Andrew Seibert ’86 Promoted to President of SmartMoney Andrew Seibert has been named president of SmartMoney, a joint venture between Hearst Corporation and Dow Jones & Co. Seibert will continue in his current position as vice president and publisher of SmartMoney’s Customs Solutions, the venture’s successful custom publishing arm. In his expanded role, Seibert will be responsible for the circulation, advertising and marketing operations of SmartMoney magazine as well as for SmartMoney.com.
In her first major solo exhibition, visiting professor of art Sasha Rudensky ’01, will present two photographic series at Wesleyan University’s Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery: “Remains” (2004/08) and “Demons” (2007–08).
In “Remains,” Rudensky, who was born in Moscow in 1979 and moved to the United States in 1990, explores the political and social transformation of the former Soviet Union by poignantly focusing on the intimate details of everyday life. “Demons,” a series of hybrid portraits, suggests a fantastical version of the artist’s childhood.
Rudensky “Remains” in the fall of 2004 after receiving a Mortimer Hays Brandeis traveling fellowship. Her images, however, turned out to be very different than what she first intended to photograph.
“My proposal was to document mining towns in Siberia and the arctic north,” Rudensky says. “But having gotten there and after doing some preliminary shooting, I realized I didn’t want to simply document post-soviet devastation of depressed towns,
Owen McNally in the Hartford Courant recently profiled jazz vocalist Tierney Sutton ’86, who performed in West Hartford in January for a benefit concert. In the article, McNally describes Sutton as “one of the hottest, hippest singers on today’s jazz scene.” He adds that she is “a bold, inventive improviser with true grit, has an expressive range that can leap from up tempo fervor to lyrical warmth. She makes evergreens sound greener, flag-wavers leaner and blues meaner.”
McNally reveals that Sutton came to Wesleyan to master Russian and Russian literature but when she arrived on campus, she discovered the power and glory of jazz, impressed by concerts that showcased the talents of jazz greats such as Betty Carter and Jimmy Heath. Sutton soon developed a deep appreciation for the work of Sarah Vaughan, Miles Davis and John Coltrane. She was encouraged in her singing career by jazz saxophonist/composer Bill Barron who was the head of Wesleyan’s music department when she was a student.
In its cover story, the January 2009 issue of Written By calls Joss Whedon ’87 a web pioneer for his self-produced “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog,” which tells the story of a young wannabe super villain and initially aired on the web in July.
“The show was a web pioneer, streaming online for free before becoming available for sale on iTunes, where it shot to the top of the charts,” Written By says. “Although there’s no way to tell where it ranks in terms of online programming, it is certifiably the most successful web musical of all time. Whedon’s traits are on display—humor, humanity, musical chops, reversal of expectations, tragic twists—but serving a new medium and no masters.”
Time magazine listed the show in its Top 50 inventions of 2008, at number 15.
Lisa Rosen ’86 wrote the article; she first met Whedon when they were at Wesleyan together. “He struck me as ridiculously funny, smart, and engaging, with a playful way around words. I didn’t know that back then he used a Brother manual typewriter that he named Mutant Enemy, which he still owns but can’t find ribbons for,” she says.
Whedon also is the creator of Dollhouse, scheduled to air on Fox in February.
Michael Bennet '87, superintendent of Denver Public Schools, meets with students from OpenWorld Learning's program at Castro Elementary School in Denver.
Michael Bennet ’87, designated to fill a vacant Senate seat from Colorado, told The New York Times in January that he would go to Washington believing there is “no problem too tough to withstand innovative thinking.”
Bennet, son of Wesleyan President Emeritus Douglas J. Bennet ’59, is the superintendent of schools in Denver. Colorado’s governor, Bill Ritter Jr., selected him to replace Sen. Ken Salazar, nominated as interior secretary for the Obama administration.
Bennet told the Times he would focus on health care, the economy and education. He has gained prominence as superintendent, working with Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper ’74.
In a statement, then President-elect Obama said, “His breakthrough work at the helm of Denver’s schools has reflected that commitment, and established Michael as one of the nation’s leading education reformers.”
The Times credited him with turning around a school system “replete with problems” despite his having little experience as an education administrator. Student performance on standardized tests has improved during his tenure.
Richard Kendall ’74, a senior partner in the Los Angeles office of the law firm Irell & Manella, represented the National Resources Defense Council in a case involving whales and the U.S. Navy that recently was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Environmental groups had contended that the Navy’s use of underwater sonar was harming whales and other marine animals. The case arose when the Navy skipped an environmental impact statement for anti-submarine exercises planned from 2007 to 2009. The NRDC sued, and Los Angeles district court restricted the Navy’s use of active sonar. Later, a U.S. appeals court affirmed but eased the restrictions regarding location and timing of the exercises.
President Bush intervened in the case by citing national security as a reason to exempt the Navy from environmental laws at the heart of the legal challenge. In the 5-4 ruling, Chief Justice Roberts spoke for the majority in siding with the Navy, but the Navy agreed to abide by other restrictions on the exercises.
Kendall told CNN: “It is gratifying that the court did not accept the Navy’s expansive claims of executive power and that two-thirds of the injunction remains in place.”
Kendall had argued that sonar can be as loud to marine mammals as 2,000 jet engines, causing them to suffer physical trauma, stranding, and changes in breeding and migration patterns.
The New York Times said the case was the latest in a decade-long dispute between the Navy and environmental groups over the use of sonar. Environmentalists have had some success through lawsuits and persuasion in limiting sonar in training exercises around the world.
Laurence Mark '71 (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
The New York Times’ Michael Cieply recently interviewed Laurence Mark ’71, the producer, and Bill Condon, the executive producer, of the upcoming Academy Awards ceremony, scheduled to be telecast on ABC on Feb. 22, 2009.
Mark said he hoped to bring back “a little bit of the party flavor” of past ceremonies and also would welcome “a few shocks and shivers, intended or otherwise.” Both producers expect to make the ceremony more popular with viewers by featuring 2008 films that moved audiences, including films that did not receive nominations.
Mark is currently preparing for the release later this year of a film he produced, Julie & Julia, written and directed by Nora Ephron and starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. The film deals with a young woman’s obsession with cooking star Julia Child.
Sharp ’85 Finds Irony in Hebrew Scriptures In her fascinating new study, Irony and Meaning in the Hebrew Bible (Indiana University Press), Carolyn J. Sharp ’85, associate professor of Hebrew Scriptures at Yale Divinity School, suggests that many stories in the Hebrew Scriptures may be ironically intended. By interweaving literary theory and exegesis, she examines the power of the unspoken in a wide variety of texts from the Pentateuch, the Prophets, and the Writings. Her book considers such themes as foreign rulers and the fear of God, the prostitute as icon of the ironic gaze, indeterminacy and dramatic irony in prophetic performance, and irony in ancient Israel’s wisdom traditions.
Sharp pays special attention to how irony can challenge the dominant ways in which the Bible is read today, especially when it touches on questions of conflict, gender, and the other.
Sharp’s research continues to explore the composition, redaction, and rhetoric of Hebrew Scripture texts. She is also the author of Prophecy and Ideology in Jeremiah: Struggles for Authority in the Deutero-Jeremianic Prose; and Old Testament Prophets for Today.
Justin Oberman ’96 is planning a run for the House seat that soon will be vacated by Rahm Emanuel in the Illinois 5th district. The date for the election will not be set until Emanuel officially resigns to become President-elect Barack Obama’s chief of staff.
Oberman is an authority on transportation and homeland security, having served as a founding member and senior executive of the Transportation Security Administration. From 2003 through 2005, he was TSA’s assistant administrator for Transportation Threat Assessment and Credentialing. He was responsible for the agency’s programs that identify known or potential terrorists threats to the nation’s transportation system. His office oversaw the still-ongoing implementation of a new passenger pre-screening system for domestic aviation, the Registered Traveler program to expedite passenger screening, the development of a biometric smart card for more than one million workers at seaports, and a program to conduct background checks for all TSA employees and contractors.
He subsequently co-founded NEXA Capital Partners, a specialty financial advisory firm. In 2007, he joined President-elect Obama’s advisory committee on homeland security.
Lin-Manuel Miranda '02 wrote the music and lyrics for In the Heights.
In the Heights, the Tony Award winner for Best Musical 2008, is one of five recordings nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Musical Show Album category. Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 wrote the music and lyrics for the show. The other Grammy-nominees include the soundtracks for Gypsy, The Little Mermaid, South Pacific and Young Frankenstein.
The nominees for the In the Heights album, released by Razor & Tie Entertainment/Ghostlight Records, include Kurt Deutsch, Alex Lacamoire, Andrés Levin, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Joel Moss and Bill Sherman ’02, producers, as well as Miranda as composer/lyricist.
The nominations for the 51st annual Grammy Awards were announced on Dec. 3. CBS will telecast the awards event on Feb. 8, 2009.
Jeffrey Richards ’69, along with Jerry Frankel and Steve Traxler, will produce two new Broadway plays in the coming months. First up is a revival of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, scheduled to begin performances at the Shubert Theater in New York City on Feb. 26, 2009.
Blithe Spirit is a comedy about Charles Condomine, who with his second wife, Ruth, invites a local medium, Madame Arcati, to his house to do some research into the spirit world for his new book. But trouble arises when Arcati conjures up the ghost of Charles’s first wife, Elvira.
The new production has a stellar cast including four-time Tony Award winner Angela Lansbury, two-time Tony Award winner Christine Ebersole, film star Rupert Everett (My Best Friend’s Wedding), who will be making his Broadway debut, and theater veterans Simon Jones and Jayne Atkinson. Tony Award-winning Michael Blakemore will direct.
Richards’ next production will be Neil LaBute’s reasons to be pretty, an MCC Theater production that was a recent hit off-Broadway. This comic drama explores America’s obsession with physical beauty. The play is scheduled to begin previews at Broadway’s Lyceum Theater on March 6, 2009.
Richards is also one of the producers of three recent successful Broadway productions: August: Osage County (winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award for Best Play), Spring Awakening (winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical) and Speed-the-Plow.
A book by Andrew Meier '85 was featured in The New York Times.
The Lost Spy: An American in Stalin’s Secret Service (W. W. Norton, 2008) by Andrew Meier ’85 was the subject of an article in the New York Times on Nov. 8.
A former Moscow correspondent for Time magazine, Meier spent seven years for his new book researching the fascinating tale of Isaiah “Cy” Oggins, an American radical and Columbia University graduate who served in the highest circles of Stalin’s intelligence agency, the NKVD. From the late 1920s through the 1930s, Oggins traveled to Berlin, Paris, and Manchuria on his missions. In 1947, he was poisoned by lethal injection under Stalin’s direct orders. The spy’s story remained hidden in secret files of the KGB and the FBI until 1992. To tell the entire story of Oggins’ career for the first time, Meier conducted interviews with more than 300 people on three continents and studied KGB and FBI papers as well as archives in Japan, China, Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland.
The author also met Oggins’ only child, his son Robin, who had last seen his father at age seven in 1938. Meier’s book is both a vivid biography and an exciting cold war espionage story that uncovers a secret world of dramatic intrigue and tragic events. The New York Times article mentions how Meier’s book has prompted Robin Oggins to seek more information about his father from Russian officials.