Issue 218 | March 2023


In this issue:



  • The Jeff Sagansky Harvardwood TV Writers Program
  • Harvardwood Summer Internship Program 2023
  • Harvardwood Virtual Features Group
  • Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Harvardwood AAPI Artist Fellowship
  • Featured Job: Assistant, Features Documentaries FIFTH SEASON - CA


  • Alumni Profile: John Meigs JD ‘95 (entertainment lawyer)
  • Industry News
  • New Members' Welcome
  • Exclusive Q&A with Bennett Singer AB '86 (filmmaker)
  • Meet the Chapter Heads: Seattle/Vancouver


  • A Conversation with Award-Winning Writer-Producer-Director Greg Daniels '85: TV Writing Expert-in-Residence (On Campus)
  • Harvardwood Presents: 95th Annual Academy Awards In-Person Viewing Party in LA
  • Harvardwood Presents: Breaking Down Story: White Lotus, The Bear, and I Hate Suzie
  • Harvardwood Presents: Entertainment for Educators - Bennett Singer
  • Harvardwood Presents: Entertainment for Educators - Dan Sturman
  • Harvardwood Presents: Entertainment for Educators - Mark Kassen
  • Harvardwood Presents: Entertainment for Educators - Naia Cucukov
  • Harvardwood DC Chapter Presents: Meet & Mingle
  • Harvardwood Presents: Entertainment for Educators - Danielle Parsons

Become a Harvardwood member
as we further engage in socially active programming, discourse, and action to help change the entertainment industry.

Want to submit your success(es) to Harvardwood HIGHLIGHTS? Do so by posting here

This month, we have applications available for the Jeff Sagansky Harvardwood TV Writers ProgramHarvardwood Virtual Features Group, and the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Harvardwood AAPI Artist Fellowship! I encourage all fellow AAPI to submit to the last with their best diaspora-mom-cutting-fruit-for-them stories.

We also have a lot of exciting programming coming up this month, one such being the Entertainment for Educators series, where you can pick the brains of successful industry professionals at the apex of education and entertainment. In addition, there is a 95th Annual Academy Awards In-Person Viewing Party in LA where you can meet other members of the Harvardwood community! Those of us not in LA will be viewing the Academy Awards on phones held really close to our faces. 

As always, we want to hear from you, our members -- if you have an idea for an event or programming, please tell us about it here. If you have an announcement about your work or someone else's, please share it here (members) and it will appear in our Weekly and/or next HIGHLIGHTS issue.

Please consider donating to Harvardwood
. Your donations are tax deductible!

Best wishes,

Grace Shi
Operations and Communications Associate
[email protected]


The Jeff Sagansky Harvardwood TV Writers Program

APPLY NOW to The Jeff Sagansky Harvardwood TV Writers Program - closes March 3rd! 

The deadline to submit for The Jeff Sagansky Harvardwood TV Writers Program is Friday, March 3rd at 11:59 PT! 

The Jeff Sagansky Harvardwood TV Writers Program uses peer review, guest speakers, and workshops to foster a motivating and supportive environment for each participant’s writing.

Tailored to each writer’s needs, the Program is broken up into 4-5 modules (Half-Hour, Hourlong, Rewrite etc.) where writers read and provide personalized feedback for each other, supervised by experienced Module Leaders. Throughout the semester, guest speakers and workshops supplement the peer-review experience, and build a functional and meaningful community out here in Hollyweird. “Come for the deadlines, stay for the friends.”

The 12-week program culminates in a “pitch panel” event where you pitch your freshly-written project to industry veterans to get feedback on your concept and practice pitching your writing.

More info HERE

Harvardwood Summer Internship Program 2023

We are pleased to offer the Harvardwood Summer Internship Program (HSIP) for 2023! Now in its 20th year, HSIP provides a list of summer internship opportunities in the arts, media, and entertainment to interested Harvard students. In addition, HSIP facilitates career-related activities throughout the summer for participating students and companies virtually and/or in-person in Los Angeles and other cities with multiple students. Past program events have included film screenings, industry panels, and speaker events.

Internship opportunities are released and applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Positions may also be filled on a rolling basis, so we encourage students and companies to submit their materials as early as possible. 

The priority submission date for students is March 19, 2023. Preference will be given to students who apply before then.  

Over 100 companies have participated in HSIP since its inception, including ABC, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, CAA, Digital Domain, Disney, Dreamworks, HBO Films, Lionsgate, Mirabai Films, Miramax, National Geographic Films, Red Wagon Productions, Skybound Entertainment, Untitled Entertainment, Valhalla Motion Pictures and many others!

Click here if you are a student seeking summer internships!

Click here if you have a company offering summer internships!

Harvardwood Virtual Features Group

Applications open today March 1st with a deadline of March 31st at 11:59 pm PST. 

Members of all experience levels are encouraged to apply. This group is a virtual group focused on crafting and honing feature scripts.
Who can apply: Full members and friends of Harvardwood
Program fee: If accepted, the fee will be $50 prior to your first meeting. 

More info about Harvardwood Features Groups HERE.

Apply HERE.

Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Harvardwood AAPI Artist Fellowship

Harvardwood is pleased to announce the inaugural Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Harvardwood AAPI Artist Fellowship for artists who are Harvard University alumni (or students expecting their degree in May 2023) and identify as Asian American Pacific Islander. The purpose of the Fellowship is to develop, elevate and amplify AAPI voices and stories. The gift, generously donated by Angela Chao (AB ‘95, MBA ‘01) in honor of her mother, Ruth Mulan Chu Chao, will support one or more artists as they pursue their creative projects over the course of a year.

To apply, individuals must identify as AAPI, be Harvard University alumni or expect to receive their degree in May 2023 (i.e. in their final few months of an undergraduate or graduate program), complete the application form, provide a resume, a work sample or portfolio, an introductory video, an artist statement (in written, audio, or video format), a letter of recommendation (optional), a creative plan with an overview of envisioned projects to be completed or substantially developed during the term of the Fellowship, and a projected budget indicating how grant funds would be used for the term of the Fellowship. The finalist round may include a virtual interview. Individuals who have previously been beneficiaries of Harvardwood grants or scholarships or have participated in Harvardwood programs are eligible if they meet the other terms of eligibility.

Applications will be accepted starting on March 1, 2023 and will be due April 30, 2023, with the recipient(s) announced in May 2023. Unless Fellowship funds need to be utilized at a particular time for project-related expenses, funds will be distributed quarterly to the Chao Harvardwood Fellow(s) beginning in June 2023 and ending in May 2024.

Apply HERE.

Featured Job: Assistant, Features Documentaries FIFTH SEASON - CA

Job Description: 

As the Assistant for the Documentary team you will work in a fast-paced environment for a progressive, forward-thinking, creative, and business executive overseeing all aspects of documentary strategy, investment and sales. You need to be detail-oriented and extremely organized while interacting with all levels of employees within the organization as well as filmmakers, talent representatives, financiers, distributors, and various external stakeholders.

You will play a vital role in ensuring our Executives are always up to date and organized, and will provide support, as needed, to ensure projects move forward expeditiously. You will act as hub for direct reports and team members ensuring team communication and priorities are consistently aligned.

 Click here for more info!


Alumni Profile: John Meigs JD ‘95 (entertainment lawyer)

amanda_micheli_cropped.jpgby Laura Frustaci

 John Meigs JD ‘95 became a name partner at his firm Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller, Gellman, Meigs & Fox at the start of 2022, becoming the first person of color there to achieve that status. Heading into the year, he busied himself with what earned him that position: making deals. He set Kaley Cuoco to star in the half-hour Peacock series Based Upon a True Story, Winston Duke to join Amazon’s Marked Man, Sherri Shepherd to topline her own talk show (Sherri), Steven Caple Jr. to direct the Lionsgate adaptation of the YA thriller Thieves’ Gambit and Betty Gilpin to play the lead in Peacock’s Mrs. Davis and the co-lead in Showtime’s Three Women. Meigs also optioned Leila Mottley’s bestselling debut novel, Nightcrawling, to Amblin and closed a deal for Michelle Buteau to co-write and star in a Netflix series based on her book Survival of the Thickest.

Born and raised in South Central LA, John Meigs JD ‘95 loves what he does for four reasons: he’s a self-proclaimed “deal nerd” and a “Papa Bear” towards his clients, he believes in the cultural impact of media, and he has the opportunity every day to change the lives of his clients.

John grew up with a mother who was an elementary school teacher and a father who was a war veteran, engineer, and ultimately a trial lawyer (and later, a judge). John’s father was one of his biggest inspirations for going to law school. “I remember him going to law school at night while working in the day,” John recalls. “I saw him taking the bar exam, and I saw him become a public defender. And I realized being a lawyer means you go to court and speak on other people’s behalf, and I thought ‘Wow, what a cool thing.’”

Although he began Harvard Law School with the intention of following in his father’s footsteps and becoming a trial lawyer as well, in his first year John took the elective ‘Harvard Negotiations Project’, and everything changed. He fell in love with the class, doing mock negotiations under the supervision of ​​Roger Fisher, author of the bestselling novel Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. John then went on to become a teaching assistant for the course for his next two years of law school.

After graduation, John started down the BigLaw litigation route at Kirkland & Ellis in Los Angeles. Following that, John did a clerkship on the Federal District Court. “The judge had a bunch of entertainment litigation cases,” he says “One was involved in a movie called Anaconda– it was a copyright infringement case. As clerks, we would come up with an opinion and present it to the judge. And I thought, ‘This is really cool, the briefs for this case are like a comparative literary analysis between this screenplay and this movie.’ I could marry my love for film and television with legal argument.” It was a huge moment of realization for John, so after his clerkship, he pivoted and moved to a firm where he could do entertainment litigation.
However, it wasn’t exactly what he expected. “After three years of that, I started to realize the joke was on me because I wanted to be a trial lawyer, and in the entertainment context, there were key players doing deals over and over again, and when they get mad, they sue each other, but before it even goes to trial, they’re going to make a deal to settle. You could be planning for a three-week trial, and doing 18-hour days, and then it gets canceled. That was soul crushing. I either needed to get out of entertainment litigation and go to trial, or I had to double down and go over to the deal side because that’s what entertainment law is about.”

John decided to join 20th Century Fox, worked there for a year, and gleaned as much as he could. Then he joined his current firm, and has been there now for 22 years. “I was made equity partner two years ago and a named partner one year ago, and as of last year, my understanding is that our firm is the highest grossing entertainment boutique in the business. I love what I do, and a lot of what I do is informed by what I learned at the Harvard Negotiation Project all those years ago.”

In a groundbreaking achievement, John was the first person of color to be made a named partner at his firm. “The first thing I did after I became named partner was to hire an amazing Black woman to work for me. She’s from South Central LA like me--she wants to support creatives who advance marginalized stories, also like me,” John says. “We work really, really hard. If you’re really going to have the sleepless nights and time away from your family, and pour yourself into your clients, you have to believe there’s a greater good. Storytelling is the way that we translate culture. It has the power to change hearts and minds, and the most powerful means of storytelling is television.” In terms of diversity at his firm, John confirms, “I want our firm to look like America. We’re working on it. I’m working really hard on it.”

In his everyday practice, John explains what he feels has made him such a strong and effective lawyer for so many years: “I find that I approach things differently from my counterparts, with deep research and planning, and combine that with my trial experience, it’s a unique approach for my clients. One example of that is, I represent Kaley Cuoco. I’ve worked with her since before Big Bang Theory. When we got to the big negotiation, when we reached $1 million per episode, I dusted off these old boxes and pored through the  Friends re-negotiations. I created a chart adjusting the Friends payments for inflation and noting that Friends was a bigger ensemble.” During the negotiation, someone from Warner Brothers claimed John and Kaley were asking for even more than the Friends cast asked for. John turned around and said, “Actually, we’re not” and pulled up his research. And they got the deal.

Making life-changing deals for his clients is what he’s truly passionate about. “I’m a deal nerd. At my core, I’m a deal nerd and I fight for my clients, particularly when I feel like they’re being undervalued, underpaid, or mistreated in any way, particularly if that coincides with race, gender, sexual orientation bias, I go super hard… I love being a part of the change of someone’s life. It’s a beautiful thing to behold.” Being a lawyer holds a deep significance and purpose for John. “We’re advocates,” he explains. “We’re representatives. I take the word representative seriously. Re-presenting. I’m not going to make a negotiation about me or my ego, I’m going to make it about that client. If you’re looking for a shark, that person leaves blood in the water and everyone hates them. And then everyone hates you, and also hates the client vicariously. You do not want that. You want to have the best utility for the most people, in terms of your approach… honest, fair, and reasonable. Have facts and data. Forging good relationships means people will do you favors. That’s not unique to me, but it’s something I feel is very important.”

For anyone considering law school, John had some wisdom to share. “Don’t go to law school unless you want to be a lawyer,” John states. “Don’t go because you don’t know what to do with your life. You really have to want to practice the profession and take it seriously. It’s not the most glamorous thing in the world. If you want glamor, be an agent or manager or studio executive.” And what would he tell himself at the start of his career? “The advice that I would give to my younger self: The ‘lone wolf’ mentality is very limiting. There’s an old African proverb: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go in a group.’ Establish a cohort and allies. It’s really hard to do it by yourself.”


Dayna_Wilkinson_headshot.jpgLaura Frustaci ('21) is an NYC-based actor and writer. She recently completed a yearlong Harvard Postgraduate Traveling fellowship in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she wrote her first full-length play. While at Harvard, Laura studied English and performed with the Hasty Pudding Theatricals, the HRDC, On Thin Ice, and the American Repertory Theater.

Industry News 

James Wan’s Atomic Monster is teaming up with Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Westbrook Studios on the urban nature docuseries Concrete Jungle, produced by Terence Carter (AB ‘01), following the “grungy, hardened, and clever critters” in American jungles. (Dark Horizons)

It only took two episodes for HBO to know it didn’t want The Last of Us to go anywhere. The series, from co-creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann and Executive Produced by Carolyn Strauss (AB ‘85), has been renewed for a second season by HBO! (TV Insider)

Oscar winner Troy Kotsur is set to appear in Season 12 of Curb Your Enthusiasm, produced by Jeff Schaffer (AB ‘91), at HBO in a guest starring role! Kotsur will appear as himself in one episode as a member of Larry David’s golf club. (Today)

Congratulations to Damien Chazelle (AB ‘07) and Justin Hurwitz (AB ‘08) on the now Oscar-nominated Babylon! The film was nominated for Costume Design, Original Score, and Production Design! (Oscars)

Screen Rant spoke with CEO and co-founder David Alpert (AB ‘97) and co-chairman Jon Goldman (AB ’87) about the new opportunity for fans to invest in the company. Alpert and Goldman explain what it means for fans to become shareholders in Skybound. (Screen Rant)

Lucy Hale & Raul Esparza were among the six cast in the FX Pilot The Answers, the network’s adaptation of Catherine Lacey’s novel, from Kit Steinkellner, Danny Strong and Darren Aronofsky (AB ‘91)! (Deadline)

Warner Bros. has acquired the Stephen King bestseller Billy Summers. Ed Zwick (AB ‘74) and Marshall Herskovitz are writing the screenplay. (Deadline)

A modern film reimagining of Benjamin Millepied’s Carmen, a modern film reimagining of the classic opera of the same name starring Paul Mescal and Melissa Barrera with a score by Nicholas Britell (AB ‘03), is set to receive theatrical release. (Playbill)

Variety says that “the strains and vagaries of postpartum depression… morph into literal horrors in Baby Ruby, a stylish and suitably stressful debut feature from Tony-nominated playwright Bess Wohl (AB '96) (Grand Horizons).” (Variety)

Variety headed down to the Hilton to preserve a pre-Grammy tradition by interviewing Clive Davis (LLB ‘56) before his Pre-Emmy Gala, better known as “the Clive Party,” “a fete like no other.”(Variety)

Lidya Jewett will star in The Exorcist, the first film in the rebooted trilogy, which Blumhouse, Morgan Creek, Universal and Peacock scooped up global rights to for $400M. Couper Samuelson (AB ‘02) executive produces. (Deadline)

Michael Mann’s Ferrari, starring Adam Driver and Penelope Cruz and Todd Haynes’ May December, starring Oscar winners Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman (AB ‘03), are among the new titles added to the Sky Cinema 2023 original films slate. (Variety)

All Quiet on the Western Front filmmaker Edward Berger has commenced principal photography in Rome, Italy on Vatican thriller Conclave, with cast Ralph Fiennes, John Lithgow (AB ‘67), Stanley Tucci, Isabella Rossellini and more. (Variety)

The Walking Dead and Supernatural alum Jeffery Dean Morgan has confirmed that he has joined the cast of Amazon’s animated series Invincible, executive produced by David Alpert (AB ‘97)! Specifics of his role are under wraps. (Dark Horizons)

Sony Pictures Television is putting the limited series Jackpot into early development, inspired by gambler-turned-FBI confidential source RJ Cipriani, who helped take down a multimillion-dollar drug ring. Nicholas Stoller (AB ‘98) executive produces! (Deadline)

Tony & Grammy winner Leslie Odom, Jr. will star in a new Broadway production of the classic American comedy Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch by Ossie Davis, with scenic design by Derek McLane (AB ‘80)! (Deadline)

Gerry Bryant (AB '76)'s album The Composers is now available for streaming and purchase! Watch this short interview with Gerry about the project! (Youtube)

The Portable Door starring Christoph Waltz and Sam Neill is set for an exclusive release on MGM+ in April! The Jim Henson Company's Lisa Henson (AB ‘82) and Chris Lytton are co-executive producing! (Deadline)

The first full trailer for Paramount+'s upcoming Grease prequel series Rise of the Pink Ladies has dropped, offering a first listen to some of the series' songs. The series is executive produced by Marty Bowen (AB ‘91)! (Playbill)

Congratulations to Bonnie Raitt (RAD ‘72) on winning Song of the Year for her song “Just Like That”! (Youtube)

The Good Place creator Mike Schur( AB ‘97) has reunited with the hit comedy’s star Ted Danson for The Mole Agent, a new serialized comedy, which has hit the premium/streaming marketplace, sparking heated bidding! (Deadline)

Netflix has released the official trailer for African Queens: Njinga. A four-part docuseries narrated and executive produced by Jada Pinkett Smith, the series will premiere on Feb. 15. The series is produced by Terence Carter (AB ‘01). (Movieweb)

Ben Stiller is setting an acting return with Three Identical Strangers, a multi-decade family drama inspired by the incredible true story of identical triplet brothers separated at birth. The project hails from Party of Five co-creator Amy Lippman (AB ‘85)! (Deadline)

Bashir Salahuddin (AB ‘98) and Diallo Riddle (AB ‘97) are among those featured on TV Insider’s list of 9 Black TV creatives to watch! (TV Insider)

Benedict Cumberbatch is set to star and executive produce Netflix’s limited series Eric, which follows Vincent Anderson, a puppet maker and puppeteer whose life unravels when his young son, Edgar, disappears. Carolyn Strauss (AB ‘85) also executive produces! (See)

Ken Marino, Anjelah Johnson-Reyes, and D.C. Young Fly have boarded Prime Video’s holiday comedy Candy Cane Lane. Reginald Hudlin (AB ‘83) directs off a script by Kelly Younger, inspired by his own childhood holiday experiences. (Deadline)

R.J. Cutler (AB ‘83)’s Murf the Surf: Jewels, Jesus and Mayhem in the USA, about Jack Roland Murphy, an infamous jewel thief turned murderer, is the first of five docuseries that will stream on MGM+ in 2023. (Variety)

Gravitas Ventures has acquired U.S. distribution rights to the drama Gringa, a film by EJ Foerster and Marny Eng. The script is penned by Patrick Hasburgh and stars Steve Zahn (ART ‘90)! Gravitas plans to release the film on April 21, 2023 in theaters and on demand. (Deadline)

Pamela Adlon, Dorothy Fortenberry (AB ‘02) and author Roxane Gay have been named as mentors for the 2023 NRDC Climate Storytelling Fellowship recipients! Read more about the competition below. (Deadline)

Paramount Pictures has closed a multi-year, first look deal with the film’s directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (JD ‘95) and their newly formed production company GoldDay under which they’ll write, direct and produce features! (Deadline)

“Just Like That” by Bonnie Raitt (RAD ‘72) has risen to the top of Billboard’s Rock Digital Song Sales after winning the Grammy Award for song of the year! It’s her second No. 1 hit on any Billboard list, and it marks the first time she has topped a sales chart. (Forbes)

Read a discussion with Erica Schmidt and Bess Wohl (AB ‘96) as the the writer/directors discuss their latest works, Lucy and Baby Ruby, which explore the fears and anxieties of being a parent, motherhood, and theater. (Variety)

Extrapolations is a bracing drama from writer, director and executive producer Scott Z. Burns that introduces a near future where the chaotic effects of climate change have become embedded into our everyday lives. Yara Shahidi (AB ‘22) stars! (Youtube)

Tina Fey & Tim Meadows are set to reprise their roles from Mean Girls in the upcoming movie musical based on the stage production, which features music by Fey’s husband Jeff Richmond and lyrics by Nell Benjamin (AB ‘93)! (Deadline)

Watch Good Morning America’s interview with Debra Martin Chase (JD ‘81) about her impact in Hollywood! She is the acclaimed producer behind such films as The Princess Diaries and Cinderella starring Whitney Houston. (Youtube)

Conrad Ricamora, KeiLyn Durrel Jones, and Jocko Sims are set as series regulars opposite Natasha Rothwell in How To Die Alone, an original comedy from Onyx Collective for Hulu. Additionally, Bashir Salahuddin (AB ‘98) will recur in the eight-episode series! (Deadline)

Ryan Reynolds is attached to produce and star in Boy Band, a new comedy for Paramount Pictures. Plot details are under wraps, but Reynolds penned the script with Jesse Andrews (AB ‘04) (Me & Earl & the Dying Girl) from his own original story! (Deadline)

Alan Gilbert (AB ‘89) agreed Friday (Feb. 17) to a five-year contract extension as chief conductor of the Elbphilharmonie Orchestra in Hamburg, Germany, a deal that runs through the 2028-29 season. (Billboard)

Julia Riew (AB ‘22) is up next for Playbill's Songwriter Series! A winner of the Fred Ebb Award and the Harvardwood Artist Launch Fellowship, she performed songs from her distinctive catalog of musicals, which blend her Korean heritage and her painterly approach to melody. Natalie Choo (AB ‘22) performs! (Playbill)

New Members' Welcome

Harvardwood warmly welcomes all members who joined the organization last month:

  • Madison Webb, College, BOS/Campus
  • Charlotte Levy, LA
  • Isabella Cho, College, BOS/Campus
  • David Madden, College, LA
  • Nina Moore, College, LA
  • Rohan Sandhu, HKS, BOS/Campus
  • Leah Plunkett, College, BOS/Campus
  • Hillary Anger Elfenbein, College, Other US
  • Joel Karlinsky, HMS, BOS/Campus
  • Siena Canales, College, NY
  • Lindsey Smith, Div., DC
  • Cristina Gomez, HKS, DC
  • Shane Butler, Staff, BOS/Campus
  • Jake Wilder-Smith, College, LA
  • Richard Fontenot, HMS, Other International
  • Kym Mosley, Ext., NY
  • Daniel Schwartz, Ext., BOS/Campus
  • Natasha Sinha, College, Seattle/Vancouver
  • Jaden Moore, College, BOS/Campus
  • Bernardo Sequeira, College, NY
  • Katherine Breedlove, HMS, BOS/Campus

Exclusive Q&A with Bennett Singer AB '86 (filmmaker) 

Bennett Singer AB '86 is an award-winning producer/director/writer whose films have been screened at The Smithsonian, The United Nations, The British Museum, and the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. His latest documentary, Cured, directed with Patrick Sammon, opened the 2021–22 season of PBS' acclaimed documentary showcase Independent Lens and has garnered more than 20 awards and accolades, including a 2022 Emmy nomination, the American Historical Association's John E. O'Connor Film Award for best historical documentary, the Jonathan Daniels Award, and a $50,000 award in the Library of Congress Lavine/Burns Prize for Film. A feature film based on Cured is currently in development, and a classroom edition is being produced in partnership with History UnErased. Singer previously co-directed Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin, a "potent and persuasive piece of historical rediscovery" (Los Angeles Times) that premiered at Sundance, aired nationally on PBS' POV series, and won the GLAAD Media Award; and Electoral Dysfunction, a "frightening and enlightening documentary" (WBEZ Radio) that "lives up to its title" (New York Times). Hosted by political humorist Mo Rocca, the film aired nationally on PBS and won the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel Award; a classroom edition was distributed free of charge to more than 20,000 educators. Singer won a duPont-Columbia Award for his work on Eyes on the Prize II, the landmark PBS series on the history of the civil rights movement. The former executive editor of TIME Magazine's education program, he has written curriculum materials to accompany dozens of film projects, including The Laramie Project and Band of Brothers for HBO and The Diary of Anne Frank for PBS Masterpiece. Singer is also the author or editor of five books, including 42 Up, the companion volume to Michael Apted's documentary series; and The Student Body, a "wry, insider thriller" (Village Voice) that he wrote with three Harvard classmates. Learn more about his work at

Q: You are currently in the process of working with History UnErased to produce a “Classroom Edition” of your most recent documentary, Cured, for use in high school social studies and psychology classes. You’ve done this before for your documentary Electoral Dysfunction. What is that editing process like? How do you decide what to keep and what to cut? As the former executive editor of TIME Magazine's education program, how do you think that influences what you do now?

The first step is to talk with teachers — and students — to hear their thoughts and questions. Based on their very helpful comments, we then move into a ruthless editing process in which we cut the film down from feature length to about 30 minutes so that it can be shown and discussed in a single class period. Stripping away everything that’s extraneous to the central story and themes results in a streamlined version of the narrative. One thing I came to understand during my eight years at TIME is that teachers really appreciate access to primary-source documents. In the case of Electoral Dysfunction, we created a 128-page curriculum guide that includes literacy tests, a range of ballots, political cartoons, and excerpts from the constitutions of other countries (along with four short videos that we produced for the New York Times Op-Docs series). We raised $200,000 in grant money to be able to give free copies of the Electoral Dysfunction teaching kit to more than 20,000 teachers, and we partnered with several organizations, including the National Council for the Social Studies, on distribution and professional development sessions for teachers. It has been immensely gratifying to visit classrooms and to see the kinds of discussion, reflection, and engagement that these materials spark.

Q: Your film Electoral Dysfunction, which aired nationally on PBS and won the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel Award, is hosted by political humorist Mo Rocca, also a Harvard grad. You also co-wrote The Student Body with three Harvard classmates. Do you find yourself often collaborating with fellow alums?

I do! Mo Rocca ’91 is a national treasure, and it was a joy to work with him on the voting film, which was structured as a road trip in which Mo sets out to discover how voting works (or doesn’t work) in America. I also loved co-authoring The Student Body — a thriller, published by Random House, about a prostitution ring at Harvard — with Faith Adiele, Michael Melcher, and Julia Sullivan, three friends from the class of 1986. (As Harvard Magazine put it in a racy review, that book “gives new meaning to the idea of getting into Harvard.”) Victoria Bassetti ’86 wrote the excellent companion book to Electoral Dysfunction; and beyond that, I had the pleasure of working with Ellen Reeves ’83, Carol Cashion ’83, and the late Lisa Quiroz ’83 as colleagues at TIME’s education program, and with Ellen Reeves on several other projects, including Garda's Lieutenant, a theatrical work that received an A.R.T. Alumni Lab/Harvardwood grant to support its development.

Q: Speaking of co-writing, in addition to all of your remarkable documentary work, you’ve also written/edited five books. How do you find that medium as functioning differently from the visual medium of film/TV?

After my freshman year, I worked with Diane Wachtell ’83 as assistant editor of the first edition of Let's Go: California and the Pacific Northwest. Diane went on to become Executive Director of The New Press, and I’ve done several book projects for her. She commissioned me to edit an anthology for LGBTQ young people and to edit the companion volume to Michael Apted’s 42 UP; more recently, my husband David Deschamps and I co authored LGBTQ Stats, an almanac of facts and figures on the ongoing LGBTQ revolution. We really strove to cover a lot of ground with that project, and it meant a lot when Professor M.V. Lee Badgett of UCLA’s Williams Institute described the book as “the most comprehensive portrait of LGBTQ life around.” I think I have finally come to understand that as a general rule, films have the strongest impact when they are visceral, emotional, and sparing on facts and narration; books, on the other hand, are the ideal medium to convey copious amounts of information — in the case of our Stats book, more than 10,000 facts, all lovingly footnoted.

Q: Do you feel that your work has thematic elements, or messages, that you’ve consistently tried to either consciously or subconsciously incorporate? Both in documentary filmmaking and as an author?

While my films and books address a broad range of topics — including civil and human rights, voter suppression, and LGBTQ equality and visibility — they are united thematically by their focus on activists striving to bring about systemic change. Cured is a good example of that: it’s the story of a surprising and unexpected David-versus-Goliath victory that transformed the social fabric of America. As you can imagine, I’m thrilled that a feature film based on Cured is now in development.

Q: In what ways did your time at Harvard influence the path you have taken since graduating?

As a sophomore, I took Diana Eck’s Core class on Indian civilization and followed that by spending the summer of 1984 on a program in India that brought together 20 Americans and 20 Indians to explore the legacy of Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence. That was a life-changing experience, and looking back, there was something miraculous about having the opportunity to be part of the team that created Eyes on the Prize (a 14-hour PBS series on the history of the civil rights movement). I started at Blackside, the Boston-based production company that produced Eyes, as an intern during the spring of my senior year (after seeing a posting at Harvard’s career office); what was supposed to be a two-month internship wound up becoming a full-time job that lasted for nearly five years and became my version of film school. I think that summer in India and that study of Gandhi’s revolution played an overarching role in motivating me to tell stories about activists who speak truth to power.

Q: What’s one documentary you think everyone should see in their life?

The Times of Harvey Milk, by Rob Epstein and the late Richard Schmiechen. I clearly remember seeing that astonishingly moving documentary when it came out in 1984. It was that film — along with Eyes on the Prize — that made me want to become a documentary filmmaker.

Meet the Chapter Heads: Seattle/Vancouver

Mario Pochat is CEO and founder of FAME , an educational platform for digital entertainment teaching the art and science behind movies and video games. Mario received a national award for opening VANAS, the first “cloud school” in Canada. A recipient of the “10 Most Influential Hispanic Canadians,” he is a member of Passages Canada and Historica Canada. 

From Laguna Beach (Orange County), California, Jennifer Bao Yu "Precious Jade" Jue-Steuck is an author, screenwriter, children's novelist, researcher, and columnist. Adopted from Taipei (by an American family from Los Angeles), Jennifer is a graduate of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and Harvard University, where she was a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Scholar.
Email [email protected] to connect with Mario and Jennifer and get involved with the Seattle/Vancouver Chapter!

A Conversation with Award-Winning Writer-Producer-Director Greg Daniels '85: TV Writing Expert-in-Residence (On Campus)

March 03, 2023 at 11:00am - 12pm

This event is open ONLY to current Harvard Students and current Harvardwood alumni/members. Space is limited, and we will confirm RSVPs on a first-come, first-served basis after verifying current student / Harvardwood member status.

When: Friday, March 3rd 11:00am-12:00pm

Event location will be sent in the RSVP confirmation email. 

Join us for a conversation with producer, writer, and director Greg Daniels AB '85 as he talks all things TV. Greg's many credits include The Office, Parks and Recreation, Space Force, Uploadand King of the Hill. He has also written for Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons. This event is co-sponsored by Harvard University and the Office for Career Services. 

More info HERE!

Harvardwood Presents: 95th Annual Academy Awards In-Person Viewing Party in LA

March 12, 2023 at 5:00pm - 8pm

Join us for an in-person Oscar Watch Party 

How accurate are your picks for Best Actress and Best Actor? Who will take home the Oscar for Best Picture this year? Watch the fashion, excitement, and drama of the 95th Academy Awards with other members of Harvardwood, LIVE AND IN-PERSON!

St. Felix is an award-winning restaurant/lounge with locations in Hollywood and West Hollywood. This event will be at the Hollywood location. At our viewing party, you can order from their delicious menu of signature cocktails and dishes, shared plates, desserts and more!

This event is open exclusively to dues-current full Harvardwood members only! This is a FREE event — just fill out the RSVP form so that your name is on the list. Seating is limited. 

This event is only open to full Harvardwood Members, who are able to bring 3 additional guests with them. 

Address: 1602 N Cahuenga Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028

More info HERE!

Harvardwood Presents: Breaking Down Story: White Lotus, The Bear, and I Hate Suzie

March 14, 2023 at 5:00pm - 8pm

5 pm - 8 pm PT/8 pm - 11 pm ET (Virtual)

Modern Story Design

It doesn't matter how great your dialogue or characters are, if you can't fully succeed at the Modern Story Design required by the current marketplace, your scripts will get a hard pass.

There are 7 main story design objectives that must be fully achieved to have any chance of selling your scripts or pitches:

Fully Heightened Premise

Proof of Concept

Early Launch

Dual Purpose End

Immersive World

Key Narrative Blocks

Deep Meaning Hook

I’m excited to offer a free Modern Story Design Webinar to the Harvardwood community offering a deep dive into the pilot episodes of three recent smash hit TV shows. Come learn how the best writers pulled off the required story objectives in their pilot episodes of White LotusThe Bear, and I Hate Suzieso you'll have a better chance of doing likewise in your scripts.

Corey Mandell is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter who has written projects for Ridley Scott, Harrison Ford, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, John Travolta, Warner Brothers, Universal, 20th Century Fox, Fox 2000, Fox Family, Working Title, Paramount, Live Planet, Beacon Films, Touchstone, Trilogy, Kopelson Entertainment and Walt Disney Pictures.

Corey is also a distinguished instructor at UCLA, where he earned his MFA. He teaches workshops in LA and across the world. His students have sold scripts to Warner Brothers, Paramount, HBO, Netflix, FX, Amazon, Disney, Universal, MGM, Peacock, Showtime, NBC, ABC, MTV, Sony, Nickelodeon, A24, Hulu and Apple TV.

Others have gotten staffed on such shows as Stranger Things, Ted LassoWandavision, Mr. Robot, Station Eleven, This is Us, Bojack-Horseman, The Leftovers, Yellowstone, Marvel’s Agents of Shield, Orange is the New Black, Selena, The Walking Dead, You’re the Worst, Community, Schitt’s Creek, Catastrophe and Succession.

More info HERE

Harvardwood Presents: Entertainment for Educators Series

The power of a great story to educate, shed light on rarely discussed topics, and change hearts and minds draws millions of learners and storytellers to entertainment.

Produced in partnership with students from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Educators for Entertainment Speaker Series highlights leaders working at the intersection of education and entertainment who are using storytelling, media, and the arts to create educational impact around the world. 

Through this series, we hope to bring together Harvard students passionate about the magic that happens at the intersection of education and entertainment and strengthen the bridge between the two industries within the broader Harvard community. 

Harvardwood Presents: Entertainment for Educators - Bennett Singer

March 27, 2023 at 4:00pm - 7pm

4 pm PT /7 pm ET (Virtual)

Bennett Singer is an award-winning producer/director/writer whose films have been screened at The Smithsonian, The United Nations, The British Museum, and the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. His latest documentary, CURED, directed with Patrick Sammon, opened the 2021–22 season of PBS' acclaimed documentary showcase Independent Lens and has garnered more than 20 awards and accolades, including a 2022 Emmy nomination, the American Historical Association's John E. O'Connor Film Award for best historical documentary, the Jonathan Daniels Award, and a $50,000 award in the Library of Congress Lavine/Burns Prize for Film. A feature film based on CURED is currently in development, and a classroom edition is being produced in partnership with History UnErased. Singer previously co-directed BROTHER OUTSIDER: THE LIFE OF BAYARD RUSTIN, a "potent and persuasive piece of historical rediscovery" (Los Angeles Times) that premiered at Sundance, aired nationally on PBS' POV series, and won the GLAAD Media Award; and ELECTORAL DYSFUNCTION, a "frightening and enlightening documentary" (WBEZ Radio) that "lives up to its title" (New York Times). Hosted by political humorist Mo Rocca, the film aired nationally on PBS and won the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel Award; a classroom edition was distributed free of charge to more than 20,000 educators. Singer won a duPont-Columbia Award for his work on EYES ON THE PRIZE II, the landmark PBS series on the history of the civil rights movement. The former executive editor of TIME Magazine's education program, he has written curriculum materials to accompany dozens of film projects, including THE LARAMIE PROJECT and BAND OF BROTHERS for HBO and THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK for PBS Masterpiece. Singer is also the author or editor of five books, including 42UP, the companion volume to Michael Apted's documentary series; and THE STUDENT BODY, a "wry, insider thriller" (Village Voice) that he wrote with three Harvard classmates. Learn more about his work at

 More info HERE!

Harvardwood Presents: Entertainment for Educators - Dan Sturman

March 28, 2023 at 4:00pm - 7pm

4 pm PT /7 pm ET (Virtual)

Dan’s work includes the Sundance, Peabody, and Emmy-winning documentary Nanking, which was shortlisted for an Academy Award, released theatrically, and then sold to HBO Documentary Films: Soundtrack for a Revolution, which was also shortlisted for an Academy Award, released theatrically, and broadcast on PBS; and the 9/11 documentary Twin Towers, which won an Oscar in 2003. His films have shown at festivals around the world, including Cannes, Sundance, Hong Kong, Hot Docs, and Tribeca, and have received special screenings at the White House, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles.

More info HERE!

Harvardwood Presents: Entertainment for Educators - Mark Kassen

March 29, 2023 at 2:00pm - 5pm

2 pm PT /5 pm ET (Virtual)

Mark Kassen is the founder of Like Minded Media Ventures and co-founder of the civic engagement platform A Starting Point (ASP). He is a Golden Globe and Emmy nominated filmmaker, playwright and actor. Mark has a history of cultivating new filmmaking technology, utilizing it to create the Trigger Street Independent film fund with Dana Brunetti. In four years, TSI’s films garnered 11 Emmys and 4 Golden Globes.

Kassen’s Like Minded Media Ventures is the parent company of Like Minded Entertainment and Like Minded Labs, bringing together talent and technology to empower, create and connect. The innovative tech venture is led by artists, engineers, technologists, and humanitarians from a range of acclaimed organizations and companies across the globe.

His feature film directing and producing credits include Puncture starring Chris Evans, Bernard and Doris starring Ralph Fiennes and Susan Sarandon for HBO, and Chris Evans’s Before We Go. Mark has produced and been showrunner of multiple scripted, reality and documentary series across networks such as FOX TELEVISION, MTV, IFC, AMC and SUNDANCE CHANNEL. Mark also starred in the Tony Award winning Broadway production of The Last Night of Ballyhoo, as well as wrote and starred in the critically acclaimed off-Broadway, multi–media play Little Willy.

More info HERE!

Harvardwood Presents: Entertainment for Educators - Naia Cucukov

March 30, 2023 at 2:00pm - 5pm

2 pm PT /5 pm ET (Virtual)


Naia Cucukov is a dynamic, innovative and conscientious executive with over sixteen years of experience in the entertainment business. Naia has a passion for identifying inclusive, uplifting and inspiring projects in order to help them grow into movie and television magic.

A native of southern New Jersey, Naia grew up loving film and ultimately discovered her affinity for production while receiving her B.A. in Modern Culture and Media from Brown University. Like many entertainment executives before her, Naia started in Hollywood as an assistant at CAA, followed by a post at Legendary Pictures. She then made the transition into the role of Creative Executive at Bold Films followed by the opportunity to work with Sir Richard Branson as the Director of Development at Virgin Produced. While at Virgin, Naia oversaw creative programing for the Virgin Produced Channel onboard Virgin Airlines and co-produced the award-winning short film Departure Date – the first film shot on a plane and edited while 35,000 feet in the air.

Since her start at Walden Media in 2013, Naia has cultivated a diverse slate of films and television projects. On behalf of Walden, she has overseen development and production for: The Giver, based on the bestselling book by Lois Lowry; Universal and Working Title’s Everest, based on the true story of the 1996 Everest disaster; Disney’s The BFG, a Steven Spielberg-directed adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved novel; A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog's Journey, parts one and two of the beloved series by W. Bruce Cameron; Sony Animation’s The Star; Lionsgate’s Wonder, based on the bestselling middle-grade novel, Paramount's live action Dora the Explorer and Playing with Fire starring John Cena. Naia has executive produced the critically and commercially acclaimed series, The Baby-Sitters Club, for which she won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's and Family Viewing Series.

Other Producing/Executive Producing credits include: A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting with Netflix; the Tom Hank’s starring sci-fi film, Finch, with Amblin and Apple TV; and Rumble, an animated feature from Paramount Animation/Paramount Plus. Her next release will be the limited series, Manhunt, with Apple TV. Additionally, Naia starred in the Netflix documentary, The Claudia Kishi Club, which reflected on the impact of Claudia Kishi in the Asian-American community. 

Naia actively vocalizes her impact in the industry as the Vice Chair of CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment), a creator of the AAPI female empowerment group, A+, and is a member of the Television Academy, the PGA and Women in Film. She spends her free time with her daughter, Anya, husband Peter and miniature dachshund, Sharky.

More info HERE

Harvardwood Presents: Entertainment for Educators - Danielle Parsons

March 31, 2023 at 2:00pm - 5pm

2 pm PT /5 pm ET (Virtual)

Danielle Parsons specializes in making small subjects larger than life. She creates documentary and video art using microscopes and macro setups. Whether it be floating through lightscapes inside a precious gem, surfing sound waves, or swimming with microbes, her directing work transports audiences to immersive worlds of pure beauty and wonder.

Danielle is the founder of Wonder Science, a Los Angeles-based production company and worldwide streaming app available on Roku, Apple TV, iOS, Android, and Fire TV players. The channel programming combines science and art, inviting viewers to see the unseen, and experience a flow state of relaxation and curiosity.

As a student at Harvard College, Danielle drew inspiration from scientists E.O. Wilson and Stephen Jay Gould. Her passion for film has taken her to some far flung places, from Kazakhstan to the Galapagos Islands. She has produced and directed content for TV and digital outlets such as The History Channel, Disney, WIRED, NPR, BBC, and Slate. Danielle's video art has exhibited at museums and galleries including SLOMA, IFP New Media Center, and the SPRING/BREAK art show, as well as on the blockchain as NFTs. She built a science museum in the metaverse. Festival audiences have watched her films at the Imagine Science Film Festival, Goethe Science Film Festival, and the Infinity Festival, among others. Danielle creates concert visuals and music videos for bands such as Metallica. Danielle is repped commercially by MAJORITY. She was rescued by a dog named Puzzle.

More info HERE!

Harvardwood DC Chapter Presents: Meet & Mingle

March 30, 2023 at 6:00pm - 8:30pm

The Admiral, 1 Dupont Circle NW

Joseph Farsakh · [email protected]

Join the DC Chapter for an in-person mixer!

Any questions can be sent to DC Chapter Head Joseph Farsakh.

More info HERE!


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Become a Harvardwood member as we further engage in socially active programming, discourse, and action to help change the entertainment industry!

In these unprecedented times, we are doubling down on providing impactful programming that not only helps our membership build and further entertainment careers, but create socially active habits and spheres of influence and knowledge. The entertainment industry is changing before our eyes, and our recent programming is just the tip of the iceberg. We'd love your help in furthering this mission. In various capacities, we work hard to create programming that you, the membership, would like to be engaged with. Please consider joining Harvardwood and becoming an active member of our 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.

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