Issue 168 | January 2019


In This Issue:

  • Message from Dona


  • Featured Member Posting: Olympics Research Assistant (NBC) — Stamford
  • Seeking a Harvardwood membership data cruncher
  • Recruit Harvard students to intern at your company in Summer 2019
  • Blast from the Past: Call for your old-school Harvardwood photos
  • Let us know if your film will be featured at Sundance or Slamdance


  • Exclusive Q&A with Judith Huang AB '09 (Author, Sofia & the Utopia Machine)
  • Industry Successes
  • New Members' Welcome
  • Alumni Profile: John Bowman AB '80, MBA '85 (Writer & Producer, SNL, In Living ColorMartin)


  • Calendar
  • Start the year off right by renewing your Harvardwood membership

Message from Dona

20th.pngHappy New Year, everybody! I hope you all had a wonderful time ringing in 2019, and we are extra excited about the upcoming year because we'll be celebrating Harvardwood's 20th—that's right, 20th birthday

Now that January is here, we also look forward to welcoming 28 current Harvard students to Los Angeles to begin the Harvardwood 101 bootcamp next week. If you're attending the HAA's Global Networking Night, you'll get a chance to meet them all.

- Dona

P.S. There is no Harvardwood DC Meet-up at the Black List happy hour this month, but we will resume those events in February.

Featured Member Posting: Olympics Research Assistant (NBC) — Stamford

The Olympics Research Assistant will report directly to the EVP, Olympic Programs for NBC Olympics. The ideal candidate will possess an impeccable attention to detail, strong intellectual curiosity, ability to multi-task, and a solid work ethic. The successful candidate will be able to focus on projects relating to multiple Olympics simultaneously.


Seeking a Harvardwood membership data cruncher

Harvardwood Board in Summer 2018As Harvardwood swells to almost 10,000 folks in our online community, we want to gain a better understanding of what draws them to the organization and what we can do—what we can do better—to meet their needs. To that end, we're in need of a Board member who can help us crunch our membership data and use that data to make Harvardwood even better. Read on for more info about this volunteer position! 

Director, Membership

Are you great at organizing huge amounts of data to break down into comprehensible, bite-sized pieces? The Director of Membership will help the Board in determining why people become Full Members and implement strategies for keeping members engaged in the organization. This person will also serve as one of the points of contact for current members on how to best utilize Harvardwood. They will relay information to the Board about what is important to members and how to improve the overall Harvardwood membership experience. They should be extremely proficient with Excel and familiar with membership software. 

Speaking of Board openings, we are also looking for a volunteer to assist Patricia Danaher, Director of Harvardwood Publishing!

Associate Director, Harvardwood Publishing

Harvardwood Publishing is expanding in exciting new ways, and the Director seeks an Associate Director to help develop a range of projects. In 2016, we published our first-ever anthology and aim to pursue future projects in support of the work of Harvard-affiliated writers. A knowledge of and passion for electronic publishing would be welcome, as well as ease in the world of sponsorship and marketing.

Recruit Harvard students to intern at your company in Summer 2019

If your arts, media, or entertainment company offers summer internships and would like to receive applications from current Harvard College students, we invite you to participate in the 2019 Harvardwood Summer Internship Program (HSIP)! Companies can recruit current Harvard students directly by posting their internship opportunities to Harvardwood FOR FREE.

HSIP provides a list of internship opportunities in the arts, media and entertainment to Harvard undergraduates and also coordinates career-related events over the summer for program participants in LA, NYC and other cities. If your company would like to list an internship via HSIP, please fill out our brief participant form by February 15th to reach the largest number of potential candidates.


Blast from the Past: Call for your old-school Harvardwood photos

Harvardwood 101As we mark Harvardwood's twenty years and set new milestones to reach in the future, we're also looking back at all the great memories our community shares. And we're looking to YOU to help us share those memories! If you have any photos from past Harvardwood events to share, please email them to us at [email protected] (subject line: 20th Birthday Photo). They can be from any Harvardwood-related gathering, for example, if you participated in the first-ever Harvardwood 101 program in 2003, or attended a Harvard in Hollywood symposium in Los Angeles. The photo above is one such vintage Harvardwood 101 pic!

Share your favorite Harvardwood photos and memories with us, as we cook up fun ways to celebrate Harvardwood's past, present, and future!

Let us know if your film will be featured at Sundance or Slamdance

Calling all Harvard-affiliated films and filmmakers traveling to Sundance or Slamdance this month! The 2019 Sundance Film Festival will run from January 24 - February 3, 2019 in Park City, Salt Lake City, and at Sundance Mountain Resort.

Among the films that will be screened at Sundance are documentary feature The Great Hack, directed by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim AB '96; FilmNation's Late Night, starring Mindy Kaling and John Lithgow AB '67, Ar.D. '05; and The Last Black Man in San Francisco, produced by Jeremy Kleiner AB '98.

sundance.jpegIf you're attending Sundance this year and presenting one of your films, share the good news so the Harvardwood community can come out in support! Just email Harvardwood with information about your film, screening times, trailer links, and any other pertinent details.

Exclusive Q&A with Judith Huang AB '09 (Author, Sofia & the Utopia Machine)

Judith Huang AB '09 is a Singaporean poet, writer, editor, illustrator and translator. Her first novel, Sofia & The Utopia Machine, was shortlisted for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize 2017 and is available now here. Named a Foyle Young Poet of the Year in 2001, 2003, and 2004, her writing has been published in various journals, including Prairie Schooner and Asia Literary Review, as well as anthologies such as In Transit, Journeys, Singpowrimo 2014, Ayam Curtain, and Body Boundaries.

Q. Why did you choose to attend Harvard University, and how did your undergraduate experience impact your writing life?

A. Harvard was a very difficult experience, and as a result, very productive for writing. My next book, By the Nose, is processing Harvard, set in a university quite like Harvard, and there is NIT, the equivalent of MIT. NIT is on a Discord server, one that I am building in real life. Insofar that Discord servers represent real life, which they don't!

Q. How long did it take for you to complete Sofia and the Utopia Machine?

A.  It took six years to write, but the ideas coalesced quite quickly. I did it as *NANOWRIMO, but in December and with two people, with one of my college friends. We started a private blog and started to put up 1500-2000 words, soft target 1500, and I got a draft out in one month. By mid-January, I had 75,000 words, a first draft.

Q. Can you share more about the process of getting your debut novel published? When did you know it was ready to send out to agents?

A. I only got an agent after I got a publisher, to negotiate the deal. I was in a bit of a hurry because there was a deadline to submit the manuscript for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize*. So the route to publication was relatively smooth.

However, editing was a whole other ballgame; it was excruciating torture. You have your baby, and then [the editors] vivisect it. But then the work comes out better and it’s like a cyborg, a more powerful baby.


Industry Successes

Slay the Dragon, a novel by Laura Zubulake (Harvard Business Analytics Program), was the Winner of the 2018 Beverly Hills Book Awards in the Political Thriller category.

Director John Alexander AB '11 and producer JC Guest AB '11, along with executive producer Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac), have released feature soul music documentary This Is Love on the festival circuit, winning the Film of the Festival Spirit Award at Raindance in London and Best International Documentary at the Rome Independent Film Festival in Italy.

W.A.W. Parker AB ’07 wrote the episode “Bringing Up Baby Dragon” of the animated show Clash-A-Rama! and the episode can be viewed here.

The memoirs of the playwright William Alfred are now available onlineThe memoirs, which comprise Alfred’s elementary and secondary school years, his service in World War II, his last undergraduate years at Brooklyn College, and his early years at Harvard, were edited by Peter Grudin AM '68, PhD '71. 

Congratulations to the Harvard alum writers who were recognized in the 2018 Black List, created by Franklin Leonard AB '00 in 2005. The Black List is an annual survey of Hollywood executives' favorite unproduced screenplays, and recently named writers include Ava Tramer AB '09, Nelson Greaves AB '10, and Matt Whitaker AB '12.

The Golden Globes are next weekend, and we will be rooting for Justin Hurwitz AB '08, nominated for Best Original Score (First Man)! Vice (produced by Jeremy Kleiner AB '98) leads the film nominees with six Golden Globe noms, including Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. On the TV side, Barry (co-created by Alec Berg AB '91) and The Good Place (created by Michael Schur AB '97) have received nominations for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy.

The GRAMMY nominations were announced last month: Rashida Jones AB '97 was nominated in the Best Music Film category for Quincy, and Joshua Redman AB '91 received a nomination in the Best Jazz Instrumental Album category for Still Dreaming! Watch the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards next month on Feb. 10th.

We're also keeping our fingers crossed for the following 2019 Critics' Choice Award nominees:

  • Best Picture - Vice, produced by Jeremy Kleiner; and First Man, written by Josh Singer MBA '00, JD '01 and directed by Damien Chazelle AB '07-'08
  • Best Director - Damien Chazelle (First Man
  • Best Adapted Screenplay - Josh Singer (First Man)
  • Best Score - Nicholas Britell AB '03 (If Beale Street Could Talkand Justin Hurwitz (First Man)
  • Best Comedy Series - Michael Schur's The Good Place and Alec Berg's Barry 
  • Best Movie Made for TV - The Tale (produced by Mynette Louie AB '97)

The Critics' Choice Movie Awards ceremony is coming up on January 13th.

New Members' Welcome

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

  • Hiawatha Brown, Ext., NY
  • Yvonne Chavez, Special Programs, LA
  • Soomin Chun, A.R.T., LA
  • Liliana Cunningham, College, Boston/On-Campus
  • Paul Fiebiger, Special Programs, LA
  • Brett Jennings, College, Boston/On-Campus
  • Margaret Jiang, College, LA
  • Nancy Kates, College, SF/Bay Area
  • Mark Kates, FOH, Boston/On-Campus
  • Dixon McPhillips, College, LA
  • Kiana Rawji, College, Boston/On-Campus
  • Ancel Rogers, HMS, LA
  • Kyra Rogers, FOH, LA
  • David Sabot, FOH, Boston/On-Campus
  • Charles Saini, Ext., Other U.S.
  • Maximillian Seiss, College, LA
  • Sophia Trone, HLS, LA
  • Benjamin Urwand, GSAS, LA
  • Shana Yang, College, NY
  • Laura Zubulake, Special Programs, NY

*FOH = Friend of Harvardwood

Alumni Profile: John Bowman AB '80, MBA '85 (Writer & Producer, Saturday Night Live, In Living ColorMartin)

By Terence O'Toole Murnin


As the world rings in 2019, John Bowman AB ’80, MBA ’85 makes a bold New Year’s prediction: “I think we’ll be hearing a lot about Trump,” he says wryly.

Another certainty is that this Emmy award-winning writer and producer will continue to explore the boundaries of sketch comedy, as he's done brilliantly for more than 25 years. If sustained buzz is the toughest thing to accomplish in any creative endeavor, this comedic master’s resume rivals that of James Brown, “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business!” Bowman's IMDB profile also reads like the evolution of TV comedy: Saturday Night Live, It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, In Living Color, Martin, Murphy Brown, and Frank TV, to name just a few. In fact, if James Brown were still alive today, this would be a mic drop momentand he’d be covered in capes.

Bowman was raised in Wisconsin, and his suburban American upbringing was imbued with pop culture. Having watched plenty of TV as a teenager, he noted when comedic stalwarts like Alan King and Johnny Carson were getting a run for their money by a hipper and younger brand of comedy.

“[The work of Jim Downey AB '74] at SNL was obviously a game-changer, and it opened the doors for a ton of Harvard writers," Bowman notes, "especially talented folks from The Harvard Lampoon.

In fact, Bowman was one of the brilliant students who comped The Lampoon, and after graduating from Harvard, he witnessed firsthand a comedy revolution, marked by SNL’s influence, in which new stand-up comedians were suddenly breaking nationwide. Still, Bowman did not yet see a future in comedy writing. He enrolled in Harvard Business School, got married, and began a career in publishing. 

Then in 1988, fortunately for comedy lovers and the history of pop culture, Downey hired a woman named Shannon Gaughan to write for SNL.

“It was like, 'WOW, Shannon got a lot of her stuff on air, and she also happened to be my wife!'” Bowman says with a laugh.

Soon after, Bowman followed his wife to SNL, and The Harvard Lampoon pipeline was suddenly open like a firehose. Bowman's second entertainment gig was working on It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, and In Living Color was next. 

“In my world, we all knew each other, liked each other, and hired each otherand I worked relentlessly. I’m really good, but I’m also extremely lucky,” states Bowman modestly.

At that point in his career, Bowman made sure to work consistently because he is a family man with five children, a responsibility he happily took on. Instead of inoculating himself against the pressures of comedy writing with drugs and alcohol, he took solace in his home life, a place that housed lots of love, happiness, and LOUD laughter.

“I refused to work on the weekends, so I could experience a real life with my family,” says Bowman, “and nowadays, with only one kid left in the roost, it is way too quiet. There’s not enough mayhem for my liking!”

Along the way, Bowman created Fox sitcom Martin, for which he received two NAACP Awards and a People’s Choice Award. In 2008, he received a PEN USA First Amendment Award for his leadership during the 2008 writers' strike in Hollywood.

Three of Bowman’s children have followed in his footsteps to Harvard—and two joined The Lampoon as welland Bowman now finds himself at a point in his career where the typical 60- to 80-hour production weeks in television are not appealing. He is a part-time lecturer at the University of Southern California, where he advises his students to be patient if they’re looking to break in to the entertainment industry.

“There’s a lot of rejection, and Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule applies to this art form,” explains Bowman. “At The Lampoon, we were probably seven or eight years ahead of a lot of folks. We wrote and thought a lot about comedy, and we studied things like Buster Keaton movies to really master the form, particularly physical humor, which I still adore.”

As Bowman teaches the next generation of comedy writers, he believes the genre is undergoing an exciting phase of change and growth. In particular, Bowman credits the work of Alec Berg AB '91 and Bill Hader on HBO series Barry as the new blueprint for comedic writing moving forward. He is also a huge fan of John Mulaney, but just as importantly, Bowman finds himself energized by the diversity of his students at USC. They bring a broad array of experiences and perspectives to the writers' room, where women are no longer an anomaly!

“Tina Fey broke down the door, and women like Lena Dunham have pushed the envelope, opening the way for series like Broad City,” Bowman comments.

Bowman hopes to continue to inspire the next generation of comedy writers in an era when the entertainment biz seems to offer myriad opportunities, yet remains incredibly competitive. Part of this heightened competition is because a current series may consist of only six to 10 installments in a season, instead of 24 episodes, as in days of yore.

“The game has changed, but rejection still remains the same, and it hurts like hell,” Bowman admits. “The important thing is that [rejection] does not stop you. The situation or group may have not been right.”

Comedy maestro Bowman is currently a trustee of The Harvard Lampoon, and his message of hope to aspiring writers is beautifully eloquent in its simplicity, spoken from the heart of a Wisconsin boy who used to dream of making it big while watching TV: “Brace yourself: it can be done!”

Terence O’Toole Murnin is a raconteur and provocateur, a storyteller and screenwriter currently pitching his latest feature-film screenplay, Bhang Lassi.


FEATURED EVENT Harvardwood Presents: Nadine Strossen on HATE SPEECH, with Penelope Andrews - Tues., Jan. 15 (NY)

Most of us, at one time or another, have heard horrific hate speech and have felt, "This should be illegal!" But should it? In her new book HATE: Why We Should Resist It With Free Speech, Not Censorship, Nadine Strossen argues that the strongest way to defeat hate speech is, paradoxically, to permit it. She also points out that any restriction of hate speech will inevitably also restrict artistic expression, especially comedy and satire.

Hate_Cover.jpgAttend this talk between Strossen and Penelope Andrews, who is joining the faculty of New York Law School. Their conversation will be moderated by Harvardwood member Richard Loebl.  Richard is a Senior Counsel at Seyfarth Shaw LLP and is a Fellow of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel.

The event begins at 6:30 with a reception with wine and nice stuff to nibble; the discussion will start promptly at 7 pm. Nadine Strossen's book will be available for purchase, and a booksigning will follow the event. 1.0 hours of CLE credit (Areas of Professional Practice) for New York attorneys will be available to attendees through a sign-in sheet at the event.

Los Angeles, CA

Harvard Global Networking Night - LOS ANGELES - Wed., Jan. 9

The Harvard Alumni Association invites you to join fellow local alumni for Global Networking Night on Wednesday, January 9, 2019! Global Networking Night is a great opportunity to explore and expand your Harvard network; the last event drew more than 8,000 alumni in over 100 cities. Here in Los Angeles, Harvardwood & the Harvard Club of Southern California are proud to co-host this GNN at The Parlor on Melrose. Food and drink will be available for purchase and the happy hour menu will be available for the first hour of the event, so skip the fashionably late entrance and come on time!

Harvardwood Heads To... The Business of Writing - Sat., Jan. 12

The nuts and bolts of the business of writing are as essential to a writer's success as the writer's work itself. How does a writer get an agent and an attorney? How does the writer's work get sold and how is the writer compensated? What will the agent and the lawyer do for the writer? How are they compensated? How do writers work together? 

This 1/2 day seminar will cover: the principles of copyrights law as the underpinnings of all writing; what agents do and what lawyers do, how their functions sometimes overlap and how they differ; the process of obtaining an agent and a lawyer, when and why an agent is necessary and when and why an agent may not be necessary; how agents and lawyers are compensated by their clients; the content of a typical collaboration agreement and three reasons why they are an absolute necessity; a review of a publishing agreement; the editing process and what happens if the publisher rejects the manuscript, the publisher's ultimate acceptance of the manuscript, actual publication after acceptance, and promotion and publicity.

Harvardwood Heads To... The Ivy Plus Society's Night at Mama Lion - Fri., Jan. 25

You'll have a roaring good time when you join The Ivy Plus Society at Mama Lion this January. Centrally located in the Wilshire Center – Koreatown area, Mama Lion is a widely acclaimed restaurant, bar and lounge serving as one of the city’s premiere cultural destinations for dining, entertainment and nightlife. A venue where food, drinks, music and art intersect to satisfy all of your senses. Meet us in our private section to mingle with the finest and brightest in LA and to enjoy some insatiable drink specials exclusive for our members.

New York, NY

Harvardwood Heads To... The Enigmatist feat. David Kwong AB '02 - Jan. 4 - Jan. 26

Renowned magician and New York Times crossword constructor David Kwong AB '02 invites you to step into the mysterious, historic world of the Riverbank Estate, the “cradle of cryptology,” reimagined at The High Line Hotel’s gothic Hoffman Hall. Guests will experience mind-bending illusions, and solve entertaining riddles and puzzles. The Enigmatist will blur reality and fiction—and leave you in awe of Kwong’s secret talents.

Sundance Film Festival

Late Night (Premieres) - Jan. 25 - Feb. 3

Late Night is an upcoming comedy film, directed by Nisha Ganatra, from a screenplay by Mindy Kaling. It stars Emma Thompson, Kaling, John Lithgow AB '67, Ar.D. '05., Hugh Dancy, Reid Scott, and Paul Walter Hauser. It will have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 25, 2019. The film centers on a late-night talk show host (Thompson) who is at risk of losing her long-running show right when she hires her first female writer (Kaling), who revitalizes her show and her life. Details about each screening can be found here.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco (U.S. Dramatic Competition) - Jan. 26 - Feb. 3

Director/co-writer/composer Joe Talbot makes an astonishing feature debut, transfiguring one man’s intimate despair into a timely story that questions who has a rightful claim to a city’s identity. Inspired by the real-life story of Jimmie Fails, who co-wrote the film and plays a fictionalized version of himself, The Last Black Man in San Francisco elegantly engages with a loss of cross-cultural connection as one individual seeks belonging in the new incarnation of his hometown.

Produced by Khaliah Neal, Joe Talbot, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner AB '98, and Christina Oh. Sundance screening details here.

The Great Hack (Documentary Premieres) - Jan. 26 - Feb. 3

Have you ever filled out an online survey? Do you wonder why you receive ads for products that you happened to research the day before? Be afraid. Be very afraid. Data has surpassed oil as the world’s most valuable asset, and it is being weaponized to wage cultural and political wars. We’re in a battle for control over our most intimate personal details. The Great Hack uncovers the dark world of data exploitation through the compelling personal journeys of players on different sides of the explosive Cambridge Analytica/Facebook data breach that rocked the world.

Screenshot_2018-12-26_at_6.59.29_PM.pngAcademy Award nominees Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim AB '96 (The Square, Control Room, return to the Sundance Film Festival with this deeply layered, ethically complex, disturbing and riveting documentary. The Great Hack compels us to question the genesis of the information we consume daily and challenges us to think about what we give up when we tap that phone or keyboard and share ourselves in the digital age.

Start the year off right by renewing your Harvardwood membership

It's that time of year, when we're making resolutions and trying to stick to them for the next (long) twelve months. Have you been thinking that you need to get more disciplined with your writing? Want to give back to the Harvard alumni community? Make new friends in new settings at Harvardwood Helps community service events? Be a Harvardwood member and motivate yourself to make good on those resolutions! We have a wonderful community of folks who can be a source of support when you're holding yourself accountable to deadlines, friendship when you're moving to a new city, and career connections when you're looking for your next gig. Join Harvardwood today


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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