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Readings & Events

The Zell Visiting Writers Series constitutes the backbone of the HZWP events calendar, bringing the world of contemporary literature to Ann Arbor with visits from working writers that include readings, extensive student-moderated Q&A sessions, individual consultations, craft lectures, and public panel discussions with members of our faculty. The Edwards Readings and Webster Readings are organized by first-year and second-year students respectively, and feature their poetry and prose. Post-graduate Zell fellows are regularly invited to introduce and/or open for writers scheduled to visit local bookstore Literati.


In addition to the various reading series, HZWP also seeks to offer an array of programming that incorporates the considerable resources of the University writ large and strengthens ties with the greater Metro Detroit area. Recent such events include the Medical Arts Dinner, an interdisciplinary exchange with members of the University of Michigan Medical Arts Program, and the Fortify Writing Summit, a writing retreat at the Charles T. Fisher Mansion sponsored jointly with Literary Detroit and Write-A-House. The Helen Zell Writers’ Program is committed to fostering community and providing our students with varied opportunities for development as writers, artists, and responsive, invested human beings.



Q&A with Janet Leahy

Tuesday, April 17, 2018
2:00-3:00 PM
1176 Angell Hall Map
Q&A with television writer & producer Janet Leahy, facilitated by Oliver Thornton! Open to all.


Janet Leahy was a graduate of UCLA’s school of film and television. She started her career as a secretary on the situation comedy, Newhart and went on to become a freelance writer for the series. From there she spent eighteen years as a comedy writer, producing, writing and executive producing for series such as Cheers, The Cosby Show, Roseanne, and Grace Under Fire, among others. Her work continued in the one hour arena as Consulting Producer on Gilmore Girls, followed by Executive Producer of Boston Legal, Life Unexpected, and Mad Men. Janet has received several Emmy nominations and awards, as well as the Writers’ Guild and Peabody awards for her work.


Oliver Thornton is an EMMY® Award-winning writer and producer who has worked with broadcast stations and independent production companies to produce a range of projects from PSA campaigns to full-length documentaries and series.

He was the producer and co-writer of Feel Grand with Jane Seymour, a nationally distributed talk show through American Public Television, as well as co-writer and co-producer of the EMMY® Award-winning Think Squad series on Detroit Public Television. He also produces a variety of documentaries and series for DPTV and Fox Sports Detroit, including Inside Grand Hotel, A New Day In Detroit, the EMMY®-nominated J.P. - The Voice of Detroit, Pioneer Family - On Van Hoosen Farm and Oakland Basketball All-Access as well as the EMMY® Award-winning Blue Ice: The Story of Michigan Hockey, Detroit Titan Court Report: Legends & Traditions and Great Teachers. He was a writer, producer and director on the EMMY®-nominated Michigan Football Memories and has also written and produced multiple EMMY® Award-winning PSA campaigns including Give a Child a Great Start and Be Humane.

In addition to his production work, he is also a faculty member of the University of Michigan’s Screen Arts and Cultures department. A graduate of the program in 2000 and the recipient of a Hopwood Award in screenwriting, he currently teaches three classes in Writing for Television.
Building: Angell Hall
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: Culture, Film, Free, Interdisciplinary, Literature, Media, Poetry, seminar, Storytelling, Talk, Theater, Writing
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Hopwood Awards Program, University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers' Program

Many HZWP events are free and open to the public. For additional information, including information about co-sponsorships, please contact the MFA Office at 734.615.3710.