The Big Apple of Her Eye
Rose Ganguzza, BA70 (T), has long had a special connection to New York City. Ive always loved New York. From the time I was 12, I would go to Westwood [from Woodcliff Lake, N.J.] and catch the Red and Tan bus to the city. She has lived in Manhattan since the 1970s, and her film production company Hollywood NYC Productions is based there. She also teaches and has a son studying in New York.
So its no wonder that the executive producer was happy to start her acclaimed A&E documentary series, At the Movies, where her heart lies: Manhattan. New York at the Movies was the first installment of the series, which focuses on the importance of the location to some of the greatest movies ever made. The two-hour program, hosted and narrated by Meryl Streep, aired in 2002 and featured clips from movies such as On the Town, Wall Street and Midnight Cowboy and interviews with Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Sidney Lumet, Liza Minelli and Ed Burns. Other installments of the series include England at the Movies and L.A. at the Movies.
Through her company, Hollywood NYC Productions, Ganguzza produces movies, television and live shows. Her many projects have included Almost Famous, Sex and the City and The Jim Henson Hour. As an executive producer, I get to do everything. I help in the creation of a project, raise the money and hire the crew and actors. I have to coordinate it all.
She says the events of September 11 only increased her passion to highlight New York City in the A&E series. We started filming two days after 9/11, and it really became a labor of love for all involved. Starting the series here was a great way to showcase the greatest city in the world.
Knowing that some filmmakers like to use sets and other locations to depict New York, Ganguzza says, Nothing bothers me more than trying to dub a shot and make it seem like New York. You just cant fake New York. She advocates keeping productions and talent in the city because it not only creates jobs and stimulates the economy, but it also keeps New Yorks creative juices flowing.
One young creative talent is very close to Ganguzza. Her 19-year-old son, Antonio, is a freshman at New York University and already has 20 short films to his credit. Last year, he was named a Presidential Scholar and was honored at the White House and the Kennedy Center. He was the only filmmaker to ever win this award, the proud mother says.
Ganguzza, who is married to a foreign correspondent for Brazils TVGlobo network, Lucas Mendes, also has a 25-year-old daughter, Francesca, who works in international marketing. Both of my children were raised in New York City and traveled the world with me. They were exposed to a lot, and I think ultimately it made them better people.
Her own educational development was highlighted by studies at Fairleigh Dickinson University. The oldest of four daughters with a very strict, Italian father, Ganguzza completed a three-year accelerated program in English literature. I really owe a great deal to Professor Bogdan Raditsa [history professor], who was my mentor while at FDU. She adds that she relished the rich, cultural diversity of the campus. She went on to receive a graduate fellowship at Columbia Universitys School of International Affairs.
Ganguzza says she actually stumbled across filmmaking in the early 1980s, while working in Brazil. Her fluency in five languages helped her land a job as director of public relations for the Brazilian Government Trade Bureau. When Brazil resorted to Debt Equity Swaps (an economic tool that allows film produced with local currency to be repaid by American companies in U.S. dollars) she started consulting with banks and corporations about film financing. My first experience was bringing Kiss of the Spider Woman into production. She returned to the United States with cinematic ambitions.
Feeling a need to give something back to up-and-coming talent, Ganguzza is now an adjunct professor at New York Universitys graduate film school. She teaches the Business of the Biz, a course designed to direct talented, young filmmakers through the pitfalls of the business side of filmmaking. I am in awe of the kids I meet; they have such a great amount of energy and creativity that it is inspiring to be around them. No doubt they would say the same of her.