» James Gardner
Associate Professor, Director, Television Studies

Lawrence and Kristina Dodge College of Film and Media Arts
James Gardner
Office Location:
Marion Knott Studios 278
(714) 628-7291
University of Pittsburgh, Bachelor of Arts
University of Pittsburgh, Master of Arts
Yale University, Master of Fine Arts in Directing
"Everything goes back to baseball," says James Gardner, Associate Professor, and Director of Television Studies. "If you're the manager of a baseball team, you have to create a team of divergent individuals, with different skills, who play together as a unit. The same is true of theatre, it's true of film, and it's true of television."

Gardner graduated with an MFA in Directing from the Yale School of Drama. He later went on to become a Directing Fellow at the American Film Institute. He has directed several sitcoms, including the Prime Time Emmy Award- nominated series My Sister Sam, and the longtime running series Coach.

"The people who make television work," Gardner says, "are the people who recognize and accept the television show for what it is. People often assume that television's purpose is to create art, but that's a mistake. Art happens by mistake. The real purpose of television is commerce. Art sometimes happens, despite commerce, but the show exists, first and foremost, to draw viewers to commercials for products. As the director, it's my job to attract those viewers, by creating a great show. One way to do that is to create a space where the crew and the actors feel safe to contribute ideas. After all, everyone on the set wants the show to be great, and if everyone is working together towards that goal, then hopefully the audience will notice and keep watching."

In 2002, New York University hired Gardner to design an integrated curriculum for their new television program that would pull on the resources of the 11 existing programs listed under the TISCH School of the Arts. The program attracted the attention of Dodge College Dean Bob Bassett, who asked Gardner to develop the TV program at Chapman University.

"Bob's really smart," Gardner says. "He wanted to create a unique program, called narrative television, which would produce the best trained students to enter the profession."

As for the future, "We're all crossing our fingers to see what happens next. This whole curve ball of 3D, and the internet, nobody knows where it's going. About the only thing I can say is that it won't involve a television set, unless that television is hooked to the computer. As our program evolves, you're going to see television, the internet, and 3D merging together, giving our students a chance to live television history."

Recent Creative, Scholarly Work and Publications
PRIME TIME: The Game of Television. James Gardner and Peter Longini, Cognella Publishing, 8/20/13 release
Creator and Executive Producer of MANNING MANOR, television show sold to Relativity/Real, Great Point Productions.
TWO HARBORS, prime-time one hour drama series, finalist in NBC/Universal’s “Voice and Vision” drama competition.
Named "Official Artist", 2013 New York Television Festival
Executive Producer, JERSEY CHASERS (Drama television pilot)
Executive Producer, CALLED TO SERVE (Drama television pilot) -- ITVFEST (International Television Festival) Finalist
PRIME TIME website operational. This is the website that complements my PRIME TIME: The Game of Television class.
Executive Producer, HELP WANTED (Drama television pilot)
Executive Producer, TWO CLOSE (Drama television pilot)
Directed HAYMAN HOUSE, by Jim Macak at the Writer’s Guild of America, West
Director, GREAT DECISIONS -- PBS National Foreign Policy Television Series (eight episodes)
Executive Producer, COYOTES (Drama television pilot) -- New York Television Festival Finalist
Executive Producer, HIGHER EDUCATION (One-hour drama television pilot) -- ITVFEST (International Television Festival) Finalist
Directed 26 MILES, by Jim Macak, at the Writer’s Guild of America, West
Executive Producer, RISING ABOVE (Drama television pilot) -- New York Television Festival Finalist
Executive Producer: KATE SO FAR (One-hour drama television pilot)-- New York Television Festival Finalist