Moneyball author Michael Lewis to give 2012 Tate Lecture Jan. 24

Michael Lewis, author of 'Moneyball,' 'The Blind Side' and 'Boomerang'Financial journalist and best-selling author Michael Lewis – whose books became the Oscar-nominated films Moneyball and The Blind Side – visits the Hilltop Tuesday, Jan. 24, to deliver the Omni Hotels Lecture in SMU’s 2011-12 Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series. The event begins at 8 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium.

All tickets to the previously scheduled Meg Whitman Tate Lecture from Oct. 18, 2011, will be honored at the Michael Lewis lecture.

Lewis is a regular contributor to The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Slate and Bloomberg. His latest book, Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World (2011), is based on articles he wrote for Vanity Fair on the debt crisis in Greece, Iceland and Germany. It captures the financial madness on both sides of the Atlantic during the past decade as individuals, institutions and entire nations embraced instant gratification over long-term planning. The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine (2010) analyzes the freefall of the U.S. economy and the heroes and villains that drove it overboard.

As an author, Lewis first made a name for himself in 1989 with Liar’s Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage of Wall Street, an inside look at his career as a bond trader. Author Tom Wolfe called it “the funniest book on Wall Street I’ve ever read,” and the book also earned Lewis the label of “America’s poet laureate of capital” from The Los Angeles TimesLiar’s Poker spent 62 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list.

Lewis also examined the 1980s’ get-rich-quick jungle in The Money Culture (1992), chronicled the 1996 presidential campaign in Losers: The Road to Everyplace but the White House, and explored the internet boom in Next: The Future Just Happened (2002).

His 2003 bestseller, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, examined the effect an innovative personnel approach has had in allowing the small-budget Oakland Athletics to consistently rank among baseball’s best teams. Moneyball became a major motion picture in 2011 starring Brad Pitt and holds the record for the largest opening weekend for a baseball movie ever. (On the morning of Lewis’ Tate Lecture, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that the film had been nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture.)

In 2006, Lewis wrote The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, which tells the true story of Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher. The 2009 film adaptation – starring Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw and Kathy Bates (’69) – broke the box office record for the biggest opening weekend of a sports film in history. It was also nominated for Best Picture and won Bullock a Best Actress trophy in the Academy Awards. His 2009 book, Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood, is a compilation of stories he wrote for his column “Dad Again” in Slate, detailing the parenting realities he encountered with the births of his children.

A native of New Orleans, Lewis graduated from Princeton University with a degree in art history and earned his Master’s at The London School of Economics. Before he began his writing career, he worked with The Salomon Brothers on Wall Street and in London. He lives in Berkeley with his wife, former MTV News correspondent Tabitha Soren, and their three children.

The evening lecture is sold out, but SMU students may attend for free with their University ID if seats become available. Lewis will answer questions from University community members and local high school students in the Turner Construction/Wells Fargo Student Forum at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 24 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballroom. The event is free, but seating is limited. SMU faculty, staff and students are encouraged to attend; RSVP online to ensure a place.

Learn more about this year’s Tate Lectures at

The envelope, please: SMU’s role in preserving Oscar history

1942 Oscar ceremony photoWhile Hollywood prepares to celebrate the 82nd annual Academy Awards March 7, 2010, North Texas can look to SMU to find priceless pieces of Oscar history.

SMU library collections include almost 70 years of Academy Award history, such as Greer Garson‘s 1942 Oscar for “Mrs. Miniver,” four 1951 Academy Award envelopes (complete with red seals and winners’ names), and Horton Foote‘s original screenplay and dialogue notes for his 1983 Oscar-winning screenplay, “Tender Mercies.”

“I’ll never forget that when Mr. Foote came to SMU in 2003 to receive an honorary degree, we had displayed some of the early manuscripts of his play, The Trip to Bountiful,” says Russell Martin, DeGolyer Library director.” He looked at the pages on view in the exhibit case and said, ‘I think I’ll change that. I think I can make it better.’ And so it goes: Literary manuscripts are tangible links to the writer and the creative process. When researchers study such materials at SMU, they help advance our understanding and appreciation of literary works.”

The ephemera from past Oscar ceremonies represent aspects of the physical culture of the Hollywood industry – one of the most influential facets of American society and global culture in the 20th century, says Rick Worland, professor of cinema-television in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts.

“Everyone knows the catch-phrase, ‘The envelope, please.’ To actually have several of the envelopes from the 1951 ceremony, literally fished out of a trash can, might seem cultish or just dumb,” Worland adds. “But being able to see ephemeral objects such as this can help bring the bit of cultural history alive for people from now on.”

(Above, Greer Garson – left center – at the 1942 Academy Awards with, left to right, Van Heflin, Teresa Wright and James Cagney.)

Read more from SMU News