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Conspiring To Thrill
Will Beckford is an ambitious journalism student who, like Luke, is ambitious and enjoys the sport of crewing. "Will is a person who is extremely driven, just like Luke, and I think that they came together because they are both underdogs," comments Harper. "They're in an institution which caters to the rich. But they learn how to succeed in that system by bucking the odds."

But when Luke joins The Skulls, it creates a schism between him and Will. However Harper does not think that Will's investigation of The Skulls was done out of envy or revenge.

"For me, Will saw an opportunity to get behind the facade of The Skulls and prove himself as an investigative journalist, something he desires as dearly as Luke wants to go to a prestigious law school. And what better secret for him to crack than an expose of an organization that has existed for 170 years, but to the outside world remains a mystery. I mean, what a scoop!"

But where Will goes wrong is in falling into the same trap as Luke and Caleb, Harper says.

"He ends up doing the wrong thing to achieve a certain end, believing like the other characters that the end justifies the means. By the time he realizes this, it's too late for him."

But the lesson is not lost on Jackson. "Luke is given a golden opportunity to make his dreams come true. It's only when he gets deeply involved in The Skulls that he sees that they are a law unto themselves. They almost function like Big Brother in 1984: they are everywhere, and they know everything about you. There's no way out."

The Skulls poses some pertinent questions about the democracy we live in and whether it is actually run by members of elitist organizations. Just as important, however, is its exploration of true friendship and loyalty.

"All my life I've been curious about brotherly relationship and friendships; that kind of male bond," says Cohen. "You have Will and Luke, two blue-collar guys who have bonded together in this Ivy League world; they are different kinds of guys and yet they're brothers. Then Luke meets Caleb and you have another kind of friendship, a much more fragile kind. Luke is caught in the middle between Caleb's charisma and all he represents, and his relationship with Will, a relationship that has been tested, but limited by each young man's personal agenda."

The relationship between Chloe and Luke is also explored in a fresh and different way. Their romantic attachment grows out of their friendship, rather than the conventional boy meets girl situation.

"One of the great things about going to Harvard in the early '70s was the co-ed dorms where men and women got to know each other as people, friends, members of a small community, as opposed to potential dates," says Cohen. "If love bloomed, it grew out of solid knowledge, less illusion. I wanted that to be Luke and Chloe."

At the beginning Chloe functions as a confidant to both Luke and Will, a smart, down-to-earth young woman despite her wealthy background. For this reason, Bibb was attracted to the morally-centered Chloe.

"I thank John pretty much every day for creating Chloe because she kicks butt!" Bibb says with a laugh. "She is a real heroine. She is just one of the guys yet she has the love story with Luke a


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