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'Ivory Tower' Is Acting Up In Widener

By Maggie Pisacane

The two bodies press against each other, breathing hot on each others' lips. He caresses her leg, pressing her yielding body against the wall. A book falls as he unzips his jeans. "Wait," she pants, "do you have protection?" He pulls out a condom from his loosened pocket....

Is this a scene from Danielle Steele's latest romance novel, or just a wild fantasy of a lonely Harvard student?

Neither. It actually may become an installment in the new season of "Ivory Tower," Harvard's own weekly student-run soap opera.

Filmed yesterday in the stacks of Widener Library, this scene is one result of the new partnership between Harvard-Radcliffe Television's longest-running show and Jacqueline Maloney, program manager for the Schumann Endowment for Healthful Living at Harvard.

The partnership is a product of the two-year-old Arts Health Collaboration, founded by Maloney in an effort to use multi-media in health promotion and education.

With funding from the Schumann Endowment, based in University Health Services, Maloney uses Harvard's artistic community to present issues currently facing students.

Rather than merely lecture on issues ranging from safe sex to eating disorders to date rape, she has decided to use "Ivory Tower" to get her message out.

"In the past, we shied away from really serious topics because we didn't have the information to deal with them properly," says Andrea N. Moore '96, co-creator of the soap. "We're able to deal with issues more thoroughly now instead of stopping short."

The partnership was formed when Maloney met Danielle M. Dixon '97, who produces the soap, at an Office of the Arts reception at the beginning of the year. There, Maloney says, she realized that such an alliance would be a "really good marriage of what I wanted to do and what they were interested in."

Since then, Maloney has provided assistance on technical aspects, providing video equipment, plot support and details about Harvard's support networks.

The producer and directors say the show has expanded its breadth and depth since Maloney has joined the team.

"She's given us direction," says Moore. "She's given us strong ideas and supported us, helping us to feel like we have a purpose."

Maloney helps make the issues dealt with in "Ivory Tower" more true to form, says Dixon, adding realistic details about emotional motivation and consequences.

"This season, the episodes are more explosive in terms of what the characters do," says Dixon.

Maloney also facilitates the logistical end of the show.

"Right now, we are on a tight budget, reusing old tapes,...borrowing editing rooms," says David S. Alpert '97, co-director and writer. "She helps get us the money we need, pointing us in the direction of other grants and helping to open doors for us on campus."

For instance, the show's producer says, Maloney's influence was vital to gain permission for yesterday's shoot in Widener's stacks.

"[Her input and support] enable us to operate on a higher level," adds Alpert.

As for Maloney, she hopes to continue her collaboration with "Ivory Tower" as long as she's here, using the three episodes in which she was consulted to further her work at the Schumann Endowment.

She plans to use video segments from the show for workshops with Harvard students and officials, using the plots to facilitate discussion.

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