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Dave Karger, Trinity '95

A senior writer for the magazine Entertainment Weekly, Karger says what Duke meant to him.

Dave Karger's job as a senior writer for Entertainment Weekly has taken him to London, Hawaii, Toronto, Florida, Chicago and San Francisco--just to name a few world hot spots. But the alumnus, Trinity '95, says Duke and Durham still top the list of his favorite locations.

"Duke is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen," he says, "and I feel like I have been to a lot of places."

Karger entered Duke knowing he wanted to be involved with entertainment--he was a classical pianist in high school--but he didn't know exactly how. His interests bounced around, as did his internship experiences, which included a stint at MTV. The summer after his junior year, Karger landed the internship at Entertainment Weekly that turned into a full-time job after graduation. He honed his writing skills as a double English and psychology major, and as a writer for The Chronicle's weekly entertainment section, then known as R&R. But he says the key to his success in the star-studded environment that he now inhabits was the relationships he formed with people at Duke.

"I feel like the most intimidating Hollywood star is no more interesting than anyone I met at Duke," he says. "More than any class, more than any major, just the diversity of human interaction for four years will prepare you for anything."

Karger's experience at Duke was colored by a major shift in the University's leadership when President Nan Keohane took office during his junior year. He remembers the first two years of Keohane's leadership as a rocky time.

The issues raging on campus were familiar ones--housing topped the list of students' woes--but whereas students now aim their complaints at administrators in housing and student affairs, in Karger's day, "Nan was the fall guy--she was it."

Students were most concerned with Keohane's proposed changes to the residential system. She announced plans to make East Campus all-freshmen, which displaced some selective houses and fraternities from their historic locations. She also reformed the rush process for all selective organizations, instituting stricter University control and a mandatory spring rush.

"A lot of people had the impression she wanted to get rid of all social life on campus," he says. "[They] sensed that she was very anti-greek."

Karger said he did not stand in complete opposition to the changes proposed and implemented during Nan's first years. However, Karger--who labels his time in Maxwell House one of the most valuable experiences he had at Duke--harbored some doubts.

"I remember feeling that there was a lack of understanding on her part on what selective houses really meant," he says.

Despite the friction over housing, Karger recalls Keohane as an approachable president, who responded personally to e-mails and encouraged the more intellectual aspects of social life on campus.

He says he is happy to see Duke students have warmed up to Keohane over the years, at last coming around to recognize just what she has accomplished during her tenure.

"Duke is a better place now to be a woman--or to be gay or lesbian," he says. "And she's also raised a ton of money for the University!"

Karger has been back to Duke many times since his graduation to see these changes first-hand. He returns each year as a board member for Duke Magazine, a duty he relishes.

"I love, love, love coming back to campus," the Westchester, N.Y., native gushes. "I have such warm feelings towards North Carolina and Duke."

Karger encourages current Duke students to take advantage of the range of experiences they have at their fingertips. "As cliched as this sounds, I would say stop everyday and just look around."

These days when Karger looks around, he is surrounded by a slightly glitzier world than that of the Gothic Wonderland.

His typical day is spent getting to know a high profile actor or musician--recent interviewees include Julianne Moore and Clay Aiken--and then turning the encounter into a feature piece or cover story for Entertainment Weekly. Over the past three years he has appeared regularly on the Today Show, offering film commentary and Oscar predictions. He also recently began a gig interviewing celebrities for the Sundance Channel.

In 2001, Karger went on location to the set of "this tiny little movie that Halle Berry was in." The film, Monster's Ball, garnered much critical acclaim, and Berry went on to win an award that was anything but tiny--the Oscar for Best Actress. Karger appeared on the Today Show the morning the nominations were announced and was with Berry when she won.

"It was just so special for me to be on that ride with her from start to finish," he says. "I can't believe the stuff that I've gotten to do."

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