Tag Archives: CCSU

CCSU Alumnus Joins FOX CT

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krafcikThere’s a new reporter on Fox Ct and you might recognize him from years gone by.

Mike Krafcik has joined Fox Ct and is definitely not new to the state.

Raised in Burlington, he received his bachelor’s degree in communication from Central Connecticut State University and a master’s in journalism from Syracuse University.

In 2007,  he was an intern in the sports department at the then-known-as WTIC Fox 61.

He comes back to Connecticut from  WATE the ABC affiliate in Knoxville, Tenn.


Celebrity Biographer William Mann Coming Back To CCSU

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mannIt’s been a while since Central Connecticut State University alumnus William J. Mann has stepped foot on campus. But the well-known American novelist, biographer and Hollywood historian is coming for a visit on March 4. Mann, who has written biographies on Hollywood stars including Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor and Barbra Streisand, will discuss “Writing Hollywood” at the free program that begins at 4:30 p.m. at the university library. A 1984 CCSU graduate, Mann has written several works of fiction as well as non-fiction. His biography “Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn” earned him a Notable Book of 2006 by The New York Times.

Formerly co-editor of the Hartford-based, gay-lesbian news magazine Metroline, Mann was also one of the founders of Alternatives, a gray lesbian cultural organization in Hartford and organized the first Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. Mann, who has a new book coming out in the fall, was in New York City when he graciously dished and Spilled the Beans with Java.


Q: Your CCSU bachelor’s degree was in history, then a master’s in liberal arts from Wesleyan. That is serious stuff. But then you go and write about movie stars which some might contend is a bit frivolous. When did the celebrity bug and I guess the writing bug bite?

A: I always loved movies. I saw used to love the Planet of the Apes movies and Poseidon Adventure. And then I discovered old movies as a teenager. I remember Channel 30, (do they still call it that?)  and they had an office over near Corbin’s Corner and hosted a classic movie night. You could submit your name to introduce films. I think the show was on at 11:30 at night. I wanted to introduce “Dinner at 8.” I think it was 1981 or ‘82. They picked me and I was this college kid then and I went and got to introduce the classic film. At that moment I realized I loved talking about movies and the people who make them and I started thinking “I would like to write about that.”

Q: Katharine Hepburn, Barbra Streisand, Elizabeth Taylor, you shoot high when you decide to write a book. What’s the one that is still in your head that you would like to do?

A: I have to say writing about these celebrities, these divas, was never my goal in life. It was really editors who told me who to write about. Hepburn was my idea, though, and I had a lot of interest and she had just died and I had a lot of connections. Then editors suggested the others. I have a new book coming out, “Tinseltown: Madness, Morphine and Murder at the Dawn of the Movies.” I like to do stories about time and place and perhaps aspects of not just Hollywood but also popular culture that we need to look at more closely.

Q: Do you ever feel badly about digging up dirt?

A: I always use this analogy. Being a biographer is like being a burglar. You are breaking into someone’s house and going through their drawers and making off with the loot. You have to do that, dig around and find out stuff. As a biographer we also have the responsibility to do that in a way that is respectful and provides the context. So you find out someone did something that they didn’t want anyone to know about. As the writer you have the responsibility to explain the circumstances and the context of that information. You can’t just throw it out there.  I am not into sensationalizing. When I write about Hepburn in the 30s, I needed to understand the 30s.  Same with Streisand in the 60s. You have to understand the challenges and the times and the place and the people.

Q: Tell me about the new book.

A: The new book is one I have wanted to do for years and years and years. I have a new publisher who is very excited. The cover looks fantastic. It is a book about Hollywood in 1920s, before all the rules had been set down and the studio system was just coming together. Moviemakers were just making out the process and in this midst of figuring out and building these new structures, there were a series of scandals that unraveled, especially a murder of a popular director, William Desmond Taylor. A murder that has stumped historians for 100 years now and I think I found the answer by going through some old FBI records that t no one ever thought to look at. The answer is in there. I am telling two stories, the murder and hunt for a killer and how Hollywood came to be, how they made movies and sold them and turned it all into a huge industry.

Q: So you can tell me who did kill Taylor?

A: I am not going to tell. You can get the answer around page 400.

Q: Your celebrity biographies are unauthorized. Have you ever been sued by the celebrities or their families?

A: I have never been sued. I have had certain celebrity’s friends and families say ‘if you are going there I am not going to talk to you anymore.’ Even with Streisand, with her reputation as private and uncooperative, I heard from people around her that she did not object to it, of course you never get her to say she liked it. But she didn’t attempt to stop me when I interviewed her friends and co-workers and the book was only on her first five years in the business. I think if you tell the truth with a degree of respect and responsibility.

Q: somehow I can’t imagine such interesting and detailed biographies on the “celebrities” of today like Beyonce or Bradley Cooper or Sandra Bullock. In part because between Facebook, Twitter and all the other immediate online ways we get information, there are no secrets anymore. What do you think?

A: We are getting much more information on celebrities now than we did. But the information is micromanaged, even the information they don’t want to come out. A biographer years from now writing about George Clooney is not going to have letters like I had when I did the book on Hepburn. You can sort through people’s lives through letters. With Hepburn, I went to the library at Harvard and they gave me a box full of letters and said ‘just dig through them.’ there were lots of letters from one of her best friends. When you go through letters you can see a person’s life. That doesn’t exist anymore. Even emails don’t exist the way they did. Now it’s just tweets and text messages. Writing about somebody is going to be a different kind of project in the future and I certainly wouldn’t even want to think how we would do it.

Q: Did you ever find yourself doing research and saying ‘whoa, I never imagined that about him or her?’

A: You don’t know what you are going to find. You can’t have preconceived notions about people. I am fortunate in that all the books I worked on came with more admiration for my subjects than less. I actually liked them better because I saw them as bold human beings. I knew their challenges, knew them better. Actually the real women behind those legends turned out to be way more fascinating and vulnerable and complex. I ended up liking them better.

Q: You are coming home to CCSU to speak. Has it been a while? Best college moments?

A: I was at the campus two years when I took my niece who was considering school there. The place has sure changed. My best memories? Probably working with some of the professors. Barry Leeds was fantastic. I had him for American Lit. I was very involved in the nuclear freeze movement and left wing politics of the time.  I was young and idealistic. When I think about my college years, I think about the protests, you can change the world and all that.

Q: If someone was going to write an unauthorized biography about you, what would be your worse fear as far as what they would “find out?”

A: Certainly nothing I am going to tell you. I am pretty much an open book and for a long time, I was very tired of talking about myself. The people I write about are interesting, not me. I guess if I had to say something it would be that I am horribly shy. I am a good public speaker when I come to an event and have to talk or publicize a book, But when I walk into a room with just small talk, I just want to go home.


Miss CT Wins Miss USA

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usaShe did it. South Glastonbury resident and CCSU grad Erin Brady won Miss USA Sunday night in Las Vegas. Goes to show you can have brains, beauty and live in CT and be a pageant winner. First CT win in Miss USA!! On to Miss Universe. Congratulations!

Wikipedia immediately updated its Portland, Ct. entry Monday. The “Notable People” portion now includes :

Erin Brady (1987-), Miss Connecticut 2013, Miss USA 2013, grew up in town and went to Portland Public Schools”

On the Miss USA website, it states Brady holds a degree in finance with a minor in criminal justice. She is a financial accountant for Prudential Retirement in Hartford , where “she works behind the scenes by running the controls that ensure every member of her team has performed their work correctly and efficiently,” it notes. The site also states Brady plans to pursue an MBA in the near future and hopes to get involved with Pension Risk Transfers.

“Erin was raised in a home heavily influenced by alcohol and substance abuse and she sadly remembers the lack of support and places to turn to for the children of addicts, such as her,” it states. ” She has since learned that more than half of adult addicts are children of alcoholics. It is her goal to help break the cycle of addiction as she plans to be an advocate for children of alcohol and substance abuse.”

The Miss USA website also notes Brady has helped with the Ferrari and Friends Concorso, which works closely with the Children’s Medical Hospital and the “Make-A-Wish Foundation”; Susan G. Komen, Walk for The Cure events; and, Habitat for Humanity as her charities of choice.

By the way, love the fact that another CT first was there at the pageant. Miss Teen USA, Southington resident Logan West was on stage for the crowning.

And one other fun fact…it has been 80 years since CT had a national winner. Former New Haven resident Marion Bergeron won the Miss America crown in 1933.
Nutmeg State women rule!

South Glastonbury Woman Headed To Miss USA Contest

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usaIt’s Miss USA pageant time again and representing Connecticut this year is South Glastonbury resident Erin Brady. The 25-year-old didn’t get into the pageant business until last year but has done well, coming in first-runner up in last year’s state competition and this year, winning the contest that means she goes onto the nationals that take place on June 16 in Las Vegas. A Central Connecticut State University graduate who is a finance accountant for Prudential insurance in Hartford, the 5’8 113-pound contender was enthused and focused on bringing Connecticut some fame as she Spilled the Beans with Java.

 Q: What prompted you to get into beauty pageant competition?

A: I was always interested in modeling and being in pageants is a great gateway. I first entered last year and was older than a lot of women who get involved in pageants but I did the research and the USA organization seemed to be the one that was the best fit.

Q: Last year, your first time, you were first runner-up and this year a winner. What did you learn about the business in a year’s time?

A: When I entered last year I had no expectations and was not sure of what to expect because I had never competed so I was really blindsided. After participating in that, I learned about the physical preparation like exercising and eating well that needs to be part of getting ready to compete, as well as choosing outfits and getting mentally ready. You are in it as soon as you register, long before you are ever on a stage. Most of the girls who compete have been doing it since they were teenagers. This time I have more sponsors and have done a lot more to get ready. I am in it to pick up the crown.   

Q: It is my understanding that you have a back story that is different than many young ladies who compete. Share?

A: I lived in Portland and when I graduated from high school moved out on my own and worked fulltime and went to college full time, eventually getting my diploma in finance and criminal justice. I couldn’t even think about being in beauty pageants. I had no free time and didn’t have any extra money and was not mentally in the right state of mind. It’s been a struggle but it shaped who I am. Sometimes I feel like a 35-year-old in a 25-year-old body but the struggles helped me be better. Being older now I think works to my advantage. I think I have more poise, more life experience, and more maturity.  

Q: Your hobbies?

A: I love to cook and if there were a talent portion to the competition in Las Vegas, I would make my turkey meatballs with homemade tomato sauce. The USA pageant though, just has a swimsuit and evening gown competition as well as the interviews.

Q: One of the standards in these competitions is that contestants have a favorite cause. What’s yours?

A: It would be to establish a Connecticut branch of Children of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. The nearest one to us is in Boston. I hope to get something started here. It stems from my personal life.

Q: What’s your counter-argument to those who downplay any value to beauty competitions?

A: It’s not about just being pretty. When you look at those women on stage you are seeing well-spoken, professional, intelligent women who are role models. The experience is an honor and I am looking forward to meeting all of them.

Q: If we tune in on June 16, how will we know which one is you?

A: I will be the one and only Miss USA from Connecticut.


The pageant is scheduled to air on June 16 at 9 p.m. on NBC

*And she DID win! http://bit.ly/11TZ6qj

Hartford, The Weekend Is Almost Here!

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calendar_clip_art-1.29213820_std[1]Celebrities, parties, shows and of course, some Irish green mixed in thanks to Sunday’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration, is what’s up this weekend Hartford.

On Thursday, March 14, former New York City mayor,  Rudy Giuliani, will deliver Central Connecticut State University’s Annual Robert C. Vance Distinguished Lecture at 7:30 p.m. at Welte Hall. Before his speech, Giuliani, also a former federal prosecutor and presidential hopeful,  is best known for his leadership following the horrific  9/11 terrorist attack in New York, will meet with students and attend a dinner in his honor. He now heads an international law firm that includes an office in Hartford.

giulThe annual Vance Lecture began in 1983 and has featured speakers including Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Lech Walesa, Ben Bradlee and Anderson Cooper.


Cindy Lovell, new executive director at the Mark Twain House & Museum, will be feted at a welcoming reception Thursday from 5 :30 to 7 :30 p.m. The reception coincides with the opening the Twain House’s latest exhibit “The Gilded Age of Hartford.”


maltacMalta House will be announcing its 2013 roster of “Wonder Women”  Thursday  at a VIP reception at the home of Atty. General and Mrs. George Jepsen. Each year, the a non-profit that provides primary medical care to those without insurance, celebrates a group of women selected for their public service and philanthropy.

The group will be officially honored at the  “Celebrating Wonder Women,” fundraiser at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday, May 7, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

break1_opt It’s St. Patrick’s Day time and that means it also time for the annual Archbishops’s St. Patrick ‘s Day Breakfast, Friday at the Connecticut Convention Center at 7 :30 a.m. Guest speaker will be Mark Kennedy Shriver, nephew of the later President John F. Kennedy and son of Sargent and Eunice Shriver, the breakfast  benefits The Foundation for the Advancement of Catholic Schools.

int4And on Saturday, Interval House will host its annual “Step Up and Step Out” gala benefiting the state’s largest domestic violence program for women and children.

Honorary chair is Dr. William Petit, Jr. of the Petit Family Foundation.

The gala begins at 6 p.m .at The Society Room in Hartford and includes dinner and auction with tv personalities including NBC Connecticut’s  Brad Drazen, , WTIC sports Joe D’Ambrosio, Fox Ct’s  Joe Furey, and WFSB’s Kara Sundlun and Dennis House. Go to intervalhouse.org for ticket information.

Also on Saturday,

Julia Sweeney and Jill SobuleNeed a good laugh and some equally good music? You might want to head to the Mark Twain House & Museum Saturday for the “The Jill and Julia Show” with Julia Sweeney and Jill Sobule. Sweeney,  a mother married to scientist Michael Blum, is best known as a former member of the “Saturday Night Live” cast, the actress/comedian/author behind the perceived gender-neutral “Pat,” and the subsequent movie “It’s Pat.”

Sobule, best known for the top 20 hit “I Kissed a Girl,” is an accomplished musician whose work is personal and socially conscious.

Go to marktwainhouse.org for information.


CCSU/Stefanik Make “Leno” Monologue

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mikesAre you a Connecticut race car fan? Did you happen to catch Jay Leno’s monologue last Friday on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno?” Connecticut track regular Mike Stefanik was one of the stars.

Stefanik  missed winning the Whelan Modified Tour “Battle At the Beach” race in Daytona Beach Thursday, after being pushed out of the lead in the white-flag lap by eventual winner Steve Park. Stefanik was, well, less than happy and minced no words in a nasty, very well-publicized tv interview with Fox Sports after the disappointing race.

Leno, a car fan, jumped on the news clips of the seething, stone-faced Stefanik and turned it into a comical bit portraying him as a guy you definitely would not want to be with at light-hearted events including a birthday party or a wedding.

And in the same monologue, Central Connecticut State University got a shout out for its recent survey on the most illiterate cities in the United States. For the second year in a row,  Bakersfield, California was the worst and Leno, of course, couldn’t help but comment.

To see the clip with both go to http://bit.ly/VJ4wli