For those who wonder how stars are made on such shows as “The West Wing” and “Third Watch,” those actors owe their success in part to John Levey, a UR alum from the class of ’69 and Vice President of casting for Warner Bros. Television.
Levey will be one of three presenters at Meliora Weekend’s Young Leaders Career Workshop on Friday at 1:15 p.m. The panel will answer questions from students and young alumni about their time at UR and the path each took to success.
At Warner Bros., Levey has had a hands-on role in the casting for such shows as “ER,” “The West Wing,” “Third Watch,” “Growing Pains” and others.
“I bring to the attention of directors and producers actors who are available for roles,” he said.
As a graduate of the sixties, Levey credits his time at UR and the late-60s culture as big influences in his life. “My college years meant a lot to me,” he said. However, as he will discuss Friday, he feels that we have lost track of the main values of that era.
“I adhere to a sense of principles, a sense of truth, and a sense of community,” he said.
“The sixties are represented foolishly by the media. They’re cartoonized ? black and white imagery of long hair, sex and pot.” He says we should remember the achievements of the women’s movement, black movement and the student movement as major achievements in the political evolution of America.
UR gave him a place to find himself and what he believes. He wishes others were as aware of the major changes of the time. “There are people from that era who don’t know how it has affected them,” he said.
He says that entertainment television factors into his ideals. “Television is a powerful force in public opinion. More information was communicated about AIDS on “ER” than from any government program,” he said.
Levey majored in studio arts with a concentration in theater. After graduation, he stayed upstate for a few years working for Strong Memorial Hospital’s suicide prevention service, while also teaching continuing education classes in acting. Following those, he had stints doing handyman jobs in the Catskills before leaving for California in 1973, where he acted in plays around Los Angeles.
In 1979, he received a National Endowment for the Arts director’s fellowship. He read new plays and worked as an assistant, while doing more freelance directing. He landed in casting by accident, he said ? an accident that led him to a career at Warner Brothers that has lasted nearly 17 years.
Friday’s panel discussion encourages questions from audience members. Dean of The College William Green will moderate. Other panel members are Cathy Minehan, an alumus from the class of ’68, who is President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and John Major, an alum from the class of ’67 chairman and CEO of Novatel Wireless.
Bobkoff can be reached at email@example.com.