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Release: April 19, 2001

Workshop, film studies alumni muse on writing, TV at Libraries' Friends Event

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Writers' Workshop graduate Susan Taylor Chehak and her husband Tom Chehak, a University of Iowa filmmaking graduate and television series writer and producer, are the featured speakers at the UI Libraries' 37th annual Friends Event. The couple will give a free and public lecture at 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 4 at Shambaugh Auditorium in the Main Library. A dinner will follow at 8:15 p.m. in the Second Floor Ballroom of the Iowa Memorial Union.

This year's Friends Event, "Iowa Confidential," brings the Los Angeles-based writers and Cedar Rapids natives to campus to speak at a public program on fiction writing and the television industry. The guest speaker program will have a talk show style format and will be moderated by Rick Altman, director of film studies in the UI department of cinema and comparative literature.

A book signing will take place before and after the program featuring Susan Taylor Chehak's novels and a recently published guide to the writing craft titled "Don Quixote Meets the Mob." Chehak is donating part of the proceeds from her book sales to benefit the UI Libraries.

A theme dinner featuring a live viola quartet, a California wine tasting and a buffet created around California-inspired cuisine will follow the lecture. Tickets for the dinner are available for $35 per guest, which covers the cost of catering. Reservations can be made by calling (319) 335-5867 or e-mail at by April 30.

Susan Taylor Chehak has published five novels, various short stories, a one-act play and screenplay treatments of her stories and novels. Her 1998 title, "Rampage" is set against an Iowa landscape, leading critics to describe her work as "Midwestern Gothic." She teaches fiction writing at the Writer's Program at the University of California Los Angeles and regularly at the University of Iowa Summer Writers Festival. She most recently wrote "Don Quixote Meets the Mob," an entertaining guide to writing and story telling which is based on her lecture notes.

Tom Chehak's television credits include "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "The Tony Randall Show", "WKRP in Cincinnati," FOX TV's "Alien Nation" series, and "Diagnosis Murder" with Dick Van Dyke.

The Chehaks grew up together, and it was a familial association that led them to meet Grant Tinker, then head of MTM Productions, which included the "Mary Tyler Moore Show." Tom, based on the promise of an assistant writer position, moved with Susan and their then three-month-old son to Los Angeles. Tom is currently developing pilots for a variety of television networks and just started a new job as a show runner for a half-hour drama set in South Africa.

The Friends Event is the Libraries' signature annual event, which brings together donors, friends and the broader community to celebrate the accomplishments of the Libraries over the past year. The event has been held since Friends was founded in 1964.