Issue 92 | September 2012

* Director's Notes
* Message from Allison
* Pencil Me In:


  • Harvardwood Presents: Taking the First Steps in Your Arts, Entertainment, or Media Career, Wed., Sept. 26


  • Harvardwood Presents: Behind the Scenes at the Ricki Lake Show! Thurs., Sept. 13 (afternoon)
  • Ivy Entertainment invites Harvardwood to Back to School Cocktails, Thurs., Sept. 13 (evening)
  • C.L.A. invites Harvardwood to...Talent Guilds 101, Sat., Sept. 15
  • Harvardwood Heads To...Screening of CAST ME IF YOU CAN, Wed., Sept. 26


  • Harvardwood Heads To...Diggin' The Beatles: A Pianoman's Journey Through the Beatles' Songbook, Sun., Sept. 9
  • Our Super September Fabulous Fall Harvardwood PARTY!! Fri., Sept. 28

Alter.jpg* Apply for the Harvardwood Mentorship Program (HMP)!
* Now accepting applications for Harvardwood 101! (Deadline Oct. 23)
* Join the Oregon Chapter of Harvardwood
* Tip to ensure receipt of all Harvardwood email
* Industry Successes
* Featured Member Posting: Executive Assistant (TV Production) - LA
* Member Profile: Jonathan Alter '79

Director's Notes

Ahhh, the smell of schoolbooks fills the air – it’s back to school time! I’m excited to head back to school myself to host "Taking the First Steps in Your Arts, Entertainment, and Media Career” on Sept. 26th at Harvard. Come learn more about Harvardwood (or bring your friends that need to know!) and the programs available to undergraduates. And let the learning continue for folks of all ages -- the Harvardwood Mentorship Program (HMP) is back! We are looking for both mentees and mentors to fill its ranks, click here to learn more. (Potential mentees, be sure to get your applications in by Wed., Sept. 12th to be considered.) Happy Back to School!

-- Kelley

Message from Allison

We are HUGE! As we come into the fall, I want to share with you some awesome stats about our growing Harvardwood community. At now over 5,000 members, you are a part of the largest, most active SIG in the entire Harvard Alumni network. Each month, our website gets over 25,000 visits (over a quarter million a year) and nearly 2,000 of you log in to get connected. Together, we are strengthening the impact of the arts on our community and we owe it all to members like you! Thank you!

Along with our unprecedented size comes another evolution: programs and services for 5k+ members can't be supported on dues alone. That's why we're branching into some new partnerships and fundraising initiatives. Check out this month's inaugural "Deal of the Month" to find out about different and exciting ways in which you can continue to support Harvardwood.

-- Allison

Pencil Me In...

BOSTON - Harvardwood Presents: Taking the First Steps in Your Arts, Entertainment, or Media Career, Wed., Sept. 26

Interested in pursuing a career in the arts, entertainment or media after graduation? Come and learn more about Harvardwood (or bring your friends who need to know!), a global non-profit organization for Harvard University alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends working or strongly interested in the arts, media, and entertainment. In addition to the educational events Harvardwood produces around the world, Harvardwood is home to dozens of programs that aim to provide its members with tangible, career-advancing opportunities in their fields of interest. Specifically, Harvard undergraduates can take advantage of Harvardwood 101, an industry "boot-camp” offered over J-term and/or the Harvardwood Summer Internship Program, among others…To view full posting, please visit:

LA - Harvardwood Presents: Behind the Scenes at the Ricki Lake Show! Thurs., Sept. 13 (afternoon)

Join fellow Harvardwood members for a live studio taping and behind the scenes tour of the Ricki Lake Show! After the show, Harvardwood members will have the chance to meet and greet Greg Gorden '77/HBS '82, the Executive in Charge of Production and Coordinating Producer at the show. Greg will answer questions about his 25+ year career in production and give our group an exclusive behind the scenes tour of the show…To view full posting, please visit:

LA - Ivy Entertainment invites Harvardwood to Back to School Cocktails, Thurs., Sept. 13 (evening)

You are invited to an IVY LEAGUE back to school mixer in Hollywood. The leaves don't fall in Hollywood, but that doesn't mean you can't sip a cocktail while reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. Expand your network by mixing with entertainment industry professionals from Brown, Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, U. Penn, and Dartmouth. Station will be offering an "Ivy Entertainment" drink special. Our guest list includes industry professionals from CAA, Sony Pictures, Paramount, Producers Guild of America, ICM, WME, WB, ABC, and CBS. Our past events have been at capacity, so secure your spot now at this exclusive event and don't miss out on THE back to school party this fall…To view full posting, please visit:

LA - C.L.A. invites Harvardwood to...Talent Guilds 101, Sat., Sept. 15

Harvardwood is excited to be invited, once again, to more exciting programming from the California Lawyers for the Arts. Details about this workshop will be available soon. Click here for registration information:

LA - Harvardwood Heads To...Screening of CAST ME IF YOU CAN, Wed., Sept. 26

Join us as Harvardwood Heads To a special Los Angeles screening of the award-winning film CAST ME IF YOU CAN, a charming romantic comedy set in Tokyo, written and directed by Harvardwood member Atsushi Ogata (hosted by Japan Foundation Los Angeles at its new location in the Wilshire Courtyard, Miracle Mile). CAST ME IF YOU CAN tells the story of Hiroshi, a perpetual supporting actor, who lives in the shadow of his famous playwright father. Often mistaken for someone else, even occasionally for a kidnapper, Hiroshi struggles daily with his marginalized existence. But one day, luck changes. Hiroshi gets cast in a Woody Allen remake. He meets his muse Aya, an energetic aspiring actress, who doesn’t mistake him for anyone else. Hiroshi falls for Aya head over heals, but Hiroshi is his own worst enemy for getting a date, or keeping the lead role… A sweet, subtle romantic comedy for all generations that will leave you smiling…Screening will be followed by Q&A with writer-director Atsushi Ogata…To view full posting, please visit:

NY - Harvardwood Heads To...Diggin' The Beatles: A Pianoman's Journey Through the Beatles' Songbook, Sun., Sept. 9

Hey Harvardwoodites - I'm bringing my interpretation of the Beatles Songbook back to the Metropolitan Room in NYC for a four-show run. Expect an intermingling of the familiar and the surprising as my quartet and I travel through the songs of the greatest rock band of all time. If you are in NYC, please swing by. If not, spread the word. Make your reservations now. Check out the video here: …"Negbaur approached the Beatles songbook as a collection of standards that he could stamp with his own interpretation: a breezy style and a sense of fun, exuberance, and a spirit that captured the audience…Negbaur had the audience "Diggin' the Beatles" with him.”-Elizabeth Ahlfors, …To view full posting, please visit:

NY - Our Super September Fabulous Fall Harvardwood PARTY!! Fri., Sept. 28

Yeah, Summer was great! But we've had enough--now it's time for some FANTABULOUS FALL FUN--and that means (drumroll) it's time for a PARTY!!! And this will be a great one, and a fabulous chance to meet lots more of our smart and sexy incredible Harvardwood members! Major FUN alert! And, although we, all by ourselves, are more than special enough, the location will be special as well! We're being graciously hosted by one of New York's smartest and most sophisticated non-profit (no selling) art venues, the wonderful AC Institute! The AC Institute will have two special exhibitions up at the time of our party, Jonathan Keats' "Cloning Celebrity" and Claude Closky's "Barking and Meowing". But, for us, they've promised to dim the lights a bit for an appropriate party atmosphere…To view full posting, please visit:

Apply for the Harvardwood Mentorship Program (HMP)!

Harvardwood is pleased to announce the start of the 2012-13 Harvardwood Mentorship Program (HMP)! HMP aims to foster meaningful professional relationships by matching Harvard graduates with more established alums in their fields of interest for a period of nine months of one-on-one career mentoring. We are seeking mentors and mentees for the 2012-2013 season...Career focus and compatibility will determine the mentor/mentee pairings, and the nature of each mentoring relationship will depend on the individuals and what they have to offer…To view full posting, please visit:

Now accepting applications for Harvardwood 101! (Deadline Oct. 23)

Harvardwood is pleased to announce our 11th 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 during the first full week of the January term (this year it will be JAN. 7-13, 2013) and provides various career-related activities in an attempt to demystify Hollywood and educate current students about opportunities in the arts, media and entertainment. Past activities have included a studio lot tour, a visit to a working film set, 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…To view full posting, please visit:

Join the Oregon Chapter of Harvardwood

Calling all Oregon residents working (or strongly interested) in the arts, media, and entertainment! Harvardwood is starting up an Oregon Chapter, and we want to hear from you! If you are in Oregon, please join the Oregon Chapter through the Harvardwood website (instructions in link), or feel free to send an email with any questions, concerns, or ideas to Chapter Head Raz Mason – [email protected] (also feel free to forward this along to friends in the area) …To view full posting, please visit:

Tip to ensure receipt of all Harvardwood email

It has come to our attention that Harvardwood emails are having trouble pushing through the @post system. To ensure timely receipt of all Harvardwood information, we recommend that you make your an alternate email, and place the email to which it forwards (Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, etc.) as your PRIMARY address. You can update your account email by logging in and going to the "My Profile" menu on the right. When you are there click on "Manage Profile" then click on the "Edit Bio” icon. Place your primary email under the "Account Information" section (you will have to confirm it by entering it twice). Then scroll down and place your alternate email (in this case, your address) in the "Alternate Email" field under the "Personal Information" section. When these steps are complete, scroll down and click "Save Changes."

Industry Successes...

Karen Bergreen '87 just published her second novel (St. Martin's Press), PERFECT IS OVERRATED, about a woman who overcomes her post partum depression by solving the murders of the mommies in her daughter's pre-school. It's funny I promise. So far, reviews are excellent!

Sophfronia Scott '88 has had her short story, THE NIGHT VIERA KISSED HER, accepted for publication in the Fall 2012 issue of She wrote the story in the MFA in Writing program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts where Sophfronia is currently a masters candidate.


This September we are excited to launch The Deal of the Month, featuring a product or service that one of our members would like to promote to the broader Harvardwood community. In addition to providing a special promotional discount or offer to our community, proceeds from this Deal will also support Harvardwood and other community service organizations of note.

taomen_cover.jpgThis month we are excited to introduce what seem to be the last books you'll ever need to read on dating (according to readers on Amazon that have made the women's TAO OF DATING the highest-rated dating self-help book for 54 straight weeks!). Check out Dr. Ali Binazir's '93 THE TAO OF DATING (he has versions for both men and women).

taowomen_cover-flat-medium.jpgFor three days only this month (Sept. 14th, 15th, and 16th), Ali and Harvardwood are offering these books at an amazing deal. While you can typically purchase both the hardcopy and ebook of THE TAO OF DATING (for women) for $39.95, sign-up with us to get both for $19.95! Men can purchase THE TAO OF DATING (for men) at $9.97 (regular price $19.95).

Click here for more information on these books and how to purchase them. Proceeds from the sales of these books this month will go to support Harvardwood as well as the Spark Program, providing life-changing apprenticeships to youth in underserved communities across the United States.

Featured Member Posting: Executive Assistant (TV Production) - LA

Reality and scripted production company seeks badass assistant to the executive producer/owner of the company. You will be primarily responsible for the typical day to day duties - answering a multi-phone line system, transferring, conferencing, rolling calls, setting schedule, maintaining project databases, maintaining office and all supplies (also be the point of contact for the building in the case of internet/parking/and general maintenance issues), as well as running personal errands as needed. But this is way more than just an assistant gig - the ideal candidate will posses strong writing skills, and an interest and passion for reality programming as well as scripted development. If you are an aspiring producer in reality television, this would be a perfect fit for you…To view full posting, please visit:

Member Profile: Jonathan Alter '79

by D. Dona LeAlter.jpg

Journalist, author, and political pundit Jonathan Alter ‘79 was already interested in writing as a young boy. He attempted to pen his first book in second grade and also published a personal newspaper that was distributed in his Chicago neighborhood. However, despite working on his high school newspaper, Alter didn’t decide to pursue a career in journalism until after graduating with honors from Harvard College as a History concentrator.

"When I graduated in 1979, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. My vague intention was to apply to law school but it slipped my mind,” he jokes, "and I never got around to taking the LSATs.”

Instead, Alter saved enough money to travel around Europe and the Middle East for a few months. Upon his return to the United States, he moved to Washington, DC and stayed with college friends who were working on Capitol Hill. Alter then began freelance writing for a variety of publications.

For instance, he wrote an article for the Federal Aviation Administration magazine and interviewed the first man who ever hijacked an airplane. He was also a writer for an environmental magazine, an advertising magazine, and THE NEW REPUBLIC, which was edited by Harvard alumni Marty Peretz (MA/PhD in Government) and Michael Kinsley ’72.

Kinsley was the editor of THE NEW REPUBLIC and enabled Alter to publish a few articles in both THE NEW REPUBLIC and WASHINGTON MONTHLY.

He was eventually hired by WASHINGTON MONTHLY, which was a small magazine at the time; nonetheless, the modest salary the position offered did not deter Alter.

"You shouldn’t choose your first job based on pay, but based on where it might lead.”

Other Harvard graduates had served as editors and writers for WASHINGTON MONTHLY as well, including James Fallows and Nicholas Lemann, and had gone on to forge successful careers as professional journalists.

According to Alter, "There was no reason to feel that it was a mistake for me to take the job for starvation’s sake. And I didn’t really have any time in the two years I spent there to have any money anyway because I was working so hard—it was a boot camp situation to break cover stories.”

After his two-year stint at the publication, Alter began working for NEWSWEEK under the "legendary Katharine Graham, one of the most important American women of the twentieth century,” he says.

Alter began at NEWSWEEK as the assistant to the editor-in-chief and, after only one year, became the magazine’s media critic. Seven years later, in 1991, he began writing a regular political column for NEWSWEEK, the first of its kind.

In the meantime, Alter’s informal television appearances led to his hiring by NBC NEWS and MSNBC in the summer of 1996. He also worked part-time for MTV, covering political stories, and contributed to the network’s "Choose or Lose” campaign to engage young voters.

"I think being on MSNBC/NBC is part of my role as a journalist,” says Alter, "and for many years, I also did pieces for NBC and the TODAY SHOW and NBC NIGHTLY. Those were works of television journalism. On MSNBC, I mostly do punditry, I analyze the news; that’s what I did in NEWSWEEK and do for Bloomberg now. That’s a form of journalism.”

Alter remained with NEWSWEEK for 28 years as senior editor until his departure last year in April 2011. Now, Alter writes for BLOOMBERG VIEW, a new commentary Web site, and is a correspondent to NBC NEWS. He’s also working on a book about President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, which is slated to be released in 2013. His previous books are THE DEFINING MOMENT: FDR'S HUNDRED DAYS and the TRIUMPH OF HOPE (2006) and THE PROMISE: PRESIDENT OBAMA, YEAR ONE (2010).

In addition to his television appearances, Alter employs social networking tools—keeping personal and professional Facebook accounts separate, of course—to reach the public.

"I started tweeting probably years ago at my son’s suggestion. I think it’s important professionally for journalists nowadays because, in part, we have to brand ourselves more than we used to as individuals. The business model of journalism is breaking down and changing very rapidly. But,” Alter adds, "I also think that social media can be a huge time-suck. It’s not a substitute for face-to-face human interaction.”

Alter takes the time to respond to readers who contact him via email, whether they are supportive or critical of his views, as long as those emails are civil.

Despite the fire his opinions may sometimes draw from readers and viewers, Alter loves journalism for the simple reason that "it’s more fun than a lot of other things you could do for a living. You get the license to be nosy and ask people questions that you otherwise wouldn’t have an excuse to ask, to satisfy your curiosity, and to express yourself to more people than your Twitter followers.”

In fact, when asked what characteristics are crucial to a good journalist, Alter responds without hesitation, "Integrity, curiosity, and hard work.”

"I think it’s learning new things every day. Most people kind of learn the same thing, or variations on the same thing, and because my column can be on many different topics, I’m learning something new every day. I get paid to satisfy my curiosity.”

But Alter isn’t only interested in satisfying his personal curiosity. On the contrary, he stresses the importance of civic engagement, of community service, and currently serves on the board of a number of charitable organizations such as and

"When I was a younger journalist, I thought it was somehow improper for me to be on non-profit boards. To be on any corporate boards was improper, but I decided some years ago that there was nothing wrong with trying to help the world in little ways aside from writing about it.”

Alter’s wife, Emily Lazar, is a producer of the COLBERT REPORT, and he convinced Stephen Colbert to join the board of DonorsChoose as well. His enthusiasm for this non-profit organization, which supports public schools and students across the United States, reflects how vital Alter considers such work to be.

"I actually strongly believe that anybody who has any degree at all has an obligation to get kind of righteous. [They’ve] got to do something public beyond just making money for themselves and achieving for themselves. Otherwise, they will have failed no matter how much money they make or how much worldly success they have. If they haven’t done some public service or used their talents to help nonprofits, to give back in a meaningful way, then their life, their career, their success will not have the meaning that it should.”

Perhaps it is this sense of social responsibility and awareness that enables Alter to voice his opinions about current political, social, and global issues in a compelling manner that resonates with so many individuals.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter @jonathanalter.

ddonale_page.jpgD. Dona Le is a freelance editor and writer currently residing in Chicago, IL.



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