MEET THE 2017 JUDGING TEAM
PREMIER JUDGE - JEFF MELMAN
Six time Emmy nominated Director, Jeff Melman has directed nearly 500 television series - both comedy and drama.
He graduated from San Diego State University and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in directing.
His first job was as the production assistant during the first season of the iconic series, “Barney Miller”. He ascended quickly on that series, stage-managing the second season, then associate directing during seasons three and four.
He started directing on the multi-camera comedy series, “Night Court”, producing and directing 76 episodes. He transitioned to single-camera comedy on the Emmy awarded “Malcolm in the Middle”, directing 26 episodes over four years and earning two Emmy nominations for “Excellence in Comedy Direction”.
He transitioned to hour drama, directing several episodes of “Desperate Housewives” as well as directing multiple episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy”, for which he earned a Director’s Guild nomination for “Best Directing in a Drama”.
Over the course of his career he has also directed episodes of “Brothers and Sisters”, “Private Practice”, “Frasier”, “Two and a Half Men”, “Everybody Loves Raymond”, “Community”, and “Arrested Development”.
A two-time Emmy Award-winning writer and producer, Ms. Peltier won her first Emmy for educational programming at the age of 23. Since then, she has accumulated over 50 national and international awards and accolades for her work as a producer, writer and editor. She was director and co-writer (with her mentor, Oscar and 16 Emmy Award winner Arnold Shapiro) of the primetime documentary special, "Scared Silent: Exposing and Ending Child Abuse", hosted by Oprah Winfrey. This multi-network simulcast was hailed as television’s most watched documentary ever, and earned Ms. Peltier the coveted Humanitas Prize. Following was the Peabody Award-winning "Break the Silence: Kids Against Child Abuse”. In 1994, she was producer-director-writer of A&E’s four-hour special, "Titanic: Death of a Dream" and "Titanic: The Legend Lives On", then the network’s highest-rated program ever, which won two National Emmy Awards, including one to Ms. Peltier for outstanding documentary writing. Three more Writer’s Guild of America nominations for documentary writing followed, as well as four primetime Emmy Nominations as an Executive Producer of National Geographic Channel’s "Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan”, also 2010 People's Choice Award winner. From 1996-2010, Peltier was a partner and co-founder of MPH Entertainment, which created over 350 hours of original documentary and reality television programming, of which she produced, wrote or directed hundreds of hours.
Peltier’s dramatic TV and film credits include writing the Lifetime movie "Nightwaves" and "The Collector", for the hit CBS series, "Ghost Whisperer". With her MPH partners, she served as an executive producer of the film "Men Seeking Women" (starring Will Ferrell) and co-executive producer of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” More recently, she produced and was second-unit director of the multi-festival-winning indie feature, "White Irish Drinkers", for Ovington Avenue Productions, of which she is also a principal with her husband, the film and TV writer/director, John Gray.
Most recently, she was story consultant and co-producer for the 2014 award-winning feature documentary “Look At Us Now, Mother!” and the feature documentary “I Am A Ukranian,” and served as a story consultant on the upcoming feature documentary “The Brainwashing of My Dad. She authored the darkly comic Hollywood novel, "Reality Boulevard" (a Kirkus Review “Best Indie 2013” choice and is the co-author of eight non-fiction works: including five Random House books with 'Dog Whisperer' Cesar Millan, all of which were New York Times Best Sellers. The first, “Cesar’s Way”, stayed number one for 11 weeks and has sold over a million copies worldwide. Peltier graduated Phi Beta Kappa/ cum laude from Pomona College in Claremont, CA. She lives in Nyack and Manhattan New York with her husband, stepdaughter and their rescue dog Frannie.
JURY PRESIDENT - MELISSA JO PELTIER
Mark DeCarlo is a comedian, author, travel & foodie expert and TV host. Mark won three consecutive Emmy Awards (2011, 2012, 2013) for his comedy segments on ABC's Windy City LIVE.
Mark hosted the hit Travel Channel series "Taste of America with Mark DeCarlo" from 2004-2009, which spawned a comedic travel guide, "A Fork on the Road: 400 Cities, 1 Stomach." The bestseller was on the Amazon Top 20 for 19 consecutive weeks.
Mark hosts and produces "A Fork on the Road Show" (2013- ), a leading travel/foodie podcast on the web, and writes a popular Travel Blog for Huffington Post, reaching over 1 million fans each week.
Mark voiced the daffy patriarch Hugh Neutron in the Academy Award Nominated feature "Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius," as well as the popular Nickelodeon TV series.
An alumni of Second City, Mark has appeared on iconic TV comedies, including; Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, & Tracey Takes On...
Best known as the host of the hit dating show STUDS (1991-1994), Mark also hosted The X Show (Fx) BIG Deal (Fox), Goodnight America, Sunday Dinner (Hallmark).
Mark is a stand up comedian, and performs live shows around the US.
Denise Welch is an Award-winning actress and television presenter. She is known for her roles as Natalie Barnes in "Coronation Street" (1997–2000) and Steph Haydock in "Waterloo Road" (2006–10). She is also known for her appearances as a regular panellist on the ITV lunchtime chat show "Loose Women" from 2005 to 2013. Welch's other acting roles include the television dramas "Spender" (1991–93), "Soldier, Soldier" (1993–95) and "Down to Earth" (2004–05). In 2011, she was a contestant on the sixth series of "Dancing on Ice", where she was partnered with professional skater Matt Evers, and in 2012 she won the ninth series of "Celebrity Big Brother". 2012 also saw her star as Truvy in the UK touring production of the play Steel Magnolias.
Nigel Barber is an American trained actor and voice over artist based in London, England. He has worked in the industry since joining the AEA in the late 70’s, a member of SAG/AFTRA as well as British Equity. Nigel has worked on Stage, in Film, Television and on Radio. Nigel has just completed filming ‘Mad to be Normal’ playing opposite David Tennant. You can see Nigel as 'Head of Nation America' in the new Bond film 'Spectre', he also played the 'Chairman’ in M:I5 'Rogue Nation’ and 'Killian Grun' in ‘Sniper: Ghost Shooter’, staring with Billy Zane and Denis Haysbert, releasing this summer. Nigel was the lead antagonist, ‘Admiral Nathan Black’, in Jeffery Lando's 'Roboshark' for Sony Pictures and appears in the new television series ‘You, Me and the End of the World’ for Sky1/NBC/Working Title. A few of Nigel's most recent films include the Bollywood feature ‘Welcome to Karachi, 'Firequake', 'High Strung’ and 'Lake Placid vs Anaconda’. Nigel also played ‘Carrie’s’ father in Jeff Wayne’s classic ’The War Of the Worlds’ UK arena tour. Nigel appeared in the London West End stage premiers of 'A Hard Rain', 'The Bodyguard-The Musical’, ‘Xanadu’ and as 'James Arthur Ray' in the world premier of 'Hearts On Fire’. Nigel trained at The Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts - Santa Maria, The Actors Workshop - Los Angeles, Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theatre - Los Angeles. Sal Dano Actors Workshop - Los Angeles. The Actors Centre - London. Nathan Osgood Actors Studio - London.
Jackie Moore was born and raised in Northern New Jersey. After taking many acting and voice classes she knew that she was going to be an actor. She decided to pursue her dream and move to New York City. Within two weeks she was signed and working with Images Model Management.
After breaking into acting with small roles in the feature films Fugly! (opposite John Leguizamo) and Chlorine (opposite Vincent D'Onofrio), she moved to Los Angeles to continue working in film and TV. During her first year in LA she booked the leads in six feature films. In addition to more film work Jackie has recently appeared on The Mindy Project, Westworld, Dr. Dre's upcoming series "Vital Signs", and The Odd Couple.
Since moving to LA, Jackie has studied improv at Groundlings, The Second City, and has trained consistently with The New Collective since 2013.
Jon Campling is an award-winning actor, recognizable worldwide as 'King Regis' from the epic “Final Fantasy” franchise. “Harry Potter” fans may also recognize him as ‘Death Eater’ in “Deathly Hallows 1”, bringing the mighty Hogwarts Express to halt.
Having won Best Actor award at the New York Short Film Festival with “A Little Harmless Murder”, Jon is somewhat of a veteran of the indie film world with over 70 films titles to his credit, ranging from ultra low budget, high spec features such as the Moêt Bifa nominated “Sleeping Dogs”, to the bigger budget, darkly slick temporal Sci-Fi feature “Narcopolis”, as well as fascinating assortment of eclectic shorts, fan films, the odd exceptional student film, several big ads and a load of cool music videos (“Elbow”, “Trent Reznor”). Even an Uwe böll and an Asylum production! He's done it all, and a load of Theatre to boot.
When not filming Jon is a skilled photographer with a great eye for detail, a unicyclist a woodturner and... Generally has an inclination toward the strange and the beautiful.
Also known for: “Predator - Dark Ages”, “Sleeping Dogs”, “Doctors”, “Max Payne” and more.
Lisa Roumain is a Los Angeles based Actress, Model and Producer, who has appeared in over 50 national commercials & print campaigns.
In feature films & TV, her versatility has won her roles in “Avatar”, “Jersey Girl”, “Dating Daisy” and “Rush Hour”.
In the last few years, Lisa has had a strong presence in film festivals, starring in the multi-award winning short films “King Eternal” and “Monster in a House”. She has earned award nominations for her work in the web series “Split”, and for “Hurricane” as Producer &
Production Designer, and recently won Best Actress at the Los Angeles Film Awards.
2017 will be an exciting year with upcoming releases including the horror/action film “Shallow Water” and the dark comedy “Strayed”.
Also known for: “Go For It!”, “Taken Away” and “Dreamcatcher”.
Les Brandt was raised in the small country town of Amarillo, Texas. He began acting immediately after graduating high school and credits his beginning training to mentor Adam
Roarke at The Film Actors Lab in Dallas, TX.
Brandt continued training at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City, NY and studied with Michelle Danner at Larry Moss/Edgemar Studio as well as The Groundlings, both in Los Angeles, CA.
Brandt has appeared in numerous movies throughout his career and will have his film, "Compass Rose" premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2017 (Short Film Corner).
Brandt's commercial work includes some of the most highly recognizable brands, advertising agencies and directors including Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Toyota, Yoplait GoGurt
and recently opposite Blake Shelton in a Nissan spot.
Additionally, he worked with Oscar winner John Mathieson ("Gladiator"), and director Daniel Kleinman on the international spot for Monster.com.
Brandt debuted on daytime television with a three-year contract in 1995 on the New York-based NBC soap opera "Another World", and has been recurring on the NBC soap
opera "Days of Our Lives".
Casey Ruggieri is an LA based actress and writer. Graduating with a B.S.A. degree in Cinema and Production, she has written in various formats for the big and small screen including; feature, short, sketch and sitcom. Some of her onscreen credits include "Gone Girl" (Directed by David Fincher), "House of Lies" and "Kroll Show", as well as dozens of national commercials. Casey is very active and passionate about her work with the arts for youth in the non-profit sector. She helped start G.R.O.W.T.H. (girls reaching out and within to heal), an LA based afterschool program working with at-risk teen youth. Currently, she is a head mentor with "Young Storytellers", a nonprofit that works with elementary level students, teaching them the fundamentals of screenwriting and storytelling. She is currently developing a youth non-profit of her own.
Kelly Karavites is a NY based award winning Executive Producer with a recent win for Best Feature Film at the Manhattan Film Festival for "Mommy's Box". After a career in financial services and after having served in the United States Army he launched his career in show biz. As an Actor and Comedian, Kelly has appeared Off Broadway, on television and in many diverse indie films. He is the owner of Achilles Heal Films LLC, a unique film company whose goal is to entertain, inform and heal people.
Gabrielle Stone started acting at age eighteen. No stranger to the festival circuit, Stone starred in three festival winning shorts Henry John and the Little Bug, Sugartown and Once When I Was Dead. She then leapt onto the big screen starring in The Lighthouse opposite Danny Glover. From there she has begun carving her way into the industry with feature films like Fuzztrack City, The Jazz Funeral, and An Old Man's Gold. In 2014 Stone starred in Lionsgate's Speak No Evil and then went on to star in Anchor Bay's Zombie Killers; Elephant's Graveyard. Stone then took on two leading roles in the festival dramas Stray and Grief. Last year she could be seen in 'Ava's Impossible Things' and shot 'Dance Night Obsession' and the highly anticipated 'Death House'. After finishing her directorial debut 'It Happened Again Last Night' she wrapped filming on Tom Hollands 'Rock Paper Dead' opposite Michael Madeson & Tatum O'Neal. Stone then finished the year working on 'The Competition' alongside Thora Birch and Chris Klein, and the festival drama Swell directed by Justin Lee.
Shaw Jones moved to Los Angeles from Dallas after being plucked out acting school to
star with Willie Nelson in the western “Dust to Dust”.
Recently he has had a nice string of award winning films, including: “The Letter”, a short drama which enjoyed success at many festivals, including Top Shorts 2016, and garnered Shaw three Best Actor awards; “Cherry Waves” which had a winning run taking the grand prize for Best Short at the HBO Shorts Festival, and the top honor of Best Drama at the NBC Universal Short Cuts Film Festival. The film also experienced an extended run on HBO and Cinemax; And “Bunker 731” which screened at a special panel at ComicCon.
Shaw’s past television roles include “The Fosters”, “Devious Maids”, “The Closer”, “Desperate Housewives”, “All My Children”, “The Young & the Restless”, and many others.
Nami Melumad is an active Los Angeles based film composer. Having worked for Magic Productions Inc., Nami has scored numerous projects including commercials, trailers, animations and documentaries, which have been screened worldwide and won multiple international awards. She studied film scoring at the highly acknowledged Scoring for Motion Pictures and TV program at the University of Southern California (among her teachers were Bruce Broughton, Jack Smalley), and was mentored by composer Thomas Newman. Alongside film scoring, Nami has composed music for theater productions, video games and worked as a symphonic arranger.
Cheryl Neve grew up on the south coast of England. After living in La Rioja, Spain as part of her degree course, she gained fluency in Spanish which she still retains today.
Always a keen singer, her life changed when she found herself on the set of "Les Misérables" (2012) as a nun singing a song in Latin.
With vocal training by opera singer Debbie Holmes under her belt, Cheryl went on to be mentored by actor and director Paul J. Lane. She has since appeared as Mariamne in "Londinium" (2016) and in political thriller 1603 (2017). Other acting credits include tortured singer Rosalie in 1940s short film "Gilded" (2016) and Nancy in "The Magic Pills of Petts Wood" (2016).
She is also a screenwriter and producer. In September 2016 her short film "Gilded" won Best Drama at the Los Angeles Film Awards and she also won Honorable Mention - Actress for her performance in "Gilded".