YEARS of LIVING DANGEROUSLY combines the blockbuster storytelling styles of Hollywood’s top movie makers, including James Cameron and Jerry Weintraub, with the investigative skills of 60 Minutes veterans Joel Bach and David Gelber and a team of leading national news journalists and scientists.
Co-Founder, Executive Producer
DAN ABBASI co-founded The YEARS PROJECT with Joel Bach and David Gelber in 2011, and was an Executive Producer on the Project’s Emmy-winning Season 1 of YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY. Dan’s career-long focus on climate change spans investing, manufacturing, academia, the non-profit sector and the federal government. He is currently Managing Director at Douglass Winthrop Advisors LLC, where he is a portfolio manager of the firm’s Environment Strategy.
He was recently a Senior Fellow at Conservation International, where he developed a platform for evaluating corporate sustainability, and serves on the boards of innovative non-profits InfluenceMap and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. Dan was previously a Director at cleantech private equity firm MissionPoint Capital Partners, after which he co-founded and served as CEO of Flowcastings GmbH, a manufacturing innovator enabling efficiency gains in the power and aviation sectors. Dan held senior roles at units of Time Warner and The Washington Post Company. He served on the U.S. National Climate Assessment and as an appointee at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and was Associate Dean at Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
Senior Executive Producer
James Cameron is an acclaimed film-maker and explorer. As director, writer and producer, he is responsible for some of the most memorable films of the past three decades: The Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, True Lies, Titanic and Avatar.
Avatar currently holds both the domestic and worldwide box office records having grossed over $2.7 billion at the global box office, beating the previous record holder, his own film Titanic, which held that record for 12 years. They remain the only two movies to gross more than $2 billion worldwide. Cameron’s films have also earned numerous nominations and awards, most notably Titanic’s 14 Academy Award® nominations (a record) and 11 Oscars® (the most any movie has received), including Cameron’s own 3 Oscars® for Best Picture, Best Direction and Best Editing. Avatar won the Golden Globe® for Best Director and Best Picture. It was nominated for 9 Academy Awards® and won 3.
Over the last 15 years Cameron developed cutting edge 3D camera systems for movies and documentaries, as well as for broadcast sports and special events. He was at the vanguard of the 3D renaissance that has transformed the movie industry in recent years. He also developed unprecedented deep ocean exploration vehicles, lighting and 3D camera equipment. Cameron has led 8 deep ocean expeditions, during which he has personally logged over 80 submersible dives, including 33 to the wreck of Titanic. These expeditions resulted in a number of acclaimed documentaries, including Ghosts of the Abyss¸ Expedition Bismark, and Aliens of the Deep. Most recently, Cameron led his eighth deep ocean expedition to some of the deepest trenches in the world. His engineering team spent seven years building a unique manned submersible, the Deepsea Challenger, capable of diving to the ocean’s greatest depths. On March 26, 2012, Cameron made a record-breaking solo dive to the earth’s deepest point in the Challenger Deep (in the Mariana Trench), successfully setting a depth record of 35,787’, or nearly 7 miles (11 kilometers.)
National Geographic will release a 3D feature documentary chronicling that adventure, called Deepsea Challenge, later this year. Cameron is a National Geographic Explorer in Residence, and recipient of their most prestigious award, the Hubbard Medal. He is also passionately involved in sustainability issues, working with several NGO’s on climate change, energy policy, deforestation, indigenous rights, ocean conservation, sustainable agriculture and the impact of our food choices on the environment.
He is currently in preproduction for Avatar 2, 3, and 4, and will begin production on those films in late 2014.
Maria Wilhelm is the Executive Director of the Avatar Alliance Foundation and President & COO of CAMERON Companies.
In those roles she merges social advocacy with a focus on climate change with a broad range of commercial initiatives integrating new technologies and interests in China and elsewhere.
Founder, Chairman & Executive Producer
David Gelber is co-founder and chairman of The Years Project. He served as Ed Bradley’s producer at 60 Minutes® for twenty-five years, during which he won every major journalism award, including a Peabody, two DuPont Awards and eight Emmy® Awards.
During the nineties, Gelber was executive producer of Peter Jennings Reporting at ABC News®. He spent two winters in Sarajevo producing documentaries on the Bosnian Conflict. He returned to CBS News® in 1996 to head the Ed Bradley Unit. Gelber and Joel Bach left 60 MINUTES in 2011 to create the Emmy-winning series YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY and have focused on communicating stories about the climate crisis ever since.
Founder, Executive Director & Executive Producer
Joel Bach is the founder and executive creative director of The YEARS Project. He was the showrunner and series director of YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY, the Emmy Award winning TV series on climate change. The series was executive produced by James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger and the late Jerry Weintraub — and featured an ensemble cast of A-list celebrities and journalists who traveled the globe to tell the story of climate change.
Joel now serves as the director of YEARS’ short-form video campaign, the videos of which have been seen by hundreds of millions of people around the world. Joel sets strategy for the company and determines the creative direction of the enterprise. Before creating The YEARS Project, Joel was a field producer at 60 MINUTES, working with Scott Pelley, Steve Kroft, Lesley Stahl and the late Ed Bradley. Before working at 60 MINUTES, he directed and produced music videos, short films and commercials in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Jerry Weintraub is one of the most influential and successful people in the entertainment industry, with a career spanning more than 50 years and encompassing the genres of feature films, television, theatre and music. Weintraub had already enjoyed tremendous success in the management and music fields when he made an auspicious motion picture producing debut with Robert Altman’s seminal 1975 feature film, Nashville. Released to widespread acclaim, the film went on to earn five Academy Award® nominations, including one for Best Picture.
Over the next decade, Weintraub repeatedly demonstrated an eye for emerging talent, producing such features as September 30, 1955, starring Richard Thomas under the direction of James Bridges; Oh, God!, directed by Carl Reiner and starring George Burns and John Denver in his first acting role; Barry Levinson’s directorial debut, Diner, which helped launch the careers of Kevin Bacon, Paul Reiser, Mickey Rourke, Tim Daly, Ellen Barkin and Steve Guttenberg; and the inspiring drama The Karate Kid, which spawned three sequels, including one starring a young Hilary Swank. To underscore the enduring popularity of the series, the most recent The Karate Kid, released in 2010, starring Jaden Smith was just as successful as the original film.
Now heading up Jerry Weintraub Productions, he previously produced the hit remake of the Rat Pack comedy Ocean’s Eleven and its sequels, Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen, all directed by Steven Soderbergh and featuring an all-star cast. Additionally, Weintraub produced the family film Nancy Drew, starring Emma Roberts as the intrepid teenage detective. Jerry Weintraub Productions also has a number of films in development, including a new live-action version of Tarzan, and a biopic of Hugh Hefner both for Warner Bros. Films. Also in development are The Wild Bunch, 40 Summers, and Matt Helm.
Brooklyn-born and Bronx-bred, Weintraub likes to joke that his goal when starting out in entertainment was to get out of the Bronx. He began his career as a talent agent, eventually segueing to personal management. Forming Management III, he handled such names as The Muppets, Jack Paar and Norm Crosby, among others. His success opened the door to the music industry at the height of the Rock ‘n Roll revolution. He produced the legendary Elvis Presley’s first arena tour and, throughout the 1950s and ’60s, continued to make his mark as a concert promoter for some of the biggest names in the business.
Founding Concerts West, Weintraub broke new ground when he presented Frank Sinatra at Madison Square Garden in the celebrated “first around the world by satellite” concert, called “The Main Event.” He also helped boost the careers of such renowned artists as Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Neil Diamond, John Denver, The Carpenters and The Beach Boys. Weintraub went on to produce a number of high-profile television specials and movies, many starring the musical artists with whom he had worked.
In addition, he produced An Olympic Gala, the telecast of the opening ceremonies of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Weintraub also produced several Broadway shows, including Canterbury Tales and Starlight Express.
Returning to the motion picture arena, Weintraub was named Chairman and CEO of United Artists. He later left to form his own film and television production company, Weintraub Entertainment Group. Three years later, he founded Jerry Weintraub Productions, based at Warner Bros. Studios. The first film produced under the Jerry Weintraub Productions banner was 1992’s Pure Country, starring country legend George Strait.
Weintraub subsequently produced The Specialist, starring Sylvester Stallone and Sharon Stone; Vegas Vacation, starring Chevy Chase; the big-screen version of The Avengers, teaming Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman; and the sci-fi actioner Soldier, starring Kurt Russell.
In addition to his professional endeavors, Weintraub is well known for his philanthropic efforts on behalf of a wide variety of worthwhile causes, ranging from health concerns to education to the arts and more. He joined forces with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Don Cheadle in “Not on Our Watch,” a humanitarian campaign to end the genocide in Darfur.
Weintraub has also been the recipient of several professional honors. He was one of the first independent movie producers to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame® and, in 2001, won the Kodak Award for Extraordinary Achievement in Filmmaking. In 2007, the National Association of Theatre Owners named him ShoWest Producer of the Year. In June 2007, he became the first producer ever to be “cemented” in the courtyard of Hollywood’s Grauman’s Chinese Theatre when he joined George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon in a Hand and Footprint Ceremony in celebration of the opening of Oceans Thirteen At the Boston Film Festival he was awarded the 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award; in December 2007 he received a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars, and in January 2008 he received the SAG Foundation Patron of the Arts Award.
In 2009, he was honored by UNICEF as Man of the Year with the organization’s Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award for his philanthropic contributions. In 2010, he was awarded the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award at Celebrity Fight Night XVI, an event that has raised nearly $60 million to benefit the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center.
In 2010, Weintraub authored his memoirs, the New York Times bestselling book “When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead: Useful Stories From a Persuasive Man,” a witty chronicle of his remarkable career and life journey. His Way, a documentary of Weintraub’s life was released on HBO® in April of 2011. It was a critical and audience hit, and went on to earn an Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Nonfiction Special.
His most recent project is Behind the Candelabra, the story of the entertainer and showman Liberace. The biopic, directed for HBO® Films by Steven Soderbergh stars Michael Douglas and Matt Damon and debuted to critical and audience acclaim at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and won eleven 2013 Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Movie, Outstanding Director (Steven Soderbergh) and Outstanding Lead Actor (Michael Douglas).
Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the most recognized individuals on the planet, having led an amazing life and achieving beyond his dreams in Hollywood, fitness, and public service. In an effort to give back to the country that allowed him to accomplish so much, Schwarzenegger ran for public office and was elected California’s 38th Governor.
As governor, Schwarzenegger worked with leaders of both major political parties to address the greatest challenges facing the state in a bold and historic manner. His leadership put California at the forefront of the nation in addressing climate change, pushing for the development of renewable energies, rebuilding critical infrastructure, investing in stem cell research, and putting in place health care and political reforms.
Since leaving office in 2011, he has continued to promote state and local clean energy efforts by founding the non-profit R20: Regions of Climate Action. Just last year, he established the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy, devoted to seeking bipartisan solutions to environmental, economic, and other public policy issues. He serves as chair of the think-tank’s board and also holds a public policy professorship at the school.
Schwarzenegger stars in the new film, Sabotage, which will be released in early 2014. Escape Plan, also staring Schwarzenegger, was released in October 2013. Last year, Schwarzenegger released his long-awaited autobiography, Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story.