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  Amy Talkington
The Talkies

With a new movie out in October on DVD titled The Night of the White Pants (not Talking Pants, as was misreported last issue), writer/director Amy Talkington ’93BC, ’99SOA is now working with screenwriter Simon Kinberg ’03SOA (Mr. & Mrs. Smith) on a drama inspired by the Tchaikovsky opera Iolanta…At the second annual Independent Features Film Festival at Tribeca Cinema this summer, The Shopkeeper’s Daughter: Interview with Dorothy Kohl, a film by current SOA student David Broyles, won the $10,000 grand prize.


From left: Dan Maffei, Carmen Twillie Ambar, Lorenzo D. Gaines
New Leaders

While Barack Obama ’83CC is vying for the presidency, two other Columbians, also Democrats, are seeking election at the local level. Dan Maffei ’91JRN is running for Congress in New York’s 25th Congressional District. Lorenzo D. Gaines ’05SOA, a former high-school teacher, is looking to unseat incumbent Benjamin Swan in the 11th Hampden District of the state House of Representatives in Massachusetts…Trustees of Cedar Crest College, a women’s college in Allentown, Pennsylvania, have chosen Carmen Twillie Ambar ’94LAW to be the school’s new president. Ambar is former dean of Douglass College at Rutgers University.


Strings and Boats and Planes

Alisa Weilerstein ’04CC, whom New York magazine recently called “arguably Yo-Yo Ma’s heiress apparent,” is on a nationwide tour. The 26-year-old cellist will perform the Cello Concerto no. 2 by the Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki on November 20 at Lincoln Center with Lorin Maazel and the New York Philharmonic…On October 1, at the University of Richmond, the Shanghai String Quartet premiered Quartet for Strings in G, composed by jazz pianist Dick Hyman ’48CC. Hyman’s latest CD, Thinking About Bix, released this summer on Reference Recordings, is a collection of solo piano pieces honoring the trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke…Neo-country chanteuse Laura Cantrell ’89CC has released Trains and Boats and Planes, an eight-song EP based on the theme of travel. “The real focus is on Cantrell’s sweet voice,” wrote the Washington Post this summer. “She sings with the purity of Alison Krauss.”

Wafaa El-Sadr   Wallace S. Broecker

Wafaa El-Sadr ’91PH has been named a 2008 MacArthur Fellow by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Dr. El-Sadr, who is professor of clinical epidemiology and director of the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, is a leader in the field of infectious disease, including HIV and tuberculosis…Geochemist and global warming prophet Wallace S. Broecker ’53CC, ’58GSAS, who is Newberry Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia, has been awarded the prestigious Balzan Prize, which honors achievement in science, culture, and the humanities. Based in Milan, the Balzan Prize Foundation cited Broecker’s “extraordinary contributions to the understanding of climate change through his discoveries concerning the role of oceans and their interactions with the atmosphere.” The prize includes a monetary award of $885,000…The Sierra Club has given its 2008 Joseph Barbosa Award to SIPA student Carlos Rymer. The $250 prize is awarded to Sierra Club members under 30 who have demonstrated a record of service to the environment. Rymer has worked in the Dominican Republic and Mexico on sustainability issues, including projects involving wind power and agriculture.

  Assembly Lines

Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann ’62JRN was elected president of the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in June. An ordained priest, Brockmann was Nicaragua’s Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1979 to 1990. “The world has reached a point at which we have no alternative — either we love one another or we all perish,” he said in his address to the Assembly on September 23. “Either we treat each other as brothers and sisters or we witness the beginning of the end of our human species…” Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili ’94LAW also addressed the UN General Assembly on September 23. “Georgia was attacked because it is a successful democracy in our part of the world,” he said, referring to the military confrontation with Russia this summer over the disputed territory of South Ossetia. “Our response today is to make our democracy even more robust.”

  How About Them Apples

Twin brothers Jake LaSalle ’07CC and Marty LaSalle ’07CC sure can multitask. While pursuing postgraduate degrees (Jake is pre-med, Marty studied economics for a year at Oxford), they’re currently on tour with the Big Apple Circus, where they perform a synchronized juggling act that mixes acrobatics, dance, and music…Arnold Kim ’96CC also has lots of balls in the air. He recently stopped practicing medicine in order to devote himself full time to blogging for his lucrative Web site,, which traffics in gossip and information about the Apple corporation and draws over four million visitors per month.

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