Ann and Stephen Kaufman Jewish Book & Arts Festival 
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

One of television’s few female writers opens this year’s Ann and Stephen Kaufman Jewish Book & Arts Festival with a peek into the inner workings of the TV industry.

The funny and timely Nell Scovell takes the stage during opening night of the 46th  annual festival featuring literary greats to speak on her new memoir, Just the Funny Parts:… And a Few Hard Truths About Sneaking into the Hollywood Boys’ Club. This year’s festival will run from November 3-13, 2018. Scovell is best known for her work on The SimpsonsLate Night with David Letterman—in the 1990s, she was the only woman in the writer’s room—NCIS, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. She co-authored the best-selling book Lean-In, with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg. Scovell made a splash with her 2009 essay in Vanity Fair, “Letterman and Me,” after news broke of the late-night talk show host’s sexual relationships with other staff members. During her Saturday, November 3 talk at 8 p.m., Scovell will give an inside look to the television industry and will touch on the #MeToo movement. Her talk is free and open to the public.

In addition to showcasing talented authors, the Festival also presents films, concerts, and theatre. Oliver Lapin Family Day, designed for families with children up to age 8, will be held Sunday, November 4.

Volunteers have been the driving force behind the Festival, and the committee, led this year by Chairwoman Hilary Kamin, with Vice Chair John Dreyfus, co-curate programming with staff. “There are ample opportunities to come together to connect about topics or stories we each find relevant and meaningful. My personal goal this year is for everyone to bring a friend (or more) to the Book Festival program that you are most excited about,” said Kamin. “Sharing these unique cultural experiences with those we care about will deepen our connection to community and to one another.” Kamin is Director of Community Engagement at the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston. Previously she served as Director of Education at Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism. She first attended the Festival through its Get Cultured young adult program, then helped chair Oliver Lapin Family Day, and most recently served as Festival Vice Chair in 2017.

John Dreyfus is a past Film Festival Chair and owns a local commercial printing company, Sprint Bindery. Both have infused new energy into the Festival, working to expand its audience. “Our literature offering is very strong,” said Dreyfus. “This year’s Community Read is Rachel Kadish’s The Weight of Ink. If you like historical fiction, Andrew Gross presents Button Man, a story of organized crime in 1930s New York. I’m also excited to bring several local writers to Book Festival. Galveston native and New York Times reporter John Schwartz discusses his latest book, This is the Year I Put My Financial Life in Order. Mimi Swartz, former Texas Monthly executive editor, New York Times op-ed editor and New Yorker contributor, headlines our local literati with Ticker, the story of Dr. Bud Frazier’s attempt to build an artificial heart.”

For the first time, the Festival includes a Sneak Preview Night, on October 11 at 7:30 p.m. Four-time Emmy winner Mike Reiss, a writer for The Simpsons since its 1989 pilot episode, will discuss his new book, Springfield Confidential, and reveal which Simpsons’ characters are Jewish. Other festival highlights include Ben Reiter, author of Astroball, who predicted in 2014 the Astros would win the World Series; Houstonian Stephanie Wittels Wachs, author of Everything is Horrible and Wonderful and sister of Parks and Recreation writer Harris Wittels, who died of a drug overdose; and a live recording of the Unorthodox Podcast, the leading Jewish podcast, which is produced by Tablet Magazine. Closing night at 7:30 p.m. on November 13 features comic and former Obama speechwriter David Litt, one of the youngest ever White House speechwriters. Litt will discuss his memoir, Thanks, Obama, which revisits his White House experience.

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