Mike Fries ’85, president and chief executive officer of Liberty Global, has made a gift of $2 million in support of the Wesleyan Cinema Archives Endowment Fund. His gift was celebrated in February at Wesleyan’s annual gala event for film studies, held at Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles.
The gift establishes the Charles W. Fries Curator of the Wesleyan Cinema Archives, which Fries named in honor of his father. Chuck Fries is considered the “godfather” of the television movie for his role in producing or supervising more than 275 hours of television movies and mini-series. His films have won Emmy, Peabody, Humanitas, and Christopher awards, among others from film festivals.
“Wesleyan’s Cinema Archives,” says President Michael S. Roth, “is a treasure trove for the film industry and for film scholars. I am deeply grateful to Mike for his generous support, which will significantly enhance the ability of the Archives to serve film researchers worldwide. Mike is a great Wesleyan citizen.”
The gift will fulfill the matching requirement of a Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for support of the Cinema Archives.
Wesleyan will also be receiving archival materials from Chuck Fries to be preserved in the Ogden and Mary Louise Reid Cinema Archives. The 50-plus collections there include holdings devoted to Elia Kazan, Frank Capra, Ingrid Bergman, Clint Eastwood, John Waters, and Martin Scorsese, among others.
Chuck Fries and Jeanine Basinger, Wesleyan’s Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies and founder of the Cinema Archives, were trustees together on the board of the American Film Institute for more than a decade, and both received AFI honorary degrees in 2006. “Chuck is a colorful and dynamic man in the true fashion of a television or film mogul,” she says. “He knows how to get things done with generosity and humor and is a pleasure to work with. We’re looking forward to having him be part of our Archive family.”
Mike Fries is a 25-year veteran of the cable and media industry who, at Liberty Global, leads the second-largest cable TV operator in the world, with nearly 33 million video, voice, and broadband subscribers. He was recognized in 2010 as Communications Executive of the Year by Communications Technology Professionals and, in June 2011, was inducted into Cable Television Pioneers Association. He serves on a number of industry, cultural, and charitable boards, including the President’s Advisory Council at Wesleyan.
“I’m thrilled to be able to honor my dad with this gift to the Film Studies Program,” says Fries. “For over 60 years he has poured his heart and soul into the television industry, and at 83 he shows no signs of stopping. I am also a big believer in the gift of a Wesleyan education and have never been more knowledgeable or excited about where we’re headed.”
Andrea McCarty has been appointed as the Charles W. Fries Curator. A member of the Association of Moving Image Archivists, she served for six years as director of archives and asset management at HBO. She holds an advanced certificate in archival training from the Selznick School of Film Preservation and an M.S. in comparative media studies from M.I.T. She will lead the Archives in obtaining and cataloging new acquisitions, mounting exhibits, assisting researchers, and expanding educational access to documents and artifacts.