California State University, Long Beach
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University Dedicates William Link Theatre

To dedicate its newly named William Link Theatre, CSULB’s Film and Electronic Arts (FEA) Department hosted a fundraising dinner recently that included a staged reading of “Berggasse 19,” award-winning writer and producer William Link’s new socio-suspense play about Sigmund Freud confronting the Nazis in Vienna.

The dedication of the William Link Theatre (formerly the University Theatre) was in honor of Link’s work, his commitment to arts education and his extensive donation of new original plays to the FEA.

One of the plays Link has donated to CSULB is his latest Columbo play “Columbo Takes The Rap,” which is due to run in early 2009 and will include television actor and director LeVar Burton as Columbo. He has also donated the illusion and suspense-filled “Invitation to a Séance.” Other plays, works and papers by Link will also be provided to the university.

“The involvement of William Link in our curriculum and the donation of these works for production means the Film and Electronic Arts Department will be able to refurbish and upgrade the theatre to modern standards that will serve our students, our faculty, and the community in a big way for a long time,” said department chair Craig Smith. “Since we will produce and film the plays, we will be entitled to revenue whenever and wherever they run, in a variety of media. This is a substantial donation of faith, inspiration and a creative challenge for us.”

The FEA has pledged to use the theatre as the auspices for production of Link’s plays as well as new and original plays by other Hollywood writers. Link served as artist-in-residence at The CSULB Sony Film Festival in 2007 where his short story, “Where Do The Balloons Go?” was filmed as a combined student and professional short.

Link is considered by many to be one of the most successful writers in the history of television. The New York Times dubbed Link and his late collaborator Richard Levinson, “Mr. Rolls and Mr. Royce of American Television.” They were the first writers inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.

Together, they created “Columbo,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “McCloud,” “Mannix” and one dozen other acclaimed television series. Link’s awards include the Paddy Chayevsky Lifetime Achievement for Writing award, Emmys, Golden Globes, and four Edgar Allen Poe awards. He was the first recipient of the Mystery Writers’ Marlowe Lifetime Achievement award, and the Ellery Queen Lifetime Achievement award. He is also a recipient of the most prestigious television award, the Peabody. Link recently served as national president of the Mystery Writers of America.

Victoria Garcia and President Alexander
Photo by Drew Metz
Margery Link, President F. King Alexander and William Link.

In addition, Link wrote and produced a variety of honored television movies as well as feature films, Broadway plays, books and dozens of short stories. He is credited for helping to launch the careers of Steven Spielberg, Steven Bochco and other renowned writers, directors, producers and actors. He also encouraged "Matrix" producer Joel Silver early in his career.

Eager to begin capitalizing on Link’s eclectic gift to CSULB, the FEA, along with theater arts students and industry professionals, will work together to create curriculum and produce a series of staged readings, live performances, and film productions in Link’s spirit.

The dedication dinner was taped in conjunction with Sony for use at the CSULB Sony Premiere Film Festival in early 2009, celebrating new “premiere” filmmaking by CSULB and film students worldwide. Pre-production on “Invitation to a Séance” has already begun, and the play is under option to famed Broadway producer Bill Haber, who is expected to attend the student production premiere in 2009.

“Our university and our film department have always been tantalizingly close to Hollywood and, at the same time, one or two freeways too far,” said FEA Professor Brian Alan Lane. “By his personal commitment to our students, our faculty and our facilities, William Link has proved that the wisdom, expertise, creativity and professionalism of Hollywood have a hallowed and dedicated place at CSULB. His has been a career of meaning to the past and to the present, but, with these gifts of himself and his works, he now secures the future as well. Our students will find our department to be a place of both learning and career as students and professionals work together toward individual and collaborative artistic vision. It is an exciting time. I only wish I could be a student again!”