For the Bravo network’s first foray into scripted television, they chose source material as colorful as any real housewife or top chef: Iovine, a mother and writer who found her niche with the hip, bestselling Girlfriends’ Guide series. The Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce, premiering in December 2014 and starring Lisa Edelstein, Janeane Garofalo, and Beau Garrett, follows a seemingly perfect self-help author who is forced to hide the fact that she and her husband are separated. Produced by Iovine, it’s based on one of 10 of her books that dispense funny, real-world advice to women at every stage of the family game and pull no punches when it comes to life after babies … and marriage. “Iovine anticipates every conceivable question, and her responses are warm, wise, and witty,” wrote Publisher’s Weekly of The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy, the first in the series. Armed with a Berkeley journalism degree, Iovine has also contributed to several magazines, newspapers, talk shows, and Internet outlets, including a Huffington Post column. She also earned two law degrees, married and divorced a music industry mogul, and raised four children. Find Iovine on Facebook.
Arts and Entertainment, Writing
While DJing in the mid-1980s at KALX, Berkeley’s student radio station, Portman, AKA Dr. Frank, became what most people only dream of: a rising rock star. He cofounded The Mr. T Experience (MTX) — a leading light of the Bay Area pop-punk scene that launched Green Day — and has remained its primary songwriter, singer, and guitarist since then. In recent years, Portman has turned his knack for writing smart, humorous, and youthful songs into writing young adult fiction. His 2006 debut novel, King Dork, is now a cult classic and was described by the San Francisco Chronicle as “smart, funny, occasionally raunchy, and refreshingly clear about what it’s like to be a geeky guy in high school.” Andromeda Klein (2009) follows an occult-obsessed teenage girl, and King Dork Approximately is due this fall. In describing his reluctance to shift from songs to books, Portman said in an interview: “When I found out that Random House had bought [King Dork], my first thought was, ‘Oh, my god. Oh, no. Now I have to finish it.’ … It’s like with music. There’s an energy you get from discovering how to do something that is special.” Find Portman — plus updates on the movie version of King Dork — on Dr. Frank’s What’s-it blog, Facebook, or Twitter @frankportman.
Arts and Entertainment, Writing
Keith, a National Public Radio (NPR) reporter, was so enthralled with the 1984 Summer Olympics as a four-year-old that she had an Olympics-themed birthday party later that year. When an NPR editor asked if she’d be interested in covering Sochi, she didn’t skip a beat. “I think I was chosen specifically because I’m not a sports reporter,” she said in a Q&A with Berkeley’s NewsCenter. “We (the reporters) like to have fun … and try to bring a sense of wonder to our stories.” Keith, who recently joined the White House beat after covering Congress for two years, admits that there is little in common between politics and sports. But whether it’s a fiscal battle or figure skating, one overarching narrative is “the fight for supremacy, the competition.” A self-proclaimed “radio nerd,” Keith launched her career as a student at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism covering agriculture, the environment, and other topics for KQED’s California Report. She worked for several member stations before joining NPR in 2009. She also founded and created B-Side Radio, a long-running podcast that told stories you couldn’t hear elsewhere. When she’s not lobbing questions at Congresswomen, she’s fielding their fly balls for the Bad News Babes, a journalist softball team that plays Congresswomen to benefit breast cancer. Follow Keith on Twitter @tamarakeithNPR or her blog.
Olympics, Sports, Writing
A journalist, philosopher, and activist, Solnit refuses to be confined by anything but her own wildly roaming passions. The author of 13 books and countless essays, she has unraveled subjects as broad as punk, place, walking, ecology, and hope in the face of hopelessness. Her breakthrough book, River of Shadows, raked in the accolades for asserting that the seeds for both Hollywood and Silicon Valley were planted in 1878 when photographer Eadweard Muybridge proved that a Palo Alto racehorse’s hooves left the ground at once — foreshadowing modern cinema and cementing the peninsula as a hub of innovation. Her latest book, Unfathomable City, a companion to the bestselling Infinite City, weaves together brilliantly reinvented maps and essays that challenge our notions of New Orleans, a city defined as much by its crime, corruption, and disasters as it is by its colorful music, food, and cultural history. She said in an interview with Harper’s, “There is a kind of tragedy to all our lives, consisting of failures, of losses, of mortalities — but that sad landscape is salted with pleasures, with unions, with epiphanies and revelations … The trick is to hold both and maybe value both.” Find some of Solnit’s political essays on TomDispatch.com, or follow her on tumblr.
Public Service and Activism, Writing