Alumni News

Bohacz '78 Receives Alumni Service Award


Mazelle Ablon Bohacz '78 flanked by her husband, Kevin Bohacz, and Departmental Chair Stephen Whitfield

Mazelle Bohacz '78 received the 2008 Service to the Association Award. This award recognizes an outstanding alumni leader whose commitment to Brandeis is truly extraordinary. Bohacz is honored for the amazing leadership she brought to her 30th Reunion and her tireless efforts on behalf of her alma mater.

Who Says Our Alumni Don't Lead Glamorous Lives?

scott feinberg and sara kahan

sara kahan and hugh jackman

Sara Kahan '07 (psychology) celebrates the New York premiere of "Australia" with American studies graduate Scott Feinberg '08 (top photo)  and actor Hugh Jackman.

American Studies Alumni

Stan M. Brooks - Professor, American Film Institute

Stan Brooks

A graduate of Brandeis University, Brooks holds a Master’s degree in Fine Arts from the American Film Institute where he is also currently an Adjunct Professor.

In the 1980's, Brooks served as president of The Guber-Peters Television Company. Under his leadership the company produced many notable projects including Barry Levinson’s Rain Man, which went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture at the 1988 Academy Awards. In 1989, Brooks left to found his first independent production company, Once Upon a Time Films, which went on to produce over fifty television movies in the 1990's and 2000's.

In 2006, Brooks produced Broken Trail starring Robert Duvall and Thomas Haden Church, which won four Emmy Awards including Outstanding Miniseries, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries, and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries and Best Casting for a Miniseries, Movie or Special. It was nominated for sixteen Emmy awards - the most for any miniseries since ROOTS. It was also nominated for three Golden Globe awards in the categories of Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor.

In 2009, Brooks executive produced the telefilm Prayers for Bobby, which earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Made for Television Movie as well as both Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for Sigourney Weaver's portrayal of Mary Griffith.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Brooks as chairman of the California Film Commission in 2010 where he helped pass the first tax incentives package for the entertainment industry in California history, bringing tens of thousands of jobs back to the state.

Brooks founded The Hollywood Indies Little League Foundation, a charitable organization that in 1995 brought Little League baseball back to an abandoned park in South Central Los Angeles. It is now the County's largest Little League program. The following year, Brooks was recognized by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for his special contribution to the parks and children of Los Angeles.

He is married to Tanya Lopez, a former ICM agent and current head of original movies and miniseries at Lifetime Television Networks. They have three children together ages 22, 20, and 13.

"I chose Brandeis because I wanted a strong Liberal Arts education.  I wandered from major to major - hopelessly lost - until I reached the oasis of American Studies.  Engaged and challenged I learned about American Art, Architecture, Literature and Politics.  I took every course I could from Steve Whitfield and Jerry Cohen and watched two legendary lecturers turn American history into a fireside story.  They encouraged me to follow my dream of being a filmmaker. And so I did.  

I've produced over fifty films and I use my American Studies education on every film - in every meeting - every day. From Professors Whitfield and Cohen I began to learn how to tell a story - whether it be truth or myth.  That skill is the most valuable tool I have for what I have chosen to do."

Jenna Berger - Industry Analyst, Automotive, GoogleJenna Berger

Jenna Berger is currently an Industry Analyst on the Automotive team at Google. She uses internal and third-party data to stay ahead of industry trends and to drive insights and solutions for large clients. Previously, she was a Research Director at Nielsen in both London and New York, where her focus was on global digital analytics. Jenna began her career in research as a member of Nielsen’s Emerging Leaders Program. 

Jenna is originally from Los Angeles and was selected as one of the 100 Greatest Teens in Los Angeles by the LA Times in 1999. She holds a B.A. in American Studies, Business, and Film Studies from Brandeis University in Boston. An Internet-lover, MoMA member, expert eater, and ambitious traveler, Jenna does her best to strike the important work hard/play hard balance. Jenna currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

"My experience doing research throughout my American Studies classes, particularly when writing my thesis, made me realize a career in market research would be a good fit. I also loved all of the journalism, TV, and film classes I took as a part of the American Studies major, which helped lead to me to roles working in digital media."

Drew Elovitz - Social Media Editor, Teen Vogue at Condé NastDrew Elovitz

Drew Elovitz is currently the Social Media Editor for Teen Vogue and, where she manages Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest… You get the idea. She keeps ahead of trends in the fashion, entertainment, and cultural space by reading (almost) the entire Internet on a daily basis, curating the very best content for readers via Teen Vogue’s numerous social media outlets.

Prior to joining Teen Vogue, Drew worked at a digital media agency and was the online “voice” of several Mattel brands, including Monster High and Barbie. She holds a M.A. in Media and Popular Culture from New York University, and a B.A in American Studies, History, Film Studies, and Gender Studies from Brandeis University in Boston. Nearly everything she knows about living in Manhattan comes from a fail-proof combination of Sex and the City and Seinfeld.

"Although I took about 20 AMST classes while at Brandeis, one of my most memorable experiences was working with Professor Doherty on an independent study that explored the evolution of DC Comics' Superman from page to screen. This intense research project helped me discover my passion not only for cultural criticism, but also made me appreciate what Marshall McLuhan meant when he wrote, "The medium is the message." As a digital media content creator, this is something I think about every day."

Scott Feinberg - Awards Analyst, The Hollywood Reporter

Scott Feinberg

Now residing in Los Angeles, Scott serves as the lead awards analyst for The Hollywood Reporter, the preeminent entertainment industry trade paper and website, covering all things Emmys and Oscars in print and online. (He previously served in a similar capacity for the Los Angeles Times and for his own website, Scott is widely known for his unparalleled track record at accurately forecasting the Oscars; his best showings came in 2006 and 2013, when he correctly projected the winners in 21 of the 24 categories, tops among all pundits. And he is also working on a book to try to excite young people about old movies, for which he has conducted nearly 500 interviews with key industry figures from across the decades and disciplines of the medium.

"My education at Brandeis as an American Studies major has proven immensely valuable to me in the 'real world.' It provided me with a keen understanding of a wide array of issues pertaining to Americana -- arts, journalism, history, politics, sociology, etc. -- and provoked my curiosity to further explore these topics on my own. I am a better writer, thinker, and American because of the things that I learned through my AMST courses and my relationships with the AMST professors who taught them, especially Tom Doherty and Steve Whitfield. Every department and program at Brandeis should aspire to be as outstanding as AMST. I hope very much that Brandeis appreciates just how special and valued it is."

Audrey Gruber - Executive Producer, Fuse NewsAudrey Gruber

Audrey Gruber is the executive producer of Fuse News, the only national daily news program dedicated to music and all of the news programming for Fuse (a Madison Square Garden Company)  including the daily news, shows, specials, social media, and breaking news. Prior to her role as executive producer, Ms. Gruber was the senior executive on the program, who oversaw the development and successful launch of Fuse News. 

Ms. Gruber began her career at CBS, where she ultimately served as producer for a variety of shows, including CBS This Morning, Evening News and CBS News Productions: Biography This Week.  This was followed, in 1999, by a move to ABC’s 20/20, where Ms. Gruber worked as the producer, responsible for developing and producing cutting-edge investigative and consumer stories, including numerous high-profile music stories. In 2004 and 2005, she produced the live finales for Season 2 and 3 of NBC’s The Apprentice. In 2005, Ms. Gruber moved to CNN where she produced packages for programming including I-Report Caught on Tape (senior producer), Anderson Cooper 360 and the Paula Zahn Show. In 2008, Ms. Gruber returned to CBS as a producer at The Early Show. She would later be named supervising producer and then senior producer at The Early Show, where she produced the highest rated programming on the show and extended the brand across multiple platforms. Ms. Gruber is also an EMMY, Dupont  and Peabody award winner.


Marc Tyler Nobleman - Writer, Speaker, Pop Culture Archeologist

Marc Tyler NoblemanDuring his freshman year, Marc Tyler Nobleman '94 registered for "American Film and Culture of the 1950's," thinking there would be no required reading. The class was about movies! Movies are fun! Fun isn't academic!

So when the syllabus came chockablock with books, it signaled an instant shift in Nobleman’s perception: his passion was more complex than he'd realized. He knew film could be a mirror or catalyst of culture, but he came to see how film could be an allegory or eulogy of culture as well. Nobleman stayed in the dark — AKA the screening room — throughout Brandeis, aiming to channel his film theory concentration into a career as a screenwriter-director.

book cover of boys of steelHe did become a "multihyphenate," but not quite the kind he had planned. Instead, he found himself an author-speaker-pop culture archeologist. He loves unearthing stories about people at once familiar and unknown, stories no one else has brought to light. His books include Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman, the first standalone biography of the two teens who dreamed up the Man of Steel, and Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, the first-ever biography of the uncredited main mind behind the Dark Knight. He has been invited to speak at hundreds of schools, conferences, and other venues internationally. And as a pop culture archeologist, he’s created oral histories of an eclectic range of entertainment, from the water skiing superheroes of Sea World to the women of iconic 1980s music videos.

“From that freshman year film class to the honor of speaking at AMST graduation ’94, AMST was a formative experience for me. I still refer to concepts I learned in Professor Doherty’s film seminar, I still call upon writing techniques I learned in Professor Whitfield’s journalism class, and I will always look back with deep fondness for the rich background in literature, history, and culture AMST gave me.”

David Pepose

As an American Studies major, David Pepose wrote a senior thesis about a recurring figure in American comedy, which he calls "the newsjester." According to Pepose, newsjesters are comedians "like Will Rogers, Mort Sahl, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert who blur the line between political satire and actually assume the roles of the journalists they lampooned, at least in terms of fact-checking, speaking truth to power, and even earning national trust." Pepose now works in the communications department for CBS, where Colbert will take over as host of the Late Show in September, 2015, and he had the opportunity to meet with the comedian and discuss his thesis. Colbert was very enthusiastic about the project and was quick to ask if Pepose had "read his favorite Will Rogers speech (a 1929 speech Rogers gave to the American Bankers Association convention, which Colbert described as "f*cking awesome")." Pepose describes the encounter as a great experience, noting that Colbert was "so funny and so gracious."

Mindy Schneider - Television Writer

book cover of not a happy camperAmong our American studies alumni who have recently published books is Mindy Schneider, whose memoir of summers spent a Camp Kin-A-Hurra (not its real name) makes for delightful, hilarious, compelling reading. "Not a Happy Camper" was published by Grove Press in spring 2008 and is available in paperback. Even readers who did not attend a sleep-away camp in which so much could go wrong, or did not spend any summers at camp, are bound to enjoy reminiscences that are so unfailingly perceptive and witty in evoking the poignancy of early adolescence. Schneider has been a writer for television and lives in Los Angeles. "Not a Happy Camper" is her first book.