- Message from Membership Director
- Message from the President – “Mia’s Monthly Message”
- Member Profile of Sean O’Keefe, ‘95
- Industry Successes…
- So You Got The Job, Hey…
- And the Award Goes to….
- Members in the News…
A Message from the Membership Director
It’s hard to believe that we are already approaching the end of June. I hope everyone is enjoying the heat, wherever they may be, as this summer has definitely been a scorcher everywhere. Harvardwood is working hard to keep the fire of activities alive as well, so please make sure to come out and have some fun at the great social events we have planned. The first Los Angeles Mixer happened last week, and it was great to see many of you come out. Our first summer NY event is right around the corner. The wheels of creativity will also be churning with the launch of the first Harvardwood Writer’s Program events over the next two weeks. So as summer continues to quickly pass us by, make sure to stay connected to the Harvardwood and the playful creative pulse that summer brings!
Mia’s Monthly Message…
The 3rd annual HSIP (Harvardwood Summer Internship Program), sponsored by OCS and the OFA, is well underway. HSIP interns are working at companies including Disney, Lions Gate, Icon Productions, Intermedia, 2929 Productions, ICM, and many more…thanks to all you LA folks who joined us in welcoming the summer interns at the Harvardwood June mixer last Thursday! Stay tuned for details on our upcoming summer event in NYC… Our much-anticipated Harvardwood Writers’ Program will officially kick off today; we have confirmed a number of exciting guest speakers for each of the three writers’ groups. Many thanks to our fabulous HWP facilitators: Mark Goffman, Kitt Hirasaki and Billy Hulkower. Here’s to a fun and productive summer for all of us! -Mia
Member Profile: SEAN O’KEEFE ‘95
As an African, Alaska and video gaming are two of the most foreign concepts to me; ice and technology are generally as far from my reality as the pebbles on Mars. When I interviewed Sean O’Keefe (Class of 1995), I was forced to face a sad reality; as Sean put it, that I am joining the ranks of the “obsolete.”
Sean has recently become a successful screenwriter and producer. He currently runs a company called Union Entertainment (www.unionent.com) which focuses on the convergence of video games and films. He grew up in Alaska and then made his way to Harvard via boarding school in the UK. He and I chatted while he searched for wireless access while roaming the streets of Seattle, and I tried to figure out how the hell I got left behind in the dark ages. The interest of merging popular culture and electronic innovation (I do sound old and obsolete) seem to have been common themes in Sean's past. When asked about his Harvard days, he described bringing some of the rave culture then popular in the UK to our very own campus. After a couple of Ad Board visits (something to do with an unauthorized party on the squash courts?…) he graduated with a degree in history. I imagine that in college Sean was the kind of kid with whom everyone wanted to party. I imagine too that his parties at Harvard were absolutely fabulous. After college he headed to NYC, then changed course and decided to head to LA to pursue a more focused film production career. It was during this time he wrote his first screenplay and became more interested in production.
After a stint with Mike Ovitz’s former company, Artists Production Group, Sean became more involved in video gaming and its role in the film industry. As our conversation waded deeper into the world of gaming, I became more confused but remained nonetheless fascinated by Sean’s passion for this common obsession. I have never played a video game in my life, and frankly it annoys me when my guy friends prefer the games to my company (I mean, c’mon..) But for Sean, it seems that his job is his hobby, which I think for most people is right on the cusp of Zen. He and I talked about gaming and its role in the film industry in great depth (and the market potential of those consumers still in the dark…) and his enthusiasm really impressed me. I had no idea that people aged 28-36 yrs were the biggest gamers. Go figure!
Sean’s career experience deals with integrating video games and movies. Traditionally, video games have been constructed from movies, using the characters and story lines from the movies to create the next big thing in the gaming world. However, Sean’s company works with producers and directors to create the video game and movie simultaneously, so that both evolve together, eventually creating a product where both are in complete synchrony. I was telling Sean that the reason I had never played a video game was probably because, for the most part, I find them incredibly violent. He agreed, but he noted that developers are aware of this and that gaming will soon be heading in a direction more constructive and productive, and with a broader market appeal. He also said that video games would soon allow the gamer greater control in choosing the evolving narrative, and generally greater influence in choosing the direction of the game. So now, I admit, I find myself rather intrigued by video games. I still have yet to try one, but should the opportunity arise, I’ll definitely attempt this odd enticement…
--Reported by Dominique Kalil, ‘00
Jonathan Mostow ’83 will rewrite and direct Disney’s new version of “Swiss Family Robinson”, which is being overseen by Josh Simon ’00. Mostow will continue to develop the fourth “Terminator” film as well as “Tonight He Comes” with Will Smith for Sony.
HEIGHTS, the feature directorial debut of Chris Terrio '97, is now in theaters in New York and Los Angeles. NY Engagements: Paris Theater, W. 58th Street; Union Square Stadium 14. LA Engagements: Laemmle Sunset 5, Landmark Nu-Wilshire (Santa Monica), Laemmle Town Center (Encino). HEIGHTS stars Glenn Close, Jesse Bradford, James Marsden, and Elizabeth Banks.
Karen Gordon asks Harvardwood to join her for a ridiculously fun event! She is starring in an original musical comedy entitled "The Possession of Mrs. Jones," (involving 1960s desperate housewives, God and Satan in a washing machine, and the flagrant misuse of spreadable cheese), that was just featured as a special sold-out "Before They Were Movies" live event at the Los Angeles Film Festival. There is a GOOD chance the show will become a feature film, so come join her and witness the process from the beginning! The show opens for a 4-week run at the Zephyr Theatre in Hollywood (7456 Melrose Avenue, June 23-July 17), with shows Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8pm, Sunday 2 and 7pm. "Possession" is directed by the fabulous Charles Herman-Wurmfeld, director of "Kissing Jessica Stein" and "Legally Blonde 2." Tickets are now on sale, and can be purchased at www.plays411.com/jones.
Allan Piper '96 is currently editing for BBC New York. Fans of the TV shows What Not to Wear and While You Were Out can tune in to see a special cross-over episode that he edited. The show details follow: While the “worst dressed woman” in Chicago gets a surprise “What Not to Wear” makeover, she has no idea her husband is re-doing their dreadful purple clown bedroom with the While You Were Out team. Her husband has no idea she's coming back a changed woman. The show aired on June 22 on TLC.
Dan Abrams is pleased to announce that his film KNOTS was released by Lions Gate Home Entertainment on DVD and VHS Tuesday June 14th. You can find the movie at Blockbuster, Netflix, Amazon, and wherever else you rent or buy DVD's. The DVD features deleted scenes, outtakes, and an additional audio commentary by Director Greg Lombardo, star Annabeth Gish, and Dan. Please rent or buy it soon and recommend it to all your friends who haven’t seen it yet! Dan writer: “It’s tough for a little movie like ours to get noticed amongst all the mega-budget studio films on the New Releases shelves, so we need everyone’s support.” The movie is rated R for “Strong Sexual Content and Pervasive Language,” so if you’re easily offended, just rent it or buy it for someone with looser morals! Also he asks Harvardwood to please visit the following sites and give the film a good rating and/or a positive review, to help support the film:
Leslie Lewis Sword AB '95 portrayed 1950's actress Dorothy Dandridge in One-Woman Show Off-Broadway in NYC. The show was written by Jamal Williams at the National Black Theatre in Harlem. Dorothy Dandridge was the first Black actor, male or female, to win an Academy Award nomination for a leading role. Her run of "Yesterday Came Too Soon," directed by Dr. Barbara Ann Teer, SOLD OUT EVERY NIGHT and received got great coverage in the New York Post and publications. She is also pleased to announce this was her first New York theatre debut after receiving her MFA in Acting from UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television in Spring 2005. Leslie writes: “Playing the ill-fated actress in this challenging show was an incredible way to launch my career in NYC and I feel blessed.”
SO YOU GOT THE JOB, HEY….
Mark Goffman (MPP ’94) has joined the new FOX show REUNION as a co-producer. Mark, formerly on the writing staff of THE WEST WING, is also facilitating the Harvardwood Writers’ Program TV drama group.
AND THE AWARD GOES TO…
Alum film RED DOORS won the Special Jury Prize for Ensemble Acting at the 2005 CineVegas Film Festival in Las Vegas, NV. This was one of two juried awards given in a field of 63 films; jury members included director Allison Anders, actor Anthony Mackie, and critic Ella Taylor. The ensemble cast includes Tzi Ma, Jacqueline Kim, Freda Foh Shen, Elaine Kao, Kathy Shao-Lin Lee, Rossif Sutherland, and alum Mia Riverton. The film, written and directed by Georgia Lee ’98, played to sold-out audiences at Tribeca and CineVegas and will screen again at Outfest in Los Angeles on Fri., July 15 at 7:00 p.m. at the DGA. See www.reddoorsthemovie.com for more info.
Producer Beverley Gordon's ('88) film, WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON (AFI), starring Jeff Licon and Jose Yenque, won the Gold Prize in the Narrative Category at the 32nd STUDENT ACADEMY AWARDS held on June 12, 2005. The film is now eligible for Oscar consideration for Best Short Film (live action).
MEMBERS IN THE NEWS
Leslie Lewis Sword AB '95 portrayed 1950's actress Dorothy Dandridge in One-Woman Show Off-Broadway in NYC. She played to great reviews, some of which are printed below. If you are interested in seeing a short reel from the show, or any of her other work, and to receive updates about future shows and projects please email [email protected] and she will send along a DVD and add you to her mailing list.
* "Ms. Sword's vivid portrayal of the classic bombshell depicted superb acting talent." --The Liberty News
* "Leslie Lewis Sword is a visionary." --Jet Magazine
* "Sword looks sharp as Dandridge." --The Amsterdam News