Penn Alumni You Should Know About Vol. 23

Welcome back.  Summer’s practically here and as usual we’ve got some juicy news and some great upcoming networking events – so lets jump in!

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Penn in Pictures 2015 (6/17)


Before we dive into this issue, please be sure to check out and register for our upcoming Penn in Pictures panel discussion (Wednesday, June 17) featuring leaders from film, TV & music industries:


Max Handelman (C’95) – Film Producer (Pitch Perfect, Pitch Perfect 2)
Sonny Lee (C’03) – Writer of HBO’s “Silicon Valley”, “Always Sunny in Philadelphia”
Bing Chen (C’09) – Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer of new media company #Victorious
Ryan Ly (C’03) – TV Agent at Creative Artists Agency
Ty Stiklorius (C’97) – Co-President of Atom Factory/Get Lifted Film Co. Partner

Moderator: Lew Schneider (C’83) – Writer of “Everybody Loves Raymond” & “The Goldbergs”

Space is limited

Register here!

Penn in Pictures 2015 and Penn Alumni




Four Penn Alums have been named part of The Hollywood Reporter’s 30 Most Powerful Film Producers in Hollywood. That’s hot. These alumni include:

  • Todd Lieberman (C’95, Mask and Wig, AEPi) and his producing partner David Hoberman of Mandeville Films, known for their movies The Proposal, The Fighter, and The Muppet Franchise, will produce the high-profile Beauty and The Beast slated to premiere in 2017.

Todd Lieberman and Penn alumni

  • Also known for producing musicals on the big screen like last year’s smashing box office success Into The Woods is Marc Platt (C’79, Glee Club). This year is a busy one for Marc Platt, producing Ricki and The Flash starring Meryl Streep and Bridge of Spies starring Tom Hanks. He is also busy because he has about one hundred successful singing children. The Platt’s are the modern Von Trapp family and it is beautiful.

Marc_Platt and Penn alumni


  • Lorenzo Di Bonaventura who received his MBA from Wharton also made the list, known as the “go to guy” for the Transformers and G.I. Joe franchises. He also received our praise for his hipster glasses.


  • Dan Lin (W’94) was actually an intern for Di Bonaventura before striking it out on his own. (Alums helping alums for the win!!) Lin is most well-known for producing last year’s kid’s megahit, The Lego Movie. Everything is awesome for Lin these days.

Dan_Lin and Penn alumni


A big congrats to Penn PhD CIS alums Cary Phillips (GR’91) and Nick Foster who have received Motion Picture Academy Technical Achievement Awards for the architecture, development and creation of the artist-driven interface of the ILM Shape Sculpting System. Cary won another this year (his third!)

Factoid: Did you know Cary spoke on a Penn in Pictures 2002 panel about how he helped created Jar Jar Binks from Star Wars Episode 1?

From the Academy’s Scientific & Technical Awards held on February 7, 2015 at the Beverly Wilshire:




Melissa HilfersA spec script entitled Undone by first time writer Melissa London Hilfers (C’95) has been picked up by Parkes+MacDonald and Black Bear Pictures! The script has been described as Gone Girl meets Primal Fear when a popular podcast brings a strange, decades-old murder case into the spotlight and leads to a reinvestigation of a thirty-five year old murder case. Hope this becomes the new Serial so we can discuss it on public transit and sound culturally informed.





Caren Lissner and Carrie Pilby and Penn AlumniCarrie Pilby, a feature film based off of a novel by Penn alum Caren Lissner (C’93), is being filmed in Hollywood this summer.

So who better to cast in the film than SNL cast member and proud Bloomer alum Vanessa Bayer (C’04, Bloomers).

There’s nothing better than to see Quaker collaborations, especially when they don’t take place on Wall St!


Carrie Pilby and Caren Lissner and Penn Alumni



On the heels of having produced and starred in Pitch Perfect 2, Elizabeth Banks (C’96, Tridelt, Friars) is set to play Billie Jean King in the story of the 1973 Battle of the Sexes tennis match in which the 29-year-old No. 2-ranked female star beat the 55-year-old retired former Wimbledon champ Bobby Riggs. The film will be exec produced by Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, along with Banks and her Brownstone Productions partner and husband Max Handelman (C’95, AEPi).

Sounds like no one can touch Banks and Handelman as the Penn Power Couple of the moment.

See Max speak at Penn in Pictures 2015 in LA on Wednesday, June 15.  Get tickets here!



Collette Stohler (C’08) just released a new short on Vimeo that celebrates strong, driven, and tenacious women. With the motto “Strong is Sexy” and the growing movement that rejects the idea that skinny is the only ideal for female attractiveness, this inspiring short is helping to redefine society’s idea of beauty. If strong is sexy, Collette is probably at the George Clooney level of sexiness.


From their Nichols Quarter Final script, Chloe Castellon (C’11) and Ridgeway Wilson (C’11) were signed by UTA! Keep reppin’ Penn with your new rep!

Penn Alumni Chloe Castellon and Ridgeway Wilson



Sam Goldberg (C09, Penntertainment NYC co-chair)‘s film he produced, 3rd Street Blackout premieres this month at the LA Film Fest on June 13 and June 15.

Sam-Goldberg and Penn alumniThe shpiel:  “Neuroscientist Mina and her hacker boyfriend Rudy are a picture-perfect, prototypical hipster couple who live, work and love across digital platforms. When Hurricane Sandy pummels the city and knocks out the power in their neighborhood, at first it is romantic. But when Rudy discovers an indiscretion that Mina kept secret, they must learn to navigate an analog terrain, or risk losing their relationship. Following her debut effort The Muslims Are Coming, Negin Farsad co-writes, directs and stars in this satirical story about the very real distances technology creates in our daily interactions with neighbors and lovers alike.”   More Details here





Rob Forman (W’06) writes for theRob Forman izombie CW series “iZombie”. Rob’s episode, entitled “Patriot Brains,” aired on Tuesday, May 12th, at 9pm/8c on The CW.

In “Patriot Brains,” assistant medical examiner and crime-solving zombie Liv Moore Clive investigate the mysterious murder of a former Army Ranger, but the effects of eating the soldier’s brain triggers Liv’s PTSD about her own untimely demise.

Hope Rob’s brilliant writing brain stays away from hungry zombies.


A big congrats to Lindsey Rosin (C’07) who just sold a TV Pilot to MTV and a young adult book to Simon & Schuster!   Did we mention that CRUEL INTENTIONS, the musical Lindsey’s directed was amazing and now extended until the end of July!?  Get your tickets now!

Sarah Michelle Gellar and Reese Witherspoon and Selma Blair and Roger Kumble and Lindsey Rosin and Cruel Intentions

Sarah Michelle Gellar, Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair, and Cruel Intention’s screenwriter Roger Kumble with Lindsey Rosin at 5-28-15 show



HBO is teaming with actress-comedian-writer (that’s a lot of dashes!) Whitney Cummings (C’03)  for a relationship comedy and a stand-up special. The network has ordered a pilot for a half-hour comedy inspired by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd’s debate-stirring 2005 book Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide. This is almost as exciting as when Whitney Instagrams photos of her adorable rescue dogs.

Bonus: Did you catch Whitney’s Annenberg commencement speech? #nowitstimetoeatshit #makefailureyourcomfortzone #tellthetruth #beahero #startarevolution #chasefailure #shutup




In his new book, Televisionaries, Marc Tayer (WG’85) tells the captivating inside story of the digital television revolution and how it  completely transformed both media and entertainment. His publishing of Televisionaries follows a thirty-year business career in the media/technology industry.

Mark Tayer and Penn alumni



Rachel Lesser Levy and Penn alumniRachel Lesser Levy (C’96) has a new book out entitled Who’s Going to Watch My Kids?. The books tells the true story of working mom Rachel and her struggles to find and hold on to the perfect nanny for her two young children. Her story is set alongside the stories of 15 other working moms and their humorous heartfelt quests in search of a modern day Mary Poppins. A plight that will surely resonate with Penn Alums that are working moms and dads, be sure to order your copy.



Who's Going to Watch my Kids by Rachel Levy Lesser and Penn alumni



Talia Gil and Penn AlumniTalia Gil (C’97, Bloomers) just published her latest novel Conflict of Interest under the pseudonym Gillian Reese. You know this is gonna be good because pen names are badass.

The novel takes a look at lawyers in love in the high stakes world of Manhattan’s most prestigious legal firms. Be sure to get your copy by this Penn author!



Conflict of Interest and Gillian Reese and Penn alumni



Laura Dave and Eight Hundred Grapes and Penn alumniLaura Dave (C’99) also just published her novel Eight Hundred Grapes.  The shpiel: A woman discovers that her fiance is hiding an explosive secret but finds out he’s not the only one when she escapes to her family’s vineyard in Sonoma. (Thank god the protagonist is surrounded by wine during this difficult time in her life.)

Check out here when Laura comes to a city near you on her book tour (NY: 6/2, Philly 6/4, LA 6/8)


Laura Dave and Eight Hundred Grapes and Penn Alumni




Aaron Karo (W’01) recently released his new book Galgorithm about a boy who Penn alum Aaron Karodiscovers a secret formula to charm girls.

Check out this new video Aaron just put out where he gives some tips from the book so that you too can charm that special girl in your life. #compliments #firstdate #pickuplines #texting #socialmedia #seconddate #smell

Galgorithm and Aaron Karo and Penn alumni




Penn a capella *legend* John Legend (C’99, Counterparts) joins Pitch Perfect-inspired reality series Sing It On . He also collaborates with fellow Penn grads Ty Stiklorius (C’97) and Mike Jackson. “I had so much fun singing a cappella in college,” said Legend in the Pop announcement. “The music, the friendships, the competitions were all a huge part of my college experience. We’re excited to be a part of a show that documents the real ups and downs of this interesting world that many know nothing about. It’s going to be an interesting journey, and I look forward to being a part of it.”

When he says “college”, he’s talking about us! Penn is so famous!

See Ty speak at Penn in Pictures 2015 in LA on Wednesday, June 15.  Get tickets here!

John Legend and Penn Alumni

Penn Alum John Legend singing with Counterparts in 1999





Real life ER Doctor and NBC “Night Shift” writer/producer Zach Lutsky (C’97, AEPi) will be producing (and performing in) a production of ASSASSINS this fall with an amazing creative team and group of actors. ‪#‎assassinsmusicalLA‬.

Zach Lutsky and Penn Alumni


Karen Agam Macarah will be performing as the Witch in the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center’s version of Into the Woods from June 6 – July 12. Get your tickets here! Karen Agam Macarah and Penn Alumni and Into the Woods

Be sure to catch Jonah Platt (C’08, Off The Beat) as Tunny in Green Day’s “American Idiot”.  The show opened May 15th, the show will be an immersive warehouse staging in Downtown Los Angeles’ Art’s District. Tickets available at

Jonah Platt and Penn Alumni


Speaking of Jonah, he recently appeared in the Los Angeles production of “For the Record Live: Dear John Hughes“. Because he never sleeps and is constantly working. Here’s a snippet of his awesome performance:

A video posted by Matt Rosler (@merosler) on May 17, 2015 at 11:48pm PDT



Elyse Sholk and Penn AlumniElyse Sholk (W’11 GED’13, International Affairs Association) and co-producer Liz Mackintosh brought theirproduction of Eve Ensler’s Obie Award-winning play The Vagina Monologues to an audience of women at Taconic Correctional Facility, a medium security women’s prison in Bedford Hills, NY.  Following the performance, the women participated in a talkback with the playwright herself, Eve Ensler.  They also did a second performance of The Vagina Monologues on May 8th at Cherry Lane Theatre in the West Village.  This event included a post-show talkback with Eve Ensler, the cast, and director.  All proceeds from their one-night event benefited Women’s Prison Association.






Joelle Sellner and Penn alumniJoelle Sellner (C’88) has a new episode called “Lazy Gator” out on DreamworksTV’s “Fifi Cat Therapist”!

Be sure to check it out below!



Norman Golightly and Penn alumni and Funny or OffensiveNorman Golightly (W’94, Mask and Wig) just launched the new media site that looks to answer its namesake question, is it funny or offensive? (Spoiler alert: if you have to ask, it’s probably offensive. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t hilarious).

The site plans to host the news, commentary, and debate that erupts when comedy crosses the line (or doesn’t!) – and where professionals in the comedy world come to tell their side of the story. Laugh, Cringe, Think….and Check it out for yourself at!

Norman Golightly and Penn alumni and Funny or Offensive



John-Huss and Penn AlumniYou’ve definitely used the Talking Tom app and now writer John Huss (C’98) is part of the writing team for its new “Talking Tom and Friends” series.  John has written for  late-night (“Jimmy Kimmel Live”, “The Showbiz Show with David Spade”), sitcoms (“The Drew Carey Show”), animation (won an Emmy for “WordGirl”, a PBS show) and sports comedy shows (“Fox NFL Sunday”.).  He’s currently pitching a single-camera comedy about boarding school.
Check out his episode below:



Job Changes

Penn alum Kelly DiamondPenntertainment writer Kelly Diamond (C’13, Friars) is leaving her beloved city of LA for a new career in New York.While she previously worked for alum Mark Cronin (SEAS’86, Mask and Wig) in Los Angeles, she has taken on a new venture in production at “Saturday Night Live” and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”. Diamond is also contributing her comedy writing to multiple outlets including TruTV, BroBible, and Cracked, as well as Twitter, which has become an unhealthy obsession for her.



Got job news to share, let us know here



Get Involved (LA)

Penn Serves and Penn alumni

Los Angeles Penn Alumni, get involved in Penn Serves!

Penn Serves LA is a group of local University of Pennsylvania alumni and parents whom organize one-day, high-impact community service events to benefit local nonprofits and those in need. Our volunteers range from Penn children and grandchildren to recent grads to ninety
year olds. We strongly encourage graduates of all Penn’s schools of all years — as well as parents of current Penn students — to come out and join our days of service where we serve, learn and have FUN too.

Upcoming events:

  • Build a School for Underserved Youth – June 13 (9 am -11 pm), Valiente College Preparatory Charter School (Southeast LA) | Register here
  • Harvesting a Garden for Veterans – July 18 (9-12 pm), Veteran’s Administration (West LA) | Register here

Join their mailing list by emailing [email protected].


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