LATE program, Pekurny leave legacy in TV and film industries

Dr. Bob Pekurny
Dr. Bob Pekurny

After nine years of educating and preparing students to pursue their dreams in the film and television industries, Florida State University School of Communication’s Los Angeles Television Experience (LATE) program may be ending, but its legacy will remain.

The LATE program was the idea of Bob Pekurny, who joined the school’s faculty in 1996 following a career as a television writer in Los Angeles. With a plethora of contacts in the film and TV business, and a desire to give students an immersive summer experience to jumpstart their careers, Pekurny began the LATE program in 2006.  For the previous seven years, Pekurny coordinated a similar program in London, England.

Every summer between eight and 13 media production students were invited to participate in a 13-week study program of lectures, field trips, guest speakers and, most importantly, an internship.

“It was better than my London program was because it was a lot cheaper and students got to work and be paid, and most of them got hired at the end of the program,” Pekurny said.

Ninety students completed the LATE program during its run and alumni are making their mark throughout the industry, including:

  • Christina Lewis, NBC Entertainment, Comedy, Current Programming
  • R.J. Aguiar, who makes a living as social media personality on YouTube
  • Ian Hotchkiss and Chris Lowe, owners of Suite 7 Productions, who produced the Rebecca Black video that had 200 million hits
  • Several editors and writers at the companies Soapbox and Toy Box Entertainment

“Dr. Pekurny is so well respected in the entertainment community and his generosity to share his experiences and relationships during the LATE program provided the opportunities that led me to my dream job,” Lewis said. “I can’t thank him enough for everything he has done for my career.”

“Dr. Pekurny is the consummate connector,” David Smith, president of Soapbox Films, said. “In my time knowing him, he’s introduced my company to dozens of talented potential employees, and before that, his connections led to my first two jobs in Los Angeles and helped set me on my career path. He has managed to tie his professional contacts to his students, and introduce his new students to his former students to help create a robust network and sense of community among FSU alumni.”

Pekurny, an associate professor at the School of Communication, officially retired from Florida State last summer, but returned to the LATE program this year an adjunct to motivate a final group of students.

“I kept pushing them,” Pekurny said. “When I worked in Tallahassee, I had a very real world industry view having worked in the industry.  I gave them as professional and real world experience as possible.”

LATE alumni have stayed connected with Pekurny and fellow FSU graduates of the program through alumni barbeques during the summer.  Earlier this summer, the LATE program held its final barbeque and celebrated Pekurny’s contributions to the program.

“Dr. Pekurny’s influence can be seen throughout the Los Angeles film, television, and marketing communities, and his presence will be felt for years to come,” Smith said.

“Big Thanks Bob!”

During his remarks at the final barbecue Larry Dennis, dean of the College of Communication & Information, stated, “Dr. Pekurny has spent his life creating opportunities for others. The LATE program is just another shining example of his commitment to helping others.”

While the LATE program ended this summer, Pekurny’s influence will continue with the Robert “Bob” Pekurny Scholarship Endowment, which will provide support to undergraduate students in the School of Communication with a focus on entertainment studies in narrative media.  Consideration is given to students with financial needs and those who are first generation college students.

Although retired, Pekurny still offers important advice for current and future students as they delve into the film and television industry.

“The one sentence that explains working in the real world is ‘Someone hires you to make their life easier,’” Pekurny said.  “If you’re not doing that, why do they need you?”

To donate in honor of Dr. Pekurny’s legacy, please contact Mafe Brooks at or 850-645-8312.

Pekurny and LATE program alumni.
Pekurny and LATE program alumni.


Dr. Bob Pekurny, John Corry and CCI Dean Larry Dennis.
Dr. Bob Pekurny, documentary producer John Corry and CCI Dean Larry Dennis.