AFI Board of Trustees Unanimously Select Bob Gazzale as New President and CEO

Jun 26, 2007, 01:00 ET from American Film Institute

    LOS ANGELES, June 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Sir Howard Stringer, Chairman of
 the American Film Institute (AFI) Board of Trustees, today announced the
 unanimous selection of Bob Gazzale as new AFI President and CEO.
     Gazzale, a film historian and multiple Emmy-nominated television
 producer and writer, has been a senior executive at AFI for 15 years. He
 will succeed Jean Picker Firstenberg, who announced she would retire at the
 end of AFI's 40th Anniversary celebration this fall. Gazzale will assume
 the office on November 1, 2007, becoming the third person to lead AFI since
 President Lyndon B. Johnson announced the institute's creation in the White
 House Rose Garden.
     "After considering a diverse and impressive group of candidates, AFI's
 Board agreed by that Bob Gazzale's passion for American film and the
 character and quality with which he upholds the standards of AFI will lead
 us proudly into the 21st Century," said Stringer. "Or as we say in the
 movies, we searched for brain, heart and courage, and found it all in our
 own backyard."
     Gazzale, 42, will have oversight and responsibility for all aspects of
 the nation's leading film education and cultural organization, including
 AFI's world-renowned Conservatory, award-winning television productions,
 visionary on-line and digital programs, which comprise the AFI Digital
 Content Lab and K-12 Screen Education Center, as well as AFI's expansive
 film festivals and exhibition programs, and the AFI Silver Theatre and
 Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. Gazzale joined AFI in 1992 and
 for the past eight years has served as Director of AFI Productions. He has
 produced and written the past seven AFI Life Achievement Awards. He also
 helped conceive AFI's 100 Years... series on CBS -- an annual three-hour
 television event honoring the centennial of American film, the past seven
 of which he has produced and written.
     "The vote of the AFI Board of Trustees is an immeasurable honor," said
 Gazzale. "My commitment is to make them proud, and in doing so, to lead
 this great American institution into the future with the continued
 reverence and respect due our nation's storytellers. With the dynamic
 changes in the world of the moving image, now more than ever we need an
 American Film Institute to train the next generation and honor the very
 best the art form has to offer."
     The search committee was comprised of AFI Board Chairs and Vice Chairs
 including Stringer, Jon Avnet, John F. Cooke, Mark Canton, Bob Daly, Rich
 Frank, Tom Pollock and John DiBiaggio. Neil Fink of Gunderson & Associates
 served as search consultant.
     "The single largest responsibility of the AFI Board is to select the
 president and CEO," said Bob Daly, former Warner Bros. Co-Chairman and
 current Chairman of Save The Children. "We took great care in determining
 the kind of person we wanted, and we canvassed the field extensively. I
 have every confidence Bob Gazzale will continue AFI's proud tradition and
 enjoy a long and strong tenure at the helm of AFI."
     The Board also announced it had named Firstenberg, President-Emeritus
 and a Lifetime Trustee.
     "Bob Gazzale is a young man with great knowledge and respect for film
 and television history," said Firstenberg. "He also has the vision and the
 passion to take AFI to the next level. He is a brilliant choice, and I look
 forward to cheering his successes for many years."
     Firstenberg's 27-year tenure covers the acquisition of AFI's Los
 Angeles campus, the accreditation of the AFI Conservatory and the
 institute's entrepreneurial evolution, including the creation of the AFI's
 100 Years series, which is credited with introducing a new generation to
 the classics of American film. Firstenberg succeeded AFI's first director,
 George Stevens, Jr., in 1980.
     Born in California, Gazzale is a graduate of the University of Virginia
 (1987), who majored in English. He launched the Virginia Festival of
 American Film the following year, where he produced over 200 film events
 with a focus on bringing together the worlds of academia and entertainment.
 The Festival became notable for honoring America's film icons, including
 James Stewart, Gregory Peck and Charlton Heston.
     Firstenberg and Gazzale met at the Virginia Film Festival, and
 Firstenberg invited him to join AFI in 1992. After two years in Los
 Angeles, Gazzale ran AFI's National Programs out of New York for five years
 before returning to Los Angeles. He met his wife, Mimi, at AFI and they
 have two children, Nicholas 6, and Ella 2.
     About the American Film Institute
     AFI celebrates its 40th Anniversary in 2007.
     AFI is a national institute providing leadership in screen education
 and the recognition and celebration of excellence in the art of film,
 television and digital media. AFI trains the next generation of filmmakers
 at its world-renowned Conservatory, maintains America's film heritage
 through the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and explores new digital
 technologies in entertainment and education through the AFI Digital Content
 Lab and K-12 Screen Education Center. As the largest nonprofit exhibitor in
 the US, AFI ON SCREEN encompasses the annual AFI FEST presented by Audi:
 AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival -- as well as year-round
 programming at ArcLight Hollywood and the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural
 Center in Silver Spring, Maryland, including SILVERDOCS: AFI/Discovery
 Channel Documentary Festival. AFI AWARDS, the annual almanac for the 21st
 century, honors the most outstanding motion pictures and television
 programs of the year, while AFI's 100 Years...series has ignited
 extraordinary public interest in classic American movies. And, during the
 past 35 years, AFI's Life Achievement Award has become the highest honor
 for a career in film. Additional information about AFI is available at

SOURCE American Film Institute