The George Lucas Family Foundation has established the Robin Williams Endowed Chair in Comedy in honor of the beloved comedian and actor who died in 2014. It also named the first holder of the chair: Barnet Kellman, SCA Professor in the Division of Film & Television Production.
Kellman won two Emmys and a DGA for his work on Murphy Brown, directing the pilot, the first 75 episodes, and the finale, which ended its ten-year run on CBS. His other pilots include the award-winning Mad About You, and the long- running series Suddenly Susan, The George Lopez Show, My Boys, as well as Something Wilder, which he co-created for Gene Wilder.
In all, Kellman is responsible for over 40 pilots, more than half of which have gone to series. Kellman’s work on the small screen also includes episodes of distinguished series such as E.R., Alias, Ally McBeal, and Monk, earning him a total of seven Emmy nominations and three DGA Award nominations. His feature films include Straight Talk, Stinkers, and Key Exchange.
Before arriving in Los Angeles, Kellman was a prominent director of American play premieres in New York City.
“Robin was a comedy genius with a boundless talent, said George Lucas in a statement. “He was singular in every way, yet had great respect for the genre and for the dedication it took to succeed. His talent was only matched by his work ethic. That’s why he made it to the pinnacle of comedy success, and why his legacy will be to motivate and inspire young storytellers.”
The Robin Williams Endowed Chair in Comedy joins a long list of positions endowed by entertainment industry luminaries, organizations and companies. They include the Dana and Albert R. Broccoli Charitable Foundation, Mark Burnett, Dino and Martha DeLaurentiis, the Cecil B. DeMille Foundation, Electronic Arts, the George Lucas Family Foundation, Hugh M. Hefner, Walter and Marcia Kortschak, Marcia Lucas, Stephen K. Nenno, Patricia Hitchcock O’Connell, Victoria Oakie, the Mary Pickford Foundation, Katherine and Frank Price, Microsoft Corp., Stephanie Rothman, Steven Spielberg, Ray Stark, Time Warner, and the Wunderkinder Foundation. USC’s School of Cinematic Arts has a total of 30 endowed positions, which they say is a record for programming in the cinematic arts nationwide.