Emmy-award winning writer, producer and director Brad Falchuk ’93 will deliver this year’s Commencement address on Sunday, May 18. The Hobart alumnus is the co-creator, writer, executive producer and director of the Fox series “Glee” and is co-creator, executive producer and writer of FX network’s “American Horror Story.” Falchuk’s work has received 10 Emmys and four Golden Globes, among many other awards and accolades.
“We are proud to welcome Brad Falchuk back to campus to deliver the Commencement address,” says President Mark D. Gearan. “His creativity and innovation have forever changed the entertainment industry. In his work as a writer, director and producer, he has consistently created entertainment that is inclusive and diverse, proving that television can be engaging and clever without sacrificing depth. He has brought his work into the Los Angeles city schools, helping children create and realize their own screenplays. He will add greatly to what promises to be a wonderful weekend for the Classes of 2014.”
“Glee,” which follows the development of a high school glee club, premiered in 2009 on 20th Century Fox Television to critical acclaim and high ratings. Falchuk, along with co-creators Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennen, earned an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series,” one of many nominations and awards for the show. “Glee,” Variety reports, “…helped to shape a global landscape of tolerance and acceptance among adolescents, giving encouragement to the LGBT community in a way that, arguably, no other TV series has done before.”
Falchuk tweeted about the announcement, saying he is “excited and honored” to return to HWS as the 2014 Commencement speaker.
The April 3 announcement that Falchuk would be the Commencement speaker also drew congratulatory tweets from previous HWS Commencement speakers, including: ‘Today’ show co-anchor and NBC News chief legal correspondent Savannah Guthrie L.H.D. ’12; CNN chief national correspondent John King L.H.D. ’06; managing director at the Glover Park Group and former White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers L.H.D. ’05; CBS news veteran and ‘60 Minutes’ correspondent HWS Trustee Bill Whitaker ’73, L.H.D. ’97.
In 2011, Falchuk and Murphy, who also worked together on “Nip/Tuck,” co-created the FX horror drama “American Horror Story.” Each season, the unique serial features many of the same actors, including Oscar-winner Jessica Lange, in a new plotline and setting. In doing so, Falchuk explores a different facet of the American horror trope including the haunted house, the insane asylum and witchcraft. The show has been nominated for and has received multiple awards, including Emmy, American Film Institute, Art Directors Guild, and Critics Choice Television Awards.
In a Washington Post review, Jen Chaney calls the first season of “American Horror Story” addictive. “It was perverse, occasionally disturbing and totally addictive, a show that, along with AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” confirmed that TV audiences crave a quality…fright.”
In 2012, Falchuk was named to The Hollywood Reporter‘s annual list of the Top 50 Showrunners for his work on “Glee” and “American Horror Story.”
In 2013, 20th Century Fox announced that it had signed a deal with Falchuk to develop new projects for the network. Lionsgate also recently selected Falchuk to rewrite Maria Maggenti’s screenplay for “Dirty Dancing,” a musical reimagining inspired by the popular 1987 film. Falchuk will also co-write Sony’s musical comedy “One Hit Wonders,” which will star Gwyneth Paltrow and Beyonce.
In service to his community, Falchuk co-created The Young Storytellers Foundation, which helps fourth-graders in under-served, arts-poor Los Angeles public schools create their own screenplays, and brings in famous actors for stage readings.
Falchuk graduated from Hobart College with a bachelor’s degree in English. He credits Associate Professor of English Elizabeth Lyon with helping his career. In an interview with The Pulteney Street Survey, he says that Lyon, “taught me everything I’ll ever need to know about film analysis. I use what I learned in her classes every day of my career.” At Hobart, he studied abroad in London and was an active member of Sigma Chi. He went on to earn a graduate degree from the American Film Institute.
Maintaining his ties to the Colleges, he has been involved in the Salisbury Center for Career Service’s L.A. Program, meeting with faculty and students interested in the entertainment industry. He has also presented via Skype to students in media and society classes.
Commencement 2014 marks the 189th graduation for Hobart and the 103rd for William Smith. It will be held on the Hobart Quadrangle beginning at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 18.