May 2006 | Keir Pearson '89

Keir Pearson '89 (Writer & Producer, HOTEL RWANDA)

By Sean O'Rourke MAT '68

Most writers work for years before they receive their first option and years longer before their first script is made. The first screenplay by Keir Pearson ’89 was made and nominated for an Academy Award.

Pearson grew up and attended high school in Portland, Oregon. At Harvard he rowed on the heavyweight eight that won the NCAA National Championship in 1987 and the Ladies’ Plate at Henley three years later. Concentrating in East Asian studies, he wrote his thesis on Chinese cinema.

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April 2006 | Mike Reiss '81

Mike Reiss '81 (Writer & Director)

By Steven Hanna GSA '01, '08

“The basic thing is,” laughs Mike Reiss '81 by way of introduction, “I hated Harvard. You couldn’t find someone with a lower opinion of that place than me. I hate the place, and I hate the education that I got there, and the one thing I like and that I owe my entire career to is, obviously, the Harvard Lampoon. And you’d think I could at least thank Harvard for the Harvard Lampoon. That would seem natural. Except that Harvard hated the Lampoon, and could not have been more antagonistic to it at the time. I can’t thank the Lampoon enough, but I have really nothing good to say about Harvard. I admire their selection process, and I felt everybody I met there was quite remarkable, but I think they manage to round up many, many brilliant people and then do absolutely nothing with them or for them.”

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March 2006 | Nick Weiss '00

Nick Weiss '00 (Writer & Director)

By Dominique Kalil '00

I have wanted to interview Nick Weiss '00 forever. Not because I knew anything about him, but because his name kept popping up in different conversations all the time. And so, when I got to choose my next subject, I picked him. Fortunately, getting to know him further definitely measured up to my expectations.

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February 2006 | Meredith Bagby

Meredith Bagby (Writer, CNN Reporter, & Creative Director for DreamWorks SKG)

“At all of the schools I went to – Harvard included – the entertainment industry, and especially the movie business, seemed kind of frivolous,” admits DreamWorks creative executive Meredith Bagby with a shrug.  “But ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved the movies.  I used to watch all these old movies with my mom, and at some point, I thought, ‘You know, the weather’s really nice out there, and I’m just gonna try it.’”  

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December 2005 | Amy Retzinger '95

Amy Retzinger '95 (Literary Agent, VERVE)

By Dominique Kalil '00

Something that always strikes me when I write these profiles is the absolute randomness (and I mean lottery winning type odds) with which the people I interview have ended up in the careers and places they have. Very few have deliberately contrived or perfectly cultured careers from the get go. In the end, however, these seemingly accidental careers always manage to match perfectly with the person's personality and professionalism for the task. Maybe this phenomenon is really just the universe keeping the world in order. If a person finally gravitates to that at which they are naturally gifted, then it's only natural they will excel with the same effortless perfection.

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November 2005 | Carlton Cuse '81

Carlton Cuse '81 (Writer & Executive Producer, LOST)

By Steven Hanna GSA '01, '08

“There weren’t very many people from Harvard who were part of the entertainment business when I first came out here,” recalls TV writer/producer Carlton Cuse ’81 of his post-graduation journey west. “But the connections that existed were sort of vital at the very beginning of my career, and definitely my first boss was delighted to have a Harvard guy getting his coffee and buying organic dog food for his Akita.”

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October 2005 | Robert Kraft '76

Robert Kraft '76 (Former President of Fox Music)

By Sean O'Rourke MAT '68

Our Harvardwood Highlights Profile reporter, Sean O’Rourke had the opportunity to interview Robert Kraft, President of Fox Music and Class of 1976 at HarvardCollege.  Robert has been an avid supporter of Harvardwood and currently serves on the Harvardwood Advisory Board.  Sean caught up with Robert on the Fox lot in West Los Angeles, where they shared the following lively exchange.

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September 2005 | Mark Goffman KSG '94

Mark Goffman KSG '94 (Writer, Director, & Producer, LAW AND ORDER: SVU, SLEEP HOLLOW)

By Dominique Kalil '00

I have an addiction to interesting people. In trying to understand this addiction, I have thought long and hard about what makes someone or something interesting. I have come to realize that what merits the term “interesting” is not so much the initial impact of someone’s story, but the sustainability of that impact. Part of my own intrigue is the all important captivation necessary to keep my ADD-inclined mind from straying. Television audiences are like that too. Like me, they are temperamental, easily distracted and wish to be pleasantly entertained with an exquisite but almost impossible balance of rational predictability and surprising spontaneity. Sometimes the strategy employed by successful writers to maintain this balance must be acutely calculated; at other times the process is probably rampantly impetuous. Either way, television writing involves remarkable skill and perspective—both of which Mark Goffman has in abundance.

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July 2005 | Jed Weintrob '91

Jed Weintrob '91 (Writer, Director, & Producer, ON LINE & THE F WORD)

By Dominique Kalil '00

What I find most surprising about Jed Weintrob’s story is his unwavering focus. It seems to me that most people who choose careers in the entertainment industry try something else first, or wander into the field inadvertently; not so for Jed. He was born and raised in Manhattan, but for most of his adult life he has shuttled between Los Angeles and New York pursuing his projects and cultivating what has turned out to be a prosperous and successful career in film. Jed graduated from Harvard in 1991 with a degree in Visual and Environmental Studies but by that time he already had filmmaking work experience under his belt. After his sophomore year, Jed took a year off from Harvard to work as the assistant to the director of a TV show in Los Angeles and upon returning to Harvard, teamed up with a Harvard Business School student to produce a $350,000 independent film, “The Color of Love,” during his junior year of school. It surprised me that he decided to stay in college after that experience, as I definitely wouldn’t have.

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June 2005 | Sean O'Keefe '95

Sean O'Keefe '95 (Screenwriter & Producer)

By Dominique Kalil '00

As an African, Alaska and video gaming are two of the most foreign concepts to me; ice and technology are generally as far from my reality as the pebbles on Mars. When I interviewed Sean O’Keefe (Class of 1995), I was forced to face a sad reality; as Sean put it, that I am joining the ranks of the “obsolete.”

Sean has recently become a successful screenwriter and producer.

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