USC alum, virus expert team up
What happens when a USC cinema grad with a fascination for science meets a USC virus expert with a sense of drama? A hit TV show about a global pandemic with plenty of scientific cred.
The Last Ship — one of summer's big hits and recently renewed by TNT for a second season — was created by Steven Kane MA '95 and his writing partner and co-executive producer Hank Steinberg.
Kane, who graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, has gone on to success as a writer-producer with such TV drama credits as The Closer, Major Crimes, Alias and Without a Trace, along with the comedies American Dad and Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Paula Cannon, associate professor of microbiology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, leads a research team that studies gene therapy, stem cells and hemorrhagic viruses like Lassa fever. She's even been funded by the U.S. military to analyze the threat of viruses as potential bioterrorism agents.
Five years after Kane left USC, he returned to create nearly 40 videos for various schools, centers and programs from 2000 to 2005. "Doing videos about USC engineers, cancer doctors and biologists, I met a lot of fascinating thinkers who see the world in unique and interesting ways," he said. "That helped me as a writer and gave me some really cool ideas for stories."
In his latest creation, The Last Ship, a deadly virus is wiping out much of the world. The crew of the Naval destroyer U.S. Nathan James is among the only survivors. On board is a British scientist. Her task: identify a vaccine or a cure. When the pilot was picked up as a series, Kane wanted to find a virus guru close to home. "I guess you could say I still had USC in my blood," he said.