Fifteen years ago, 1995 College graduate Todd Lieberman was working as a caterer at an after-party for the 68th annual Academy Awards. Everything was going according to plan — that is, until Lieberman spilled a drink all over actor and comedian Jim Carrey.
“That was pretty embarrassing, to say the least,” Lieberman recalled.
On Sunday, Lieberman will once again have a role to play in the Academy Awards. This time around, however, the former caterer will take center stage as a first-time Oscar nominee.
Lieberman is a co-producer of The Fighter — a film that’s up for Best Motion Picture of the Year, among seven Oscar nominations in 2011.
The Fighter tells the story of the relationship between professional boxer “Irish” Micky Ward and his older half-brother, Dicky Eklund. The film stars Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale and Amy Adams.
“This is a lot more than just a boxing movie — it’s about family,” Lieberman said.
Despite making a name for himself in Hollywood soon after his college days, Lieberman said he looks back on his Penn experience as one that “had a huge influence on the course of [his] life.”
“I feel like I kind of grew up at Penn,” he said. “There’s a lot of weight attached to the Penn pedigree, and that hasn’t gone unnoticed in my professional life.”
Lieberman’s years at Penn were highlighted by his time as a writer and cast member of Mask and Wig. He was also a brother in Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity.
1996 College graduate Matt Rosler — a fellow Mask and Wig cast member and AEPi brother — remembered Lieberman as “a kind of big brother for [him] at college.”
“The thing about Todd is that he’s always been a real people person,” Rosler said. Rosler — who now keeps tabs on Penn alumni in the arts through his blog “Dueling Tampons” — added that Lieberman’s personality “hasn’t changed at all” as he has progressed in his career.
Brian Yanish, a 1995 College graduate and former Mask and Wig cast member with Lieberman, agreed. Though Yanish now lives in Brooklyn, he said he has maintained a close relationship with Lieberman over the years.
“Todd had a high level of dedication and consistency in his performances at Penn, and that’s definitely carried over into his entertainment career,” Yanish said.
After graduation, Lieberman decided to make the trip out to Los Angeles with a 1986 Toyota Camry and just $500 in his pockets.
Fast forward to today, and Lieberman has produced an impressive list of Hollywood projects that includes Bringing Down the House, Wild Hogs and The Proposal. Earlier in his career, Lieberman also helped Summit Entertainment acquire the rights to American Pie and Christopher Nolan’s Memento.
The former Penn undergraduate will learn on Feb. 27 whether his most recent undertaking, The Fighter, will take home Oscar gold.
Win or lose, however, Lieberman said he will look back on the film’s production as a “dream experience.”
“In the end, the movie that got made was the movie that should have been made,” he said. “Like Micky says in the movie — I’m just happy to be here.”Comments powered by Disqus
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