‘Fifty Shades’ (And Mr. Grey) Strike Again

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Fifty Shades of GreySeems like just yesterday Ms. James’ “Fifty Shades” series had Connecticut readers running (and blushing) to RJ Julia in Madison and again to The Omni in New Haven when the suddenly famous author made a guest appearance in Connecticut in 2012.

And now…get ready to be teased again as the red-hot trailer lures you in. 

Can’t help but wonder if Connecticut’s Paier School of Art, mentioned in the book, will make it into the movie?



GHAC Celebrates A Good Year, Gets Ready For Another

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artsc1It was one big arts party over at Spotlight Theatres Wednesday as the Greater Hartford Arts Council  celebrated a successful 2014 year that included its $2.7 million campaign,  and said ‘hello’ to its 2015 fundraising plan.
Besides naming the Phoenix as campaign chair for 2015 at the annual celebration, it was also time to say goodbye to its Director of Communications & Donor Relations Tim Yergeau, who is joining Civic Mind, a Hartford marketing and branding company.
Yergeau, who has been with the council for four years, received a special shout-out from executive director Cathy Malloy during the program that was followed by a party in the theater’s main lobby and bistro.
For Malloy, there will be two campaigns going on in her life, one for the council and the one for her artsc4husband, Democratic incumbent Governor Dan Malloy who is running for reelection.
“His thing,” she said smiling when asked about juggling a couple of campaigns at the same time. “That won’t really get going until fall.”
artsc2It seemed anyone who was anyone with the arts attended the event including a more relaxed than usual including fresh-off-a-motorcycle ride Bushnell CEO David Fay and Michael Stotts, managing director at Hartford Stage.
“I’m always relaxed,” grinned Stotts adding that it was a little less hectic than usual at the theater because of the season break and theater renovations that will mean a new look in the fall.
“New paint, new seats, new carpeting, you won’t recognize the house,” he said.
artsc3Also doing a bit of celebrating was newly-elected council president, Atty. Moe Banks.
“My passion is to get what we need to put instrument in the hands of more Hartford students,” he said explaining his plans during his tenure.
Founding executive director Dollie McLean took the opportunity to give a thank you shout out to the council, noting the non-profit she began with her husband, celebrated musician Jackie McLean, and is responsible for a lot of what the venue has achieved over the decades.

“If it were not for the Arts Council, we could have not maintained a program,” said McLean. “And we are thankful for that.”

Keselowski Races Through ESPN ‘Carwash’

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Brad Keselowski is tearing it up when it comes to the 2014 NASCAR race car season. The 30-year-old, 2012 Sprint Cup champion recently had a perfect racing weekend in Loudon, New Hampshire as he pursues the 2014 championship. In the wake of headline-grabbing celebratory antics including a broken champagne bottle injury, sweeping up confetti, a dropped American flag and waving a lobster around Victory Lane, Keselowski stopped by Bristol’s ESPN Wednesday to do the all-inclusive “carwash” of shows there. In between radio and television appearances he checked out the new and impressive ESPN DC2 building, admiring the furniture and flooring and Spilling the Beans with Java.

Q:  What with the Loudon sweep and your point standing you’ve become a kind of race car superhero.  So what will your superhero cartoon name be?

A: I need more time to think about that. I mean everyone likes (he drops his voice and growls)  ‘Baaaad Braaaad.’ You have to say it like that. I don’t really care for it but everyone else does so I guess that would be it. I mean that is what others call me. You can’t control that.

Q: The Victory Lane antics lead some to believe you are a bit a show-off on the track. Are you?

A: We are all showmen. NASCAR racing is a show and that is what we do. We entertain fans. That is what drives the sport. I chose to be a race car driver because I love race car driving but there is more to the sport than that.

Q: Connecticut’s Joey Logano was a bit irked after he wrecked with 72-year-old Morgan Shepherd in New Hampshire, and commented there should be mandatory testing for drivers in Cup Car races. What do you think?

A: I’m a little confused by what he meant about that. Drivers do pass a test in the lower series of NASCAR. I’m not sure what he means.

Q: You are on winning roll this season. What comes next?

A: It’s Indianapolis this weekend for Sunday’s Brickyard 400.  I feel very, very positive considering how well we ran the past few weeks.

Q: One article about your year so far refers to you as a “ruffian.” Are you?

A: What does ruffian mean?

Q: A tough guy, a bit of a bully, a naughty boy, a rule breaker.

A: Yeah, I like to stir it up. I don’t like the status quo about anything, not just in racing

Q: There are also articles where you have flatly insisted you will be single and stay that way. What about Paige White. She’s been in all the Victory Lane pictures with you lately.

A: I am definitely dating Paige. And yes, she was in victory lane in Loudon. I am happily dating.

Q: So is it a committed relationship?

A: What does that mean?

Q: It means you are only dating each other. So are you?

A: Yes, I am dating just her. It’s good.

Q: You are from a racing family so I guess going into the sport is a natural. But if you could not be a race car driver, what do you think you would want to do professionally?

A: I just did this vacation where I went to an island, Ocracoke, in North Carolina. There were a bunch of people who, like, own shops along the beach. That looks like fun. I think I would want to own a surf shop.

Q; Do you surf?

A: No, but I would just want to own the shop and manage it and sit outside and not do a whole lot.

Q: What do you think of ESPN’s new building?

A: This is my fourth or fifth visit here but the first time I am in this building. It’s very impressive. And I really like these red and gray chairs. They are really comfortable and I like the color.




Could You Be Hartford’s Next ‘Red Hot Mama?’

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Legendary superstar Sophie Tucker was one of Connecticut’s most cherished and celebrated performers and personalities.

And as the Mandell JCC Hartford Jewish Film Festival prepares for the 2015 Connecticut premiere of “The Outrageous Sophie Tucker,” a documentary on the bold, brassy, sassy Vaudeville star, the Mandell JCC is auditioning for the next “Sophie Tucker” as part of the celebration.

Auditions are being held Sept. 10 at the Mandell JCC in West Hartford. The talent search is being done in partnership with University of Hartford The Hartt School.

So if you can belt out a good version of “Some of These Days” go for it!

Sophie Tucker Mandell JCC 1Here are the details:

“The Mandell JCC is searching for Hartford’s next Sophie Tucker to perform in March 2015 when a new film about Hartford’s own Red Hot Mamamakes its Connecticut premiere at the 19th Annual Mandell JCC Hartford Jewish Film Festival. “The Outrageous Sophie Tucker”          entertainingly captures the life and career of Hartford’s most famous daughter and legendary vaudeville, stage, film, broadcast and recording superstar.


Open auditions for ‘Hartford’s Next Sophie Tucker’, will be held Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at  5:00 PM at the Mandell JCC’s Herbert Gilman Theater, Zachs Campus,  335 Bloomfield Ave., West Hartford, CT 06117, in partnership with the University of Hartford’s Hartt School. Candidates ages 15 and above should prepare 16 bars of an iconic song from Ms. Tucker’s repertoire and a brief comic monologue or audience interaction routine expressing her larger-than-life stage persona. Participants are required to bring sheet music or score in proper key, a photo and resume.


Paul Feyer, vocal coach and accompanist at the University of Hartford’s Hartt School will accompany auditioners. The competition is open to students, the general public and all faiths and backgrounds are welcome.  A sign-up sheet will be available upon arrival, and performers will be auditioned in the order of sign-in.  Callbacks are by invitation. An honorarium of $1,000 will be granted to the winner, who will perform in front of a live audience on Opening Night of the Festival, Thursday, March 12, 2015. The performance will take place prior to the film’s premiere at the new Infinity Music Hall & Bistro, Front Street, Hartford.

For more information about the 19th  Annual Mandell JCC Hartford Jewish Film Festival March 12-22, 2015 please contact Harriet J. Dobin, Festival Director, 860-231-6350, hdobin@mandelljcc.org and visit www.hjff.org.”

Is It The Weekend Yet? YES!

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Can you believe it? July is almost  gone and August is soon to arrive.calendar_clip_art-1.29213820_std[1]

As we head into the best part of summer, make some time to savor every moment, especially on the weekends.

And this one includes  ice cream, carousel rides, and sweet music and theater under the stars.

marktwainOn Thursday, July 24, it’s free ice cream and more at one of Hartford’s most famous landmarks, the Mark Twain House & Museum. Its 6th annual Ice Cream Social  will be held at the patio with Friends of The Mark Twain House & Museum doing the scooping at this free event.

Performing will be Horizon Blue, an acoustic Americana musical group.

Also featured is Jessica Lawson, the author of the new young adult book “The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher.”

There will also be a Becky Thatcher-themed scavenger hunt, lawn games, and discounted tours of the first floor of the Mark Twain House ($5 for adults, seniors, and children; under age 6 free).

icream7Following the social, which will be held from 5 to 8 p.m., Mark Twain House & Museum will host its “Get A Clue” tour. Play its live-action version of the classic game CLUE in the Mark Twain House. Was it Becky Thatcher with the revolver in the Conservatory? The Prince (or was it the Pauper?) with the knife in the library? This hour long tour features SEA TEA IMPROV .

And if that ‘s not enough, head back on Friday and Saturday evenings for the popular “Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours” for some summer fun. The Mark Twain House has been featured on Syfy Channel’s Ghost Hunters and the Biography Channel’s My Ghost Story.

For more information on all the weekend events go here.

On Friday, July 25, pack a picnic, grab the lawn chairs and head over to Simsbury Meadowshso-logo1[1]  where the Talcott Mountain Music Festival will pay tribute to Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. Singer Marva Hicks and  trumpeter Byron Stripling will featured with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. For more information go here.



Celebrate another landmark in Hartford Saturday, July 26,  when Bushnell Park’s Carousel kicks off its 100th birthday celebration . The party includes free rides face paining, balloon twisting, cake and mini-train rides around the park.

The party goes from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

For more information go here.


Treat yourself and take advantage of the summer version of the “Taste of Hartford” that continues salute next week.

Dozens of Hartford restaurants are offering specially priced lunch and dinner fixed-price menus, giving diners the perfect opportunity to try a new restaurant or visit a favorite one “just because.”

For more information go here.

Speaking of food, don’t forget the Connecticut Wine Festival at The Goshen Fairgrounds  on July 26 and 27. Wine tastings, food, crafts, wine seminars, live music and entertainment will be featured.

Tickets are $30, which includes wine and specialty food samplings, a souvenir wine glass and tote bag. A ticket for designated drivers is $10.

For more information go here.



Capital Classics Theatre Company enters its 24th anniversary season this weekend  with the staging of “All’s Well That Ends Well.”

This is central Connecticut’s longest-running Shakespeare festival, running for  three weekends: July 24 through August 10, 2014. Held at University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford. The festival will also feature pre-show entertainment on Thursday , ice cream on Friday, and lectures by local professors on Sunday.

Performances are held on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 5:30 p.m. For more information go here.

And finally, get a dose of good Irish music, food and fun at the 31st Greater Hartford Irish Music Festival  June 25, 26 and 27.  the festival is held at the Irish American Home Society , 132 Commerce St., Glastonbury. For more information go here.



Willard Scott Says “Happy Birthday” At Saybrook Point

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scott1If you live to be 100 the one thing you could look forward to for years is NBC “Today Show” personality Willard Scott reading your name during his signature centenarian birthday segment on the morning show. On Tuesday, the former “Ronald McDonald” and “Today Show” weatherman, was taping eight of those segments seaside at Saybrook Point Inn Spa, including a special one for soon-to-be-50 “Today Show’’ host Hoda Kotb. You knew the 80-year-old Scott was on the inn’s patio even before you saw him because of that distinctive voice. He was funny and gracious and entertaining as he Spilled the Beans with Java over coffee, juice and Smuckers jelly of course!


Q: How long have you been in the business and how did you get there?

A: You don’t know how lucky I have been to be in this business. I have been in it for 65 years and I think I am the oldest living employee at NBC. I started out as a page in 1950. I had done some radio before that, too. I still love radio to this day. I could still do radio if I had to. TV has become so complicated. And you know I was on kids’ shows, too. And I was the first Ronald McDonald. There’s always a Jeopardy! question on that every six months or so.

Q: What brings you here to Saybrook Point?

A: I have a place in Noank and years ago we came here for brunch. Now we come here a lot. I didn’t even know it was here. Now we come often. It’s a great crowd of people.

Q: Your birthday segment on the “Today Show” is legendary now. How did you come up with the idea?

A: Someone wrote to me when I was still doing weather and asked that I say “Happy Birthday” to their uncle who was turning 100. I did and then in a few days I got another request and another and I figured ‘Paul Harvey does this and we are kind of alike so why not?’ I now consider myself the nation’s largest clearinghouse for centenarians.

Q: Has the list of birthday wishes gotten longer over the years?

A: Obama doesn’t know what he has got a hold of with that health care. The number of people celebrating 100 years old now compared to when I started is amazing. I met a guy in Minneapolis a while ago and he was 101 and looked better than anyone in this group here.

Q: Do you think you will be wishing yourself a Happy 100th Birthday?

A: No. Big dogs don’t live forever. I’m going to pre-tape mine.

Q: When they make the made-for-tv movie about Willard Scott, who should play you?

A: There would have to be a dozen different actors playing me. And actually, I’m such an egomaniac I would probably want to play myself.

 Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?

A: I was raised on a farm. My grandfather had a dairy farm and we would have to milk the cows in the morning and again in the evening. That’s where I learned to drive. On a Model T and we would take the back seat out to store the milk cans when we brought the milk to sale. I have a gentleman’s farm now in Virginia. I cure ham and sausage. I think my grandfather would like it.

Q: I know you are dying to say something about Smuckers. Go for it!

A: I have had three great sponsors over the years, McDonald’s, Hallmark and Smuckers. Smuckers has been my sponsor for almost 15 years. My favorite kind is raspberry. I have enough Smuckers jelly in my house to last way beyond my lifetime. And I rarely give it away.


RAW “Taste” Series Not Over Yet

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raw1 (2)Dinner included “l’ombre et lumiere” and “gargouillou,” dishes made famous by food legend Michael Bras and recreated Monday by On20 executive chef Jeffrey Lizotte and staff at Real Art Ways.

While the sold-out dinner was scheduled to be the last in RAW’s food-as-art inspired “Taste” series featuring  the film collection “Inventing Cuisine” and tasting plates by the area’s most popular local chefs, it’s not.

raw2 (2)“We are going to keep it going,” said RAW executive director Will Wilkins who was part of the crowd that at what was to be the last of the three-event series. “There are still a few more documentaries in the collection and we have other chefs who would like to come in and it has been so popular that we plan to resume it after Labor Day.”

Lizotte had it all under control as he prepared food for 100 included the vegetable mosaic “gargouillou” and the monk fish and black olive oil “l’ombre et lumiere” (light and dark) dish.

“Food is art and this series is wonderful,” said Lizotte. “I don’t think there is anything like it around.”raw3 (2)

raw4 (2)Among those at the dinner, hosted by food writer Rand Richards Cooper, was popular former staffer LB Munoz.

“I don’t work here anymore but I still want to support the programs,” said Munoz, whose date for the night was dad, Roberto Munoz.

Perez Leaving Fox CT , Bernstein Arriving

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Jen Bernstein 03

Connecticut native Jennifer Bernstein will be returning as an anchor/reporter to Fox Ct on Aug. 4.


Bernstein will replace veteran anchor and show host Laurie Perez who leaves the stationlaurie_perez on July 25.

“My husband Jeff Collette accepted a position at the NFL network in California and he started a few weeks ago,” Perez said.

“I’ll be working at KCBS starting in August.”

The award-winning journalist said she is ready for the new adventure.

“I grew up, personally and professionally, here at Fox,” the South Windsor native said. As excited as I am for this new adventure, I’ll miss more people than I can possibly name,” she said. “My thanks to everyone for helping make the last decade plus a great ride.”

“Laurie has been an outstanding reporter and anchor,” said station news director Coleen Marren. “Her dedication and commitment will be missed by our viewers and the Fox Ct team.”

Bernstein will step into Perez’s jobs as anchor FOX CT News at 4, covering Connecticut politics and co-anchoring “The Real Story” with Al Terzi.

Bernstein was a reporter for FOX CT news from 2010-2012, where she worked as the station’s first  multimedia journalist. She most recently worked as a reporter at KYW, Philadelphia’s CBS affiliate. 


“We are thrilled Jenn is rejoining our team,”  said  Marren.
“As a Connecticut native, she knows the state well and I’m sure our viewers will be happy to know such a talented journalist and multimedia innovator is back in our newsroom,” 

‘Big E’ Means ‘Extra’ Hair for 2014

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Best known for the food that is served, the 2014 Big E is offering a little something extra this year, facial hair.

zzThis year The Big E six-state fair is hosting a contest to find the ‘Best Beard in New England.” The contest is being held in conjunction with a special performance during this year’s fair by legendary rock band, ZZ Top.  

The contest will ask guys with the best beards (length, style, or overall size) to submit a photo, with their contact information on the official application via The Big E’s Facebook page, facebook.com/TheBigE. Entrants must upload a photo of their beard by Aug. 15 at 10 a.m. Starting the following Monday, Aug. 18, Big E Facebook fans will cast votes for their favorites. The voting period will end Aug. 25 at 10 a.m.

The top five entrants that receive the most votes will advance to the final round of judging held at The Big E, Sunday, Sept. 21 at 2:45 p.m. on the Court of Honor Stage.  The finalists will receive a parking pass and two Big E admission tickets to attend the event with a friend. Finalists must appear in person with their beard intact in order to strut their stuff in the competition. A panel of local celebrity judges will name one lucky contestant’s facial hair the “Best Beard in New England.”

The winner will receive two complimentary tickets to the ZZ Top concert on Sept. 26  at the Xfinity arena at The Big E, and a Big E Prize pack.

Tickets are currently on sale for the ZZ Top concert, which include Big E admission when purchased prior to the show date.  Advance tickets to this year’s The Big E, Sept. 12 to 28, are also on sale.

For more information or for tickets, visit www.TheBigE.com.

HBJ Announces 2014 ’40 Under 40′ List

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fortyuWho are some of the area’s most effective young movers and shakers?

The Hartford Business Journal released its “40 under 40″ list Monday with a twist. There are 42 people on the list this year.

Judges ended up adding a couple of extra to the list of people who have accomplished much in the early stages of their careers and are considered to have the potential to go on to do even greater things. And that’s a good thing.

Those chosen this year represent an eclectic mix of careers ranging from entrepreneurs and executives to community leaders and politicians.

Among those on this year’s list are Martin Gugliotti, artistic director at Gugliotti Salon and Spa and dean of students at International Institute of Cosmetology, Greater Hartford Arts Council ” go to” guy Tim Yergeau, Hartford attorney and state representative Matt Ritter, owner/principal of Golden Egg Concepts Lindsay Mathieu, Camp Courant’s McKinley Albert, Ryan Marketing’s Lindsay Ryan Jensen, Hartford’s  marketing, events and cultural affairs director Kristina Newman- Scott, Fox Ct anchor Alison Morris, co-founder and CEO of ManyMentors Keshia Ashe and  University of St. Joseph assistant professor of biology Christopher Zito.

For a complete list of winners go here.

Honorees will be celebrated at a party on Sept. 22 at the CT Convention Center from 5 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $85 each. for more information go here.

Congrats to all!