For Pertinence

Enjoy the Show!

UCR faculty members aren’t just teachers and scholars — they’re practitioners who’ve contributed to internationally acclaimed films, documentaries, and TV shows. Check out this list of writing, acting, and consulting credits by UCR professors, including where to screen them. Then grab a bowl of popcorn, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show(s)!

“The Leftovers” (2014-2017)

Among many other credits, writer and commentator Reza Aslan served as a consulting producer for the acclaimed HBO series “The Leftovers.” Starring Justin Theroux, the series centers on a family in a small New York community struggling to continue on with their lives following the mysterious disappearance of 2% of the global human population. 


Where to Watch

Aslan is a professor of creative writing, commentator, and the bestselling author of “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.” His other credits include executive producing the series “The United States of Al” and “Of Kings and Prophets” and consulting on the 2007 film “Rendition.”

“The Tie That Binds” (1995)

Writer Mickey Birnbaum wrote the screenplay for the thriller “The Tie That Binds.” The film follows a fugitive couple wanted for murder, played by Keith Carradine and Daryl Hannah.


Where to Watch

Birnbaum, an adjunct assistant professor in the UCR Palm Desert Low-Residency MFA program, has several screenwriting credits including collaborations with director Steven Shainberg.

“Casa de mi Padre” (2012)

Actor Luis Carazo plays a young version of Will Ferrell’s father in the Spanish-language comedy “Casa de mi Padre.”


Where to Watch

Carazo is an actor and lecturer in the Department of Theatre, Film, and Digital Production. He has had numerous roles in film and television, including episodes of “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Criminal Minds,” and “S.W.A.T.”

“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” (2022)

Carlos Cortés served as a cultural consultant on “Puss in Boots,” the popular spin-off from the “Shrek” animated series. In the latest adventure, Puss, voiced by Antonio Banderas, is on a quest to restore his nine lives.


Where to Watch

Cortés, a professor emeritus of history who served as chair of the Chicano Studies and history departments, was a creative and cultural advisor on the Nickelodeon series “Dora the Explorer” and its companion series “Go, Diego, Go!” He received the 2009 NAACP Image Award for his work with Nickelodeon.

“Adopt a Sailor” (2008)

Playwright and screenwriter Charles Evered wrote and directed the feature film “Adopt a Sailor” starring Bebe Neuwirth and Peter Coyote. It tells the story of a self-involved couple that adopt a sailor during Fleet Week.


Where to Watch

Evered is a professor in the Department of Theatre, Film, and Digital Production whose credits include several plays, films, and television series, including an episode of the show “Monk.”

“Burn Notice” (2007-2013)

Bestselling novelist Tod Goldberg wrote a series of original novels based on the noir USA Network TV series “Burn Notice.”


Where to Watch

Goldberg is the director of the UCR Palm Desert Low-Residency MFA program and the author of over a dozen novels, many in the mystery genre. He has sold film and TV projects to several studios, including an upcoming adaptation of his short story “Goon #4.”

“My Name is Myeisha” (2018)

Watch hip-hop, poetry, and dream sequences intersect in the story of a young woman killed by police in “My Name Is Myeisha,” co-written by Rickerby Hinds. The movie is an adaptation of his award-winning play “Dreamscape,” based on the killing of a young Riverside woman.


Where to Watch

Hinds is a professor in the Department of Theatre, Film, and Digital Production and considered a pioneer in using hip-hop in theater. He has written for theater, film, and television, including the TV miniseries “Redacted.”

“Marvel’s 616” (2020)

Graphic novelist and artist John Jennings is among the comic creators featured in the documentary series “Marvel’s 616.” His episodes speak to the importance of representation in the Marvel universe through such characters as Miles Morales in “Spider-Man”.


Where to Watch

Jennings is a media and cultural studies professor and Eisner-award winning graphic novelist whose work includes the Marvel miniseries “Silver Surfer: Ghost Light” and an adaptation of Octavia Butler’s “Kindred.”

“Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever” (2009)

Fans of campy scares should check out “Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever” written by Joshua Malkin. In the second installment of the horror comedy series, a high school prom descends into chaos when a deadly flesh-eating bacteria spreads via a popular brand of bottled water.


Where to Watch

Malkin, a screenwriting professor in the UCR Palm Desert Low-Residency MFA program, has written feature projects for Sony, Warner Brothers, Cross Creek Entertainment, and Universal Pictures, among others. He is currently working on the film “Unikorn,” based on his graphic novel of the same name, for Armory Films and producing for the film “The Fortress of Solitude” for Amazon Studios.

“Mente Revólver (Revolver Mind)” (2017)

In this Mexican drama, actor Bella Merlin stars as a homeless American woman who travels to Tijuana and falls in love with a street cop hired as a killer for the mafia.


Where to Watch

Merlin, a professor in the Department of Theater, Film, and Digital Production, has been acting for over 30 years in theater, film, television, and radio. Her work includes several seasons at Shakespeare and Company in Massachusetts, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, and the National Theatre in London.

“Diagnosis Murder” (1996-1999)

Screenwriter William Rabkin served as showrunner on the CBS show “Diagnosis Murder” starring TV icon Dick Van Dyke. The series follows Dr. Mark Sloan, a medical doctor who solves crimes with the help of his son Steve, a homicide detective played by Van Dyke’s real-life son Barry.


Where to Watch

Rabkin is an adjunct assistant professor in the UCR Palm Desert Low-Residency MFA program. He has written and produced hundreds of hours of dramatic television, including the action-adventure show “Martial Law.”

“On Deadly Ground” (1994)

A firefighter takes on an environmentally destructive oil company in Alaska in the hit action film “On Deadly Ground,” co-written by Robin Russin. The film stars Steven Seagal and Michael Caine.


Where to Watch

Russin is a professor of screenwriting and has served as director of the UCR MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts program. He has written, produced, and directed for film, television, and theater, including the ABC series “Of Kings and Prophets,” based on his pilot script about King David.

“Foster Boy” (2019)

An attorney, played by Matthew Modine, represents an angry young man who endured years of abuse in the foster care system in “Foster Boy.” The film was produced by John Schimmel and written by Schimmel’s former student, UCR alumnus Jay Paul Deratany. NBA legend Shaquille O’Neil also served as an executive producer.


Where to Watch

Schimmel, an adjunct assistant professor in the UCR Palm Desert Low-Residency MFA program, is a producer and writer whose credits include “Collateral Damage” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“Frozen” (2013)

Check out the detail of the snowflakes in the smash Disney hit “Frozen.” As a postdoctoral math scholar, Craig Schroeder worked with animators on an algorithm to create life-like snow for the wintery backdrop.


Where to Watch

Schroeder, an assistant professor of computer science and engineering, has brought his engineering and math expertise to Pixar and Disney animated movies such as “Up.”

“Gun Shy” (2017)

Rock ‘n’ roll and revenge come together in “Gun Shy,” an action comedy starring Antonio Banderas as a rock star seeking to rescue his kidnapped supermodel wife. “Rock out with your Glock out” is the tagline for the film by writer Mark Haskell Smith.


Where to Watch

Smith, an adjunct associate professor in the UCR Palm Desert Low-Residency MFA program, has authored six novels and written for film and TV, including “Star Trek: Voyager” and “Martial Law.”

“The Girl on the Train” (2016)

Emily Blunt stars in the psychological thriller “The Girl on the Train,” based on the novel of the same name. Annika Speer served as a script consultant for the film.


Where to Watch

Speer is a professor of teaching in the Department of Theatre, Film, and Digital Production. She has worked as a dramaturgical researcher and consultant on several films, including “Men, Women & Children” featuring Adam Sandler.

“Red Hook Summer” (2012)

Catch the camera work of artist and cinematographer William Wohleb in “Red Hook Summer.” Directed and co-written by Spike Lee, the film tells the story of a middle-class boy from Atlanta whose worldview is changed after he spends the summer with his deeply religious grandfather in the housing projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn.


Where to Watch

Wohleb is an assistant professor in the Department of Theatre, Film, and Digital Production and has worked in the camera department on many films and TV shows, including James Franco’s 2013 film “Bukowski.”