The Broadway cast recording of the Tony Award–winning musical Dear Evan Hansen earned a Grammy nomination for Best Musical Theater Album on Nov. 28. Produced with Atlantic Record’s President of A&R (artists and repertoire) Pete Ganbarg ’88, along with music supervisor and orchestrator Alex Lacamoire, creators Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and Broadway producer Stacey Mindich, the album had debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 when it came out last February.
Tag Archive for media
by Lauren Rubenstein •
In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.
Recent Wesleyan News
- WNPR’s Where We Live: “A Life with Food Allergies and Intolerances”
Associate Dean for Student Academic Resources Laura Patey is a guest on the show to talk about how Wesleyan works with and supports students and other community members with food allergies. Patey comes in around 40 minutes.
Professor of History, Emeritus Richard Elphick completed an unfinished book by his late colleague, historian, author and Wesleyan professor Jeffrey Butler.
3. The New York Times: “Book Review: Weird Christmas”
Amy Bloom ’75, the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing, reviews Christmas: A Biography by Judith Flanders.
4. Connecticut Magazine: “Book Club”
Wesleyan University Press is featured on page 17-18.
Steve Stemler, associate professor of psychology, discusses how the purpose of school in our country has evolved over time. He comes in around 11 minutes.
Recent Alumni News
- Variety: “Grammy Nominations 2018: Complete List”
A number of categories included work by Wesleyan alumni:
Best Musical Theater Album: Dear Evan Hansen is co-produced by Pete Ganbarg ’88; Hello, Dolly! includes cast member Beanie Feldstein ’15 as Minnie Fay.
Best Recording Package: Singer-songwriter Jonathan Colton’s Solid State, by art director Gail Marowitz ’81
Best Song Written For Visual Media: “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana by Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02.
Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media: Moana: The Songs, (Various artists—including Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02).
2. CT Now—“Write Stuff: Beverly Daniel Tatum [’75, HON ’15, P’04] to Speak at Hartford Seminary”
The author of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race (initially published in 1997 and revised for its 20th anniversary) was the featured speaker for Hartford Seminary’s Michael Rion Lecture on Thursday, Dec. 7. Tatum, who is president emerita of Spelman College and a clinical psychologist and racial identity expert, earned a master’s from Hartford Seminary in 2000. She spoke on “Listening to the Still, Small Voice: The Call To Lead.”
3. Tablet Magazine: “Cartooning’s Jewish Je Ne Sais Quoi: An Interview with Jason Adam Katzenstein [’13]”
Cartoonist and illustrator of the graphic novel, Camp Midnight (Image Comics, 2016), Katzenstein is a regular contributor to the New Yorker, as well as a member of the Brooklyn-based band Wet Leather.
In a broad-ranging interview that begins with Katzenstein discussing his favorite fictional representation of his hometown, Los Angeles, he traces his childhood love of comics, noting, “There’s a kind of Jewish je ne sais quoi about a lot of the comics I grew up with.”
4. Refinery29: The 67%: “Please Stop Complimenting Me on My Body” by Beanie Feldstein ’15
The actor, who currently is in the Broadway production of Bette Midler’s Hello, Dolly! as well as the newly released feature film Lady Bird, asks the readers to consider the inappropriate nature of remarking on someone’s appearance—even with ostensibly positive comments. “All I am saying is I don’t want anyone to feel that a change in appearance is an open invitation to comment on someone’s body — even if they believe they are being kind,” she says.
5. MusicInSF: “Q&A: Overcoats”—JJ Mitchell ’15 and Hana Elion ’15;
Nylon: “A Guide To All The Brooklyn Bands You Should Be Listening To Right Now” (number 15 in the slideshow); and
The Overcoats, duo JJ Mitchell ’15 and Hana Elion ’15, have been touring and writing new music. They’ve been highlighted recently in a number of media outlets, discussing their history (beginning at Wesleyan) and songwriting technique. See information on their January tour schedule:
by Cynthia Rockwell •
On Dec. 4, This Podcast Has Fleas, a partnership between WNYC Studios and kids’ television veterans Adam Peltzman ’96 and Koyalee Chanda ’96, joined that studio’s roster of innovative audio programming and signaled its foray into children’s podcasting.
This Podcast Has Fleas is six-episode scripted comedy series about a dog, Waffles (Emily Lynne), and a cat, Jones (Jay Pharoah), who live in the same house, each hosting their own competing podcasts. Additional household pets are a goldfish played by Alec Baldwin and a gerbil played by Eugene Mirman.
Chanda and Peltzman, whose television credits include Blue’s Clues, Wallykazam! and the Emmy-winning Odd Squad, The Electric Company and The Backyardigans spoke with The Wesleyan Connection about their path from Wesleyan into children’s television programming, and now into their newest audio project.
by Cynthia Rockwell •
This year the list of Grammy nominations includes work by Gail Marowitz ’81. Founder of The Visual Strategist, a company devoted to designing for music, Marowitz is not a first-timer on the coveted list. Her work has garnered her three nominations in the Best Recording Package category, with a win in 2006.
Now in the running is Marowitz’s work on Jonathan Coulton’s Solid State.
Marowitz, who claims “a misspent youth, looking at albums in record stores” and sends e-mails under the name “childorock,” says that her fascination with album covers began when she was 6 and her older brother brought home the Beatles’ Revolver. “There was so much to look at—drawings and collage. I remember staring at it for long periods of time.”
by Cynthia Rockwell •
Laura R. Walker ’79, P’21, president and CEO of New York Public Radio (NYPR), has an agenda: She wants at least half of the podcasts produced to be hosted or co-hosted by women. “We’re making progress,” she reported at Werk It 2017, an annual festival she helped to create in 2015 to give women the tools they need to become creative forces in podcasting.
Walker came up with the idea after she’d read a report on this new medium and discovered that of the top 100 podcasts on iTunes, only 20 percent were hosted or co-hosted by a woman.
“Podcasting was headed in the same direction as every other entertainment medium—flooded with men….the gender dynamics were the same old story,” she told the attendees at the this year’s festival, recounting its history. And after a conversation on those findings with Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Walker originated the first Werk It Festival, a gathering of women with the goal of creating a paradigm shift. The festival offers the tools of entrepreneurship, production, and broadcasting—and the confidence that comes with knowledge—in a women-helping-women model.
Now dubbed “The Woman Working to Make Podcasting More Diverse,” by Fast Company, Walker reported to this year’s festival that the most popular podcasts on iTunes are now nearly 35 percent women-hosted—and of those originating at her home station, WNYC, nine out of the 20 podcasts, or 45 percent, are created by women. “In podcasting, everyone in this room can create your own characters, tell your own stories. We don’t have to be relegated to fitting ourselves into the roles that a group of male decision makers deems to be appropriate, sellable or allowable,” she told the crowd.
Held this year in Los Angeles, at the Theatre at Ace Hotel with 600 attendees (last year’s festival in New York welcomed only 100), Werk It 2017 featured a number of notable participants including Death, Sex & Money‘s Anna Sale, Note to Self’s Manoush Zomorodi, and Latino USA’s Maria Hinojosa, as well as Nina Jacobson (producer of The Hunger Games), EMMY award-winning actress Lena Waithe, Recode’s Kara Swisher, TV producer Ilene Chaiken, and podcasters Ester Perel, Nigel Poor, Nora McInerny, and Kelly Mcevers. Many of the sessions are available as podcasts at no cost on a site hosted by WNYC Studios.
Note: Walker will be on the Wesleyan campus for Homecoming/Family Weekend, speaking on “Journalism in The Trump Era: Public Media’s Role as a Trusted News Source and Convener of Public Discourse” at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4, in a WESeminar to celebrate Wesleyan’s Koeppel Journalism Fellows. Anne Greene, University Professor of English and director of Wesleyan’s Writing Certificate, will serve as moderator. Walker holds an MBA from the Yale School of Management and a BA in history, magna cum laude, from Wesleyan University, where she was an Olin Scholar.
Follow Laura Walker on Twitter: @lwalker; WNYC Studios: @WNYCStudios
And listen to her Careers by Design podcast interview, “Encore: Don’t be Scared by Ambiguity,” hosted by Sharon Belden Castonguay, director of Wesleyan’s Gordon Career Center.
In this 2016 conversation, Walker told Castonguay: “For me a lot of the fun of it, and the challenge of it, and the kind of stuff I love to do, is the mix of the creative and the business… I think that actually started at Wesleyan… There’s something about seeing connections and drawing them and reveling in them…and not being scared by the ambiguity, but being challenged by it.”
by Cynthia Rockwell •
Bobbito Garcia ’88 and DJ Stretch Armstrong are back broadcasting—just like they were in the ’90s. Except:
It’s not student radio WKCR at Columbia University; it’s National Public Radio.
It’s not in the 1 until 5 a.m. timeslot; it’s an audio-on-demand podcast.
And the guests are not the as-yet-undiscovered hip-hop artists.
In What’s Good with Stretch and Bobbito, the listener will find Garcia and Armstrong offering smart, lively conversation with trendsetters and cultural icons ranging from Chance The Rapper, to activists Linda Sarsour, to Stevie Wonder. (“The standout interview of my career,” says Garcia, “with the legend of legends.”)
by Cynthia Rockwell •
Writing in a New York Times opinion piece, Joseph J. Fins ’82, M.D., The E. William Davis, Jr., M.D., Professor of Medical Ethics and the chief of the Division of Medical Ethics at Weill Cornell Medicine, describes the startling case of a young woman thought to be in a vegetative state but later able to communicate through the movement of one eye.
In “Brain Injury and the Civil Right We Don’t Think About,” Fins says that many seemingly vegetative individuals are misdiagnosed and suffer a loss of personhood and civil rights when they do have some conscious awareness and are, in fact, in the minimally conscious state.
Because minimally conscious patients can feel pain while vegetative patients can not, a misdiagnosis of a patient’s brain state can lead to a lack of pain medication administered during a medical procedure, a horrifying possibility. So too, says Fins, is “segregating” these patients in “custodial care” facilities without offering them rehabilitative opportunities to foster their recoveries. He writes:
I use the verb “segregated” deliberately, to invoke a time when separate but equal was the law. In the wake of legal advances like the Americans with Disabilities Act and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Disabled, which call for the integration of people with disabilities into civil society, how is the pervasive segregation of this population justified?
Part of the problem is that when these laws were written, the notion of reintegration was focused on physical mobility … When we restore voice to these patients we bring them back into the room and the conversation.
I often speak to university students brought up in the era of L.G.B.T.Q. rights who can’t understand how my generation did not appreciate that people could love those they chose to love. … I caution against smugness, suggesting that their own children may well ask them how they allowed society to ignore conscious individuals and deprive them of their rights.
Fins, a co-director of the Consortium for the Advanced Study of Brain Injury, is the author of Rights Come to Mind: Brain Injury, Ethics, and the Struggle for Consciousness (Cambridge University Press, 2015) and the Solomon Center Distinguished Scholar in Medicine, Bioethics and the Law at Yale Law School. He spoke on these topics at Wesleyan in 2015 as the Kim-Frank Visiting Writer. A trustee emeritus of Wesleyan, he was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the university in 2012.
by Cynthia Rockwell •
On Sept.12 (check local listings), Public Broadcasting Service’s Frontline will broadcast Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, a new documentary by Steve James (Hoop Dreams, Life Itself) that tells the story of the only U.S. bank to be criminally charged in connection with the 2008 financial crisis. That bank is Abacus Federal Savings Bank, located in New York City’s Chinatown and founded in 1984 by Thomas Sung, an immigration lawyer and an immigrant himself, who saw the need for this within the insular community. Sung and his wife are the parents of four daughters—three lawyers and one medical doctor—including two affiliated with the bank: Jill Sung ’90, president and CEO of Abacus, and her elder sister Vera, who sits on the board.
The events that are chronicled were set in motion when the Sungs discovered that one of their loan officers was taking money from borrowers in order to create false loan documents. The Sungs immediately fired him, referred the matter to their regulator, and reported the incident to the police. Yet instead of prosecuting that individual, the district attorney’s office turned their scrutiny on the bank’s officers and employees. In an unprecedented turn of events, 18 Abacus employees were placed under arrest and the press was offered a shocking photo-op: 10 of these employees were “handcuffed to a chain and paraded down the hallway in the Criminal Court building in a staged perp-walk before the national news media like a herd of slaves being led to the auction block,” as Thomas Sung later described that event in his statement to the public after Abacus was found innocent of wrongdoing.
Before that day of vindication, however, the legal proceedings, machinations, and trial sprawled over five long, intense years. James was there to film key moments and conduct interviews, including one with New York City District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., who led the prosecution.
by Cynthia Rockwell •
Laura Walker ’79, P’21, president and CEO of New York Public Radio, was named to Crain’s Most Powerful Women list for 2017.
“Presiding over the largest public radio station group in the U.S., Laura Walker reaches 26 million listeners every month through the eight stations in her WNYC portfolio,” Crain’s Matthew Flamm wrote. “Dependent on grants and listener contributions—Walker has grown revenue by 68% over the past decade—WNYC has the freedom to explore sensitive issues on air and on demand.”
by Cynthia Rockwell •
This March, Jon Berk ’72 began selling off his collection of comicbooks and comic art. It is no ordinary collection: The Jon Berk Art and Comic Collection, as it is known, consists of more than 18,000 items that span the history of comics in America. And it is no ordinary sale—ComicConnect is handing the sale, with the auction preview at the Metropolis Gallery in New York City until June 2nd, with online auctions offered in five sessions from June 12 though 16.
Asked how he began collecting comics, Berk notes that “collecting” is much different from “reading and acquiring,” which is what he did as a boy, buying DC comics from the local five-and-dime, He also notes his preference for “comicbook” as one word, much as one would write “notebook” or “casebook.”
Away at Hotchkiss for boarding school, Berk got interested in Marvel comics—new characters he’d never heard of, with stories that left the reader dangling until the next issue—from the boys who lived on the second floor of his dorm. His Wesleyan years followed, then law school at Boston University, and somewhere along the way, his parents jettisoned those childhood boxes of comicbooks.
During a law school summer in Boston, Berk saw “one of those old spinner-racks of comics”—with Spiderman books, his favorite. “They still make these?” he thought. There in the back pages, he saw an ad for collectors—an opportunity to buy vintage comicbooks. “They sell old comicbooks?” He was hooked and became a student of the genre—of the major publishing houses, the artists and their superheroes, and the social and cultural forces that shaped the stories that unfolded in those colorful pages.
He began with the urge to collect a complete set of the Marvel Comics Silver Age, in the early 1960s. “That would be the Fantastic Four, Thor, Captain American, the Hulk,” he says. “And once I collected those, I saw, that someone had a Human Torch, a comicbook from the 1940s, by Timely.
“Then I discovered Golden Age books, and even Pre-Golden Age—that was before Superman came out in June of 1938, when forces coalesced and we were given a superhero universe not known before this time.
“It opened up a whole new world for me; I was very interested in tracking down the early publishers like Everett Arnold and Harry Chesler,” he explains. “I’d always been interested in where did things come from? Where did things start? So I got into those Superheroes and looked for their predecessors. I was interested in the history of this American mythology.”
Now, however, “I just feel the timing is right to sell them,” said Berk, 67, an attorney with Gordon, Muir and Foley. “I’ve had fun, I’ve met great people, I have no regrets.”
In this new stage, divesting himself of this collection, not only is he getting reconnecting with many people he had met earlier, he is offering a whole new level of excitement to those who continue in the hobby.
Cofounders and owners of the Metropolis Comics, speak on the importance of the Berk Collection (“It’s funny to hear myself addressed in the third person,” notes Berk”) in a video.
Stephen Fischler, co-founder and CEO of Metropolis Comics says: “Jon’s collection is particularly special because of the appreciation that he had for what he was putting together. He wasn’t looking for collecting the newest trend and the hottest books. He was a sort of visionary and a comic historian who wanted to put together the history of comic books. He had a broad selection; he had super hero books, he had science fiction books, he had things that appealed to him and things that he loved.”
Vincent Zurzola, co-founder and CPP of Metropolis Comics, notes, “Between the comic books and the art, this is one of the best collections ever assembled. What makes the Jon Berk Collection so unique… is that it has incredible depth to it. To give you an idea—we had to process this to put it into our database, and often, when we entered a book, it was he first one we’ve ever had. Metropolis Collectibles has been the largest buyer of vintage comics in the world for over 30-40 years—so we’ve had pretty much everything. When I’m seeing, ‘Does not exist in database’ over and over again…I know we have a very, very special collection. It was incredibly educational and mind-boggling to see books that I’ve never seen before.”
“I’m selling off 99.5 percent of my collection,” says Berk, whose keys hang out of his pocket on a Spiderman keychain. “But there’s always that .5 percent. Maybe everyone will see those some time in the future.”
Note: To see a video of Jon Berk ’72 discussing his collection, click here.
by Catherine Abert '18 •
Gabriel Urbina ‘13 had been out of college for eight months when, “one day, for whatever reason, this idea for a show popped into my head.” The show manifested itself as a radio drama called Wolf 359 which, four years later and in the midst of its final season, has found itself maintaining a vibrant cult following among its ever growing fan base and a finalist in the Digital Audio Drama category of the 2017 Webby Awards. Of further note: Wolf 359 is a hugely Wesleyan collaborative effort — of the 12 cast and production members, all are Wesleyan alumni!
Staff writer and producer Sarah Shachat ’12 describes Wolf 359 as “a sort of wonderful way to work with awesome people you didn’t know how to approach in college.”
Wolf 359 is based around the life of the communications officer of the U.S.S. Hephaestus Research Station, Doug Eiffel (voiced by Zach Valenti ’12), who is orbiting around the red dwarf star Wolf 359 on a scientific survey mission of indeterminate length. Eiffel’s only companions are the stern mission chief Minkowski (Emma Sherr-Ziarko ’11), the insane science officer Hilbert (also Valenti ’12), and the station sentient, an often-malfunctioning operating system called HERA, (Michaela Swee ’12).
While rooted in the sci-fi genre, Urbina says “no genre has made a conscious effort to stay out of the show,” with inspiration drawn on from “conversations I have with the cast members about politics, philosophy, religion, and ecology.” Urbina, Valenti, and Shachat all describe their time as film majors at Wesleyan as integral in their ability to, as Valenti says, “pull the magic trick that is film on the audience’s nervous system with deliberate and intentful choice.”
Urbina describes the experience of working on Wolf 359 as “a proof-of-concept for all of us, to feel that we can execute something creative that we can put out regularly.” As a project that began as a side experiment in the midst of the busy lives of the cast and crew, “the fact that Wolf has found an audience that really cares about it is unspeakably cool,” says Shachat.
As Urbina and Co. gear up to record their final season of Wolf 359 this summer, Urbina respond to the inevitable “what’s next” question with, “The short answer is, ‘We don’t know’; the slightly longer answer is, ‘We all would love to continue working together as much as we can.’”me and
by Andrew Logan ’18 •
This month, Sebastian Junger ’84 and Liz W. Garcia ’99 will each feature their films at the annual Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. Founded in 2001 by Jane Rosenthal, Robert DeNiro and Craig Hatkoff, the Tribeca Film Festival attracts nearly half a million attendees.
Junger, a journalist, author and filmmaker, is co-director, with Nick Quested, of the film Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS,
It follows an extended family’s attempt to flee their homeland in the face of violence and tragedy. Edited down to 99 minutes from an extensive 1,000 hours of footage, it also captures the combat of Kurdish fighters in Sinjar and Shia Militias in Iraq.
Hell on Earth is the latest product of Junger’s long-held interest in war journalism. He directed the award winning documentary Restrepo (2010), which documents US military personnel stationed in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. This film would eventually become part of a trilogy that includes Korengal (2014) and The Last Patrol (2016).
Prior to his war journalism, Junger authored two notable works of nonfiction,The Perfect Storm, which was adapted into a film staring George Clooney, and A Death in Belmont. His writing and journalism has earned him a Magazine Award and a Peabody Award and has appeared in magazines such as Vanity Fair, Harpers and The New York Times Magazine.
One Percent More Humid, which will also play at the festival, is director Liz W. Garcia’s second narrative film. It follows two college-age childhood friends, played by Juno Temple and Julia Garner, who return home from school for a New England summer. Although together they engage in typical summer mischief, the effects of their shared past traumas become increasingly pronounced. Yet as they attempt to process their traumas, a rift eventually arises in their old friendship.
Deborah Rudolph, assistant programmer at the festival, describes One Percent More Humid as “a sun-soaked, atmospheric coming-of-age tale of two young women looking to free themselves from distractions, to repair their friendship, and help each other reach the other side of grief.”
Previously, Garcia directed The Lifeguard, her directorial debut, which premiered in 2013 at the Sundance Film Festival. She was the co-creator of the 2010 TNT series Memphis Beat, and has written for television series like Wonderfalls, Cold Case, and Dawson’s Creek. Currently she is writing the final installment of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Festival literature calls her “one of the most prolific female voices working today in film and television.”