Carol Burnett, Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick Honored by AFI

TCL Chinese Theatres, Hollywood

AFI Board of Directors Chair Robert A. Daly, AFI President & CEO Bob Gazzale, AFI President Emerita Jean Picker Firstenberg, AFI Founding Director George Stevens, Jr. and AFI Board of Trustees Chair Sir Howard Stringer. Photo credit: DemiGoddessChronicle.com
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6, June 2017

By: Christy Oldham

“It is in our works of art that we reveal ourselves, and to others, the inner vision which guides us as a nation.”

– President Lyndon B. Johnson

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125 Graduating Filmmakers from the 2017 AFI Conservatory.

The common thread between most people who have achieved great success is ironically failure. There really is no such thing as failure- just a temporary state of lull that one resides in who has not reached their intended goal. The brilliant actor/director Denzel Washington said it best: “Fall down eight times, get up nine.”

The American Film Institute (AFI) class of 2017 was reminded of this over and over again during their commencement ceremony at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.  The historic ceremony marked the 50th Anniversary of the Institute’s formation in 1967 with a bestowment of recognition to Honorary Degree recipients Carol Burnett, Marshall Herskovitz (AFI Class of 1975) and Edward Zwick (AFI Class of 1975).

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Edward Zwick, Marhall Herskovitz, Jean Picker Firstenberg, Carol Burnett, Kristin Chenoweth and George Stevens Jr. Photo credit: Clinton H. Wallace/DemiGoddessChronicle.com

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2017 Honorary Degree Recipient’s Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz. Photo credit: Clinton H. Wallace/DemiGoddessChronicle.com

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Honorary Degree Recipient Carol Burnett is congratulated by writer/director Christy Oldham. Photo credit: Clinton H. Wallace/DemiGoddessChronicle.com

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A Doctorate of Fine Arts honoris causa was given to Carol Burnett by special guest Kristin Chenoweth. Photo credit: Clinton H. Wallace/DemiGoddessChronicle.com

AFI began its commemoration of its golden milestone, which will unfold through 2019 — the 50th Anniversary of the Conservatory’s 1969 inaugural class. Activities and programs during that timeframe will continue AFI’s promise to educate today’s audiences and tomorrow’s artists.

“We have no clue where the entertainment business is going…if you want to make movies, television, a web series, vr series or a brain implant series…I wish I could tell you how to do it. The industry is changing so fast…so when there’s nothing else to bet on, bet on yourself” said Marshall Herskovitz to the class of 2017.

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Marshall Herskovitz delivers a poignant speech after receiving his Doctorates of Communication Arts honoris causa. Photo credit: Clinton H. Wallace/DemiGoddessChronicle.com

In celebration of the Anniversary, AFI Founding Director George Stevens, Jr., joined AFI President Emerita Jean Picker Firstenberg and current AFI President and CEO Bob Gazzale — bringing together all three presidents from AFI’s history. Joining them and the AFI Class of 2017 were Sir Howard Stringer, AFI Board of Trustees Chair, and Robert A. Daly, AFI Board of Directors Chair.

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Photo credit: Clinton H. Wallace/DemiGoddessChronicle.com

“Fifty years ago, Gregory Peck and I announced the creation of the American Film Institute, with high aspiration and great hopes,” said Stevens. “Its mission was to advance and elevate the art of film, and one central idea was to create a Center for Advanced Film Studies [known today as the AFI Conservatory], a bridge for young people from learning to make films to becoming professional filmmakers. You, the graduates of 2017, are a fulfillment of that dream.”

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Jean Picker Firstenberg and George Stevens, Jr. Photo credit: ClintonHWallace/DemiGoddessChronicle.com

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Jean Picker Firstenberg introduces Marshall Herskovitz. Photo credit: ClintonHWallace/DemiGoddessChronicle.com

“Knowing what you are good at and then doing it better than anyone else” was the advice from  German film director and screenwriter Jan Schutte who also added “put your trust in God which means trust in yourself.”

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Jan Schutte. Photo credit: ClintonHWallace/DemiGoddessChronicle.com

The Commencement honorees — including this year’s AFI Conservatory graduates, the world’s newest filmmakers — underscored the spirit of the Anniversary, as 2017 also marks the 50th birthday of THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW, and Herskovitz and Zwick are both prominent alumni of the Conservatory. A Doctorate of Fine Arts honoris causa was conferred upon Burnett by special guest Kristin Chenoweth, and Doctorates of Communication Arts honoris causa were conferred upon Herskovitz and Zwick by Firstenberg. 

Burnett began her comments with her trademark “Tarzan yell” and urged Fellows to “make great art,” while adding, “Nothing is impossible if you believe hard enough, and you work hard enough.”

Herskovitz and Zwick shared anecdotes from their longtime creative collaboration, which began at the AFI Conservatory, and which Herskovitz described as “an extraordinary partnership…and the longest living partnership in Hollywood today.”

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AFI Board of Directors Chair Robert A. Daly, AFI President & CEO Bob Gazzale, AFI President Emerita Jean Picker Firstenberg, AFI Founding Director George Stevens, Jr. and AFI Board of Trustees Chair Sir Howard Stringer. Photo credit: DemiGoddessChronicle.com

 

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christy oldham
About christy oldham
Christy Oldham is an acclaimed multi-hyphenate- a director, screenwriter, producer and actress. Her headlining credit includes the feature film "Barracuda" (Released in 2014 by Maverick Entertainment Group) which earned her critical filmmaker acclaim including 3 Best Picture awards at multiple U.S. film festivals. In 2012, she founded the film production company Demi Goddess Pictures and its subsidiary media arm Demi Goddess Chronicle- with both companies creating content that champions woman empowerment. She is also a published author and entrepreneur. In 2006, she opened the Los Angeles pet care business Healthy Dogs Pet Sitting Service- a company that provides a number of services to some of Hollywood’s biggest names. She penned and self-published the book "Christy Oldham’s Manual to a Happy & Healthy Dog" and donates on-going proceeds from book sales to various animal rights groups and charity’s. Additionally, she is the author of the fictional literary foray "Finley & The Emerald Volcano: The Search for the Missing Cauldron" (volume one in a series) that she also self-published and adapted into screenplay. "Finley" is currently in development as a movie. In 2016, she directed 3 episodes of "Vape Warz", a post-apocalyptic web series (season one) that she also wrote and produced, and that has guest appearances by pop icons Ron Jeremy and Jeff "The Dude" Dowd aka The Big Lebowski. "Vape Warz" is now streaming in Japan, Germany, UK and USA on AMAZON Video Direct with season two in development. Christy lives in Los Angeles.

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