Category Archives: Entertainment

Daniel Hall’s “First Date, Last Date”

The Hall family are familiar figures in Westport.

Bill and Mary Ann are longtime music educators. Their daughter Emily sang at Staples, studied opera at the Boston Conservatory, and just released her 1st full-length EP for kids, “Sun in the Morning ‘Til the Moon at Night.”

Daniel Hall

Daniel Hall

Daniel Hall performed at Staples (Class of 1997), earned a BFA in theater at the University of Michigan, then spent 10 years acting in New York. He guest starred in “Law & Order,” and had a recurring role in “Guiding Light.”

Five years ago, Daniel moved to L.A. He acted in “Graceland,” “Mad Men” and “Newsroom,” and played opposite Jaime Pressly in “I Hate My Teenage Daughter.” He’s got a part in the upcoming Cinemax show “Quarry,” and John Stamos’ “Grandfathered.”

Daniel is very excited about his most recent project. HBO seldom shows short films — but in February they’ll air “First Date, Last Date.”

Consisting of one long shot, the video stars Daniel and Andrea Bordeaux as a couple meeting for the first time in a diner, as an apocalyptic world breaks outside. The film takes them through a unique — and uniquely peaceful — journey.

“Not to be cliched, but all of my life has been based on the nurturing I got in Westport,” Daniel says.

Staples Players director Al Pia had a profound impact.

“I think of him often,” Daniel says. “He taught me about confidence, to find strength in my own voice, and how to be a leading man. Actors often have anxiety. He helped me work through that. He was a great coach and leader. He kept me in the game, and made me hungry.”

Hungry enough to get a role as an HBO actor in a diner, on a first and last date while the world around him falls apart.

(“First Date, Last Date” debuts Wednesday, February 3, 10:50 p.m. EST on HBO Now. Click here for the entire schedule.)

Andrea Bordeaux and Daniel Hall, filming "First Date, Last Date."

Andrea Bordeaux and Daniel Hall, filming “First Date, Last Date.”

 

 

The 2nd Fattest Housewife In Westport

Yesterday, I got my knuckles rapped for making a fat joke about Chris Christie.

So I offer this story from Deadline Hollywood straight up, without any snark. Here’s the skinny:

ABC wrapped a flurry of pilot orders today with a pickup of  “The Second Fattest Housewife In Westport,” a single-camera family comedy from novelist/TV writer Sarah Dunn, producer Aaron Kaplan of Kapital Entertainment and ABC Studios.

“The Second Fattest Housewife In Westport” is narrated by Katie, a (slightly) larger, strong-willed mother raising her flawed family of three in a wealthy town filled with “perfect” wives and their “perfect” offspring. Dunn and Kaplan executive produce.

It’s unclear who the First Fattest Housewife in Westport is. Or if either of them know Bobby “Axe” Axelrod, hedge fund billionaire on the other TV show now highlighting Westport, Showtime’s “Billions.”

Sarah Dunn, writer of "Second Fattest Housewife in Westport."

Sarah Dunn, writer of “The Second Fattest Housewife in Westport.”

(Hat tips: Tyler Paul and Mike Kulich)

 

Kyle Martino: Lessons And Love Learned From A Miscarriage

Kyle Martino may be the best player in Staples soccer history. As a Wrecker senior in 1999, he was named Gatorade National Player of the Year. He went on to star at the University of Virginia; was named 2002 MLS Rookie of the Year with the Columbus Crew; played 8 times for the US national team, and is now a noted Premier League analyst on NBC Sports.

But this post has nothing to do with soccer. Recently, Martino and his wife — actress Eva Amurri — lost their 2nd child in a miscarriage.

Eva — the daughter of Susan Sarandon — blogs regularly about her active, intriguing and holistic life. She has been very public about her miscarriage, hoping to raise awareness about that often-taboo topic. Last week, she asked Kyle to contribute his own insights.

Here are his sometimes painful, always loving thoughts:

“I lost the baby…”

Kyle Martino and Eva Amurri

Kyle Martino and Eva Amurri

There’s no way to prepare for those words. I was standing in line to check in to my hotel – the same mindless task I sleepwalk through every weekend – when my phone rang.

Hearing those words from Eva’s mouth, I sprung awake from my traveler’s daze.

The first emotion I felt was guilt. Of course this happened while I was away – every time Eva needs me most I seem to be on a plane or in a different time zone.

Almost instantly came anger. Her phrase repeated in my head, over and over, in my ears and my soul.

Years of shielding myself from emotional discomfort has trained me to move immediately to logic. So I began the calming method of systematically breaking down the sentence I kept hearing over and over. “Baby…The Baby…lost the baby…I lost the baby…”

It was her fault. I was overcome with a quick wave of judgment and blame. Why did she let this happen? What did she do wrong? Why did she let me get on that plane?

Anger – that hollow, pointless emotion was the shield I held so not to feel what I knew I couldn’t handle.

Holding on to that anger distracted me from the actual emotion I was feeling: sadness. I wasn’t mad at Eva at all. I was mad that I wasn’t there in the moment she needed me more than ever.

I walked over to a couch in the lobby and let this sink in. I cried for the first time in my adult life. (Don’t worry, my therapist is all over that one.) I cried because Eva said “I.” “I lost the baby.”

When Eva Amurri was pregnant with their 1st child, her husband Kyle tweeted, "#babygirl Martino's 1st red carpet."

When Eva Amurri was pregnant with their 1st child, her husband Kyle tweeted, “#babygirl Martino’s 1st red carpet.”

Of course she didn’t lose the baby. This wasn’t her fault. There was nothing she could do. In fact, she couldn’t have done more to make sure her body was the healthiest it could be to nurture life. It broke my heart that she felt responsible in that very first moment of grief. And I didn’t understand why she couldn’t see what I did: that having a healthy baby is a miracle, and we can’t choose when and where that miracle happens.

Those feelings continued through the immediate aftermath of the miscarriage. While she rewound the tape on her pregnancy and looked for errors, I appreciated her body for doing the right thing by closing the book on a miracle not meant to be.

We were on totally different pages – which drove a wedge between us. It’s the same difference that existed when Eva was pregnant with our daughter.

Eva made a connection with Marlowe well before I did. A tangible bond that only those 2 people can understand. Eva and Marlowe were soul mates the second she heard that heart beat (Eva would probably say even before that).

Being honest, I never really accepted that we were having a child until a 3rd trimester ultrasound showed Marlowe waving at the camera. It hit me in that moment that I would be a father. But Eva had long been a mother already.

Kyle Martino and Marlowe.

Kyle Martino and Marlowe.

When she called me with the shattering news of this pregnancy, she already knew her baby and had been taking care of it. In Eva’s mind she was already the mother of 2. That connection, the bond, was broken that day – and Eva was devastated.

I know that losing our child was not Eva’s fault, but I understand now why she felt it was. Miscarriage is a very isolating experience. Eva withdrew for a while after it happened. I tried to be there for her, but I wasn’t able to relate to her specific pain. My heart was broken in a different way– and nothing I could do or say helped. It was only when Eva decided to do something very brave, in her saddest moment, that the cloud over us lifted. Eva decided she needed to talk about it…with everyone.

Eva told our story on her blog. She put our heartache out there for all to read.

At first I thought it was a bad idea. I thought miscarriage was a rare misfortune, and the few who experienced it suffered privately with curtains drawn. As far as I knew, miscarriage wasn’t something you talked about.

No one had ever mentioned to me that they had been through it. I had never read of someone’s personal experience. Was it really safe and smart to tell so many people such intimate truths about your pain?

I didn’t voice my concerns about sharing because I had been so inept at providing support in those crucial moments so far. I knew I needed to support whatever desire she had. The decision had been made.

Kyle Martino is one of NBC's top analysts on English Premier League broadcasts.

Kyle Martino is one of NBC’s top analysts on English Premier League broadcasts.

Eva’s post went live, and we sat there silently. I could sense there was a weight lifted off her, but I feared the response could reverse the initially positive effects.

Immediately, support poured in. I’m not talking about the “I’m sorry for your loss, I can’t imagine how hard that is” support (although that was very much appreciated).

I’m talking about the “we’ve been there ourselves, we are here for you if you need us” support. I was blown away by how many readers wrote back with their own deeply sad stories of pregnancy loss.

Then the phone started ringing. Some of my closest friends revealed to me, one by one, their own experiences with miscarriage. These were people I speak to every day, but I never had a clue.

It felt so good to talk about what we were going through. The fact that others not only knew what we were going through, but had found a way past it, was uplifting. What had felt like an action that would add shame to our heartbreak turned out to be the most cathartic experience imaginable.

I could be honest and talk with friends about the guilt I still carried for my earlier feelings of blame; the insecurity I felt about not hurting the same way as Eva did; the worry I still shoulder that it could happen to us again.

A community began, a conduit through which sadness, regret, hope, gratitude and love flowed freely.

At our wedding, Eva’s mom said something that really struck me at the time. She told us, “We are your tribe. Use us.” In the aftermath of our loss, we established a new community – a reformulation of our relationships with those already a part of it, and the addition of people met through our shared experiences.

At his wedding, Kyle Martino's new mother-in-law Susan Sarandon gave advice he's never forgotten.

At his wedding, Kyle Martino’s new mother-in-law Susan Sarandon gave advice he’s never forgotten.

We used this community to get through the hardest moment of our marriage. I accessed a lot of understanding through my discussions with other dads, and Eva gained a lot of strength from the strength of the women who came before her in their own grieving processes.

The encouragement, compassion and love we received from important people around us gave us the courage to turn back to each other for support, and heal the disconnect that was weakening our marriage.

As with many of our struggles, we came out the other side stronger together in our loss than we could ever be apart.

I will never feel the same way as Eva about losing our baby. I have my experience, and she has hers. I have my process, and she has hers.

I don’t think about it often – but Eva does. She thinks about the baby we lost every day. And so we move forward, 2 broken hearts on the mend– with a beautiful miracle of a child by our side, and one other just out of our reach.

(To read more of Eva Amurri’s blog, click here.)

Drew Angus Earns A Golden Ticket

Music was always part of Drew Angus’ life.

From Mary Ann Hall’s Music for Children, through musicals at Coleytown, Bedford and Staples (Class of 2007), to the bands he’s played in and the record label he ran at Hartwick College, Drew has immersed himself in sound.

But after college, he says, “I lost my musical focus.” He spent a year managing a YouTube viral artist. Ultimately, he realized, he wanted to be on stage — not behind the scenes.

In the past 2 years he’s played over 150 gigs. Drew does it all: concerts, weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs. In November he appeared at the FTC Warehouse (with, among others, Anders Osborne).

Drew angus logo

Drew also made the Top 10 of Boston’s “Community Auditions” TV show — a 4-decade-old forerunner of “American Idol.”

Speaking of which…

Last summer, Drew was invited to an “American Idol” audition in Philadelphia. He roared through 3 rounds of auditions — then was asked to return, to perform in front of real-live judges.

It was another all-day affair. But singing in front of Harry, JLo and Keith was amazing.

Drew’s 1st song was “I’m Ready.” Harry said he’s buddies with singer/ songwriter Anders Osborne.

The judges liked Drew’s voice. JLo asked for another tune. He quickly tuned his guitar out of double drop  D — without a tuner. Impressed, Harry said, “You’ve got good ears, man!”

Drew played the 1st 2 verses of “Dock of the Bay.” Keith stopped him, and asked why he chose the song. JLo glared at Keith and said, “’cause he can sing!”

Drew got 3 “yeses,” and walked out — with a golden ticket to Hollywood!

Drew Angus with his parents -- and his golden ticket.

Drew Angus with his parents — and his golden ticket.

“Being validated by 3 industry veterans and the producers was incredible,” Drew says.

“Idol” did not air Drew’s audition last week, when Philly was up. But he saw himself on TV, with his golden ticket.

Talk about a great screen shot!

Talk about a great screen shot!

“Reality TV is not just what you see on TV,” he notes. “There are a lot of amazing people who never get air time. Hopefully, you’ll see me in Hollywood next week!”

Winning “Idol” would be fantastic, Drew says. For now though, he’s taking it one performance at a time.

Tune in Wednesdays and Thursdays (Fox, 8 p.m.) to follow his journey.

(Drew Angus’ version of Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” comes out next week on iTunes and Spotify. He’s donating proceeds from the sale and streaming of the track to the charity Little Kids Rock, which provides instruments and music education to underserved children across the country. Drew performs on February 2 at the Bitter End, and March 2 at Rockwood Music Hall.)

 

Kanye West’s Westport Easter Egg

You may or may not have clicked on SoundCloud for Kanye West’s new song, “Real Friends.”

Even if you did, odds are astronomical you did not click on “view source code” or “show page source” in your browser’s developer menu.

If somehow that happened, you’d have found an Easter egg (an intentional joke, message or feature in an interactive work — not the traditional dyed egg).

The cover art for Kanye West's "Real Friends."

The cover art for Kanye West’s “Real Friends.”

Lying beneath the ASCII art representation of the “Real Friends” cover art is marketing information for Lane Goldberg and David Baker, the site’s designers.

Lane is a former Staples High School student and 2008 Cornell University grad. He now owns BuiltByLane, a Brooklyn-based development/design firm. Besides Kanye West, clients include Tribeca Film Festival and fashion stylist Micaela Erlanger.

Lane’s style is minimalist, as you can see by clicking here.

But — as any good web designer knows — it’s what’s under the hood that counts.

(Hat tip: The Daily Dot. For the full story, click here.)

Lane Goldberg -- a self-portrait.

Lane Goldberg — a self-portrait.

 

Reed Collyer Catering Closes

A decade ago, the need for a new kitchen brought Reed Collyer to Westport.

The Stamford-based caterer found a great spot on Saugatuck Avenue, in the same plaza as Dunville’s. Five years later, she added 1,000 more square feet.

She opened a retail area too, for farm-to-table client dinners and wine tastings.

Reed Collyer

Reed Collyer

Westport was good to Reed. Her work ranged from a big holiday party for Terex at the Westport Country Playhouse, to an intimate wedding at Compo Beach.

Reed’s clients quickly became friends — and admirers. One day, Betsy Phillips posted on Facebook that she was “feeling crummy.” Reed immediately sent 3 pints of fresh soup to Betsy’s door.

Reed has loved working alongside her husband, Mark Sharon — he’s the chef. But with 3 kids — ages 15, 13 and 10 — the demands of life have become “hard to synchronize” with a business whose busiest times are nights and weekends.

So Reed is closing her business. She’s changing the name from Collyer Catering to Collyer Events. She’ll focus 90% on event planning and decor. The 10% that is food will come out of a satellite kitchen. Clients — er, friends — say they will miss her Saugatuck location dearly.

She has to vacate her space by Sunday. Anyone interested in purchasing her kitchen equipment can email rcollyer@collyercatering.com.

Westport’s Newest “Billions” Hedge Fund

Hedge fund guys — well, every one but Steve Cohen — are known for keeping low profiles.

But how many Westporters have heard of Bobby “Axe” Axelrod? Or AXE Capital, the Westport-based firm he runs?

Okay, there’s a reason he and his company are so hush-hush.

They exist only on Showtime.

But starting Sunday (January 17, 10 p.m.), the whole country will know about Axelrod and AXE. That’s when the cable channel debuts “Billions,” a “hedge fund drama” set in our town.

'Billions' - Showtime

Business Insider predicts big things — across America, not just in hedge fund hot spots like here. The show “hits a sweet spot between the laymen and the industry folk,” BI says. The reason: “Billions” focuses more on men and their egos than on the intricacies of Wall Street.

Damian Lewis plays Axelrod. His nemesis is US Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti), who tries to nail him for insider trading.

Here are some other reasons Business Insider loves “Billions”:

  • “The show nailed what all the hedge fund traders wear — fleeces and loafers. That’s the classic uniform.”
  • “There’s a punchline about Axelrod going to Hofstra while his smart (but not quite worthy) analyst went to Stanford. It’s the age old street-smarts vs. book-smarts Wall Street feud.”
  • “Rhoades’ wife is Axelrod’s in-house shrink. An in-house psychologist is not unheard of on Wall Street. Most famously, billionaire Steve Cohen had one at SAC Capital before he was forced to turn it into a family office.”

Westport is used to TV star turns. Rod Serling’s classic “Twilight Zone” episode “Last Stop: Willoughby” was set here. The Ricardos and Mertzes moved from New York, in “I Love Lucy”‘s last season. Elizabeth Montgomery and her “Bewitched” family lived at “1164 Morning Glory Circle” in Westport.

But those were so 20th century. It’s now 2016. Today, Westport is all about hedge funds.

In more ways than one, it’s showtime!

(Hat tip: Allan Siegert)

 

 

Pixar Is Up2 Something Here

To you and me, it looks like a typical teardown lot.

To Disney’s Pixar film studio though, it may be a movie set:

Pixar in Westport

Earlier today, alert “06880” reader Siobhan Crise spotted this poster affixed to the construction site’s chain link fence.

It reads:

Production site notice for Pixar’s Up2.
Executive producer: Barron Von Gimple
Producer: Compo Cornhole Club
Please stay clear of this work area.
Filming to begin 1/12/16.
Flash photography prohibited.

A Google search of “Barron Von Gimple” turns up nothing. “Compo Cornhole Club”: ditto.

There’s nothing for “UP2” either, except a trailer from either 2012 or 2015 — it’s hard to tell, if you check out the video on the full YouTube site — which may or may not be fake:

“06880” has either a huge scoop, or we’ve all been scammed.

If you know something, say something. Click “Comments” below.

Fireworks Over Westport

Sure, this photo is 3 days late. But it’s worth the wait.

On New Year’s Eve, ace Westport photographer John Videler launched a drone.

Hovering over the Westport Arts Center, it captured this spectacular view of the First Night fireworks celebration. (Click on or hover over to enlarge.)

(Drone photo/John Videler)

(Drone photo/John Videler)

If 2016 is anything like this First Night “first photo,” we’re in for an astonishing year!

First Night: First Photos

Westport’s 22nd annual First Night celebration kicked off this afternoon.

The weather was perfect — no rain, sleet or ice, but just enough of a wintry nip in the air to make it New England-y — as kids, parents and grandparents strolled from site to site.

First Night continues through 10 p.m. tonight. Fireworks are set for 7:30 at Jesup Green — right near an outdoor warming fire, stargazing telescope and kettle corn.

Happy New Year!

A mother wrangles her young son at the Saugatuck Elementary School bounce house.

A mother wrangles her young son at the Saugatuck Elementary School bounce house.

A face painter gets ready for action.

A face painter gets ready for action.

First Night can't happen without volunteers. The crew at Saugatuck Elementary School included (from left) First Selectman Jim Marpe, his wife Mary Ellen, Rob Hauck and Johanna Rossi.

First Night can’t happen without volunteers. The crew at Saugatuck Elementary School included (from left) First Selectman Jim Marpe, his wife Mary Ellen, Rob Hauck and Johanna Rossi.

Dennis the Train Man is a popular attraction at the library. A retired conductor, he punches a ticket for a very intrigued youngster.

Dennis the Train Man is a popular attraction at the library. The retired conductor punches a ticket for a very intrigued youngster.

The Survivors provided swing music in the Westport Library's Great Hall.

The Survivors provided swing music in the Westport Library’s Great Hall.

Buses provide transportation between downtown and Saugatuck Elementary School. Enjoy the crane -- it won't be there for First Night 2017.

Buses provide transportation between downtown and Saugatuck Elementary School. Enjoy the crane — it won’t be there for First Night 2017.

The Westport Astronomical Society sets up a telescope outside the library. With the sun down now, the viewing is great.

The Westport Astronomical Society sets up a telescope outside the library. With the sun down now, the viewing is better than when this photo was taken.

A mixture of old and new: horse-drawn carriage rides passes Bedford Square construction on Church Lane.

A mixture of old and new: a horse-drawn carriage passes Bedford Square construction on Church Lane.

Barbara Pearson-Rac -- shown here at Town Hall -- is the mastermind behind Westport's First Night.

Barbara Pearson-Rac — shown here at Town Hall — is the mastermind behind Westport’s First Night.

First Night 2016 - program guide