Director Joseph Sargent to be first-ever distinguished filmmaker-in-residence at Pepperdine

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Joseph Sargent

The noted film director and longtime Malibu resident will play an active role in the university’s film and arts program.

Pepperdine University’s Center for Entertainment, Media and Culture announced Tuesday that it has appointed four-time Emmy Award-winning Director Joseph Sargent to be its first-ever Distinguished Filmmaker-in-Residence. He will be responsible for mentoring Pepperdine’s advanced students on their thesis projects, judging film festivals, music and other cultural events sponsored by the center, and assisting with the center’s overall artistic and cultural direction.

Among Sargent’s first duties at Pepperdine was serving as a distinguished juror at the school’s REELSTORIES FilmFest 2011, which featured award-winning Pepperdine student films and screenings of major documentaries such as “Wasteland” and “Exit Through The Gift Shop.” He also will be serving as a juror for the school’s “SongFest 2011” in March and joining in a question-and-answer session following a Feb. 3 screening of his Emmy-winning film, “Something the Lord Made,” on Pepperdine’s Malibu campus.

Sargent, director of the classic film thriller, “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three,” commented on his new position and the opportunities it affords: “Pepperdine is at an exciting crossroads in the development of state-of-the-art media and filmmaking potential. At the core of that potential is the ‘big picture’: the coming together of a vital, dedicated faculty … blending their talents in a full expression of what we really mean when we say, ‘Making a film is a collaborative art.’”

Craig Detweiler, director of the center and Associate Professor of Communication at Pepperdine’s Seaver College, also expressed his pleasure at the announcement.

“We are extremely honored and proud to have Joe become part of our growing and dynamic entertainment community here on campus,” Detweiler said. “Joe is one of Hollywood’s legendary directors, a man who directed some of television’s most seminal series in the 1950s and ‘60s, who in the 1970s mastered both television movies and feature films, and in the years since has amassed an incredible body of work in entertainment, garnering multiple Directors Guild of America and Emmy awards.”

Sargent’s expertise will be tapped in crafting a new MFA degree in Media Production to complement Pepperdine’s MFA in Screenwriting. He will also draw upon his roots onstage to advise Pepperdine’s theater majors.

Sargent, who most recently served as Senior Filmmaker-in-Residence for the directing program at the American Film Institute, began his career as an actor studying at the legendary Actors Studio in New York City. After gaining experience directing episodes of seminal TV series such as “Gunsmoke,” “Bonanza,” “Lassie,” “The Fugitive,” and “Star Trek,” he won his first Emmy directing the pilot episode of “Kojak, The Marcus-Nelson Murders.”

After directing his first feature film, “Colossus: The Forbin Project,” in 1969, Sargent directed the controversial political drama, “The Man,” starring James Earl Jones. He then turned his attention to television movies, directing a variety of made-for-TV films including the critically praised “Tribes,” starring Darren McGavin and Jan-Michael Vincent.

Afterward, he crossed over into feature films, directing the original “Taking of Pelham One Two Three,” starring Walter Matthau and Robert Show, and “MacArthur,” starring Gregory Peck. In 1987, he directed “Jaws: the Revenge,” the third sequel to Steven Spielberg’s 1975 classic.

Altogether, Sargent has been nominated for nine Emmys, winning the Outstanding Directing Award four times. Two of his recent projects won the Emmy as Outstanding Made for Television Movie, HBO’s “Something the Lord Made” and “Warm Springs.” The former, which starred Alan Rickman and Mos Def as pioneering heart surgeons, also won several awards.

Sargent’s “Something the Lord Made” will screen Feb. 3, 6 p.m. at the university’s Elkins Auditorium. The screening will be followed by a conversation Sargent.

This HBO film about pioneering heart surgeons won the 2004 Emmy Award, the Peabody Award, the NAACP Image Award and the Director’s Guild Award for outstanding movie made for television. This screening is co-sponsored by the Office of InterCultural Affairs as part of African American History month at Pepperdine.