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Spartan Profiles



  • Author:
    Robert Bao
  • Published:
    Winter 2012

GEOFF JOHNS:

THE NEW 52

The world of comic books has just been dramatically transformed.On Aug. 1, DC Comics launched Justice League #1, the first of a new line of 52 number one issues. Newer and more contemporary looks have been created for such iconic superheroes as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and The Flash. Behind this change is Geoff Johns, ’95, creative chief officer Of DC Entertainment, Burbank, CA, and a superstar in the comic book industry. He wrote Justice League #1, working with legendary artist Jim Lee. He has been writing for characters such as Green Lantern, The Flash and Superman. He has also written episodes of TV’s Smallville. Last year, he co-produced the movie Green Lantern. “I’ve always enjoyed movies and been passionate about comics,” says Johns, whose company is also filming New movies about Superman and the Dark Knight. “When you can find work where you can do both, it’s exciting.” So far, the early indications of the transformative changes in the new comic book series have been positive. “Sales of comic books are the strongest they have been in at least a decade,” Geoff notes. “The digital stuff has risen by leaps and bounds.We have our core audience but we are now capturing a new audience.” Born in Detroit, raised In Clarkston, Geoff chose MSU over the University of Michigan.“MSU was a perfect fit for me,” he explains. “It was a well known school, the campus is beautiful, and there was a comics shop on Grand River. The library has the largest comics collection in the country. I had a great experience.” Geoff was president of the MSU Film Club—“I think (Spiderman director) Sam Raimi founded the club,” he recalls. He cites Carrie Heeter and Brian Winn, MSU professors of Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media, as friends and mentors. “Bill Vincent (former professor of film studies) was a massive influence,” adds Geoff. “He opened the door to story-telling in a way I had never thought about. I took his course on the movies of Hitchcock to Fellini, on screenwriting, and aft er that I took every course I could take from him.”

JIM RICE: SOUTH PACIFIC SURVIVOR

What has made CBS’s Survivor so successful? The reality show just finished airing its 23rd season and is oft en ranked among the top ten most watched television shows. “It’s a combination of things—the game itself, the host and the casting,” says James Rice, ’98, a businessman from Denver, CO, who was one of 18 contestants in Survivor: South Pacific. “They pick people who are going to be interesting to viewers.” Rice certainly sounded “interesting,” having worked for a Wall Street investment bank on mergers and acquisitions, won some 40 poker tournaments and started a wine store, and two medical marijuana Stores in Denver, CO. “I give CBS credit for being willing to take risks,” says Jim. “Not many would pick someone who sells medical marijuana.” (For the Record, medical marijuana has been legal in Colorado since 2002. ) In September Jim flew to his hometown, Flushing, to watch the 2011 Survivor show’s premiere with family and friends. “So many people wanted to attend we ended up using a venue in Auburn Hills,” says Jim. “Aft erwards I drove to South Bend, IN, to see our football game against Notre Dame. Not many people have as many frequent flyer miles as I do following MSU football and basketball.” While attending high school in Flushing Jim Developed a fondn for MSU. “Everyo I knew who I liked and enjoyed being with were from MSU,” he explain “That was the bes decision I made.The people I met at Hubbard Hall are still some of my closest friends." he touts surviver As a life-transforming experi ence. “It gave me a new definition Of giving 100 percent,” says Jim.“This game really brought it out.I've Always been competitive. I’ve Won And Ive' lost.But here I truly felt the thrill of victory and the Agony of defeat.”

LEAH MOSS: JACK DETROIT

Can’t find a job opening? How about creating one’s own job? That’s just what native Detroiter, Leah Moss, ’10, did. Aft er sending out 152 applications to journalism outlets and not landing a job in four months, she decided to make her own fate. “I just threw up my hands,” recalls Moss, who then decided to launch her own magazine—Jack Detroit, a lifestyle magazine for young professional men. “There’s a lot of content available for women,” explains Leah. “On the other hand, there aren’t really any entertaining sources of information for men to read that is localized.” Leah was able to raise $10,000 from Kickstarter, a web-based fundraiser for creative projects. “We got donations from friends and family, total strangers and everything in between,” says Leah. “We had 30 days to achieve our goal.” With the funding secured, she was able to launch her bi-monthly magazine in May. Much like a Detroit version of Esquire magazine, it covers local people and cultural topics—“Sports, food, fashion and artistry, entertainment as well as information,” says Leah, who is delighted with the readers reaction. “We published 15,000 copies of each issue and they’re all gone. We pushed it heavily via social media (for more information, visit www.jackdetroit.com). People are really loving it.” Among the more popular features is “Jill of the Month,” which Leah says is “sexy and sensual but not over the top.” A native of Southfield, Leah chose to attend MSU aft er a “very, very good offer” from the Honors College. “I could not have had a better four years,” says Leah. “It was an amazing educational experience and I’m a proud Spartan for life.” Leah says she enjoyed many professors, especially English Professor Stephen Deng, who led her study a Monty Brinton/CBS © 2011 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. broad program in London.

Tango music may have originated in the River Plate basin, but today it is also alive and well in . . . Grand Rapids! In 2002 Carmen Maret, MA ’03 & ’05, and Andrew Bergeron, MA ’05, founded Folias Music, a flute and guitar duo as well as music publishing company there. “I was first exposed to tango as an undergrad at (the University of) Missouri, where I played with a tango band,” says Carmen, who earned two master’s degrees (in flute and inethnomusicology) at MSU. She met and later married Bergeron, a fellow MSU graduate student in music composition. Recalls Carmen, “We became involved with tango communities just starting up in Michigan, and we eventually landed a gig playing tango music at a Grand Rapids restaurant.” Today, the duo performs All over North America, composes both classical and jazz tango music, produces recordings which are sold online at foliasmusic.com, and does a lot of teaching “so we can pay our mortgage bills,” says Carmen, who teaches at Aquinas College along with Andrew, who also teaches at Grand Valley State University and Grand Rapids Community College. “We just finished a national tour that included Alaska, the West Coast and Canada,” says Carmen. “I’m now working on another tour from San Francisco to Alaska.We’ll play tango music in wineries and at the end of the tour we’ll be at the national flute convention in Las Vegas.” Carmen says they play both traditional tango music and also “neo-tango,” a modern version inspired by the late, classically-trained composer Astor Piazzolla. “When we tour, we play mostly traditional tango mu because that’s what dancers respond to,” explains Carmen. “B we appreciate both an believe there is a place for both.” Carmen a Andrew tout MSU’s College of Music and special professors, Michael Largey in musicology, and Charles Ruggiero in composition.

KATIE LAROCHE: ONE WORLD, ONE FUTURE

When she competed in last year’s Miss America contest, she won two major honors (on top of over $30,000 in scholarships)— “Miss Congeniality,” which is And the “Quality of Life” award, which is based on how committed one is to one’s platform. And Katie Laroche, ’08, Miss Michigan 2010, remains totally committed to her cause—the problem of human trafficking. “I’ll be speaking with young people throughout the world about human traffick-Ing,” says Laroche, who is founder and CEO of One World, One Future, a nonprofit organization that raises funds to help victims in Nepal. “I try to raise awareness of the issue, which is a huge international problem.” Katie has enlisted the help of former Spartan athletes like Drew Stanton, now quarterback for the Detroit Lions, and T.J. Duckett, who performed as a running back in the NFL.“Taken (with Liam Neesom) is not just a movie, it’s reality,” says Katie, who first became aware of the issue in 2009, when she spent two months doing volunteer work in Nepal. A native of Bay City, Katie decided on MSU aft er taking a campus visit. “I fell in love with MSU,” she recalls. “I loved My experience. I was president of my sorority (Alpha Chi Omega).” A dancer since age 2, she has done every style of dance and now uses the art form to help reinforce her message. She cites two MSU psychology professors as mentors— Carlos Navarrete and Todd Tarrant. Tarrant led her study abroad class in Kenya in 2007.“That was when I started to recognize the issue of extreme poverty and human injustice,” says Katie.In her senior year at MSU, Katie did volunteer work via Partners of the Americas and spent her spring break working at an orphanage in Belize City. “It was eye-opening,” says Katie, who is currently performing and taking her message across three continents.

RICK GOSSELIN: GURU OF THE NFL DRAFT

For the last decade or so, the most accurate prognosticator of the NFL draft has been Rick Gosselin, ’72, NFL columnist for the Dallas Morning News. One website that looks at all “mock draft s” ranks Gosselin No. 1 for the past five years and also for 2011, when he nailed 14 of 32 first round picks (versus nine by ESPN’s Mel Kiper). “This has become a cottage industry, almost a season in itself,” says Rick, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame writers division. “I take a lot of pride in what I do. Aft er the Super Bowl, I’m on the phone for two straight months.I talk to all 32 teams. I talk to coaches, scouts, agents, personnel directors— all NFL people who have access to draft boards.” Rick notes that the visitors to his mock draft s and players rankings on the web “rise dramatically” in late April. His “Top 100 Players” list serves as a guide to the televised rounds of the draft . “I don’t watch any tape,” he notes.“I don’t pretend to be a scout. I’m a writer. I talk to the people who know and build a consensus.” A native of Detroit, Rick grew up playing hockey. He graduated from St. Ambrose High School (in 2009 he wrote Goodfellows: The Champions of St. Ambrose, about its football tradition).He followed his older brother to MSU. “I remember (journalism professor) Stan Soffin,” recalls Rick. “I had a great experience at the State News, where I became the sports editor aft er my sophomore year.” Aft er MSU he worked two years for UPI in Detroit, transferred to New York City in 1975 and then to Kansas City in 1977, covering the Giants and the Chiefs. He moved to the Dallas Morning News in 1990 and two years later became its NFL columnist. Since then, he spends some 17 weekends on the road watching NFL games of his choosing. “I never saw a bad game,” he says. “That’s how I’ve been able to build my contacts and develop rapport with football people. I still love hockey, but football is the place to be for a sportswriter.”