Recently, author Jasmin Rosemberg (C’02) got her book optioned by Hollywood big wig director/producer Brett Ratner to develop into a TV show for Fox.
But there’s a bigger story here.
Not only is Jasmin another example of an alum who made a bold career change and followed her creative passion, but she used some good Penn networking to help her along the way!
More after the jump!
The shpiel about the book …and why this may translate into quite a good show:
Every summer, scores of Manhattan twentysomethings take part in an annual ritual with a camp-like culture distinctly its own: the Hamptons sharehouse. When Rachel and her two best friends buy their shares for twenty times each of their bank balances, they’re imagining days filled with lazy suntanning and classy clambakes and nights spent rubbing shoulders with the Olsen twins and other celebrities. But once they arrive at 1088 Montauk Highway on Memorial Day weekend, they find that the reality falls a bit short. What looks like any other million-dollar mansion–on the outside–plays host to drunken escapades, explicit nudity, hot tub hookups, hideous hangovers, and juvenile mischief on the inside. As housemates jockey for limited bathroom time and beer pong mania takes over the house, Rachel finds herself wondering if it’s possible to find true love–or even just survive the summer–in The Hamptons.”
What was Jasmin’s path from Penn to now?
“I was an econ major and a math minor and though I always loved writing (and dreamed of becoming a novelist someday), I felt equally invested in numbers. I spent every college summer interning in finance (Merrill, Goldman, Salomon), but it was only after graduating and working as a financial analyst at Standard and Poor’s for a few years that I realized how wrong being in that world felt.
I started doing freelance nightlife and entertainment writing on the side, and then miraculously got the opportunity to write a weekly column for the NY Post about Hamptons share house life (think a yuppier, more camp-like version of Animal House). This happened around a time when books like The Devil Wears Prada and The Nanny Diaries were being written by young urban girls, and also when I was 23 and felt fearless and invincible, so I made the very bold decision to quit my job and move home with my family for a year to try and write and sell a novel. It ended up taking two years, two manuscripts, and two different agents, but How the Other Half Hamptons came out from Hachette Book Group (Warner Books) in June 2008.”
How did Jasmin get this book made into a TV show?
“I think the most frustrating thing to realize, particularly for the many Penn students out there who are ambitious and hardworking, is that so much of the entertainment industry is out of your hands. That there’s an element of luck and timing that you can’t control if you tried, and I realized this both when I was trying to get published and also when I was attempting to shop the TV rights. It’s not just about having a good product, but working with the right people with the right relationships, who put your product out into the marketplace at the exact right time (when the buyer is looking for what you’re selling, when they haven’t bought anything similar, and when the climate is right to make this purchase). As far as publishing goes, I’ve said that writing a novel and having the wrong agent is hardly different from not writing a novel at all.
Regarding the TV world, I credit my best friend from Penn, Ali Jacobs (W’01), for introducing me to a former VH-1 colleague of hers during my LA book launch. I began working with this individual and her production company (formerly Ish Entertainment, now Wikked Entertainment with Reveille) who recently packaged the show with a talented writer (Brian Buckner, who works on “True Blood” and won an Emmy for “Friends”), which resulted in 20th Century Fox/ Brett Ratner expressing interest in producing it.
I’d also like to note that the entertainment lawyer representing me in my option deal with Fox, Matt Rosen (C’98), is a Penn alum as well.”
She’d flirted with the teaching assistants who marked her exams in college. She’d kissed doormen to jump the line at coveted nightclubs. She’d hooked up with guys who hadn’t even suggested taking her to dinner (in fact, she rather preferred it that way).
So there may have been only one cardinal rule at any Hamptons meet-and-greet party. Yet somehow, within the first five minutes, she was already contemplating breaking it.
“Well, why not?” she’d earlier challenged when her more conservative friend Rachel warned her to not, under any circumstance, go home with any guy from this party. Their disagreement was hardly a shock, as she and Rachel found themselves at odds about practically everything.
“Because then you have to spend the whole summer in the share house avoiding him,” Rachel said, directing her words more at Jamie than their newly single friend Allison. “Or having every other guy avoid you, because you already hooked up with one of his friends. Is it really worth it?”
“I guess not,” Jamie had agreed. And she really had been convinced. Until, of course, she spotted Jeff.
There may only be one cardinal rule—but there is also only one incontrovertibly hot guy at any Hamptons meet-and-greet party. And predictably, within the first five minutes, nearly every girl in the bar realizes it.
Not that any of these girls posed a particular challenge, Jamie thought, giving a cursory glance around the neighborhood watering hole DIP.
Three generic girls—with identical dark straightened hair, Seven jeans, Gucci purses, and scowls—nursed white wines in the corner. Holding court at the bar yet edging toward the dance floor was a perky pair of girls who were definitely not from New York, which was discernible as much from their enthusiasm as by their beverage choice: cosmos. And tucked into a booth all by herself was a pasty redhead who looked like she was awaiting a shot in a doctor’s office.
Jamie smiled. She definitely had this one in the bag.
“I’ll be right back,” she told her friends, who were chatting with a pair of investment bankers (a ubiquitous type in Murray Hill, yet one she’d personally never found appealing).
Then in that fearless and haphazard way she had of approaching people, Jamie tossed back her tousled brown locks, abandoned her half-full vodka soda, and started toward the bar.
“So, are you doing this house?” she said to the most attractive guy she’d seen in…days. In doing so, she noticed but ignored the glares of the far less aggressive girls sipping wine in the corner. There were always girls glaring at her from the corner.
“If I wasn’t, I am now,” he said, shifting a pair of entrancing blue eyes to hers.
Managing to remain unfazed, Jamie evaluated the prospect before her. With a too-symmetrical face, cocky disposition, and looks he seemed much too aware of, he practically had ASSHOLE etched across his forehead. He was her type to a T.
“Seriously,” she pressed, with a playful smile. “I’m not sure I’m sold yet.”
But her companion apparently was sold. “Well, my buddy Mark runs this house,” he began, his eyes dipping into her cleavage. “I’ll make sure he puts us on the same weekends.”
“Then I definitely won’t do it,” she joked, glad she’d worn the red shirt. She averted her eyes and looked longingly toward the bar.
“What are you drinking?” he asked, not missing a beat.
“Grey Goose and soda,” she replied, even though her original soda had been mixed with well vodka.
“Done,” he said, turning back toward the line. Satisfied, Jamie stepped a few feet away from the crowded bar, mostly to ensure that no one stepped on her brand-new peep-toe Louboutins.
She peered over at Rachel, who was conducting one of her marathon conversations with investment banker number one, and Allison, who seemed surprisingly entertained by investment banker number two. Allison was probably just being polite; after breaking up with her boyfriend of—four years? five years?—pretty much her entire existence, she wasn’t easily entertained these days.
“Excuse me.” Jamie felt a sudden tap on her shoulder.
“Are you here for the Hamptons party?” asked one of three guys in their late twenties standing behind her, his forwardness clearly fueled by alcohol. While none of the three was overwhelmingly attractive, each was appealing enough, with the boyish look and charm of a fraternity guy who had never grown up.
“What Hamptons party?” she said, then cracked a smile when she saw their expressions change. “No, I’m kidding. I’m Jamie.”
“Good one.” He chuckled a bit, noticeably relieved. “I’m Rob, and this is Brian and Dave.”
“Nice to meet you,” she said, giving each of the guys a could-I-possibly-hook-up-with-him once-over as she shook his hand. Rob was tall with a winning smile but thinning hair; Brian was jolly and teddy-bear-like; and Dave, the best looking of the bunch, was on the short side, with flirtatious eyes that Jamie didn’t fully trust. “So,” she continued. “Are you…”
“Yes. I’m the guy from that reality show,” Rob confessed, tilting his head smugly.
Jamie looked at him questioningly. “I was going to say Are you all friends from school? But, um, what reality show?”
“You know, The Apprentice?” he said, his voice rising a notch. “Just don’t let it get out. I don’t want to be stalked by girls all summer.”
“Oh, that’s so funny,” Jamie replied. That’s so funny was what she said when she didn’t really know what else to say.
“But yeah, we all went to Maryland together. Class of 2008,” Brian joked, then abandoned the small talk completely. Though perhaps that’s what happened when you got into your late twenties. In your late twenties, you tended to more immediate concerns. “Patrón?” he asked.
“Always,” Jamie answered, never one to turn down free alcohol or undivided male attention. Maybe she’d been selling this share house idea short. “To a great summer,” she toasted after he handed her a glass, then threw back the shot so fluidly she even surprised herself.
But the real surprise awaited her when she returned to the bar to dispose of her empty shot glass, and found her drink bearer standing not only with her Grey Goose and soda but also next to one of the wine sippers.
“Thanks,” she replied, accepting the drink. Then she turned confrontationally toward the girl, whose features would actually be pretty if they weren’t pursed so tightly. “I’m Jamie,” she announced, in her sweetest too-late-he-bought-me-a-vodka-soda voice.
“Ilana,” the girl mumbled before flipping her hair and slowly retreating.
Smart girl, Jamie thought. Once again in the clear, she picked up where they’d left off.
“So have you done this house before?” she asked, curious where a guy this catalog-worthy had been hiding.
“I’ve been out there the last five summers,” he told her. Which made him—hopefully—under forty? “But we have a sick house this year, in Southampton. And we picked a much better-looking group of girls…”
“What do you mean, you picked?” she asked, though it was hardly inconceivable that a guy who looked like this could have his pick of whatever he wanted.
“We held interviews at Mercury Bar, to screen any groups that found out about it through the e-mails. But you must know Mark, then?” He gestured toward a tan, unshaven guy with longish hair, whose confidence alone indicated his position as house manager.
“My roommate’s older sister knows him,” Jamie said, her eyes lingering on Mark a moment longer. “They did a Quogue share together back in the day.”
“Oh, Dune Road? That summer was a blast.” A spark of recognition lit up his already iridescent eyes.
Okay, she had to ask. “So how old are you exactly?” Not that she’d ever discriminate…
“Twenty-nine,” he said. “And you?”
“Do you think twenty-nine is too old?” Those eyes found hers again.
“Too old to…talk? Not at all,” she replied with a wink.
He took a deep breath. “So I guess you’re going to want to know where I live, what I do, where I’m from, right?”
“Not particularly,” she admitted, feeling the Patrón rushing to her head. She leaned closer and went in for the kill. “What if what I want doesn’t involve talking?”
It took him a few seconds to digest her bluntness. “You’re trouble,” he said with a wicked grin, repeating the phrase many guys before him had used to describe her. Then, just as many guys had similarly done before him, he conceded.
“I live a few blocks away, Thirty-fifth and Lex,” he suggested. He was standing so close to her now, she could smell the traces of that morning’s cologne. “Why don’t we just get out of here?”
I thought you’d never ask, Jamie said to herself.
Throwing back the remainder of her drink and pounding the empty glass down a bit harder than she’d intended, Jamie obediently followed her new friend. (Was it Mike? Jon? Had she even asked at all?)
And as she stumbled defiantly onto the Murray Hill street, she couldn’t help but laugh at her friend’s earlier forewarnings. Perhaps Rachel’s stubborn rules applied if you were chasing a relationship. But if all you wanted from a summer was some innocent fun and a wild ride, it was like she always claimed…
Especially where guys are concerned, cardinal rules were made to be broken.
Copyright © 2008 by Jasmin Rosemberg
Jasmin recommends these books for aspiring authors:
More advice for aspiring authors from Jasmin and other accomplished Penn alum authors HERE!
More at Jasmin’s website HERE
More Penn authors HERE
I cover lots of traditional entertainment career pursuits from alumni on DT like acting, filmmaking, and writing, but equally creative...