Monthly Archives: December 2012

ESPN Hannah Storm Back On TV Tuesday

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The accident was a serious one for ESPN SportsCenter hannah33_display_image[1]_optpersonality, Hannah Storm,  who was burned in a propane accident at her Fairfield home several weeks ago.

But she’s back on the air Tuesday hosting the 2013 Rose Bowl Parade on ABC.

Three weeks ago, she was burned on her chest, hands, face and lost much of her hair.

No official word on when she will be returning to the ESPN anchor desk.

 

 

 

Murphy & Scarletti’s Closes

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murphOwners Bill McDougall and Bryan Moffett insisted  their Murphy & Scarletti’s would finish out the 2012 holiday season but apparently the plans changed.

Farmington’s popular place for food, partying and live music closed Saturday night, ending a long run at the Farmington Exchange.

A crowd of fans who ventured out in Saturday’s snow to make one last visit turned to hit Twitter and Facebook to mark the closing.

No word on what may move into the space.

2012, What A Java Year It Was!

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sandyhookThere are no words to sum up the tragic end to 2012 in Connecticut. The shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School by 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who then killed himself, is the story that will be etched in everyone’s minds as one year closes and another begins.

And while the tragedy will forever define 2012 for most of us, there were others. And in the case of this column, these were some of the stories that proved most popular in 2012 for  those who stopped for a daily dose of  Java.

The Break-ups and Hook-Ups

haneyMany were stunned in the spring when WFSB personality Scot Haney and partner, the Bushnell’s Paul Marte parted ways. The two, together for 19 years, were a well-known couple who helped raise awareness and money for many Hartford area organizations in many ways including the coveted dinners at their Canton home.

There was another sad parting of the ways a few weeks later when foodie and NPR personality Faith Middleton and her wife, public relations agent Fern Berman, divorced. The two were married in October, 2002 at Manhattan’s Le Cirque 2000, a wedding that merited space in the New York Times.

petit_and_gf_20120105162039_320_240[1]One of the happiest hitches in 2012 was the wedding of Dr. William Petit Jr. and professional photographer Christine Paluf. Petit lost his wife and two daughters in a brutal home invasion attack in 2007. He later met Paluf, when she began doing the photo work at benefit events for the Petit Foundation, set up in memory of the family.

davidido2 (2)Also saying “I do” was former UTC powerhouse, multi-millionaire George David. David, an avid sailor,  married girlfriend Wendy Touton in Bermuda after the two and the crew shattered the race record in the New York Yacht Club Race. David you might remember, was a reluctant headline-maker a few years ago when he and former wife, countess Marie Douglas David, tangled quite publicly in a messy and very provocative divorce.

Also saying “I do” were  WFSB chief meteorologist DePrest, who married Cheryl McGinnis. And well-known Hartford artists, Tao LaBossiere and Amy Mielke, gave their friends a surprise when they staged a surprise wedding in February at the ArtSpace Gallery

Making the decision to take the trek to the altar is WTNH traffic reporter Teresa LaBarbera, who said “yes” to business owner Brandon Dufour when he asked her to marry him on Thanksgiving Eve. A 2013 wedding is planned.

Media Coming and Goings

mel1_optIt was a sad goodbye to weather icon, Dr. Mel Goldstein. The 66-year-old longtime WTNH meteorologist died 16 years after being diagnosed with multiple myeloma. It was an equally poignant goodbye to longtime sportscaster Arnold Dean, longtime host of WTIC’s “SportsTalk” radio program.

Former WFSB anchor Al Terzi jumped ship and joined Fox CT. The tv veteran serves as an anchor as well as co-hosting the station’s political program, “The Real Story.” Also joining FoxCt was Tom Dudchik, who turned his Capital Report blog into a weekly tv program called “CT Capitol Report.”

At WDRC,  it was deliberate goodbye to talk show host Dan Lovallo while at WTIC, Will Marotti, pastor of New Life Church of Meriden, announced his departure from the WTIC radio talk show, “State and Church,” a program he shared with former governor John Rowland.

At NBC Connecticut, news co-anchor and show host Yvonne Nava left after five years to return to Texas to be near family. WTNH weather reporter Erica Grow left her post to head to Washington, D.C.

Openings and Closings

gmillThe Grist Mill and the Millrace Book Store in Farmington unfortunately closed in 2012. Miss Porter’s School purchased the historic mill on the Farmington River for its own purposes, forcing the book store to close and the relocation of The Grist Mill to the former Carmen Anthony’s space in Avon.

Also closing in 2012 was famous Farmington restaurant and party spot, Murphy & Scarletti’s.

The news was good when Hartford welcomed its Spotlight Theatres and the accompanying Front Street Bistro in the emerging Front Street Entertainment district. It also became official that the famed Capital Grille steakhouse would be opening a location in Hartford in 2013.

noel_optFormer “Chopped” tv reality show star , Tyler Anderson, a star in his own right at Copper Beech Inn, finally opened his own place, Millwright’s, in Simsbury. In the meantime, famed chef Noel Jones called it quits at On20 in Hartford and moved on to Anderson’s spot at the Ivoryton Inn and its Brasserie Pip.

The People And The Events

SpaghettiThe Hartford area said goodbye to Mark Twain House & Museum’s Jeffrey Nichols, who left his executive director job in Hartford to take a similar position at Poplar Forest, Thomas Jefferson’s historic plantation retreat in Virginia . Hill-stead Museum’s Sue Sturtevant, credited with initiating several new programs there, stepped down. At TheaterWorks in Hartford, artistic director Steve Campo resigned and  Rob Ruggiero was named producing artistic director of the downtown Hartford theater. The theater also gained some pleasant notoriety when Mark Twain House & Museum’s Jacques Lamarre, premiered his play “I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti” there.

Fifty Shades of GreyR.J. Julia’s Roxanne Coady had the coup of the season when she lured “Fifty Shades of Grey” author, E.L. James (Erika Leonard) to come to Connecticut to talk about her naughty and record-setting “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy. More than 1,000 people, mostly women, dashed to the
Omni Hotel in New Haven to listen to the saucy English author talk about her very steamy books featuring the rich and experienced main character, Christian Grey. The story line, interestingly enough, includes a mention of the Paier School of Art in Hamden, chosen for inclusion by James because a friend of hers once attended classes there.

Parties and Stars

mraz8Connecticut had more than its fair share of celebs coming to town including former President Bill Clinton, who was the guest speaker at the Ct. Forum’s 20th anniversary program. Actress/singer Vanessa Williams and her mother, Helen, graced the Amistad Center’s anniversary luncheon, singer/songwriter Jason Mraz pitched in at a clean-up at Burns School, actress and author, Meredith Baxter, spoke at the Mandell Jewish Community Center’s “An Evening of Thriver Spirit” program while Archie Manning talked football, fatherhood and famous sons at the “YMCA Celebrates Champions” dinner. Author, blogger and syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington was the draw at the Hartford Public Library’s One Big Summer Night. ESPN in Bristol hosted a stellar list of A-list celeb visitors including actors Billy Crystal, Liam Neeson, Dax Shepard and celebrity chef, Emeril Lagasse.

hal6The Mark Twain House welcomed actor Hal Holbrook, renaming its Great Hall in honor the veteran showman and Mark Twain impersonator, authors R.L. Stine, Sandra Brown and Steve Berry , and reality show stars, The Fabulous Beekman Boys to events and parties there.

mball1_optThe parties never ended in Hartford starting with Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra’s inaugural ball. The Goodspeed welcomed “The Good Wife” actor and Broadway star Alan Cumming and Hartford Hospital’s Black and Red ball featured singer Chris Botti. Hartford Stage’s then-new artistic director Darko Tresnjak showed he had what it takes when it came to throwing a wowsa soiree that include trapeze artists at the stage’s annual “Party in the Paint Shop.” The Gay and Lesbian Health Collective moved its annual “One Big Event” fundraiser over to the Connecticut Convention Center to accommodate a larger crowd. The CT AIDS Resource Coalition also need more space, moving its annual Oscar Night Hartford party over to Real Art Ways in 2012.

Noteworthy Winners

rich_graziano-345x517[1]Richard Graziano, who heads FOX CT and the Hartford Courant, was named the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Humanitarian of the Year. Steve Abrams, Ryan Jones and Linda Sample were honored by the Ct Restaurant Association. Connecticut Democrat, Fourth District Congressman Jim Himes made the Hill’s “50 Most Beautiful People” list and Christian Kim, a 26-year-old Yale master’s student and professional violinist was named to Cosmo’s “Bachelors 2012” list.

ESPN Sports A “Crystal”

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SportsCenter anchor at ESPN, Steve Levy,  had a little something extra at the desk Wednesday. Some co-anchor help from legendary entertainer Billy Crystal. Levy apparently knows the right people. He had a small part in Crystal’s upcoming film, “Parental Guidance” and next thing you know, the Emmy and Tony award-winning Crystal arrives in Bristol. A sports fan who loves the Yankees, Crystal batted around sports topics with Levy and presented his own personal picks for “Top 10 Sports Moments” on the show.

Hartford Stage Collecting For Sandy Hook

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So very many collection efforts are underway to benefit the families of the Sandy Hook shootings, as well as Sandy Hook Elementary School where the tragedy took place.

Hartford Stage has announced it too is launching a benefit collection campaign.

Donations for the Sandy Hook United Way Fund to support the victims of the tragedy can be made in the theater lobby during all remaining performances of A Christmas Carol.

The production continues through Dec. 29. For more information go to hartfordstage.org.

CT Forum Celebrates With Students Today

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A select group of students  from Hartford will be the center of attention today at the Hartford Marriott Downtown today at the CT Forum’s 19th Annual Hartford Children’s Holiday Party.

Ten students from each of Hartford’s 29 public elementary schools will celebrate with food and entertainment as well as  gifts that unless for the party, they would not receive.

Nearly 100 high school students from the CT Youth Forum  volunteer as elves for the event.

 

 

“We Are The Children” 28th Annual Party Tuesday

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An estimated 1,000 needy Hartford area children and 400 volunteers gather Tuesday, Christmas Day, for the 28th annual “We Are The Children” holiday gathering in Hartford this year.

It will include an over-sized white Christmas tree in memory of the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, and increased security to assure the safety of the children at the downtown event.

“My first thought was to cancel it after such a horrific thing happened,” said Gary Craig about Friday’s shootings that resulted in the death of 20 children and six adults. “But then I quickly thought it was more important than ever to hold it. Kids here are depending on it,” said Craig, the WTIC radio personality who founded the party in 1985 and continues to organize it each year. Craig said he has hired extra security for the party because of the Sandy Hook tragedy, and has stopped advertising where and when the party will be held. “I just don’t want to bring attention to it after Sandy Hook.”

The memorial tree is being decorated by volunteers who are making dozens of handcrafted ornaments with the victims’ names on them,” Craig said . “We wanted white so it would stand out from all the others,” said Craig about the 12-foot tree that will be part of the holiday diorama being set up for the event. “White is purity and somehow it just seemed right.”

Believed to be the largest Christmas Day  children’s gathering of its kind, the “We The Children” party is underwritten by dozens of corporations, businesses and supporters who donate money, food, decorations, toys and entertainment to the party. There is a final toy drive today, Thursday,  at The Toy Chest in West Hartford.

If necessary one last emergency toy drive over the weekend at a time and place to be announced.

 

“Sally’s” Tony Consiglio Stories of Sinatra Published

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The stories are that not many people were allowed into celebrity Frank Sinatra’s inner circle. And who would have guessed that one of those people who were part of that circle was from Connecticut, a celebrity, of sorts, in his own right. Tony Consiglio, one of the founders of the famed New Haven pizzeria, Sally’s, was also one of Sinatra’s best friends. For years, Consiglio traveled with the late, famed singer and actor, and the rest of the Hollywood elite that were part of Sinatra’s circle including Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Sammy Davis Jr. Peter Lawford, Ava Gardner and others. Consiglio died in 2008, but not before sharing his personal stories about Sinatra with Pulitzer-prize nominated author and Connecticut resident, Franz Douskey, tales that have been published in a new book called “Sinatra and Me, The Very Good Years.” Douskey, who calls the stories an inside look at Sinatra, has been on a book-signing blitz around the state, but took some time to Spill The Beans with Java.

Q: How did you get chosen to listen to Tony’s stories and compile them into a book?

A: I didn’t get chosen really, I used to hang around Sally’s, actually I was there last night. I knew about him and there were pictures all over the place of Tony with celebrities including Sinatra. I was there one afternoon, and Ruthie his niece said, “Duke (my nickname) come on and talk to my uncle on the phone.’ I got on the phone and talked to Tony and Ruthie says ‘you alright,’ Tony invites me over to talk over coffee and as we get to know each other, says ‘I have something to show you’ and brings out letters from Frank and tons of photos with Frank. We spent four hours going over the stuff and after a second or third meeting discussed maybe just an article about his friendship with Frank. I initially did a piece for Yankee Magazine on Tony and Frank called “The Man Who Knew Everyone.” Tony and I start paling around and we did a couple of other articles and he liked them and the book just evolved. Somewhere along the line I said ‘we have all this documentation for stories so why don’t we just keep going.’

Q: How long did it take to listen to all the stories and get the written?

A: We started in 2000 and went on for a period of eight years.

Q: What did it feel like to listen to all these first-hand stories about a crowd of people most of us only  watched on a movie or television screen or read ab out in magazines?

A: It was very fascinating but what made it more so was the fact that these were documented stories. These were stories from someone who was actually there. Most of the books written about Sinatra were third and fourth person accounts. I loved Tony’s hardess and crispness as he told the stories. It was all so informal. I loved Tony. He was such a good human, a genuine human being.

Q: Were you a Sinatra fan?

A: I knew the music and was aware of Sinatra. I used to do a radio show at Quinnipiac University at WQIN so I was familiar and I did, in particular, like his arrangements.

Q: What stories really piqued your interest?

A: I loved the stories about Jilly Rizzo, a mobster who was a rough character and a close friend of Sinatra’s. He was Frank’s muscle man. Jilly had one artificial eye that never closed and Tony said he was afraid of him because he never knew for sure when he was asleep. There were so many funny stories.

Q: The book is clearly one of personal stories but yet, not over the top or sensational. Was it done purposefully?

A: One of the things was we wanted to write about Frank’s music and his life, why people admired him with a balance of the great times and the sad and tragic times. There were agents who wanted it to be more salacious. We ended up with an agent who let us write Tony’s stories

Q: Have Sinatra family members seen the book?

A: They saw it and the different revisions as we developed it. We kept them in the loop. His daughter Nancy said it was okay. The family has not said anything publicly and is not endorsing it. They decided as a family not to endorse any biography other than their own product. They aren’t suing us yet. The book is doing well. The first printing sold out in 10 days. And it really got a boost after the discussion on the Imus show this month.

A: Have you written other books about celebrities?

A: I have and they are lined up to be published. The next one is about Elvis Presley and the music of Memphis. It’s called “Elvis is Out There” and is scheduled to be published in 2013.

Q: What do you think Sinatra would think of the book?

A: He wouldn’t be happy because he didn’t like stuff whether it be his generosity or his relationships being public. But if anyone was going to tell the stories, he would be glad it was Tony. Tony was the clam he trusted.

Q: So why did he tell at all?

A: I think telling the stories made him feel good. It was definitely not a business venture. It was after Sinatra’s death. He could have written it to make it a money-maker by just writing about the mob and the girls Sinatra was with but he didn’t want to trash up the book. There were great moments and greats time and he has some really strong stories to tell.

Q: What is something people might be surprised to know about Sinatra?

A: There was a time when he was looking at buying a house in Old Saybrook but there were evidently problems with the neighbors who didn’t want someone like him as a neighbor because of his ties to the mob.

Q:What do you think Tony would say now that his stories are a book?

A: I think he would enjoy it. The day the book was published we had posters and wrote “To Tony” on them. I am so sorry he is not here because it would be so much fun doing the book signings and tour with him. He was beautiful.

 

New Owners At Hartford’s Hot Tomato’s

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Hartford’s Hot Tomato’s has new owners.

Brothers Dave DiNeno and Keith DiNeno, (shown with former Bears coach and ESPN personality Mike Ditka who introduced some of his wines there recently)  have become the new majority owners.

The two had a minority partnership with former owner, Chris Calvanese.

The new owners plan some changes including a new chef and new menu.

Hot Tomato’s is located at 1 Union Place. Information: 860-249-5100 or hottomatos.net