Tag Archive for alumni TV

Wesleyan Alumni Join Roth, Bays ’97, Thomas ’97 for Talk in L.A.

Carter Bays ’97 and Craig Thomas ’97, co-creators of the television comedy, “How I Met Your Mother” (CBS), sat down with President Michael Roth ’78 and nearly 200 Wesleyan alumni at the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles, Calif. on Jan. 12. What followed was all Wes!

In addition to the video below, you can view photos taken during the event in this online Wesleyan Flickr gallery.

YouTube Preview Image

View 11 other videos featuring Carter Bays and Craig Thomas are in the links below:
Part 1  – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl504Uh8HFc
Part 2  – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdT0tXGBm-c
Part 3  – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BV4cP6l8JW0
Part 4  – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7lRQdgQpaw
Part 5  – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZDE5wh4Gh0
Part 6  – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYuM6f8Xvv8
Part 7  – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NKbOp7VsPU
Part 8  – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReRStEZRnGs
Part 9 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjyJtQW-JAA
Part 10 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qx_xlU1-IU
Part 11 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruClNDnST4E
Part 12 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LI3tzxU2mi4

Enlightened, Created and Written by White ’92, Premieres on HBO

Mike White '92 and Laura Dern star in HBO's Enlightened - Photo: Nicola Goode/HBO

Mike White ’92 has created (with actress Laura Dern) a new comedy-drama for HBO, Enlightened, which premiered on HBO in early October. White also wrote all 10 episodes for the first season, and directed two of them. Other directors include co-executive producer Miguel Arteta ’89, Jonathan Demme, Phil Morrison, and Nicole Holofcener.

Enlightened tells the story of Amy Jellicoe, played by Dern, a self-destructive executive at a large company who has a hugely dramatic meltdown in her office and is sent to a New Age treatment center in Hawaii, where she swims with sea turtles and heals. She returns to her former company ready to change herself and the world but her workplace reassigns her to the basement with a bunch of misfits who are destined for obscurity. White plays one of Amy’s co-workers.

In his review in The Los Angeles Times, Robert Lloyd said that Enlightened is “the most interesting and ambitious series of the fall season.”

In The New York Times review, Alessandra Stanley said: “It’s a funny, sardonic premise, but Enlightened is not just one big joke at the expense of crystal-carrying California narcissists. Comedy thrives on exaggeration, so it’s a credit to the show’s creator, Mike White, that Enlightened isn’t an entirely sarcastic title. The series embraces the absurdities of its subject with enough compassion to avoid outright parody.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Michael Judge praised the show, writing: “This isn’t just the story of one woman’s search for relevance or power in a man’s world; it’s the story of one human being’s search for meaning, one soul’s search for redemption. How many lower circles of hell will Amy and those she hopes to save descend into before they are all truly enlightened? God knows. But it certainly will be fun finding out.”

White was profiled by Carina Chocano in The  New York Times on October 7, 2011. Chicano said: “As a writer, White is intrigued by people in crisis and by the way in which they seem to draw the people around them into a reluctant dance of identification and rejection.”

Chicano continued: “Because White’s film characters tend to elicit existential discomfort, he often gets pegged as a satirist. ‘I don’t know,’ he said. ‘I think I’m more of an absurdist than a satirist. I think I’m more of a — humanist? I hate to say it!’ This made him laugh. But it’s an accurate description, in the sense that he returns again and again to the subject of what it’s like and what it means to be human — to try to do the right thing, to screw up, to feel bad, to try again. This is perhaps the most salient quality in his body of work.”

Eliasberg ’74 Directs N.C.I.S. Episode

Director Jan Eliasberg discusses a scene from the "Greed" episode of N.C.I.S.-Los Angeles with actors (left to right) Sherman Augustus, Chris O'Donnell, and Todd Smith (aka LLCoolJ), which will air on Nov. 8 at 9 p.m. on CBS.

Jan Eliasberg ’74 of Aquinnah Films directs the episode of N.C.I.S.-Los Angeles that airs on Nov. 8 on CBS at 9 p.m. The episode, entitled “Greed,” marks the second time Eliasberg has been tapped to put her directorial perspective on the dramatic action series featuring a Naval Criminal Investigative squad working in conjunction with local Southern California law enforcement.

Eliasberg, a theater major at Wesleyan who earned her graduate degree in directing at the Yale School of Drama and studied in London, says that she enjoyed directing plays by Bertolt Brecht and Shakespeare for “the large-scale themes, examining where the tears are in the fabric of our society, who is fighting on the front lines, who is impacted by it, and why.

“Yes, there is violence,” she says, “In the culminating scenes of Hamlet, or Macbeth, or any Greek tragedy, because the stakes are so high. That was the component of theater that really interested me.”

She finds those same aspects in some of today’s most popular television series and savors the directorial challenge.

“Action is thematic story-telling at its richest, in a funny way. It’s not just the ‘flash and bash’ — the action — ultimately it’s about what is at stake and why. What story and character threads have woven together to culminate in that action scene, and how the power is going to shift from that moment on.”

Friedman ’91 becomes President of MTV

Stephen K. Friedman

Stephen K. Friedman ’91 has been promoted to president of MTV. Since the fall of 2008, he has been general manager, and he will now oversee MTV, MTV2, mtvU, MTV.com, MTV Hits and MTV Jams.

During Friedman’s tenure, MTV has had five consecutive quarters of growth, and launched such successful shows as Teen Mom, 16 and Pregnant, Life as Liz, and the upcoming Teen Wolf. He joined MTV in 1998 and started MTV’s strategic partnerships and public affairs department. As general manager, he launched mtvU, the channel dedicated to college students, in 2004, and helped shape the channel’s Emmy Award-winning Sudan campaign to protest genocide in Darfur.

In announcing his promotion, The Los Angeles Times writes: “Over the years, [Friedman] has been instrumental in many of MTV’s social and political causes. … He was deeply involved in MTV’s award-winning ‘Fight for Your Rights’ campaign and its ‘Choose or Lose’ political drive. Before joining MTV, Friedman was director for the PEN American Center, an international writers’ human rights organization.”

Delany ’78 Stars in New ABC Drama Body of Proof

Dana Delany '78 on Body of Proof. (Photo by Handout, ABC)

For three years, Dana Delany ’78 brought a refreshing jolt of energy to ABC’s Desperate Housewives, in which she played the intriguing and conniving Katherine Mayfair. After displaying remarkable chemistry with actor Nathan Fillion on another popular ABC show Castle, she will now star on the same network in her own program, Body of Proof, which premieres on Tuesday, March 29.

Delany plays Megan Hunt, a medical examiner who formerly was the first female head of neurosurgery at a prominent U.S. university hospital. Hunt takes on a new career when a car crash leaves her unable to continue performing surgery.

Delany was recently interviewed about her exciting new character by Alex Strachan in the Vancouver Sun:

“She’s complicated,” Delany said. “That’s what drew me to the character. She’s smart. She’s complex. I just had dinner with an actual female neurosurgeon, and she told me she watched the pilot with trepidation, because nobody ever gets it right. She was pleased, though, because it’s very rare for a woman, especially at my age, to be a neurosurgeon. It’s a lot of years of work, a lot of years at school, and you’re not really allowed to have a personal life.

“I kind of see her as an addict, an addict who was addicted to the job, addicted to the power, addicted to the life and then she lost it all. She lost her husband, she lost custody of her child and lost her job. It’s as if she now needs to reinvent herself.”

Byler ’94 Documentary to Debut on MTV

The cable debut of 9500 Liberty will be Sunday, Sept. 26th, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT) on MTV2, mtvU (MTV’s 24-hour college network), and Tr3s: MTV, Música y Más (formerly MTV Tr3s) as part of Hispanic Heritage Month.

The critically acclaimed documentary, 9500 Liberty, is directed by Annabel Park and Eric Byler ’94 and chronicles the social, political, and economic impact of The Immigration Resolution, a law closely resembling Arizona’s SB 1070 that was briefly implemented in a Virginia county in 2008.

“The decisions our elected representatives make on immigration reform now will impact our audience for generations,” said Stephen Friedman ’91, executive vice president and general manager of MTV Networks. “As the national debate rages, MTV is committed to engaging America’s youth as informed and active participants—and sharing this powerful film is a great way to start that process.”

For further information on screenings, click here.

Wesleyan Alumni Are Big Winners at the Emmy Awards

Matthew Weiner ’87 and Erin Levy receive the Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series, Mad Men.

During the Primetime Emmy Awards broadcast on NBC on Aug. 29, several Wesleyan alumni received awards in the top categories:

Bruce C. McKenna ’84—Co-Executive Producer, Outstanding Miniseries, The Pacific. The Pacific received 8 Emmy Awards, more than any other program.

Matthew Weiner ’87—Executive Producer, Mad Men, Outstanding Drama Series; Writer (with Erin Levy), Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series, Mad Men, “Shut the Door. Have a Seat”. Mad Men received 4 Emmy Awards.

Bill Wrubel ’85—Co-Executive Producer, Modern Family, Outstanding Comedy Series. Modern Family received 6 Emmy Awards.

Awarded August 21, 2010 at the Creative Arts Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony:

Matthew Senreich ’96—Executive Producer and Writer, Outstanding Short-Format Animated Program, Robot Chicken

McKenna ’84 Talks on Campus about Writing HBO’s The Pacific

A streaming video of his talk is now available online here.  Note, this is a 270MB video and may take a moment to load in your browser. Quicktime is required to view the video. You also may download the video to your desktop.

Bruce McKenna ’84 returned to campus on March 30 to talk about his work on the new HBO mini-series The Pacific, which debuted on March 14 and continues on Sundays at 9 p.m. through May 16.

Bruce McKenna '84 presented the world premiere of the fourth episode of The Pacific at the Center for Film Studies' Powell Family Screening Room March 30. (Photo by Olivia Bartlett Drake)

The sprawling show tracks the intertwined real-life journeys of three U.S. Marines—Robert Leckie, Eugene Sledge, and John Basilone—across the vast canvas of the Pacific Theater during World War II. Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, and Gary Goetzman were executive producers for the project.

McKenna was a writer for seven of the 10 episodes, and he took on additional responsibilities on the mini-series by crafting the overall narrative arc for the project and overseeing the writing staff. He also served as co-executive producer and showrunner.

McKenna presented the world premiere of episode four of The Pacific at the Powell Family Screening Room at the Center for Film Studies. This episode shows the brutal conditions of the 1st Marine Division’s battling the Japanese at Cape Gloucester, and the physical and mental effects of combat on Robert Leckie, who is sent to a naval hospital on nearby Banika for psychiatric observation.

McKenna participated in a Q&A after the screening and talked about his seven years devoted to the project. He did extensive research for the show, reading everything he could find about the historical period, and he also talked to many soldiers about war memories. He discussed how the mini-series reveals a darker and perhaps less glorious side to World War II, which was necessary to show because of the relentless Japanese enemy forces and the brutality of the battles.

McKenna previously worked on the celebrated HBO World War II mini-series Band of Brothers, for which he won a Writers Guild of America Award for his contribution to the “Bastogne” script.

McKenna ’84 Lead Writer for HBO’s The Pacific

Bruce McKenna ’84 is the lead writer for the HBO series The Pacific. Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks produced this as follow up to Band of Brothers, for which McKenna also wrote.

According to a Feb. 28 article in The Los Angeles Times, McKenna accompanied a locations crew to a tiny coral island near Guam known as Peleliu to prepare for the $200M show. A ridge there is laced with hundreds of caves — undisturbed for more than half a century — where Japanese troops hid out from U.S. Marines during one of the WWII’s deadliest conflicts.

“There are still skeletons in the caves, and we saw them,” McKenna says in the article. “At the first cave we found, we walked in and there was the rib cage of a dead Japanese soldier. Up in the hills, every square inch is covered with shell casings and rusted machine guns. The place is unbelievable.”

The 10-part production, will run on consecutive Sundays at 9 p.m., presenting the war in the Pacific from the days following the attack on Pearl Harbor to the emotional return of troops home after final victory over Japan.