James L. Brooks — the producer of The Simpsons and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, mentor of Cameron Crowe and Wes Anderson and triple Oscar winner for directing, writing and producing Terms of Endearment — is the new artistic director of the AFI Conservatory.
AFI president and CEO Bob Gazzale told The Hollywood Reporter: “He was our No. 1 choice in our quest to replace the irreplaceable Frank Pierson [who died in 2012]. The artistic director is an important kind of spiritual voice not only for the Fellows [as AFI students are called] but the faculty. Robert Wise did it for about 12 years.”
Brooks’ uniquely protean gifts make him ideal for a school that grants degrees in six areas: writing, directing, producing, editing, cinematography and production design.
“Jim is a master at writing and producing and directing, and he has a hell of a lot to say about the other three,” Gazzale said. “He’s not only lived in the world of movies and TV, but can speak to storytelling across all these mediums.”
Brooks will meets the incoming students when classes start in August.
Bob Mandel serves as the AFI Conservatory’s dean.
AFI was No.1 on THR‘s Top 25 Film Schools list in 2011 and No. 2 in 2012. Five alumni got Oscar nominations in 2013, and more than 180 had films at top festivals, including 42 at Sundance and 31 at Cannes.