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Thursday, July 18, 2013


This may be the juiciest "Penn Alumni You Should Know About" edition yet!

After the jump, check out exciting news about the latest from 19 Penn alumni with projects in TV, film, stage, web, apps, and print.

Plus, more stories of Penn alumni working together on entertainment projects alum who dishes on what happens backstage as a Jeopardy contestant ....and an alum who is body doubling for a major Hollywood star!


Meredith Stiehm (C'90) debuted her new FX series "The Bridge" to solid numbers!

Scott Neustadter's (C'98) new film The Spectacular Now (8/2/13) recently released a trailer.  Rotten Tomatoes synopsis:
"With sly humor and an intensity of feeling, THE SPECTACULAR NOW (directed by James Ponsoldt) creates a vivid, three-dimensional portrait of youth confronting the funny, thrilling and perilous business of modern love and adulthood. This is the tale of Sutter Keely (Miles Teller), a high school senior and effortless charmer, and of how he unexpectedly falls in love with "the good girl" Aimee Finecky (Shailene Woodley). What starts as an unlikely romance becomes a sharp-eyed, straight-up snapshot of the heady confusion and haunting passion of youth - one that doesn't look for tidy truths."

Sonny Lee (C'03, Penn Six, Full Measure, Penn Admissions) will be writing Holly DiMarco's iPhone for Universal. Per Deadline, "A couple of high school losers find themselves in wish-fulfillment mode after they find the iPhone belonging to the hottest and most popular girl in school." The film will be produced by Penn alum Hurwitz & Schlossberg Productions partners Penn alum Jon Hurwitz (C'00) and Hayden Schlossberg.   ...More Penn alumni working together here

Jake Avnet (C'05) has teamed up with his father Jon Avnet (C'78) to produce WIGS, the #1 channel for scripted drama on YouTube, brings you high-end, original series, short films, and documentaries, all starring female leads.  Below watch "Paloma" written and directed by Julia Stiles.  Watch all episodes here

Lori White's (C'05) recently shot a short "48 hour film project" film, Fun Run starring Katie Foster (C'06). In the film that Lori wrote and directed, Lori had only 48 hours to make the film and incorporate the genre 'sports and competitions/games" and was required to include "character Cat dean, ad exec, the line "when do you expect her" and a trophy":


Stephanie Lemelin's new web AOL series Playdate: New mom, Amy, is not only new to the suburban life, having left her high powered job in the city to focus her attention on raising her daughter, she’s also new to the mommy politics that come with it.  More about Stephanie here

Katie Foster (C'06) appeared in US Weekly as Cameron Diaz's body double!:

Jonah Platt (C'08, Off the Beat) is about to lend his fantastic voice to the return of L.A.'s pop opera BARE beginning September 5.  More here

UPenn and Jonah Platt


Penn Alum Susan Orlins (CW '67) turned her blogposts about worrying into a new book called CONFESSIONS OF A WORRYWART.  The shpiel:
"In her plucky new memoir, award-winning journalist Susan Orlins inspires you to embrace your worries. With wit and grit, Orlins takes you from her starter marriage in 1965 on a rocky, comical journey to 1979, when she moves with her second husband to Beijing (where she has her own personal spy). Her effort to adopt an infant in China provides a rare portrait of an era when "eating bitterness" was a way of life. 
In the chapter "I May Have Ruined the Marriage, But You're Ruining the Divorce," Orlins portrays her separation with wry, wrenching self-awareness. She rebounds with a post-traumatic-divorce party, "family" vacations with her ex, and a cast of Mr. Wrongs, like one who--whenever he feels blue--swallows a pinch of his father's ashes. During a solo bicycle trip in Paris, Orlins tracks down a boyfriend from 42 years earlier. No one could have anticipated the crisis that occurs an hour into their reunion. With her knack for stumbling into drama, it's no wonder she worries. More recently, while exploring what young Susan would think of her present-day self, Orlins faces a life-changing realization. Readers will relate to this deeply personal story, told with a quirky sensibility by a startlingly honest mother, daughter, ex-wife, and dog lover, who--à la Nora Ephron--will feel like a dear friend. Confessions of a Worrywart: Husbands, Lovers, Mothers, and Others lingers long after you finish reading it."  
More at 

Steve Bevilacqua (C'86, Mask and Wig, DP, Sphinx) just published Kafka at the Beach: A Layman's Handbook for Those Falsely Accused of Felonies, a book based on an unbelievable series of events that happened in his own life!  The shpiel:
"Kafka at the Beach: A Layman's Handbook for Those Falsely Accused of Felonies is the hilarious and shocking tale of a most devastating ordeal. One sunny day in Venice Beach, Steve B- steps out of his apartment and finds himself in a surreal nightmare that will devour the next year of his life. Run down by a road rage maniac, attacked in the street, brutalized by gun-crazy cops, and harassed by police detectives, Steve is dragged through the courts for months, facing mandatory prison sentences for imaginary crimes. Shoved through a maze of court-ordered therapy, Steve ultimately finds himself navigating a new labyrinth on national TV at the mercy of the snarling, modern-day Solomon known as Judge J-. Is daytime TV the last bastion of true justice in America? KAFKA AT THE BEACH: A Layman's Handbook for Those Falsely Accused of Felonies is a surreal tour of America's court systems; criminal and civil, real and televised."

Lawyer and Author Elizabeth L Silver's (C'01, Kelly Writers House, Teatron) debut novel THE EXECUTION OF NOA P. SINGLETON was published by Crown/Random House in the US and Headline Review in the UK.  The novel is set in Philadelphia with many scenes at Penn.  ...Plus, her agent Richard Pine (C'77) and agent's assistant Eliza Rothstein (C'09) all went to Penn too! (more Penn alumni working together!)    The shpiel:
"Noa P. Singleton never spoke a word in her own defense throughout a brief trial that ended with a jury finding her guilty of first-degree murder. Ten years later, having accepted her fate, she sits on death row in a maximum-security penitentiary, just six months away from her execution date.  
Seemingly out of the blue, she is visited by Marlene Dixon, a high-powered Philadelphia attorney who is also the mother of the woman Noa was imprisoned for killing. Marlene tells Noa that she has changed her mind about the death penalty and Noa’s sentence, and will do everything in her considerable power to convince the governor to commute the sentence to life in prison, in return for the one thing Noa is unwilling to trade: her story. 
Marlene desperately wants Noa to reveal the events that led to her daughter’s death – events that Noa has never shared with a soul. With death looming, Marlene believes that Noa may finally give her the answers she needs, though Noa is far from convinced that Marlene deserves the salvation she alone can deliver. Inextricably linked by murder but with very different goals, Noa and Marlene wrestle with the sentences life itself can impose while they confront the best and worst of what makes us human in this haunting tale of love, anguish, and deception." 
More at  


Paul Shrater (W'95) celebrates his 10th year of his business where you can get every"travel-sized" product you need!

...This Whartonite changed careers (like these alumni) away from his 9-year career as a film and television producer to co-found this company. Currently, boasts its third year in Internet Retailer’s list of the top 1000 grossing e-commerce businesses in the U.S.   Beyond the retail business, Minimus operates a larger wholesale business that services corporations, non-profits, religious institutions, government agencies, educational institutions, and even the astronauts on the International Space Station (where Minimus has been the supplier of condiment packets to NASA for six years). Moving into the manufacturing side of it, Shrater launched Minimus Products, which has its own food and non-food production rooms and pouching machines to make small printed packets of items under their own brand, for other brands, or in partnership with other brands.

Katherine Myers (C'08) manages a new app for College Humor called "Bout" - "a [fun!] photo taking game you play with friends".

So far the app's been logged into over 1.2 million times with over half a million photos submitted. B.J. Novak, Ricky Van Veen, Kate Miucci and Riki Lindhome are all on the app, as well as Katy Perry and John Mayer. Katy and B.J. have both tweeted about it and John Mayer has posted on his Tumblr. More here


Jeff Wachs (C'97) appeared as a contestant this week on Jeopardy (video coming).  He is yet another Penn alum gameshow contestant!

While he didn't win, Jeff provided us with some insider info:
"Here's how it works: Alex reads the clue, and then a guy at a table off-camera flips a switch that turns on some lights on the board that the TV audience doesn't see. If the contestant buzzes in before that switch has been thrown, he or she is locked out for a couple of a fractions of a second. So, the trick is buzzing in AFTER the invisible man flips the switch but BEFORE the lights come on.

Japinga [contestant] was on his fourth game in a row and had gotten really comfortable with that rhythm, as evidenced (for one example) by his sweep of a category about the Supreme effing Court. The guy was fast, and he had the edge, but ultimately I blame myself -- I should have seen "Red Baron" in "Rotte Whatever," but I was focused on and perplexed by the publishing year of 1917 in the clue, since WWI didn't end until 1918 (and so I didn't think famous WWI figures would be writing bios during the war). That mistake cost me, and from there on out I was only going to win if Japinga missed Final Jeopardy, which was a sugar pill. When I saw Japinga go for the pen as quickly as I did, I knew it was over."

Roy Bank (C'94) just debuted the premiere of his newest hidden camera comedy game show DEAL WITH IT, starring Howie Mandel (Wednesdays, 10:30 pm)

More Penn alumni on TV HERE

More Penn alumni working together HERE


Posted by Matt | 9:46 AM | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 0 comments »

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