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Bestselling author Jeff Benedict ’91 presents ‘The Dynasty’ to his alma mater

Published on March 06, 2024

Bestselling author Jeff Benedict ’91 presents ‘The Dynasty’ to his alma mater

Benedict gives master class on storytelling

Benedict presents on storytelling during a master class at Eastern.

Jeff Benedict '91 (right) answers questions about his book and Apple TV+ docuseries during a Q&A session moderated by Brian Shactman, host on WTIC-AM 1080.

Jeff Benedict ‘91 visited Eastern Connecticut State University on March 5 to discuss “The Dynasty,” his nonfiction book-turned-television docuseries about the New England Patriots’ dominance in the National Football League from 2001 to 2019.

Benedict held a master class on turning journalism into storytelling and participated in a Q&A session following a screening of the first episode of the docuseries, which is currently streaming on Apple TV+. More than focusing on “The Dynasty,” Benedict discussed ways in which Eastern students could become the best storytellers they could be. 

Benedict’s master class took place during Professor Brian Day’s “Dramatic Video and Film Production” class. Benedict began by telling the truth about his experience as a student at Eastern. “I had a wonderful experience as a student here,” he said, however, “when I graduated, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life.” 

Now a New York Times bestselling author who has also written "LeBron," "Tiger Woods" and other acclaimed titles, Benedict shared insights he has gained throughout his career that have helped him to strengthen his storytelling. First, he encouraged students to diversify the platforms for which they hope to write: “I go into (writing a book) with the hope that it can also be a story in other media.” 

Benedict then educated the students on the importance of point of view in storytelling. First and foremost, he instructed them to keep their own point of view out of stories that are not autobiographical. “If you really want to get the reader’s attention, tell it from the point of view of the character,” he said.  

Shactman and Benedict hold a Q&A following the screening.

Students and community members filled the Student Center Theatre for the screening and Q&A.

In telling nonfiction stories, getting the character’s point of view often means interviewing them. Before an interview is conducted, Benedict said, a writer must “read everything you can possibly find on your subject.” Through this strategy, “you’ll know what to ask in interviews, so you’ll get information that wasn’t in the writing.”  

Finally, Benedict emphasized to the students the importance of being concise in writing. “You don’t want the reader thinking about your words; you want the reader visualizing what you’re saying,” he said. “If you can trim a letter off a word, do it.” 

Before the film screening, Benedict reflected on his time at Eastern in emotional opening remarks. “This brings back surreal memories of being a student here,” said Benedict, who majored in history. “I never would have imagined then that I would get to do this job.” 

Benedict, who spent time with the Patriots in 2018-19 to collect information that would be used in the book, detailed “feeling the pressure of what it was like to play on that team.” His goal was to “write something that accurately and appropriately described what these guys have done.” 

After the screening, Brian Shactman, host of "Brian & Company" on WTIC-AM 1080, facilitated the Q&A session. Benedict again made the point that research is essential in gaining the trust of interview subjects: “If they sense that you haven’t done your homework, you’re done.” 

To conclude the session, Benedict gave encouraging words to his alma mater. “To sit with a bunch of students where I went to college and watch this film ... I would rather do this here than do it in Los Angeles,” he said. 

“I’ve always thought of Eastern as a blue-collar school,” said Benedict, meaning that Eastern students may lack the intellectual reputation of those from Yale or Harvard University but will use this as motivation to outwork their competitors. He encouraged Eastern students to work hard and be “endlessly curious.” 

"The Dynasty" is a 10-part docuseries covering the 20-year run of the Brady-Belichick-Kraft era of the Patriots and the team's six Super Bowl wins, as well as its internal strife. It includes interviews with then-coach Bill Belichick, owner Robert Kraft, quarterback Tom Brady and other Patriots players, coaches and executives. It also includes interviews with high-profile fans, such as Jon Bon Jovi and Rupert Murdoch.

Benedict is an executive producer of the series, which is produced by Brian Grazer's and Ron Howard's Imagine Documentaries. The series premiered globally on Apple TV+ on Feb. 16. The documentary shows hours of video footage and audio files from the Patriots archives, many never made public before.

Written by Noel Teter