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Haverford Winter 2014 : Page 4

main lines During an NBCUniversal press tour in January, Rand Ravich ’84 (far left), executive producer of the new series Crisis , made an appearance with his stars, (left to right) Dermot Mulroney, Gillian Anderson, Rachael Taylor, and Lance Gross; and producer Far Shariat. Life Behind the Scenes I f you recognize the name Rand Ravich ’84 , it may be because you are a dedicated reader of end credits. The Hollywood writer, director, and producer created the TV show Life , which starred Damian Lewis as a detec-tive released from prison after being incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit. Ravich also wrote and directed the 1999 Charlize Theron/Johnny Depp vehicle The Astronaut’s Wif e and served as executive producer on George Clooney’s Confessions of a Dangerous Mind . This spring, Ravich’s work is back on the small screen with Crisis , a televi-sion show he created and is overseeing as showrunner. (It debuted March 16 on NBC.) The hour-long action-thriller follows the abduction of a group of high school students on a field trip—who just happen to be the children of Washington, D.C.’s elite—and details how far their parents, including the President of the United States, will go to protect them. “Now that I have kids,” says Ravich, who’s the father of a 17-year-old and a 9-year-old, “I understand the conflu-ence of your personal life and your pro-fessional life. The premise of the show is that these powerful people’s children get kidnapped and the parents are asked the terrible question, ‘What would you do to get your child back?’ Because, as powerful as you are, your child is your weakness.” Crisis stars Dermot Mulroney, recent-ly seen on TV as a reporter on the HBO series Enlightened and as Zooey Deschanel’s older boyfriend on New Girl , and Gillian Anderson, who will perhaps always be best known as The X-Files ’ skeptical investigator Dana Scully. But more than a star vehicle, the show is a sprawling ensemble piece, which gives Ravich and his writers’ room a lot of dif-ferent stories to tell and voices to create. “It has a lot of characters—15 differ-ent points of view,” he says. “It’s got sev-eral interweaving stories, and that’s 4 HaverfordMagazine PHOTO: CHRIS HASTON/NBC/NBCU PHOTO BANK VIA GETTY IMAGES (RAVICH); BRAD LARRISON (LITVAK)

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Life Behind the Scenes

If you recognize the name Rand Ravich ’84, it may be because you are a dedicated reader of end credits. The Hollywood writer, director, and producer created the TV show Life, which starred Damian Lewis as a detective released from prison after being incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit. Ravich also wrote and directed the 1999 Charlize Theron/Johnny Depp vehicle The Astronaut’s Wife and served as executive producer on George Clooney’s Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.

This spring, Ravich’s work is back on the small screen with Crisis, a television show he created and is overseeing as showrunner. (It debuted March 16 on NBC.) The hour-long action-thriller follows the abduction of a group of high school students on a field trip—who just happen to be the children of Washington, D.C.’s elite—and details how far their parents, including the President of the United States, will go to protect them.

“Now that I have kids,” says Ravich, who’s the father of a 17-year-old and a 9-year-old, “I understand the confluence of your personal life and your professional life. The premise of the show is that these powerful people’s children get kidnapped and the parents are asked the terrible question, ‘What would you do to get your child back?’ Because, as powerful as you are, your child is your weakness.”

Crisis stars Dermot Mulroney, recently seen on TV as a reporter on the HBO series Enlightened and as Zooey Deschanel’s older boyfriend on New Girl, and Gillian Anderson, who will perhaps always be best known as The Xfiles’ skeptical investigator Dana Scully. But more than a star vehicle, the show is a sprawling ensemble piece, which gives Ravich and his writers’ room a lot of different stories to tell and voices to create.

“It has a lot of characters—15 different points of view,” he says. “It’s got several interweaving stories, and that’s been a real eye-opener. [Writing this show] is a constant shifting of perspectives, and we don’t have the luxury of being on the air while we’re writing, so we don’t know which characters are more appealing to the public and which aren’t, which story lines are getting traction and which aren’t. We only have our own instincts to trust.”

Ravich shouldn’t worry, though; his instincts have served him well so far. Life ran for two seasons on NBC, ending in 2009, and, in addition to all of his big-screen work, he has also written and produced numerous TV pilots. Not bad for a guy who came to college hoping to be a doctor.

“I was pre-med, but organic chem weeded me right out,” he says, laughing. “I actually started writing plays in my lab book, since I couldn’t keep up in class.”

After Haverford, he attended UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television, where he earned his M.F.A. in playwriting. Realizing he was more of a movie fan than a theatergoer, he eventually switched to writing screenplays after graduation. And then, lured by the immediacy of the televisionmaking process—as opposed to the years- or decades-long movie development process—he moved to the smaller screen.

“In TV, you write a scene, you send it over, and they’re shooting it that day,” says Ravich. “You’re making things. Sometimes you wish you had a little more time, but you’re getting things done. It’s very addictive that way.”

Crisis,which airs Sundays at 10 p.m., doesn’t carry on Life’s tradition of naming characters after some of Ravich’s beloved Haverford professors (one episode, for example, featured members of a “Dujardin” family, named for Philosophy Professor Paul Desjardins), but it does still carry on a legacy of his time at the College.

“You know, I still use lab books to write in, the ones with the quad rule,” he says. “It’s all I have left of my premed experience.” —Rebecca Raber

ON VIEW

Photographer Vita Litvak ’02 brings a taste of her homeland to the Haverford campus this spring with ?? (I Will Give You the World) and Other Promises from Transnistria, an exhibit of her work. Litvak, a visiting assistant professor of fine arts at Haverford, grew up in the self-declared post-Soviet nation of Transnistria, which was part of Moldova at the time of her birth, and immigrated to the United States with her family shortly after the violent civil war that raged through the region in 1992. She returned to Transnistria in the fall of 2011 and spent time shooting street scenes in the capital city, Tiraspol—everything from brides and grooms in city parks to funeral-flower sellers and crumbling political monuments. Collected and shown together in the Marshall Fine Arts Center’s Atrium Gallery, Litvak’s photographs tell a story of a nation frozen in time and full of unfulfilled potential, as well the more intimate story of the woman who shot them. “This is a personal narrative of a very interesting and unusual place in the world,” Litvak told viewers at the opening reception, which also featured Russian food prepared by her mother. “It’s about my experience growing up, [and] about the place [Transnistria] is today.” The exhibit will be on view through April 20. —R.R.

GOING GREEN

SOME NEW SIGNS in the Dining Center (above) call attention to a new composting effort launched in November. Spearheaded by Haverford’s Committee for Environmental Responsibility (CER), the trial program aims to divert food and other compostable materials out of landfills and turn it into usable compost. To do that, the College has contracted with local firm Philly Compost, which began pick-ups at Bryn Mawr College’s dining center last year and will now add Haverford to its schedule.

“We really have to train the students,” says campus Sustainability Coordinator Claudia Kent, who worked with members of the CER to put out bright red trash barrels, create instructional signs, and distribute “We’re On Trial” buttons as part of an awareness campaign. “Now, before you put your tray on the conveyor belt, you have separate out the trash.” Plastic, foil, and coated paper items (such as ice cream and cupcake wrappers), go into the red cans. Food, as well as paper napkins and other kinds of non-coated paper, stays on the plate to be sent into the kitchen where the staff will scrape it into special compost containers. “If the kids don’t do a good job, Philly Compost can reject the containers,” Kent says.

The aim of the trial is to determine if the composting effort can be done in a way that does not make more work for the Dining Center staff, and is cost neutral. The hope is that the savings realized by reducing trash pickups will offset fees paid to Philly Compost. CER members are hoping the trial will be successful, and that food waste composting will become a permanent part of the Dining Services operation. “Haverford currently sends an average of 20,000 pounds of food waste per month to landfills,” says Eleanor Durfee ’14. “By composting, it will instead be used to create healthier soils.” —Eils Lotozo

Black Love Event Fills Founders Hall

Haverford’s Black Students League (BSL) saw a big turnout for the annual Tri-College Black Love formal, held this year in Founders Hall on Feb. 15. The BSL, which was founded in 1972 to cultivate a supportive environment for Black students, hosted the event in partnership with Bryn Mawr’s Sisterhood, the Swarthmore African American Student Society, and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Mighty Psi Chapter. In previous years, Black Love was open to Tri-Co students only, but this year’s event welcomed attendees from colleges across the Philadelphia area. More than 150 students came to the RSVP-only sitdown dinner, and even more showed up for the performances and dancing that followed. Students from participating colleges also designed a photo campaign. Attendees were asked to fill in the blanks on forms with prompts, such as: “I celebrate Black History Month by __” and “When I think of Black Love I think of __ .” Participants were then photographed holding up the signs with their answers. Black Love hosting duties rotate each year between the colleges in the Tri-College Consortium. Haverford last hosted the event in 2011, when it also took place in Founders Great Hall.

Nerd House is Newest Addition to Community Housing

For students looking to forge close connections around shared interests, Haverford offers all sorts of options beyond Room Draw. Special interest housing choices include La Casa Hispánica (for those attuned to the culture of the Spanish-speaking world); Cadbury House (quiet study, and alcohol- and drug-free); and the Ira de A. Reid House/Black Cultural Center (devoted to extending the legacy of Reid, a renowned sociologist and Haverford’s first tenured African American faculty member). There are also several student-proposed community housing groups—located in the Haverford College Apartments—such as Quaker House, Christian House, and Ehaus (whose residents share an affinity for living in an environmentally conscious way). And making its debut at the start of the academic year was the latest addition to this list: Nerd House.

Located in Yarnall Community House, across the footbridge over Railroad Avenue, Nerd House was born in the same way so many things happen at Haverford: “We began with several different groups of friends who all had similar interests,” says Brandon Henken ’16, one of the organizers. “Like nodes on a graph, we gradually became connected.”

The Nerd House mission statement declares the residents’ aim to create a space “where gaming, tech, TV, fantasy, anime, and science aficionados, as well as all other variety of geek can come together. We hope to facilitate the communication, collaboration, and recreation of our socially awkward minority and tap into the potential power of joint nerd-dom.”

Nerd power has been visible in full force since the residents launched what has proved to be a popular schedule of social activities. There have been strategy board game nights, movie nights, a video game tournament, a film noir screening accompanied by a live jazz sextet, a Victorian-era murder-mystery party, and a Halloween costume ball. In November, the Nerd House denizens booked a room in Stokes and hosted a viewing party for the BBC America broadcast of the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special. Also a major achievement for Nerd House was Humans vs. Zombies, a campus-wide game of tag, organized with the group Fords Against Boredom, that spanned two weeks last fall and drew nearly 200 participants— among them President Dan Weiss.

“Anyone on campus is invited to these events; we truly reach out to the community,” says Henken, who prefers the term “nerdlings” to “nerds.” Turnout has been impressive, he says, and the Nerd House residents have received many compliments about their events and the general spirit of the house. “Community housing at Haverford is an excellent embodiment of the agency students have here,” Henken says. “If there is not a club or group that suits your interests, you can create one.” —E.L.

Tri-Co Hack-a-Thon Inspires New Tech Ideas

Students from Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Swarthmore had just 48 hours to conceive, develop, and present their web and mobile-technology ideas at the first Tri-Co Hack-a-Thon in January. Fourteen teams delivered, working on their ideas straight through the weekend before giving two-minute presentations of their entries to five judges in a Shark Tankstyle competition that Sunday night.

Participants took breaks for food, sleep, and caffeine as needed. By mid- Saturday afternoon, tables set up around the perimeter of Founders Great Hall at Haverford were littered with water bottles, soda cans, and the remains of snacks.

“If you gave me a blood test, it would be about one-third caffeine,” said Barak Bacharach ’15. He and his team presented plans for “Hoop Assist,” a program that compiles NBA-level advanced player tracking statistics for colleges and universities.

More than 60 students participated in the Hack-a-Thon, and many of the projects focused on the needs of the Tri-Co community in the areas of food, dating, course schedules, and shuttlebus times. The winning entry, called “tryLinGO,” is a language-learning app that uses a geolocation program to instantly present translations of nearby objects on a mobile device such as a smartphone. For example, tryLinGO might provide someone walking around Haverford’s campus with translations for “car,” “tree,” and “pond” as the user encounters those things.

The tryLinGO team, from Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore, received $1,200, an Nvidia Shield gaming device, and lunch with P’unk Avenue, a South Philadelphia web design firm.

The second place team, from Swarthmore, was awarded $200 for “WatchOut,” a safety app for smartwatches that sends texts for help with the smartwatch wearer’s location to designated contacts. The third place prize (a $25 Apple gift card for each member of the team) went to a group of Swarthmore seniors for an app called “IOU,” which helps users keep track of debts they owe, or money that is owed to them.

A panel of judges assessed the teams’ entries based on their innovation, design, business potential, and social impact. The judging panel included Casey Palowitch (Cloud vLab, Inc.); Beah Burger-Lenehan ’06 (Ticketleap); Gabriel Farrell (freelance web developer); Katherine Rowe, a Bryn Mawr English professor and co-founder of Luminary Digital Media ; and Mike Dershowitz (ModSolar LLC).

Andrew Thompson ’12, of Azavea Inc., in Philadelphia, served as master of ceremonies for the presentations. The event was organized by students, staff, and faculty from the Department of Computer Science, the libraries, the Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities, the Instructional Technology Center, and Tri-Co Digital Humanities.

The Hack-a-Thon was the brain child of Sorelle Friedler, a visiting assistant professor of computer science at Haverford, and Dershowitz, who says the event was a valuable exercise because “it required students to think through the issues that employers are going to ask them to think through.” The Hack-a-Thon was also intended to encourage new talent in the Philadelphia region’s technology scene and raise awareness about tech companies in the area, he added.

Friedler pointed out that the Tri- Co’s intentions were complementary. “We want the local tech community to know we’re here,” she said.

Haverford student Besan Abu Radwan ’14 said she enjoyed the challenge of creating something in a short period of time and working in a collaborative environment. Her team developed HaverSched, a program that combines the Tri-Co course guide and RateMyProfessor statistics to help students identify classes best suited to their schedule and needs.

Radwan said her team plans to finetune the program for possible implementation by the Tri-Co. “We’re definitely pursuing it,” she said.

—Samantha Drake

Taking a Turn On the Red Carpet

Yes, that’s actor Alfred Molina wearing a Haverford sweatshirt at Utah’s Sundance Film Festival in January. Along with promoting the College, Molina was there to plug his new film, Love Is Strange, with (from left) costar John Lithgow, director Ira Sachs, and cast members Marisa Tomei and Darren Burrows. Molina’s attire even got a special mention on the blog The Wire, whose report on celebrity garb at Sundance featured a zoomed-in shot of the actor’s torso in what it termed “The Too- Casual Sweatshirt.” With a mixture of horror and admiration, the blog called out Molina for being a celeb bold enough “to appear on the red carpet … in an honest to goodness JanSport college hoodie.” So, why was he wearing that Haverswag? It’s all the work of Colette Freedman ’90, a playwright-turnednovelist and close friend of Molina’s. “I have been giving him Haverford T-shirts and sweatshirts for the last 15 years,” she says. “It’s literally all he wears.” —E.L.

SOUND BITE

There was this one very poignant moment when a prisoner looked at his photograph. “Damn,” he said. “I done got old.” Well, in prison the mirrors are metallic. They’re cloudy—they’re not clear. He hadn’t really seen himself in years. —C.D. Wright

IN THE GALLERY

Taking as its starting point a maxim by the anarchist feminist Emma Goldman, If I Can’t Dance to It, It’s Not My Revolution investigates the political movement of anarchism through countercultural artistic practices in Europe and North America from the 1960s to the present. The exhibit, curated by Natalie Musteata, features archival documentation, major installations by self-identified anarchist artists, and works that at once affirm and complicate strategies of disruption and resistance. Artists featured in the exhibition include Black Mask, Lizzie Borden, Andrea Bowers & Olga Koumoundouros, John Cage, The Living Theater, Jackson Mac Low, Raymond Pettibon and Carolee Schneemann. The exhibition runs March 21 through May 2 in the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery. For more information: exhibits.haverford.edu

Late Nights at Lunt Café

Student-run eateries are part of a long tradition on the Haverford campus. Many alums fondly remember Skeeter’s pizza parlor, which operated out of Leeds Hall for years. And the basement of Jones once housed an operation called the Three Seasons Café. But since the 1980s, students have looked to Lunt Café to provide the necessary fuel to make it through long nights of studying. Located in the basement of Lunt dormitory, the café is open from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. every day and the menu offers the requisite caffeinated beverages, along with nachos, bagels, shakes, and “sammies” (otherwise known as sandwiches). The café, which has operated off and on since its launch, was closed for several months during the 2011- 2012 academic year for extensive renovations and reopened last April. In addition to cheap eats, Lunt Café provides meeting space for clubs, and hosts music and art events. (Fords: Do you recall other student-run cafes in Haverford’s past? Can you tell us more about the history of Lunt Café or its predecessor? Email hc-editor@haverford.edu)

IN THE COLLECTION

Spotlighting the rare and marvelous holdings of Quaker & Special Collections

Jane Austen, the great British novelist, was also an accomplished and witty letter writer. This letter to her sister, Cassandra, is full of information and anecdotes about relations and mutual friends. The letter was given by Cassandra to her niece, Fanny Austen Knight Knatchbull, after Jane’s death, and was later purchased by Charles Roberts, Class of 1864, who was moved to start an autograph collection after he received a letter from Abraham Lincoln while still a Haverford student.

Letter from Jane Austen to Cassandra Austen, June 23 [1814]; from the Charles Roberts autograph collection.

Read the full article at http://www.mydigitalpublication.com/article/Main+Lines/1656526/200366/article.html.

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