like to think of Jamaa as the trickster of the L.A. Rebellion group. He came from a middle class family, but liked to affect a streetwise, homie attitude, throwing out double entendres and clever quips, like some rapper on the run. Jamaa loved to live and think large, even when economic circumstances had reduced him to modest means. Yes, he loved to be the center of attention, yes, his stories would sometime go on too long, but he could weave a tale that kept you at the edge of your seat, even when you were afraid he was getting perilously close to bad taste or a faux pas, then at the last moment he would pull back to what was his original, often brilliant point.

He was also anything but a trickster in terms of his personal relations. I don’t think there would have been anything he wouldn’t do for you if he could. He also never spoke badly of anyone, always looking with humor for what was good in a person, always supporting his colleagues, because, he said, there was room at the top for all of them.

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Teshome Gabriel 1939-2010

Beloved scholar and teacher mentored a generation of academic activists

Teshome Gabriel

Sadness swept the TFT community on Tuesday at the news of the sudden passing of one of the School's most respected and personally beloved professors, Teshome H. Gabriel, MA '76, PhD '79. Gabriel was rushed to Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Panorama City early in the morning of June 15. Cause of death is listed as sudden cardiac arrest. He is survived by his wife, Maaza Woldemusie, and their two adult children, daughter Mediget and son Tsegaye.

A pioneering scholar and activist, Gabriel was an internationally recognized authority on Third World and Post-Colonial cinema. He had taught Cinema & Media Studies at TFT since 1974, and was closely associated with the UCLA African Studies Center.

“He was a brilliant, gracious, elegant and generous man,” said Teri Schwartz, dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. “Teshome was a consummate professional and a truly beloved faculty member at TFT. He will be greatly missed by all of us. We send our love and condolences to Teshome’s beautiful family at this difficult time.”

Gabriel's colleagues recalled his warmth and generosity. In stunned e-mails responding to the news of his death, the words "gracious," "elegant," "stately" and "playful" were used frequently. One friend referred to him as "a true gentleman," while another recalled his "gracious and gladdening presence."

“In my entire career,” said professor Steve Ricci, “I never knew anyone as genuinely engaged as Teshome. He defined what it means to genuinely care about students and colleagues.”

Memorial Fund

A UCLA Foundation memorial fund has been established in honor of Professor Gabriel. The fund will support a graduate student or students in the Cinema and Media Studies program.

Donations can be sent:

Attention – Patricia Biggi

Development Office – UCLA School of Theater Film and Television (TFT)

Box 951622

Los Angeles, CA 90095-1622

Please make checks payable to “UCLA Foundation” and on the memo line please write “In memory of Professor Teshome Gabriel.” If you wish to contribute by credit card, please call Bonnie MacDougall at 310-206-6154. A special tribute to Professor Gabriel will be held this fall, as faculty and students return for the beginning of the new semester.

Teshome Biography

Born in Ticho, near Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, in 1939, Gabriel came to the U.S. in 1962, earning degrees in Political Science (1967) and Educational Media (1969) from the University of Utah. Hired as a Lecturer at TFT in 1974, Gabriel also studied here, earning his MA and PhD degrees. He became a full professor in 1995 and served as vice-chair of the Department from 1997 to 1999.

Gabriel's books include “Otherness and the Media: The Ethnography of the Imagined and the Imaged” and “Third Cinema in the Third World: The Aesthetic of Liberation." He also published many articles and was the founding director of several journals, including “Emergencies” and “Ethiopian Fine Arts Journal.”

“Teshome’s work had three main themes,” says Professor Nicholas K. Browne, vice-chair of the Department of Film, Television and Digital Media. “The unique styles of films made in the non-aligned nations of Latin America and Africa (the ‘Third World’); the issues of relating and representing ‘the Other’ (that is, people not like us); and the unique situation of filmmakers and scholars who have left the countries of their birth and occupy and reflect on their marginal, in-between place in the world — a more and more common situation in a global world of the 20th and 21st centuries.”

Gabriel’s influential 1990 essay "Nomadic Aesthetic and the Black Independent Cinema" received an Opus Award from the Village Voice for “charting out a genuinely new theory of black cinema.” The term "nomadic aesthetic," which he coined, has come to be widely used in critical discussions of the art, music and literature of the Third World.

“The principal characteristic of Third Cinema," Gabriel wrote, "is not so much where it is made, or even who makes it, but rather, the ideology it espouses. The Third Cinema is that cinema of the Third World which stands opposed to imperialism and class oppression in all their ramifications and manifestations.”

At the time of his death Gabriel was in the process of expanding that seminal essay into a book for Blackwell Publishing, "Third Cinema: Exploration of Nomadic Aesthetics & Narrative Communities." A manuscript for a "foundational work" on African cinema was also in progress.

As a faculty member and student at TFT in the 1970s and early 1980s, Gabriel was both a colleague of and a mentor to the African American and African student filmmakers whose work came to define the Los Angeles School of Black Filmmakers, also known as the L.A. Rebellion. The group included such soon-to-be-celebrated artists as Charles Burnett, Larry Clark, Julie Dash, Haile Gerima, Ben Caldwell, Billy Woodberry, Alile Sharon Larkin, Jacqueline Frazier, Jamaa Fanaka and Barbara McCullough. The UCLA Film & Television Archive is currently preparing a major film exhibition scheduled for 2011 that will explore this key artistic movement.

Related Links

Los Angeles Times on Teshome Gabriel

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Mark Ferber, Hollywood Bowl production supervisor

Familiar figure on stage and by voice-over at concerts was 60

Mark Ferber

The Los Angeles Times reported in March that TFT alumnus Mark Ferber ’72, who worked at the Hollywood Bowl for 45 years, had passed away.

Ferber, who was the Bowl’s longtime production supervisor and special events manager, died March 14 in Los Angeles of injuries sustained in a fall, the Los Angeles Philharmonic announced. He was 60.

“Every night, without fail, Ferber conjured up the backstage magic that made the Bowl legendary,” the Philharmonic said in a statement.

“Ferber thrilled in the excitement of the stage, calling the show from the wings and donning a tuxedo to personally hand flowers to legends like Judy Garland and Pavarotti.”

In 1985, The Times called Ferber one of “the Bowl’s unsung heroes” for his role in making sure performances were trouble-free.

“I’m a detail man,” Ferber said at the time. “I run around backstage and make sure everything goes correctly.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree in theater from UCLA in 1972, he worked for the Seattle Opera in 1974 but “turned south almost immediately to be reunited with his beloved Bowl,” the Philharmonic said.

As production supervisor, Ferber would spend one day each season as an usher, “just to see what it was like.”




Larry Warren '54, author and choreographer

Co-founded and directed acclaimed Maryland Dance Theater


Larry Warren '54, dance biographer, choreographer, teacher and director, passed away on Dec. 9, 2009. He was the author of two books, “Lester Horton: Modern Dance Pioneer” and “Anna Sokolow: The Rebellious Spirit.” For the latter he received the 1991-92 De la Torre Bueno special citation awarded by Dance Perspectives.

Born in Brooklyn, Warren moved to North Hollywood with his family in 1948. He began his dance training in Los Angeles at the Ruth St. Denis Studio, with Denishawn-trained dancer Karoun Tootikian, and performed with the Concert Dance Group of the Ruth St. Denis Studio. Evening-long chats with St. Denis in the tiny patio behind her California studio triggered his interest in dance history and research.

Warren received his undergraduate degree in Theater Arts from UCLA, where his love of dance theater was furthered by his success in his senior year in the lead role in the dance drama performance of John Steinbeck's “The Pearl.”

After graduating from UCLA in 1954, he produced several concerts featuring his own choreography, and served as president of the Board of Directors of the Southern California Dance Alliance. During that time he danced with the Guild Opera and the San Francisco Opera Company.

He returned to UCLA for graduate work in dance at the School of Arts and Architecture, where he completed his Master's thesis on Lester Horton, and, with encouragement from Professor John Martin, began to work on a biography of Horton.

Warren joined the faculty at the University of Maryland in 1971, where from 1972 to 1988 he co-founded, and directed, Maryland Dance Theater, a critically acclaimed repertory company in residence at the University of Maryland at College Park. His own choreography for the company earned him praise for his wit, imagination and ability to create dramatic structures, characters and atmosphere.

Upon his retirement in 1995, Warren became Professor Emeritus of Dance at the University of Maryland in College Park. He is remembered by students, friends and family as a man of much passion, warmth, generosity and insight, one who took great delight in adventure.

His wife and partner of 36 years, Anne Warren, is associate chair of the Dance Department at the University of Maryland.




Hugh Grauel 1918-2009

Alumnus, professor and UCLA Producers Program co-founder was 91

Hugh Grauel

Hugh Grauel MA ’66, who taught in the department from 1966 to 1987, and with John Cauble founded the joint Producers Program in theater and film, died in September in Pasadena.

Grauel was responsible for bringing industry luminaries such as Peter Guber and Robert Silberling into the School. A warm, personable teacher, he was loved and respected by both students and colleagues.

“He was a warm and inspiring teacher, said Sheila Roberts ’76, MA ’85, MFA ’89. "His encouragement and support meant so much to all of us who were lucky enough to be part of the Producers Program during the early years when he was at the helm."

"I'm terribly sorry to learn of Hugh's passing," said Professor Richard Walter. "We were colleagues for a decade, and I found him to be a generous friend and affirmative influence in the School."

Hugh Grauel MA ’66, who taught in the department from 1966 to 1987, and with John Cauble founded the joint Producers Program in theater and film, died in September in Pasadena. Grauel was responsible for bringing industry luminaries such as Peter Guber and Robert Silberling into the School. A warm, personable teacher, he was loved and respected by both students and colleagues.

“He was a warm and inspiring teacher, said Sheila Roberts ’76, MA ’85, MFA ’89. "His encouragement and support meant so much to all of us who were lucky enough to be part of the Producers Program during the early years when he was at the helm."

"I'm terribly sorry to learn of Hugh's passing," said Professor Richard Walter. "We were colleagues for a decade, and I found him to be a generous friend and affirmative influence in the School."


Army Archerd: 1922 – 2009

TFT Alumnus was the last great old school Hollywood reporter


Longtime “Daily Variety” columnist and ULCA alumnus Army Archerd ’41, known to millions worldwide as the host for 47 years of the Oscar arrival pre-show, died at his home in Westwood on Tuesday, September 8, at the age of 87.

During the 2000 commencement ceremony, Archerd received the inaugural Alumni Achievement Award from the School. In 2004, many prominent individuals in the entertainment community contributed money to the School to establish a scholarship in honor of Archerd. He was known as a gracious and meticulous reporter.

Even the normally acerbic blogger Nikki Finke sang his praises, calling Archerd one of the last true gentleman journalists working in Hollywood, and one of the most accurate.”

Fittingly, the most extensive obituary was published in “Variety,” the trade publication that carried Archer’s “Just for Variety” columm from 1953 to 2005.

“Variety” editor Timothy Gray wrote the tribute:

“Mixing one-sentence items with lengthier pieces, Archerd insisted on exclusives and provided a community bulletin board, detailing new deals, reporting from film sets and awards shows, and chronicling the births, deaths and hospitalizations of showbiz denizens.”

“He was known for being fair, quoting people accurately and being generally upbeat — which, in the latter part of the 20th century, became increasingly rare for an entertainment reporter.”

“‘It’s almost the end of an era of civilized journalism in that everything is very ‘gotcha’ these days. He broke the story about Rock Hudson having AIDS but he did it in a very compassionate way. He was a very honorable guy with a strong sense of right and wrong,’ said producer-director [and founding TFT dean] Gil Cates.”

“Even after five decades on the job, [Archerd] was a bulldog about the business, phoning the office from his cell phone to report tips and to ensure Daily Variety would get the scoop. After 50 years, he still got angry when other columnists lifted his items without attribution. After nearly 40 years of working with a manual typewriter, he had to switch to computers. While some Daily Variety veterans balked at the switch, he worked hard to master the new system, though he was regularly flummoxed by frozen computers and despaired when his work was lost.”

“Archerd was proud of the fact that he never used ‘leg men,’ writing the column himself from his small office at Variety, using four phone lines.”

“Even normally press-shy celebs like Marlon Brando spoke with him. In April 2002, to commemorate the start of his 50th year at the paper, Daily Variety printed a special salute to Archerd. In a flood of photos, the columnist seemed like the fictional ‘Zelig,’ appearing in shots with a who’s who of Hollywood and spanning the era of Judy Garland and William Holden, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton to Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.”


Christopher Catt – 1950-2009

Theater alum energized the performing arts scene on Staten Island


Theater alumnus Christopher Catt MFA ’75, a mainstay of the performing arts scene in the Staten Island area of New York, passed away on Wednesday, July 1, at the age of 59.

Catt, a California native, joined the faculty at Wagner College in Staten Island in 1995. As a professor in the college’s nationally recognized drama department he taught movement, directing and film, and prepared students for showcase performances. Over his career, he directed 175 productions of plays and musicals. Catt also worked professionally in New York City for 25 years, with many credits on and off-Broadway.

The website Staten Island Live reported that
“…during his Wagner tenure, [Catt] served as Department chair for six years and directed more than 20 main stage productions, including “Jekyll and Hyde,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Sweeney Todd” and “Tommy,” which he was slated to revive this fall.

“The doors of Wagner College’s Stage One theater were opened last Wednesday as news of Catt’s passing spread via phone calls and Facebook messages. About 70 people stopped in throughout the evening to console each other and reminisce about the high-energy creative force and champion of the underdog who was gone too soon.”

“‘This is a tragedy for the Staten Island performing arts community,’ said Wayne Miller, artistic director for the Staten Island Shakespearean Theatre whom Catt directed in 2006 as Nicely Nicely in ‘Guys and Dolls.’ ‘Everybody who knew Chris and worked with Chris had incredible respect for his abilities and talent.'”


Matthew J. Reichl – 1975-2009


Posted on Jul 1st, 2009 in Obituary

Screenwriting alumnus Matthew J. Reichl MFA ’00 passed away on May 3, 2009 in Philadelphia, a result of multiple surgeries for a brain tumor. He was 44.

Reichl graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, with bachelors degrees in both psychology and film. At Michigan, he was awarded the Hopwood Senior Drama writing award and produced a short film which won the University of Michigan Film Festival.

After earning his MFA, Reichl spent a decade in Los Angeles writing and developing screenplays for feature films. In recent years he was employed by the Princeton Review, where he taught and tutored for the Scholastic Aptitude Test.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the American Brain Tumor Association, 2720 River Road, Des Plaines, IL 60018.