On October 25 a staged reading was held in New York City of the pilot episode of The Harvard Computers—an original television series written by Graham Sack and executive produced by Jennifer 8. Lee. Sack and Lee are recipients of the 2021 Sundance Institute / Sloan Foundation Episodic Fellowship. The Harvard Computers tells the true story of a group of extraordinary women who braved gender and class discrimination to become America’s first female astronomers, shattering the glass ceiling in science and higher education.
The Harvard Computers series centers around Williamina Fleming, a twenty-one-year-old Scottish immigrant abandoned by her husband while pregnant after arriving in Boston. With nowhere to turn, Williamina takes a job as a maid in the home of brothers Edward and Henry Pickering, a pair of Harvard professors obsessed with discovering the secrets of the night sky—one through hard facts, the other through fanciful theories. Recognizing Williamina’s intelligence and frustrated by the complacency of his male graduate students, Edward hires her into the Harvard Observatory, where she assembles a group of unlikely scientists—working class women from Boston’s immigrant ghettos and the first graduates of America’s newly formed women’s colleges (e.g., Henrietta Swan Levitt, Antonia Maury, and Annie Jump Cannon). For more information and a listing of full cast members visit PioneerWorks.org.
Graham Sack is the current Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Modeling Interdisciplinary Inquiry in the Interdisciplinary Project in the Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis. He holds a PhD in English & Comparative Literature from Columbia University, an MSc from the London School of Economics, and a BA in Physics from Harvard College.
Graham is an award-winning filmmaker and academic whose work explores the intersection of storytelling, scientific discovery, and technological innovation. He is the founder of Chronotope Films and the recipient of the 2021 Sundance Institute / Sloan Episodic Fellowship for The Harvard Computers. Graham previously adapted and directed George Saunders’s best-selling novel Lincoln in the Bardo (winner of the Man Booker prize) into an immersive film that was shortlisted for an Emmy Award for Innovation in Interactive Programming, funded and distributed by the New York Times, and called one of the “top 5 must-see virtual reality experiences of the year” by Time Magazine. His screenplay Septillion to One made the Hollywood Blacklist and sold to Madison Wells Media in one of the most competitive spec sales of the year with Mark Romanek attached to direct. His other projects have received support from Google, Samsung, and Felix & Paul Studios and appeared at Tribeca Film Festival, SXSW, New York Theater Workshop, Sotheby’s, and Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona. His other screenplays won the Final Draft Big Break Competition and placed in the finals for the Nicholl Fellowship.
Graham began his career acting on Broadway in Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers and in TV shows such as Law & Order and New York Undercover. He is an alum of New Inc., the New Museum’s art, design, and technology incubator, and a member of the Writers Guild of America, Writers Guild of Canada, Screen Actors Guild, and Actors Equity Association.