Issue 139 | August 2016


In This Issue:

  • Director's Notes
  • Message from Allison


  • Featured Member Posting: Executive Assistant to Executive VP (Studio71) — LA
  • GET YOUR BID ON! The Summer VIP Lunch Silent Auction is on now through August 8th
  • Volunteer as a Harvardwood mentor or advisor for a year of free membership
  • Prepare your applications for the Harvardwood Writers Program in Fall 2016


  • Where Are They Now? Q&A with TV Writers Brian Polk AB '09 & Kathleen Chen AB '09 (Staff Writers, Great News)
  • Industry Successes
  • New Members' Welcome
  • Alumni Profile: David J. Eilenberg AB '97 (President, ITV Entertainment)


  • Calendar
  • Time to head back to school, so renew your Harvardwood membership!

Director's Notes

Congrats to all of the writers who submitted scripts to the Harvardwood Writers Competition! The winners will be announced this fall, so in the meantime, take a breather, soak up the sun, enjoy the last month of summer... and recharge for the Fall 2016 semester of the Harvardwood Writers Program.

Also, we are seeking volunteer MENTORS and ADVISORS! All mentors receive a year of free full membership, in addition to our everlasting gratitude!

— Dona

Message from Allison

August is here! And so is Harvardwood’s Summer Silent Auction! Check it out now for great gifts and career boosting products — plus, you’ll be supporting Harvardwood!

sorkin.jpgAlso, for your summer listening pleasure, here are three great podcasts to stay in the know on entertainment and screenwriting: KCRW's The Business, The Writers Panel from Nerdist, and the Scriptnotes Podcast with John August and Craig Mazin.

Lastly, thinking of taking Aaron Sorkin’s Masterclass? Start here and Harvardwood will get a small portion of your sign-up fee!

— Allison

Featured Member Posting: Executive Assistant to Executive VP (Studio71) — LA

Studio71 seeks an Executive Assistant to our Executive Vice President, Global Digital Distribution, based in our LA office. This role is for a high potential right hand with top notch communication and organization skills to keep a highly active media executive on track as he oversees our growing slate of original programming for multiple platforms.

Sample Duties:

  • Rolling calls
  • Pivot scheduling
  • Expense tracking and reporting
  • Maintaining client, project and development tracking system
  • Development research
  • Creative breakdowns and analysis


GET YOUR BID ON! The Summer VIP Lunch Silent Auction is on now through August 8th

Bidding begins TODAY on our one-of-a-kind VIP Lunch Silent Auction featuring Megan Amram, Zadoc Angell, Samuel Baum, Melinda Hsu Taylor, Aisha Muharrar, and Couper Samuelson

Be sure to read the auction rules and guidelines before placing any bid on a VIP lunch. Bidding ends next Monday, and Harvardwood members get a special perk: one extra hour of bidding from 11am-12pm on August 8th! If you aren’t a current Harvardwood member, this is a great time to join or renew your membership.

Harvardwood is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and auction proceeds will go toward our events and programs in 2017-18.

Volunteer as a Harvardwood mentor or advisor for a year of free membership

We are seeking mentors and advisors for the Harvardwood Mentorship Program and the Career Advisors Program. Both programs aim to foster meaningful professional relationships between Full Members of Harvardwood and established alums in their fields of interest. Our volunteer mentors and advisors are what enable these Harvardwood programs to continue to thrive and support the next generation of Harvard arts, media, and entertainment professionals.

We are looking for mentors and advisors in a wide array of arts-related professional fields for 2016-17, and we hope you'll join us!

Prepare your applications for the Harvardwood Writers Program in Fall 2016

Are you working on a spec you just can't finish? Do you have a great idea for a pilot, but just don't know where to start? Do you have a finished script in need of some polish?

Later this month, we'll begin accepting applications to the Harvardwood Writers Program in Los Angeles, Boston, and New York (tentative). The program uses peer review, guest speakers, and workshops to foster a motivating and supportive environment for each participant’s writing.

Check this page for updates, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook to see when the application period opens! Writers who have participated previously in a Harvardwood Writers Program do not need to re-apply, but new applicants will have to submit a writing sample and complete the application.

Q&A with TV Writers Brian Polk AB '09 & Kathleen Chen AB '09 (Staff Writers, Great News)

by Nicole Torres AB '11

In the #HWire blog's "Where Are They Now?" series, we check in with Harvardwood program alums to find out what they've been up to and to showcase their accomplishments since participating with Harvardwood!

KathleenChen.jpgPast Harvardwood Writers Competition winners, writing team Kathleen Chen AB '09 and Brian Polk AB '09, are staffed on upcoming NBC comedy Great News! The single-camera comedy is executive produced by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock AB '95.

Q. Did you always want to pursue careers as television writers? Tell us a bit about how you got started with writing.

KC. I never thought I’d be a TV writer, I just knew I liked to write and figured I’d wind up being a copywriter at an ad agency or something. After graduating, I moved to San Francisco to work in tech, and did a very different kind of writing—first I wrote help center articles at Google and for YouTube, then marketing and product copy at Pinterest. It wasn’t until I saw some of our friends start working in TV that I started believing that it was a real job that people could have.

BP. I was mostly a performer and did a lot of theater growing up, which drew me to improv, which drew to sketch, until one snowy NYC December I wrote a packet for a ten-week job at MTV2 and got it.

Q. How did you become a writing team?

BrianPolk.jpgWe were sophomores in the Hasty Pudding Theatricals (Kathleen was on tech crew, Brian was in the cast) and decided to comp the script together for the following year. We ended up writing the show as juniors in 2008—our show was called Fable Attraction and took place in a fairytale kingdom. We had a character who was a racist unicorn, if that gives you some idea of where we were at creatively at the time. That process—from comping the script to writing revision after revision, being accountable to an entire creative team, sitting in a tiny room in Adams House for hours—has definitely molded us into the writers we are today. (In other words, we missed Third Eye Blind at Yardfest in order to rewrite our script and we’re still a little sad about it). 

Q. When did you first get involved with Harvardwood? 

BP. After graduation, we would see each other at this or that alumni weekend and talk about writing together again, but we kept putting it off. We both had normal office jobs at the time and weren’t really sure where to start. But then in 2013 we were at a friend’s wedding when Kathleen pitched me this idea for a TV show she had been kicking around for a while; the main character was loosely based on her experience in high school. I was like, *ding*ding*ding* yes, we have to do this now.

KC. I think we signed up for Harvardwood the very next week; we figured we had some major catching up to do. We were working on scripts after (and sometimes during, I’ll be honest) our day jobs, and we weren’t even in the same city. It wasn’t long after joining we heard about the Harvardwood Writing Competition and decided to go for it.

Q. You are past winners of the Harvardwood Writing Competition. How has winning the Harvardwood Writing Competition helped you in your respective careers?

The Writing Competition gave us the kick in the pants we needed to actually sit down and write our first pilot together. It was great because we finally had a deadline; we could say to each other, “Okay, this script has to be good enough to submit by this date.” The night we found out we won, one of us said to the other on the phone, “This is great! Let’s write another one!” It was a huge boost of confidence for us; we immediately wanted to dive right back in and write a second script...


Industry Successes

Winnie M Li AB '00 will have her debut novel Dark Chapter published worldwide in 2017. Inspired by an actual event in her life, this literary suspense story examines a crime told equally from the perspective of victim and perpetrator. Polis Books will publish in North America in September 2017, with Legend Press publishing for UK/Commonwealth, Harper Collins in Holland, and Norstedts in Sweden.

Matthew Bohrer AB '10 just shot a recurring role on the upcoming Amazon drama series, Goliath, from executive producer David E. Kelley. The cast includes Billy Bob Thornton, William Hurt, and Maria Bello.

The Glimmerglass Festival recently announced that it will produce opera Scalia/Ginsburg, by composer Derrick Wang AB '06,  in its 2017 season. Scalia/Ginsburg is a one-act opera, inspired by Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia, about law, music, and the power of friendship in a divided world. How do you turn constitutional law into opera? In this TEDxBroadway talk, Derrick shares his journey from the Supreme Court to the stage.

Alicia Keys and Sony/RCA records enlisted Peter Kerre Ext. '18 as a producer on her newest EP Album called In Common (The Remixes), which dropped three weeks ago. It is a great breakthrough especially since Peter's contribution consists of a whole new genre of music he put together called AfroElectronic (hybrid of Afro and Electronic music). More info here.

The Coat, a film starring Harvard alums Sara Lynne Wright and Ryan Shrime, has been officially selected to premiere at LA Shorts Fest, running from 9/1/16-9/8/16 at LA Live. LA Shorts Fest is officially recognized by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences and BAFTA, among others. Screening times will be posted here.

The Bloodless Jungle, a full-length political drama penned by Peter Lawson Jones AB '75, JD '80, will enjoy its world premiere this September at Ensemble Theatre in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Peter is also finishing a run as Henry Drummond in the classic American courtroom drama, Inherit the Wind, at the Oberlin Summer Theatre Festival and has been cast in a short film to be shot in Columbus, Ohio, this summer and both a short film and web series to be shot this fall in New York City.

Steve Harper A.R.T. '97 is proud to announce his time travel / slavery web series, Send Me, garnered an Emmy Nomination. Tracie Thoms has been nominated in the category of actress in a short form comedy or drama. The award will be given out in early September. See the series here.

New Members' Welcome

Harvardwood warmly welcomes all members who joined the organization over the past month, including:

  • Benjamin Bakondi, LA, HMS
  • April Bang, NY, KSG
  • Bonnie Bennett, Boston/On-Campus, College
  • Andrew Berman, LA, College
  • Jacqueline Brechner, LA, A.R.T.
  • Carolyn Buchanan, Boston/On-Campus, Ext.
  • Jess Burkle, NY, College
  • Delvin Champagne, DC, HDM
  • Sylvia Clute, DC, KSG
  • Margaret Engel, DC, Special Programs (FAS)
  • Dobrochna Fire, NY, GSAS
  • Gisselle G. Legere, LA, Ext.
  • Daniel Golliher, Chicago, College
  • Steven Harper, Chicago, HLS
  • Peter Jones, Chicago, College
  • Eugene Karlik, NY, HLS
  • Peter Kerre, NY, Ext.
  • Joseph Lee, Boston/On-Campus, College
  • Guy McEleney, LA, College
  • Julia Monrad, Boston/On-Campus, College
  • Destiny Nunley, Boston/On-Campus, College
  • Sydney Ribot, Other International, Staff Member
  • Catherine Stratton, NY, GSE
  • Diana Suber, ATL, HLS
  • Sisi Tang, SF/Bay Area, KSG
  • Wesley Verge, Boston/On-Campus, Ext.

Alumni Profile: David J. Eilenberg AB '97 (President, ITV Entertainment)

by Sara Lynne Wright

David Eilenberg AB '97, the new President of ITV Entertainment, who has developed and produced such groundbreaking shows as The Apprentice and Shark Tank, loves how working in reality television forces him to come face-to-face with real world events on a daily basis.

“In general, the entertainment industry makes it very easy to spend lots of time cloistered. In nonfiction, you’re interacting with your subjects every single day, which I find exhilarating.”  Beyond that, the shows David works on can immediately and tangibly affect the lives of their subjects.

A case in point is Cold Justice, a show David oversaw on TNT, produced by Dick Wolf and Magical Elves. “The unique thing about that project was it was a real life cold case series, in which episodes really helped open murder cases that had gone unsolved and in some instances helped local police solve them. There are criminals now behind bars and families who got resolution as a result of that show existing. And that’s an amazing thing to be a part of.”

When asked the most essential trait to succeeding in the world of unscripted television, David replies without hesitation: “the habit of curiosity. If you’re going to do reality TV, you have to have some interest in reality. Without curiosity and rigor of breaking out of a bubble, you’re never going to get to the best stories.”

David has literally been surrounded by entertainers for most of his life. His father ran a series of new vaudeville festivals in the San Francisco Bay area, so he grew up “around jugglers, clowns, sword swallowers and other assorted circus freaks.” Yes, he can juggle. His mother was an actress, and his father still teaches theatre at San Francisco State.

At Harvard, David majored in American History and Literature, studying “the intersection of nonfiction and narrative,” a phrase which also aptly describes his professional niche. He also joined the Hasty Pudding and the Harvard Lampoon.

When he moved out to Los Angeles after graduation, he began writing for game shows. Then, when the reality boom started, he got a job on the first season of The Apprentice and ended up working there for five seasons. 

That kicked off the next ten years of his career. He worked on many shows for Mark Burnett, ran his development through 2012 and then switched to the network side - to TNT and TBS - for four years before landing his current job at the helm of ITVE.

Asked about challenges he’s faced in his career, David replies, “There’s nothing I’ve been through quite so challenging from a production perspective as those initial seasons of The Apprentice. We had the entire city of New York as the playing field, sponsors paying multimillions of dollars to be involved, and contestants who were essentially going to do what they felt like doing twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.” (Exhibiting characteristic diplomacy, David has no public comment on the 2016 Presidential campaign.) 

The press that reality TV attracts adds additional hurdles to production: “The Apprentice was such a cultural phenomenon that there were points where our crews were being tracked by the New York Post helicopter trying to figure out what was going on during the shoot. As far as a real-time game of three-dimensional chess, that was as complicated as I could imagine, and I think a really good crucible for me as a producer. It was honestly sink or swim, constant contingency planning and thoughtful improvisation just to get the show done.”

David uses principles of “fairness and consistency” to guide him in producing shows that are games. “Even in really complex situations, you have to do your best to adhere to the principles of the game that you’re asking people to play. That’s not only for the sake of the contestants but also ultimately for the sake of the audience. Because audiences, particularly American audiences, sniff out unfairness and will turn on the show if they feel that.” 

About the new wave of reality TV, David reflects on audience’s desires for a self-contained narrative: “What’s happening now is a desire for arced, close-ended storytelling. Shows like The Jinx or Making A Murderer are not quite feature films but also not quite TV series; they’re really miniseries if anything. I think there’s a hunger for those sorts of experiences that are immersive from a viewership perspective but also come to a conclusion.”

Novelty is also key to the projects David produces. “In this day and age, anything that feels unique or original is the first thing that I’m going to be attracted to, just because there’s so much saturation in terms of nonfiction television. Not only because of three hundred channels with VOD and digital platforms, but also because of the availability of every television show in the history of television. So we’re competing not only against everybody else making TV right now but everyone who has ever made TV.”

The originality David looks for is not only in content but also in structure and visual style. “It has to look and feel different, so in a sense there’s auteur-ship among producers. I would point to Catfish as a show that does that. It has a totally unique look, feel and perspective, and it’s shot and cut really thoughtfully to communicate a particular vibe. You don’t always see that in reality TV. Shows that take the time to do that are going to stand out in this next wave.”

His first piece of advice to anyone who wants to get into unscripted development: “Work on shows first, whatever you can get, a PA job, an AP job…Whatever the first thing is, take it. Spending some time in production is invaluable, even if what you ultimately want is more of an executive track. And when I started, I didn’t have really the opportunity to do this as regularly as kids do now: Pick up a camera, even if it’s the camera on your phone, and try making something and putting it out to an audience.” 

Sara Lynne Wright writes, acts and produces in Los Angeles and Seattle.


FEATURED EVENT | Harvardwood Classical Salon: Bach Goes to Italy - Sunday, Aug. 21st

One of the greatest and rarest joys of music is the opportunity to hear a great musician in the intimacy of her own home. We are thrilled that Yelena Grinberg, one of New York's finest pianists, has agreed to welcome us into her home a very few times each year for a special series of intimate concerts, played on her own piano, just for us. At these concerts, Yelena will talk about and perform some of her very favorite works from her vast repertory. Yelena's living room seats just 21 people, so we strongly recommend early registration.

Yelena Grinberg is a virtuoso whose playing combines strength, intellect, and passion. She has performed with the Moscow Symphony as well as at important festivals in England, Spain, France, and Switzerland. She has won major awards in numerous competitions and was the 2005 winner of the Artists International Competition. Her sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall's Weill Hall was hailed by the New York Concert Review as "a grand performance in a grand tradition."

Los Angeles

The Mission Entertainment Panel & Mixer (Harvardwood Summer Internship Program) - Wed., Aug. 3rd

The Harvardwood Summer Internship Program will be heading to The Mission Entertainment, a management and production company representing storytellers with unique and distinct voices, for a panel (followed by a mixer) with Corrine Aquino, Laura Gardner, and Andrew Coles AB '09. The event will begin at 6:30pm. This event is only open to current undergraduates participating in the Harvardwood Summer Internship Program.

Harvardwood Summer Internship Program Farewell Lunch - Sat., Aug. 7th

Before many of you leave L.A. in August, let’s head over to the Westside at Westwood Village — home of the Bruins, Hollywood movie premieres, destination for top-tier art, music, and culture, with nearby Holmby Hills and Bel Air estates — so we can swap stories and hang out before sending you off.

We’re sad to see you go, but, we can still go out with the whole sha-bang! From cajun-style crab and lobster to bags of shrimp or crawfish, even hot wings and really tasty cajun fries, there’s something for everyone at The Boiling Crab. Then we’ll stroll over to cheap-L.A.-treats Diddy Riese, the hottest cookie spot in the village, for custom-made ice cream sandwiches. 

Harvardwood Helps at InsideOUT Writers - Thurs., Aug. 11th

Harvardwood writers will volunteer at the InsideOUT Writers' (IOW) weekly Writing Circle again on August 11th to work with IOW program alums. This workshop will be led by the Chairman of the IOW Board of Directors, and Harvardwood volunteers will have the opportunity to work one-on-one with the class participants to help with their creative writing assignments.

The mission of InsideOUT Writers is to reduce the juvenile recidivism rate by providing a range of services that evolves to meet the needs of currently and formerly incarcerated youth and young adults. Using creative writing as a catalyst for personal transformation, these young people are empowered with the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully re-integrate into our communities, becoming advocates for their future.

C.L.A. invites Harvardwood to Copyright Law for Visual Artists - Sat., Aug. 20th

You have drawn, painted, or produced a creative work – now, who owns the work and controls the right to exploit it? Separate fact from fiction in this workshop that covers the basics of copyright law and protection of your art. Join CLA and Pierce Law Group LLP attorneys Azita Mirzaian and Vera Golosker for an overview of United States copyright law as it relates to the art and entertainment industries. Topics that will be covered include: what is and is not protected by copyright law; rights conferred by the Copyright Act; the benefits of registering a copyright; works-made-for hire; fair use; the difficulties with so-called “idea theft” claims; the Visual Artists Rights Act; and the evolution and future of copyright law.

Harvardwood at the Hollywood Bowl: The Silk Road Ensemble with Cellist Yo-Yo Ma AB '76, DMU '91 - Sun., Aug. 21st

Only ONE ticket left to this special Hollywood Bowl concert featuring world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma AB '76, DMU '91 in the Silk Road Ensemble!

From the Hollywood Bowl: World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma and his innovative brainchild, The Silk Road Ensemble, bring their collaborative excellence to the Bowl stage for an exciting evening of world music exploration. Made up of performers and composers from more than 20 countries and lauded as “vibrant and virtuosic” by The Wall Street Journal, the ensemble encompasses musical traditions from around the globe.

C.L.A. invites Harvardwood to Top 10 Legal Things Every Filmmaker Needs to Know - Wed., Aug. 24th

If you are a writer, director, producer or performer in the entertainment industry then you probably encounter common legal issues every day. This workshop will provide an overview of some of the most frequently encountered legal topics in the film industry as well as insight into how to avoid some common legal pitfalls. Topics to be covered include copyright infringement, contracts and rights agreements, title protection, libel law, reality shows, and collaboration agreements. If you are working in the industry, you owe it to yourself to get informed.

C.L.A. invites Harvardwood to Fair Use in Filmmaking - Wed., Aug. 31st

In this workshop, we will provide an overview of the doctrine of fair use and explain how to apply it. We will summarize recent developments and review notable cases, displaying excerpts from the copyrighted works at issue to illustrate how courts analyze these cases. The presentation will include practical guidance about obtaining E+O insurance and sending and receiving takedown notices. Opportunity will be provided for discussion and Q&A.

Harvardwood Summer Concert Featuring the Gary Negbaur Group - Wed., Aug. 31st

Head over to Bar Fedora at the Au Lac Restaurant for jazz, blues, and New Orleans-style rhythm & blues performed by the Gary Negbaur Group featuring Tim Kobza (gtr), Randy Landas (bs) and Jon Schlitt (dr). Get a preview of the Gary Negbaur Group!

Showtimes at 7:30pm and 9pm. The $10 cover will be waived for Harvardwood members. Simply log in and show this page (or print/bring it with you) when you arrive at Bar Figaro.


Harvardwood Meet-up at the Black List DC Happy Hour - Wed., Aug. 3rd

The Black List is creating social hubs for writers around the world where they can meet other screenwriters and discuss the craft and the reality of the screenwriter's life. So join your fellow writers at the DC happy hour! Come to enjoy the drinks and the company. You never know who you might meet! This event is free and open to the public (cash bar).

SF/Bay Area

C.L.A. invites Harvardwood to Creative Collaborations & Partnerships - Wed., Aug. 10th

This workshop is ideally suited for artists, musicians and entertainment professionals who work together creatively. It will include a general overview of creative collaborations and ongoing collaborative relationships, including the legal rights and obligations inherent to both.

Topics of discussion will also emphasize common issues of concern inherent to collaborative works and relationships (such as apportioning ownership shares, authorship credit, etc.), in addition to the comparative advantages/disadvantages in operating an ongoing collaborative arts/entertainment-based business as a partnership, as opposed to other business structures (i.e. corporations, LLCs, etc), formal collaboration agreements, conflict avoidance/resolution, and more...

Board Banner

Time to head back to school, so renew your Harvardwood membership!

We hate to point it out, but summer is winding down and kids will be heading back to school soon. It's the right time to renew your Harvardwood membership, so you can be eligible for Harvardwood programs in 2016-17. Members can participate in the Harvardwood Mentorship Program (LA), Harvardwood 101 (current Harvard College students), and the Harvardwood Writers Program (multiple chapters), just to name a few opportunities. If you're not yet a Harvardwood member, join now to make the upcoming fall deadlines for some of these programs!


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.

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