Why Brad Pitt dropped out of Missouri journalism school

NPR.org | The Maneater

On Thursday's "Fresh Air" show, Brad Pitt talked with host Terry Gross about his days at the University of Missouri journalism school:

TG: You studied journalism in college. What did you expect to become?

BP: I wasn't really sure. i was just investigating for myself -- they have one of the best j-schools in the country.

TG: This is, where?

BP: University of Missouri.

TG: OK.

BP: It just came to the time of graduation and everyone -- all my friends were committing to jobs -- and I just realized I was not ready for that yet. ..I packed up my car. I didn't graduate -- I had two weeks left -- and I moved out to L.A.

TG: Why didn't you finish those two weeks? I mean, two weeks is a blink of an eye.

BP: ...I just felt I was done; I was done with it. i knew where i wanted to go. I had a direction. I always liked those moments of epiphany when you have the next destination.

Jalopnik features editor Justin Hyde tweeted shortly after the interview: "Hear Brad Pitt gave a #Mizzou J-school shout out on @nprfreshair. Anyone else remember what his great unfinished final assignment was?"

I asked Hyde about that assignment in two emails, but he didn't respond. I got my answer, though, by searching Mizzou's student newspaper archives: The unfinished assignment was "a hunk calendar" for Journalism 336, an advertising class.

Henry Hager, a Missouri professor emeritus of journalism who taught Pitt in the 1980s, talked to the Maneater student newspaper in 2001. Here's an excerpt from the story:

"He wanted my professional estimate on (the calendar)," Hager said. "I think he might have been trying to use that with the professor. He told me that she thought he had done the work too fast."

Hager said School of Journalism officials have given Pitt the chance to earn the two credits he's missing.

"The message that we've sent is, 'Look, to get that credit, simply edit some scenes from your films,'" he said. "That probably would show the professionalism that we require."

So far, Hager said, Pitt has not taken them up on the offer.

  • Jim Romenesko

    From 1999 to 2011, Jim Romenesko maintained the Romenesko page for the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based non-profit school for journalists. Poynter hired him in August of 1999, after seeing his MediaGossip.com, a hobby site he started in May of 1999.

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