Cynthia Rockwell

Reason.TV: Rommelmann’s [’83] Hollywood is ‘Bad Mother

Nancy Rommelmann '83

Tim Cavanaugh of Reason.TV interviews writer Nancy Rommelmann ’83 about her newest work, The Bad Mother, a short (144-page) piece of fiction set on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Wilcox. The plot follows the lives of three homeless girls—one a pregnant teen— and their friends, over the course of six months. Rommelmann, who is an award-winning journalist, makes it clear to Cavanaugh that this is entirely fictional, despite a style that seems reportorial, and a topic—the homeless who show up in the glamorous city of Los Angeles, hoping for a better life—that is not dissimilar to other stories which she covered as a journalist.

“It’s in a real minimalist style,” notes Cavanaugh of The Bad Mother.

Says Rommelman: “I don’t ever—either in fiction or in journalism—want to tell the reader how to feel. I don’t really think that’s my job. I’m going to tell them what happens. And they can take it and they can figure out how they feel about it. I don’t want to hand-lead them anywhere.”

As for Rommelmann’s observations on the city in which this is set: “I think Hollywood exerts this… it sends this message, and it says, ‘If you show up, I’m going to deliver your destiny. But you got to stay. You have to believe in me.’ So they come. And a lot of people, you know, it doesn’t happen, and they leave. But other people, they just keep… they just stay, and they just stay and they just stay, And maybe that next break is going to happen. And Hollywood is not going to disabuse you of that notion. It needs you here.”

On her web site, she describes her journalism as writing “about people and how they do and do not fit themselves into the culture, their dreams, delusions, and sometimes criminal behavior.” Her work has received numerous awards, including Best Arts Feature 2008 for No Exit Plan: The Lies and Follies of Laura Albert, a.k.a. JT LeRoy, from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (AAN), as well as Best Entertainment Arts Feature 2008 from the Los Angeles Press Club.

See the video here.

To learn more about Rommelmann’s work, visit her web site, nancyrommelmann.typepad.com.

NYT Praises Fly Away (Grillo ’80) for ‘Commendable Subtlety’

Janet Grillo ’80

The recently released indie film, Fly Away, written and directed by Janet Grillo ’80, explores the question every parent faces—how to learn to let go when the child becomes a teen. However, Grillo ups the emotional ante: Jeanne (Beth Broderick) is a single mother, and her daughter, Mandy (Ashley Rickards) is severely autistic. As Grillo begins the film, it becomes clear that all the coping strategies, all the interventions that Jeanne had developed for Mandy when she was a child, are no longer effective.

Released in mid-April, the film had its world premier in mid-March at the prestigious South-by-Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival. An April 15 review in The New York Times by Jeanette Catsoulis praises the film for “treading warily into territory that few dramas dare explore.”

Catsoulis continues: “Fly Away faces some harsh realities with commendable subtlety. Without overplaying her hand or taking cheap emotional shots, the writer and director, Janet Grillo, examines the assumption that home is always the best environment. As Mandy matures and her aggressive behavior—as well as a growing interest in the opposite sex—becomes more difficult to manage, the film is attentive to the emotional damage sustained by parents who refuse to accept that love may not be enough.”

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Wetlaufer ’84 Joins CPP Investment Board as Senior VP

Eric Wetlaufer ’84

Eric M. Wetlaufer ’84 was named senior vice president, heading CPP Investment Board’s public market investments division.

Prior to joining CPPIB this June, he was the group chief investment officer of the international division at Fidelity Management and Research in Boston. Previously, he was a chief investment officer at Putnam Investments, and a managing director at Cadence Capital Management.

At Wesleyan, he earned his bachelor’s degree with a major in earth science. He is a chartered financial analyst.

Soccer Alumni Lacey ’89, Ashe ’07 Provide Lazard’s Winning Edge

Jared Ashe ’07 and Andrew Lacey '89.

Wesleyan soccer alumni Andrew Lacey ’89 and Jared Ashe ’07 recently played (May 23) in The Macquarie Football Tournament for financial professionals in London at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea Football (soccer, on this side of the pond) Club’s playing ground.

“We were representing Lazard Asset Management,” explains Ashe. Lacey, deputy chairman, has been with the firm since 1995; Ashe, who had met Lacey thought their Wesleyan soccer connection, was hired by the firm in 2007.

The 14 players on the Lazard team included a dozen players from their London office and two—Lacey and Ashe—based in New York City.

The other three financial firms sending a team were JP Morgan, SAC Capital, and Macquarie.

Reports Ashe: “Andrew played every minute of the tournament at right fullback, supporting a Lazard defense that kept a clean sheet during the night’s play. Andrew played quite well, as he was also an outside back/midfielder during his Wesleyan playing days under Terry Jackson. I played centrally at a stopper position and assisted on the goal in the 1-0 win over Macquarie.

“After some heated, competitive round-robin play, Lazard came out on top and took home the trophy—a signed Chelsea trophy!”

Ashe adds, “I can’t say enough about how helpful and important the Wesleyan connection is for young athletes out of Wesleyan; it can help shape a graduate’s career in the first few years post-college.”

Ruane ’97 Appointed L.A.’s Immigration Judge

Judge Rachel Ann Ruane ’97

The Hon. Rachel A. Ruane ’97 was appointed Immigration Judge, Los Angeles Immigration Court, by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in December 2010.

Previously, she was affiliated with the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in the Office of the Chief Counsel in Los Angeles, Calif. serving in a number of different roles, most recently as deputy chief counsel.

At Wesleyan, she double-majored in government and American studies, with Professor of Government John Finn and Professor of American Studies Claire Potter as her advisors. She earned her juris doctorate from Emory University and was a judicial law clerk for the Executive Office for Immigration Review, first in Boston and then in Los Angeles.

Judge Ruane is a member of the Bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Conrad ’81 Hired for GSA’s Innovative Technologies Post

Kathy Prager Conrad '81

Kathy Prager Conrad ’81 was named the principal deputy associate administrator of the General Services Administration’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies. Honored as a Federal 100 award winner by Federal Computer Week in March, she was previously senior vice president of Jefferson Consulting Group. In an interview with Federal Computer Week, Conrad noted that she was honored to have the opportunity to advance the Administration’s open government and innovation initiatives.

Her new responsibilities include fostering adoption of innovative technologies such as cloud services and mobile computing and enhancing use of government data to improve government and citizen engagement.

“This job and office represent an amalgam of the issues I have been committed to – including promoting government IT as an enabler, not as an end in itself,” she says.

At Wesleyan, she was a biology/psychology major.

Smith ’92 Delegate for Mission to Indonesia

Jonathan Smith ’92

Jonathan Smith ’92 will be one of 14 delegates selected to participate in the U.S. State Department’s Global Entrepreneurship Program (GEP) Mission to Indonesia in July. The delegation, made up of U.S. investors, entrepreneurs and academics, will offer individualized mentoring to Indonesian early-stage and growth-stage companies. Additionally Indonesian start-ups will have an opportunity to present their ideas to the delegation with the hopes of obtaining investors.

Smith, who earned his Wesleyan bachelor’s degree with a College of Social Studies degree, also holds a master’s degree in accounting, as well as a certificate in Homeland Securities Studies from Michigan State University. He is the president and chief operating Officer of Wave Dispersion Technologies (www.whisprwave.com). Under his leadership, the company was ranked in Inc, Magazine’s 500 List.

Cottier ’12 Explores Tales from a Middletown Historic House

Charlotte Cottier ’12 spent the week hanging posters for her exhibit at the General Mansfield House on Main Street. (Photo by Olivia Drake MALS ’08)

While the rest of her classmates finished exams and headed for Foss Hill, Charlotte Cottier ’12 spent the sunny days of Finals Week inside the General Mansfield Home, getting ready to reveal excerpts from personal letters documenting a husband’s Western frontier travel to his wife at home, a nearly-failed courtship, and a myriad other stories that a nearly 200-year-old house can hold.

Cottier, an American studies and sociology major, is a guest curator for the Middlesex County Historical Society, hanging her exhibit “Within These Walls: One House, One Family, Two Centuries,” which opened May 20.

“The main theme is the social history of the house—showing the changing landscape of people and ideas that have marked a steadfast building so that it really comes alive,” she says.

The exhibit is culmination of a year-and-a-half of work and was sparked by the anthropology course, Middletown Lives, which she took in the spring of her first year. It was in the context of this service-learning course that Associate Professor Gina Ulysse “framed for me the idea of doing a public service by documenting history that hadn’t been recorded.”

Peretz ’84 Hosts Kail ’99, Miranda ’02 Reception in Miami

Andy Peretz ’84, Thomas Kail ’99 and Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02.

The nationwide tour of the Tony award-winning Broadway musical In the Heights ended its run with a Wesleyan flourish.

Andy Peretz ’84, inspired by the Wesleyan on Broadway alumni events, began organizing an event in Miami to celebrate with the local Wesleyan community at the Arsht Center Theater.

In The Heights, created and composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, was directed by Thomas Kail ’99, who agreed to conduct a talk for the alumni at a special reception at the Miami performance on April 2.

“What an amazingly articulate guy, so full of life,” says Peretz of Kail, who also directed Lombardi. Kail spent time with his host that day, talking about the collaborative process of turning Miranda’s one-time student play (performed in its first incarnation in the ’92 Theater) to the award-winner it is today.

Later that day, Kail gave Peretz another surprise: the news that Miranda had agreed to join the Wesleyan reception.

“It was indeed a unique experience to watch a Tony Award-winning play and then immediately afterward meet with the two people most responsible for the show’s creative distinctions,” Peretz says and adds. “Not lost on me was the unselfishness of Kail and Miranda in providing us with insight into the theatrical process – from both a creative and financial perspective.

“I truly believe that they offered themselves in this way because of their love of Wesleyan and sense of community. We were indeed very proud to be part of something so ‘Wesleyan.’”

Ross ’81 Awarded for American History Contributions

Beth Hill, executive director of Fort Ticonderoga, presents the first national Fort Ticonderoga Prize for Contributions to American History to John F. Ross ’81 at the 17th Annual Ticonderoga Ball held at the Union League Club, New York City, March 4.

Noted author John F. Ross ’81 received the first annual Fort Ticonderoga Prize for Contributions to American History on March 4. After a national search and in a unanimous vote, the trustees selected Ross for his broad contributions to 18th-century military scholarship with his book War on the Run: The Epic Story of Robert Rogers and the Conquest of America’s First Frontier (Random House 2009), which explores the exploits Major Robert Rogers.

Speaking at the ceremony, Ross said, “When I started a book on the 18th century warrior hero Robert Rogers, I realized what I had been looking for all my life was lying right under my nose—narrating and interpreting the rich themes of our past. Robert Rogers was the greatest of ranger leaders and creator of special operations. Modern rangers still must master his amazingly concentrated 28 rules of woods fighting. His ground zero was Fort Ticonderoga, key to the geo-strategy of North America. Today our men slip off to Afghanistan and many unnamed places with Robert Rogers by their side.”

In his research for War on the Run, Ross walked and kayaked many parts of Rogers’ tracks, much of them around Fort Ticonderoga, giving him on-the-ground knowledge and insight with which to bring Rogers’ experiences to life.

In addition, Ross was also praised for making America’s history accessible through his work as the executive editor of American Heritage Magazine. In a Fort Ticonderoga press release Peter Paine, president of the Fort Ticonderoga Board of Directors, is quoted as saying, “John F. Ross is a scholar who understands the importance of bringing history, observation, and experience together when seeking to understand the past.”

Additionally, Ross is executive editor of Invention and Technology and was previously a senior editor for Smithsonian magazine. He has published more than 200 articles and spoken at the Explorers Club of New York, the Smithsonian Institution, and NASA’s Ames Research Center.
While on research assignments, he has chronicled adventure around the world: chasing scorpions in Baja, diving 3,000 feet underwater in a submersible off the Galapagos, dog sledding with the polar Inuit in Greenland, living with the Khanty reindeer herders in Siberia and launching the northernmost canoe trip ever in the Canadian Arctic.

At Wesleyan, Ross majored in history. He is also the author of The Polar Bear Strategy: Reflections on Risk in Modern Life (Basic Books, 1999).

Benson ’43 Honored for Medical Education Service

John A. Benson Jr. ’43

John A. Benson Jr. ’43, MD, dean emeritus at Oregon Health and Science University and professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Medicine, received the 2010 Abraham Flexner Award for Distinguished Service to Medical Education. Presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the award, their highest, honors Benson’s “extraordinary contributions to the board certification process, medical education, and academic medicine.”

Benson, who is known as the modern “father” of the American Board of Internal Medicine, was appointed and served as its first president for 16 years. A gastroenterologist by training, he began what would become a 30-year association with the board in 1961.

As an elected member of the board of governors, he helped to approve examinations in new subspecialties, such as nephrology, endocrinology, and hematology, among others. A biology and chemistry major at Wesleyan, he earned his medical degree from Harvard University.

 

Leiner ’93 Organizes NYC’s First Film, Entertainment Soccer Tournament

Dylan Leiner

“Executive VP of Acquisitions & Production for Sony Pictures Classics, Dylan Leiner has spent his career traveling to Cannes, Milan and other international film festivals looking for material to acquire. For roughly 15 years, he’s also been a member of an informal floating soccer game,” writes Michelle Kung for the March 25, 2011, Wall Street Journal.

On April 23, Leiner and a friend, Jeffrey Saunders, founder of CinemaCapital and a former professional soccer player, will bring a version of that floating game of film professionals and more to New York City. Their organization, NYFEST—New York Film and Entertainment Soccer Tournament—will host a day of soccer as a charity event organized in conjunction with the Tribeca Film Festival and in partnership with UMBRO. Proceeds will benefit underserved inner-city youth.

“Our vision of hosting an entertainment-based soccer tournament in New York, the world’s most international city, took shape several years back,” Leiner recalls. “When the opportunity arose to work with the Tribeca Film Festival to bring the idea to fruition,