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FTT Talks

Claire Stephens | Tuesday, November 29, 2011

If you want good advice, go to the experts.

For the latest installment in the Film, Television and Theatre (FTT) department’s Talks Lecture Series, television producers Antonia Ellis and Kevin Fortson will be at Notre Dame today to present their lecture, “Producing Successful Television Shows — Studio and Producer Perspectives.”

Both Ellis and Fortson have plenty of experience to share with successful television shows, with experience from “Sex and the City,” “Royal Pains,” “America’s Best Dance Crew,” “Pretty Little Liars” and “The Bachelor.”

Ellis has been the producer of “Sex & the City,” “Royal Pains” and “Men in Trees.” She was also co-producer of “The Corner,” which won an Emmy for Best Mini-Series. She was a production executive and head of post-production at DreamWorks SKG Television, and before that was associate producer on “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.”

Prior to relocating to New York City from Los Angeles, Ellis was a producer on a television sitcom pilot for DreamWorks/ABC called “Immediate Family” while working at DreamWorks SKG Television as a Production Executive and as the Head of Post Production.

Ellis has also produced feature films and is developing a web series. She co-created, wrote and produced an independent children’s film, “The Adventures of Cinderella’s Daughter.” She has also written an historical feature film, “My Clara,” about the true story of Clara Wieck and Robert Schumann. She is developing the feature-length romantic comedy, “Tender,” a single-camera comedy TV-series, “My Secret Ingredient,” and a Web Series, “The Dinner Party.”

She got her start in feature films, both domestic and international, working with such companies as the BBC (London), Columbia Pictures, Castle Rock Entertainment, Morgan Creek Productions and Universal Studios.

In 1989, she moved to Los Angeles to work as an assistant to Joe Roth, then chairman of 20th Century Fox Film Corp. Afterwards, she worked as Billy Crystal’s assistant on “City Slickers.” Her other feature credits include “Parenthood,” “Young Guns II,” “Coupe de Ville,” “Red Shoe Diaries,” “Ford Fairlane” and “Married to the Mob.”

Ellis not only has worked in movies and television, but music as well. She began her early career in music videos, stadium rock concert promotion and production and the record industry. Her passion in music led to radio, where she worked as a disc jockey and producer and hosted her own morning show.

Meanwhile, Fortson is senior vice president of production for Warner Horizon, the Warner Bros. division for lower-budget scripted and reality series for cable and broadcast TV.

Currently, he produces scripted and reality series. He oversees the hit reality franchise “The Bachelor” — which includes “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor Pad” — “The Voice,” “Rizzoli & Isles,” “Pretty Little Liars,” “The Lying Game” and “Randy Jackson Presents America’s Best Dance Crew.”

Fortson was previously senior vice president of operations and studio facilities for Warner Bros. Before that he worked on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “Extra,” “Geraldo” and “Now It Can Be Told.”

Prior to his current position, Forston was senior vice president of operations and studio facilities for Warner Bros. Before that, he spent 11 years at Telepictures Productions, most recently as senior vice president of production and also was vice president, chief operating office and executive in charge of production at Investigative News Group, in New York.

The two producers have years of experience and want to share their knowledge with budding film and television producers, so don’t miss out if you are interested.

On campus

What: “Producing Successful Television Shows — Studio and Producer Perspectives”

Where: Eck Visitors Center Auditorium

When: Wednesday, Nov. 30, 4:30 p.m.

How Much: Free

Learn More: ftt.nd.edu