Courtesy of Cornell University

“American Masters” producer Michael Kantor ’83 and “Succession” producer Scott Ferguson ’82 will speak at Cornell Cinema.

March 27, 2023

Emmy-Winning “Succession” and “American Masters” Producers to Speak at Cornell Cinema

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Emmy-winning filmmakers Scott Ferguson ’82 and Michael Kantor ’83 will discuss their careers on Tuesday and Wednesday at Cornell Cinema’sFrom the Big Red to the Red Carpet” event.

Ferguson is an executive producer of HBO’s “Succession,” having received numerous Emmy, Golden Globe and Critics Choice awards for his work on the hit show. The highly-anticipated first episode of the fourth season aired Sunday. Ferguson studied theater studies at Cornell and  holds a M.F.A. in film producing from Columbia University. He previously worked on diverse projects, including award-winning films “The Normal Heart” and “Temple Grandin.”

Kantor serves as an executive producer on PBS’s award-winning biographical series “American Masters,” which recently spotlighted Anthony Fauci M.D. ’66 in its recent documentary “Dr. Tony Fauci.” Having directed films including “Cornerstone,” “American Masters Quincy Jones: In the Pocket,” and “Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy,” Kantor also studied theater studies at Cornell and received a M.F.A. in directing from the University of California San Diego. 

“These two Cornell classmates — who have forged really incredible careers — are excited to both share some of the work they are producing, but also to talk with current Cornell students and share their wisdom,” said Molly Ryan, director of Cornell Cinema. “I think it’s inspiring [for students] to see people who started where you are.” 

On Tuesday at 6 p.m., Prof. Austin Bunn, performing and media arts, will facilitate a discussion with Ferguson and Kantor at Willard Straight Hall, where they will be sharing stories and clips from their careers.

“I think it’s important for Cornell alums in film and TV to come back to share their stories with students,” Bunn said. “For many students at Cornell who are passionate about the arts, it’s really hard to understand what that career path looks like.”

According to Ryan, Cornell Cinema was previously in touch with the producers, who had expressed interest in coordinating an event for performing and media arts students. 

“It’s helpful to hear from people who are further along in their career, reflecting back on what they did after they graduated and the kinds of choices they made to help them get to where they are,” Bunn said. “These are things that aren’t necessarily written down.” 

After the conversation, there will be a “Red Carpet Reception” in the Willard Straight Hall Memorial Room, where attendees will have the opportunity to meet the producers, take photos and participate in film-related activities. 

“I am excited — I’ve been a fan of ‘Succession’ since the first season, and I’m really looking forward to getting to meet the producers,” said Nicholas Maggard ’26.

On Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., Cornell Cinema will screen a sneak-peek from the fourth and final season of “Succession,” followed by a Q&A session with Ferguson and a Zoom visit from a special guest from the “Succession” cast. Cornell Cinema will also screen “Dr. Tony Fauci” at 7:30 p.m., followed by a Q&A with Kantor and a Zoom visit from Fauci himself.

“From the Big Red to the Red Carpet” is part of Cornell’s Arts Unplugged series, which aims to expand the teaching and research of the College of Arts and Sciences, according to Ryan. 

“Both ‘Succession’ and the ‘Dr. Tony Fauci’ documentary address inequities, divisions and social problems in the United States that have become increasingly visible over the past several years,” Ryan told The Sun. “I hope next week’s screenings and conversations open space to talk with our guest speakers about some of these issues, which are top of mind for many Cornell faculty and students and seem part of Cornell’s core mission ‘to do the greatest good.’”

Marian Caballo ’26 is an Assistant News Editor for the 141st editorial board and can be reached at [email protected].

Elizabeth Gardner ’26 is a Sun contributor and can be reached at [email protected].

Update, March 28, 7:02 p.m.: A previous version of this article stated that “Succession” actor Matthew MacFayden would be joining the event via Zoom. Since publication, it was announced MacFayden will not attend and instead there will be another special guest from the “Succession” cast.