In This Issue:
- Message from Dona
- Featured Member Posting: Features Editor (Vox) - NY
- Support the Fund for Harvard College Students
- Seeking volunteers for a Harvardwood video
- Exclusive Q&A with Carly Hillman AB '15 (Segment Producer, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert)
- Artist Showcase: John Alexander AB '11 (Crook & Nanny Productions)
- Industry Successes
- New Members' Welcome
- Alumni Profile: Suzanne Nossel AB '91, JD '96 (CEO of PEN America; Author, Dare to Speak)
CALENDAR & NOTES
- Members, visit the Harvardwood Channel for links to past events
Message from Harvardwood
Harvardwood has received many inquiries about the annual Harvardwood Writers Competition, and we wanted to let you know that we will be running it this year, but due to the ongoing circumstances, it has been delayed to the fall. We are so sorry for the postponement, but we are working hard to complete the last judging round of the most recent HWC's finalist scripts. Thank you very much for your patience.
If you're in the United States, I hope you all have a safe and relaxing 4th of July holiday this weekend!
Featured Member Posting: Features Editor (Vox) - NY
The Editorial team is at the core of everything New York magazine does. Our team strikes the perfect balance of content that’s smart and funny so that our readers know everything they need to know to navigate a fast-moving culture, whether that’s up-to-date information on political events, cultural developments, fashion trends, or the latest scientific breakthroughs. We are seeking a Features Editor to help create excellent long-form feature content in the tone and style of New York magazine.
As the leading independent modern media company, Vox Media ignites conversations and influences culture. Across digital, podcasts, TV, streaming, live events, and print, we tell stories that affect our audience's daily lives and entertain as much as they inform.
What you'll do:
- Assigning and editing long-form features for New York magazine's five digital verticals and its bi-weekly print magazine
- Overseeing special packages and issues of the magazine
- Additional responsibilities as assigned by Editor
Support the Fund for Harvard College Students
Harvardwood is proud to launch our Student Support Initiative to continue to provide membership to students who are in need of additional aid. The cost of membership is just $60/year per student. Please make a donation so that we can continue to provide opportunities to all students who are interested in working in the arts, media, and entertainment, regardless of socio-economic background.
Our goal for this campaign is $5,000, and we hope to meet that benchmark by the extended deadline of July 31, 2020.
Any additional funds we receive will be utilized for general student support, including future memberships for students in need, Harvardwood 101 and the regular Summer Internship Program, and eventually housing and transportation needs when in-person opportunities are available once again.
Seeking volunteers for a Harvardwood video
Production has stopped in Hollywood—but it's just beginning for us! We'd like to create a short video about Harvardwood, what we do as an organization, the resources we offer members, and all in all, what a wonderful and robust community we have. We're in very early stages of the project, and we likely need volunteers to assist with the video script and editing. If you have the bandwidth to pitch in on this Harvardwood video, please contact us at [email protected] and let us know in what capacity you might be able to help. Thank you!
Exclusive Q&A with Carly Hillman AB '15 (Segment Producer, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert)
By Lucy Golub AB '20
Carly Hillman AB '15 is a segment producer for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Originally from Pennsylvania, her interest in news led her to an internship with The Colbert Report. Since graduating from Harvard, she has worked on The Late Show.
Q. Let’s start with an introduction. Could you tell me about your background, where you’re from, and what you’re doing?
A. My name is Carly, and I grew up in Pennsylvania, and I went to Harvard obviously, which is why I’m doing this interview! I now work at The Late Show with Stephen Colbert as a segment producer for the guest interviews.
Q. Could you tell me more about your current role as a segment producer for The Late Show—what does that entail?
A. I work as a segment producer specifically on the guest interviews. Once a guest is booked on the show, I’ll get assigned probably a few weeks out. And there’s basically two parts of producing a guest interview. The first part is the actual substance of the interview, so we’ll do a pre-interview with the guest on the phone where we talk about the interview with Stephen, what’s going to happen. Then we have a meeting with Stephen to talk about it with him.
It’s a strange process. The way we describe it at the show sometimes is that it’s like setting two people up on a first date. You want each of the parties to know a little about each other. You want them to be excited to meet. Maybe you’ve told one of them you have to ask about this really funny story about his mom or something like that. It’s like being a very over-involved friend, setting people up to have hopefully a good conversation.
The second part is the logistical aspect. We’re communicating with the rest of the show. We’re communicating with the control room, the various departments about any of the production elements associated with the interview. So if there’s a photo, we need to clear it with legal, we need to get it printed. If there is a costume, we need to talk to the costume department to figure out what works best for them. We need to be in touch with the stage managers, the production team. We’re the first stop for anything concerning the guests and basically in charge of communicating all the information outward.
So the great thing about it is that every day is totally different. And also, especially with The Late Show, we’re an entertainment show, comedy show, political show, so the different kinds of guests I get to produce can vary so much day to day. That’s something I definitely value.
Artist Showcase: John Alexander AB '11 (Crook & Nanny Productions)
With my company Crook & Nanny Productions and executive producer Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac), our award-winning feature documentary This Is Love releases its official trailer and announces its virtual streaming debut for July 4th weekend!
About My Film
You may not know Rudy Love's name, even if you've heard his voice all your life.
Love's story encapsulates a quintessential struggle of black artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. In the face of systemic racism and with the purest of intentions, Love repeatedly turned down fame to make music with his family. Just when it seems all his music is lost, it shows up on the other side of the world.
Sinbad, Mick Fleetwood, George Clinton, Marsai Martin, Norman Jay MBE, John McBride, Bobby Messano, Julie Woodson and Michael Colyar co-star in this "funkumentary" on an unsung hero of soul.
Directed by John Alexander. Produced by JC Guest and Robert Love. Executive Produced by Shawn Rhodes, Ann Garvey, Emily Bonavia, Susan Houston, and Mick Fleetwood.
A Very Punchable Face, a memoir by Colin Jost AB '04, will be published July 14th! Jost is a head writer at SNL, a Weekend Update co-anchor, and a touring stand-up comedian. He has five Writers Guild Awards, two Peabody Awards, and a PETA Elly Award for the sketch “Diner Lobster.”
Actor, voiceover artist, and producer Sumalee Montano has been cast in the highly-anticipated NBC drama series, Langdon, hailing from Imagine Television, CBS TV Studios and Universal Television. The series is based on Dan Brown's best-selling novel The Lost Symbol.
Wendy Lesser AB '73 discusses her new book Scandinavian Noir: In Pursuit of a Mystery and just why this regional genre continues to strike a chord with 'The Nation'!
Sherman's Showcase, created by Diallo Riddle AB '97 and Bashir Salahuddin AB '98, has been renewed for Season 2! The variety show will run six thirty-minute episodes in 2021. “Sherman McDaniels has been a staple in American culture for almost 50 years and shows no signs of slowing down…or aging at all,” said Salahuddin and Riddle. “We’re thrilled to return to the uniquely nerdy, quirky, silkily soulful and musical world of ‘Sherman’s Showcase.’ It’s all our favorite things and now it’s on AMC and IFC. Season 2’s so big, it needs two networks" (Deadline).
Director Marielle Wood AB '08 (DO NO HARM, SPIN, AFI Directing Workshop for Women) was one of just ten participants selected for this year's HBOAccess Directing Fellowship! The HBOAccess 2020 Directing Fellowship is designed to give emerging, directors from underrepresented groups the ability to shoot a project for HBO.Carolyn Strauss AB '85, a longtime HBO executive and award-winning producer, is moving to Sister, the content venture co-founded by Elisabeth Murdoch, Stacey Snider and Jane Featherstone. Congratulations, Carolyn!
ICYMI, Harvard Magazine ran a profile of comedian and Harvardwood 101 alumna Karen Chee AB '01, who is currently on the Late Night with Seth Meyers.
Big news from author Ben Mezrich AB '91 this summer. First off, Stampede Ventures has teamed up with Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss AB '04 to produce a feature film adaptation of Bitcoin Billionaires, the bestselling non-fiction book by Mezrich. AND Amblin Partners recently won a bidding war for a novella by Mezrich, The Mechanic.
Elisabeth Shue AB '00 is set to star in the upcoming American war drama film, Greyhound, with Tom Hanks! The movie will be released on Apple TV+ on July 10.
TV Writer Joey Siara EdM '14, who previously ran the Harvardwood Writers Program - TV Modules, recently published a short story as part of Slate's Future Tense Fiction series. "The Last of the Goggled Barskys" is a piece about trying to short-circuit dependence on technology—read it here!
New Members' Welcome
Harvardwood warmly welcomes all members who joined the organization last month:
- Alice Ju, College, LA
- Andrew Fox, College, NY
- Andrew Meersand, College, BOS/Campus
- Andrew Shuster, Ext., NY
- Angelica Rosa, College, CHI
- Brady Gunderson, College, SF Bay
- Brandon Boies, College, BOS/Campus
- Donna Consolini, GSAS, NY
- Dora Paolini, College, NY
- Ellen Schulz, College, SF Bay
- Gabriella Monico, College, SF Bay
- Jack Hanick, College, NY
- Joy Brooke Fairfield, College, ATL
- Kalos Chu, College, BOS/Campus
- Kristen Coughlin, GSE, BOS/Campus
- Madison Howard, College, NY
- Matthew Cantor, College, SF Bay
- Naren Tallapragada, GSAS, BOS/Campus
- Neena Beber, College, NY
- Nicky Guerreiro, College, LA
- Nicole Lovince, FOH, LA
- Paula Brancato, HBS, NY
- Phillip J Wilson, FOH, LA
- Sienna Santer, College, BOS/Campus
- Thomas Keene, College, BOS/Campus
- Ty Warren, College, LA
- Valerie Scoon, College, LA
*FOH = Friend of Harvardwood
Alumni Profile: Suzanne Nossel AB '91, JD '96 (CEO of PEN America; Author, Dare to Speak)
By Carly Hillman AB '15
It was towards the end of my phone interview with Suzanne Nossel AB '91, JD '96 when I started to laugh at one of my own questions. I had jotted it down before we spoke, a standard interview line: “Who have you modeled your career after?” But now, after hearing in detail about the stepping-stones of her wide-ranging career, it was clear the question did not apply. Nossel’s path was unique, and she mapped it herself.
Here’s a summary of the route: She’s worked as a mediator of political violence in South Africa’s townships, a law clerk on the DC circuit, a consultant at McKinsey, Deputy to Richard Holbrooke while he was UN Ambassador, a Vice President at Bertelsmann, an Executive at Dow Jones, the COO of Human Rights Watch, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations at the State Department, the Executive Director of Amnesty International, and finally, now, as the CEO of PEN America and author of the upcoming book Dare to Speak. Rather than climbing the proverbial career ladder, Suzanne Nossel has been scaling a career mountain.
Throughout a complex career, her motivating principle is a simple one: the desire to fight for and protect human rights. That drive has been with Nossel since she was a child; she was only 7 when she became involved in the Soviet Jewry movement, a human rights campaign advocating for the rights of Jewish people in the Soviet Union to be able to emigrate during a time when they were prohibited from doing so.
“I used to take part in these big marches down Fifth Avenue to the UN,” she recalls. “There would be throngs of people there. It felt very electric and exciting, as if we were a part of something bigger than ourselves.”
When she was 12, Nossel traveled with her family to meet some of the Jewish families that she was advocating for in the Soviet Union. There, she found it “eye-opening” to learn how much these families were impacted by “[having] contact with people outside the country who were willing to take a little bit of risk to stand with them, visit them, and bring them things they needed.”
Nossel also travelled to Apartheid South Africa as a child. Both her parents were South African, and they would visit her grandparents who still lived in Cape Town. There, she was struck by the juxtaposition of her life in New York's progressive environment with the lives of those living through the cruel inequalities of Apartheid.
Those childhood memories stayed with her. When Nossel finished her undergraduate degree in History from Harvard (where, fittingly, her favorite course was “Justice” with Michael Sandel), she received a fellowship to spend a year in South Africa. It was the early 1990s, Nelson Mandela had been released from prison, and the country was preparing for its first democratic election. “I had always been an outsider seeing things through the prism of my family,” she says, “and I wanted to get much closer.”
Nossel ended up getting closer than most would be willing to go. She got a job working on mediation of political violence in the townships in Johannesburg. During a time when the country was undergoing fundamental change, she was mediating across myriad groups: political parties, the police, the army, trade unions, church leaders, business leaders, the list goes on. She was grateful to be “deeply immersed in questions of how to reconcile these communities that had been so separate and so oppressed for so long.”
She valued the work, even when the threat of physical danger was real. “Sometimes there would be a police officer saying, ‘Don’t go in there.’ And we would have to say, ‘I am going to go in there, I need to go in there. It’s our role to be in the middle of that.’"
When confronted with fear, Nossel answered with purpose.
If her current career path is any indication, that lesson has woven itself into her consciousness. The experience abroad left her with an internal dialogue that continues to motivate her to this day: “In all of these other situations I have been in since then, there is always that sense of: What can we get done here? Amidst something difficult, is there a way for us to play a constructive part?”
When Nossel left South Africa, after extending her one year abroad to two, she returned to Boston to attend Harvard Law School. Back on campus, she continued her work as an agent of change as opposed to a passive observer of problems. When I asked about her most formative moments at Harvard, I could hear the smile in her voice as she described how she and a friend created a survey of women working in law firms to gather data about how different firms were faring with gender discrimination, mentoring, and working family issues. They published the results in a report by the Harvard Women’s Law Association.
“It was very satisfying, because some of the firms that did poorly in the survey moved quickly to try to address the issues,” Nossel shares. “We felt pretty satisfied that we made a difference by shining a spotlight on that. I think in retrospect that experience stayed with me, and I continue to do similarly to try to apply some pressure to achieve change.”
One of the most daunting tasks of her career came when she was working with Richard Holbrooke while he was U.S. Ambassador to the UN. She was the lead negotiator on an agreement to settle the US arrears to the U.N, an assignment that required consensus from every country in the UN system. They got the job done after 18 months, and Nossel cites that achievement as one of her proudest career moments.
All of her previous jobs have prepared her to work hard, and that hard work has found her in return. PEN America, where she currently serves as CEO, is a non-profit organization that aims to protect free expression and free speech in the United States and worldwide. That task would always be daunting, but is especially challenging during this political moment in the United States. The fight is now on her soil.
“I never imagined that we would be having to play defense against our own government when it comes to free speech,” Nossel says. “The U.S. was always the proud standard bearer for freedom of expression. To see the turnaround in this country and see a President who routinely threatens and retaliates against journalists and media organizations is deeply alarming.” So alarming, in fact, that PEN America is currently suing the President with the aim to stop him from retaliating against and threatening journalists whose coverage he dislikes.
While free speech is oft invoked by Americans as a simple concept, Nossel reminds me that it is a principle that comes with many questions too.
“It is extremely important to rally people around the principles of free speech, and remind them why we protect these principles in the first place. Where did all this come from? What’s so good about free speech? What does it do for us? How does free speech actually work? It’s not without strings; there are some limitations, [and] few people have studied it or understand it in that much depth.”
Luckily, Nossel has studied it, and she’s publishing a book called Dare to Speak that aims to explain free speech in an accessible way.
In the book, Nossel acknowledges that free speech protections can sometimes shield hateful speech from being banned or punished—a fact that worries those fighting for a more inclusive society. Yet, she does not see the defense of free speech and the push for a more progressive society to be in opposition. Instead, Nossel aims to explain how “the quest for a more diverse, equal, inclusive, and just society can co-exist with robust protections for free speech. And that these two imperatives and sets of principles are both essential, that they’re compatible, and that they need not work against each other.”
Dare to Speak draws on modern examples in order to serve as a how-to-guide for navigating and championing free speech. Best-selling author Margaret Atwood sums up the ideal readership in her blurb: “This brave, wise, succinct book is a must-read for writers, speakers, teachers, journalists, and, well, anyone who talks.”
With this book, and with all the work Nossel has done, she wades into the fight not in spite of the challenges, but because of them. She is still the 7-year-old marching down Fifth Avenue towards the UN. She is still the law student who held law firms to account. She is still the woman in South Africa who, when faced with danger, answered: “I am going to go in there, I need to go in there. It’s our role to be in the middle of that.” When there is hard work to be done, Suzanne Nossel will be there.
Above, read this month's Q&A with profile writer Carly Hillman AB '15, who is a segment producer on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Harvardwood is thrilled to welcome acclaimed director Rodrigo Garcia AB '82, who has helmed an impressive list of both feature and TV projects. In addition, Rodrigo is the Co-CEO of Indigenous Media. Attend this event to talk with one of the most vital filmmakers of our day! We love to open our events to questions from the attendees, so please come prepared to engage in discussion with Rodrigo.
Mexican director Rodrigo Garcia has directed a variety of independent films, including the award-winning “Nine Lives”; the three-time Academy Award-nominated feature “Albert Nobbs,” starring Glenn Close; and “Mother and Child,” starring Annette Bening, Naomi Watts and Samuel L. Jackson. In 2000, Rodrigo’s first film as a writer and director, “Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her,” won the Un Certain Regard Award at the Cannes Film Festival. “Last Days in the Desert,” starring Ewan McGregor, premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and this past January, “Four Good Days,” starring Glenn Close and Mila Kunis premiered at Sundance as well, which was written and directed by Rodrigo.
Among his television credits are the cable series “In Treatment,” on which he served as executive producer and showrunner for the first season and received a Writers Guild of America Award in the New Series category. Other TV credits include “Sopranos,” “Six Feet Under,” “Carnivȧle” and “Big Love,” for which he directed the pilot episode and was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series. Garcia also directed the pilot for CBS’s hit drama ”Bull” starring Michael Weatherly and the upcoming ”Party of Five” reboot from Freeform and Sony Pictures Television.
Garcia is also the Co-Chief Executive Officer of Indigenous Media, a next generation digital studio focused on producing original content for digital and emerging platforms worldwide. He is Co-Creator of WIGS, the digital drama channel offering over 180 episodes of scripted content. For WIGS, Rodrigo wrote and directed the WIGS series "Blue," starring Julia Stiles, and “Christine,” starring America Ferrera.
Whether you are preparing for auditions, brushing up your basics, or just dipping your toe in the water of Shakespeare, come learn a dynamic and visceral approach to Shakespeare’s text. Through group exercises and individual work, you will learn foolproof tools with which to approach Shakespeare’s text. As we isolate the tools, you can put them into your actor’s “toolbox” and have them at your disposal for auditions, rehearsals, and performances.
Ian Hersey EdM '07 has performed on stage, film and television; including a recent critically acclaimed performance of Nick Bottom at The Shakespeare Theater of NJ. He was assistant director to Dan Sullivan on Cymbeline and James MacDonald on King Lear both at The Public. He’s directed various Shakespeare plays at Stella Adler, The Atlantic School and NYU Grad Acting. Shakespeare Text/Dialogue Coaching credits include The Old Globe, The Public, Juilliard, Williamstown, Shakespeare on the Sound, 52nd Street Project, and The Flea. At The Public, he was the Shakespeare Initiative Associate.
Ian holds a master’s in education from Harvard University, and has taught at Brown, Barnard, The Atlantic, New World, SUNY Purchase, The Actors Center, The Public, R.Evolucion Latina and The Shakespeare Society, as well as prisons, community centers and other institutions. He received a Fox Foundation Fellowship and studied with Ron Van Lieu, Lloyd Richards, Olympia Dukakis and Earle Gister among others.
In the next engagement of Harvardwood's Social Impact Entertainment series, we speak with Jennifer Gottesfeld MPP '19 from Participant Media. Participant Media is a B Corp certified film production company founded in 2004 by Jeffrey Skoll dedicated to entertainment intended to spur social change. The company has produced, financed, or co-produced over 100 films. Its films have been nominated for 73 Academy Awards, and have won 18, including Best Picture for Green Book and Spotlight.
Jennifer Gottesfeld works at the intersection of social impact and entertainment. Currently an impact strategist at the production company Participant Media, Jenn thinks about how to use film and television as a vehicle for culture shift. Additionally, as a Creative Executive in Film Independent's Project Involve fellowship, she is thinking about how to intentionally integrate social impact messaging into the fabric of storytelling. Jenn has spent her career working on systemic change in areas like health, civic engagement, and equity with a strong focus on human-centered design. She has worked in film, government, non-profits, and the private sector trying to achieve these ends doing everything from working on Partners In Health's Ebola response in West Africa to improving corporate social responsibility at Goldman Sachs to producing tutorial videos with Resistance School to train people running for office. Jenn is originally from LA, though spent most of the last decade away and only recently returned. She holds a Master's in Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a BA from UCLA. She is also a certified yoga and meditation teacher.
Easily one of the most recognizable faces and voices in Hollywood, Scott Weinger AB '98 has been in entertainment since a toy commercial at age 8. He was a series regular on the hit ABC TV show Full House and provided the voice of Disney’s Aladdin in the original feature film, sequels, and TV series. After graduating from Harvard, Scott transitioned to writing and producing TV shows (Galavant, Black-ish). For the past five seasons he has reprised the role of Steve Hale in the hit Netflix series, Fuller House. He and his wife Rina have a 9-year-old son.
We're excited to welcome Rideback's President of Film, Jonathan Eirich AB '03, who is a BAFTA and Golden-Globe-nominated producer. Rideback, formerly known as Lin Pictures until 2018, produces premium film and television content for global audiences, including the live-action box office hit Aladdin for Disney; the highly-acclaimed The Two Popes for Netflix; and the hit sequel IT: Chapter 2 for New Line. Rideback additionally develops television series for network, cable and OTT, and recently produced the Fox series Lethal Weapon, based on the hit feature film franchise.
Jonathan Eirich is President of Film for Rideback, the film and television company known for producing tentpole live-action and animated content for global audiences.
Eirich is a BAFTA and Golden-Globe-nominated producer who has overseen production for live-action films such as Disney’s billion-dollar box office hit Aladdin, directed by Guy Ritchie; Netflix’s Death Note, directed by Adam Wingard; and the Netflix three-time Oscar-nominated film The Two Popes, directed by Oscar-nominated Fernando Meirelles. In 2019, Aladdin became the second-highest grossing live-action musical film of all time.
Before joining the Rideback team in 2015, Eirich spent nine years as a development and production executive at DreamWorks Studios, most recently as Senior Vice President where he oversaw the Steven Spielberg-directed and Oscar-nominated Bridge of Spies. Some of his previous films at the studio include Need for Speed, Transformers 2, I Am Number Four, and the 2011 Oscar-nominated The Help.
Prior to becoming a senior executive at the studio, Eirich was the creative assistant to Chairman Stacey Snider during her transition from Universal Studios to DreamWorks in 2006, after spending a year at Creative Artists Agency. His first jobs in the industry included an internship at Gold Circle Films during the production of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and working as production assistant on the initial episodes of the hit TV series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Eirich attended Harvard University where he majored in Literature and graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2003.
How do you write a good one-hour drama pilot that sells? Learn from one of Hollywood's most prolific and successful writers: series creator and producer Thania St. John AB '83! In this two-hour class, Thania will break down in detail how to craft a strong one-hour drama script.
Starting her television career on the iconic 21 Jump Street, Thania St. John went on to create two network TV series of her own and to write and produce over twenty popular and award-winning dramas such as Roswell, Huff, Eureka, Drop Dead Diva, Grimm, Chicago Fire, Covert Affairs and Project Blue Book. She has written over two dozen pilots for broadcast as well as premium networks.
Currently teaching two TV writing classes at AFI and a Sundance Co//ab pilot writing intensive, Thania has also guest-lectured at UCLA, USC, NYU and Ithaca College, and led seminars at the Rio de Janeiro Film and Television Festival and numerous WGA and Harvardwood-sponsored events. She also has a private consultancy for script and portfolio building.
Thania earned an AB in American History and Filmmaking from Harvard University and an MFA in Film and Television Production from UCLA. She’s served two terms on the Board of Directors of the WGA, West and is a founding officer of the WGA PAC.
Members, visit the Harvardwood Channel for links to past events
Harvardwood is eternally grateful to our guest speakers, who have been so generous with their time and so gracious in candidly sharing their experiences with our members. If you missed a past event and it was recorded, you can always find it on the *Harvardwood Channel. The page is only accessible by Full Members, so if you haven't joined or renewed your membership, do that first before you log in!
*Please note that some speakers request that their event is not recorded or distributed, so you won't see all of our recent events on the Harvardwood Channel.
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