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New AFI Communications Exec Hails from K Street, Helped HBO's 'Veep'

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood June 18, 2012 at 2:55PM

What many in Hollywood don't know about the American Film Institute's new Communications vice-president Jennifer Hoelzer, who is moving from Washington, D.C. to start her new L.A. job on July 16--is that she was a primary source for HBO's comedy series "Veep." No wonder the show rings true.
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Jennifer Hoelzer
Jennifer Hoelzer

What many in Hollywood don't know about the American Film Institute's new Communications vice-president Jennifer Hoelzer--who is moving from the shark-infested Washington, D.C. beltway to start her relatively civilized new L.A. job on July 16--is that she was a primary source for HBO's comedy series "Veep." No wonder the show rings true.

I met Hoelzer at the AFI tribute to Shirley MacLaine, and the AFI is lucky to get her. She's a whip-smart strategic communicator with more than a decade of experience in the scrim of national policy debates; for the last six years she served as Communications Director and Deputy Chief of Staff for U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), working on issues ranging from health reform and national security to tax, energy and internet policy.

The Harvard-trained Hoelzer enjoyed sharing some of her tales from K Street with HBO's "Veep" writers, which yielded both a disastrous trip to a yogurt shop and a mistake signing a birthday card to the president. The show stars Julia Louis Dreyfus as the nation's vice-president and Anna Chlumsky as her 30ish chief of staff. "Veep" has a ten show commitment for Season Two.

According to the AFI press release:

At AFI, Hoelzer will manage the Institute’s press and public relations activities while crafting messaging that underscores AFI’s mission “to preserve the history of the motion picture, to honor the artists and their work and to educate the next generation of storytellers.”

“Our goal was to find someone who could articulate the relevance of the moving image arts to the nation and the world, and we believe we have found that voice in Jen,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI President and CEO. “She loves the movies, and her fresh perspective and extensive communications experience is precisely what the American Film Institute needs to remind us all that the movies matter.”

Ohio-born Hoelzer earned a master’s degree in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School and a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University.

This article is related to: AFI, Media, Television


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.