High Grad Is Up For An Oscar
By Laura Nachman
February 24, 2004
Special for the Haverford Press
When Ross Katz was growing up in Havertown in the '70's and '80's, he loved movies.
Going to as many as five flicks a weekend at local theaters such as the old Eric Ardmore and Eric Wynnewood, Katz dreamed of someday being part of the movie world. This Sunday, Katz won't be dreaming. He'll be part of "The Academy Awards" as the Oscar-nominated producer of Lost in Translation.
"It's totally surreal," said Katz, 32, a 1989 graduate of Haverford High. "I watched every minute of 'The Academy Awards' on television every year. To be part of it is just as exciting as it looks on television."
This has been a heady awards season for Katz. "Lost in Translation," which stars Bill Murray, won the "Golden Globe" award for Best Motion picture - Comedy or Musical, and Katz accepted the award along with director Sofia Coppola before millions of viewers last month.
Katz said, "I was obsessed with movies. I'd watch 'Siskel and Ebert' every week and spend all my money on either movies or David Bowie records."
Katz was a disc jockey at student-run WHHS at Haverford High and worked as an intern at WYSP 94.1-FM.
"I begged them to go on the air," and his persistence paid off with the shows "Saturday Night Requests" and "Sunday Night Six Pack" with the on-air name of "Ross Andrews," he said. He also fed his movie obsession by going to dozens of movie premieres for WYSP.
Katz was a Radio-Television-Film major at Temple University, but feeling "restless," dropped out after two years to go to Hollywood with the full encouragement of his mother and older brother.
Katz was set to enroll in film school in Los Angeles, but when financial aid fell through, a couple of friends from his WYSP days who relocated to L.A. helped him out.
"Andy Bloom (former program director at WYSP) gave me a room in his house. He is largely responsible for where I am today," Katz says.
Katz was able to pursue his movie dream, and his first project was filmed in the house of another WYSP friend, former marketing manager Scott Segelbaum, whom Katz described as "an amazing force in my life."
In 1992, Katz got his first professional job on the Quentin Tarantino film "Reservoir Dogs." He was a director's assistant on the film "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and a runner for producer Sydney Pollack on "The Firm."
Moving up the movie chain, Katz worked on the films "Sense and Sensibility," with Emma Thompson, "The Myth of Fingerprints" with Julianne Moore and "The Ice Storm" with Kevin Kline.
His first producing credit was "Trick" with Tori Spelling. Other notable producing credits are "In the Bedroom" with Sissy Spacek, which was nominated for a Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Picture in 2001, the Emmy nominated "The Laramie Project," and of course this year's "Lost in Translation."
Katz spent four and a half months in Tokyo, Japan for "Lost in Translation," which is nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Katz makes his permanent residence these days in New York City 'where he runs his own production company, Elemental Films.
In 2003, he was cited by the entertainment trade publication Variety as one of its "10 Producers to Watch."
Since his mother moved to Arizona last year, his brother is an attorney in San Francisco, Calif., and his father lives in New York City, Katz doesn't get back to Havertown these days. However, he fondly remembers WHHS, his Humanities teacher at Haverford High, Mr. Hugh Gilmore "who inspired me," and Cenzo's pizza.