Fifty years after he graduated, the former editor-in-chief of the UCLA Law Review has given back – to the tune of $5 million. A longtime supporter of his old stomping grounds, Hollywood powerhouse attorney, Senior Adviser to L.A. Mayor’s Office of Motion Picture and TV Production and 1965 grad Ken Ziffren has given the money to the UCLA School of Law to form the Ziffren Center for Media, Entertainment, Technology and Sports Law.
“Since graduating from the law school, I have been deeply committed both to UCLA Law School and to the advancement of the entertainment industry,” said the Ziffren Brittenham LLP co-founder and industry mandarin. “I know that I have benefited greatly from my UCLA Law experience, as a student, as a member of the faculty and as an involved member of the alumni community,” the frequent fundraiser added. Ziffren also has been teaching the Motion Picture Distribution seminar as an adjunct professor at the School of Law for the past 17 years.
“It’s very gratifying to be able to extend support to the next generation of leaders and to help guarantee that the law school’s Center will continue to be the best in the nation.” Intended to help draw students interested in the entertainment, media, tech and sports law fields to ULCA, the money for the Ziffren Center will be given in stages with some now and more to follow, sources tell me.
With a virtual who’s who of legal heavyweights alums making up its board of advisers, CBS Studios International’s former Business Affairs EVP Susan Akens will serve as executive director of the Ziffren Center. Besides lawyers, including Ziffren himself, the Center’s BoA also has UCLA grads Tom McGuire, WME Entertainment Biz Affairs boss; Bernardine Brandis, Disney’s EVP Biz and Legal Affairs; Yakub Hazzard, NBCUniversal TV’s VP Legal; Lionsgate TV Group President Sandra Stern; CAA Managing Partner and General Counsel Michael Rubel; and A+E Networks branding chief Bob DeBitetto. “We are enormously grateful to Ken, and I am thrilled and honored by this opportunity to create the Ziffren Center at UCLA School of Law,” UCLA School of Law Dean Jennifer Mnookin said Monday. The first meeting of the BoA is scheduled for November 12, I’m told.
Mayor Eric Garcetti formally appointed Ziffren as L.A.’s second Film Czar back on February 10, 2013. The attorney took the job after the death of former AMPAS President and studio exec Tom Sherak. who had died about two weeks before.
Having already helped crafted an agreement to end the 1988 WGA strike, Ziffren and his now-ex-Deputy at the Los Angeles’ Office of Motion Picture and Television Production Rajiv Dalal were instrumental in the passage of the more than tripling of California’s $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit Program last summer. Gov, Jerry Brown signed the new $330 million program into law on September 18, 2014. The first TV round saw the California Film Commission select 11 small screen projects, including HBO’s Veep and three other relocating series in June. Eleven movies, seven studio films and three indies, were selected for the first film round under the new program in August. The next TV application period is November 30-December 6, and the Big Screen application period is January 11-24.