LitFest 2015

Featured Readers 

Dick Cavett will close the event

with readings from his latest book: 

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Session 1, 1:00 – 2:00

Featured Readers:  

Alan Zweibel

Alan Zweibel, an original “Saturday Night Live” writer,  has won multiple Emmy and Writers Guild of America awards for his work in television which also includes “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” (which he co-created and produced), “Monk” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”  In theater, Alan collaborated with Billy Crystal on the Tony Award winning play “700 Sundays” and co-wrote Martin Short’s “Fame Becomes Me.” He also wrote “Bunny Bunny: Gilda Radner – A Sort of Romantic Comedy” which he adapted from his best selling book.  Other books by Alan include the 2006 Thurber Prize winning novel “The Other Shulman,” the popular children’s book “Our Tree Named Steve,” “North,” “Clothing Optional,” and “Lunatics” co-written with Dave Barry.  Currently, Alan is an executive producer on the Showtime documentary series “Inside Comedy” starring David Steinberg, is awaiting a fall publication of a middle grade book “Benjamin Franklin: Huge Pain In My Ass” (co-written with Adam Mansbach) and is writing and producing a pilot for IFC titled “Bad Rabbi.”

Arlene Alda Photo_credit Alan Alda

Arlene Alda graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Hunter College, received a Fulbright Scholarship, and realized her dream of becoming a professional clarinetist, playing in the Houston Symphony under the baton of Leopold Stokowski. She switched careers when her children were young and became an award-winning photographer and author who has written nineteen books, including “Just Kids from the Bronx.” She is the mother of three daughters and the grandmother of eight. She and her husband, actor Alan Alda, live in New York City and Long Island. She will read from her just published book, “Just Kids from the Bronx: Telling it the Way it Was, An Oral History.”

Claudia Copquin

LitFest Founder/Producer Claudia Gryvatz Copquin is also creator of the live, traveling reading series, Living, Out Loud: Writers Riff on Love, Sweat & Fears.  She’s a freelance journalist and essayist with articles appearing in Newsday, The New York Times, The Saturday Evening Post, and many others. The author and co-author of three non-fiction books, including “The Neighborhoods of Queens,” was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Copquin is currently working on a documentary in development.


Bill German was majoring in journalism at NYU when he realized that school was interfering with his education.  He dropped out to follow the Rolling Stones and to begin his life as a writer.  His work has appeared in Spin and Rolling Stone magazines, while his book, “Under Their Thumb: How a Nice Boy from Brooklyn Got Mixed Up with the Rolling Stones (and Lived to Tell About it)” has kept him on a never-ending speaking tour throughout the country.  Bill’s lifelong experience as a neurotic, Jewish New Yorker is what informs his writing.  His next book, “We’re a Happy Family,” will recount his teen years in Brooklyn: a life full of chaos, knishes, and the Ramones.


Marcia Byalick

Marcia Byalick has lived in Searingtown for 40 years, chronicling the life of her family…and Long Island… in columns in the Women’s Record and Distinction Magazine, and essays in Newsday and the Times, winning the LI Press Club award 14 times. She teaches memoir writing at LIU-CW Post. “Whose Eyes Are These?” a YA about a 12 year old who accidentally finds out she was created with the help of an anonymous sperm donor, is her sixth book.




 Our emcee Barry Dougherty has been the head writer for the Friars Club’s legendary Roasts of Betty White, Quentin Tarantino and Jack Black and Testimonial Dinners for Tom Cruise and Larry King. He is also the editor of the Friars magazine, the Epistle and the author of six books including the stand up comedy book: “How To Do It Standing Up.” He was a consultant on the PBS documentaries Make ‘Em Laugh and Makers: Women In Comedy and a judge for Comedy Central’s Comedy Awards and at the New York and New Jersey Comedy Festivals. In addition, Barry’s articles have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, Newsday and Antiques and the Arts Weekly.


Session 2, 2:45 – 3:30

Susan Isaacs

Susan Isaacs was dubbed “Jane Austen with a shmear” on NPR’s Fresh Air. Among her thirteen novels are “Almost Paradise,” “Shining Through” and “After All These Years.” She has written screenplays for the films, Compromising Positions (adapted from her novel) and Hello Again as well as a nonfiction work, Brave Dames and Wimpettes: What Women are Really Doing on Page and Screen. Currently, she serves as chairman of the literary organization Poets & Writers. Among her honors are the John Steinbeck award, the Writers for Writers award, and the Marymount Manhattan Writing Center prize. She lives on Long Island where she’s at work finishing her new novel, Violet Hopkins.

Henry Alford

Henry Alford is the author of five books including “Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That? A Modern Guide to Manners” and “Big Kiss,” which won a Thurber Prize. He has written for The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, and writes a monthly column for The New York Times.





Susan Konig

Susan Konig has been a staff writer for The Washington Post, an editor at Seventeen magazine and a columnist for The New York Post. Her articles and essays have appeared in national publications including Ladies’ Home Journal, Travel & Leisure, First for Women and Parade. She co-hosted the popular Speak Now…with Dave and Susan Konig on Sirius Satellite radio with her Emmy Award-winning comedian husband.  Her first book, “Why Animals Sleep So Close to the Road (and Other Lies I Tell My Children) was called “brilliant, witty, and downright Bombeckian” by USA Today. Her follow-up I Wear the Maternity Pants in This Family was a Parade Pick in Parade magazine. Her third book, “Teenagers and Toddlers Are Trying to Kill Me! is based on a true story.

Iyna Bort Caruso

Iyna Bort Caruso is a two-time New York Emmy Award-winning writer. Her articles and essays have been published in The New York Times, Newsday, Christian Science Monitor, Wall Street Journal, Saturday Evening Post, History Channel Magazine and several in-flight publications. She is also the creator of Long Island’s first iTunes travel app, a scriptwriter for Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and HBO Boxing and a contributor to two anthologies on art and travel.



carol-scibelli-Carol Scibelli’s humorous essays have been published in The New York Times, Newsday, the Hartford Courant, and dozens of weekly publications.  She is a member of the New York Friars Club since 1998 where she heads a committee and is a contributor to their distinguished Friar’s Epistle. Her memoir “Poor Widow Me: Moments of feeling & dealing & finding the funny along the way” is a poignant and funny narrative of her life as a widow. She writes a monthly humor column for Pathfinder: A Companion Guide For the Widow/er’s Journey.  Carol is a sought after speaker for organizations because of her positive take on life.


Jerry Zezima

Jerry Zezima writes a nationally syndicated humor column for his hometown paper, The Stamford Advocate in Connecticut. He is the author of two books, “Leave It to Boomer” and “The Empty Nest Chronicles,” both of which are crimes against literature. They also come in handy for propping up wobbly table legs. Mr. Zezima lives on Long Island with his wife, Sue. They have two daughters, one granddaughter and many creditors.  Mr. Zezima has no interesting hobbies.


Session 3, 4:00 – 5:00

Roger Rosenblatt high res

Roger Rosenblatt’s essays for TIME and PBS have won two George Polk Awards, the Peabody, and the Emmy and he has been selected for the 2015 Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement.  He is the author of six off-Broadway plays and seventeen books, including his most recent, “The Book of Love,” the national bestsellers “Kayak Morning,” “Unless It Moves the Human Heart,” “Making Toast,” “Rules for Aging” and “Children of War, which won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. “Lapham Rising,” his first novel, was also a national bestseller. He is a Distinguished Professor of English and Writing at Stony Brook University. He lives with his family in Quogue, New York.

Photo credit: Sarah Shatz

Julie Klam grew up in Bedford, New York. She is the author of The New York Times bestseller “You Had Me At Woof: How Dogs Taught Me The Secrets of Happiness,” “Please Excuse My Daughter,” and “Friendkeeping: A Field Guide to the People You Love, Hate and Can’t Live Without.  She has written for such publications as O: The Oprah Magazine, Rolling Stone, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, The New York Times Magazine and for the VH1 television show Pop-Up Video, where she earned an Emmy nomination. She lives in New York City.



Robin Bernstein

Robin Eileen Bernstein is an award-winning writer whose work has been published in CBS HealthWatch, Salute Magazine, Rensselaer Magazine, TC Today, Open Salon and others. Salon selected one of her essays as an Editor’s Pick. She’s the founder of Write Time Communications, a marketing communications firm, where she writes executive speeches and custom content. Her ghostwritten work has appeared in a variety of national publications. She is working on a book of essays in which she writes about, among other things, growing up in Far Rockaway, motherhood, and her time as a drummer in a rock-n-roll band.


Paula Ganzi Licata

Paula Ganzi Licata is a frequent contributor to Newsday and The New York Times – including the Modern Love column – covering diverse issues from roadside memorials to installing a bat house in the backyard. Her material often comes from the stuff of everyday life, such as getting caught re-gifting after Christmas, which ended in a confessional essay winning her one of several Press Club awards. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Hofstra University. Licata recently completed a memoir, “Widow 2.0: Death, Dating and Do-Overs.” At she blogs about widowhood, surviving life with an alcoholic, Baby Boomer dating and second chances.

Debbie Slevin

LitFest Essay Contest Winner Debbie Slevin is a writer, producer/director and teacher. After 25 years of nurturing theatrical yearnings of countless students, she now devotes her creative energy to exploring her own artistic passions. She conceived and co-produced The Apron Strings Project in Riverhead, NY, and produced and directed The Last Five Years at Guild Hall in East Hampton and the first NYC revival of Songs for a New World.  A regular contributor to the Hamptons’ Dan’s Papers, Debbie’s writing has also appeared in Essence Magazine, Woman’s World, Lifestyles, Reform Judaism and DogWatch, Cornell University’s Vet school newsletter, where she wrote in the guise of a 12-year-old Cairn terrier.  She has just completed a new play about Mark Twain’s women and her book, “The Unpregnant Pause: Where Are the Babies will be published in August by Figlo press.

Dan Zevin

Dan Zevin’s latest book is “Dan Gets a Minivan: Life at the Intersection of Dude and Dad,” which was optioned by Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions along with his previous book, “The Day I Turned Uncool.” The 2013 Winner of the Thurber Prize for American Humor has been a comic commentator for NPR, a humor columnist for The New York Times, and a contributor to print and digital publications including Rolling StoneThe New Yorker and Maxim. Dan lives with his wife, kids, and pet rabbit in the suburbs of New York, where he has become an active member of his local Costco.


Keynote Reader

Dick Cavett, images. West LA.

Our Keynote Reader is the legendary Dick Cavett, who will be selecting essays from his most recent book, “Brief Encounters:  Conversations, Magic Moments and Assorted Hijinks.”

Dick Cavett was the host of The Dick Cavett Show on ABC and PBS, and he also hosted talk shows on the USA, HBO, and CNBC cable networks. He appears frequently on stage, screen, and new media, and he was nominated for his most recent Emmy Award in 2012. He is the author of “Talk Show and the coauthor of “Cavett and “Eye on Cavett,” and he writes an online opinion column for The New York Times. He lives in New York City and Montauk, New York.