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Dedication Takes Video Exec's Son To the Oscars

23 Mar, 2002 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Wellspring Media's Karen Bell will watch tomorrow night's Academy Awards with a keener eye than ever before.

Her son, Ross Katz, is up for an Oscar as producer of In the Bedroom, nominated for best picture and four other awards, including best actress (Sissy Spacek) and best supporting actress (Marisa Tomei).

"Isn't that awesome?" said Bell, the independent supplier's director of special market sales and a veteran of nearly 20 years in the home video industry. She flew out to Los Angeles to attend several Oscar parties with her son, but couldn't get tickets to the actual ceremony. "You know how hard that is this year," she said.

When the Oscar nominations were announced, Bell said, her son called her from Germany, where he was attending the Berlin Film Festival.

"He was so excited and I was screaming up and down," she said.

Bell in 1983 joined the startup video trade Video Insider as associate editor. She later worked at the Video Software Dealers Association, setting up regional chapters and overseeing the 1985 convention in Washington, D.C. In the late 1980s she went into sales on the supply side, working for Media Home Entertainment, Fox Home Entertainment, World Vision, Republic Pictures and, finally, Wellspring.

Katz was raised in a "film-crazy" environment in Havertown, Penn., a suburb of Philadelphia. His first brush with entertainment was in high school, she said, when he ran the school radio station and also commanded the overnight shift on WYSP, one of Philadelphia's top radio stations.

Katz' friends encouraged him to move to Los Angeles after attending the Temple School of Film in Philadelphia. In 1991, when he was 20, he did.

"I supported the move," Bell said.

Three months after his move, Katz got his first movie job: as a grip's assistant on Reservoir Dogs. He subsequently worked as an assistant to director Fran Rubel Kuzui on Buffy The Vampire Slayer and then scored a job as an assistant to director and producer Sydney Pollack.

"It was just as Sydney was editing The Firm, so Ross got to see what it was like, editing a film," Bell recalled.

Katz subsequently worked as an assistant to producer Lindsay Doran during the filming of Sense and Sensibility (1995) and then went to work for Good Machine, a production company. His first credited production was 1999's Trick, a teen comedy starring Christian Campbell and Tori Spelling.

In addition to In the Bedroom, Katz is executive producer of The Laramie Project, the HBO docudrama about the murder of a gay man in a rural Midwest town.

Bell still recalls when she first heard of In the Bedroom.

"Ross called and told me, ‘I've just read the most amazing script and I'm meeting with the director'," Bell said. "He said, ‘I don't want to tell you anything about it, but it's a mindblowing story—it's awesome.'

"He loved it; he was so excited. And then, as the cast started filling out, he was really nervous about working with two Academy Award winners, Sissy Spacek and Marisa Tomei, but he said they were wonderful."

Bell said her son throws himself into his films, preferring a hands-on approach.

"He's involved in everything, from script to screen," she said. "He's on the set every day."

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