USC’s Peter Stark Producing Program Taps Ed Saxon & Nina Yang Bongiovi For New Leadership Roles

Edward Saxon, Nina Yang Bongiovi
Edward Saxon, Nina Yang Bongiovi Nicola Goode/Monica Orozco

Producers Ed Saxon and Nina Yang Bongiovi are taking on new roles in support of the Peter Stark Producing Program at the University of Southern California.

Saxon will serve as the program’s Chair, with Bongiovi filling a new role, as its Associate Chair and Producer-In-Residence.

Both producers are alums of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. They were chosen following a multi-stage selection process, involving a comprehensive analysis and review of the program’s curriculum, and will take their posts immediately. 

As Chair, Saxon will build on the program’s legacy, adapting it to meet the needs of students and the realities of the job market. In her role, Bongiovi will ensure that students are supported and mentored, as they receive on-the-ground training, reflecting current industry practice.

The change in leadership at USC was announced today by Elizabeth M. Daley, who serves as Dean of the School of Cinematic Arts. It resulted from the recent retirement of producer Larry Turman, who chaired the Peter Stark Program for more than 25 years.

“We are forever indebted to Larry Turman for his devotion and service to the School of Cinematic Arts and our students. His impact on the lives and careers of the students in the Peter Stark Producing Program is immeasurable,” said Daley. “We are also extremely happy that Ed Saxon, who is an esteemed Stark alum, has agreed to lead the next iteration of the program. We know students will gain tremendous inspiration from his career, and that he will provide the guidance they need to find their own paths.

“And there is no one better than Nina Yang Bongiovi to fulfill the role of SCA’s first Producer-In-Residence and Associate Chair. She too has had the kind of career Stark students aspire to,” the USC Dean continued. “Having Nina on board more than fulfills the goal of this position, which is to give the students a mentor who can expose them to the daily demands of creative producing. The next generation of Starkies will continue to be in great hands.”

“It’s thrilling to return to The Stark Program in a leadership position. The program changed my life,” said Saxon, who graduated from USC in 1984. “Making great stories requires a complex skill set in this transformative time. Building on the legacy of Ray Stark, Art Murphy, and Larry Turman, I’m looking forward to working with our world class teaching professionals to give students the knowledge and attitudes they need to succeed in marrying commerce and art.”

“I am honored to return to SCA as the first Producer-In-Residence and Associate Chair of the Peter Stark Producing Program,” added Bongiovi. “This is a full circle moment for me and I look forward to guiding and mentoring students from the Stark Program in all facets of creative producing. In addition, I’m thrilled to collaborate with Ed, Stark faculty and staff at this pivotal and transformative moment in the industry.”

Edward Saxon is an Oscar winner who has worked in entertainment for more than three decades. His films have grossed over $700M at the worldwide box office, earning 21 Oscar nominations and 8 statuettes.

As principal of his own independent production company, he has developed and produced features with Fox, Universal, Columbia, Tri Star, Orion, and Disney Studios, including Philadelphia, Adaptation, Mandela, Something Wild, That Thing You Do, Fast Food Nation, Ulee’s Gold, and Beloved. He has worked on the television side on such series as Enlightened and Ray Donovan.

Nina Yang Bongiovi and her producing partner Forest Whitaker have shepherded films including Black Panther, Fruitvale Station, Dope, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, Roxanne Roxanne, Sorry to Bother You and Rebecca Hall’s upcoming Passing. They have a first-look TV pact with Amazon studios, are currently exec producing Epix crime drama Godfather of Harlem, and are in active development on a slate of multi-cultural films and TV series.

The mission of their company Significant Productions is to create opportunities and push inclusivity for underrepresented narratives and storytellers by championing culturally significant films and television shows starring BIPOC talent, alongside diversified representation behind the camera.

The Peter Stark Motion Picture Producing Program was founded in 1979 by legendary producer Ray Stark in honor of his son Peter, subsequently having “Motion Picture” removed from its name. Over its four decades, the two-year, graduate-level program has expanded its offerings to incorporate formats that include episodic television, video games, podcasts, and webisodes, as well as other interactive media content.

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