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Robby Benson joins Indiana University film studies faculty

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Monday, March 25, 2013 - 1:56 pm

BLOOMINGTON — Actor and director Robby Benson has a new role: professor at Indiana University.

IU announced Monday that Benson would join its Department of Telecommunications starting in the fall and would help raise the profile of the school's film production studies.

Telecommunications department chairman Walter Gantz said Benson's addition will help "make IU Bloomington one of the most exciting places to attend school for students interested in creating and understanding film."

Benson has acted since he got a small part in the 1967 suspense thriller "Wait Until Dark" at age 11. He starred in 1973's "Jeremy" and "One on One" four years later. His other films include "Ice Castles," ''Ode to Billy Joe," ''Running Brave" and Disney's "Beauty and the Beast," in which he provided the voice of the Beast.

He has directed feature films and television, including episodes of "Friends" and "Ellen" and has written songs for films, including "The Breakfast Club." He also wrote a musical and book based on his experiences with a congenital heart defect that has required four open-heart surgeries.

Benson, 57, told The Herald-Times he will teach classes including a "very advanced" yearlong filmmaking course and a single-semester class in which students will write and create an ongoing Web-based sitcom "of the style of a Norman Lear political sitcom and not the brain-dead ickiness you see today."

Benson said telecommunications professor Mike McGregor approached him about the opening. He said he visited Bloomington twice to meet with President Michael A. McRobbie and other administrators and was so impressed with IU's commitment to the arts that he held off other schools where he had interviewed.

"It's really been incredible how Indiana wasn't really on my radar and then it became the only place I wanted to be," Benson said.

Benson has also taught at UCLA, the University of South Carolina, Appalachian State University and the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.