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Jamie Brickhouse ’90

EMPIRE STATE OF MIND

Jamie Brickhouse ’90 knew he was destined for life outside his Beaumont hometown but he never dreamt that one day he’d be dining with Sidney Poitier and paging Joan Collins in a luxury department store.  This head of an author’s speaker’s bureau in New York is experiencing life at its fullest.

By Donna Parker

Jamie Brickhouse, who received a bachelor’s degree in communication from Trinity in 1990, feels like the luckiest guy on earth.  This self-described funny and convivial vice president and director of the HarperCollins Speaker’s Bureau in New York City knows that each day brings a new challenge but also priceless adventures.

“I pinched myself everyday during my first 10 years in New York,” says this Beaumont native.  “I got into the publishing business because of my love of literature.  Literary stars such as Mary Karr are marvelous, but then again, so are my movie star clients,” laughs Jamie, who just returned from a speaking engagement in Toronto with none other than actor Sidney Poitier.

“We were taking a cab to a restaurant and as we got out, Sidney looked at the driver and said, ‘I think you drove me the last time,’ to which the cabbie replied, jokingly…‘I don’t think so…. I’d remember if I drove Harry Belafonte’ Sidney laughed out loud.”

Jamie has many other tales to tell, some of which rival the stories in the books he promotes. Such as the time, he “lost” Joan Collins in Saks Fifth Avenue during a publicity tour.

“We never found her in the store,” laughs Jamie, “But she showed up on time for her book signing.  That night we had a rather glamorous party at Mortimer’s on the Upper East Side and my parents attended from Beaumont.  Joan was just great with them!  Quite funny because I was star struck prior to working with her - having watched her on Dynasty.  She’s absolutely lovely with a great sense of humor.”

Jamie, who also works with such luminaries as Molly Ringwald and Wally Lamb, is a huge classic movie fan, preferring film noir and musicals to first-run pictures.

“I also love the theater,” says Jamie, who just saw Brief Encounter, which he calls one of the most original and intoxicating productions he’s seen in a long time.

This Texas native has definitely adjusted to life in the Big City, and is an habitué at museums like The Frick and MOMA.  He lives with his longtime partner, Michael Hayes, an architect, and soaks up everything New York has to offer.

Jamie also serves on the board of The Secret City, a new arts group which meets once a month on Sunday.  The group is people with artists, writers, and performers, and he likens the Sunday salons to an artistic tent revival.  He also taught at the renowned and famed Columbia Publishing course for 16 years.  He’s found his niche and carved out a life that is far different from sleepier days in Texas but he still has a special place in his heart for his home state.

Jamie recently attended his 20th reunion at Trinity and has high praise for the University, stating, “It educated and enlightened me, instilling the knowledge that I’ve needed to build a career and lead a culturally enriched life.”

“In high school, I was biding my time—not with my people, if you will; but at Trinity, I met like-minded, mostly liberal, extremely smart and funny friends.  We all shared the same love of learning and the arts and established lasting friendships along the way.  And I had some memorable professors whose imparted knowledge has never left me.”

One of those friends and professors is the much-loved Coleen Grissom, department of English.

“We actually performed a duet at Sing Song for Parent’s Weekend.  We sang Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off and she let me borrow one of her dresses for the occasion since I could mimic her to a tee.  Her strong personality and distinct manner of speaking make her highly imitable, and we all know that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

“I also fell in love with art history at Trinity through Carolyn Valone, then chair of the department.  Her passion and emphatic style of teaching made the history of the world through the prism of art fascinating.  I fell in love with the discipline and became an art history minor in the process.”

“Finally, Sammye Johnson, department of communication, was the best writing professor.  I took her magazine writing class and learned the fundamentals of nonfiction writing that have served me endlessly in my career.”

You may contact Jamie at Jamie.brickhouse@harpercollins.com.


After reading this story if you feel strongly about any Trinity alumni who the Alumni Office should profile in future AlumNet issues, please submit your suggestions.  We are looking for suggestions in these four categories:  1) recent grads, 2) grads who innovate, 3) grads in business, and 4) grads who serve the world. Feel free to nominate yourself if you fall in these categories. -- AlumNet Moderator