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Notable Alumni

Michael F. Blake

Make-up Artist

Emmy (1998) -- Buffy the Vampire Slayer 


  • The Films of Lon Chaney, A Thousand Faces
  • Lon Chaney: Man Behind the Thousand Faces
  • Code of Honor: The Making of Three Great American Westerns-High Noon, Shane and The Searchers

On a spring day in 1979, Michael F. Blake was on the verge of enrolling at Cal State Northridge. Instead, he answered the phone. It was Universal Studios, offering him the job that put him on the path to an Emmy Award nearly 20 years later. "Universal," he said, became my home lot.

Part of the make-up team responsible for the ghoulish charm of television's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Blake won his 1998 Emmy for his work on that program. The next year he was nominated again, for his "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" make-up designs.

Blake graduated from Cal State Northridge with a bachelor's degree in film criticism theory in 2001, 22 years after putting off his education. His "suicidal" schedule made earning it just a shade less difficult than earning his Emmy. At one point he was juggling studio work, a Turner Classic Movies cable documentary on actor Lon Chaney, and two demanding classes with Department of Cinema and Television Arts Chair John Schultheiss, whom Blake considers "one of the toughest and best" teachers in the business.

So why did a Cal State Northridge diploma matter at least as much to him as the Emmy? "Painting faces is awfully nice," he explained, "but when I get to the Pearly Gates and St. Peter asks me what else I've done, I don't want to have to say, "Well, painting faces is it, sir."

He made sure of that by launching a second career as an author. His new book, "Code of Honor: The making of Three Great American Westerns--High Noon, Shane and The Searchers," for Taylor Trade Publishing, coincides with the 100th anniversary of the western as a film genre. Film critic Leonard Maltin calls it "a thorough and thoughtful document of three great American films."

Blake said westerns have been a part of his life since his father, actor Larry J. Blake, played the saloon owner who spoke the first line in "High Noon.'

A Studio City resident, Blake also earned a master's degree in critical film studies at UCLA.

Joan Chen

Actress & Director

Born into a family of doctors. Educated in China at the Shanghai Film Academy and the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Languages. Discovered by veteran Chinese director Xie Jin while observing a filming with a school group. 

Her performance in Little Flower won China's Best Actress award, and resulted in the Chinese press dubbing her "The Elizabeth Taylor of China" for having achieved top stardom while still a teenager.

Came to US to attend college in 1981, first at the State University of New York at New Paltz, later at California State University at Northridge. Had a succession of small parts in movies and TV, with first break coming in 1986 when, in the true tradition of Hollywood legend, Dino DiLaurentis discovered her in the Lorimar parking lot and cast her in Tai-pan. The film bombed, but led to Chen being cast as the ill-fated Empress in Bertollucci's The Last Emperor, which won critical acclaim. This, and her role as enigmatic mill owner Josie Packard in the cult TV series "Twin Peaks," are her best-known roles in the West.

Joan made her directorial debut with the acclaimed theatrical film Xiu Xiu, a film banned in its homeland of China. She went on to direct Autumn in New York starring Richard Gere and Winona Ryder.

Credits include:


  • Ru Yi Zhuan (2018, TV Series) 
  • Wonderland (2017, Short) 
  • The House That Never Dies: Reawakening (2017)
  • The One (2017) 
  • Marco Polo ( 2014-2016, TV Series) 
  • Lifeline ( 2016/II, Short) 
  • Nature Is Speaking (2016, TV Series short) 
  • Cairo Declaration (2015)
  • Lady of the Dynasty (2015)
  • You Are My Sunshine (2015)
  • For Love or Money (2014)
  • Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces  (2014)
  • Meng's Palace (2013, TV Series) 
  • Serangoon Road (2013, TV Series) 
  • Sui Tang yingxiong (2012, TV Series) 
  • Double Xposure (2012)
  • Let It Be  (2012)
  • Passion Island  (2012)
  • Hemingway & Gellhorn (2012, TV Movie) 
  • White Frog (2012)
  • 1911 (2011)
  • Love in Disguise (2010)
  • Color Me Love (2010) 
  • Mao's Last Dancer (2009)
  • Shi Qui (2008)
  • 24 City (2008)
  • The Leap Years (2008)
  • All God's Children Can Dance (2007)
  • The Sun Also Rises (2007)
  • Lust, Caution (2007)
  • The Home Song Stories (2007)
  • Americanese (2006)
  • Saving Face (2005)
  • Sunflower (2005)
  • Avatar (2004)
  • Saving Face (2004) 
  • Jasmine Flower (2004) 
  • What's Cooking (2000) 
  • Purple Storm (1999) 
  • Precious Find (1996) 
  • Judge Dredd (1995) 
  • The Hunter (1995) 
  • Red Rose White Rose (1994) 
  • On Deadly Ground (1994)
  • Golden Gate (1994) 
  • Heaven and Earth (1993) 
  • Temptation of a Monk (1993) 
  • Turtle Beach (1992) 
  • Wedlock (1991)
  • The Last Emperor (1987)



  • Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl (1998)
  • Autumn in New York (2000)


  • Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl (1998)

Glenn Gainor

Producer & Studio Executive

Glenn Gainor (BA 1995) launched his career in the film industry when he wrote and produced an independent pilot that led to an offer to write for an ABC series, but Gainor chose to pursue his career in producing.

Glenn is currently the Senior Vice President in charge of physical production for Sony Pictures’ Screen Gems, a position he has held since January of 2007. Gainor executive produced the thriller Vacancy for Screen Gems as well as recent box office hits Prom Night, Quarantine, and Obsessed.

As quoted in Kodak’s In Camera Magazine, Gainor says, “We are committed to reviving the tradition of producing films in Los Angeles, where we can draw upon a deep pool of talented people who are happy to be working at home. We are building a family with many people collaborating with each other on different projects.” In the article, Gainor also cites the unique support infrastructure in the city, including stages and the backlot at the studio, equipment rental companies, labs and post-production facilities.

And in the PGA’s Produced By Magazine article entitled “Reviving the Spirit of Old Hollywood,” Gainor says, “Part of the magic of Hollywood in the early days was that every studio was like a family. The same people worked together on different projects. We don’t have writers, directors and actors under contract today, but we are rebuilding the collaborative spirit”.

As head of physical production, Gainor oversaw production on This Christmas, First Sunday, Lakeview Terrace, The Stepfather, Armored, The Roommate, Easy A, Straw Dogs, and the Gwyneth Paltrow-Tim McGraw film Country Strong. Additional films Gainor produced at Screen Gems include Death at a Funeral, Priest and the original musical Burlesque starring Christina Aguilera and Cher.

Gainor is the 2009 recipient of the California on Location Signature Award, given in appreciation for his efforts in preserving California’s film industry. Gainor also served as keynote speaker at the COLA Awards.

Other producing credits include the comedy Strange Wilderness (for Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions), Grandma’s Boy, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, Sonny (directed by Nicolas Cage), Starship Troopers 2, and the thriller Skeletons in the Closet.

Gainor served as line producer on A Rumor of Angels, as well as the critically acclaimed Panic, directed by Henry Bromell. Gainor co-produced George Hickenlooper’s The Man from Elysian Fields, as well as Happy, Texas. Gainor has also produced for the stage, teaming with Ovation Award winning director Andy Fickman for the musical Sneaux.

Featured Alum: Glenn Gainor

Tracie Graham


From production company executive ... to running her own management company ... to producer, Tracie Graham has made her place in the motion picture industry. She was Vice President of Production at Motion Picture Corporation of America (MPCA) where she Co-Produced and line produced many films including, New Line Cinema’s box office success Dumb and Dumber starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, as well as Threesome starring Lara Flynn Boyle and The War At Home starring Martin Sheen and Oscar winner Kathy Bates.

Graham has also served as a production executive at Chanticleer Films. During her tenure there, she produced films for the Showtime series 30-Minute Movies, many of which were nominated for Academy Awards. She produced the motion picture Phoenix for Lakeshore Entertainment which starred Ray Liota, Anjelica Huston, Anthony LaPaglia and Brittany Murphy, as well as Windtalkers, a World War II drama for MGM directed by the critically acclaimed John Woo that starred Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage.

Tracie has various projects in various stages of development including Darksiders, a franchise-type action-thriller which is set up at New Line and Bad Men aka Sanctuary, a supernatural thriller which is set up at Lionsgate.

Tracie Graham (BA 2007) began her collegiate career here at California State University, Northridge where she majored in film production in the Department of Radio-Television-Film. Her studies were cut a little short as she made an early entrance into the entertainment industry. Tracie returned to CSUN and finished all requirements for her Bachelor of Arts degree in Cinema and Television Arts with a film production emphasis.

Darren Grant


Darren Grant’s name has graced the bottom left hand corner of the openings and closings of music videos for artists such as Brian McKnight, Destiny’s Child, Aaliyah, Jermaine Dupri, Monica, Ginuwine, Kirk Franklin, Chante Moore, Deborah Cox, and many others. His “Survivor” video for Destiny’s Child won a 2001 MTV Video Music Award. Darren also directed the posthumous star-studded tribute video of “Miss You” for the late Aaliyah. Grant has been credited with re-defining the image of Brian McKnight and Deborah Cox, helping create their crossover appeal.

Darren Grant’s directing style is visually appealing and memorable. With an impressive list of over 130 music video directing credits under his belt, Grant’s transition into feature films was inevitable.

Grant was born and raised in the Seattle, Washington area. His mother was a vital part of the Seattle film scene and had written and directed several award-winning short films.

After high school he moved to San Diego for six years where he attended community college. He then migrated north, landing at California State University, Northridge where he graduated from the film production program in 1995.

His feature film debut was a triumphant one, the critically acclaimed Diary of a Mad Black Woman, which was released through Lions Gate Films on February 25, 2005. The film melds comedy, drama, and a love story into one complex narrative. This mixing of genres may, promisingly, begin a new trend in urban movie making.

Diary of a Mad Black Woman, which cost $5 million to make, opened as the number one box office draw in theaters across the country, earning over $22 million in the first weekend.


  • Make It Happen (2008)
  • Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005) 

... aka Tyler Perry's Diary of a Mad Black Woman (USA: complete title) 
... aka Tyler Perry's Diary of a Mad Black Woman: The Movie (USA: DVD box title)

Paul Hunter


The mention of director Paul Hunter’s name has become synonymous with talking about the most identifiable visionaries in music videos today. His inventive style has arguably elevated the standard of video production. Having worked with celebrated musical artists including Jennifer Lopez, Lenny Kravitz, Christina Aguilera, Eminem, D’Angelo, Courtney Love, Marilyn Manson, Sean “Puffy” Combs, Mariah Carey, Will Smith, and Janet Jackson, Paul is among an elite group of directors who successfully segues between hip-hop and rock, fortifying a diverse client base.

After a long and extremely successful career as a commercial and music video director, Paul can now add film director to his list of accolades. Paul has made his feature length directorial debut with Bulletproof Monk for MGM, which opened April 2003. He directed alongside producers Michael Yanover, Terence Chang, and John Woo. Bulletproof Monk stars Chow Yun-Fat, Seann William Scott, and Jamie King.

Paul majored in film at Cal State Northridge where he acknowledeges the early pedagogical influence of CTVA film professor Nate Thomas. His career began by working on sets and shooting spec commercials. He continues his work in commercial directing by helming big budget product spots for major corporations, including The Gap and Coca Cola (Dasani).

Paul received overwhelming recognition for his work on the projects for Nike and Jordan. The Nike commercial went on to win an Emmy Award. His groundbreaking style of blurring the lines between the commercial and music video has generated widespread acclaim for changing the face of commercials today.

Paul directed the music video of a lifetime when he directed the comeback single You Rock My World for the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. He directed the multiple award winning “Divas” video for the soundtrack to the film Moulin Rouge featuring Christina Aguilera, Pink, Mya, Missy Elliott, and Lil’ Kim, as well as Aaliyah’s video for her hit song Resolution. He directed spots for the Holiday Gap campaign and the Dr. Pepper campaign.

Dale Launer


Dale Launer was born in Cleveland, Ohio (1952) but raised and schooled in the San Fernando Valley. While attending Cal State University, Northridge, he decided on a career as a writer and director of motion pictures. After exhausting the school's offerings in the cinema department (formerly called the Radio/TV/Film department), he dropped out. He worked in a variety of jobs - hifi salesman, furniture refinisher, marketing director, sales manager, ad copywriter, photographer, and buying and re-selling cars.

His movie-biz break came after the producing team of Lancaster/Wagner optioned his screenplay of Ruthless People. It was produced and released in 1986. This was followed by Blind Date, for which Launer neither takes blame nor credit since it was heavily re-written. Launer followed this effort by optioning the rights to the film Bedtime Story, which was re-written and re-titled to Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (which he also produced). He also wrote and directed Love Potion #9, which was followed by My Cousin Vinny, which he wrote and produced.

He is currently finishing up Tom's Nu Heaven, a movie he made very, very independently.


  • Screenwriter, Producer, Director

Toms Nu Heaven (2004)

  • Screenwriter, Producer, Director

Love Potion No. 9 (1992)

  • Screenwriter, Producer

My Cousin Vinny (1992)

  • Screenwriter, Producer

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)

  • Screenwriter

Blake Edwards' Blind Date (1987)

  • Screenwriter

Ruthless People (1986)

Liliana Olszewski


RTVF -- Class of 1987
Sixth VP of the DGA, representing guild members in Television News and Sports.

Liliana Olszewski is the Emmy-award winning Director of ABC’s Good Morning America.

Born in Chicago, raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Los Angeles, Lily received a BA in Radio-Television-Film from California State University, Northridge. After graduation, an internship led to her first job as an Associate Director at Spanish language TV station KVEA. Her first directing opportunity came as a happy accident, when, during a special event remote production, the director fell ill and Lily had to step up.

While at KVEA, she trained as a technical director, a position that eventually led to a job in Miami at the Univision network as a TD/Director. From there, Lily moved over to competing network Telemundo, as a full-time Director, directing a range of programs including talk-shows, game shows, music-variety programs and news.

Lily’s credits include “Late Night with Seth Meyers”, “Watch What Happens Live”, “Anderson”, “Today”, “Donahue”, “The Jenny McCarthy Show”, “Latin Billboard Awards Red Carpet”, “Premios Fox”, “Time and Again with Jane Pauley”, “Quite Frankly with Steven A. Smith”, “MTV’s The Seven” and “Countdown with Keith Olbermann”. She’s been at Good Morning America for 10 years.

Donald Petrie


Considered on the “A” list of feature film directors, Donald has directed such films as My Life in Ruins starring Richard Dreyfuss, Welcome to Mooseport starring Gene Hackman and Ray Romano, Just My Luck starring Lindsay Lohan, How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey, and Miss Congeniality starring Sandra Bullock and Benjamin Bratt.  He has also directed such classics as the Julia Roberts break out film Mystic Pizza, Grumpy Old Men which starred the legendaries Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau and Ann-Margaret, and The Associate which starred Whoopi Goldberg.

Petrie began his entertainment career as an actor, having trained and graduated CSUN as a theatre major.  Donald soon was appearing in many television episodes.  In 1980, Donald decided to shift his focus to directing when he was accepted as a Fellow at the American Film Institute.  While there he made a short film, The Expert, that caught the eye of Steven Spielberg, who asked Donald to direct an episode of Amazing Stories.  That episode, entitled Mister Magic, starring Sid Caesar, began Petrie’s professional directing career.

Donald then began a busy period directing episodic television, including MacGyver, The Equalizer, and the landmark series LA Law.  A controversial episode he directed for the latter entitled The Venus Butterfly brought Directors Guild and Emmy nominations.

Samuel Goldwyn, Jr. offered Donald the chance to direct his first feature, Mystic Pizza.  Both a critical and box office success, Mystic Pizza starred Annabeth Gish and Lili Taylor and provided Julia Roberts with her breakthrough role. 


CSUN Distinguished Alumni Awards 2015: Donald Petrie

CSUN Alumni Profiles - Donald Petrie

Keri Selig


CTVA alumna Keri Selig's latest achievement:  a nomination from the Canadian Academy of Film and Television for a 2018 Canadian Screen Award for Best Limited Series or Program for The Kennedys: After Camelot.

(from IMDB) -- Keri Selig is the founder and President of the feature film and television production company Intuition Productions.

Selig's most recent feature release was the romantic thriller Passengers, starring Anne Hathaway and Patrick Wilson, directed by Rodrigo Garcia for Mandate and Sony Pictures.

Some of Selig's active feature film projects include: Riders on the Storm: The Founding of Greenpeace, with Jon Turteltaub attached to direct, set up at Zucker Productions; Nice, with Reese Witherspoon starring and producing; Earthbound based on the novel by Richard Matheson set up at Parkes/MacDonald; and High Stakes, written by Ronnie Christensen, with Mandalay.

Some of Selig's upcoming TV projects include: The Operative, a scripted one-hour set up at Sony Pictures Television, based on the life rights of international private investigator Logan Clarke, written and executive produced by Shawn Ryan with Pierce Brosnan also executive producing and co-starring; Bounty Wars, a competition reality show currently in production at Discovery; Sex Lives of Married People, a scripted television series written by Brad Desch, set up at Fox TV Studios; Top Spot, set up at Fox TV Studios with show-runner Matt Westmore and William Shatner; Rebels with a Cause, an unscripted series that follows a group of activists, led by Greenpeace pioneer Rex Weyler; Untitled Female MMA Project, set up at VH1, with John Irwin Entertainment; Untitled EPA Project, set up with GRB and partnered with Peter Coyote; Warrant Arrest Recovery, a docu-series set up at Asylum Entertainment; and Stars & Chefs, set up at the CW Television Network, with Radical Media and A Smith & Co.

Before forming Intuition Productions, Selig spent over a decade as a studio executive. Selig spent 1999 through 2001 as Executive Senior Vice President of Production at Bel-Air Entertainment (Proof of Life, Pay It Forward), the Warner Bros.-based feature production and finance company. Prior to her time at Bel-Air , Selig was Senior Vice President of Production at Kopelson Entertainment (Seven, The Fugitive), based at Fox Studios. From January 1996 to October 1998, she served as Senior Vice President at The Cort/Madden Company (Save the Last Dance), based at Paramount Pictures.

Selig began her career with a first-look producing deal with Fields-Hellman (Glory, Midnight Cowboy, Looking For Mr. Goodbar), Freddie Fields and Jerome Hellman's production company. There, she set up a number of feature films, including Hard Knox by Ed Neumeier at Paramount and Catapult by Steven DeSouza at Columbia.

Michelle Vicary


Read about Michelle Vicary

Michael Grillo


Michael Grillo in IMDb

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