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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Producer of major TV, film projects to speak at URI
URI alumnus put together ‘Tribute to Heroes’ for Sept. 11 victims

KINGSTON, R.I. -- January 25, 2002 -- The University of Rhode Island graduate who was the executive producer and director of the worldwide television broadcast to benefit the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will speak at URI’s Memorial Union on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m.

URI’s Alumni Association and the URI chapter of Hillel are sponsoring Joel Gallen’s visit to the union’s Atrium II. Hillel is co-sponsoring his talk in honor of its 50th anniversary as the center of Jewish life on the Kingston Campus. "An Evening with Joel Gallen" will feature video clips from several of his productions, and is free and open to the public.

In September 2001, Gallen was approached by the four major networks to produce and direct a worldwide television broadcast to benefit the victims of the terrorist attacks. In just six days, Gallen managed to assemble more than 80 top-name entertainers for "America: A Tribute to Heroes," a two-hour live telethon event that raised more than $150 million, attracting 89 million viewers in the U.S alone.

In 1979, when a senior at URI, Gallen decided to forego a promising job offer from Xerox for a summer mailroom job at a New York talent agency.

Today, he owns a successful production company called Tenth Planet Productions, and has produced a string of critically acclaimed television series and specials like Unplugged and The MTV Movie Awards. He has two new feature films, "Not Another Teen Movie" and "Zoolander," to his credit.

"This is a chance for us to bring an exciting alumnus, a leader in his field to campus," said Dana DiMarco of URI’s Division of Advancement. "’The Tribute to Heroes’ clearly helped bring the nation together after Sept. 11, and Joel was the driving force behind it. Joel is just another example of our alumni making an impact that is felt around the world.

"We hope students, faculty and staff will come to hear this extraordinary individual talk about his work in the constantly changing world of entertainment," DiMarco said.

Amy Sapherstein, director of Jewish Student Life at URI Hillel, said the group wanted to find someone to speak who inspired change, made people think and made people talk. "What luck to discover that Joel Gallen of ‘America: Tribute to Heroes’ fame – is a URI alumnus. Our students are thrilled, and I was a bit in awe to speak with the man who created some of the hottest things URI students talk about – from MTV awards shows to movies like ‘Zoolander.’ And then when he pulled off the Sept. 11 concert, I knew that he was just the person we were looking for.

"It’s such an honor to have Joel Gallen share his life and experience with not only the Jewish students, but the whole URI community," Sapherstein said.

In recognition of Gallen’s outstanding work, the URI Alumni Association will present Gallen with one of its Excellence Awards for his contribution to the arts. Gallen will be among 19 award winners honored during a brunch on Feb. 9 at 10:30 a.m. in the Memorial Union.

For Information: Dave Lavallee 401-874-5862

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