Film & Television

Students and faculty of the Media Ventures Program explain how the program works.


They’ve directed Nick Nolte and Lloyd Bridges, won Emmys and Peabodys, managed network programming, and stayed on the cutting edge of media convergence, bringing their extensive experience into the classroom. Meet the doers and thinkers of COM’s faculty.

Want to learn from the industry’s best? Apply.


Cathy Perron

Director, Master’s in Media Ventures Program
Teaches: Media in Evolution, Thesis Advisor

Honored by Variety magazine as a 2010 Leader in Learning, Cathy Perron, Director of the Media Ventures program, teaches and consults in content and business development for emerging media. She has served as an advisor to American and international traditional media companies and startups. Professor Perron has over 20 years of broadcast management experience as a television program executive for network affiliates in major markets. She joined Boston University College of Communication in 1994 as Director of the Television Management program. Professor Perron is the recipient of a George Foster Peabody Award, a national Emmy Award, and many others.

Bill Linsman

Bill Linsman

Director, Boston University in Los Angeles

Bill Linsman has been a director and producer of international television commercials for over 30 years. His primary clients have included Proctor and Gamble (Pampers, Luvs, Crest, Tide, Ivory, Clearasil, etc), and Honda Automobiles. He has shot in world markets such as London, Milan, Moscow, Hamburg, Beijing, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Sao Paolo, New York, Los Angeles, Warsaw, Budapest, among others. He has been a CLIO finalist five times and has won numerous ADDY’s, IBA Awards, Monitor Awards, and CINE Golden Eagles for longer format films. He has published articles in The American Cinematographer and has lectured on commercial filmmaking in Japan and Sweden, and addressed the Russian Union of Cinematographers. He has taught television commercial direction for 14 years at the International Film & Television Workshops in Rockport, Maine. He is currently Director of the Boston University in Los Angeles Internship Program.

Nancy Bennett

Nancy Bennett

Teaches: Entertainment Multiplatform Marketing: Design Thinking

As a director/producer, entrepreneur, and creative exec, Nancy Bennett’s vision and leadership have delivered trailblazing results across disciplines. Working with talents like Ray Charles, Ringo Starr, Marcus Nispel, and Jimmy Iovine, she has founded businesses in the confluence of film, TV, the Internet, music and advertising. Currently, Bennett is the COO of Two Bit Circus, a think tank and talent magnet building products at the crossroads of amusement and education. The interdisciplinary team of builders, developers, inventors, content makers and roboticists strives to make entertainment more enriching and education more fun. Two Bit Circus is home of STEAM Carnival [STEM with an A]: a modern take on the carnival designed and developed with high technology to inspire kids to pursue those subjects. She is the founder of Squarepushers, developing creative arts games for smart mobile devices. Before that, she served as SVP, Creative & Content Development at MTV Networks, launching LOGO and leading global marketing for Rock Band II. For Universal Music Group, she interviewed 186 legends to create the groundbreaking eLearning course InsideSessions. And as Founder/CEO of, she anticipated music’s tidal shift to digital. Recipient of multiple broadcast and design awards, Bennett belongs to the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, the British Academy of Film & Television Arts, and the Producer’s Guild of America. She holds a BA in Music and a MS in Film from Boston University.

Jeff Hurlow

Jeff Hurlow

Teaches: Modern Media Ventures

Jeff Hurlow is a creative executive with over 20 years experience in advertising, visual design, and branded entertainment. Jeff is currently a Head of Brand Solutions for Vimeo, responsible for developing both original content and ad product solutions for brands.

Prior to Vimeo, Jeff was a Creative Executive for AOLOn, where he oversaw the development and production of original programs. Jeff began his career with AOL as Sr. Director of Design, where he created interactive experiences for Heidi Klum on Al, GMC Trade Secrets, The Savings Experiment, On the Spot, Moviefone’s Unscripted, Signature Sounds and many other branded programs.

Jeff joined startup Flipgloss as VP of User Experience and Design, creating a powerful platform for delivering premium advertorial photo experiences. The product offered advantages for both content creators and publishers and was acquired by Forbes, Inc.

At Yahoo! Music, Jeff served as Director of User Experience Design. Jeff began his interactive design career with Pressplay and Napster. He created memorable print and digital campaigns for the iconic brand as Creative Director. Jeff honed and established his design credentials while creating campaigns for the major film studios as Art Director at Samuels Advertising and Vision Advertising.

Ben Laski

Ben Laski

Teaches: Entertainment Promotion Speakers Series

Ben formed his own entertainment law firm in Santa Monica in 2003, representing music, motion picture, television, technology, internet, new media, digital, and entrepreneur clients around the world. Ben advises and counsels on intellectual property matters, including copyrights, trademarks, trade dress, dilution, right of publicity, and unfair competition; and drafting and negotiating all types of entertainment and business agreements.

Ben’s business development activities include creating business opportunities, consulting, managing projects, and implementing the above for various companies through strong understanding of business and relationships at companies such as Sony, Universal, CAA, MTV, Fox, Live Nation, ABC, premier advertising agencies, talent agencies, and many others. Recent campaigns generated by Ben include, an interactive video for the TV show “New Girl” on Fox, and video mashup campaigns for Avril Lavigne, One Direction, Kelly Clarkson, Mariah Carey, Evanescence, Gavin DeGraw, Big Time Rush, Breath Carolina, Academy of Country Music, Colbie Caillat, Toby Keith, and more. He received his J.D., Honors in Intellectual Property Concentration, from Boston University School of Law and his M.S., with honors, in Mass Communications from Boston University.


Jodi Luber

Teaches: Media Money Trail and Creating New Ideas

Jodi Luber is co-founder and president of, Inc. a top-10 website for women online. After running as a start-up for three years, she secured $7 million in venture funding from Vantage Point Venture Partners. Today, is recognized as one of the pioneering women’s content and advertising networks in the industry. In 2012, was acquired by HIG. Growth Partners, a subsidiary of HIG Capital.

Prior to starting, Jodi wrote and produced for cable television and was a freelance writer. She earned a Master of Science degree in Science Communication and a Bachelor of Science degree in Broadcast Journalism from Boston University.

Jodi is an adjunct professor at Boston University’s College of Communication where she teaches graduate courses in entrepreneurship and media strategy.

Janak Sanariya

Janak Sanariya

Teaches: Creating New Ideas

Janak Sanariya was founder and CEO of Kahoots Software, a software company focused on creating efficiency in the rental real estate industry. In March 2011, Kahoots was acquired by RentJuice, a Silicon Valley based competitor. Today, RentJuice is a leading provider of software for the rental industry.

Prior to starting Kahoots, Janak worked at Target Analysis Group. Target provides strategic analysis and modeling to improve fundraising operations for enterprise-class nonprofits. Starting as a programming intern, he worked his way up to Director of Product Research. During his decade at Target, he led company-wide initiatives to adopt new technologies, driving new product development and transforming existing product lines. He fondly remembers his early intern days when he routinely crashed the database.

Janak graduated from Tufts University with a degree in Computer Engineering with concentrations in Math and Computer Science. At Tufts, he won the Ellen C. Myer Prize for perseverance in the face of adverse circumstances.

Janak has always enjoyed teaching. He likes taking subjects that appear complex on the surface and designing ways to break them down in a simple, straightforward manner. He currently serves on the Advisory Board of several local start-ups and enjoys mentoring and advising young entrepreneurs. In his spare time, he enjoys playing basketball and studying martial arts and meditation.

James Shanahan

James Shanahan

Teaches: Emerging Media Studies

James Shanahan is a mass media effects researcher. He is the Associate Dean of the College of Communication at Boston University. He holds a Ph. D. in Communication from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. His research interests focus on cultural indicators, cultivation theory, media effects and public opinion. Special areas of focus are communication in relation to science and the environment. His studies in this area have dealt with the impact of media (especially television) on environmental attitudes, the environmental content of media, and the narrative structure of environmental news.

He has co-authored several books, including Television and its Viewers (with Michael Morgan, 1999), Nature Stories (with Katherine McComas, 1999) and Democracy Tango (with Michael Morgan, 1995). He has published numerous articles and chapters on topics related to media effects. His most recent book is Living with Television Now: Advances in Cultivation Research and Theory (co-edited with Michael Morgan and Nancy Signorielli) He has served as the editor of the journal Mass Communication and Society, and is an editorial board member of Communication Quarterly; Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture; Learning, Media & Technology; and the Journal of Communication.

Robyn VanTol

Robyn VanTol

Teaches: Modern Media Ventures

Robyn VanTol is a digital media executive with a proven track record for delivering successful consumer facing products with a specialty in Branded Entertainment. Robyn has created large-scale products with major brands and high-profile clients while at AOL and Yahoo!. Robyn was a founder of Flipgloss Media, where she led product strategy, development and content operations as Vice President of Product. Flipgloss Media was acquired by Forbes in November 2009.

Prior to FlipGloss, Robyn was Product Director of Yahoo! Music’s radio platform. She led ‘LAUNCHcast’ Radio to the #1 global radio service with over 9 million listeners. Robyn also oversaw several original video content productions including the Grammy Awards on Yahoo! Music, the first digital extension officially sanctioned by the Recording Academy. Prior to Yahoo! Music, she was a consultant with Ernst and Young and a project lead for enterprise networking startup Loudcloud.

Robyn’s focus on product design, user experience, development and monetization has made her a proven leader in building innovative and profitable media products. Currently Robyn runs the product and design team for AOL’s Branded Experiences group as well as the Video Operations team. Robyn graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Michigan.


Larry Weinberg

Program Advisor, Media Ventures in Los Angeles
Teaches: Graduate Media Seminar

Lawrence I. Weinberg, Esq. has performed legal and business affairs services for a variety of entertainment companies, law firms and independent motion pictures, documentaries, television and web-based programs for over fifteen years. He is also an educator and currently Manager of Film and TV Programs for Boston University’s Los Angeles Program. Weinberg interned and practiced law for several years with the Screen Actors Guild and the highly respected law firms of Lavely & Singer and Allen, Matkins, Leck, Gamble & Mallory, in Los Angeles. His work at the William Morris Agency focused on independent film financing and international co-productions. Weinberg helped develop, finance and start several entertainment-related companies for which he provided business, legal, finance and production services, including LA-based Storyopolis and E3 Entertainment, and NY-based Sandbox TV. He has represented numerous award-winning motion pictures both for studios and independents. Weinberg graduated from Loyola Law School in 1989 and Boston University in 1986. He has been a member of the California Bar since 1990.