The evening will feature clips from Gerald Abrams’ and Gary Farmer’s careers, live music,
smoke dancers by Jason George family, and a presentation by the Indigenous Peoples Student Association.
The Centre Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award honors those
who have made exceptional contributions impacting the fields of film and television.
Gerald W. Abrams has been a television producer for more than four decades, and has produced over 70 projects. He has been nominated for two Emmys; the most recent for Nuremberg, a four-hour mini-series for TNT which garnered Brian Cox an Emmy. The second nomination was for Family of Spies, shot in Austria and starring Powers Boothe and Lesley Ann Warren. Warren was nominated for an Emmy as well.
Abrams began his television career with WCBS-TV as an account executive. He worked his way up through CBS Television national sales to head the West Coast Sales. In 1978, Abrams formed his own company, Cypress Point Productions.
Under the banner of Cypress Point, Abrams’ artistic vision came to life in an array of projects that would etch themselves into the cultural fabric. He executive-produced Letters From Frank, starring Art Carney and introducing Michael J. Fox, Act of Love, starring Ron Howard and Mickey Rourke, Berlin Tunnel 21, starring Richard Thomas and Horst Buchholz, Marian Rose White, starring Katherine Ross and Valerie Perrine, the CBS series, and the Emmy Award winning A Woman Called Golda, starring Ingrid Bergman.
In the late seventies, Abrams executive-produced Flesh & Blood starring Tom Berenger, Denzel Washington, and John Cassavetes and The Defection of Simas Kudirka which was nominated for five Emmys, David Lowell Rich won for Outstanding Directing in a Special Program, and John A. Martinelli won for Outstanding Film Editing for a Special.
Abrams formed Phoenix Entertainment Group with Gerald Isenberg in July 1985. In February 1989, Phoenix was acquired and renamed Hearst Entertainment Productions where he served as the co-chairman for eight years. There, he executive produced works like the Emmy-nominated films Family of Spies, Out of the Ashes for Showtime, and FX Network’s highest rated show in its nine-year history, 44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shootout.
Through the years, he traversed the globe, bringing stories to life on foreign shores, such as the two-hour movie for ABC and London Weekend Television, Jekyll & Hyde, starring Michael Caine and Cheryl Ladd, filmed on location in England, which was followed by Daughter Of Darkness, starring Anthony Perkins, which was filmed in Budapest, Hungary, for CBS.
In 2005, Abrams and Bud Greenspan produced Four Minutes for ESPN based on a true story about Roger Bannister breaking the four-minute mile, written by Sports Illustrated writer Frank Deford.
Abrams executive-produced Daniel’s Daughter starring Laura Leighton in 2008 and Fairfield Road starring Jesse Metcalfe in 2010, and Love, Again in 2015 for the Hallmark Channel, all three scripts were written by his daughter, Tracy Rosen. Second Honeymoon, produced with his late wife, Carol Abrams and starring Roma Downey and Tim Matheson for CBS and shot in Puerto Rico. Following the critical success of those films, Abrams executive produced the Hallmark Channel’s A Christmas Visitor, Duke, and The Christmas Shepherd.
Most recently, Abrams executive produced Houdini, Cable Television’s top-rated Mini- series of 2014. Houdini, a two-part, four-hour miniseries for the History channel was written by Academy Award Nominated Nicholas Meyer, directed by Uli Edel and features Adrian Brody. Houdini was nominated for 7 Emmys and 12 Guild awards.
Abrams and his wife Carol Abrams both attended Penn State. Carol Abrams was a Peabody Award winning producer for The Ernest Green Story and co-author of Shared Memories. They have two children: Tracy Rosen, a screenwriter who has written TV movies and television and J.J. Abrams, director of Mission Impossible, Star Trek, Star Wars, Super 8, and Lost among others.
Gerald W. Abrams is from Harrisburg, PA, and is a Distinguished PSU Alum. He was the commencement speaker for the 2023 Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications graduation. He has five grandchildren and is the son of the late Samuel D. and Lillian K. Abrams, who owned and operated the Army & Navy Store on Broad Street in Harrisburg.
Named for Curt and Stacie Chandler, the Chandler Living Legacy Award honors
an exemplary Pennsylvania native or Penn State alum impacting the fields of film and television.
Gary Farmer is an actor and musician, born on Six Nations along the Grand River, Ohsweken, Ontario. He is widely recognized as a pioneer in the development of Indigenous media in Canada and was the founding director of an urban Indian radio network, Aboriginal Voices Radio Network. He also published Aboriginal Voices Magazine from 1993 – 2003.
Hailing from the Cayuga Nation, Gary Farmer is an esteemed member of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, which holds roots in Pennsylvania’s very own Great Lakes region. As a current land grant institution, Penn State chooses to acknowledge their history of campuses located on some of the original lands of the Erie and Haudenosaunee tribes.
Gary began performing on stage, working in theater from 1975 – 1987 in Canada. His exceptional acting skills won him a Dora Mavor Moore Award for best new play in 1989 for Tomson Highway’s Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing.
Gary has been nominated for three Independent Spirit Awards for Best Supporting Male in his films: Powwow Highway (1989); Dead Man (1995), which won the 1996 European Academy Award for Best Foreign Film; and Smoke Signals (1998).
He has also directed several popular short films, both independent and for television, and was the executive producer and a director of the APTN entertainment series Buffalo Tracks.
Recent credits include being a series regular on Resident Alien, Reservation Dogs, The English, and The Curse, along with Independent films: Quantum Cowboys, Blood Quantum, The Incredible 25th Year of Mitzi Bearclaw and Run Woman Run. Gary Farmer’s powerful presence will be appearing in Cody Lightning’s new feature, Hey Viktor!.
Gary Farmer and the Troublemakers album, Fool For Love, won Best Americana Album at the 2023 New Mexico Music Awards. Sing That Song reached #5 on the Top 40 Indigenous Music Countdown in Canada.
The Troublemakers 7th album, Lucky 7, released June 12, 2023 on Gary’s 70th birthday, features original cover artwork by Travis Shilling. Gary Farmer & The Troublemakers toured Ontario, Canada in July of 2023 as part of the All Star Tour. Their music can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and YouTube.