Issue 16 | May 2006

  • Message from Membership Director
  • Message from the President – “Mia’s Monthly Message”
  • Member Profile: Keir Pearson '89
  • Industry Successes…
  • And the Award Goes to….
  • Six Degrees of Harvardwood
  • Featured Member Posting: Seeking Assistant, TV Drama Series

A Message from the Membership Director

I hope everyone is enjoying the beginnings of summer. I’m so glad that May Grey is finally giving away to some sunshine – I for one am much more productive when the sun is shining. We’ve had a busy past few months. We launched the second round of the Harvardwood Writers Program and we enjoyed the second annual Harvard in Hollywood event. Thanks so much to everyone who turned out and enjoyed in the festivities. I also want to send a special note of thanks to all the panelists for the Arts First Panel on campus this month as well. Make sure you come out the gallery showing on May 24th, where we will announce the winner of the Harvardwood Screenplay competition. Again, we are busy trying to put together leadership on the ground in our city cities such as Washington DC, London and Chicago to try and build up our service offerings there as well, so if you are interested in taking on a more active role in the organization, please email me at [email protected] and let me know.


Mia’s Monthly Message….

There’s been a flurry of Harvardwood activity around the country this month with the Harvard in Hollywood “Trends in Television” event in LA, as well as our Harvardwood, DC launch party, and the Harvardwood Arts First career panel in dear old Cambridge…many thanks to the guest speakers, sponsors and attendees at these events – a good time was had by all! There is more fun in store with our gallery evening in LA next week, where we’ll imbibe savory wine from Talley Vineyards and announce the winner(s) of the inaugural Harvardwood Screenplay Competition ( If you happen to be in Cannes this weekend, be sure to stop by the Harvardwood Europe cocktail hour for libations and good company ( And, finally, add some culture to your Memorial Day weekend as Harvardwood Heads To…ME TOO, the new play by longtime member Mark Goffman (


Member Profile: KEIR PEARSON '89

Most writers work for years before they receive their first option and years longer before their first script is made. The first screenplay by Keir Pearson ’89 was made and nominated for an Academy Award.

Pearson grew up and attended high school in Portland, Oregon. At Harvard he rowed on the heavyweight eight that won the NCAA National Championship in 1987 and the Ladies’ Plate at Henley three years later. Concentrating in East Asian studies, he wrote his thesis on Chinese cinema.

In the fall of 1992 after rowing for the United States at the Barcelona Olympics he began work on his MFA in the film school at New York University, and in his second year his short film won a Wasserman Award. To finance his thesis film he worked as an editor of television documentaries and received his degree in 1997.

In 1994 while Pearson was toiling in New York, half a world away the political situation in Rwanda was unraveling. After years of conflict between the majority Hutu and minority Tutsi ethnic groups, the president signed a peace accord under the auspices of the United Nations. When he was flying home, militant Hutus shot down his plane and blamed his death on the Tutsis.

On the same night began orchestrated massacres of Tutsis and moderate Hutus. When the commanding general of the United Nations forces requested reinforcements, the Security Council ordered him to evacuate the country, and Bill Clinton signed an order preventing the deployment of American troops. When the UN attempted to reconsider its action, Madeleine Albright delayed the vote. In a hundred days over one million people died.

In 1999 Pearson received a visit from an old friend John Robinson ’91, who had recently returned from seven years in Africa and told a remarkable story. During the genocide more than 1,200 people took refuge in the four star Hotel Mille Collines and not one perished. The manager Paul Rusesabagina used a combination of bribery, persuasion and charm to save his guests from the murderous thugs who surrounded the hotel.

Fascinated by the story, Pearson interviewed Rwandan refugees in the U.S. and located Paul Rusesabagina in Brussels. He planned to visit Europe and Africa to do more research but did not have the money. His girlfriend – now his wife – gave him her frequent flier miles and loaned him the money. Because he could speak neither French nor Swahili nor the local Rwandan dialect, John Robinson came along at his own expense to serve as interpreter.

Appalled and inspired by what he had seen and heard, Pearson returned to New York and devoted a year to writing his screenplay. He could only work evenings and weekends, but every three months he saved enough money to devote a full week to the project.

Writing the screenplay was the easy part. When Pearson took his story to the West Coast, he quickly learned that Hollywood had no interest in Africa and African stories. However Chris Moore ’89, who was running Live Planet at the time, liked it and gave it the necessary push. Doug MacLaren ’90 then read it and set it up with Terry George, an experienced filmmaker who was looking for an African story.

Ironically George had his office in New York, a few blocks from where Pearson worked. Together they revised the screenplay. With George involved the studios showed some interest provided an A list actor played the lead. No one was interested. During the long summer the project languished until veteran producer Alex Ho came aboard. At the Toronto Film Festival he arranged financing by British and South African interests. United Artists agreed to distribute. Photography began January 13, 2004 in Johannesberg.

A year later United Artists released HOTEL RWANDA to critical and commercial success and the screenplay received an Academy Award nomination. Eighteen months ago Keir Pearson moved to Los Angeles to pursue his writing career. He recently completed a screenplay for Paramount and is working on another for Warner Brothers. He remains proud of HOTEL RWANDA and its effect on public consciousness. “I think this type of film just keeps pushing us in the right direction.”

Your faithful correspondent is Sean O’Rourke MAT ’68.


The documentary feature REVERSE AGING NOW was released on DVD, May 1st 2006 through It's the most comprehensive look at anti-aging medicine on video, drawing on interviews with two dozen scientists and doctors from America's foremost educational and medical institutions including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, UCLA and USC. REVERSE AGING NOW reveals specific lifestyle changes and cutting edge therapies that viewers can adopt to reverse the deterioration caused by aging to lead longer, healthier lives. The documentary concludes in Okinawa with the secrets of the world's longest-lived people. "Reverse Aging Now" was written and produced by Paul M. J. Suchecki '76.

Harvardwood writer/director Paula Brancato announces her engagement to artist Michael David Singer, currently showing at the Lowe Gallery in Santa Monica. She is in production on her third film SHOWBUNNIES and finishing her first novel NEVER IRON NAKED. Michael and Paula reside in Chelsea, New York with stepson/musician Alexander Singer.

BJ Averell '03 and Tyler MacNiven made it down to the final four teams competing in The Amazing Race. The show aired on CBS in April, where you could see them battle crocodiles with didgeridoos in the Australian outback.

Terence J. Murnin '84 recently married his writing partner, Cynthia D. Emmons in Phoenix, Arizona. The couple have their own creative boutique and production company, Cyner & Saint. Terence is an accomplished advertising and editorial writer, as well as a screenwriter. Cynthia is a business consultant and entrepreneur who is active in numerous charitable and philanthropic causes, including Planned Parenthood Of Central and Northern Arizona. The happy couple will honeymoon in Peru, hiking and biking to Machu Picchu.

See WINE LOVERS, the wine tasting musical at the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, May 24-28 (co-written by Gary Negbaur '89). Take a journey with an intoxicating new musical that follows two mismatched students through a wine class led by an effervescent teacher. Audience members enjoy five delightful wines along with the class, while everyone learns a little about wine... and love. For info/tickets, visit:

LMAN gallery (Lawrence Man) has recently received several recognitions. The April issue of Artweek reviewed a group exhibition Earthly Creatures comprised of three artists. A sculpture and a drawing by one of the artists were acquired by Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University for their permanent contemporary art collections. They will go on display at the museum in mid June. The international art journal Artforum also reviewed another exhibition Timeless Auras by Yoshio Ikezaki in their critics picks column. The show is currently on view until May 27, 2006.

Larry Steinberg '81, a partner with the Santa Monica law firm of Gilchrist & Rutter, has been elected Treasurer of the Los Angeles Copyright Society for 2006-2007. Larry's election by the Society at its annual ballot for officers and new Board of Trustees members puts him on the Society's “officers’ ladder,” and he is expected to serve as the Society's President within the next several years. The Los Angeles Copyright Society, organized in 1973, is the premier bar organization for Los Angeles intellectual property and entertainment attorneys and includes, among its past officers, some of Los Angeles' leading entertainment lawyers including Leon Kaplan, Bruce Ramer and Kenneth Ziffren. Larry has been practicing law in Los Angeles since 1981, specializing in entertainment, intellectual property, advertising and general business litigation.

Anthony Cistaro guest stars as "Dumain" in the final three episodes of the CHARMED series. The episodes air on the WB, Sunday May 7, 14, 21 at 8pm.

Producer Stacy Cohen ’89 is happy to announce the DVD release of DUMA (Warner Bros., 2005) on Tuesday, May 16, 2006. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times named DUMA “The Best Film of 2005.” Manohla Dargis of the New York Times called DUMA “soulful, piercingly beautiful.” And Ebert & Roeper gave DUMA “Two Thumbs Up!” Check out more reviews at, and the official website at

Robert Davenport HBS '84 is running for Judge of Superior Court, at the June 6th, 2006 election. Please vote if you are a supporter.

Jeremy Rabb is currently performing in the 80's hair-band musical "Rock Of Ages" ( After an extended run in Los Angeles, the show is now playing for a limited run at the Flamingo in Las Vegas. Jack Blades, lead singer from Night Ranger, stars.

Since moving back to New York in mid-April, Lara M. Hirner has recorded two local radio spots, landed a Kayaking short (8 days in the balmy waters of Maine...), scheduled 2 more audio book series with Disney and the Smithsonian Institute, and started a new job as the Director of Career Building at Edge Studio (! She excited about her new job position.


Sara Bibel won a daytime Emmy on April 28th as part of the writing team for THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS.

Six Degrees of Harvardwood – Karen Adelman

From Karen:

I'm a junior at Harvard right now. Harvardwood totally made my summer. First, it connected Kristen Lozada and me with Dan Punt, a fairly recent Harvard grad, who graciously subletted his beautiful apartment for the whole summer. His apartment really was AMAZING, it made my summer!


DO YOU HAVE A TESTIMONAL TO SHARE! Please send me a short note or email with your testimonial about how Harvardwood has helped you? Email [email protected] and for each testimonial receive, a free month of membership (limit 3 per person).

Featured Member Posting – Seeking Assistant, TV Drama Series

Seeking assistant to the writer/showrunner/executive producer of a major network primetime drama series. Candidate must be fully committed to being an assistant for the upcoming TV season. The candidate must be organized, anticipatory, hard working, have great phone etiquette, and be willing to work long hours… To view full posting, please visit:


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