Filmmakers Study Harvard Social Life

Director, Actors Party With Students, Conduct Research for Upcoming Movie

Harvard's social scene was the focus of intense research this weekend, not by white-coated laboratory scientists, but by renowned film director Alek P. Keshishian '86 and the stars of his latest project.

Keshishian, who directed "Truth or Dare," is now working on "With Honors," the story of four Harvard seniors and their struggles on the road to graduation.

Together with members of his cast, Keshishian spent time at several undergraduate parties Saturday, conducting character research.

Alexandra K. Schwartz '94, who hosted a party at the Harvard Advocate building Saturday night, said that along with Keshishian she met Patrick Dempsey and Brandon Fraser, two stars of the movie.

Fraser has starred in "Encino Man" and "School Ties," while Dempsey has had roles in "Can't Buy Me Love" and "Loverboy."

"It was very cool,' said Schwartz, who is an editor of The Crimson. "It was an invitation-only party but in their case we were definitely willing to make an exception."

Schwartz said the actors and director were very discreet, observing from the back of the room. "When I introduced myself they gave only their first names," Schwartz said.

Keshishian explained the actors were "soaking in the atmosphere. For them it's a jobs."

"I wanted to dispel the cliched image of a Harvard student. It's not really a bunch of people in blue blazers and ties," Keshishian said. "And as an alum I'm perhaps more sensitive to making sure that it's portrayed accurately."

Aren R. Cohen '94 said she saw Keshishian and the actors dancing at the Advocate party. "It was very exciting," said Cohen. "I got to dance near them."

"It's strange when you're aware that you're material for a movie," Cohen said. "But most people didn't mind."

Simone T. Cox '94 said she saw the actors at the Advocate party but did not recognize them at first. "But when I did it was like "Wow!' I was very excited," she said.

Students interviewed yesterday said Keshishian and the actors attended other parties on campus, though no one at those parties would speak on the record.

Keshishian said he met a diverse cross-section of students. "The students were very open and friendly," he said.

The actors will stay in Cambridge this week, rehearing at different locations on the Harvard campus and continuing their character research, Keshishian said.

In addition to Dempsey and Fraser, "With Honors," due out next winter, will star Josh Hamilton, who is currently starring in "Alive" and Moira Kelly, who appears in "Chaplin.