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Lauer meets the graduates

Matt Lauer at Harvard Matt Lauer was the featured speaker at Harvard's Senior Class Day. (Dina Rudick/Globe Staff)
By Mark Shanahan & Meredith Goldstein
June 4, 2009
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"Today" cohost Matt Lauer entertained Harvard's graduating seniors yesterday, delivering the Class Day address in Harvard Yard. Senior Class Day is a more informal celebration that takes place the day before the hoity-toity commencement. Earlier in the day, Lauer interviewed Mitt Romney at Faneuil Hall, and scarfed down a scrambled egg sandwich with cheddar cheese at Ned Devine's. The night before, Lauer ate at the Bristol Lounge at the Four Seasons.

McCartney at Fenway?
The Fenway concert series may not be over for the season. Sir Paul McCartney confirmed yesterday that he'll perform two shows at the New York Mets' new home, Citi Field, on July 17 and 18, and there is talk that the ex-Beatle is contemplating other ballpark shows, including one at friendly Fenway. (The Beatles played their first-ever US concert at the Mets' old home, Shea Stadium, in 1965.) For what it's worth, the Sox are out of town the first week of August.

Conan's classy mom
All the kudos for new "Tonight Show" host Conan O'Brien are fine, but the real star of the show? His mom. That's according to Notre Dame professor Cathleen Kaveny, who writes in the new Commonwealth magazine that Ruth O'Brien should be one of Conan's first guests. "I got to know [her] while working at Ropes & Gray in Boston. The second woman partner at the firm, she was welcoming and helpful to new attorneys at the firm," writes Kaveny. "She also, not surprisingly, has a great sense of humor." Ruth retired from Ropes & Gray in the late '90s.

Film's ups and downs
For New Hampshire playwright Robert Lawson, the upcoming release of the movie "What Goes Up" is more than 10 years in the making. Lawson, who teaches at Franklin Pierce College, originally wrote the story in 1996, as a stage production for Andy's Summer Playhouse in Wilton, N.H. He was commissioned to turn it into a movie soon after. Then, as often happens in Hollywood, everything stalled. "It got bought, it got bought, it got dropped, it got developed. We've had about 12 different male actors attached to the movie," Lawson told us, adding that the list of stars who almost made the film includes Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Ruffalo, and Liev Schreiber. The movie's central character is a deceitful reporter who develops an unlikely relationship with some Granite State high school students after he's assigned to write a story about Christa McAuliffe just before the Challenger launch. Lawson said the film was finally made because Hilary Duff was interested in the script. "She got it and loved it and really wanted to do it." Duff stars as one of the students in the movie alongside Olivia Thirlby, who played the best friend in "Juno," and comedian Steve Coogan, who wound up taking the role that was once Sarsgaard, Ruffalo, and Schreiber's. Jonathan Glatzer, who was Lawson's writing partner on the project, directed the film. Lawson tells us he's already working on selling his next project, a coming-of-age tale set at an arcade during the Great Depression. He describes the film's setting as "creepy, weird, scary - Tom Waits on steroids." To be more specific, not another Hilary Duff movie. "What Goes Up" starts a run at the Somerville Theatre on Friday.

Around town
Congrats to Dropkick Murphys frontman Ken Casey and wife Jen, who welcomed the newest member of the band yesterday, an 11-pound, 13-ounce baby boy. . . . Comedian Lenny Clarke and ESPN's Wayne Soares taped a segment for a new show "Summer Boat Safari" at InterContinental Boston's Miel "Brasserie Provençale." The show features celebs and chefs talking about their favorite summer destinations.

SRO at tribute to writer
Tuesday's tribute to writer Robert Nylen in Northampton was a standing-room-only affair. Literary types gathered at the Broadside Bookshop to read from Nylen's posthumous memoir, "Guts: Combat, Hell-Raising, Cancer, Business Start-Ups, and Undying Love: One American Guy's Reckless, Lucky Life," included Joe Nocera, Tracy Kidder, Richard Todd, and Barry Werth, among others.

Paralyzed girl honored
Kai Leigh Harriott, who was paralyzed in 2003 when a random gunshot severed her spine as she sat on her family's porch in Dorchester, received the Courage Award at the annual New England Women's Leadership Awards. Harriott, who was joined by her mom, Tonya David, is the youngest person ever to receive the award.

Edwards touts MGH center
Cancer survivor Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, was at the Westin Copley Place last night talking up the MGH Cancer Center. Edwards, who dined the night before with her husband and a few friends at LTK Bar and Kitchen in the Seaport District, signs copies of her memoir today at MGH.

Star sightings in Gloucester
With the "Grown Ups" gang now filming in Essex, Adam Sandler and his castmates are showing up on the North Shore. Sandler dropped into Palazolas Sporting Goods in Gloucester the other day and bought tennis racquets for his children and sneakers for himself. Sandler's costar Salma Hayek, meanwhile, took an exercise class at the YMCA in Gloucester and ate lunch at Passports, which she liked so well she recommended chef/owner Eric Lorden be hired as Chris Rock's private cook.

Read the Names blog at www.boston.com/namesblog. Names can be reached at names@globe.com or at 617-929-8253.

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