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Speaker Biographies

Becky Altringer
Becky Ellen Altringer is a private investigator and actor. In 1998, she co-founded Ariel Investigations, Inc. She is best known for exposing the Motion Picture Association of America. Becky has been in with her domestic partner, Cheryl for 20 years. They raised a daughter, Lindsey, and son, Kevin who are both 25 years old. Becky is a woman who’ll stop at nothing – except maybe to feed a squirrel or pick up a stray dog – in her quest for justice. A survivor of incestual rape and a lifetime of abuse Becky decided to spend her life fighting back and fighting for everyone else while she’s at it. Altringer’s breakthrough came when Academy Award-nominated documentary film director Kirby Dick and producer Eddie Schmidt hired and cast her as herself in This Film Is Not Yet Rated, an investigation into the MPAA film ratings system and its impact on American culture. Altringer is well known in the entertainment industry as “Hollywood P.I. Becky.” Altringer just completed her most recent investigation for Kirby Dick’s new released documentary, Outrage.
Tom Bell
Tom Bell joined the faculty of Chapman University School of Law in 1998. He specializes in high-tech legal issues and has written a variety of papers on Intellectual Property and Internet Law. Professor Bell received his Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago Law School in 1993, where he served both as a member of the University of Chicago Law Review and as Articles Editor and cofounder of the University of Chicago Legal Roundtable. After graduating from law school, Professor Bell joined the Silicon Valley law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. He entered teaching in 1995, when he became an Assistant Professor of Law in the Law and Technology Program at the University of Dayton School of Law. During a one year leave of absence from that school, and just prior to joining the Chapman faculty, he served as Director of Telecommunications and Technology Studies at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. In addition to writing a steady stream of scholarly works, Professor Bell has appeared on or been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, CNN, Los Angeles Times, and many other news sources. He teaches Intellectual Property, Internet Law, Advanced Seminar on Copyright Law, Entertainment Law, International Entertainment Law, Tort Law, Contract Law, and Agency and Partnership.
Kirby Dick
Kirby Dick is an Academy Award-nominated documentary director, one of the most prolific and eclectic filmmakers working in the field today. Five of his films have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and have screened at the Venice, Berlin, Toronto, San Sebastian, Locarno, Edinburgh, Yamagata Film Festivals and many others. He is known for making intensely personal psychological profiles as well as for undertaking groundbreaking undercover investigations. His earlier work focused on subjects and issues that have traditionally been taboo, such as death, sadomasochism, and sexual abuse, and he has been compared to the photographer Diane Arbus in the way he prefers “to open the camera lens to the pained, the freakish and the inexplicable that exists on the margins of everyday life.” More recently, his films have focused on important political and social issues, using novel undercover investigative techniques to expose the hypocrisy and damage caused by some of the United States’ most powerful institutions. His latest film, OUTRAGE (2009) is a searing indictment of the hypocrisy of closeted politicians who actively campaign against the LGBT community they covertly belong to. Boldly revealing the hidden lives of some of our nation’s most powerful policy-makers, the film probes deeply into the psychology of their double lifestyle and examines the media’s complicity in keeping their secrets. Prior to that, he directed THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED, a breakthrough investigation into the highly secretive Motion Picture of America (MPAA) film ratings system that compelled the MPAA to make long overdue changes to how it rates films. The documentary is considered a landmark film because of its extensive applications of the fair use doctrine and has spurred resurgence in the use of fair use material among documentary filmmakers in this country.
Jim Ewert
James W. Ewert is Legal Counsel and Legislative Advocate for the California Newspaper Publishers Association (CNPA), a trade association whose members include approximately 700 daily and weekly newspapers in California. He operates a legal helpline for CNPA members seeking legal assistance on a broad array of newspaper related issues. Ewert also advocates on behalf of CNPA before California’s legislature on issues relating to freedom of information, media access, workplace relations, advertising, worker’s compensation, and the environment. Ewert has been successful in getting legislation passed prohibiting the attachment or insertion of hate literature in newspapers; protecting college and university newspapers from censorship; prohibiting the theft of freely distributed newspapers and requiring candidates for state office to electronically file campaign finance information and to report that information on-line. He is currently working on legislation that would require auxiliaries and foundations on college and university campuses to comply with the California Public Records Act.
Lindsey Howell
Lindsey Howell-Sumulong is a special education teacher at Chaparral Middle School in Diamond Bar. She received a B.A. degree in Psychology from Cal State Fullerton in 2007 and a M.A. degree in Education from the Claremont Graduate University in 2009. She worked as an assistant private investigator in the movie This Film is Not Yet Rated which investigated the rating process of the Motion Picture Association of America.
Ron Taylor
Ron Taylor is Vice President, Diverse Programming at Fox Broadcasting Co. Ron has worked as a network and studio development executive, as well as a TV series writer. He was VP, Development and Current Programming at Columbia-TriStar where he developed series for cable TV, including “Strong Medicine” on Lifetime and “Street Time” on Showtime. Ron was one of the first executives hired at UPN and was instrumental in creating that network from 1994-97. Ron has also been a development executive at Warner Bros and Disney, and a writer of episodes for such series as “Renegade”, “Forever Knight”, “Covington Cross” and “The Sentinel.”  He wrote the short film “Brothers of the Borderland” which is presented daily at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. He began his television programming career at ABC-TV in the 1970’s. In his current position, Ron develops projects for the Fox network that create substantive roles for diverse characters. He continues to participate in efforts to guide diverse writers, directors and actors into jobs on series broadcast on FBC and FX, as well as on shows produced by 20th Century Fox TV, and to support Fox content that features diversity in the media marketplace.
Mike Tharp
Mike Tharp (right) started as a copy boy for the Topeka Daily Capital when he was 16 and later worked there as a darkroom boy, sports desk assistant, intern and environmental writer. He graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English literature from St. Benedict’s College, Atchison, Kan. He then spent a year in grad school at the University of Wales as a Rotary Foundation Fellow, followed by a semester on scholarship at the University of Notre Dame Law School, from which he was drafted into military service. As a soldier in Vietnam, he wrote for the Army magazine ‘Hurricane’ and was awarded a Bronze Star. After completing course work for a master’s in journalism at the University of Kansas, he was hired by the Wall Street Journal where he served as a reporter and bureau chief in Dallas, Tokyo and San Francisco. He also was a correspondent for the New York Times in Tokyo and Tokyo bureau chief for the Far Eastern Economic Review. In 1989-90 he was president of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan. For 14 years he was a bureau chief in Tokyo and correspondent in L.A. for U.S. News & World Report, for which he covered four wars in the ‘90s. He taught journalism for seven years at Cal State Fullerton, where he was awarded an M.A. in Communications in 2007 and was named Outstanding Graduate Student. He became local news editor of the Merced Sun-Star in June 2007 and executive editor in October 2008. His work, as part of a series, has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and, with other reporters, for a National Magazine Award. He won first place for Local News Writing in the 2007 Inland Press Assn. contest for his story on a Merced Marine killed in Iraq, and a Gruner Prize for meritorious public service in journalism for 2009. He covered the war in Iraq for six weeks for McClatchy in summer 2008 and returned there in mid-June 2009 for another deployment. He loves his job.
Tim Winter
Tim Winter is the president of the Parents Television Council. With more than 22 years in broadcasting, cable, internet and new media technologies, along with a law degree, Tim Winter brings a wealth of experience to his position as president of the Parents Television Council, a non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment. He spent 15 years with the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) serving in numerous management capacities for the GE-owned media conglomerate in Los Angeles, New York and Europe. He also participated in the creation of MSNBC, the cable and online news joint venture with Microsoft Corporation. He worked at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), where he led the studio’s Interactive Division and its online and video game publishing ventures. He was also president and chief operating officer at FasTV, Inc., an internet media company. Prior to his work with the PTC, he was the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Desktop TV, a high tech media firm that delivered live broadcasts of business-oriented cable programming to the enterprise marketplace via internet protocol.


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“Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.”