Archive for the ‘NYU’ Category

Lola Ogunnaike

Lola Ogunnaike (1975- ) was the star entertainment reporter at the New York Times, their “hot, hip young thing” and, it seems, their all-round expert on black people. In 2007 she moved to CNN, where you can see her on “American Morning” talking about Britney Spears, upcoming films and so on.

When was the last time a New York Times reporter made the jump to television?

The move to CNN started in October 2006 when she appeared on the morning television talk show, “The View”. The New York Times said they never approved the appearance. It looked like the Times was going to fire her. While they left her hanging in doubt, she started talking to CNN and others about a move to television. CNN hired her.

She came to the New York Times in 2002. She brought the old Grey Lady up to date on the world of hip hop and all things young and cool. And black.

Before the Times she worked for the New York Daily News on their Rush and Molloy page, which reports the doings of film stars and their kind. Before that she wrote for VIBE magazine. She has also worked for Essence magazine (she hated it) and the cable television networks MTV and BET.

She is good at putting entertainers at ease and getting them to say things that are interesting to read or hear.

Not only does she look good in print, she also looks good (but not great) on television. Few print reporters do: just watch C-SPAN for long enough and you will see what I mean.

Although she is now on television she still intends to continue writing for print. Maybe even a book. (Do it, Lola!)

She was born in Nigeria but grew up in America, near Washington, DC. Her last name sounds like “Oganaki”, as if she were Japanese.

She has always loved to read and write, but it did not sink into her that she could get paid to write till she worked part-time at BET. She still cannot quite believe it.

One of her teachers at New York University, Pamela Newkirk, told her she should get her writing into print. So Ogunnaike took a piece she wrote for homework about break dancing and sent it to the New York Times. They put it on the front page of the Style section!

By age 30 she already achieved two of the things she wanted to do in life: to work for the New York Times and to get in print in Rolling Stone magazine. Her article on Kanye West was the cover story of their February 2006 issue.

Her writing has also appeared in Glamour, Details, Nylon, New York and V magazines.

About Live Earth, Al Gore’s music benefit in 2007 to help save the earth, she said:

Frankly, I don’t want to hear about environmental causes from the Pussycat Dolls.

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Winnie Holzman

Winnie Holzman (1954- ) is an American writer of stage and television and an award-winning poet. She wrote for the television shows “thirtysomething” (1990-1991), “My So-Called Life” (1994-1995) and “Once and Again” (1998-2002). With Stephen Schwartz she turned Gregory Maguire’s book “Wicked” into a Broadway play. She wrote the story,
Schwartz wrote the songs.

She is good at making her stories seem like real life, especially at the level of emotions. She gives television something of the depth ordinarily seen only in books.

She puts herself in her character’s shoes and asks herself what would happen next – not on television, but in real life. She writes in cafes partly to hear how people really talk to make her characters sound natural and real.

She does not write at set times of the day and often puts off writing. When it gets really bad, she forces herself to write just two lines. That will be enough to get her going again.

When she gets stuck, she reads the old Greek stories or books on story structure, if only not to be consumed by fear.

Her characters lie, cause others pain without being aware of it, do bad things without knowing why. They find themselves in trouble with little idea of what to do next. They have precious little self-knowledge and yet seem to think only of themselves. Doubt and confusion reign. Even characters that seem perfect only seem so.

No one is all good or all bad, no one has all the answers. She does not like heroes or happy endings.

Like Chekhov she hates the false smile that so many paste over life.

Even though things seem to happen by chance in her stories, it is all well thought out.

She likes the plays of Chekhov, William Inge and Tennessee Williams. She was deeply affected by those of John van Druten, especially “The Voice of the Turtle” (1943) and “I am a Camera” (1951). She likes the Roman Polanski film “Chinatown” (1974).

She was born in New York, grew up on Long Island and went to university at Princeton (class of 1976). After Princeton she went to New York to learn writing and theatre under Arthur Laurents at New York University.

Among other things, Laurents taught her to:

  • Believe in herself as a writer.
  • Cut words when possible. The shortest way to say something is best.
  • Write what is interesting, real or surprising, not what makes you look good as a writer (the great temptation).

She has some acting experience, having learned the Stanislavski system. Her acting helps her to write.

Holzman is married to actor Paul Dooley. He played Molly Ringwald’s father in the film “Sixteen Candles”.

While her art imitates life, life has imitated her art: she once wrote a story about a 14-year-old girl falling in love with another girl. After she wrote it, but before it appeared on television, the very same thing happened to her daughter!

Holzman was among the first to write stories on television that put homosexuals in a good light. Before the 1990s they were next to invisible on American television or pictured as strange.

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