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New Scholarship to Honor Bright ’76, Help Students Experience ELA

Emerson College students with limited means who want to study and intern in Los Angeles will get a financial boost thanks to the Kevin Bright Scholarship Fund, a new $10,000 annual fund set up to honor ELA’s founding director.

Bright ’76, executive producer of the award-winning sitcom Friends, stepped down earlier this year as vice president of Emerson Los Angeles but remains involved in the residential study and internship program.

The fund is made possible in part through the generous support of Emerson Trustee Steve Samuels, a longtime friend. “Emerson’s Board of Trustees is deeply appreciative of Kevin’s devotion to Emerson students as a teacher, a benefactor, and Trustee,” Samuels said. “He has been unwavering in his dedication to creating the very best experience for the hundreds of students that participate in the Los Angeles Program each year.”

The scholarship, a surprise for Bright, was announced at ELA’s 16th Annual Film & Media Festival on October 22.

“Since my return to Emerson, the students have been my driving force of inspiration and investment in the College,” Bright said. “Therefore, no honor could please me more than this ELA scholarship fund in my name. I want to thank [President] Lee Pelton, Steve Samuels, and the entire Emerson community.”

Bright has been generous to Emerson with his time, money, and expertise.

In 2010, Bright established the Bright Family Screening Room in honor of his family, including his late father, vaudeville star and television personality Jackie Bright. Located in Boston, within the Paramount Center film, theater, academic, and residential complex, the Bright offers free film screenings and discussions with filmmakers through the Bright Lights Film Series. At ELA, Bright established the Bright Family Screening Room West.

Bright expanded programming at ELA to offer workshops and events for alumni and the greater Los Angeles community. He established a commitment for Emerson students to take part in at least two community service days per semester, which have included the AIDS Walk LA and an annual project with the LA Food Bank.

Bright has taught a course in Producing Pilots for Television at Emerson, which explored variety, sitcom, and reality TV formats. He has also long been the faculty advisor for Emerson’s annual EVVY Awards, modeled after professional TV awards shows. Outside of Emerson, Bright volunteers at Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts, where he developed a method of teaching film production to students who are visually impaired.

“Kevin has shown a remarkable commitment to ensuring academic excellence and civic engagement opportunities for Emerson students, as a faculty member on the Boston campus for many years, and as founding director of the College’s permanent facility, ELA, located in Hollywood,” said Pelton. “This newly established scholarship in his name is a perfect way to honor his leadership and his ongoing mentorship of our students.”

Bright directed more than 50 episodes of NBC’s Friends, including every season finale. The series won a 2002 Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series and won the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Comedy Series for 10 consecutive years.

At the start of his career, Bright produced a number of TV specials for Johnny Cash and David Copperfield. In the mid-1980s, 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 won his first Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series as a supervising producer on Fox’s In Living Color. He received an ACE Award for Best Comedy Series as executive producer of Dream On in 1992.

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