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USC School of Cinematic Arts Launches John Wells Division With Endowment

Variety logo Variety 3/3/2017 Dave McNary
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John Wells, best known for executive producing “The West Wing,” “ER” and “Shameless,” has endowed USC’s School of Cinematic Arts with a significant gift to name its Division of Writing for Screen & Television.

The division will be called the John Wells Division of Writing for Screen & Television. The gift was announced by the school’s dean, Elizabeth Daley. Wells is a 1982 graduate of the school’s Peter Stark Producing Program.

The dedication of the school took place Thursday and featured a conversation between Wells and “The West Wing” star Bradley Whitford. The division’s curriculum covers feature-length screenplays and television episodes in comedy and drama, web series and scripts for games and immersive media.

Wells is currently executive producer on the TNT drama series “Animal Kingdom” and on Showtime’s “Shameless.” He was executive producer on “Southland,” “Mildred Pierce” and “China Beach.” He’s also directed “Love and Mercy,” “August: Osage County” and “Company Men.” Wells has twice served as President of the Writers Guild of America West and received its Paddy Chayefsky award.

“I’ve been very fortunate in my career, a career that would not have been possible without the USC School of Cinematic Arts,” he said.  “It’s where I learned to write, where I learned to produce, where I learned how to direct.  My career would not have been possible without my time at USC and without the many wonderful professors who gave unselfishly of their time and expertise.”

The Writing Division’s alumni include Judd Apatow, Victoria Aveyard, Stephen Chbosky, David Goyer, Shonda Rhimes, Josh Schwartz, Amanda Silver, John Singleton and James Vanderbilt.

Separately, USC has announced that Will Ferrell will be its commencement speaker on May 12. Ferrell is a 1990 USC graduate.

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