Alumni Spotlight: Scott Feinberg '08, men's tennis

Scott Feinberg '08. now and then

Alumni Spotlights are Q&A's with former Brandeis student-athletes, across a myriad of disciplines, as they reflect on their Brandeis experience and how it has shaped their lives today. Read more spotlight features here

Name: Scott Feinberg 
Job Title: Journalist
Organization: The Hollywood Reporter

Scott Feinberg ’08 played three seasons on the Brandeis men’s tennis team. Today, he writes for The Hollywood Reporter, focusing on award show races.

Feinberg, who began covering awards in 2005, has also written for the Los Angeles Times, and is the recipient of 11 awards from the Los Angeles Press Club. Some of his work appears in THR’s print editions, but most of it lives exclusively online — specifically, on his THR blog ‘The Race’ []. There, he regularly posts breaking news, incisive analysis and oracular projections. (His weekly ‘Feinberg Forecast’ has long been considered the industry’s gold standard.)

‘The Race’ is also where you can find Feinberg’s THR podcast ‘Awards Chatter,’ an hour-long episode of which posts at least once a week. Past guests on the podcast have included Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Lorne Michaels, Vice President Al Gore, Dan Rather, Gloria Steinem and many others.

Feinberg lives in Los Angeles and is at work on a book about the history of Oscar campaigning.

Describe your overall experience as a student-athlete. What does it mean to you now/what did it mean to you while you were an undergraduate?

Shortly after I started at Brandeis, I tried out for and was thrilled to be invited to join the men's tennis team. I was, without a doubt, among the least impressive players on the team, but I have always loved playing the game. The regular practices and workouts kept me in good shape. A number of my teammates — almost all of whom were a year ahead of me in school — became close friends, taking me under their wings, showing me the ropes of college life and welcoming me into their own social circles. Two in particular, Jamie Metrick and Sam Jonas, have become lifelong friends — I see them at least once a year when I go to Toronto to cover the Toronto International Film Festival, and I recently attended their weddings, as well.

How did your time as a student and student-athlete at Brandeis prepare you for your career and life after college?

The most valuable thing about Brandeis, for me, was being surrounded by other people who demanded excellence from themselves as much as, and often more than, anyone else expected it from them, because it made me want to excel even more, too. That meant working hard in class, on the tennis court and in my other extracurricular pursuits, which included helping to run the SunDeis Film Festival, for which I was able to bring to campus a number of Hollywood luminaries. To this day I remain close with Tom Doherty and Steve Whitfield, two of the all-time great Brandeis professors, who were kind and supportive about not only my work in their classrooms but also outside of it, and Ben Lamanna, who was just starting out as the Brandeis tennis coach when I arrived on campus, and who eventually built the program into one so strong that I wouldn't have a prayer of making the team today.

Do you have any advice for current or future Brandeis Student-Athletes?

Make the most of your time at Brandeis — in the classroom, in your athletics and in your social life. College is over in a flash, but what you experience and learn there will stay with you for the rest of your life — so pack in as much as you can, have fun and don't take one minute for granted.

What do you miss most about your Brandeis experience?

I miss being surrounded by my friends and lots of other people around my own age, of course. But I also miss the atmosphere — being surrounded by people who are passionately pursuing exciting challenges. At Brandeis, I knew that, at any hour of the day or night, I could walk through any dormitory, or into a dining hall or across to the library, and find people who were hard at work — which is a great motivator to work hard yourself!

What personal or professional accomplishment(s) are you most proud of since you graduated?

I am very fortunate that I have been able to spend every one of the nearly 12 years since my graduation working not only in journalism, but in a niche of journalism that I love. When I was at Brandeis, one of the things that I did on the side, without the knowledge of very many others, was build up a blog about the Oscars, on which I would write about their history, prognosticate about their future and post interviews with contenders — something that I was able to do because, through the magic of Google and word-of-mouth, I suppose, publicists in Hollywood discovered the blog and decided they wanted their clients to be visible on it. This was all mind-blowing stuff for a kid in a dorm room, but never in my wildest dreams did I think it was something I could do to earn a living. As fate would have it, shortly after my graduation I was offered a job doing just that for the Los Angeles Times, and then for The Hollywood Reporter beginning in 2011. I have been lucky enough to attend a lot of heady events (the Oscars, Emmys, Tonys, Grammys and Golden Globes among them), cover a lot of major stories (from the #OscarsSoWhite controversy to the elder abuse of Mickey Rooney to the downfall of Harvey Weinstein) and interview a lot of extraordinarily talented people (from Jerry Lewis to Leonardo DiCaprio). But the thing of which I am probably proudest is my podcast, 'Awards Chatter,' for which I have booked, researched for and conducted more than 300 hour-long interviews with people in the running for an Oscar, Emmy or Tony (including Meryl Streep, Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand, Lorne Michaels, Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Angelina Jolie, Denzel Washington, Jane Fonda, Justin Timberlake, Julia Roberts, Jerry Seinfeld, Nicole Kidman and Tom Hanks twice). Four-plus years after starting that podcast, it has grown into something greater than I ever imagined, and I am very proud of it.