Former MIT Students on TV by Matt McGann '00
Two in a flattering way, one in a potentially embarassing way.
Now that most application deadlines have passed, you may be interested in catching up on some TV. This month, you can see (at least) three former MIT students on the tube.
This month, PBS is having competition where viewers choose which of three new science programs will get picked up for a full run. One of the shows, WIRED Science, is co-hosted by an MIT alumna, Aomawa Shields ’97. You can watch the pilot episode online or on your iPod. Aomawa was Course 12 (Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, or EAPS) and was a member of the a cappella group the Muses.
Aomawa is also a contributor to the new book She’s Such a Geek: Women Write About Science, Technology, and Other Nerdy Stuff, having written an essay about her career as an astronomer. Other contributors to the book include Diana Husmann ’08, a junior in Course 8 (Physics), and Ellen Spertus ’90, who was named “Sexiest Geek Alive” in 2001.
Speaking of geeks, tonight on the CW television network (home of one of my favorite shows, Veronica Mars) is the second episode of the third season of the reality show Beauty and the Geek. The concept of the show is to take eight geeky guys and pair them with eight beautiful women in a competition for $250,000. A fairly standard reality show, I suppose. There are now versions of the show in England, Estonia, Italy, and, with my favorite translated title, Norway (Prinsessen og Professoren — “The Princess and the Professor”).
Matt Herman ’06 is one of the contestants this season. Matt majored in Course 18 (Math) and won the annual Pi recitation contest (he knows 180 digits, not bad). One thing they don’t tell you on the show is that Matt was President of his fraternity.
In an interview with the Boston Globe, fellow “geek” Nate, a Harvard student, was asked about the three contestants from Cambridge:
Q: There’s only one MIT geek on the show, but two from Harvard. Does that mean Harvard is outpacing MIT’s geek quotient?
A: It could be. Or it could be that the potency of geekiness is that much stronger at MIT – you need two Harvard geeks to equal just one MIT geek.
My friend Ankur Mehta ’03 was a contestant on the previous season of Beauty and the Geek, coming in third place. You may remember him from a “40 Year Old Virgin”-esque chest waxing scene. Here’s how Ankur was cast:
At the end of last summer, the WB recruited heavily from MIT, a school reputed to have plenty of geeks to spare. Ankur, an alumnus from East Campus, heard about the auditions through ec-discuss, an e-mail discussion list for East Campus residents. He purchased a bright purple tuxedo, made a duct tape bow tie, and arrived at the audition with a couple of friends. The producers loved him, and he was cast into the world of reality television.
And tomorrow night on the CBS network, you can watch James Woods on the legal drama Shark. Woods was Course 17 (Political Science) at MIT and served as President of the theater group Dramashop, but dropped out of MIT one semester short of graduation to pursue acting. Based on his Emmy awards, I’d say he’s been pretty successful anyway.
Anyone seen any of these shows?