Issue 21 | October 2006

  • Message from the Associate Membership Directors
  • Message from Mia
  • Message from the Programs Director
  • Member Profile: Andy Borowitz ‘80
  • Industry Successes…
  • And the Award Goes to…
  • Help…
  • Harvardwood Highlights: LA Insider…

Message from the Associate Membership Directors

Greeting!

As the leaves start to change, Harvardwood is busy planning an exciting slate of fall events. With galas and seminars, premieres and workshops, there are plenty of ways you can get involved.

Even though summer is over, the grill isn’t gone. The LA Insider this month offers Korean, Peruvian, and Japanese gems that are guaranteed to turn up the heat.

Thanks to everyone that submitted this past month. This issue has the F word, F*ckJoy, and a love triangle.

Please continue to share your stories. Your participation is what Harvardwood is all about.

Ciao,
Angela and Amit

Message from Mia

Many thanks to everyone who contributed to our second annual Harvardwood Seminar Series! Over four Saturday brunch seminars held at the Writers Guild of America West, we heard from more than a dozen informative guest speakers on topics ranging from film finance to the future of music. A special thank you to our sponsor, VarietyCareers.com (www.varietycareers.com) and Harvardwood Programs Director Kevin Boyle.

If you're in the mood to inform yourself further this month, join us next Sunday, Oct. 15 in Los Angeles for our TV Guide-sponsored panel on "Creating and Distributing User-Generated Content on the Internet - The Lessons of Rocketboom and Lonelygirl15". As always, details can be found on our website: www.harvardwood.org
--Mia

Message from the Programs Director, Kevin Boyle

The 2nd Harvardwood Seminar series was a back to school experience for the Harvardwood community bringing panelists and audience members together for study of the cutting edge issues in the entertainment industry.

The power of online distribution was the focus of our opening seminar. We learned about the analysis companies make before launching a channel as well as a survey of the entire market of online video sharing sites. We studied the market and speculated on the value of companies such as youtube. Google ended the debate this week with the $1.6 Billion purchase of the company. The power of online distribution was also a major subject of our closing panel on The Future of Music. We learned that the industry is still in the midst of change despite several years of attempting to integrate online marketing and distribution. Companies still struggle to harness the power of online distribution and find models for record labels and artists to benefit from the new world of music.

Our Writers on Writing panel gave insights into the tools needed for preparation and success in writing a television or feature script. After one writes a fabulous script our Private Equity panel explored new sources of financing available for independent and studio films.
Thanks to all of our panelists for the series and a great audience who came each week with great questions and experiences to share.

-- Kevin

Member Profile: Andy Borowitz '80

By Kim Bendheim

Andy Borowitz is a one-man show. You could write a newsletter about him called “Andywood” -- this Harvard grad (’80) produces his own comedy show once a month at Mo Pitkins, writes the award-winning politically satirical “Borowitz Report”, will soon be touring the country with The Moth, acts in films, and writes a “Shouts & Murmurs” column for “The New Yorker”. Oh, and his latest book, “The Republican Playbook”, is now available in bookstores and at Amazon.

How did he get “The Republican Playbook”? According to Borowitz, he went to the Oval Office and took it. “The place was totally empty and it was that easy.” Borowitz felt a little bad “because that’s the only book Bush had ever read, but it really does explain how to steal the election. Now that Democrats can go to B&N and buy it, it will level the playing field. They can finally figure out what Republicans have been doing.”

A self-styled, subversive iconoclast, Borowitz got his start in comedy at Harvard, where he was president of the Lampoon. The man who offered him his first job, Bud Yorkin, saw him perform in Cambridge. In those days, before generations of Harvard Lampoon-alums-cum-Simpsons-writers were established, there was nothing, Borowitz points out, “like the world domination there is today.”

Nor did Borowitz have career models growing up. Neither of his parents was in the entertainment business, though his father, Albert, a corporate lawyer, is also an author and wrote many nonfiction books, true crime and mystery novels. After raising her children, his mother went back to school and became a curator at the Cleveland Museum of Art. His parents were both Harvard-Radcliffe alums, classes of ‘50 and ‘51. Though Borowitz followed his parents to Harvard, before college he didn’t know that you could have “a nice middle-class living doing comedy.” He says the comedy life is not nearly as “rockin as it sounds. I’m usually home in bed by ten.” Back when he was first starting out in college, the notion that you could work professionally in comedy wouldn’t have occurred to him if it hadn’t been for The Lampoon. The actor and writer Jim Downey ‘74 was an icon to Borowitz because he was the first guy to have a real TV job (at “Saturday Night Live”).

Borowitz got his own first job while he was in college. He was hired by Bud Yorkin, part of Norman Lear’s team, to write screenplays after Yorkin saw him host a Lampoon screening of Yorkin’s film, “Start The Revolution Without Me.” “I’m still hosting,” says Borowitz. “There’s been very little growth,” he adds wryly. Another fruitful work relationship came about indirectly through The Lampoon. Brandon Tartikoff was running NBC at the time. Borowitz and his wife Susan created “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” for the network. “He’d gone to Yale, and I got the feeling he liked having me around because it was like being on the Lampoon, as opposed to the ‘Yale Record’ [Yale’s humor magazine]. Who wouldn’t have wanted to go to Harvard?” asks Borowitz.

Although Borowitz’s notable stint at the Lampoon fueled his career in the real world, he cautions people against going to Harvard just for the connections, which he finds to some extent overrated. Borowitz counsels that it’s better to do the things you want to do at Harvard, the things you love. As he sees it, Harvard is a great laboratory to try things. “The stakes are so low you can’t get fired from Harvard, unless you’re Larry Summers,” deadpans Borowitz,. At Harvard, he acted, wrote, and “goofed,” exactly what he does today – but now he gets paid for it.

Borowitz counts his blessings because he found something in life he loves to do. He has two children, Alexandra (17) and Max (11). “I always tell my kids you spend so much of your life working, you should find what you like. I’m just a font of advice,” adds the endlessly self-deprecating Borowitz. How could it be otherwise with a former President of the Lampoon?

Asked how he sees his role in the upcoming elections, Borowitz laughs and says, “To sell as many books as possible. I hope we end up with better Congressmen,” he adds as an aside. He mentions that he just got cast in another film, “Absolutely Maybe,” directed by Adam Brooks. He was called in to audition for a sizeable part. Borowitz didn’t get the part he was auditioning for, he only got one line: “More than one line exposes the weaknesses in my technique.” He may only get one line in movies, but in his Mo Pitkins show, he does “about 40 minutes of me, my personal life – usually when you’re single, you have funny stories.”

Whether single or not, Borowitz has plenty of funny stories and seemingly inexhaustible ways of reaching an increasingly wider audience. This month, he tours the country both to promote his book, and with the Moth, the urban storytelling hybrid. He performs at UCLA’s Royce Hall on October 12th and is back in NYC with his show at Mo Pitkins on October 30th.

Industry Successes…

Lara Hirner ‘95 has had a busy summer – two of her recordings for Disney's audiobook series, Peep and the Big Wide World, have finally made it to the store shelves! She also just started working with manager Ingrid French, is awaiting final production on the sea kayaking video filmed in Maine, recorded two more audiobooks for the Smithsonian Institute, and is heading to Boston to perform in the Bernstein Festival under the direction of Julliard's Judith Clurman, which is being held at Harvard on October 12th, 13th, and 14th. She will be covering for BBC World Singer Nicole Cabell and singing the Wrong Note Rag and the part of Cunegonde in The Best of All Possible Worlds!

Jessie (Cohen) Hutcheson ‘95 and Lisa M. Perry, co-founders of Sloane Road Productions, have three short films in five festivals in the month of October:

"The Test" at Woodstock (October 13-15), Fort Lauderdale (October 17-18), and Williamstown (October 27-29)

"The Test" is a narrative short about what transpires in the six minutes after a dysfunctional couple finds out they are having a baby, premiered at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival and is nominated for an award at Woodstock this year.

"On the Cliffs" at New Orleans (October 13-15)

"On the Cliffs" is an in-depth look at the way Cliffs Notes can destroy a friendship, has traveled to numerous film festivals, including Santa Barbara, Hamptons, Savannah, Atlanta, DeadCenter, and Ohio, where it won the "Best Short Comedy" award

"Yellow Belly" at Coney Island (October 8th at 4pm).

"Yellow Belly" is a nine-minute short film, tells the story of three old friends who go on a bird watching trip to renew their friendship, with unexpected consequences.
Directed by Lisa M. Perry
Produced, Written, and Edited by Jessie Hutcheson and Lisa M. Perry http://www.sloaneroad.com/

Inger Tudor AB '87, HLS '92 is performing in an evening of three one-acts called "The Bomba Trilogy" at her lovely Theatre of NOTE. Details are below, with a brief synopsis of the three pieces. Evening should be under two hours--they're fast and furious. She is one of the leads in F*ckjoy. There is nudity (sorry, none of it's hers).

BOMBA TRILOGY by award-winning playwright Chris Kelley:

Illumination: Whores and clowns inhabit their one-time stage, now empty, and reflect on all that's lost but, regrettably, not forgotten. Their reverie is interrupted by an armed infantryman who may just compel them at gunpoint to revive their performances for the Attorney General.

F*ckjoy: It’s the broadcast infotainment age and whatever you think you're feeling may just be part of the game: happiness, regret and the secret emotions that you keep to yourself. Beware, the cameras may be watching. The hosts of the show themselves don't know what they feel anymore, but they are still smiling. It's not real happiness, but, you know, "reality-based happiness".

Darkness: A stormy night, a revolver, a corpse on the floor and a house haunted by living people who are compelled by an unseen prophet to have sex in the pursuit of divinity and comedy. The Darkness explores the shadow area between life and death and life again, mysticism and sarcasm and the nature of consciousness.

Jed Weintrob ‘90 (the F Word, On Line) directs SCAR, a psychological horror Film. Principal photography began on October 3rd in Calgary, Canada. Angela Bettis (The Woods, Masters of Horror, May, Girl Interrupted) is set to star. The screenplay is by Zack Ford. Weintrob and Ford conceived the story. The Director of Photography is Toshiaki Ozawa (The Brown Bunny, On Line, East Broadway). Casting was done in Los Angeles and Calgary. SCAR is produced by Norman Twain, Courtney Potts, and Jamie Gordon. Dan Hank will co-produce. Christian D. Bruun will Executive Producer. SCAR will be shot with cutting-edge high definition 3-D technology and is the first of a new generation of high quality, live action 3D horror films to begin production. The film is being financed independently.

And the Award Goes to…

Julian Breece '03 garnered 3rd place honors in the 2006 Slamdance Screenplay Competition for his original screenplay BALL. Selected from over 2000 entries, Breece and nine other finalists were honored during a ceremony hosted by the Writers Guild of America. The top three winners will be further honored during the 2007 Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Notably, in 2001 the screenplay for MARIA FULL OF GRACE won 3rd place in the same competition and went on to become an Academy Award nominated feature. Sundance favorite THE WOODSMAN won 1st place that year.

Peter Fox '72 has been chosen as a finalist for the New Yorker cartoon caption contest. Feel free to vote for contest #67 at www.newyorker.com by October 8th. Click on cartoons.
John Unger Zussman '72 and Patricia Zussman's romantic drama, TRIO, won second prize among more than 900 entries in the recent Writers on the Storm Screenplay Competition. TRIO was also a finalist in Creative Screenwriting's AAA Screenplay Contest, with 1200 entries. TRIO is the passionate, poignant, and true story of the love triangle that shook three lives and shaped Romantic music -- Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, and celebrated pianist Clara Schumann. The Zussmans seek representation, and a producer for TRIO, who share their passion for great stories, intelligently told.

You Got the Job, Hey...

Warren Chao '89 recently joined TV Guide in Hollywood, CA as Vice President of Business Development and Strategic Planning. TV Guide is home to the venerable TV Guide Magazine, TV Guide Channel, and the newly relaunched online destination site: www.tvguide.com. Warren will be working on partnerships between TV Guide and other media and technology companies. In addition, he will be interfacing with content creators such as studios, networks, music labels and independent production companies to help promote and distribute video content across the various TV Guide properties. Since this is the first time he has worked north of the 10 Highway, Warren welcomes any emails from friends, classmates and Harvardwood members with good places to eat lunch. You can reach him at: warren.chao@tvguide.com

Libby Shani '02 is the new Assistant Director of the Entertainment Division of the Jewish Federation. The Entertainment Division is a dynamic group of entertainment industry professionals who participate in a wide variety of volunteer opportunities, social events, and educational programs in support of the Federation's life-saving work in Los Angeles, Israel, and around the world. Their next event is a Hollywood, Hand On! Breakfast Speaker Series featuring Nancy Josephson, former president of ICM and newest partner at Endeavor Talent Agency. For more information on how to get involved, please contact Libby Shani at 323/ 761-8371 or lshani@jewishla.org

Help...

Christina Alexandra Voros '99, a NYU grad filmmaker, is seeking a location for a small film shoot. Nov 10-13. Seeking bathroom of a decent size - with bathtub that opens onto a bedroom or living area - not facing a hallway wall. Tiny crew, bare bones lighting package and only 2 actors. Director is a Student Academy Award nominee and promises to be very respectful of your space. Please help! She is offering $100-$200 a day for the right location. Please contact christinavoros@hotmail.com

Harvardwood Highlights: LA Insider...

The Spot: Nanbankan
1130 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310)478-1591

Hidden in plain sight on Santa Monica Boulevard, Nanbankan is a small Yakitoriya. Applying the artful sensibility and attention to detail evident in sushi to simply grilled foods, Nanbankan succeeds in giving diners an authentic Japanese experience. Habitués know that the best seat in the house, just like for sushi, is at the bar. Here you can see the expert grill chefs twirl and grill perfect bites over a white hot Japanese charcoal. After tasting the food, you will realize the charcoal isn’t just some marketing gimmick; it imparts a delicate flavor to the food that can be, especially to those used to mesquite and hickory, a revelation.
Tip: Nanbankan grills whole fish, Australian lamb chops (when available), and shishito peppers, but my favorite are the tsukune, well-carmalized chicken meatballs that I could eat all night long. The tempura here is light, crunchy, and superfine.

The Spot: Soot Bull Jeep
3136 West Eighth Street
Los Angeles, Ca 90005
(213) 387-3865

Soot Bull Jeep wins my award for LA’s smokiest dining experience. Because of the smoke, the lack of decent parking, and location in a neighborhood that can only politely be described as colorful, Soot Bull Jeep is not a restaurant I would normally recommend, but, if you like DIY Korean barbecue as much as I do, there are few other places to go. The banchan (little side dishes served alongside) aren’t really noteworthy. This is all about the magic of marinated meat and a natural charcoal fire. Most Korean barbecue restaurants avoid charcoal for good reason. It can make you feel like your dining in the middle of a forest fire. If you can brave the smoke and the heat, the parking, the neighborhood, and the long lines, Soot Bul Jeep has got the goods.

Tip: This is not the place to break out the Gucci. Dig through your laundry hamper for an outfit. Even though the meat is the star here, I also like the bubbling cauldron of kimchee tofu soup.

The Spot: Pollo a la Brasa
764 South Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90005
(213) 382-4090

It’s not pretty. In an abandoned car wash, with cords of wood stacked outside, Pollo a la Brasa serves what can best be described as caveman cuisine. In a hardwood hearth, fire licks every inch of the marinated, dry-rubbed chickens, rendering the fat and leaving a mahogany skin of indescribable flavor. The neon green aji sauce complements the chicken with warm acidity. The chicken and the fat, soft fries are the perfect gestalt of protein and starch.

Tip: For a place devoted to rotisserie chicken, Pollo a la Brasa has a decent salad. If you like heat, be sure to get extra aji sauce – it’s addicting.

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