Hollywood writer joins English faculty

Screenwriter Jeffrey Stepakoff is bringing Hollywood to Kennesaw State. A writing force behind the wildly successful hits “The Wonder Years” and “Dawson’s Creek‚” Stepakoff will join the English department this fall as a full−time faculty member‚ sharing his real−world expertise with both undergrad and grad students.

Georgia (Jul 13, 2006) — Screenwriter Jeffrey Stepakoff is bringing Hollywood to Kennesaw State.

A writing force behind the wildly successful hits “The Wonder Years” and “Dawson’s Creek‚” Stepakoff will join the English department this fall as a full−time faculty member‚ sharing his real−world expertise with both undergrad and grad students.

He has written for 14 different series and has “written by” or “story by” credits on 36 television episodes. Stepakoff also created pilots for 20th Century‚ Paramount‚ MTM‚ Fox and ABC and developed and wrote major motion pictures‚ including Disney’s “Tarzan” and “Brother Bear.” In addition‚ he served as a high−level producer for numerous projects.

“He is one of the top people in his field‚” said English professor Ralph T. Wilson. “He doesn’t need this job‚ but he approached us and wanted to be here.”

A native of Dunwoody‚ Stepakoff grew up in metro Atlanta and wanted to return to a “family−friendly environment‚” especially since he and his wife have two young daughters.

“I haven’t left the entertainment business‚” he explained. “But after two decades‚ I’m at the point where I want to give back‚ as well. Teaching has always been a part of the game plan.”

His game plan started with a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After graduation‚ he began working at a Midtown advertising agency‚ but by 1985‚ he was looking for a change.

He knew he wanted to write‚ so he pursued a Master of Fine Arts degree in playwriting at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania with the goal of finding a job in California or New York.

“My parents weren’t exactly thrilled‚” he said. “It was seen as a rather kooky endeavor. Becoming an astronaut seemed more reasonable than Hollywood writer.”

But by the late ’80s‚ due to rising syndication values and the explosion of new networks‚ writers were in demand. Stepakoff got his chance to head to Tinseltown when he ran into a fellow Carnegie Mellon alumnus who had created “ER.” That contact landed him an agent and his first job with David Milch‚ who is best known for creating “NYPD Blue” and “Deadwood.” From there‚ he went on to “Major Dad‚” “Sisters‚” “Hyperion Bay‚” “The Wonder Years” and “Dawson’s Creek” — not to mention his numerous writing credits for video games.

“All content in Hollywood is still created by a handful of writers‚” Stepakoff said. “Writing is the ultimate career to have these days — and a very reasonable course of study. Today‚ stories and entertainment are just as vital to our economy as oil or agriculture.”

That’s why he’s excited to help mold future screenwriters. He knows when they graduate‚ they’ll have a great chance of finding a job in the entertainment industry.

“With its location near a world−class media town and its commitment to professional training‚ I can’t imagine a school better positioned to start turning out tomorrow’s great working film and TV writers than Kennesaw State‚” Stepakoff said.

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 38,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.

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