Famous Fictionals

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Famous Fictionals

Columbia alumni from Hollywood and the silver screen

by Nick Kensinger

You may not have seen them on campus, but these movie and TV characters all claim to have graced Columbia at one point or another. Unfortunately, their time here is all too often left out of their stories. Luckily for you, we at The Blue and White have done some research into what these characters were up to during their time in Morningside Heights.


Lainey Carrington (CC ’05–Biology & Pre-Med) and Jake Barnes (CC ’04–Computer Science)

Sleeping with Other People (2015)

The couple met sophomore fall, when Jake hid Lainey from Public Safety after she was caught sneaking into Wien via the EC tunnels. They lost their virginities to each other that night on the Wien rooftop and it was all downhill from there. That night opened the floodgates: their remaining two years were full of carnal pleasures, the likes of which would make the Greeks proud.

Shortly afterwards, Jake’s advisor informed him the dual degree program in Dope Music & Marijuana Studies was an urban legend. Bouncing back from this disappointment, he joined CORE and lived in the ADI house the following year while teaching himself how to code. Eventually, he and his freshman year roommate, Xander, developed a wildly successful match-making website. Lainey, meanwhile, took a more scholarly road, pulling a 3.9 and joining TFA to become an elementary school teacher. A few years later, spurred on by a bad breakup and her therapist’s advice, Lainey attends a sex-addicts meeting. As fate would have it, Jake is also plagued by a similar ailment. The rest is history.


James Brennan (Journalism ’90)

Adventureland (2009)

Like most comparative literature majors, James Brennan found that job listings seeking a working knowledge of medieval English were sparse. After graduating from Oberlin in 1987 and “interning” at Adventureland amusement park, James made the bold decision to go double-or-nothing on student loans and apply to the J-School. James was amazed by the culinary variety of New York City, and promptly began studying the art of food criticism.

His unexpected success ultimately allowed him to make enough dough to continue at Columbia School of Journalism the next year. James’s scrumptious reporting made him a star at the Columbia News Service. Despite this, he still found time to run the first ever radio show dedicated to the moral philosophy of Epicureanism on WBAR, in which he showcased the musical stylings of Jimmy Buffet and Lou Reed. James’ career peaked in ‘95, when he nearly won a James Beard Award for his critique of Papaya Dog in The Village Voice.


Tracy Fishko (BC ’14–English)

Mistress America (2015)

Tracy came to Barnard intent on pursuing her interest in creative writing. However, she quickly became disillusioned by the utter lack of stimulation in MoHi. In a bid to find a place where she belonged, she applied to join Columbia’s foremost literary society, the sadly now-defunct Mobius. Her submission was by all accounts decent: a brooding meditation on millennial life. But it lacked the same things that were lacking in Tracy’s college experience: a certain joie-de-vivre.

Like many Columbians, Tracy came into her own off-campus. Accompanied by her soon-to-be sister-in-law Brooke, Tracy took trips to Piano’s on the Lower East Side for nights of jazz and vermouth, the Museum of the Moving Image for her weekly dose of culture, and Artichoke Basile’s for her pizza fix. Her exploration paid dividends: her second story earned her admission to Mobius. Unfortunately, the storied organization
didn’t live up to her expectations. Or rather, the unbearably pretentious members didn’t. But what was she expecting from a club called Mobius? So she did what any Columbian would do: started her own club, the now-venerable Columbia Journal of Literary Criticism. Her first novel, Mistress America, is in the works.


Serena van der Woodsen (CC ‘14–Undeclared)

Gossip Girl (2010)

In a less than shocking turn of events for someone who thinks “college is just high school with more expensive books,” Serena never graduated from Columbia. That said, in her one year in MoHi she managed to do a lot more than many of us do in four years. After being snubbed by the über exclusive Hamilton House on the first day of classes, Serena made some calls and was accepted only a few days later. For the remainder of her time at Columbia, it became her singular hang-out spot, often with pal and fellow Constance Billard School grad Blair Waldorf.

When not in Hamilton House, Serena could often be found spending time with her Psychology of Business professor and most-eligible-bachelor-on-the-UES, Colin Forrester. Just as Serena failed to make it more than one year at Columbia, so too did Professor Forrester—accused of taking his platonic mentorship of a certain student just a bit too far. Serena left Columbia primarily for social concerns; Deluxe wasn’t exactly up to her standards of mimosa-filled brunch, and the self-proclaimed ‘Queen of the Upper East Side’ was far to good to huddle into a Mel’s bathroom to snort cocaine. XOXO