Howard Rosenman, the veteran Hollywood producer whose credits include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Father of the Bride, and the Oscar-winning documentary Common Threads: Stories From the Quilt, is pitching his tent – and talking about the pitch – this Saturday at Drexel University. Rosenman calls his presentation – open to the public, at $50 a pop ($30 for students) -- the Hollywood Sell.
“It’s Hollywood 101,” he explains. “It’s basically how you take an idea, turn it into a treatment, and/or a screenplay, then package it and get your movie on…. Most people are mystified by the whole thing, and I’m giving them practical tips based on my more than 35 years in the business — in four hours. “I taught a master class in creative film producing at Tel Aviv University for seven years … and basically I took my curriculum, added my war stories, and that’s what the Hollywood Sell is.”
Rosenman is no stranger to Philadelphia. In the mid-Sixties, the Brooklyn native, now 65, was a student at Hahneman University Hospital, certain – but not thrilled – that his future was in medicine, not movies. Then, “in 1967, at the end of my second year, the Six Day War broke out. My parents were Israeli, and I volunteered to be a medic, an extern — an intern without a degree. And so I went to Israel and met Leonard Bernstein, who came there 30 days after the war to conduct Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony.”
The celebrated composer and conductor was being followed by a documentary crew, and Rosenman became a gofer on the shoot. “Mr. Bernstein convinced me to follow my bliss, my passion,” Rosenman explains, “because what I always wanted, when I was a kid, was to be an actor or a producer.” (Lately, he's done some acting, too. Gus Van Sant cast him in Milk, from which the accompanying photo comes.)
Rosenman, who says that the rules of the game have “changed drastically” over the last ten years, has about thirty projects in development right now. “I’m making a movie with Al Pacino about Napoleon’s exile on Saint Helena. And it looks like I’m making a movie with Sacha Baron Cohen. And I’m remaking one of my early movies,” he adds, though he can’t say which one. (OK, let’s IMDB the guy. Rosenman’s early movies: Resurrection, The Main Event (with Barbra Streisand), Sparkle, and the unforgettable 1974 TV thriller, Killer Bees.)
Presented by the Greater Philadelphia Film Office, Rosenman’s Hollywood Sell seminar is set for this Saturday, April 17, at Drexel’s Stein Auditorium, 111 Nesbitt Hall, 3215 Market St, from10 am-2 pm. For info and tickets, go to www.thehollywoodsell.com, or call 215-895-1029