The eagerly anticipated inspirational memoir from Michelle Obama’s brother, celebrating the extraordinary family members and mentors who have shaped his life
LAT~Reporting from Washington – The news might have set off alarms in some past administrations: The president’s brother-in-law has written a book.
But you won’t find dirty laundry in a memoir from First Lady Michelle Obama’s brother, Oregon State basketball coach Craig Robinson.
The book, “A Game of Character,” which has a foreword by their mother, Marian Robinson, is due out April 20.
Craig Robinson writes that he and his parents didn’t think Barack Obama stood much of a chance with his sister when they met him.
He and his parents were out on their porch on a hot summer night in Chicago when the couple stopped by to say hello on their way to a movie.
“Well, he’s tall,” Marian Robinson said while Obama was out of earshot.
“Not a bad-looking guy, either,” said her husband, Fraser.
But even though the suitor struck the Robinsons as a self-possessed man with a nice smile and firm handshake, they figured he wasn’t a keeper. “Too bad,” Marian said. “Yep,” Fraser answered. “She’ll eat him alive.”
Miche, as he calls her, was a disciplined, scholarly girl who saved money fastidiously, who learned to box at their father’s behest and who once conspired with him, upset that their parents smoked, to destroy every last cigarette in the house.
Robinson writes mostly about basketball, even when describing how he introduced his sister before her prime-time address at the Democratic National Convention.
“Michelle was being asked to sink a three-pointer at the buzzer in a do-or-die game at the start of the championship,” he writes. “Everything to come, victory or disappointment, would hinge on this one shot. And all I could do to help was simply pass her the ball. And believe.”
In A Game of Character, Robinson takes readers behind the scenes to meet his most important influences in his understanding of the winning traits that are part of his playbook for success. Central to his story are his parents, Marian and Fraser, two indefatigable individuals who showed their children how to believe in themselves and live their lives with conviction through love, discipline and respect. With insights into this exemplary family, we relive memories of how Marian sacrificed a career to be a full-time mom, how Fraser got up and went to work every day while confronting the challenges of multiple sclerosis, how Craig and Michelle strengthened their bond as they journeyed out of the Southside to Princeton University and eventually, the national stage.
Heartwarming, inspiring, and even transformational, A Game of Character comes just at the right time in an era of change, reminding readers of our opportunity to work together and embrace the character of our nation, to make a difference in the lives of others and to pave the way for the next generation.
Barack Obama’s inauguration as president on January 20, 2009, inspired the world. But the great promise of “Change We Can Believe In” was immediately tested by the threat of another Great Depression, a worsening war in Afghanistan, and an entrenched and deeply partisan system of business as usual in Washington. Despite all the coverage, the backstory of Obama’s historic first year in office has until now remained a mystery.
In The Promise: President Obama, Year One, Jonathan Alter, one of the country’s most respected journalists and historians, uses his unique access to the White House to produce the first inside look at Obama’s difficult debut.
What happened in 2009 inside the Oval Office? What worked and what failed? What is the president really like on the job and off-hours, using what his best friend called “a Rubik’s Cube in his brain”? These questions are answered here for the first time. We see how a surprisingly cunning Obama took effective charge in Washington several weeks before his election, made trillion-dollar decisions on the stimulus and budget before he was inaugurated, engineered colossally unpopular bailouts of the banking and auto sectors, and escalated a treacherous war not long after settling into office.
The Promise is a fast-paced and incisive narrative of a young risk-taking president carving his own path amid sky-high expectations and surging joblessness. Alter reveals that it was Obama alone—”feeling lucky”—who insisted on pushing major health care reform over the objections of his vice president and top advisors, including his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who admitted that “I begged him not to do this.”
Alter takes the reader inside the room as Obama prevents a fistfight involving a congressman, coldly reprimands the military brass for insubordination, crashes the key meeting at the Copenhagen Climate Change conference, and realizes that a Senate candidate’s gaffe about baseball in a Massachusetts special election will dash the big dream of his first year.
In Alter’s telling, the real Obama is an authentic, demanding, unsentimental, and sometimes overconfident leader. He adapted to the presidency with ease and put more “points on the board” than he is given credit for, but neglected to use his leverage over the banks and failed to connect well with an angry public. We see the famously calm president cursing leaks, playfully trash-talking his advisors, and joking about even the most taboo subjects, still intent on redeeming more of his promise as the problems mount.
Book Details Obama on ‘Teabaggers,’ Rahm’s Rage, Summers’s Nickname
Jonathan Alter of Newsweek
Newsweek~As Democrats prepare to vote on the historic health-care legislation this weekend, a new look inside the White House is emerging from an upcoming book by Newsweek national-affairs columnist Jonathan Alter that’s already being buzzed about in Washington political circles. The Promise, due out from Simon and Schuster in May, chronicles in a blow-by-blow narrative Obama’s first turbulent year in office. According to an advance copy obtained by New York, Alter makes the case that early stumbles in vetting appointees and the polarized politics over the stimulus set a course for the rest of the year. While the book doesn’t upend the existing narratives about any of the administration’s major characters, it adds intimate, at times comic detail about many of them, starting with POTUS. In an interview with Alter on November 30, Obama offered that Republican opposition to the stimulus “helped create the tea-baggers and empowered that whole wing of the Republican Party where it now controls the agenda for the Republicans.”
Other vividly drawn characters include Chief Economic Adviser Larry Summers, to whom Alter writes Obama gave the nickname “Dr. Kevorkian.” Alter writes that Obama “privately supported Harvard’s decision to fire Summers in 2005 … because Summers clearly lacked the ‘diplomatic skill set’ for the Harvard presidency.'” In the White House, Summers angled for the biggest portfolio he could get, but failed to get oversight on health care and energy. One of his chief antagonists was the powerful budget director Peter Orszag. Alter writes that a tennis partner of Summers’s warned him of Orszag: “Watch out for the guy with the cowboy boots and the bad toupee.” One of the more amusing fights inside the White House, according to Alter, was over Obama’s coveted BlackBerry e-mail address, which was given to only 30 or so White House aides and Obama friends. “Summers was annoyed at not being included and complained to Rahm, who put him on the list,” writers Alter.
In an interview, Alter told me he hopes the book gives readers a deeper, more personal sense of the characters operating inside the White House. “I hope the book corrects some misconceptions and leads people to a more subtle understanding of who he is, where he has fulfilled his promise and where he’s fallen short so far,” he told me.
First Lady Michelle Obama prepares to read Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat, during an event at the Library of Congress on March 2, 2010 in Washington, DC. Over three hundred local students participated in the event to promote reading . and to mark Read Across America Day and the birthday of author Theodor Seuss Geisel. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images North America)
AP~First Lady Michelle Obama celebrated Dr. Seuss’ birthday Tuesday by reading “The Cat in the Hat” to a group of children wearing red-and-white-striped stovepipe hats like the book’s main character.
Mrs. Obama helped kick off the National Education Association’s 13th annual “Read Across America” celebration at the Library of Congress. The event marked the day that Dr. Seuss, or Theodor Seuss Geisel, would have turned 106.
“Do you know the president of the United States reads all the time,” Mrs. Obama told a group of more than 200 students from elementary schools in Washington and Arlington, Va. “Our girls at home read every single night.”
The first lady said that her daughters, Sasha and Malia, are allowed to stay up 30 minutes later if they are reading.
Some of the first family’s favorite children’s books are “Horton Hatches the Egg,” by Dr. Seuss and “Where the Wild Things Are,” by Maurice Sendak, Mrs. Obama said in response to one of the children’s questions.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan also read “Horton Hears a Who!”
NEA President Dennis Van Roekel led the children in a rhyming pledge to read every day. It began: “I promise to read each day and each night. I know it’s the key to growing up right.”
On Monday President Barack Obama proclaimed March 2 Read Across America Day.
What is NEA’s Read Across America?
NEA’s Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss.
NEA’s Read Across America also provides NEA members, parents, caregivers, and children the resources and activities they need to keep reading on the calendar 365 days a year.
In cities and towns across the nation, teachers, teenagers, librarians, politicians, actors, athletes, parents, grandparents, and others develop NEA’s Read Across America activities to bring reading excitement to children of all ages. Governors, mayors, and other elected officials recognize the role reading plays in their communities with proclamations and floor statements. Athletes and actors issue reading challenges to young readers. And teachers and principals seem to be more than happy to dye their hair green or be duct-taped to a wall if it boosts their students’ reading.
Jason Reitman (Director/Screenplay/Producer)
He is an Oscar®-nominated director who has established himself as an original, smart and funny storyteller known for his pitch-perfect commentaries on society. Reitman recently produced the horror comedy Jennifers Body for Fox. The Diablo Cody-scripted film was directed by Karyn Kusama and stars Amanda Seyfried and Megan Fox. In addition, Reitman executive-produced Atom Egoyan’s Chloe starring Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore, which debuted at this year’s Toronto Film Festival and has been picked up for release by Sony and is set for release in 2010. Reitman is also set to executive-produce Max Winkler’s directing debut Ceremony and is currently at work on an adaptation of Joyce Maynard’s novel Labor Day.
Through his company, Right of Way Films, Reitman is developing new scripts by Jenny Lumet and the Duplass brothers. He is also developing a feature film based on the cult children’s television show Yo Gabba Gabba.
He made his feature film directing debut with the 2006 hit Thank You for Smoking, based on the acclaimed novel by Christopher Buckley, which Reitman adapted for the screen. The film had its world premiere at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival, where it was acquired by Fox Searchlight. Thank You for Smoking went on to earn a Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture, an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay and a WGA nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. In 2006, Reitman was named Best Debut Director by the National Board of Review.
In December 2007, Fox Searchlight released Reitmans second feature, Juno, which follows the story of a pregnant teenager. Juno has earned widespread praise since its debut at the 2007 Toronto Film Festival, and has grossed over $230 million worldwide.
Reitman was nominated for an Academy Award® for directing Juno. The film earned one win for Diablo Cody’s screenplay and additional nominations for Best Picture and Best Actress (Ellen Page). Juno won three Independent Spirit Awards and a Grammy Award. Reitman was born in Montreal on October 19, 1977. At age 19, his first short film, Operation, premiered at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. Reitman’s short films have played in over a hundred film festivals worldwide.
Reitman is half of the mash-up turntable band “Bad Meaning Bad.”
Sheldon Turner (Screenplay)
A screenwriter and producer, he graduated from Cornell University before enrolling in NYU Law School. Turner passed the bar in New York City and Los Angeles, but decided not to practice law and instead pursued screenwriting.
Turner wrote Paramount’s remake of The Longest Yard starring Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. This was followed by his second produced screenplay The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. He currently has a number of projects in development in both film and television at several studios, including Enron: Conspiracy of Fools at Warner Bros. with Leonardo DiCaprio attached to star and Robert Schwentke directing; Down River, an actionadventure film, at New Regency; Orbit at Fox 2000 with Tom Bezucha directing; the XMen spinoff, Magneto, at Fox with David Goyer attached to direct; The Nice Guy at Universal with Ed Zwick attached to direct; The Arizona Project at Miramax with Ben Affleck set to direct; and he has recently set up Paths of Glory, based on the book by Jeffrey Archer, and the video game adaptation of Infamous, both at Sony. He is also writing Broken for F/X, a drama set in postKatrina New Orleans.
In addition to being a prolific screenwriter, Turner is also producing several projects that he is not writing: Man Camp at Sony, Split at ABC, Kiss & Tell with Isla Fisher attached, and the rock & roll vampire tale Nightlife.
Click here for complete coverage of Up in the Air, that includes: nominations, trailers, cast, reviews, production notes, and more…
Jesse Armstrong (Screenplay)
He is a writer on Armando Iannucci’s THE THICK OF IT and IN THE LOOP. He is also co-creator and writer of 5 series of Channel 4’s award-winning PEEP SHOW. Jesse was born and educated in Oswestry, Shropshire and attended Manchester University. He now lives in Brixton with his family. After University, Jesse worked for a Labour MP and member of the Home Affairs team before beginning to write comedy full-time in 1997. Since then he has written for SMACK THE PONY, THAT MITCHELL & WEBB LOOK and many other TV shows. He is also an associate editor of the New Statesman magazine, for whom he writes the weekly ‘Tactical Briefing’ column. Jesse also co-wrote the film MAGICIANS for Universal Films, released in 2007 and is currently working on a feature film with Chris Morris, and a sitcom for BBC1.
Simon Blackwell (Screenplay)
He started his career with BBC radio, writing for a wide variety of shows, including DEAD RINGERS and THE SUNDAY FORMAT, which won the Sony Radio Academy Gold and Silver awards respectively in the comedy category. His TV work has involved BAFTA-winning programmes like HAVE I GOT NEWS FOR YOU, THE SKETCH SHOW (later remade for U.S. TV with Kelsey Grammer) and ALISTAIR McGOWAN’S BIG IMPRESSION, sitcoms (MOVING WALLPAPER, MUMBAI CALLING). He writes the street-talking WWII RAF pilots for BBC1’s ARMSTRONG & MILLER SHOW, as well as their overly frank, divorced dad. Simon has co-written (with Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche and Jesse Armstrong) THE THICK OF IT since its first series in 2005. The show won the BAFTA for Best Situation Comedy that year, as well as being voted Best New Comedy in the British Comedy Awards and winning awards from the Royal Television Society, Broadcast Magazine and The Writers’ Guild. Other work with Armando has included Channel 4’s GASH, and 2004: THE STUPID VERSION and TIME TRUMPET for the BBC. Simon wrote an episode of the most recent series of the multi-award winning PEEP SHOW, and THE OLD GUYS, the studio sitcom he has written with PEEP SHOW creators Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong, will air on BBC1 in February 2009.
Armando Iannucci (Screenplay)
He is acclaimed as one of the most influential comedy writers and show runners in Britain. He wrote and directed the BAFTA-winning shows I’M ALAN PARTRIDGE (starring Steve Coogan) and the political comedy THE THICK OF IT as well as fronting his own satirical shows THE FRIDAY NIGHT ARMISTICE for BBC 2 and THE ARMANDO IANNUCCI SHOWS for Channel 4. His spoof news show THE DAY TODAY (with Chris Morris) led to him winning a unique Special Jury British Comedy Award, in recognition of his distinctive contribution to radio and television comedy.
Armando started his career in radio, as a music and comedy presenter on Radio Scotland, before moving in 1989 to national radio as a Comedy Producer for BBC Radio. His hit shows THE MARY WHITEHOUSE EXPERIENCE and ON THE HOUR transferred to television. In particular, ON THE HOUR became THE DAY TODAY on BBC 2 in 1994, and brought Chris Morris to TV, as well as introducing the world to Steve Coogan’s terrible TV personality Alan Partridge. THE DAY TODAY has been widely acclaimed as one of the most influential shows in British TV comedy.
The Alan Partridge character soon got his own chat show, KNOWING ME, KNOWING YOU…WITH ALAN PARTRIDGE and a sit-com I’M ALAN PARTRIDGE, both of which Armando show-ran and co-wrote.
Armando has also fronted his own satirical shows, including THE FRIDAY NIGHT ARMISTICE on BBC Two, which climaxed in a three-hour live Election Night edition on election night, 1997. It was the longest live comedy show ever on British Television, and matched the same ratings are the serious election coverage on the opposing channel ITV. Among the highlights of the TV series was a feature in which Armando tricked O J Simpson into signing a piece of paper that said “I did it”.
THE THICK OF IT, winner of the Best New TV Comedy at the 2005 British Comedy Awards about a beleaguered Minister trying to cope with the pressure imposed by his army of spin doctors, and the spoof clip show TIME TRUMPET, were both written/directed and co-produced by Armando.
THE THICK OF IT has received numerous awards and was recently criticised by the British Government for portraying politicians as terrible people. THE THICK OF IT’s plotlines are regularly inspired by anonymous contributions from former members of the British Government.
Armando has his radio show, ARMANDO IANNUCCI’S CHARM OFFENSIVE on BBC Radio 4, and has been a regular columnist for The Observer. A book of his earlier newspaper work for the Telegraph and the Guardian was published in a 1997 collection, FACTS AND FANCIES which was also adapted for a Radio 4 series.
He is also heavily involved in classical music, and writes a monthly column for Gramophone magazine. His opera SKIN DEEP for which he wrote the libretto, to music by David Sawer, premieres with Opera North and Royal Danish Opera in 2009.
He has just completed filming IN THE LOOP, a feature film comedy set in the world of Whitehall and Washington, and starring Peter Capaldi, Tom Hollander, Gina McKee and James Gandolfini. Location filming included unprecedented filming at 10 Downing Street.
Tony Roche (Screenplay)
He began his writing career in BBC radio working for Alan Davies (star of JONATHAN CREEK) and Bill Bailey (SPACED, HOT FUZZ). Since then he’s written for numerous shows including THE SUNDAY FORMAT (British Comedy Award winner) DEAD RINGERS (Sony Gold Award winner) and ARMANDO IANNUCCI’S CHARM OFFENSIVE (another Sony award winner). He wrote his own sitcom, WORLD OF PUB, which transferred from radio to TV where it starred (among others) Peter Serafinowicz, Phil Cornwell, Kevin Eldon, Martin Freeman, Tamsin Greig and David Walliams. He then co-created and co-wrote BROKEN NEWS with John Morton (PEOPLE LIKE US) for BBC 2; and 7 DAYS WITH ANDREW MARLATT (the man behind the US website satirewire) for BBC 3. Other TV credits include writing for ALISTAIR McGOWAN’S BIG IMPRESSION and THE ALL NEW HARRY HILL SHOW (winner, Silver Rose of Montreux). As well as Dom Joly and David Frost. Tony has written and directed his own short film, the multi-award winning HOW TO TELL WHEN A RELATIONSHIP IS OVER starring Julian Barratt (THE MIGHTY BOOSH) and Susan Earl (HARDWARE). IN THE LOOP is Tony’s first feature film. Forthcoming projects include a romantic comedy drama series for Kudos productions and the BBC developed with Andy Tenant and Wink Mordaunt (HITCH).
Click here for complete coverage of In The Loop, that includes: nominations, trailers, cast, reviews, production notes, and more…
Neill Blomkamp (Director/Screenplay)
A South African-born director, Blomkamp moved to Canada at the age of 18, beginning his career as a visual effects artist in the world of film and television. Garnering much recognition as one of the brightest young talents in the industry, Blomkamp was nominated for an Emmy Award for outstanding visual effects at the age of 21. Shortly afterwards, he made the move into directing, serving first as a music video director and then transitioning into the world of commercials. Blomkamp quickly drew attention as a director with a unique talent for seamlessly blending computer generated imagery with live action, while infusing elements of emotion, humor, and mood.
Helming million-dollar commercials for Nike, Citroen, Gatorade, Panasonic, and Namco, Blomkamp also directed many celebrated short films, including the Wieden and Kennedy-financed short, Tempbot, which garnered the coveted No Spot Short Film Festival Best Overall Film.
In 2004, Blomkamp was recognized as one of the Top 5 Directors to Watch at the First Boards Awards, featured in the Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors Showcase at Cannes, and short-listed at the Shark Awards. In 2005, Blomkamp received the award for Outstanding VFX in a commercial for Citroen – Alive with Technology at the VES Awards in California. He has since been featured in Shots, Shoot, Campaign, and Creativity magazines, and won three awards in London, England at the BTAA award show.
Most recently, Blomkamp directed three Halo live action commercials for Microsoft.
Terri Tatchell (Screenplay)
District 9 is the first produced feature-length screenplay from the Canadian writer TERRI TATCHELL (Screenplay by). Writing partner to Neill Blomkamp, she has co-written much of his past work. Tatchell’s other writing credits span the mediums including a 90-minute one-act multimedia stage play, news and magazine print, commercials and short films.
Click here for complete coverage of District 9, that includes: nominations, trailers, cast, reviews, production notes, and more…
Nick Hornby (Writer/Screenplay)
He is the award-winning author of five international best-selling books that have served as a rich seam of inspiration for film-makers: Fever Pitch (two adaptations; the first from a screenplay by Hornby starring Colin Firth, the second directed by the Farrelly brothers and starring Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon), High Fidelity (directed by Stephen Frears with John Cusack and Jack Black), About A Boy (directed by the Weitz brothers, starring Hugh Grant, Rachel Weisz and Toni Collette), How to Be Good (in development at Miramax, produced by Laura Ziskin) and A Long Way Down (in development with An Education’s producers Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey). In 2007 Slam was published, his first novel for teenagers, and his latest novel Juliet, Naked was published in September this year.
Click here for complete coverage of An Education, that includes: nominations, trailers, cast, reviews, production notes, and more…
Geoffrey Fletcher (Writer/Screenplay)
He is a writer-director who has penned numerous screenplays and directed many short films. Initially working with a video camera and cast of toys and action figures, he began making films as a child. Those films in part led to his acceptance to NYU’s Tisch Graduate Film Program, which he attended after his graduation from Harvard University. He has also apprenticed under Martin Scorsese and studied with Spike Lee. Magic Markers, a short film Geoffrey wrote, directed, shot and edited, received accolades from numerous organizations including the Directors Guild of America and the Sundance Film Festival. The film has since been instituted as part of New York University’s curriculum for its Graduate and Undergraduate Film Programs.
His latest work is the new feature film Precious: Based on the Novel ‘PUSH’ By Sapphire, for which he wrote the screenplay. The film was presented by executive producers Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry and released by Lionsgate in November of 2009. Precious won the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Awards at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. It is only the third film to do so in the Festival’s twenty-five-year history. Precious also won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, making it the only film to win the top prizes at both Sundance and Toronto.
Geoffrey was recently heralded by Variety as one of its “10 Screenwriters to Watch.” He has since been nominated for a WGA Award, a USC Libraries Scripter Award, a BAFTA Award, a Critic’s Choice Award, an NAACP Image Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay. He is the recipient of the Best Adapted Screenplay award from the AAFCA and the Satellite Awards.
Geoffrey is also an adjunct professor of film at Columbia University and New York University. He is currently at work on his feature directorial debut from an original script.
Click here for complete coverage of Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire, that includes: nominations, trailers, cast, reviews, production notes, and more…