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
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