Issue 23 | December 2006

  • Message from the Associate Membership Directors
  • Message from Mia
  • Member Profile: Marty Bowen '91
  • Harvardwood 101
  • Message from the HGLC
  • Industry Successes...
  • And the Award Goes to...
  • Harvardwood Highlights: LA Insider...

Message from the Associate Membership Directors

It's been another great year for Harvardwood. Angela and I feel privileged to be part of the best damn Harvard alumni group period. A big part of Harvardwood's success has been all of you: the members. In the New Year, Harvardwood will continue to offer innovative programs, inspiring forums, and meaningful networking opportunities.

This month's profile is of Marty Bowen, previously a partner at UTA and currently running a production company. The last LA Insider of the year features the hottest restaurant in LA, a legendary hangout, and a Japanese tapas-style bar.

Thanks to everyone that contributed this past month. This issue includes a Liebeslieder, a BRAZZA, and a Gass.

Please continue to share your stories, successes, and insider tips. Your participation is what Harvarwood is all about.

See you all in the New Year!

Angela and Amit

Message from Mia

A big thank you to all of our Harvardwood members, and special props to everyone who participated in our events and programs in 2006 -- we couldn't have done it without you! Stay tuned for more Harvardwood action in the new year, including a Sundance event in Park City with the Yalies, a mixer with the visiting Harvardwood 101 students, and much more...

Happy holidays!

-Mia

Member Profile: Marty Bowen '91

By Kim Bendheim '81

In January 2006, Marty Bowen '91, then a partner at United Talent Agency, left to start the production company Temple Hill with long-time friend and New Line Cinema creative executive, Wyck Godfrey. The company is named after the house they once shared together with John Goldstone '91 in LA. Godfrey was the odd man out -- he went to Princeton. Bowen and Godfrey's first production, THE NATIVITY STORY, came out a few weeks ago. Another project they are developing is an old-fashioned country-western love story called PAPER WINGS. Their third endeavor, GOD, THE DEVIL AND LUCY, is a love story about the battle between God and the Devil for the affections of a human heart.

Asked if and how his Harvard experience helped him in his present career, Bowen laughed and replied, "It didn't help me get into a mailroom." Bowen started in the mailroom at UTA and worked his way up to being a partner at the agency. Notable clients included Larry McMurtry (LONESOME DOVE) and Charlie Kaufman (BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND). What Harvard did for Bowen, he said, was "to help me to organize my thoughts and put them into a formative structure. It didn't change my core intelligence. I'm as dumb now as I was then. Probably waiting tables helped me more directly in that first job. Harvard gave me credibility that I might not otherwise have. The Good Housekeeping seal of approval." Bowen majored in American history and graduated cum laude. At the time he didn't know he wanted to go into the entertainment business, but for all of his electives he chose film and theater classes.

Asked if he's religious, Bowen said "yes." He's Catholic, but he describes himself as a "cafeteria Catholic" -- meaning he picks and chooses which church doctrines he follows. He sees himself as more of a cultural than a believing Catholic, "but if you ask me if I'm Christian, if I'm Catholic, if I say my prayers, the answer is yes." He was brought up in Fort Worth, Texas by Catholic parents. Being Catholic and being Texan are important parts of his identity.

When Bowen left UTA, he realized he had enough money for the next ten years and "couldn't do it as an agent anymore." He wanted to do something new, something that moved him. "I wanted to tell stories that speak to the human condition without being politicized." Favorite films of this seasoned agent and budding producer include THE NOTEBOOK, LORD OF THE RINGS, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, and SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. "Those are films I would have liked to have made," said Bowen, adding that he "loved the stories."

After graduating from Harvard, Bowen gave himself a year to move to Hollywood and see how it went. By then, he knew he wanted to be in the movie business. He explains it this way: "Like most people, I got swept up in the other life you can have going to the movies. I thought if you're going to be a salesman in life, you might as well love what you're selling. If you give me a choice between selling widgets or movies, movies are going to win every time."

Bowen thought he'd get sick of the life in a year, but as a self-described "alpha male," he loved working at the agency. "The famous people, the glamour," were all appealing. Most people, as he discovered, "don't live the sad Hollywood stories you hear about; most people aren't addicts." Bowen himself has a civilized lifestyle. On the Saturday after this reporter interviewed him, he was going to have cocktails at Harvard screenwriter (and last month's profilee) Aline Brosh McKenna's home.

Bowen's father, an investment banker, thought his son was wasting a good education and chasing after a pipe dream by going into the entertainment business. However, his dad came around, and "not one person was more supportive in this new venture," says Bowen proudly. His mom? "My mom would be supportive if I told her I wanted to be a serial killer."

Although he says he enjoyed it, Bowen's feelings about Harvard are ambivalent. He wouldn't be heartbroken if a child of his elected not to go. As far as contributing to Harvard goes, "Not until they improve the food. Give me some ice cream and a piece of meat I can actually eat!" More to the point, he asks, "Do we really need to add to the $44 billion endowment?" As Bowen sees it, at Harvard "you are surrounded by people who've been told how special they are in high school. It's hard to feel, in the annals of that school, that you were an important part of it. Harvard gets the best students and then gives them the opportunity to distinguish themselves." When Bowen's girlfriend goes back to the University of Texas at Austin, she feels it's home for her. Bowen doesn't have that feeling about Harvard; in fact, at Harvard he felt like a visitor. As he wryly observes, however, "certain places you've been, they will probably be in your obituary," and Harvard is one of them.

HARVARDWOOD 101

Harvardwood is pleased to announce our fifth annual Harvardwood 101 career exploration program, cosponsored by the Office of Career Services and Office for the Arts. The program brings a group of Harvard undergraduates to Los Angeles over intersession break (Jan. 25 - 30, 2007) and provides various career-related activities in an attempt to demystify Hollywood and educate current students about opportunities in the entertainment industry. Planned activities include a studio lot tour, a discussion of film development and production hosted by a major production company, a visit to a scoring stage, a panel on breaking into TV writing, an agency visit, lunches with alumni in various facets of the industry, and an info session and tour of the USC film school facilities. For more information on how to apply, or if you are an alum wishing to get involved, please visit: http://www.harvardwood.org/?Harvardwood101

The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Caucus

The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Caucus invites alumni/ae to join HGLC, an organization of more than 4,200 gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) alumni/ae, faculty, staff, and students of Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges and the Harvard graduate and professional Schools. We also welcome our straight friends. Our mission includes: building a sense of community among Harvard and Radcliffe GLBT people; maintaining and expanding a network of GLBT alumni/ae; and developing, nurturing, and defending Harvard's GLBT community. We keep our membership informed of issues of interest in Cambridge both via a monthly on-line newsletter and a quarterly printed newsletter. And our 30 chapters in the US, Europe and Asia hold occasional social events. For more information, please visit http://hglc.org/.

Industry Successes...

Stacey Collins GSE '00 wrote the Tell column for the LA Times. Check it out at http://www.calendarlive.com/dating/cl-wk-tell14dec14,0,312437.story?coll=cl-dating

Lara M Hirner '05 is spending the holiday season in festive flare with the Dickens Victorian Carollering Quartet (www.Carollers.com). She has also just booked work with the Julliard Choral Society for their February Bach concert and will be singing soprano in the Brahms Liebeslieder Quartet with the Mark Morris Dance Company in January. She also wishes everyone a Happy Holiday!

David Kowarsky '05 Hosts Weekly Online Show and Writes Reviews for Network2.tv. Network2 (http://network2.tv) is the place to find the best of "Internet Television," episodic online video content that's updated regularly, and committed to production within a genre. David Kowarsky '05 Hosts the video magazine FOCUS ( http://focus.blip.tv) which covers a few shows from Network2 every week. He also writes show reviews weekly into the Network2 blog. (http://blog.network2.tv). It's now so low cost to shoot and produce video, and with the cost barrier to entry demolished, there's been an explosion in content such that it's increasingly difficult to find the best in the world of "new media." Network2.tv is the premiere guide to this space. Check it out!

Ian Maisel CPC '06 recently interviewed Kyle Gass from the upcoming Tenacious D movie in cartoon format for the Boston Phoenix, the big alternative weekly paper in Boston. You can pick up a free copy on local news stands or check it out online at http://www.phx.com/article_ektid27593.aspx. Additionally, Ian recently began a full-time job at JFL Media, where he is writing and producing animated kids films. He can be reached at ian@ianmaisel.com.

Maria Petringa '80 new biography, BRAZZA, A LIFE FOR AFRICA, is available on all book websites, at Barnes & Noble, and at many other bookstores. It's the first English-language biography of Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, a humanitarian 19th-century explorer for whom the city of Brazzaville, Congo was named. The work is an exciting true-life tale of Africa with a human rights theme. Maria Petringa lived in Congo-Brazzaville for several years, and in France, where she wrote the biography. For more information on the book, please visit www.authorhouse.com/BookStore/ItemDetail.aspx?bookid=36653.

Paul M. J. Suchecki '76 has been writing and producing environmental and energy pieces for House Smarts TV www.housesmartstv.com a nationally syndicated television series. His features have ranged from at look at the feasibility of using wind power for residences to coverage of the record breaking solar power convention in Silicon Valley this October.

Max R. Scharf's HBS '86 web sites have been substantialy updated: the Fine Art Web Site: http://www.maxrscharf.com/ and the Consulting Web Site: www.scharfandassociates.com

And the Award Goes to...

Jessie Hutcheson's '95 short film THE TEST was just chosen as one of 5 Finalists for the GenArt/Delta Fly-In Movie competition. The finalists will be screened on Delta.com in the month of December and on all Delta transcontinental flights Jan 1-12. Winners will be decided by viewer votes, both on-line and aboard the flights, so this is definitely the time to take that trip to Hawaii, or spend A LOT of time online. A link to the website: http://www.delta.com/marketing/flyinmovies/index.jsp.

Marga Vicedo GSAS '05 & Mark Solovey's "Althea, American Daughter" finished in the top 10 (out of 660 entries) in the 2006 Century City Shorts & Screenplay Fest competition. This feature film script is inspired by the true story of Althea Gibson. A poor black girl from Harlem, Althea broke the color barrier in tennis in 1950 and then went on to become the first black world champion tennis player. Mark and Marga are both professors at the University of Toronto. Mark works on the history of psychology and social sciences. Marga studies the history of biology, especially evolution and genetics. For further information, please contact Mark at msolovey1964@yahoo.com and Marga at marga.vicedo@utoronto.ca

Harvardwood Highlights: LA Insider...

The Spot: Pizzeria Mozza
641 North Highland
323-297-0101

For some, the anticipation for Mozza to finally open was unbearable. What with the king of New York Italian food joining forces with the doyenne of West Coast bread to reimagine the common pizza. The last time the pizza was reimagined was in the early 80's at Spago by an Austrian named Puck. He revolutionized pizza, spawned a chain of imatators, and lifted "California pizza" from oxymoron to global phenomenon. With Mozza, Mario Batali, the pony-tailed, orange-clogged New York chef, and Nancy Silverton, the baker behind incredibly successful La Brea Bakery, are trying to reinvent the California pizza once again. At a recent visit (coincidently Mario was in town overseeing the kitchen), I got a chance to try their pizza. It was delicious. I could wax rhapsodic about the amazing crust, the high-quality toppings, and the fabulous stuffed zucchini flowers, but it was, after all, only pizza.
The Tip: Reservations (unless you want dinner at 3 pm grandpa) are extremely tough to come by. There is a bar, though, that is first come first served. Since the din in the dining room can be deafening, this isn't the best spot for a romantic night out. Oh, and the butterscotch budino is so addictive it should be sold by the gram.

The Spot: The Grill on the Alley
9560 Dayton Way
310-276-0615

The Grill is an institution in Los Angeles. Located near all the major talent agencies, it is a popular hang for power players, wannabes, and Pat Sajak (who, during my recent visit, was sitting at the bar). Pat, along with everyone else, seem to love The Grill because of the service and the all-American menu. The servers here are warm and friendly. They treat everyone -- the power players, wannabes, even Pat Sajak -- with the same care and concern. The menu is filled with familiar comfort foods. This is definitely a place to go when you want to go out but don't want to leave home.

The Tip: It's not on the menu, but, with the pre-meal bread and butter, ask for a plate of peppers and onions. It is an addictive, vinegary treat. If you like steak tartare, the Grill makes an excellent version.

The Spot: Furaibo
2068 Sawtelle Boulevard
310-444-1432

By next summer, I predict, Izakayas will be all the rage in Los Angeles. Already popular with Japanese expats, Izakayas are being discovered by more and more Angelenos. Furaibo is a particularly popular Izakaya in West Los Angeles. Like most Izakayas, Furaibo has a menu as long as any delis. The items themselves are served tapas-style -- small dishes meant to be shared. Standing in for Sangria, Japanese beer is on tap and served by the pitcher. For a change from the same old pub and sports bar, bring a big group and try Furaibo.

The Tip: Since there are a lot of menu items, here is a list of few that I enjoyed: Spinach bacon, Chita (deep fried chicken leg and thigh. Don't get the wings or the breast meat. It dries out too much. Also get it extra, extra spicy. I believe they mean "flavor" when they write "spicy."), fried tofu in a dashi broth, and the Hanpen Cheese. The last item, the Hanpen cheese, is one of the most interesting things I have eaten in LA. It's like a really fancy McDonald's fish filet patty. It's totally odd, but I dare you not to love it.

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