Issue 48 | January 2009

* Message from Membership Directors Kibi & Angela
* Message from Mia
* Member Profile: Jason Gelles '96
* Industry Successes
* Featured Artist's Corner
* Pencil Me In - LA and NYC Mixers TONIGHT, Wed. Jan. 21st
* Featured Member Posting: Full-Time Short-Term Book Edit

Message from the Membership Directors

Happy New Year! We're off to a great start in 2009 with the HBS Hollywood Trekkers making their way to a mixer with Harvardwooders in LA earlier this month, and with the Harvardwood 101 program kicking off this week. Lots of happenings this month, so we invite you to get involved!

In the meantime, please enjoy our member profile on Jason Gelles '96. Thanks to all of you who have shared your stories below. Till next time...

Angela and Kibi

Message from Mia

As the inaugural festivities wind down in Washington, DC, Harvardwood kicks into high gear with the first-ever Harvardwood Writers Program TV spec pilot group as well as the seventh annual Harvardwood 101 program! Keep an eye out for an upcoming Visual Arts panel in NYC and a smorgasbord of other activities around the world in always, we encourage you to get involved in your local Harvardwood chapter (or start a new one)!


Member Profile: Jason Gelles '96

by Sean O'Rourke MAT '68

As an undergraduate, Jason Gelles '96 was a percussionist. He played in the marching band and the jazz band, which resulted in invitations to play with other groups, so many that he frequently had to refuse. However one contact he made in college enabled him to start his career, and others made later have helped him advance it.

A summer job as a production assistant on "American Buffalo" led Jason to consider a career in the entertainment industry. Through the jazz band he knew Myra Mayman, then director of the Office for the Arts. With her help he found a job as a writer's assistant on "Nash Bridges", a show run by Carlton Cuse '81.

Jason then served as a production assistant on "Everybody Loves Raymond", where he again found his way into the writers' room. He was the only Harvard alum on the show, and people were impressed. "You went to Harvard!" Then he made a couple of mistakes in spelling and punctuation, and the reaction was, "You went to Harvard?"

Although he worked on "Raymond", Jason was not a member of the writing staff. The Writers Guild contract requires producers to pick up two scripts a season from writers who are not staff members. During his time on the show, Jason wrote three episodes.

The same company produced both "Raymond" and "The Late Show with David Letterman", and in 2002 Jason moved to a new job. According to the Guild contract, "The Late Show" hires writers for thirteen weeks at a time. The work involves a lot of stress, and people burn out quickly. Many contracts are not renewed. Jason's was.

His first day on the show, David Letterman called Jason into his office to review his submission packet, which contained a few Top Ten lists and some sketch ideas. He took out a list of Ten Worst Fortune Cookie Fortunes and began reading it aloud as though he were on the show. He liked #6 but did not like #2. "So," he said, "the lesson here is more #6 and less #2." Jason has tried to follow this advice ever since.

He next worked on "Married to the Kellys", a show about an only child from New York who moves to Kansas with his wife and must learn to deal with her large family. His agent had sent a writing sample, but more importantly, the producer knew people from "Raymond". The show ran for an entire season but, despite its clever premise, was not renewed.

Jason spent some time freelancing and writing pilots. When one of his colleagues from "The Kellys" went to work on "All That", produced by Nickelodeon, Jason joined him as a staff writer. Then they both moved to "Zoey 101", which was produced by the same company.

In 2007 Ellen DeGeneres was looking for writers for her talk show. Jason submitted a packet and was hired. The format of "Ellen" is similar to that of a late night talk show, in which the staff write the first fifteen or twenty minutes of comedy material and are responsible for remote segments, such as the one in which Ellen and Britney Spears went door to door Christmas caroling.

In addition Jason participates in the Harvardwood Writers Program, helping beginners to master their craft, sharing his experiences and providing the encouragement that others gave him.

Industry Successes...

Alum Sara Melson's song "Feel It Coming" was featured on NBC's Lipstick Jungle in the closing scene on January 9th. For more info on Sara's songs and placements: or

Featured Artist's Corner...

Contemporary Fine Artist Janai-Ami has landed a multi-year agreement with to be their featured artist on this upscale Gourmet foodies website. The agreement has selling Artist-signed Janai-Ami Limited Edition First Run Giclee prints both nationally and internationally. Check out the site at The artist has made arrangements with the distributor to supply fellow Harvardians with Special Introductory discounts through February 18th if they use promo code: mcfreeship and/or mention that they know the artist personally through Harvard. (Please note: this is for Harvard-alums only, as the CEO of the company is offering deep discounts as a favor to the artist).

Pencil Me In...

Jan 21: Harvardwood 101 Welcome Mixer - LA

Join Harvardwood and the visiting Harvard undergrads for the 2009 Harvardwood 101 kickoff mixer at Bar Marmont on Wed., Jan. 21st from 8:00 – 10:00! Harvardwood 101 is a weeklong program that brings two dozen Harvard undergraduates to LA to demystify Hollywood and educate them about career paths in the arts, media and entertainment. RSVP required by Wed. January 21st at 12:00 PM… To view full posting, please visit:

Jan 21: Harvardwood / Stanford in Entertainment Mixer - NYC

Come hang out with Harvardwood friends and meet the Stanford in Entertainment crowd at our Winter Mixer! Wed., Jan 21st, 6:00 - 8:00 pm, B Flat, 277 Church St, between Franklin Street and White Street. Hope to see you there!… To view full posting, please visit:

Featured Member Posting: Full-Time Short-Term Book Edit

Looking for an experienced writer/editor to work with on analyzing/critiquing the first draft of a 100 page book for plot, story structure, pacing, character development, etc., and then craft an outline for a new draft. Must be available full time, or have the time to complete project in 2 weeks. Please send thoughtful cover letter and resume ... To view full posting, please visit:



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