Tag Archive for alumni TV

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.

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.

Sousa ’03 Produces, Directs Native America Documentary for PBS

Clockwise from top left: Alan Hunt prepares to become a Kwakwaka'wakw Hereditary Chief; Potlatch cedar carving; Onondaga tribal member Angela Ferguson; Comanche tribal members Philip Bread and Jhane Myers. Credit: Providence Pictures

Joseph Sousa ’03 is the producer and director of a documentary titled “Native America.” Pictured are stills from the show. Clockwise from top left: Alan Hunt prepares to become a Kwakwaka’wakw Hereditary Chief; a Potlatch cedar carving; Onondaga tribal member Angela Ferguson; Comanche tribal members Philip Bread and Jhane Myers. (Photo courtesy of Providence Pictures)

A four-part documentary directed by Joseph Sousa ’03 will be released on Oct. 23 on PBS.

Native America, produced by Providence Pictures, weaves history and science with living indigenous traditions. The series travels through 15,000 years to showcase massive cities, unique systems of science, art, and writing, and 100 million people connected by social networks and spiritual beliefs spanning two continents.

Joseph Sousa '03

Joseph Sousa ’03 is a producer, director, and nonfiction writer of television, commercial content, and independent documentaries.

Sousa and his fellow producers and film crew were provided access to Native American communities, going behind the scenes at special events, including a pilgrimage to ancestral ruins at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, a trek across lost territories in the American West, and an investiture ceremony for a chief in the Pacific Northwest, surrounded by cedar totem poles and centuries of tradition. Tribal members and descendant communities, whose ancestors built this world, share their stories, revealing long-held oral traditions as the thread that runs through the past to these living cultures today.

Kail ’99 Directs Musical Extravaganza Grease: Live

Grease: Live

Thomas Kail ’99, far right, oversaw the stage direction for Grease: Live.

Thomas Kail ’99, who is currently directing the blockbuster hit Hamilton on Broadway, written by and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, brought the energy of live theater to the small screen as he set the stage direction for Grease: Live, a musical extravaganza starring Julianne Hough as Sandy and Vanessa Hudgens as Rizzo, along with Aaron Tveit as Danny, Carly Rae Jepson as Frenchy, Mario Lopez as Vince Fontaine and Boys II Men in the role of Teen Angel. The musical, which was staged in front of a live audience, aired on Fox on Jan. 31. 

Visiting Writer Windolf Interviews Game of Thrones Creator Weiss ’93

Game of Thrones cast members Emilia Clarke and Iain Glen are seen in this image by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair.

Game of Thrones cast members Emilia Clarke and Iain Glen are seen in this image by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair.

On the eve of the fourth season of HBO’s fantasy hit Game of Thrones, Wesleyan Visiting Writer in English Jim Windolf talks with series creators D.B. Weiss ’93 and David Benioff and novelist George R.R. Martin – on whose works the show is based – in Vanity Fair:

“Based on ‘A Song of Ice and Fire,’ the epic series of fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin, the show seemed like an odd fit for HBO. But Benioff and Weiss believed it was in the tradition of The Sopranos,Deadwood, Oz, and other HBO shows in that it would breathe new life into a tired or maligned genre. It wasn’t an easy task, though, to persuade executives that something belonging to a category that includes Xena: Warrior Princess was right for the crown jewel of premium cable. ‘That was one of the big uphill sells,’ Weiss says. ‘It was just a question of convincing them that it applied to a genre that had never seriously crossed their minds before.’”

Windolf traces the history of the show’s creation and rocky HBO debut, and asks author Martin about the relationship between the source material and the series:

“Game of Thrones, which enters its fourth season this month, may be heading toward its second massive problem, as tough to solve as the messed-up pilot, which is this: the show is in danger of catching up to the books.

“Martin started writing the epic saga (more than 4,000 pages and counting) in July 1991. He has published five of a planned seven books. If the 2015 television season carries Benioff and Weiss through Book Five, which is possible, and if Martin has not completed Book Six (The Winds of Winter) by that time, which is also possible, there could be trouble.

“Asked if it’s conceivable the show could overtake its source material, Benioff says, ‘Yup.’ When I mention to Martin that Benioff and Weiss are catching up, he says, ‘They are. Yes. It’s alarming.’”

Windolf is editor of M magazine, contributing editor for Vanity Fair, columnist for Capital New York, and writer for The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The New York Observer.

Students Gather to Watch How I Met Your Mother Finale

On March 31, students and staff gathered at the Career Center for the series finale of the hit TV show, How I Met Your Mother. The show was co-created by Carter Bays ’97 and Craig Thomas ’97 and has won several awards throughout its nine seasons.

University Relations and the Wes Watches HIMYM Blog sponsored the event so the Wesleyan community could watch the final episode together.

Photos of the event are below: (Photos by Ryan Heffernan ’16)

eve_stu_2014-0331075730

Film Studies’ MacLowry Co-Directs PBS Show on Penn Station

Randall MacLowry '86 co-produced, directed and wrote the PBS episode.

Randall MacLowry ’86 co-produced, directed and wrote the PBS episode, “The Rise and Fall of Penn Station.”

Randall MacLowry ’86, visiting instructor in film studies, co-produced, directed and wrote an episode for the PBS history series American Experience. Titled “The Rise and Fall of Penn Station,” the hour-long episode premieres at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 18.

Pennsylvania Station, a monumental train terminal in the heart of Manhattan, finally opened to the public on Nov. 27, 1910. Covering nearly eight acres, the building was the fourth largest in the world. By 1945, more than 100 million passengers traveled through Penn Station each year.

But by the 1960s, what was supposed to last forever was slated for destruction. In 1961, the financially strapped Pennsylvania Railroad, which had been losing customers to air and automobile travel, announced that it had sold the air rights above Penn Station. In 1963, the demolition of the grand edifice began and construction on the new station was completed in 1968. Watch a preview of “The Rise and Fall of Penn Station” online here.

MacLowry is an award-winning filmmaker with over 25 years experience as producer, director, writer and editor, and is co-founder of The Film Posse with producer and partner Tracy Heather Strain. His work for American Experience includes “Silicon Valley,” “The Gold Rush” (2007 Erik Barnouw Award), “Building the Alaska Highway,” “A Brilliant Madness and Stephen Foster;” he also served as editor of “The Polio Crusade” and an episode of the two-part series “Reconstruction: America’s Second Civil War.”

MacLowry majored in art with a film studies concentration at Wesleyan.

Whitford ’81 Stars in New ABC Comedy Trophy Wife

Malin Akerman, Bradley Whitford '81, Machia Gay Hardin and Michaela Watkins in "Trophy Wife" on ABC

Malin Akerman, Bradley Whitford ’81, Machia Gay Hardin and Michaela Watkins in “Trophy Wife” on ABC

Bradley Whitford ’81 (The West Wing) stars as Pete Harrison, a high-powered environmental lawyer with three kids and two ex-wives in the new ABC comedy Trophy Wife, which premiered in September on ABC. On the Tuesday night show, Pete marries Kate, a younger woman, played by Malin Akerman, who previously led a rowdy, carefree life and whose life is shaken up with the new responsibilities of family life.

In his review of the program in The Hollywood Reporter, Tim Goodman wrote: “Whitford shines with his surprisingly Zen-like approach to having three women he’s been married to weave in and out of his life with varying results.”

In a positive review on the A.V. Club, Todd VanDerWerff writes that “the show has a supreme confidence in its ability to reveal character through conflict, something many comedy pilots avoid. … In particular, the series is smart about letting viewers know the point of view of everyone in the show, from Akerman to Whitford to all of the kids, right down to the 7-year-old adopted son from China. These points of view are inherently in conflict most of the time, which makes for funnier gags.”

And Matt Zoller Seitz of Vulture/New York Magazine said: “Trophy Wife is adept at sending up a certain segment of upper-middle-class America: its politically correct gestures and rituals, its overscheduled near chaos,

Emmy Award Winner Margolis ’93 Is Show Runner for Adult Swim’s Newsreaders

Jim Margolis ’93 (Photo courtesy Jim Margolis)

Jim Margolis ’93, a six-time Emmy Award winner, left his job last year as an executive producer for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to become the show runner for a new series, Newsreaders, which airs at midnight Thursday on Adult Swim, part of the Cartoon Network.

Co-created by Rob Corddry, Jonathan Stern and David Wain, Newsreaders is a sketch comedy show in the form of a fake TV news magazine and a spinoff of a successful Adult Swim series, Children’s Hospital, a parody of the hospital drama genre. The new series features both established and up-and-coming comic talents.

In a recent review in The New York Times, Mike Hale wrote: “The two shows [Newsreaders and Children’s Hospital] share a writing and performing style that is simultaneously over the top and dryly understated, as well as a funny quirk of showing us enticing excerpts of scenes or segments that don’t exist.”

Michael Heaton at the Cleveland Plain Dealer recently spoke to Margolis about his new position.

Margolis said:  “I still work with incredibly funny and talented people, but creating a new show and producing a single season of a scripted comedy show is wildly different from producing a daily late-night comedy show. …

“I was amazed at all of the great people we got. People really wanted to do the show. It was kind of a who’s who of comedy, along with an actual bond girl (Jane Seymour) and a New Kid on the Block (Joey McIntyre).”

About leaving The Daily Show, Margolis said: “It was a very difficult decision, but it was a great opportunity to create something completely new and collaborate with people I really like and respect. It was also a great opportunity to have no job security. I think what you’re really asking is what was I thinking? A lot of people have asked that question.”

Read more

Mark ’71 is Executive Producer of USA Network’s Political Animals

Laurence Mark ’71

Political Animals, a six-part television mini-series created and written by Greg Berlanti with Lawrence Mark ’71 as an executive producer, premiered on USA Network on July 15. Sigourney Weaver stars as Elaine Barrish Hammond, a former first lady divorced from the ex-U.S. president who becomes secretary of state after losing the presidential nomination to a younger, less experienced male candidate. The series follows Elaine’s political success in her new job and touches upon her desire to run for the presidency again, but it also revolves around her family relations.

In an article in The New York Times, Amy Chozick notes that creator Greg Berlanti donated to Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2008. But “although he found initial inspiration in Mrs. Clinton, the fictional family drama that engulfs the Hammonds interested him more than poll numbers, policy and, well, reality. This is, after all, Hollywood.”

“ ‘It’s politics as theater,” [says] Laurence Mark … ‘There’s a stage, and then there’s backstage.’ ”

Sigourney Weaver and Carlo Gugino in “Political Animals.” (Photo by David Giesbrecht/USA Network)

In his positive review in the Los Angeles Times, Robert Lloyd calls Political Animals  “an unusually ambitious production from the home of Monk, Psych and Royal Pains. … this is a family drama, a high-class, relatively naturalistic, behind-closed-doors soap opera that plays in fairly obvious yet also fairly affecting ways with the space between public face and private pain and is made highly watchable by an excellent cast that finds the human among the hokum.”

And Rob Brunner in his Entertainment Weekly review writes: “What’s it like working for the man who snatched away the Commander-in-Chief job she thought was hers to lose? This six-part miniseries … tries to imagine some answers, and the result is a well-acted, entertainingly soapy drama that might not crack the Clinton code definitively but still offers a fun and credible look at the complicated intersection of love, gender, and politics.”

Jan Eliasberg ’74 Named Fox Writers Initiative Fellow

Jan Eliasberg ’74

Jan Eliasberg ’74, of Aquinnah Films, was chosen as one of 10 fellows for the Fox Writers Initiative, a highly selective four-month program designed to groom writers to run television series and write and direct features across all the divisions of 20th Century Fox.

The 10 were chosen from more than 350 nominations by representatives and arts organizations across the country. The initiative sought unique voices, as well as a diversity in backgrounds and life experiences.

In a company press release, Nicole Bernard, senior vice president of audience strategy for The Fox Group, said, “These 10 incredibly gifted writers represent the high-caliber talent we’re looking for at Fox, and we’re extremely excited to work more closely with them through this initiative.” She noted that tapping into a wide pool of talent was crucial to reaching their constituents, adding, “This is an important step toward ensuring that our film, TV and digital productions better reflect our broader audience, and we’re thrilled that so many writers and producers have signed on to lend their expertise.”

Eliasberg, who majored in theater at Wesleyan, is a graduate of the directing program at the Yale School of Drama. She has directed plays at Joe Papp’s Public Theatre, South Coast Rep, and the Royal Court Theatre in London. She has taught and guest lectured at USC School for Cinema Studies, the Sundance Lab, Yale School of Drama, Wesleyan Program for Writers, and the Art Institute of California.

Her television directing career was launched when she was selected by Michael Mann to be the first female director on Miami Vice. She was also the first woman to direct episodes of Crime Story, Wiseguy and 21 Jump Street.

Eliasberg has directed television pilots for all networks as well was hundreds of hours of award-winning television, including episodes of Blue Bloods, Parenthood, N.C.I.S.: Los Angeles, Criminal Minds, Supernatural, In Plain Sight, L.A. Law, Party of Five,and Dawson’s Creek.