Palisades Filmmaker Edward Zwick Honored by American Film Institute

The American Film Institute conferred honorary doctorate of fine arts degrees on comedy icon Carol Burnett and filmmaking partners Marshall Herskovitz and Palisadian Edward Zwick on June 5 at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

The AFI’s commencement marked the 50th anniversary of the institute’s formation in 1967 and the debut of the The Carol Burnett Show. AFI opened the Center for Advanced Film Studies (now the AFI Conservatory) in 1969.

Zwick, who now lives in Rustic Canyon, was born in Winnetka, Illinois, in 1952 and began making films in high school. After studying literature at Harvard and graduating in 1974, he attended the AFI Conservatory for directing, where he earned a master’s degree in 1975. It was there he met his creative collaborator, Marshall Herskovitz.

Marshall Herskovitz, Carol Burnett and Palisadian Edward Zwick received honorary degrees from the American Film Institute on June 5. Photo courtesy of American Film Institute

Marshall Herskovitz, Carol Burnett and Palisadian Edward Zwick received honorary degrees from the American Film Institute on June 5. Photo courtesy of American Film Institute

Zwick’s AFI thesis film won the student competition at the 1976 Chicago Film Festival, and landed him a job on the television series “Family.” He worked as a director, producer and writer on the series for five years, often alongside Herskovitz. In 1980, Zwick earned a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Drama Series for Family.

He and Herskovitz went on to win Emmys for producing and writing the television movie Special Bulletin.

Zwick’s directing credits include “Glory” (1989), “Legends of the Fall,” :Courage Under Fire,” “The Siege,” “The Last Samurai” (2003), “Blood Diamond,” “Love and Other Drugs,” “Pawn Sacrifice” and “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” (2016).

As a producer, Zwick has worked with Herskovitz on series including “My So-Called Life,” “Nashville” and “Thirtysomething,” where his wife, Liberty Godshall, was a writer. Zwick earned a Best Picture Academy Award in 1999 for “Shakespeare in Love” and a second nomination in 2000 for “Traffic,” which he co-produced with Herskovitz. The two men continue to collaborate through the Bedford Falls Company, a Santa Monica company that produces and distributes movies and TV shows.

In addition to the Oscar, the Rustic Canyon resident has received three Emmys, a Directors Guild of America award and three Writers Guild of America awards. He is the vice chairman of the AFI Board of Trustees.

Burnett, whose show lasted 11 years, began her comments at the graduation with her trademark “Tarzan yell” and urged fellows to “make great art,” while adding, “Nothing is impossible if you believe hard enough, and you work hard enough.”

The Carol Burnett Show garnered Burnett six Emmy Awards, five Golden Globes and the 2016 Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.

Herskovitz and Zwick shared anecdotes from their longtime creative collaboration, which Herskovitz described as “an extraordinary partnership—and the longest living partnership in Hollywood today.”

“Leaving here you are not alone,” said Zwick, who stressed the collaborative nature of the Conservatory program. “Your classmates will be there to serve as a living reminder of who you are and what you dream of.”

Zwick and Godshall have two adult children, Jesse and daughter Frankie. Many Palisadians have fond memories of Zwick, who even in the midst of filming would volunteer as an AYSO coach for his daughter.

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