2008 Harvard in Hollywood

Entertainment, Media, and Politics

Saturday, September 20, 2008
8:30am - 1:30pm
Center at Cathedral Plaza, 555 W. Temple Street

Harvardwood, the Harvard Business School Association of Southern California, and the Harvard Club of Southern California are pleased to present the 4th annual HARVARD IN HOLLYWOOD symposium, entitled "Media, Entertainment and Politics". Come kick off the last 6 weeks of election season with us as we discuss the growing influence of media, entertainment and pop culture on the political sphere (and vice versa)! See below for a full list of panel topics and speakers.

8:30 - 9:30 am | Registration and continental breakfast
9:30 - 10:15 am | Keynote Address by Dan Glickman, President - Motion Picture Association of America
10:15 - 11:45 am | PANEL 1 – THE POLITICS OF ART: From “Richard III” to “W”
11:45 - 12:00 pm | Break
12:00 - 1:30 pm | PANEL 2 – THE ART OF POLITICS: Pundits and Bloggers and Spoofs, Oh My!

$40 for Full Members of Harvardwood, HBSASC, and HCSC
$50 for guests, Affiliates, and Friends of Harvardwood

Full members can view a video recording of the event. Make sure you are logged in to view.

KEYNOTE ADDRESS | Celebrating Hollywood’s Leading Role in Politics, Public Opinion and the Presidential Campaign

Dan Glickman is Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) which serves as the voice and advocate of the American motion picture, home video and television industries. Its members include Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, NBC Universal, and Warner Bros Entertainment Inc. Prior to joining the MPAA, Glickman was the Director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government (2002-2004). Mr. Glickman also served as Senior Advisor to the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in Washington, DC.

Glickman served as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 1995-2001. Before that, he served for 18 years in the U.S. House of Representatives representing the 4th Congressional District of Kansas. During that time, he was a member of the House Agriculture Committee, House Judiciary Committee, and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Before his election to Congress in 1976, Mr. Glickman served as president of the Wichita, Kansas, School Board, was a partner in the law firm of Sargent, Klenda and Glickman, and worked as a trial attorney at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

PANEL 1 – THE POLITICS OF ART: From “Richard III” to “W”

Shakespeare, D. W. Griffith, Oliver Stone and Rage Against the Machine—history is rife with examples of artists who have found great inspiration from the political issues of their place and time. In this panel, we discuss how the creative process is influenced by politics and the extent to which art does or should reflect, comment on, and judge the political sphere.


Born in Accra, Ghana and raised in NY & the Middle East, Derrick Ashong AB '97, aka DNA, is leader of the critically-acclaimed Afropolitan fusion band Soulfège and founder of the youth cultural movement “Take Back the Mic.” His music has been nominated for numerous awards including most recently Best Hip Hop Song in the Billboard World Song Writing Competition. He has lectured on issues of popular culture at over 100 institutions in the US, Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and Asia, including for the United Nations and Deepak Chopra’s Alliance For a New Humanity. His recent YouTube comments on the Obama campaign have drawn over a million views. Ashong’s artistry and activism have been covered in outlets including the NYTimes, Boston Herald, BBC Worldservice, NPR, PRI, MTV Africa, ABC Chronicle, CNN.com, VanityFair.com and The Economist among others. His newest record was rated 9.5/10 by British record producer Charles Foskett (Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney).


Mark Goffman MPP ‘94 is a writer and supervising producer for A&E's new series, THE BEAST, starring Patrick Swayze. Previous series credits include LAW & ORDER: SVU, STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP, and THE WEST WING. He was also a consultant to CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR, starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. Goffman earned his Masters in Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where he wrote his thesis for the White House on Tech/Media Policy. He then worked as a new media executive at Paramount Pictures, where he helped found Paramount Digital Entertainment. He has directed commercials for Gibson Guitars, as well as two critically acclaimed short films. As a speechwriter, he has assisted state and federally elected officials and consulted to the U.S. Department of State and members of the executive branch. Goffman’s play, ME TOO, from the producer of THANK YOU FOR SMOKING, premiered in Hollywood in May 2006 and is running in Indianapolis in 2008. He is currently writing and directing a feature documentary film called FIGURES OF SPEECH, to be released in 2009.

Jonathan King is Executive Vice President of Production at Participant Media, which focuses on creating content that is socially and politically-conscious. He oversees development and production of Participant’s slate of narrative feature films. Previously, King was EVP at Focus Features. For eight years, he was the president of Laurence Mark Productions, an independent production company based at Sony Pictures. Some of the movies he worked on there were DREAMGIRLS, THE LOOKOUT, and FINDING FORRESTER. His credits as an independent producer include STUDIO 54, GUINEVERE and JUDAS KISS. He was an acquisitions and production executive at Miramax Films for several years, working alongside an extremely talented and driven group of young executives who contributed to the company’s early explosive growth. He started his film career in MGM/UA’s New York office, scouting books, theater, and independent films. King currently serves on the board of advisors for the Outfest Legacy Project, a partnership with the UCLA Film and Television Archive that restores and preserves important works of queer cinema. He also serves as a mentor for Film Independent’s Project: Involve program.

Thania St. John AB '83 has been working in hour-long dramas for twenty seasons. Learning how to both write and produce at the Stephen J. Cannell company on iconic shows such as 21 JUMP STREET and BOOKER, she has gone on to create two shows of her own (VR5 and CRISIS CENTER) and to work on popular and award winning dramas such as LIFE GOES ON, LOIS AND CLARK, ROSWELL, HUFF, and is currently the Executive Producer of EUREKA, in its third season as the number one original series on the SciFi Channel. She has also written and produced numerous pilots, both for cable and network. St. John is the president of The League of Hollywood Women Writers, an organization she helped start after the WGA strike of 2007/08, focusing on media issues and broadening awareness of artists' rights on the local, state and national political stage. She received her A.B. in American History and Filmmaking from Harvard University and her Masters degree in Film and Television Production from UCLA. She is happily married and has two wonderful teenaged girls. Seriously.

Alison Taylor AB ’84 is a television writer and producer whose credits include MARRIED WITH CHILDREN, ROC, SISTER/SISTER, and LIZZIE MCGUIRE. She is the screenwriter of the hit Disney Channel movie THE CHEETAH GIRLS and the co-writer of THE CHEETAH GIRLS TWO: WHEN IN SPAIN, two movies which helped usher in the current wave of music-driven Tween-centered programming. Parents, you may thank her after the panel is over. She is the creator and an executive producer of the Nickelodeon Television series JUST JORDAN. She is committed to supporting, encouraging and telling the stories of girls in American life. She is an alumna and board member of Westridge School for Girls, and is a native, current resident, and tireless booster of Pasadena, California.

PANEL 2 – THE ART OF POLITICS: Pundits and Bloggers and Spoofs, Oh My!

Along the yellow brick road leading to Washington, an ever-growing array of onlookers stands on the sidelines, ready to analyze, criticize, fictionalize and/or mock politicians and the choices they make. In this panel, we examine the effect that the mainstream media, content creators, and pop culture have on the American political process.


A former attorney, Ashley Gable AB ‘88 began her career as a television writer on the first season of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and has been afraid of the dark ever since. Currently she is a co-executive producer on THE MENTALIST on CBS (Tuesdays at 9; please watch it). As a picket captain/coordinator during the WGA strike, Ashley learned many things about Media, Entertainment and Politics, none of them good. This year she is running for election to the WGA Board of Directors and has become involved in the League of Hollywood Women Writers, a political fundraising group focusing on media issues.


Hill Harper JD/MPA ‘92 is author of the New York Times bestsellers Letters to a Young Brother, which won two NAACP awards and was named Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association in 2007, and Letters to a Young Sister, which was released in June 2008. Currently starring in CSI:NY as “Dr. Hawkes”, a role for which he won the 2008 Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a drama series, Hill has appeared in numerous prime-time television shows and feature films, including THE SOPRANOS, ER, LACKAWANNA BLUES, HE GOT GAME, THE SKULLS, IN TOO DEEP, THE NEPHEW, and THE VISIT. Hill graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. from Brown University (and was valedictorian of his department) and cum laude with a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He also holds a master’s degree with honors from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He is a motivational speaker around the country and is also a member of the National Finance Committee for the Obama Campaign. Named one of People’s Sexiest Men Alive, he lives in Los Angeles.

Charles Rivkin MBA ‘88 joined W!LDBRAIN in September 2005 as President and Chief Executive Officer. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of W!LDBRAIN and Chairman of the Board of Kidrobot, Inc. For 15 years, Rivkin served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The Jim Henson Company (JHC), where he was the first President and only CEO in the company’s 50 year history who was not a member of the Henson family. At W!LDBRAIN, Rivkin led the acquisition of Kidrobot, Inc., a leading creator and specialty retailer of limited edition toys, clothing and books. Kidrobot’s unparalleled design and character creation capabilities have fueled W!LDBRAIN’s television and film businesses. Rivkin also serves as an Executive Producer of W!LDBRAIN’s hit series YO GABBA GABBA! on Nick Jr. This groundbreaking preschool franchise is now in its second season and was named one of Time magazine’s best new shows of 2007. Rivkin is currently California Finance Co-Chair for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, a Vice Chairman of Obama’s National Finance Committee, and recently served as an Obama at-large delegate at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Craig Turk AB ‘93, JD ‘98 is a writer and supervising producer on the ABC series PRIVATE PRACTICE. He has also written for BOSTON LEGAL, COLD CASE, LAW & ORDER, THE GUARDIAN, and developed pilots for 20th Century Fox, Touchstone, and Paramount. Turk has worked on numerous domestic political campaigns, for both candidates and specific ballot initiatives. He was Chief Counsel of John McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign, where he directed all legal and crisis management activities. He subsequently served as General Counsel of a political action committee, Straight Talk America, where he was involved in over 75 House and Senate races, as well as in the legal and political battles over campaign finance reform. Internationally, he has advised political parties in Europe and Asia, lecturing and serving on election monitoring committees. Turk has practiced law in L.A. and in Washington, D.C., specializing in election law and government ethics. He has written articles for numerous publications including The Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, and The Wall Street Journal.

Patric M. Verrone AB ’81 is a television writer, attorney, and President of the Writers Guild of America, West. He led that union through the recent 100 day strike that won writers a contract covering the Internet. While at Harvard College, he was an officer of The Harvard Lampoon. He earned his J.D. from Boston College Law School after serving as editor of the Boston College Law Review. His television writing credits include THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON, THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW, THE CRITIC, THE SIMPSONS, PINKY AND THE BRAIN, RUGRATS, MUPPETS TONIGHT!, CLASS OF 3000, and FUTURAMA. He has been nominated for eight Emmys in four categories and won two. He has also received an Environmental Media Award, an ASIFA Annie Award, a People’s Choice Award nomination, and the Writers Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Animation Writing. Last year he was selected one of the “12 to Watch” by Television Week magazine and this year was #75 in Time magazine’s online poll of the "100 Most Influential People in the World.”

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