In this issue:
- Director's Notes
- Message from Allison
- Featured Member Posting: Entertainment & Celebrity News Editorial Assistant (Us Weekly) - LA
- Application EXTENSION for the LA Features Program! - Deadline Oct. 7th
- Students, spend your J-term in Hollywood to learn the ropes of the entertainment industry - Deadline Oct. 19th
- Do community service? Apply for a $500 unrestricted grant via Harvardwood Heroes - Deadline Oct. 25th
- Filmmakers, submit your feature/short/series to the Harvardwood Film Festival - Deadline Jan. 1st
- Industry Successes
- New Members' Welcome
- Alumni Profile: Kermit Roosevelt AB '93 (Law Professor & Author, Allegiance)
Calendar & Notes
- Take Harvardwood's Member Survey by Oct. 15th for one month of free membership
It's a pleasure for me to start this month in Cambridge for the Harvardwood 101 & Summer Internship Program info session on Oct. 1st! Whether or not you can attend the info session, Harvard students, don't forget the application deadline of Oct. 19th to spend your January term in Los Angeles learning the ins and outs of the entertainment industry.
For those of you already in LA, we've extended the deadline for the Harvardwood Writers Program - Features group to Oct. 7th. The application requirements have changed since previous years, so make sure you read the program guidelines carefully before submitting your treatment and writing sample. Happy writing!
Message from Allison
Writers, Emmy Award-winning writer Steve Tompkins is leading a TV Comedy Masterclass this month for Harvardwood members. Check it out and register early—space will be limited!
And a big thank you to the volunteers (pictured to the left) who joined Harvardwood Helps at Paramount Ranch last month for National Public Lands Day! If you're involved in community service, don't forget to apply for $500 unrestricted grant through Harvardwood Heroes by October 25th.
Us Weekly, the leader in entertainment and celebrity news, seeks an Editorial Assistant. Candidate will help with administrative tasks including answering phones, scheduling appointments, making copies and sorting mail. The Editorial Assistant will act as liaison to all edit and non-editorial staff in the Los Angeles Office. Responsibilities include:
- Managing reporting archives; maintaining all editorial files electronic & hard copy. Putting together comprehensive reporting files for writers
- Opportunity to cover events with the potential to contribute more as appropriate
- Pitching in with light reporting tasks, such as expert interviews and background research
- Compiling freelance pay sheets and submitting expenses
- Pitching ideas for editorial content in the weekly meeting
We've extended the deadline for screenwriters to apply for the Harvardwood Writers Program - Features group this year! In 2015-2016, the aim of the newly reworked HWP-Features Program will be to ensure that each participant completes his or her screenplay. The group will meet once every other week from mid-October 2015 through mid-March 2016.
This year, the HWP-Features group in Los Angeles is trying a new, stream-lined iteration, in which the application process will be slightly more intensive, in an effort to guarantee the participants' commitment to completing the program and their scripts. In addition, the group will attempt to operate on more of an organized curriculum, using certain deliverables as waypoints in the development process. For example, each writer will "pitch" his or her story to the group, will finalize a thorough outline from beginning to end, and will turn in pages in predetermined blocks (by act, sequence, or scene, etc). Like previous years, the group will strive for a "writers room" format, and will aim to give focused attention to the projects of 2-3 members every week, thereby staggering group submissions and allowing for better productivity and pacing. Submit your application materials by Wednesday, Oct. 7th at 11:59pm PT!
Students, spend your J-term in Hollywood to learn the ropes of the entertainment industry - Deadline Oct. 19th
The Harvardwood 101 career exploration program brings two dozen current undergraduates to Los Angeles during the January term and provides a series of career-related activities in order to demystify Hollywood and educate them about careers in the entertainment industry. The program began in 2003 and is cosponsored by Harvard University's Office for the Arts and the Office of Career Services. Harvardwood 101 begins with a mandatory "bootcamp" week of company visits, speaker panels, and networking mixers with Harvard alums who work in entertainment. Students also attend film and TV panels, in addition to getting a "behind the scenes" look at studios, working film sets, talent agencies, production companies, and music labels. All Harvardwood 101 students also have the opportunity to apply directly to selected summer internships at major entertainment companies.
Also, our Harvardwood 101 info session will take place at the Harvard OCS on October 1st from 12pm - 1pm! Come ask questions about the application process and the program specifics. Current Harvard students who have recently participated in Harvardwood 101 will also be there to answer your questions.
We are now accepting applications to become a 2015 Harvardwood Hero and the recipient of a $500 grant! Apply by October 25, 2015.
Launched in 2013, the Harvardwood Heroes grant program awards $500 grants to applicants who have demonstrated a distinguished level of service to their organizations of choice. Every year, grant winners will be determined by the strength of their proposal. They will receive the first $250 upon announcement of the winners and the balance of the grant upon submission of a final essay six months later. Harvardwood members and/or applicants whose service project is arts-related will receive priority consideration.
From one of our 2014 Harvardwood Heroes, Mike Philson '08:
"The Harvardwood Heroes grant was used to help provide yoga to a group of 5th grade students in Sussex Avenue Elementary School that was known as one of the worst-performing schools in New Jersey. These eight children have been meeting twice a week with Newark Yoga Movement and learning values of respect, trust, confidence, and more."
The 2016 Harvardwood Film Festival is ON!
Selected works will be screened at the Harvardwood Film Festival, scheduled to take place in Los Angeles in the spring of 2016. You do not need to be a Harvardwood member to submit your film, but a Harvard-affiliated person must be in a key creative position (e.g., writer, director, producer, main cast member) for your work to be considered for the Harvardwood Film Festival.
- Categories include feature, short, TV pilot, web/digital series, and other (you will be asked to specify if you mark "other").
- Genres include action, comedy, documentary, drama, experimental, horror, kids/family, animated, and other (you will be asked to specify if you mark "other").
Read the rest of the festival submission guidelines and submit your project (by October 31, 2015 for NO member submission fee, and by January 1, 2016 for a $10 member submission fee).
Lots of exciting news for Couper Samuelson AB '02, Executive Producer of The Gift, the highest-grossing AND most critically-acclaimed thriller of the year! He will also executive produce horror-thriller Get Out, to be written and directed by Jordan Peele (Key & Peele).
Jehane Noujaim AB '96 is the co-creator of Radicals, one of just 10 projects selected by the Sundance Institute for its second Episodic Story Lab. Radicals is a limited series about three Muslim-American friends from Jersey City’s “Little Arabia” whose lives are ripped apart after the FBI accuses them of orchestrating a terrorist plot on American soil.
Jeff Norton's new book, Memoirs of A Neurotic Zombie, has just been published by Faber & Faber (T.S. Elliot’s publishing company, no less!). The series, soon to be a trilogy, is the story of Adam Meltzer, a twelve-year-old boy with OCD who dies, only to rise from the grave to solve his own murder. The new sequel is subtitled Escape From Camp and deals with Adam’s aversion to summer camp. More info here.
Rare Birds of Fashion, a new digital series by Lily Hayes Kaufman MBA ‘10, launched this September during New York Fashion Week. Rare Birds is about two entrepreneurs — Brenda (Jackie Zebrowski) and Alix (Haley Rawson) — who defy the status quo to launch a plus size fashion line.
Valerie Weiss, a GSAS/HMS alumna, filmmaker, former scientist, and founder of PhD Productions, will premiere her second feature film, A Light Beneath Their Feet, at the 38th Mill Valley Film Festival. Valerie directed this poignant and heartwrenching coming-of-age drama that stars Taryn Manning (Orange Is the New Black), Madison Davenport (From Dusck Till Dawn), Maddie Hasson (I See the Light) and Kurt Fuller (Midnight in Paris). The film is produced by HLS alumni Rob Johnson and Jeffrey Loeb. Valerie will next direct The Archer, a teen action coming-of-age drama for Mar Vista Entertainment, and is currently pitching her half-hour comedy pilot Overstuffed. Valerie’s first feature film, Losing Control, is about a Harvard scientist who wants proof that her boyfriend is “the one”; it is available to stream for free on Hulu.com. Valerie was recently a judge for “The Next MacGyver” competition alongside Roberto Orci, America Ferrara and Anthony Zuiker.
In theaters now! Pawn Sacrifice, directed by Ed Zwick AB '74, has been called "one of the best pictures of the year" by the Chicago Sun-Times. Set during the Cold War, American chess prodigy Bobby Fischer finds himself caught between two superpowers and his own struggles as he challenges the Soviet Empire.
New Members' Welcome
Harvardwood warmly welcomes all members who joined the organization over the past month, including:
- Luke Anderson, Boston, FOH
- Ben Belser, Los Angeles, College
- Christine Bendorf, Los Angeles, College
- Zachary D'Amico, Boston/On-Campus, HLS
- Woodlynn Daniel, Boston/On-Campus, College
- Tess Davison, New York, College
- Victoria Foster, Los Angeles, FOH
- Jose Garcia, Boston/On-Campus, College
- Jacob Goldberg, Boston/On-Campus, College
- Jason Gomez, Boston/On-Campus, College
- Steph Jack, Los Angeles, A.R.T.
- Jingxiu Jin, Boston/On-Campus, College
- Lalita Khosla, New York, FOH
- Julie Lavelle, Los Angeles, EXT
- Clifton Lewis, New York, College
- Jiang Li, Boston/On-Campus, College
- Jenny M. Ng, Boston/On-Campus, College
- Niko Papastefanou, Los Angeles, FOH
- Ashley Prince, Los Angeles, College
- Wil Rios, Boston/On-Campus, College
- Elodie Saint-Louis, Boston/On-Campus, College
- Sundar Solai, Boston/On-Campus, College
- Lilias Sun, Boston/On-Campus, College
- Margaret Swallow, New York, HBS
- Neha Verma, Boston/On-Campus, College
- Camila Victoriano, Boston/On-Campus, College
- Ingrid Werner, Los Angeles, A.R.T.
- Sekinat Yusuf, Boston/On-Campus, College
FOH = Friend of Harvardwood
New members, if you have any questions about Harvardwood, please contact our Directors of Membership Experience, Lano Williams and Donna Mandosa, at [email protected]
Alumni Profile: Kermit Roosevelt AB '93 (Professor & Author, In the Shadow of the Law, Allegiance)
by Terence O'Toole Murnin
Kermit Roosevelt’s Real-Life Tales of a Government Bent on Repeating History Inform the Historical Fiction of Allegiance, His Latest Novel, while also Sharpening His Vision as a Professor of Law
Kermit Roosevelt has the kind of brilliant, beautiful mind that makes attorneys look cooler than Matthew McConaughey in THE LINCOLN LAWYER. Shifting seamlessly from his role as Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School where he has prolifically published on matters focusing on constitutional law and conflict of laws, in 2005, he also published his first novel, In The Shadow Of The Law (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Paramount quickly snapped up the rights to the entrancing book set in a powerhouse Washington, D. C., law firm, and Carol Mendelsohn of CSI fame served as Executive Producer of a TV Pilot that featured Joshua Jackson, Frank Langella, Kevin Pollak and Alan Tudyk.
So, when it came time to start on his second novel, Roosevelt’s editor suggested that he set his sights on the ultimate law of the land: The Supreme Court of the United States.
“The idea was to look into the future in an era with nine new justices, but drawing on my experience as a clerk for Supreme Court Justice David Souter,” explains Roosevelt. “The exercise was exciting, but it also proved extremely difficult,” adds a very humble Roosevelt who attended Harvard University and Yale Law School and is the great great grandson of Theodore Roosevelt.
One evening, however, Roosevelt’s wife suggested that he look backwards instead, and suddenly, Allegiance was born, focusing on the World War II cruelty that involved the removal and detention of Japanese-Americans all in the name of national security. The main character in Allegiance, Caswell “Cash” Harrison is a young, idealistic lawyer who dives deep into a potential conspiracy dealing with the constitutionality of the prison camps created to detain Japanese-Americans that is both a legal thriller and an examination of civil rights violations committed by our government – a provocative theme that infuses Roosevelt’s real-life legal work to this day.
“Cash Harrison is truly my bigger and more violent alter ego,” larks Roosevelt, “although I can see him being played on the big screen by someone quietly charismatic like Joseph Gordon-Levitt.”
In his academic writing, Roosevelt often examines the structure of legal arguments, exploring what The Supreme Court should do in the name of truth and clarity. In his historical fiction, Roosevelt employs riveting thematic echoes, intertwining the thrilling aspects of a murder mystery with the complex legal processes of multifaceted cases.
“The character, ‘Cash,’ really goes through two developmental processes. The first is a growth of empathy for someone who is patriotic and trusts the government and is skeptical of those who don’t,” explains Roosevelt, “and the second is one of disillusionment, something I personally know all too well.”
Roosevelt quickly draws the parallels between a government that was saying things that were not true – and often lying about their incompetence – in relation to the internment of Japanese Americans in 1942, and the detention and interrogation of suspected terrorists in a post-9/11 world.
“At both points in history, our government is detaining people without showing evidence,” notes Roosevelt. “And in both incidents, once our courts have gone through the process of demanding the proof, what was presented was often insubstantial.”
Roosevelt knows of what he speaks. His grandfather was a CIA-operative who in 1953 helped to restore the Shah of Iran to power, and between clerking, practicing law in Chicago, and now teaching, he has been privy to the kind of stories and information that Hollywood screenwriters can only dream about.
Roosevelt yarns a jaw-dropping tale of a German car salesman who unfortunately had the same name as a known terrorist. The CIA kidnapped and tortured the car salesman – and unable to glean any useful information from the man, they sent him to Syria where he could be tortured “properly.” When the Syrians were also unable to extract any worthwhile information from the suspect, he was eventually unceremoniously dumped naked off of a roadside in Macedonia, and the agency fought to keep these details from coming to light.
“At different times in our nation’s history, we’ve seen administrations that were less competent, and less trustworthy,” sighs a world-weary Roosevelt. “But our government is not America. It represents us, but the fact that it sometimes does bad things does not make us a bad country.”
Roosevelt has also been involved in Guantanamo, and he and other lawyers represent Abdulzaheer, a young Afghan detainee.
“I initially had no interest in defending a terrorist,” deadpans Roosevelt. “After examining mostly insubstantial evidence at the Classified Intelligence Agency in Arlington, VA, however, it was obvious that this man was not involved in 9-11, and for me, it became a constitutional law issue.”
Particularly disturbing was a call that Roosevelt received in the middle of the night. Through a translator, Abdulzaheer was asking Roosevelt if he should sign a paper authorizing an operation to restore movement to his legs. The young Afghan told his military lawyer that he had been late in coming in from his daily exercise, on this day conducted between 11:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. in heavy rain. In response, an Emergency Response Force hogtied his hands to his ankles, pressed his face into the ground of the exercise yard, and stomped on his back.
“Perhaps the only thing worse than this type of inhumane treatment was an article that came out later in The Wall Street Journal from a former Guantanamo commander,” relates Roosevelt. “The piece claimed that Guantanamo was a model prison, complete with ‘comfort items’ like sheets, bedding, and uniforms, and a level of medical care including a ‘recent back surgery that restored movement and avoided possible paralysis for a detainee.’”
Roosevelt pauses, steeled in his resolve.
“Our legal team later received a letter from Abdulzaheer noting that ‘Death one time would be better than dying several times a day,’” concludes Roosevelt.
Roosevelt’s ZERO DARK THIRTY-esqe experiences remind us that we don’t always learn from the past and we’re not always persecuting terrorists – and we don’t like to admit our mistakes. He also notes the similarities in the financial incentives that colored our detention policies in World War II, as well as today. Fruit growers in California inherited massive tracts of land in California when Japanese-Americans were removed, and the CIA paid psychologists some $81 million dollars for torture techniques developed in North Korea, and obtained very little useful information from the practices.
“The conclusion is that there are very few benefits from torturing people, other than inspiring people to want to kill us,” Roosevelt sagely notes. “If there are terrorists who want to kill us because of our liberty and things like women’s rights, so be it. If they want to kill us because we torture people, that’s sickening.”
Although Roosevelt is on sabbatical from his teaching duties this fall, his hopeful resilience and ultimate faith in our system resonate in Allegiance, as well as the constitutional law class that he will teach in the spring.
“I tell my students that lawyers give hope,” smiles Roosevelt. “The reason that some interrogators don’t want a suspect to see a lawyer is that because they’re afraid that it might give them hope. “
Roosevelt’s life and work have definitely tapped into a resurgence of interest in one of the worst civil rights violations in US history, and George Takei (Best-known for his role as Sulu in the original TV series Star Trek) will also make his Broadway debut in a musical called Allegiance this fall, inspired by his childhood years as an internee.
As for the ever hopeful Roosevelt, now raising two small children, he’s thinking of perhaps next penning a novel about parenthood (“Go The F**k To Sleep is big right now in my home,” laughs Roosevelt) and hoping to sleep more in the future.
Terence O'Toole Murnin is a raconteur and provocateur currently pitching his latest feature-film screenplay, LOVE YOU. MISS YOU. KISS YOU., as well as a TV Pilot, CLUB CASUALTIES.
FEATURED EVENT | Harvardwood TV Comedy Masterclass with Steve Tompkins AB '88 - Wednesday, Oct. 14th
In this special Harvardwood masterclass, Emmy Award-winning TV writer and producer Steve Tompkins AB '88 will discuss a comedy pilot currently in development.
Steve began his career at the groundbreaking “In Living Color,” working closely with Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, and Keenen and Damon Wayans. Mr. Tompkins then wrote for the hit animated series “The Critic” and “The Simpsons,” where he won an Emmy for his work. He also co-created the animated series “The PJs” starring Eddie Murphy, and served as consulting producer on “Everybody Loves Raymond.” During his tenure as Executive Producer of “The Bernie Mac Show,” Mr. Tompkins won the Humanitas Award for writing the episode “Sweet Home Chicago” and was nominated for an individual Emmy for outstanding writing in a comedy series for his episode “Goodbye, Dolly.” Mr. Tompkins has also developed original shows for FOX, Nickelodeon and HBO, including the popular series “Entourage.” Recently, he wrote and produced CBS’ longrunning hit, “Two and a Half Men,” and is currently staffed on Netflix’s “The Ranch,” which stars Ashton Kutcher, Sam Elliott and Debra Winger and will premiere in winter 2016.
RSVP SOON BECAUSE SPACE IS LIMITED, AND PRIORITY WILL BE GIVEN TO FALL 2015 PARTICIPANTS OF THE HARVARDWOOD WRITERS PROGRAM - TV MODULES.
Harvardwood 101 & Harvardwood Summer Internship Program Info Session - Thursday, Oct. 1st
Current Harvard students, planning to apply for Harvardwood 101 to spend your 2016 J-term in Los Angeles? Want to learn more about obtaining and excelling at a summer internship in Hollywood? Attend this on-campus info session on both Harvardwood programs at the Office of Career Services. From 12pm - 12:30pm, you'll learn about the application procedure, timeline, and logistics of both programs. Then, from 12:30pm - 1pm, you can direct your questions about Harvardwood 101 and HSIP to a panel of current students who have participated in one or both programs in the last couple of years!
C.L.A. invites Harvardwood to Mediating Film Related Disputes - Saturday, Oct. 3rd
This training provides an overview of the California Lawyers for the Arts – Arts Arbitration and Mediation Services panel and program. At the training, you will also learn how to deal with one of the most common cases we see at AAMS - the Film Related case. From disputes over credit, contracts and creative control, we will cover important issues that mediators must be aware of to successfully mediate these often complex cases. Upon completion of the training, attendees may eligible to serve as a volunteer mediator through AAMS.
Harvardwood Heads To... Gerry Bryant's Jazz Group, PocketWatch, in Performance - Sunday, Oct. 11th
Come celebrate the pre-release of Gerry Bryant’s third solo piano album of classical music and uniquely reimagined popular tunes as he performs with his always timely jazz group, PocketWatch. “Melodic yet pulsating; elegant yet adventurous …”
Boardwalk 11 is in West LA close to National and Overland.
Harvardwood Heads To... NALIP Latino Lens Filmmaker Showcase - Sunday, Oct. 18th
This is the INAUGURAL NALIP LATINO LENS Filmmaker Showcase presented in partnership with El Rey Network, and Texican Media in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month and as an official part of the City of Los Angeles’ Latino Heritage LA. It will feature workshops and film screenings culminating with an Exclusive After-Party Event including DJs from KCRW, live musical performances and special guests. The event will showcase rising Latino filmmakers and creatives who represent the front line in improving diversity of participation and cultural representation in entertainment.
Harvardwood & the HCSC Co-Host WELCOME TO YOUR CITY (LA) - Tuesday, Oct. 20th
Please join us, the Harvard Alumni Association, and the Harvard Club of Southern California in welcoming the Class of 2015 this fall! The College Classes of 2006-2015 will be coming together for Welcome to Your City during October 2015. These events are a fun, informal way for recent graduates who may be new to town to connect with other local, recent Harvard alumni.
C.L.A. invites Harvardwood to Reading Between the Lines of a Publishing Agreement - Wednesday, Oct. 21st
The nuts and bolts of the business of writing are as essential to a writer’s success as the writer’s work itself. Join CLA and attorney Paul S. Levine, who has practiced entertainment law for over 34 years, specializing in the representation of writers, producers, actors, directors, composers, musicians, artists, authors, photographers, galleries, publishers, developers, production companies and theatre companies in the fields of motion pictures, television, interactive multimedia, live stage, recorded music, concerts, the visual arts, publishing, and advertising.
Harvardwood Heads To... The Ivy Plus Society's Black Cat Ball - Friday, Oct. 30th
The most Terrifying and Tantalizing event of the year is finally here. Avoid the velvet rope and get into the hottest Halloween party with The Ivy Plus Society as we condemn 31TEN Lounge, a posh lounge that has rave reviews from LA Weekly, TimeOut LA, and more. A Haunting Happy Hour will be going from 7-9pm for our members! Start your Halloween weekend off with a FRIGHT and join your fellow ghosts, goblins, zombies, and blood suckers as we haunt well into the witching hour!
Harvardwood Food & Wine: Artisanal SAKE Seminar & Dinner - Wednesday, Oct. 14th
Sake has played an important part in Japanese culture for some two thousand years. But extremely high-quality handcrafted artisanal sakes are a much more recent development, going back only a few decades. At this seminar and dinner we'll taste and discuss six of these extraordinary sakes, all from the Niigata prefecture in Japan, an area renowned for the especially high quality of its sakes. Importer Ataru Kobayashi will join us in discussing the sakes. Kobayashi has played a major role in introducing the sakes of the Niigata prefecture to the United States. Attendance is limited to just 22 people to allow real discussion of the sakes, so RSVP immediately!
C.L.A. invites Harvardwood to Arts Entrepreneurship: How to Invent an Arts Organization - Thursday, Oct. 15th
This workshop is an introduction to inventing an arts organization, defining its mission, locating the organization within a community, developing its offerings via products, services and public programs, and managing the organization’s numerous operational features. The workshop explores the intersections between art and business. Along with encouraging innovation and creative/critical thinking about the role of arts organizations in society, the workshop examines practical techniques for managing an arts organization.
Harvardwood is planning some new initiatives for 2016, and we appreciate your thoughtful feedback and suggestions. This survey is intended for Harvardwood (past and current) members, Friends of Harvardwood, and subscribers. If you have a few minutes, we would love to hear from you! ALL RESPONSES WILL BE KEPT STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL. Past or current members who wish to earn one (1) month of free Harvardwood membership can opt to enter their identifying information at the beginning of the survey. This offer does not apply to new members.
Please complete the survey by October 15, 2015.
Thank you for helping us continue to make Harvardwood a vibrant and enriching arts, media, and entertainment community!
Harvardwood does not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any of the information, content or advertisements (collectively "Materials") contained on, distributed through, or linked, downloaded or accessed from any of the services contained in this e-mail. You hereby acknowledge that any reliance upon any Materials shall be at your sole risk. The materials are provided by Harvardwood on an "AS IS" basis, and Harvardwood expressly disclaims any and all warranties, express or implied.