In recognition of her estimable body of work in television and film, and her significant contributions to the industry, Set Decorator Jeannie Laughlin Gunn SDSA is the recipient of the 2010 SDSA Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor the organization bestows.
native Californian, Gunn was born into the business. She graduated early from
North Hollywood High, attended Arizona State University and Otis Parsons Art
Institute, traveled to fascinating places, and lived in Okinawa for three years
during the Vietnam War. But her bloodline held true, and her father introduced
her to the property department at MGM in 1979.
long she was working as a lead person at Lorimar with Set Decorators Robert
[Bob] Benton and Barbara Krieger [TWILIGHT ZONE: THE
MOVIE]. She officially became a set decorator when a non-union film she was
working on signed the union contract.
Gunn’s six years on CAGNEY & LACEY shaped a new standard of
realism in episodic television. Twenty years later, she and Production Designer
Aaron Osborne broke new ground on the cutting-edge WITHOUT A TRACE—the duo was
Emmy in 2003 for their work on the critically acclaimed series. Gunn also
received an Emmy nomination, with Production Designer Dean Edward Mitzner, for
the artistic sci-fi pilot THE FLASH.
oeuvre also helped define the look of contemporary decades: the 1990s, with
FALCON CREST and DARK SHADOWS and seven years of HOME IMPROVEMENT; the 1980s of
PERFECT STRANGERS and THE THERESA SALDANA STORY; the palette and lines of the
beginning of the 21st century in V.I.P., THE SHIELD, and features
KISS, KISS, BANG, BANG and EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH. Numerous other television
series and films’ characters and environments were enhanced by Gunn’s work,
from the late ‘70s through 2007’s TWELVE MILES OF BAD ROAD, for which she
shared duties with her close friend, Set Decorator Leslie Frankenheimer SDSA.
a personal commitment to the betterment of her craft and community, Gunn has
taken leadership roles in the SDSA, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences
and IATSE Local 44, on behalf of set decorators and their profession. Under her
chairmanship of the Board of the SDSA [2000-2003], the standout networking
event MARKETPLACE was created. She co-chaired the event with Set Decorator
Jerie Kelter SDSA in its nascent years. Realizing the importance of
acknowledging all facets of the organization, Gunn coined the term Business Member, which replaced Sponsor in the titling of membership
categories. She also set procedures for board meetings and project development.
by her peers for her clarity and intelligent, balanced approach to
problem-solving, Gunn was elected as Governor to the Television Academy of Arts
& Sciences, representing the Art Directors/Set Decorators Peer Group, a
position she held for four years. She was then elected by the Governors to
serve on the Executive Board of the Academy. During her tenure, she co-chaired
and chaired the Governor’s Ball Committee, and actively participated on the
Membership and Budget Review Committees.
“I hope that set decorators love, love, love their work—it's too
hard if you don't,” notes Gunn. “Like everything else,
we are being affected by huge shifts in economic and social climates, things
are changing very fast. I think it's important for us to check the ‘big
picture’, stay flexible and keep a sense of humor.”
II for Gunn includes working with the National Home Furnishing Industry Chapter
of the City of Hope to raise money for Cancer research and hospital
development; heading back to college—this time for a degree in political
science; serving a second term as Trustee to IATSE
Local 44; and spending quality time with her family, husband Joe [“The love of
my life” and a writer/producer], daughters Loryn [an actress] and Lindsey [an
entertainment lawyer], and her grandchildren Dustin, Nina and Fulvio.
“I am deeply honored by this award,” states Gunn. “Throughout my
career in the Studios, I have tried to give the Producer the look that was needed,
and I have been active in areas where I felt I could make a difference. The
very best part of it has been the people that I have met along the way and the
wonderful friendships that I have. Thank you so very much!”