Faculty

Bill Finkelstein

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Bill Finkelstein wrote and produced various television series, among them LA Law, Cop Rock, Civil Wars, Murder One and Law & Order. Recently his script for The Bad Lieutenant was made into the movie starring Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes, directed by Werner Herzog. Bill Finkelstein has won two Primetime Emmy Awards. He teaches screenwriting at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

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Shannon Goldman

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Shannon Goldman is a co-founder of Rockville Pictures, the New York-based production company. Shannon produced his first feature film in 1992, Lost Prophet, which led to the formation of Rockville Pictures. He followed his filmmaking passions by producing, directing or editing five more feature length films, many of which premiered at top film festivals and were released to critical acclaim. Among them are “Revolution #9” directed by Tim McCann, which premiered at the Telluride Film Festival, Shannon’s directorial debut, “Kingdom Come”, “Burnzy’s Last Call” directed by Mike de Avila which premiered on the Sundance Channel, “Noise” directed by Tony Spiridakis, which took the Grand Jury prize at the Florida and New Orleans festivals, and “Beyond the Ashes” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. From the big screen to the small screen, Shannon continues to produce and direct award-winning television productions, brand identity films and fund-raising projects. Rockville’s Emmy Nominated show Lunkerville currently airs in over 88 million homes internationally, and is in its 7th season of production. Shannon has also directed films for some of the top fashion retail companies, including Gap, Victoria’s Secret PINK, Calypso St. Barth and Rebecca Taylor.

Shannon received his BFA in filmmaking from SUNY Purchase and lives on the North Fork with his wife Deborah McKeand, founder of Worktable NYC, a creative consulting firm.

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Tony Goldwyn

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Actor, director, producer Tony Goldwyn definitely likes to mix things up. He can currently be seen making his network series debut in Shonda Rhimes’ latest project for ABC, “Scandal.” In the show, Goldwyn plays the President opposite crisis manager Kerry Washington. Previously he was seen on the big screen in CBS Films’ remake of “The Mechanic” with Jason Statham and starring on Broadway in the revival of the hit musical, “Promises, Promises” opposite Kristin Chenoweth. His latest feature directorial effort, “Conviction,” starring Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell was awarded Best Film at the Boston Film Festival and was bestowed the Freedom of Expression Award by the National Board of Review.

Goldwyn made an auspicious directorial debut with “A Walk on the Moon” starring Diane Lane and Viggo Mortensen. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and went on to receive universal praise from critics. Goldwyn first read Pamela Gray’s script five years earlier and shepherded it through multiple drafts until Dustin Hoffman came on board as a producer and got the project financed. Coincidentally when Gray originally wrote the screenplay as her Master’s Thesis at UCLA Film School, she won the prestigious Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award – an honor established by Goldwyn’s paternal grandfather, the legendary film producer.

Additional feature directorial credits include “The Last Kiss” based on Gabriele Muccino’s “L’Ultimo Bacio” (Best Director, Boston Film Festival) and the romantic comedy “Someone Like You.” On the small screen, Goldwyn has helmed such prestigious shows as “Justified,” “Damages,” “Dexter,” “The L Word,” “Law & Order,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Private Practice” and “Without A Trace.”

As an actor, Goldwyn first caught audiences’ attention with his portrayal of the villain in the box office smash “Ghost.” He went on to appear in numerous other films including “The Pelican Brief” with Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington, “Kiss The Girls,” Oliver Stone’s “Nixon,” “The Substance of Fire,” “The Last Samurai” opposite Tom Cruise and the recent remake of Wes Craven’s classic “The Last House on the Left.” He is also familiar to children as the title voice in Disney’s animated feature “Tarzan.”

His television acting credits include “The Good Wife,” “Dexter,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “Without A Trace,” “The L Word,” the HBO Mini-Series “From The Earth To The Moon,” “Frasier,” “Murphy Brown” and “Designing Women,” where he touchingly portrayed the first AIDS victim on a prime time series.

Goldwyn began his acting career on the stage, spending seven seasons at the Williamstown Theater Festival. His New York theater credits include “The Water’s Edge” at the 2nd Stage Theater, “The Dying Gaul” at the Vineyard Theater, “Holiday” at The Circle in the Square opposite Laura Linney, “Spike Heels” with Kevin Bacon at 2nd Stage, “The Sum of Us” at the Cherry Lane Theater, for which he earned an Obie Award and “Digby” at the Manhattan Theater Club.

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Bob Krakower

Bob Krakower

Bob Krakower is recognized as one of the top acting teachers and coaches in the business. Sought after by studios, networks, theatre companies and actors, he works out of home bases in New York and Los Angeles, while maintaining a busy schedule of coaching on set for film and television around the country. His clients have been nominated for many prestigious awards including the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes, the Emmys, and the Tony Awards.

On set and off, whether he is working with actors (Rooney Mara, Josh Duhamel, John Slattery, Reba McEntire, Brooke Elliott, Jessica Hecht, Laurie Metalf, Wendy Makkena, Antonique Smith, and many more) , Stand-up Comics (Louis C.K., Lewis Black, John Pinette, Jimmy Fallon, Greg Geraldo, Jim Norton, and many others) or kids (“Hardball,” “All That”), he does so with what Emmy Award Winning director Michael Lembeck has called “the most passionate, kindest, and brightest approach I’ve ever seen.” His studio in New York, housed at One-On-One Productions in NYC, is one of the most successful long running acting classes in New York.

At Actors Theatre of Louisville, he was the Director of Actor Training and Master Acting Teacher, shepherding the school into the national spotlight. In a 1988 he taught at the theatre with the Moscow Art Theatre’s famed Studio Chelovek. He was a creative force behind the bi-yearly Shorts Festivals of New American Plays, producing and/or directing over 100 plays, working with such writers as Howard Korder, Lanford Wilson, Jane Anderson, and Jane Martin, among many others. As a Resident Director, he helmed several productions, including the first regional productions of David Mamet’s “Speed-The-Plow” and Craig Lucas’ “Prelude To A Kiss.”

A graduate of Tufts University and the American Conservatory Theatre, he also served as Guest Director/Teacher for David Mamet and William H. Macy at the Atlantic Theatre Company, eventually taking over as Director of the Atlantic Theatre Company Acting School, running both the Professional and NYU Undergraduate Divisions. He has been on staff and guest-taught for (among many others), NYU, the Stella Adler Conservatory, The Howard Fine Studio, and The Actor’s Center in New York, where he joined Earl Gister (Yale), Lloyd Richards (Broadway), and J. Michael Miller (NYU) as a Founding Faculty Member.

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Wendy Makkena

Wendy Makkena

Wendy Makkena is an accomplished actress, musician and entrepreneur from New York City, with a diverse background in film, television, theatre, and the arts. Ms. Makkena is a classically trained Juilliard harpist, performing at Carnegie Hall. She also plays R&B guitar, danced for six years with Balanchine’s New York City Ballet, and is the founder of a successful startup.

 

In feature films Ms. Makkena recently appeared in The Discovery with Rooney Mara, Jason Segel, and Robert Redford, as Mr. Redford’s beloved wife Maggie; The Enchanted Forest, directed by Josh Klausner, and as the British real estate agent Maggie in Fair Market Value, which had its world premiere at the Bentonville Film Festival winning the Best Ensemble Award. Other films include State of Play as Ben Affleck’s erstwhile assistant Greer Thornton and leads in Finding North, Camp Nowhere, Noise, Air Bud and John Sayle’s Eight Men Out. Wendy is perhaps best known for her role of shy novice sister Mary Robert in Sister Act and Sister Act 2.

 

In television, Wendy has a recurring role on NCIS as Kate Todd’s sister Dr. Rachel Cranston. She has also starred in the Fox comedy series Oliver Beene; the CBS series Listen Up opposite Jason Alexander; the ABC series The Job opposite Denis Leary; Fox’s The Mob Doctor and the role of “All the Way” Mae in the TV series A League of Their Own, directed by Penny Marshall. Other TV roles include recurring roles on Judging Amy opposite Tyne Daly; NYPD Blue opposite David Caruso; Alpha House on Amazon Prime; Rizzoli & Isles, The Good Wife, Desperate Housewives, Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, CSI, House, The Nine and Philly.

 

As a theatre actress, her roles on stage as varied as they are on screen, ranging from leads in the farce of Broadway’s Lend Me a Tenor, to the holocaust drama, Cynthia Ozick’s The Shawl opposite Dianne Wiest and directed by Sidney Lumet. On Broadway, Wendy has appeared in numerous productions earning rave reviews, including the leading role of Crazy Terry in Roundabout’s Side Man, Tony Award winner for Best Play, and Pygmalion with Peter O’Toole. Off Broadway, she has appeared in Richard Greenberg’s American Plan; Donald Margulies’s Loman Family Picnic and Prin with Eileen Atkins. At Playwrights Horizons, Wendy originated the roles of Carmen Berra in Bronx Bombers and Megan in The Water Children (NY & LA), winning the LA Drama Critics Circle Award and the Robby Award for Best Actress. She was selected by Harold Pinter to appear in the American premiere of Mountain Language, opposite David Strathairn, and performed in The Birthday Party with Jean Stapleton. She has also worked with such artists as Beth Henley at New York Stage & Film and Julie Taymor in The Taming of the Shrew.

 

As an entrepreneur, Wendy is the founder and recipe inventor behind Ruby’s Rockets frozen fruit and veggie pops. Conceived and crafted with her daughter Ruby, their first-to-market recipes have won the Masters Of Taste Award, The New Hope Editor’s Choice NEXTY Award, and the SupplySide West Award. Ruby’s Rockets have been featured on The Today Show, Forbes, and NY Business Insider, among others, and were selected to be in Oprah’s coveted O list. They are now in over 3,000 doors nationwide.

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Chazz Palminteri

Chazz Palminteri

Chazz has appeared in over 50 films and is best known for his performances in A BRONX TALE, THE USUAL SUSPECTS, MULHOLLAND FALLS, DIABOLIQUE, RUNNING SCARED, and his Academy Award nominated role for Best Supporting Actor in Woody Allen’s smash hit BULLETS OVER BROADWAY.

In 1989, Mr. Palminteri wrote the acclaimed one man show, A BRONX TALE, which depicted his bruising childhood in great detail. Three years later, he wrote the screenplay and Robert DeNiro took it to the silver screen. A BRONX TALE, featuring Palminteri starring opposite DeNiro, was a critical and commercial success. And he later teamed up again with DeNiro in the hit ANALYIZE THIS. He also wrote and starred in the play and movie, FAITHFUL, which was another collaborative project with Mr. DeNiro.

On television, Mr. Palminteri has starred in a number of high profile roles, including USA Network series KOJAK. He portrayed Mob Boss Paul Castellano in TNT’s BOSS OF BOSSES and starred as famed Sicilian prosecutor Giovanni Falcone in the HBO film, EXCELLENT CADAVERS. He also won critical acclaim as Frank Rizzoli Sr. in TNT’s hit television series RIZZOLI & ISLES. Most recently, Mr. Palminteri can be seen on the award winning television series, MODERN FAMILY, as Shorty.

Mr. Palminteri has directed several projects including an episode of OZ for HBO and the made for TV movie, WOMEN VS. MEN for Showtime starring Joe Montegna and Christine Lahti. He also directed the Feature Film, NOEL, starring Robin Williams, Susan Sarandon, Penelope Cruz and Paul Walker.

Palminteri is once again starring in the stage version of A BRONX TALE, which received excellent reviews when it was reintroduced to Broadway in 2007. The play was hailed as the “best show of the year” in Las Vegas last year, and has played to sellout crowds at Caesar’s Palace in Atlantic City.

When not performing or overseeing his production company, Neighborhood Films, Chazz and his wife Gianna enjoy spending time with their children, horses and friends at their gracious homestead in Bedford.

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Tony Spiridakis

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Tony Spiridakis graduated from Albany University and immediately began teaching English at his old high school in Queens. At night, he pursued acting. He joined Circle in the Square’s Professional Workshop, which led to roles at the Williamstown Theater Festival, then his acceptance to the prestigious Yale School of Drama. From Yale, he was cast in the television series, BAY CITY BLUES, created by legendary producer Stephen Bochco, alongside Sharon Stone. Acting took him to Europe, where he starred in HAREM with Omar Sharif, THE AMERICAN WAY with Dennis Hopper, DEATHWISH III with Charles Bronson, and in director Stanley Kubrick’s FULL METAL JACKET. Mr. Kubrick inspired him to try his hand at writing.

In his first screenplay, QUEENS LOGIC, Tony co-starred with Kevin Bacon, John Malkovich, Joe Mantegna and Jamie Lee Curtis. Suddenly, he was writing scripts for powerhouse producers Scott Rudin, Laura Ziskin, John Davis and Harvey Weinstein. Known for creating great roles for actors, he wrote for Academy Award winners Dustin Hoffman, Diane Keaton and Richard Dreyfuss, as well as Eddie Murphy, Chazz Palminteri and Giancarlo Giannini. He co-wrote the romantic comedy IF LUCY FELL, with Ben Stiller and Sarah Jessica Parker. His first film as writer-director, THE LAST WORD, starred Academy Award winner Timothy Hutton. He directed the indie-winning film NOISE, with Giancarlo Esposito (“Breaking Bad”); TINSELTOWN, with Ron Perlman and Emmy winner Joe Pantoliano; BEYOND THE ASHES, with Tony Goldwyn and Janeane Garofalo; his documentary, DRIVING TO GROUND ZERO, captured a road trip from Los Angeles to lower Manhattan during the terrifying week of 9-11.

In television, he co-created the series THE HEIGHTS with Eric Roth, Academy Award for “Forrest Gump” and Aaron Spelling, which ran on FOX network. The Heights earned a gold record and a number one single on Billboard, “How Do You Talk To An Angel.” He had the honor of writing with FBI Agent Joe Pistone, the real-life “Donnie Brasco”, for the CBS series, FALCONE. On stage, his plays were produced at the Mark Taper Forum, the Odyssey and Open Fist theaters in Los Angeles. He also produced and acted in Academy and Tony Award winner Doug Wright’s first play, CALLBACKS, with his dear friend, three-time Emmy winner Michael E. Knight.

Tony attributes his accomplishments to the quality of teachers, and friends: Uta Hagen, Nikos Psacharopoulos, Geraldine Page, Michael Kahn, Larry Moss and the incomparable Bob Krakower. He’s been a screenwriting mentor at the Hamptons Film Festival, taught film production at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film, and co-founded the Manhattan Film Institute, a boutique conservatory, alongside his life partner Lisa Gillooly.

Currently, he is writing a new series, OLIVER’S ARMY, for TNT network, and a screenplay, INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR, under option to Weintraub Films.

Tony is the proud father of two – Nikos and Dimitri – and with Lisa and her four – Richard, Lauren, Lianne and Elizabeth – they divide their time between Orient, New York and Sherman Oaks, California.

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