CBS Announces Participants in 2017-18 Directors Initiative

Five helmers were selected to be a part of the program.
Cliff Lipson/CBS
From left: Jennifer Derwingson, Paige Morrow Kimball, A. Laura James, Maria Burton and Kevin Berlandi
CBS on Wednesday announced the participants in its 2017-2018 Directors Initiative. They are Jennifer Derwingson, Paige Morrow Kimball, A. Laura James, Maria Burton and Kevin Berlandi.
Now in its 12th year, the initiative provides a platform for experienced helmers to gain access to showrunners, executives, managers, agents and, more importantly, the opportunity to shadow CBS Television Network and CBS Television Studio shows throughout the year. The program helps directors develop strategic objectives aimed at cultivating meaningful relationships with industry professionals.
“We recognize that directing episodic television is no small responsibility and in order for directors to gain the trust and confidence of a showrunner, it’s essential that they spend time on set and begin fostering those relationships,” said Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i, executive vp entertainment diversity, inclusion and communications at CBS Entertainment. “The program extends far past the year of shadowing as we continue to advocate and champion the participants throughout their career and provide the same opportunity for all.”
More about the new participants is below.
Jennifer Derwingson, drama director
Derwingson is from Mt. Shasta, California, and earned a BA in English from Stanford University and an MFA in film production from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. She has helmed several award-winning shorts and most recently directed her second episode of Syfy Network’s action-horror-comedy Z Nation.
Kevin Berlandi, drama director
Berlandi was born in South Korea and raised in Newton, Massachusetts. He earned his BS in marketing and advertising from Emerson College and has been directing commercials for brands including GMC, Buick, Audi, Kia, Toyota and Burger King. Last year, Berlandi was a participant in the Sony Pictures Television Directing program. In his free time, he co-chairs the Asian American Committee at the Directors Guild of America. Berlandi is repped by Jordan Bayer at Original Artists and managed by Peter Meyer at Meyer Management.
Maria Burton, drama director
Burton is from Buffalo, New York, and earned a degree in theater and filmmaking from Yale University. She has helmed six feature films, including A Sort of Homecoming, Just Friends and Manna From Heaven. Most recently, she wrote and directed Good Eggs for Indigenous Media’s ProjectHER.
A. Laura James, comedy director
James is from Placerville, California, and earned a BFA in acting from Southern Oregon University. She has directed episodes of Austin & Ally, Bunk’d and Bizaardvark. She started in the industry as an acting coach/dialogue coach.
Paige Morrow Kimball, comedy director
Kimball is from New York, New York, and earned a BFA in film and television from NYU. Recently, she helmed six short films for HBO’s Sesame Street as well as the award-winning shorts Play Date and Ending Up. Kimball started her career directing and producing documentaries on the Olympics and unscripted shows including Project Greenlight and The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Past participants of the CBS Directors Initiative include Laura Belsey (Arrow), Lily Mariye (Criminal Minds), Anna Mastro (Jane the Virgin), Tara Miele (Hawaii Five-0), David Rodriguez (NCIS: Los Angeles), Steven Tsuchida (Me, Myself & I) and Marcus Stokes (Life in Pieces). The CBS Directors Initiative also hosts various events throughout the year for all directors looking to gain access to CBS producers and showrunners.