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The Victors like show business

There’s an old cliché that it’s not what you know, but who you know. In entertainment careers, plenty of people have the know-how and the ambition, so personal connections can provide a powerful leg up. To forge those connections, U-M alums and students have organized to maximize their clout and increase their school’s visibility in show business.

More than 60 alums have formed the U-M Entertainment Coalition (UMEC), with chapters in the show biz centers of LA and New York City, and Michigan Business School students several years ago organized the Entertainment, Media & Sports Club (EM&S) for BBA, MBA and master of accounting students interested in the business side of the entertainment world.



The U-M Entertainment Coalition has issued a call for entries for its first Short Film Festival. The festival is intended to promote the interests of U-M alumni in the entertainment industry by showcasing the broad production talents of Michigan alumni and students, and raising their profile within the entertainment industry.

Any short film under 30 minutes in length that had a current or former Michigan student serve in a key creative capacity is eligible for consideration.

The UMEC Short Film Festival is planned for May 2004 in Los Angeles. All entries must be received by March 1, 2004. Selected films will be announced in April.

For more information about UMEC, visit the web site:

call (818) 439-3042, or e-mail at

The EM&S club held its annual reception in New York in November at NBC headquarters for 150 attendees. Alums with degrees in business, law, music, film, theatre and other fields, who now are at companies ranging from Yahoo to Araca Group, from Warner Music to Disney, took part in the two-day Forum.

Two graduates, Howard Handler ’83, ’85 MBA, and John Lyons ’77, spoke briefly about their careers. Handler, who has worked at MTV and the NFL and now is chief marketing officer for Virgin Mobile USA, said that throughout his music, television and sports careers “a lot of Michigan people have really helped me; never underestimate the power of that network.”

Lyons, an art major, now president of production at Focus Features, a specialty division of Universal, joked about having to break it to his parents that he wasn’t going to law school but instead would pursue a nontraditional career in New York City.

When he arrived, he knew no U-M alums, Lyons continued, and had “no sense of how to reach them or how they could potentially help me.” Now, with other members of UMEC, he hopes to help young alums benefit from a strong U-M network.

The day after the NBC reception, 30 students visited a wide range of companies to learn more about job responsibilities and opportunities. Many of the professionals who met with the club were alumni, including Raymond Pettit ’72 at Momentum Group and Robert Roth ’79 MBA, executive vice president and chief financial officer at HBO.

UMEC has also been active on the West Coast. In September it premiered its speaker series in Los Angeles at Hollywood’s L.A. Film School. UMEC has established a mentoring program and has issued a call for the Short Film Festival described in the box accompanying this article. MEC.

More than 100 persons attended Wolverines: Clawing to the Top, a panel discussion featuring Heather Kadin '94, (vice president of drama series, ABC TV), Jonathan Glickman ’91, (president of production, Spyglass Entertainment) and screenwriter Richard Friedenberg ’67 (Dying Young, A River Runs Through It), all of whom offered tips for success and reminisced about their big breaks.

Kadin, who is responsible for the development and execution of ABC TV’s new drama shows, told of how what appeared to be only a lateral career move became one of the biggest upward moves of her career.

Glickman, who has supervised the production of such films as Seabiscuit, Bruce Almighty, Shanghai Noon and The Recruit, recalled how speaking up during a meeting soon after he had become an intern at Caravan pictures in 1993 led to producing his first film—while still an intern. In four years, he was president of the company.

Friedenberg’s adaptation of A River Runs Through It earned him an Oscar nomination.

For more information about UMEC, and how to join, please call 818.439.3042 or e-mail UMEC at
By Christopher Derrick of UMEC and Colleen Newvine, an MBA student and president of the Entertainment Media & Sports Club.

From left to right, the persons in the photo are:

Dan Abrams: Panel Moderator and UMEC Member (Michigan alum of course)
Heather Kadin, Panelist
Jonathan Glickman, Panelist
Richard Friedenberg, Panelist
Dominic Cianciolo, President of UMEC (BBA '91/J.D. '94)



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