UCLA's TFT, USC jointly host 'Transforming Hollywood' symposium on future of TV

Los Angeles, California - The UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism and School of Cinematic Arts will host their fifth annual "Transforming Hollywood" symposium on Friday, April 4, at UCLA's James Bridges Theater.

The event is presented by the Andrew J. Kuehn Jr. Foundation, with entertainment news outlet Variety serving as a media sponsor.

"Transforming Hollywood: The Future of Television" is the latest installment of the symposium, which was launched by Denise Mann, a UCLA TFT professor, and Henry Jenkins, USC's Provost Professor of Communication, Journalism and Cinematic Arts, in 2010. The annual conference has been renamed — from "Transmedia, Hollywood" to "Transforming Hollywood" — to engage more fully with the radical changes taking place in the American television industry for creators, distributors and audiences.

The symposium brings together key creative and corporate decision-makers who are shaping the industry, along with academics who are placing these shifts into larger historical and cultural contexts.

This year, conference panelists will include:

Joe Lewis: Head of original comedy programming at Amazon Studios

Vicky L. Free: Chief marketing officer at BET Networks

George Strompolos: CEO of Fullscreen

Ivan Askwith: Lead strategist for the "Veronica Mars" Kickstarter campaign

Allen DeBevoise: founder of Machinima

Belisa Balaban: Senior vice president for alternative and live programming at Pivot

In addition, the event will feature Internet content creators of the Emmy Award–winning series "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries," the comedy web series "The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl" and "Little Horribles," and many others.

Andrew Wallenstein, editor-in-chief of digital at Variety, will moderate "The Programmers of the Future in an Era of Cord-Cutters and Cord-Nevers" panel, with scholars from UCLA, USC and Northwestern University moderating the remaining three panels.

"Transforming Hollywood" panelists will focus on creators and programmers reinventing TV for the digital future, the reimagination of television consumption, and indie television where creators and fans pilot new shows.

The panelists will delve into what it means to consume television content in this connected-and-yet-dispersed marketplace, helping audience members to define what it means for those making or watching television in the 2010s.

"The future of television is already here … and it is being streamed online by a new generation of cord-cutters and cord-nevers who are eager to binge and engage with entertainment on their own terms and according to their own schedules," UCLA's Mann said. "New approaches to creating, programming and consuming television abound. Thousands of amateur YouTubers are 'going pro,' some by forging strategic alliances with multi-channel networks such as Fullscreen, Maker Studios and Machinima. Notably, more and more of the big media companies are investing in these innovative talent incubators, seen most recently in Disney's talk of acquiring Maker."

"When the history of American television gets written," USC's Jenkins said, "these past 18 months will be seen as a key tipping point, whether our focus is on how television is funded (Kickstarter and "Veronica Mars"), produced (the creative innovations of web-based series), distributed (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, YouTube and X-Box emerge as major players) or consumed (the increasingly central role Twitter plays in shaping our collective responses). People who come to this conference will have front-line access to people who are helping to reshape what television will mean in the 21st century."

For more information on "Transforming Hollywood: The Future of Television," please visit the symposium website. Tickets can be purchased online through Eventbrite.

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