Issue 3 | April 2005

  • Message from Membership Director
  • Message from the President – “Mia’s Monthly Message”
  • Member Profile of Georgia Lee ’98
  • Industry Successes…
  • So You Got The Job, Hey…
  • And the Award Goes to….

A Message from the Membership Director

Happy Spring Harvardwood!  The spring season is my favorite time of year.  Not only does it usher in my birthday month (May, yeah!), but it also evokes a pleasant feeling of harvest.  We spend the fall and winter months grueling away at work and projects—kicking our computer screens, cursing the director and his/her tantrums, praying to the success gods “just please let this deal close”-- and finally, as the sun’s rays begin to break through the gray skies, before we know it we are feasting on the fruits of our labor in the spring! For the Harvardwood family, this year is no exception as April has been a busy month of celebration for many of our members.  I tip my hat to everyone who has worked so hard and I am excited to share the news of everyone’s creative and work successes this month.  Party hard, boogie all night and get ready to rock and roll as summer is just around the corner!  Cheers, Kibi

Mia’s Monthly Message….

April showers indeed…well, at least in New York!  Here’s hoping it doesn’t rain on our upcoming events, as we have a busy month ahead…Our first-ever Harvardwood Tribeca Film Festival event is tonight at Butter in NYC – congrats to the 8 alum films in the festival:  DUMA (producer Stacy Cohen ’89), THE “F” WORD (writer-director Jed Weintrob ‘91, exec producer Tanya Selvaratnam '92), FIVE CHILDREN AND IT (producer Lisa Henson ’82), LAURA SMILES (producer Ric Arthur KSG ’03), THE MUPPETS’ WIZARD OF OZ (exec Lisa Henson ’82), RED DOORS (producers Jane Chen ’96, Georgia Lee ’98 - also writer-director, and yours truly, Mia Riverton ’99), RIKERS HIGH (director Victor Buhler ’95), and THE AMERICAN RULING CLASS (writer Caton Burwell '99)…In other news, Harvardwood was endorsed as an official Harvard University SIG (Shared Interest Group) by the Harvard Alumni Association…And finally, those of you who responded to the Harvardwood Writers’ Program survey should be hearing from Programs Director Rogelio Flores very soon – feel free to contact him at programs@harvardwood.org for more info!

-Mia

Member Profile: GEORGIA LEE, HC ’98                                  

I spoke to Georgia Lee while sitting in rush hour traffic, not my original plan. As I watched the minutes tick by, and realized I wasn’t go to be where I needed to be, I thought my head was going to explode. It had been one of those days where everything has the potential to go your way, but nothing does. Furthermore, it appeared that I was the only person in the entire city that was driving with some purposeful intent. Before I dialed her number, I pointed to the sky with my middle finger one last time and took a deep breath. On the other end of the line I heard an articulate, enthusiastic, spontaneous young lady.

I asked Georgia about her seemingly abrupt career change from a biochemistry major and consultant at McKinsey to director and producer. She explained her inherent love for film, but also the initial fidelity to the responsibility she felt to her familial obligations. Georgia’s film, Red Doors, enjoying its world premiere this month at the Tribeca Film Festival, explores the interactions of a dysfunctional Chinese American family.  While completely fictional, the inspiration for the film comes from Georgia’s own family experiences and expectations.  The film examines the conflicts that arise from trying to be true to one’s personal aspirations while simultaneously placating the contradicting desires of those one loves most dearly; a topic pertinent to the vast majority of people, especially those in the film industry and most of us in Harvardwood.   Accordingly, hearing Georgia’s perspectives on her own experiences, and her excitement about her completed project was very refreshing.

Abandoning the security of a monthly paycheck, or even the respect certain professions endow (of which we are all capable and which, to some degree, we all covet) is brutally difficult. When one’s family opposes that abandonment, the gravity of the decision becomes critical, and is generally not for the faint of heart. Recognizing, and then expressing this conflict so as to emphasize the universal appeal takes an enormous amount of insight and skill, but also a passion, dedication and tolerance that not many other professions require. Georgia and her producing partners quite obviously have that tangible, contagious and most importantly, infallible passion. Speaking to her, about her career path, her choices, and the film they spawned provoked some profound thought on my part. 

I have never met Georgia in person, but the relevance of her film and her struggles elicited a rather surprising personal response; one of motivation and inspiration. And to me, that is all I expect from a story. Before our time ran out, I asked Georgia if she felt fulfilled with her career choices. The question was totally redundant and I felt stupid for asking it.   Then I asked her about her family’s reaction to her successes and to Red Doors specifically.   She responded that her family was proud of what she had done, and that they would all attend the Tribeca screening.  Happy endings are added bonuses to good stories too. Please visit www.reddoorsthemovie.com for more information about the film.

--Reported by Dominique Kalil, ‘00 

INDUSTRY SUCCESSES…. 

Mike Reiss ’81 sold his comedy spec “The Man Who Knew Everything” to Paramount for Happy Madison to produce.

Michael Colton ’97 and John Aboud ‘95 have sold their comedy script “Over My Dead Body” to Montecito Picture Co. for Ivan Reitman to direct.

After only three months of living in L.A., Jeremy Rabb, A.R.T Institute ’98 booked and shot a recurring role on "Grey's Anatomy" portraying a resident.  Both episodes will come out next season, assuming the show gets picked up.

Family adventure film DUMA (Warner Bros.), produced by Stacy Cohen ’89, and directed by Carroll Ballard (Black Stallion, Never Cry Wolf, Fly Away Home), will open the inaugural Giffoni Hollywood International Children's Film Festival at the Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood on April 28, 2005.  Two days later, DUMA makes its east coast premiere in the Tribeca Film Festival.  Tickets are still available, and screening information is available at www.tribecafilmfestival.com.  Please visit the following site, http://dumamovie.warnerbros.com for more information on the movie.

Melinda Hsu’s (H/R '92) next episode of MEDIUM airs Monday, April 25.  Melinda is a member of the show’s writing staff.  Following is a brief synopsis of her new episode: while investigating an airline pilot for the murder of his wife, Patricia Arquette has a vision that this same pilot will one day save a plane full of people from a fatal crash – leaving her wondering if she should let the killer go in order to avert the future tragedy.  Please check out MEDIUM (Mondays on NBC at 10 p.m.), a TV crime drama starring Patricia Arquette as a psychic who works with law enforcement.  Please set your Tivo and tell your friends!

Anthony Cistaro, A.R.T.  '97, was just cast as "Marco" in Arthur Miller's "A View from the Bridge" playing at the South Coast Repertory. The show is directed by Martin Benson and runs May 20th through June 26th on the Segerstrom Stage.  Visit the following link for further information, http://www.scr.org/season/04-05season/view.html).

Paul M. J. Suchecki '76 just finished writing and producing his first feature length documentary, "Can We Reverse Aging?" television’s most comprehensive look at anti-aging medicine. Aging is analyzed through the science of biochemistry, evolution, and genetics by two dozen experts from Harvard, Yale, Stanford, the University of Southern California and the University of California Medical Schools in Los Angeles and San Francisco.  The show features one of the last television interviews of America’s most popular food guru, Dr. Robert Atkins author of The Age Defying Diet. "Can We Reverse Aging?" takes viewers inside Biosphere II and the longevity experiment it became, explained by Medical Officer Dr. Roy Walford.  It finishes in Okinawa the island home of the world's longest lived people, analyzed by Harvard's Dr. Bradley Willcox.   Broadcast rights to the documentary are available now.  For more details including the streaming introduction go to www.CanWeReverseAging.com or call Checkmate Pictures at (310) 306-3104, www.CheckmatePictures.com

Ben Forkner ’01 is co-producing a movie that was recently set-up at Warner Brothers.  The movie is based on the French children's book "The Last Giants" written by Francois Place.  The story is a fable about a paleontologist who discovers what appears to be an enormous human tooth inscribed with a map. He sets off on a harrowing adventure to discover a mythical lost land of giants.  The book received France's 1992 Grand Prize for Children's Literature.  Dan Lin HBS ’99 was also the buyer of the project!

SO YOU GOT THE JOB, HEY….

Thanks to a Harvardwood posting, Angie Sun ’03 has been the Story Editor at Icon Productions for the past 6 months and absolutely loves her job. She works with the Sr. VP and VP of feature film development, which means she gets to read lots of scripts and answer a lot of phones. Prior to Icon Productions, Angie was working as a page at NBC Burbank, where she got to tell people where to sit for the Tonight Show and the Ellen Degeneres Show.   As part of her job, she is helping to hire interns every semester, so all interested folks please drop Angie an email asun@icon-films.com

AND THE AWARD GOES TO…

Robert Beusman ‘76 wins Oscar for Best Documentary Short.  Robert Beusman (VES) has come full circle,  from his days at Carpenter Center making documentaries,  to the stage at the Kodak theater on Feb 27,  2005  when presenter  Natalie Portman handed him the Oscar for  “Mighty Times:  The Children’s March.”   Beusman is known in the industry by the name “Bobby Houston,” - a name he adopted from a character in one of his own students films in Cambridge, 1976.   “The Children’s March” will debut on HBO on June 5, 2005, and is currently in release to classrooms free of charge, through the website  teachingtolerance.org.  Please visit www.tttpictures.com for more information on Bobby and the film.

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