Emerson College announced today that Emmy Award-winning Executive Producer of the hit television series Friends, Kevin Bright, will be the Senior Executive Director and Founding Director for its new Los Angeles Center, currently under construction on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood and slated to open in January 2014. Bright will step down from the Emerson Board of Trustees, of which he has been a member of since 2003.
“Launching this ambitious endeavor in Los Angeles will be no small task,” said Emerson President Lee Pelton. “Success will take creativity, collaboration, countless conversations with leaders in the community, the industry, and the academy. It will also take boundless energy. In Kevin, we’ve found all of those qualities, and I am very much looking forward to working with him and his team on this new endeavor.”
“Emerson is already influential and well-known in Los Angeles,” said Bright, an alumnus who teaches television courses at Emerson. “The College’s ability to make positive contributions to the industry, to the Hollywood community, and to the city of L.A. will now be limited only by our imaginations. I greatly look forward to helping turn these dreams into reality.”
Bright’s appointment marks the first step toward building a Los Angeles Center executive team that will work with the Emerson community, especially the Boston-based faculty, to create dynamic new programs that will take full advantage of the many opportunities that Emerson’s expanded presence in L.A. will provide. The team will include the current L.A. Program Executive Director Jim Lane, a Founding Academic Dean, a Director of L.A. Graduate and Professional Studies, and several other key professionals. The search for the Founding Academic Dean will be the College’s priority in the weeks and months ahead.
In his new role, Bright will seek to form partnerships with industry leaders to develop programmatic ideas and mentorship opportunities. He will also engage Emerson’s academic leadership in cultivating the L.A.-based courses that have already been proposed and help develop new ideas based on his knowledge of the entertainment industry. He will work in partnership with the Office of Development and Alumni Relations to energize Emerson’s influential and vibrant alumni network, which includes more than 3,500 individuals in Southern California, to benefit the Center, current students, and one another. Finally, Bright will play a critical role in producing the Center’s 2014 opening.
Emerson’s new Los Angeles Center will significantly expand the College’s current program of professional internships at television and film studios, music companies, media outlets, marketing agencies, and related enterprises. The internship program, now in its 27th year, enrolls 100-110 students, mostly seniors, per semester. More than 4,300 students have participated in the L.A. Program, gaining knowledge, skills, and confidence to pursue their chosen crafts before launching their post-graduate lives and careers.
The Los Angeles Center will enhance and expand the internship program by creating a permanent home for Emerson College in Los Angeles—building on the College’s commitment to teaching excellence, innovation, interdisciplinary, and project-based, experiential learning. Emerson will be able to expand its programmatic offerings substantially. For example, new programs will be created to attract graduate students, mid-career professionals, and industry executives from around the world.
Bright graduated from Emerson College in 1976 and received an honorary degree in 2011. He has served on Emerson’s Board of Trustees and on the L.A. Advisory Group. In 2006, he was named executive artist-in-residence; in this role, he has taught a variety of courses on television production.
In addition to his teaching, Bright has been a faculty advisor to the EVVY Awards for the last eight years. Modeled after professional shows such as the Emmy Awards and Academy Awards, the EVVYs have become the largest student-produced, multi-camera, live event in the nation. The EVVY Awards recently gained national recognition when it was honored at the 2013 College Television Awards. It has also received a first place award at the National Association of College Broadcasters awards and two Telly Awards. The 32nd Annual EVVY Awards will take place on Friday, May 10 in the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston and are already sold out.
At Emerson, Kevin created and led a highly successful program that introduced Boston public school students to television and film production, fields that they would most likely never have considered without his involvement. He taught them the fundamentals of television production, from operating audio and video equipment to writing, producing, and directing. The goal of the program was to begin to build a pipeline through which a more diverse student population would begin to consider careers in television and film production. Many of the students came from economically disadvantaged families that did not have cameras.
Bright has been a generous benefactor to Emerson, including establishing the Bright Family Screening Room in the College’s Paramount Center. Bright also volunteers at Perkins School for the Blind, where he has developed a method of teaching film production to students who are visually impaired.
Early in his career, he produced the Cable ACE Award-winning series The History of White People in America, as well as HBO specials starring Robin Williams, Harry Shearer, and Paul Shaffer. In 1989, he received his first Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series as supervising producer on Fox’s In Living Color. In 1992, Bright won a Cable ACE Award for Best Comedy Series as executive producer of Dream On.
Bright is one of the original executive producers behind the hit NBC series Friends (1994–2004), for which, in addition to his work as producer, he directed more than 50 episodes, including the season finale each year. Friends received the 2002 Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series as well as winning the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Comedy Series for 10 consecutive years.