Alumni

Alumni news.

Gowns4Good, Co-Founded by Catania ’13, Connects Health Care Workers with Alternative PPE

Gowns4Good

Gowns4Good, co-founded by Taran Catania ’13 and Nathaniel “Than” Moore, above, coordinates the donation of graduation gowns to health care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, where the gowns may be used as alternative personal protective equipment. Moore is an emergency medicine physician assistant in the University of Vermont Medical Center.

Scores of commencement ceremonies around the United States have been canceled or postponed this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That means scores of graduation gowns could sit unused in closets.

Instead, Taran Catania ’13, an MBA student at the University of Vermont, wants students past and present to put those gowns to a different use. Together with her classmate Nathaniel “Than” Moore, who works as an emergency medicine physician assistant in the UVM Medical Center, Catania earlier this month launched Gowns4Good, which coordinates the donation of gowns to health care providers on the front lines of the pandemic. The gowns will function as alternative personal protective equipment (PPE), to add an extra barrier of protection between medical staff and patients.

Mannetta ’13 Takes Second on Jeopardy!

jeopardy

Appearing on Jeopardy! was a whirlwind experience for J.R. Mannetta ’13 (pictured here with host Alex Trebek). “They film five episodes a day, with 15 contestants. You don’t know what episode you’re on until minutes before it airs. You pretty much get picked, get an additional layer of makeup, and you’re on!” (Photo courtesy J.R. Mannetta ’13)

J.R. Mannetta ’13 is not a super genius. Nor is he the kind of guy who goes around flaunting his broad grasp of esoteric facts. In fact, he’s pretty much a regular guy. A regular guy with impressive knowledge of wide-ranging arts, sports, and pop culture, who, with a healthy dose of perseverance, patience, and practice, made it to the big stage to compete on that bastion of television trivia, Jeopardy!

The Boston native’s interest in trivia—and Jeopardy! in particular—began when he was in high school and continued through his college years at Wesleyan, where he competed in trivia contests at La Boca Restaurant with friends.

Although he watched Jeopardy! religiously and kept up his trivia skills, he started taking the online screening tests mostly as a whim. For a few years, he didn’t hear anything. Then in early 2019 he took the test again and felt he did pretty well. A few months later he received an email inviting him to come in for an in-person audition.

Best of Wes: Alumni in Sports

Despite graduating from Wesleyan with degrees in fields such as economics or psychology, several Wes alumni went on to pursue jobs in sports and athletics. While some became professional athletes on nationally-recognized teams, others delved into coaching, refereeing, sports reporting, and team management. In this “Best of Wes” article, read about Wes alumni who turned their love of the game into a lifelong passion and career. We’ll include another Alumni in Sports feature next week! (Interested in other Wesleyan-themed lists? Check out our previous “Best of Wes” pieces.)

Rob King '84

Rob King ’84

In March 2020, Rob King ’84 was named vice president and editor-at-large of ESPN content. In this role, King defines the content division’s journalistic direction and acts as an advisor to ESPN’s leadership team on complex editorial issues, while ensuring ESPN’s commitment to journalistic excellence remains at the highest level. King previously served as senior vice president of original content, focusing globally on all of ESPN’s award-winning long-form storytelling and enterprise journalism. Prior to joining ESPN in 2004, he worked for three newspapers as a reporter. At Wesleyan, he ran track, played basketball, and majored in English.

Chong '18

Eudice Chong ’18

Wesleyan’s women’s tennis team standout Eudice Chong ’18 is presently playing professionally and ranks No. 376 in the world in singles play and No. 158 in the world in doubles. Chong made NCAA history as she became the first collegiate tennis player—female or male in any division—to win four straight singles titles. She also won a doubles title as a junior for a total of five national championships. A three-time NESCAC Player of the Year, Chong concluded her final season at Wesleyan with a 30-2 overall singles record while going a perfect 30-0 against Division III competition. She also won the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Oracle Cup in both singles and doubles in 2017, the ITA National Senior Player of the Year in 2018, and the Division III Honda Athlete of the Year in 2018. Chong majored in psychology and has a minor from the College of East Asian Studies.

Parents, Alumni in China Donate Masks to Wesleyan, Local Community

masks

Thousands of face masks were mailed to Wesleyan this month from alumni and parents in China.

When Wesleyan parents and alumni in China learned how the coronavirus pandemic was affecting the Wesleyan community, dozens worked together to raise funds and send much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) to campus.

To date, the Wesleyan Chinese Parent Committee, made up of more than 70 families, has already raised $29,000 to support Wesleyan’s Emergency Fund for Students, and combined, has donated more than 400 disposable gloves and 800 masks (N95 and surgical).

Approximately 500 masks are being used by staff from the Davison Health Center, Physical Plant, WesStation’s mailroom, the Information Technology Services Help Desk and Public Safety.

“The parent committee wanted to express their gratitude for all the hard work and great care Wesleyan has shown for students in such a short amount of time,” explained Zijia Guo, program manager for Wesleyan’s global initiatives. “They’re grateful for how we’re helping the many students who are remaining on campus.”

In addition, Sha Ye MA ’96 of Shanghai, China, donated a total of 10,040 surgical masks to Wesleyan. These masks have been distributed to Wesleyan and the Middletown community (specifically Middlesex Hospital).

“I had a wonderful experience at Wesleyan and always felt grateful for what I received,” he said. “Our country just pulled itself through COVID-19. As the virus hits the United States, the first and natural thing for me to think of is to support my alma mater.”

In February, a group of Wesleyan students and parents raised more than $23,000, which was used to purchase medical equipment for hospitals affected in the epicenter of the outbreak, Hubei province, China.

Best of Wes: More Alumni-Produced TV

A number of Wesleyan alumni act in, write, direct, and produce popular TV programs. Earlier this month, we shared a list of those alumni and their shows, as part of our “Best of Wes” series—and today we are sharing a second installment, listing even more alumni and their shows. (Interested in other Wesleyan-themed lists? Check out our previous “Best of Wes” pieces.)

Additional alumni-produced TV shows and series include:

The TV mini-series Fosse/Verdon is directed and produced by Thomas Kail ’99, produced by Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15, and written by Sam Wasson ’03. Amelia McCarthy ’04 worked as the show’s casting assistant.

Kenneth Fuchs ’83, P’17 directed hundreds of episodes of The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Shark Tank, Family Feud, Celebrity Family Feud, To Tell the Truth, Kids Say The Darnedest Things, Love Connection, and Deal or No Deal.

I promiseThe documentary series I Promise, Brick City, Chicagoland, CIA: America’s Secret Warriors, Ocean Warriors, and Inside the FBI: New York were produced by Emmy-award winner Marc Levin ’73, P’05. He also produced and directed the television scripted series Street Time, and episodes of Law & Order. He has made numerous documentaries for HBO, including the Emmy winners Thug Life In DC and I Am Evidence. In 1988 he won his first national Emmy award as a producer and editor of Bill Moyer’s Secret Government: The Constitution in Crisis.

Steve Beauchamp ’77 acted in episodes of Prodigal Son, The Deuce, The Blacklist, Boardwalk Empire, Law & Order, and Ugly Betty.

Episodes of Full House, Mr. Belvedere, and Valerie’s Family were produced and written by Jay Abramowitz ’76. He also was head writer on the animated PBS series Liberty’s Kids, an account of the American Revolution that blended fact, fiction, and comedy.

Michael Chaskes ’91 has been a supervising or lead editor on unscripted shows including Supernanny, Real Housewives of New York City, and A Very Brady Renovation.

Episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims UnitConvictionCrossing JordanCold CaseERThe Practice, and H-Town were written or produced by Samantha Corbin-Miller ’93.

Episodes of A Gifted Man, Feed the Beast, Smash, and SEAL Team were written or produced by Rebecca “Becky” Mode ’86. Most recently she served as a co-executive producer on Netflix’s award-winning Unbelievable and Nat Geo’s upcoming Genius: Aretha.

Episodes of Hawaii Five-O, Smallville, Salem, Witches of East End, and The Vampire Diaries were produced or written by Alfredo Septién ’85.

Bill Wolkoff ’95 has written episodes of Once Upon a TimeKipo and the Age of WonderbeastsTRON: Uprising, and Star Wars Rebels.

Episodes of L.A. Law, Beverly Hills, 90210, Earth 2, and Big Mouth were created, produced, or written by Jennifer Flackett ’86, P’21. Episodes of Big Mouth also were produced by Abe Forman-Greenwald ’98.

Episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel AirIn the HouseHere and NowClaude’s Crib, and New Attitude were produced or written by Bill Boulware ’71. Boulware also has served as the consulting producer of the BET comedy Reed Between the Lines and was an executive producer for the UPN comedy One on One. He co-created the NBC hit 227 and began his network experience as a staff writer on Benson. In addition, he has written freelance scripts for The Cosby ShowThe Dabney Coleman Show, and The Mayor.

Episodes of The Mentalist and Gotham were written by Rebecca Cutter ’96. She’s also the creator/showrunner of Hightown, a new show premiering May 17 on Starz! 

The television documentary series Vice and Weediquette are produced by Krishna Andavolu ’04. He also hosts the Emmy-winning documentary series VICE.

Wesleyan in the News

NewsWesleyan in the News

  1. Inside Higher Ed: “Contagious Civic Engagement”

In this essay, Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth ’78 calls for a “virtuous contagion” to stimulate voting and other forms of civic engagement among young people, and writes about how this can still be possible at a time of social distancing. “The best way to attack cynicism, apathy or voter suppression is through authentic civic engagement between elections,” he writes. “One of the great things about this kind of engagement is that it is contagious. As we replicate efforts to bring people into the political process, we create habits of engagement and participation. Concern for the public sphere—like a virus—can spread. Usually this happens through face-to-face interaction, but now we must turn to virtual tools—notorious in recent years for being deployed to misinform or stir hatred—to strengthen networks for democracy.”

2. WSHU Public Radio’s “Off the Path from New York to Boston”: “Be(a)man”

Visiting Assistant Professor of African American Studies Jesse Nasta ’07 is interviewed for this NPR podcast, which examines the histories behind sites from New York to Boston. He discusses the Beman family, who founded the Beman Triangle neighborhood of freed African American slaves, as well as Middletown’s African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. “There’s so much amnesia around New England slavery,” said Nasta. “But the other part of it is how [the Bemans] emerged from enslavement by the 1800s, built free communities, built free churches, forged the Underground Railroad. And if you think about it, the church that they founded is still going strong two centuries later.”

3. Diverse: Issues in Higher Education: “Celebrating Women in the Academy”

Associate Professor of Chemistry Erika Taylor, who serves as faculty director of the McNair Program, is honored as one of the Top 35 Women in Higher Education. The profile notes: “Her research group has included over 75 students to date, spanning high schoolers to Ph.D. students, with women and other underrepresented students comprising more than three-quarters of her lab members. In addition to her research, she has been a passionate advocate for diversity, lending time and energy to provide opportunities in science for female, minority and low-income students. Taylor was awarded the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching for her passion and dedication to supporting the academic and personal development of all of her students. Her track record of mentoring diverse students culminated in being named Wesleyan University’s McNair Program faculty director in 2018. Beyond Wesleyan, she founded and continues to run a Girls in Science camp for elementary through middle school aged girls, which highlights the diversity of women that exists in science and raises funds to enable nearly half of the students to participate tuition free.”

4. Associated Press: “Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime? Echoes of ’30s in Viral Crisis?”

Richard Grossman, professor and chair of economics, spoke to the AP for an article comparing the current economic crisis, sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Great Depression of the 1930s.“There are more levers now for the government,” he said. “There’s a lot now that the government can do that it wouldn’t even have thought of doing in the 1930s.” One example is a rarely used 1950s-era level that Trump invoked last week, the Defense Production Act, which empowers the government to marshal private industry to accelerate production of key supplies in the name of national security.

5. The New Yorker: “Breaking Transmission: The Fight Against the Coronavirus Offers a Strategy for Cutting Carbon”

Citizen Outlaw, a book by Charles Barber, writer-in-residence in Letters, was cited in this article on interrupting cycles to solve serious problems as diverse as gang violence, the coronavirus, and climate change. “Jumping in at exactly the right time makes all the difference,” explains Barber, who has written extensively on mental-health and criminal-justice issues. He cites studies showing that, otherwise, a single death can lead to a cascade of violence. In an Illinois study, for instance, “a single incident . . . was linked through the victim’s social networks to 469 separate violent incidents.”

6. The Hartford Courant: “Learning from Home and Learning from School Have a Lot in Common”

In this op-ed, Associate Professor of Psychology Steve Stemler offers advice to parents who are now responsible for educating their children at home due to COVID-19-related school shutdowns. Drawing on his research on the purpose of school, he writes: “Many school districts are providing families with some form of online curriculum that includes instruction on all the academic subjects covered in schools. But, as educators know, schools strive to develop not just strong readers and mathematicians but also humans who are emotionally resilient and socially capable, who will contribute to the world as good citizens. Parents may have more to teach their children than they think.”

7. The New York Review of Books: “Pandemic Journal: Michael S. Roth, Middletown, Connecticut

Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth ’78 wrote a first-person account of the impact that COVID-19 has had on the University. He said, “Wesleyan is a residential school, one with a strong sense of engaged and community-based learning. Now, faculty are giving seminars and singing lessons at a distance, but we all know that the fabric of liberal education here comes from mutual entanglement.”

Alumni in the News

1. NPR: “David Biello: A Journey Into Uncharted Territory

In this experimental episode of TED Radio Hour, TED Science Curator David Biello ’95 takes listeners to uncharted places, such as outer space, the deep ocean, and our own brains.

2. Rolling Stone: “‘Blow the Man Down’: A Maine Noir with Money, Murder and Matriarchy

The debut feature film from Bridget Savage Cole ’05 and Danielle Krudy ’07, now streaming on Amazon, is reviewed. The New England noir’s review is favorable: “Blow the Man Down winds its way around the notion that behind every small town’s facade is a whole mess of secrets.”

3. Jazz Journal: “Chris Dingman: Embrace

Chris Dingman ’02 was interviewed about his latest album, Embrace. Embrace received a good review in the article. The album was referred to as “a beautifully warm ensemble sound, and the publicity cites influences from West African traditions and South Indian music, which Dingman has studied.”

4. Cord Cutters News: “Apple’s First Original Movie ‘The Banker’ Is Now Available to Stream

AppleTV+ released its first major movie, The Banker, starring Samuel L. Jackson, produced by Joel Viertel ’97. The article says, “The strong acting seems to be enough to carry the film – it got a 100% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes.”

“You Just Have to Read This…” Books by Wesleyan Authors: Pugh ’88, Tupper ’95, and Pompano CAS’95

In the eighth of this continuing series, Sara McCrea ’21, a College of Letters major from Boulder, Colo., reviews alumni books and offers a selection for those in search of knowledge, insight, and inspiration. The volumes, sent to us by alumni, are forwarded to Olin Library as donations to the University’s collection and made available to the Wesleyan community.

Stardust MediaChristina Pugh ’88, Stardust Media (University of Massachusetts Press, 2020)

In this time of social distancing, I find myself surrounded by media more than ever. My Wesleyan friends, thousands of miles away, flicker on all my screens; I watch from my bedroom as my seminar courses adjust to Zoom. As we all adapt to the distance necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, we find ourselves confronted by the gifts and limitations of our technologies—a theme of Christina Pugh’s Stardust Media, a stunning new collection of poems that traverse the landscapes of both new and ancient technologies.

Best of Wes: Alumni Act In, Produce Popular TV Shows

A number of Wesleyan alumni act in, write, direct, and produce popular TV programs. We’ve compiled a list of those alumni and their shows below, as part of our “Best of Wes” series. (Do you have a favorite that’s not listed? Email your idea to newsletter@wesleyan.edu, and we’ll add it in! You can also view previous “Best of Wes” pieces.)

bojack at wesleyan

Kate Purdy ’01 is a writer for the show BoJack Horseman on Netflix. Many BoJack Horseman scenes take place at Wesleyan University. From left, BoJack’s half-sister, Hollyhock, takes a selfie in front of Fayerweather; BoJack meets with Wes alumnus and Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon ’15; and students walk on campus. In the show, BoJack is a theater professor at Wesleyan. (Images courtesy of Netflix)

himym

Several of the characters in How I Met Your Mother attended Wesleyan University. The show was created by Carter Bays ’97 and Craig Thomas ’97. Wesleyan is shown in numerous flashbacks, most of them occurring in Room 110 of Hewitt Residence Hall. The show is now available for steaming on Hulu.

The alumni and their roles on various TV shows are listed below:

Phillip Abraham ’82, P’20 has directed, produced, or directed the photography of episodes of Most Dangerous Game, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Glow, Orange Is the New Black, Daredevil, Ozark, Bates Motel, The Defenders, The Path, Mad Men, Weeds, The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, and Castle Rock.

Jay Abramowitz ’76 wrote and produced Valerie’s Family, Full House, Mr. Belvedere and other television comedies. He was head writer on the animated PBS series Liberty’s Kids, an account of the American Revolution that blended fact, fiction and comedy and featured Dustin Hoffman, Annette Bening and Walter Cronkite. Some of Abramowitz’s short stories are posted on HollywoodDementia.com. His first novel Formerly Cool was published last year.

Sasha Alpert ’82, P’20 produced episodes of Project Runway, Born this Way, Under the Gunn, Bad Girls Club, After the Runway, and The Real World. She served as a casting director for Born This Way, Murder, The Rebel Billionaire: Branson’s Quest for the Best, The Real World, The Simple Life, and Lost.

Miguel Arteta ’89 directed episodes of Room 104, Forever, Succession, Famous in Love, Getting On, Grace and Frankie, Nurse Jackie, The New Normal, Ugly Betty, The Office, Six Feet Under, Cracking Up, and Freaks and Geeks. He’s also produced episodes of Duck Butter, Getting On, and Enlightened.

Michele Barnwell ’89 produced the documentary series Flint Town, My Teen is Pregnant and So Am I, America’s Next Top Model, Tiny & Toya, and others.

Michael Bay ’86 produced episodes of The Purge, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, The Last Ship, Horror at the Cecil Hotel, Black Sails, and Billion Dollar Wreck.

Carter Bays ’97 is the co-creator, co-writer, and co-producer of How I Met Your Mother. He also wrote for the Late Show With David Letterman, American Dad!, Quintuplets, Oliver Beene, and others.

Jordan Belfi ’00 has acting roles in Entourage, All American, 9-1-1, The Rookie, Chicago Fire, Code Black, Chicago Justice, Major Crimes, Mr. Hollywood, Scandal, NCIS: Los Angeles, Burn Notice, Grey’s Anatomy, Bones, Charlie’s Angels, Hawaii Five-O, Ghost Whisperer, and CSI: Miami.

Bill Boulware ’71 has served as the consulting producer of the BET comedy Reed Between the Lines. He has also been an executive producer for the UPN comedy One on One and The Parkers. He has served as a producer/writer for many sit-coms including The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, In the House, Here and Now, Claude’s Crib, and New Attitude. He co-created the NBC hit, 227 and began his network experience as a staff writer on Benson. In addition, he has written freelance scripts for The Cosby Show, The Dabney Coleman Show, and The Mayor.

Samantha Corbin-Miller ’93 was the executive producer or writer for episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Conviction, Crossing Jordan, Cold Case, ER, The Practice, and H-Town.

Jennifer Crittenden ’92 has produced and/or written episodes of Veep, Divorce, The New Adventures of Old ChristineArrested Development, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Drew Carey Show, and Seinfeld.

Ed Decter ’79 has spent the last 35 years writing and creating television shows such as Shadowhunters, Chicago Sons, Odd Man Out, The Closer, and has executive produced 14 series. He’s currently writing a dark crime series for FX that he created. “Wesleyan alumnae Kate Purdy, brilliant award winning writer of Bojack Horseman and Liz Garcia writer of Memphis Beat both started as my assistants, continuing the Wesleyan connection,” he added.

Emmy Award-winning actress Dana Delany ’78 stars in the television shows China Beach, Desperate Housewives, and Body of Proof.

Jan Eliasberg ’74, P’19 directed episodes of Gone, Bull, Nashville, NCIS: Los Angeles, Blue Bloods, Criminal Minds, Supernatural, Dawson’s Creek, Sisters, and Conviction.

Jennifer Flackett ’86 is the co-creator and Abe Forman-Greenwald ’98 is a producer on the Netflix animated series Big Mouth.

Liz W. Garcia ’99 produced and wrote episodes for The Sinner, Memphis Beat, Cold Case, Wonderfalls, and Dawson’s Creek.

Willie Garson (William Paszamant) ’85 has acted in more than 300 episodes of television series including Hawaii Five-O, SupergirlMagnum P.I., White Collar, Two and a Half Men, CSI: Miami, Stargate SG-1, Sex and the City, The X-Files, Nash Bridges, Friends, and Star Trek: Voyager

David Goodman ’95 served as the executive producer, consulting producer, and writer of Amazing Stories, Emergence, Once Upon a Time, Fringe, and The Event.

Eleo Hensleigh ’80 is the former senior vice president of marketing and communications for the Travel Channel, the chief marketing officer at ION Media Networks, and the chief marketing officer of brand strategy and marketing with Disney ABC Television Group.

Beanie Feldstein ’15 acted in American Crime Story, Grey’s Anatomy, What We Do in the Shadows, and The Simpsons.

Stephen Friedman ’91 is the former president of MTV.

Evan Katz ’83 was the executive producer and writer for 24: Legacy, Body of Proof, Awake, The Event, 24, Special Unit 2, and JAG.

David Kendall ’79, P’16 served as the executive producer of Growing Pains, Boy Meets World, The Wonderful World of Disney, Family Affair, and Melissa & Joey. He directed and wrote episodes of Coop and Cami Ask the World, Henry Danger, Game Shakers, Hannah Montana, Boy Meets World, and Clerks.

David Kohan ’86, P’17 is co-creator and executive producer of Will and Grace and Good Morning, Miami, among others. He also was a writer for The Wonder Years.

Alex Kurtzman ’95 wrote and produced episodes of Sleepy Hollow, Scorpion, Hawaii Five-O, Locke & Key, Xena: Warrior Princess, Alias, Fringe, Transformers Prime, Limitless, Instinct, Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Short Treks, and Star Trek: Picard

Jeffrey Lane ’76 was the executive producer and writer for Mad About You, Bette, and the 42nd Annual Tony Awards TV special.

Jim Margolis ’93 was the producer or writer of the TV series Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, Veep, Newsreaders, Almost Royal, and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Lawrence Mark ’71 directed Mind Set Go, Tricked, Emergency, The Liquidator, Property Brothers, and In Real Life.

Tony Award-winning composer and lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon ’15 has made acting appearances in Modern Family, BoJack Horseman, Saturday Night Live, Ducktales, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Sesame Street, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and House.

Matthew Penn ’80, P’15 was the producer or director of Law & Order, Big Apple, Orange Is the New Black, House, Blue Bloods, Law & Order, NYPD Blue, and New Amsterdam.

Zak Penn ’90, P’23 is the co-creator of the series Alphas.

Kate Purdy ’01 wrote episodes of BoJack Horseman and Cougar Town. She’s also the creator and writer of the current animated series Undone.

Matt Senreich ’96 is the executive producer of Robot Chicken, SuperMansion, Hot Streets, The Grand Slams, The Simpsons, and Lego Scooby-Doo.

Dan Shotz ’99 produced episodes of See, Common Law, Black Sails, Harper’s Island, Countdown, and Jericho.

Jenno Topping ’89 has served as the executive producer of Truth Be Told, P-Valley, and See.

Craig Thomas ’97 is the co-creator, co-writer, and co-producer of How I Met Your Mother and creator of The Goodwin Games. He also wrote for American Dad!, Quintuplets, Method & Red, Da Ali G Show, and Oliver Beene.

Jon Turteltaub ’85 is the producer of the television dramas Jericho, Harper’s Island, Common Law, and The Thousand Year Journey.

Daisy von Scherler Mayer ’88 directed episodes of Bosch, The Walking Dead, A Million Little Things, Whiskey Cavalier, For the People, Chicago Med, Ray Donovan, House of Lies, Orange is the New Black, Mad Men, and Nurse Jackie.

Matthew Weiner ’87, P’18, ’23 is an Emmy Award-winning creator, writer, and executive producer of Mad Men and The Romanoffs.

D.B. Weiss ’93 was the executive producer and writer of Game of Thrones. He’s also had acting roles in Game of Thrones, Westworld, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Paul Weitz ’88 was the executive producer for episodes of Mozart in the Jungle, Cracking Up, Lone Star, Off Centre, and Fantasy Island.

Joss Whedon ’87, Hon’13 was the creator, producer, director, and writer for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Dollhouse, Angel, and more. His new sci-fi show, The Nevers, will premiere in 2021.

Mike White ’92 produced and wrote episodes for the School of Rock TV series, Enlightened, and Cracking Up.

Whitford

The West Wing of Wesleyan’s Usdan University Center is named in honor of actor Bradley Whitford ’81. Whitford played White House Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman on the NBC television drama The West Wing. Whitford was nominated for three consecutive Emmy Awards from 2001 to 2003 for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his role on The West Wing, winning the award in 2001. He received a second Emmy Award in 2015 for his role on Transparent.

Bradley Whitford ’81 is an Emmy Award-winning actor known for his roles in The West Wing, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Perfect Harmony, The Handmaid’s Tale, Infinity Train, Tangled: The Series, and Transparent.

Bill Wolkoff ’95 has written episodes of Once Upon a Time, Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, TRON: Uprising, and Star Wars Rebels.

Frank Wood ’83 is a Tony Award-winning actor and has appeared in episodes of Prodigal Son, The Blacklist, Mozart in the Jungle, The Knick, and Girls.

Bill Wrubel ’85 was a writer and producer for Modern Family, Ugly Betty, and Will & Grace.

John Yang ’80 is a Peabody Award-winning news correspondent on NBC.

Startup Led by Dhanda ’95 Developing COVID-19 Diagnostic Tests

Rahul Dhanda

Rahul Dhanda ’95

A lack of fast, reliable diagnostic testing has played a major role in the rapid proliferation of cases of COVID-19. Rahul Dhanda ’95 and his team at Sherlock Biosciences are working furiously to change that, potentially shortening the testing’s time horizon to a matter of minutes.

Dhanda is co-founder, CEO, and president of the engineering biology startup based in Cambridge, Mass., which is creating two different diagnostic tests for COVID-19—one rooted in CRISPR technology, the other in synthetic biology. The hope is that the tests can be released during the course of the current pandemic, Dhanda said, each with its own different applications and utility.

A history major who also took premed classes at Wesleyan, Dhanda earned his MBA at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before forging a successful career in the biotech field, with a specialty in diagnostics.

Arkin ’82 to Livestream Readings of His Suspense Novel During COVID-19 Outbreak

arkin book

Matthew Arkin

Matthew Arkin ’82

Starting April 1, Matthew Arkin ’82 will read from his suspense thriller In the Country of the Blind (2013) on YouTube Live.

“I’ll be reading in an effort to fight the strain and isolation [of the COVID-19 pandemic] and perhaps provide a little entertainment,” he said.

This is Arkin’s first attempt at livestreaming, which he’s calling “social distance storytime.”

“It’s an idea I had because we’re all under quarantine right now, we’re social distancing, stuck at home, and like many of you, I wonder how I can fill fill my time, what I can do to help others fill their time … so I thought I’d share it live online. I think it’s a lot of fun.”

Arkin will begin reading the book at 10 p.m. EST, and will continue the livestreams every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. He will lead a live-chat Q&A following each chapter.

Arkin, who double-majored in English and government at Wesleyan, hopes the story will be “something for people to look forward to, something to enjoy, something to sit around together and listen to,” he said.

To subscribe or tune in, visit the Matthew Arkin Studio page on YouTube.

Viertel ’97 Produces The Banker, Featuring Samuel L. Jackson

The BankerA new film produced and edited by Joel Viertel ’97 centers on revolutionary entrepreneurs Bernard Garrett (Anthony Mackie) and Joe Morris (Samuel L. Jackson), who devise a risky plan to purchase buildings in “white only” neighborhoods during the 1960s, to help black families pursue the American dream.

Inspired by true events, The Banker premiered at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn., on March 2, and is now available for viewing on on Apple TV Plus.

The New York Times featured The Banker in a March 20 article.

Viertel, a film studies major at Wesleyan, also produced Birth of the Dragon (2016), Zipper (2015), Ready or Not (2012), The Adjustment Bureau (2011), and many other films.

Best of Wes: Alumni-Produced Podcasts

Plug in those earbuds, crank those dials, and tune in to some of the many podcasts written, produced, and hosted by Wesleyan alumni. These are the best of Wes!

castroMarysol Castro ’96, broadcast journalist and New York Mets PA announcer, is the host of CTbites Hot Dish! (2020). The podcast, now with 13 episodes, sizzles with Connecticut chefs, farmers, bartenders, food writers, and local food activists. Guests have included Food Network Star winner Chef Christian Petroni, Connecticut Chef of the Year Tyler Anderson, and Westport Farmers Market Director Lori Cochran.

Adam Peltzman ’96 and Koyalee Chanda ’96 are co-writers of the six-episode scripted comedy for kids titled This Podcast Has Fleas (2017). Fleas features rivals Jones the cat and Waffles the dog, who are each creating their own podcast. They’re joined by other household pet characters Benny the gerbil and Mr. Glub the goldfish. In each episode, Jones and Waffles navigate a daily drama, such as a chaotic sleepover party, a trip to the vet, and the dreaded cone of shame. Read more in this past News @ Wesleyan article.

99invisible-logo-zag V2Avery Trufelman ’13 is a host and producer of three podcasts:
99% Invisible (2020), now at 385 episodes and counting, is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about—the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world. Trufelman serves as a producer of the show, which has more than 400 million downloads.

Articles of Interest (2019), a seven-episode podcast based off 99% Invisible, investigates the stories behind many clothing styles. Hosted by Trufelman, the show addresses punk style, blue jeans, kids’ clothing, fake pockets, Hawaiian shirts, and more.