Behind the scenes of two of cable television's most popular shows, Jay Katsir ’04, pictured at right, and Rob Kutner ’94, below, shown infiltrating the CNN Grill at the Republican National Convention, spend their days trying to make America laugh. This week, the two comedy writers were recognized for their work. Katsir, a writer for The Colbert Report, and his co-workers won the 2008 Emmy for "Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music, or Comedy Program." Kutner, a writer for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, also was nominated in the writing category and saw his show honored as the "Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series." PAW adds another honor for Katsir and Kutner -- they're our Tigers of the Week. The last year was a difficult one for television writers, who spent more than three months on strike. Katsir wrote a March 8, 2008, PAW essay before the settlement and explained that writing jokes for a living was "so like a pleasant dream that the current state of affairs seems to be the sudden waking that was inevitable all along. It's exactly how I felt the time I fell asleep on the sidewalk during one of the pickets. Luckily, Gilbert Gottfried had a bullhorn." One programming note for alumni and Colbert Report fans: Princeton professor Cornel West *80 is slated to be a guest on the show Sept. 24. Photos: Courtesy Jay Katsir ’04; courtesy Rob Kutner ’94 Do you have a nominee for Tiger of the Week? Let us know. All alumni qualify. PAW's Tiger of the Week is selected by our staff, with help from readers like you.
A musical feast
Julia Brav ’08, pianist for the Princeton University Jazztet, performs at the 2008 Jazz Feast in Palmer Square Sept. 20. Photo by Frank Wojciechowski
Constitution Day: Jefferson and the rights of citizens
The annual Constitution Day lecture has become a popular event on Princeton's September calendar. This year's talk by historian Barbara Oberg, editor of the papers of Thomas Jefferson, focused on Jefferson's views of citizenship and drew an overflow crowd to Dodds Auditorium Sept. 17. (Dozens of attendees -- including Woodrow Wilson School Dean Anne-Marie Slaughter ’80 -- took seats on the floor.) Jefferson did not attend the Constitutional Convention, as Oberg noted, but his writings often grappled with issues of rights and freedoms outlined in the Constitution. Oberg traced one thread -- citizenship -- from Jefferson's early days in 1770s Virginia through a key moment in his presidency, the Louisiana Purchase. Close reading of drafts and final versions of some of Jefferson's key speeches reveals a set of beliefs that were often complicated by practical or political problems, according to Oberg. "There is no answer to what Jefferson thought about citizenship because he thought many things, not surprisingly," Oberg said. History professor Sean Wilentz, one of three commentators who followed Oberg, noted that within the limits of a white, male citizenry, Jefferson had an expansive view of who should be citizens, though that was not always evident in his actions, such as delaying citizenship for the people of newly acquired Louisiana. Politics professor Stephen Macedo said Jefferson promoted equality among citizens, consciously trying to avoid an America divided by class or privilege. And Christina Burnett ’90 *04, an associate professor of law at Columbia University, said that the Constitution's relatively vague wording about citizenship and naturalization has encouraged robust discussion and debate, in Jefferson's time and in ours.
Building a sustainable campus
The amount of paper students printed from computer clusters last year --10,632,117 sheets -- could cover 800 acres of land, spanning the distance from Princeton to Kalamazoo. While Princeton may have miles to go before achieving environmental sustainability, the Sept. 17 Sustainability Open House showed that the University is moving toward that goal. The Green Computing table, where students got tips for more sustainable technological use, was just one of more than 30 table presentations at the open house. A bustling Frist Campus Center attracted students and community members alike, who could be found snacking on free organic sandwiches, smoothies, and yogurt, while they visited the presentations put on by student groups, academic departments, and staff. Student initiatives represented included RecycleMania, a University-wide recycling effort that occurs in the spring; Farm2Fork, representing the campus' organic garden and farmers market; and the CFL Bulb Exchange program, which gave out free compact fluorescent light bulbs. Faculty and staff were available to talk about how academic programs incorporate sustainability in their lessons as well as how the University's newest building improvements are environmentally friendly. In combination with the launching of a new website this summer, the Office of Sustainability used the open house to introduce the community to the projects encompassed in the Princeton Sustainability Plan, adopted in February 2008, which outlines the University's plan to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, conserve natural resources, and promote civic engagement. "The open house is doing great," said Shana Weber, the University's sustainability manager, while fielding questions from visitors at the welcome desk. "Unfortunately I won't get a chance to walk around myself." By Julia Osellame ’09
Names in the news, entertainment edition
"Our pesky pocket devices have become crucial to storytelling," Zachary Pincus-Roth ’02 wrote in a Los Angeles Times story about the role of cell phones in popular films. Pincus-Roth was interviewed about the topic on WNYC's On the Media Sept. 12. ... Publisher's Weekly reported that author Jennifer Weiner ’91 signed a "two-year seven-figure development deal" with ABC to create and executive-produce television projects. Her novels include Good in Bed, In Her Shoes (which was made into a movie), and Certain Girls, her new sequel to Good in Bed. ... Publisher's Weekly also reported that author Jodi Picoult ’87's novel My Sister's Keeper, about a sister conceived as a bone-marrow match for her older sister, is being adapted for a feature film starring Cameron Diaz and Dakota Fanning, due to be released next year. ... Jill Sigman/Thinkdance, the performance group based in New York City founded by choreographer Jill Sigman ’89 *98 is 10 years old this year. According to its Web site, the company "exists at the intersection of dance, theater, and visual installation."