John Tarnoff Named Head of MEIM Industry Relations for Heinz College

May 28, 2010


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John Tarnoff, a 30-year veteran of the media and entertainment business, has been appointed head of industry relations for the Master of Entertainment Industry Management (MEIM) Program, a collaborative academic initiative of H. John Heinz III College and the College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University.

In the newly created position, Tarnoff will focus on expanding the program's visibility within the film and television industry and assist MEIM students in identifying and leveraging career opportunities. He will identify research and strategic education opportunities that draw on relevant expertise in digital media and technology across Heinz College programs. He also will continue to teach film/television production management courses and host a monthly seminar series with industry leaders for second-year MEIM students in Los Angeles.

"John's experience and expertise in the entertainment, digital media and technology sectors is a great fit with our MEIM program," noted Heinz College Dean Ramayya Krishnan. "It is well aligned with our research expertise at our School of Information Systems and Management at the college. I look forward to working with John and Dan Green, MEIM program director, to build a leadership position for the program."

"John's ability to connect the classroom experience so that it applies to industry needs will be a valuable asset to both the college and our students," said Dan Martin, incoming interim dean of the College of Fine Arts. "His experience as both a professor and an industry veteran on a variety of fronts — film, gaming, interactive — will greatly enhance the program."

For six years, Tarnoff was head of show development at DreamWorks Animation SKG, where he supervised DreamWorks' early production program known as "PODS," expanded the company's internal Artistic Development Program and initiated and ran the successful Academic Outreach Program to identify and recruit entry-level animation artists and engineers from leading universities worldwide. He also was responsible for a number of talent development initiatives, including the migration of artists from traditional to digital workflows on the "front end" of animation production.

"The MEIM program is a unique educational opportunity for grad students to learn the core entrepreneurial skills and workflows that will prepare them for leadership careers across all screen-based media for the 21st century," said Tarnoff. "This is a time of unprecedented transformation in the entertainment business. The fundamental sea changes that hit the music industry in the late 90s are now, thanks to new platforms and greater bandwidth, affecting traditional theatrical and television markets, as well as newer business models like games."

"The MEIM program is the best place for motivated, visionary self-starters to jump in and learn, in order to create the future of digital entertainment," he said.

After leaving DreamWorks in 2009, Tarnoff continued to focus on bridging academia and business to address the challenges of preparing new talent for the rapidly evolving digital media/entertainment industry. As a consultant with broad experience as a studio executive, film and interactive producer and technology entrepreneur, he develops strategies and programs for clients including the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the ACME Network, a digital distance-learning company.

During the 1980s and early 1990s, he supervised more than a dozen movies as a production executive and producer, including "Diner," "Pink Floyd: The Wall," "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" and "The Power of One," for studios including MGM, Orion, Columbia, Village-Roadshow, Warner Bros and New Line. He co-wrote and co-produced the Playstation game "WarGames," based on the MGM movie, and produced the CD-Rom game "Big Brother," based on George Orwell's classic novel "1984."

From 1996 until 2002, Tarnoff was CEO of Talkie, Inc., an Internet technology start-up that pioneered online, conversational animated characters for marketing, brand building, lead generation, customer service and training.

He has served on the National Policy Roundtable for Americans for the Arts and on the Chancellor's Entertainment Advisory Board for California State University. As an educator, he served as an adjunct faculty member for Carnegie Mellon and for the University of Santa Monica.

Tarnoff holds a bachelor's degree from Amherst College and a master's degree in spiritual psychology from the University of Santa Monica.

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