Jim Berk, CEO of Participant, announced the Jake Eberts Fellowship for Social Impact Filmmaking at the fete for Eberts, who started as a film financer and gained a reputation for shepherding Oscar-winning films like “Chariots of Fire,” “The Killing Fields” and “Gandhi.” Participant made a five-year commitment to underwrite the graduate program that will focus on social-change skewing feature film development, social media and digital post-production at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television.
Eberts — ever passionate about making movies to better mankind — had a major influence on Participant founder Jeff Skoll and Berk, with whom he worked on the Disney-released “Oceans.” Eberts died in September of a rare form of cancer at age 71, but his legacy is indelibly imprinted upon Participant, whose activist streak is unrivaled among Hollywood studios.
Participant partnered with Disney on “Lincoln,” and the Mouse House was well-represented at the campus event, with appearances by studio topper Alan Horn and marketing head Ricky Strauss, who spent several years at Participant. Other boldface-name execs who raised a glass to Eberts included Lionsgate motion picture group co-chairs Patrick Wachsberger and Rob Friedman; former Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel; former Disney chair Dick Cook; and Ashok and Vijay Amritraj, the latter of whom recounted playing fierce tennis matches against his longtime friend.
“I will always miss Jake Eberts,” Amritraj said. “Because when you get down, the first phone call will be to him and he would be able to raise your spirits.”