Photo by Brandon Scheirman
Ken LaZebnik, director for Library Advancement and Public Affairs, will be leaving his position at the end of January.
LaZebnik, who has been with the university since 2010, has been named the Founding Director of Stephen’s College Mastery of Fine Arts in Television and Screenwriting.
LaZebnik, a playwright and screenwriter, helped Stephen’s College design the curriculum for the low-residency MFA programs based in Los Angeles.
The television and screenwriting programs, specific to writing, offer students flexibility in their schedules.
Students will attend the satellite campus for 10 days in the summer and 10 days in the winter, and work the rest of the school year online.
The women’s college, located in Columbia, Mo., is quite familiar to LaZebnik. His father taught creative writing there, and LaZebnik even served a brief two-year stint as the Dean of the School of Performing Arts.
However, he eventually decided the commute from Los Angeles to Missouri was too burdensome.
As founding director of the Stephen’s College satellite campus, LaZebnik said his first steps will revolve around seeing the program through accreditation while simultaneously recruiting students, faculty and mentors for the August start date.
He said the process has been fun for him. “It’s really about increasing the number of women writing for TV and film,” he said.
LaZebnik’s writing has been featured on the big screen in films such as “A Prairie Home Companion,” the small screen in shows such as “Touched by an Angel” and on the stage in plays such as “On the Spectrum,” which earned him a Steinberg Citation from the American Theatre Critics Association.
As an accomplished writer who works in the library, LaZebnik is an avid reader.
“For a writer to be plopped down in the middle of the library is sort of like heaven,” he said.
While the library’s function as a book repository may be waning with younger generations, LaZebnik said there’s nothing quite like searching and wandering through rows upon rows of books. One can find “incredible treasures” while searching for something that catches the eye.
One of the glories of a library is experiencing that “serendipitous discovery.”
Online searches are direct and purposeful, but “it’s hard to find that kind of library experience [in the digital world].”
Hoping to recreate the palpable paperback phenomena for others, LaZebnik will be releasing “Hollywood Digs: An Archaelogy of Shadows” this spring.
The book is a collection of essays about Hollywood history heavyweights featuring profiles on F. Scott Fitzgerald, Kathy Kohner-Zuckerman and Mickey Moore, among others.
The book idea was conceived when LaZebnik wrote a profile on Fitzgerald for his friend Bart Schneider’s magazine. Schneider, a novelist, playwright and publisher at Kelly’s Cove Press, gave LaZebnik the idea to create more essays and compile them into a book.
Over the past three years, LaZebnik and Mark Roosa, Dean of Libraries, have worked together to present more than 80 different exhibits, panels and speakers at Payson Library.
He said he acknowledges that his position has forged partnerships with groups such as the Glazer Institute for Jewish Studies, the Black Student Association and the Center for Entertainment, Media and Culture.
In a previous Graphic interview, LaZebnik said that his mission was to make Payson “the cultural hub on campus,” as an intermediary place between the classroom and the dorm room.
He said he believes that he and Roosa have made that mission a reality. “It’s been enormously fun for me to make his [Roosa’s] vision come to fruition.”
Likewise, Roosa said that LaZebnik’s “enthusiasm for working creatively to advance the library cause and serve students has been a blessing. We will miss Ken’s collegiality, his warm personality and positive energy and we send him off with our prayers, and all best wishes for success in this new chapter in his life.”
LaZebnik will return to Pepperdine on April 1 for a discussion about his new book. Where will the discussion be held? “In the library. Where else?” LaZebnik said.
SEE MORE: LaZebnik wrote two episodes for “When Calls the Heart,” a Hallmark Channel Original Series. Episode 3, titled “A Telling Science,” airs Jan. 25.
Follow Whitney Irick on Twitter: @Whit_Ashton