The halls of the USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex are filled with the names of entertainment industry legends.
The students work and collaborate in buildings and workspaces named after George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Alfred and Alma Hitchcock, Robert Zemeckis, Harold Lloyd, Mary Pickford, John August and, as of June 1, Dreamworks Animation chief executive officer Jeffrey Katzenberg and his wife Marilyn.
The new Marilyn & Jeffrey Katzenberg Center for Animation was dedicated at a ceremony attended by Lucas, Spielberg, Dean Elizabeth M. Daley, comedian Jack Black, USC president C. L. Max Nikias and more than 200 alumni, students and VIPs.
“Animation has been such an amazing blessing to Marilyn and myself,” Katzenberg said. “It’s given us so many pleasures and so many rewards and so many amazing experiences and so many incredible movies. For us to be able to invest in, and hopefully be a part of, the next generation of artists, filmmakers, storytellers and dreamers is a blessing to us.”
The new center, now available to students, is housed in the School of Cinematic Arts Complex. Daley spoke about the importance of having colleagues like Katzenberg linked to the school’s future.
“As we dedicate the Marilyn & Jeffrey Katzenberg Center for Animation, we will be honoring the work of two extraordinary people who have given so much not only to the art form of animation, but to the entire industry,” she said. “The Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg Center for Animation will commemorate, in perpetuity, the imagination, drive and passion for storytelling that Jeffrey possesses, along with the commitment that he and Marilyn have made to training and nurturing the young people who share that passion.”
Lucas and Spielberg shared their thoughts on Katzenberg’s accomplishments during the presentation.
“I’d just like to say thank you for helping us in the educational world,” Lucas said. “Jeffrey is a very generous person. I’m glad that he looked upon us kindly. It means a lot to the students here that there’s someone as important as you are and has contributed as much as you have to the film industry who is here looking down on them every day when they come through the doors. It gives them something to aspire to.”
Spielberg commented on how fortunate the current students are to have nice facilities compared to what film students from his generation had.
“It’s great that USC has a place to work,” Spielberg said. “When John Milius did a movie back in 1967, Marcello, I’m Bored, John was in a little shack. This is a large moment for USC. It’s so needed.”
After the ceremony, students gave tours of the new building and a cocktail reception was held.
“Thank you so much,” Katzenberg said. “The students that are here, [the center] is yours and I hope you make the most of it. I hope to see you coming through the gates of Dreamworks Animation soon.”
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