Category Archives: Entertainment

Here’s Why We Call It Long Island “Sound”

This morning — right underneath a sign prohibiting glass bottles, open fires and amplified music — an alert “06880” reader saw this:

Organ at beach

If you’re hoping for a free concert though, you’re out of luck.

An hour later, it was gone.

“Godspell” Spills Across The Staples Stage

“Godspell” is no stranger to Staples High School.

But Players’ 2 previous productions of the parable-based musical were performed as student-directed studio theater pieces.

Next week, “Godspell” spills across the main stage.

Part of

Part of “the tribe” of “Godspell.” (Photo/Kerry Long)

Over 50 students — all between ages 14 and 18 — present the vibrant show July 23, 24 and 25.

A cast that big presents challenges, notes director David Roth.

The original production includes only Jesus, Judas and 8 followers. Roth and co-director Kerry Long expanded that core group, then added an ensemble. They listen to Jesus’ words, and join in the celebration.

This production is also special because “Godspell” enjoyed a major Broadway revival in 2012. It featured new vocal arrangements, and script changes with plenty of modern references. There’s rapping, puppets — even a game of Pictionary.

This year’s Staples version includes those additions, along with a song not previously used on stage, “Beautiful City.”

Caroline Didelot and Jack Baylis share a duet. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Caroline Didelot and Jack Baylis share a duet. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Roth says he grew up loving the show. Its upbeat message of love and tolerance make it a great summer choice.

“Some of our recent productions, like ‘Cabaret’ and ‘Sweeney Todd,’ were very moving, but also very dark,” Roth adds. “‘Godspell’ is equally poignant, but in a joyous and exuberant way. It’s also a great show for the entire family, regardless of your religious beliefs.”

With opening night near, Players are working hard to make this the best summer production ever — day by day.

(“Godspell” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, July 23, 24 and 25, and 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 25. Tickets are available at, and at the door.)

What Would You Do At Stew’s?

It’s a tough scenario.

You’re busily shopping at Stew Leonard’s. A little old lady comes up and asks you to read a label for her.

Then she has a question about “oxidants.” She wonders if you like mangoes. She warns you about sodium.

What would you do?

That’s the exact question posed by the ABC-TV show of the same name. “What Would You Do?” uses actors to portray difficult social problems, in public settings — a mother yells at her child for not getting an A; a boss sexually harasses a waitress; parents react negatively when their child comes out as gay.

ABC took hidden cameras to Stew’s — stashed behind the dancing cow, maybe? — and filmed shoppers as they were confronted by an actress playing a lonely grandmother.

Nearly all were polite. They took time, chatted, made her feel less alone. Who knew that we’d find our better angels in Stew’s produce aisle?

A Stew Leonard's shopper (left) is filmed by a hidden camera, patiently answering questions from an actress playing a chatty older shopper.

A Stew Leonard’s shopper (left) is filmed by a hidden camera, patiently answering questions from an actress playing a garrulous older shopper.

Then ABC upped the ante. Another actor pretended to be the woman’s embarrassed and irate son. He spoke sharply to his “mother,” and apologized for her behavior to the shoppers she was pestered.

Once again, most folks did the right thing. They said it was no bother. They took her side. One demanded, “Why are you talking to your mother like that?”

One of the kindest reactions of all came from Lou Curcio. A longtime Mario’s regular, he’s always been a stand-up guy. Now the entire nation — or at least those tuning in to “What Would You Do?” — saw his kind heart.

You can, too. Click here (you may have to sign in with your TV provider). Find the July 10, 2015 episode; then fast-forward to the 9:45 mark. Lou’s the guy in the Nado Paving shirt.

Would you be as nice as Lou if no one is watching — except hidden cameras at Stew’s?

Lou Curcio (left) confronts the

Lou Curcio (left) confronts the “son” (actually an actor) of a lonely, chatty old woman.

All’s Fare In Uber And Taylor Swift

It was a First World problem: Maggie Fair, Jenna McNicholas and Jamie Tanzer were headed to Taylor Swift’s MetLife Stadium Saturday night, with an extra $201 ticket.

A friend backed out at the last minute. What to do?

The girls — all June graduates of Staples High School — called an Uber. Driver Khalil Calixte offered them a cord to play music.

They chose Swift. Calixte sang along.

Jenna McNicholas, Jamie Tanzer and Maggie Fair with their new friend, Khalil Calixte.

Jenna McNicholas, Jamie Tanzer and Maggie Fair with their new friend, Khalil Calixte.

Then — according to a story on a great celebrity website, Business Insider — the girls looked at each other.

“We were like, wait, he needs to come to the concert with us,” McNicholas said.

He was all in. So instead of dropping the girls off at Penn Station, he headed out to Jersey.

They all had a great time — especially Calixte. It was his 1st concert ever.

“It was like we were already friends,” Fair told Business Insider. “We danced and sang the whole night. It was so much fun.”

Well done, girls!

And thanks too to Will Haskell — himself a Staples grad (and, oh yeah, a Business Insider writer) — for telling that tale so well.

(For the full Business Insider story, click here.)

“Jazz Rabbi” Blows Horn For Ornette Coleman

Greg Wall faced a challenge.

The “jazz rabbi” — a saxophonist who doubles as the spiritual leader of Westport’s Beit Chaverim (or the other way around) — needed a place to blow his horn.

Plenty of local spots feature music. But jazz is often relegated to “background music” — not the high-level listening experience offered at the major New York venues he’s worked, like Joe’s Pub and the Village Vanguard.

Enter 323. The restaurant near Coffee An’ offers a nice, wood-finished listening space. Every Thursday night Wall curates weekly jazz events, with well-known musician and guest stars.

The 2 faces of Greg Wall.

The 2 faces of Greg Wall.

Like the jazz professional he is, Wall improvises well. This Thursday there’s a tribute to Ornette Coleman, the legendary alto saxophonist/composer who died last month.

Sitting in will be Coleman’s longtime guitarist/collaborator Kenny Wessel.

“I’m a firm believer in meeting people where they are,” says Wall. “Whether it’s using my music to make a connection with people in a night club, or teaching Talmud classes on a sailboat” — his Friday morning onboard classes are a whole other story — “I try to remove any barriers that stand in the way of people and their spiritual development.”

That spiritual development — the jazz element, anyway — continues every Thursday night through August 27. Upcoming guests include guitar legend Bob Devos and the New American Quartet.

There is no cover charge to hear the jazz rabbi and friends blow their shofars horns.

(For more information, click on the Facebook page: Jazz at 323 Westport.)

Jane’s Green’s Cottage — And Cookbook

It’s been quite a month for Jane Green.

Today, her “creaky cottage on the creek” is featured in the New York Times‘ “What I Love” feature of the Real Estate section.

Okay, the paper admits, the “cottage” is really a 4,300-square-foot house with “a couple of decks, a brick terrace and a swimming pool.” But it’s still a warm, lived- and loved-in home. Green and her husband, Ian Warburg, moved in last February, just 4 years after building a house they thought they’d love.

This 1930s home has views of Grays Creek. It needed work. But this winter, she and Ian sat at the kitchen table. “Even though the weather was cold and gloomy, I’d just feel incredibly and happy and peaceful,” Green says.

Jane Green tells the New York Times, "I feel like the house is hugging me when I come home." (Photo/Jane Beiles for NY Times)

Jane Green tells the New York Times, “I feel like the house is hugging me when I come home.” (Photo/Jane Beiles for NY Times)

She recalls her first night in her new home. “Watching the moon reflected on the water made my heart soar. And it makes my heart soar still. I’m tearing up just thinking about it.”

If that sounds as if Green has a way with words, it should. She’s written 17 books of women’s fiction, including The Beach House. Her latest is Summer Secrets.

But today’s Times story — and her new release — are not why I referred earlier to Green’s interesting month.

She’s also involved in a different project: a self-published cookbook.

Some of the creations in Jane Green's new cookbook.

Some of the creations in Jane Green’s new cookbook.

In Good Taste, Good Food, A Good Life, she combines stories from her life, and the food that followed. She describes caring (and cooking for) a friend with breast cancer, as well as her blended family with 6 children.

She also writes about life in her “cottage.”

She’s promoting it through Kickstarter. In an intriguing twist, incentives include a book club Skype chat with herself ($100), and lunch with Green, author Jen Lancaster and comedian Lisa Lampanelli at the Soho House ($1,000).

The campaign runs through Tuesday (July 14). But if you’re interested in Green’s cookbook, you better hurry (and click here). The only way to buy the book is this way. Once Kickstarter closes, sales end.

And Green will be back in her “cottage,” planning her next great project.

(Hat tip: John Karrel and Publishers Weekly)

Jane Green in her kitchen, for a cookbook video shoot.

Jane Green in her kitchen, for a cookbook video shoot.

Diddy Wah Diddy!

Willie Dixon was born 100 years ago this month. The Chicago blues musician, arranger and record producer influenced many generations of artists, from Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Bo Diddley to Bob Dylan, Cream, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.

Willie Dixon

Willie Dixon

He wrote over 500 songs, including “Back Door Man,” “Little Red Rooster” and “I Just Want to Make Love to You.”

Willie Dixon also wrote “Diddy Wah Diddy.” It’s been recorded by Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Captain Beefheart.

Westporters know — and love best — the version by The Remains.

Featuring Staples grads Barry Tashian (vocals/guitar) and Bill Briggs (keyboards), they opened for the Beatles on their 1966 tour. The Remains performed on “Ed Sullivan” and “Hullabaloo.”

Rock journalist Mark Kemp said if they had stayed together, “we might today be calling them — and not the Stones — the World’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band.”

Springsteen’s guitarist, Little Steven Van Zandt, called the Remains “living history, and one of our most valued American treasures.”

And Rolling Stone magazine described them as “a religious totem of all that was manic and marvelous about mid-’60s pop.”

But they dissolved before most Americans ever discovered their greatness. They got back together a while back, and — though drummer Chip Damiani died last year — still occasionally perform to ecstatic audiences.

Now “Diddy Wah Diddy” is about to get a new life — with another Westport twist.

Staples Class of 1970 grad Bill Banks — whose real job is banking — spent the past year developing Billion Planets Music. Emerging artists and seasoned veterans to work together, in music and video production.

Westport's Charlie Karp, at the hometown Blues, Views & BBQ Festival, has long known

Westport’s Charlie Karp, at the hometown Blues, Views & BBQ Festival, has long known “Diddy Wah Diddy.”

A group of those musicians — including Charlie Karp, who dropped out of Staples in 1970 to tour with Buddy Miles, and later played with Hendrix — has recorded a new version of the song. Banks calls the 2015 genre “blues/hop.”

He liked the collaboration so much, he contacted Willie Dixon’s family in Chicago. They loved it. During the centennial of his birth, it may be included in some of the Blues Heaven Foundation events they’ve planned.

Meanwhile, Banks is starting work on a movie about life in North Miami, as seen through the eyes of Hans Louis. He’s the “emerging artist” singer on the new recording.

“Hans grew up there,” Banks says. “The theme is that it’s an urban/modern ‘Diddy Wah Diddy’ place.” (The Remains’ Tashian sang: “She don’t come from no town, she don’t come from no city/She lives way down in Diddy Wah Diddy.”)

You’ll have to wait to hear the blues/hop version. But just click below for the Remains’ take. They’re still rockin’, after 50 years.

(If your browser does not take you directly to YouTube, click here.)

BONUS HIT: Click here to link to a Gap commercial — shown only in India — featuring “Diddy Wah Diddy.”

Extras! Extras! Needed At The Duck!

John Francis Sullivan is a Westport native, Staples grad, and Los Angeles filmmaker. His next project is “Taste of Life” — a romantic comedy about a single dad who meets online dates at the same comedy club/cabaret/restaurant.

On Thursday, he needs a few extras for a scene he’s shooting.

Okay — full disclosure: The scene is part of his crowd-sourcing fundraising on Indiegogo.

Still, it’s a chance to kinda/sorta be in a movie. Plus, it’s at the Black Duck — and Sullivan is offering a free drink or two.

If you’re interested, head to the Duck this Thursday (July 9) at 6 p.m. Look for the cameras. Sullivan will take it from there.


You can be a star!

You can be a star!


ESPN: “Go Wreckers!”

This afternoon, Tom Haberstroh was a guest on David Lloyd’s “Sportscenter” ESPN show.

Haberstroh jokingly asked fellow NBA analyst Chris Broussard if the San Antonio Spurs could make him into a pro player.

Broussard laughed: “I don’t know. I’ve seen you play!”

David Lloyd, Chris Broussard and Tom Haberstroh on ESPN's "Sportscenter" this afternoon.

David Lloyd, Chris Broussard and Tom Haberstroh on ESPN’s “Sportscenter” this afternoon.

Lloyd — a 1979 Staples High School graduate — alertly noted that Haberstroh played hoops at Staples.

Sure, it was more than 2 decades after Lloyd graduated. But that gave Haberstroh a perfect opening. He drove the lane, and took it.

“Go Wreckers!” Haberstroh said, as the segment wound up.

Most of Sportscenter’s millions of listeners had no idea what that meant.

But Haberstroh, Lloyd and all of us do.

BONUS FUN FACT: Haberstroh also was featured on Colin Cowherd’s ESPN radio show. It’s produced by John Lawrence — another former Staples athlete. Quite a day for the Wreckers!

Newman’s Own Stamp

From Walt Reed and Stevan Dohanos to Miggs Burroughs, Westport artists have designed dozens of US postage stamps.

There have been so many, in fact, that the Westport Historical Society devoted an entire exhibit to the illustrators and their stamps.

Now, a famous Westporter is being honored with a stamp of his own.

Paul Newman’s very good-looking face will grace a “Forever Stamp.” It goes on sale September 18.

Paul Newman stampThere’s not enough room on the stamp to list all of Newman’s accomplishments. He’s been an award-winning actor, producer, director, race car driver, salad dressing/lemonade king, humanitarian, founder of a camp for kids with cancer, and contributor to many causes, around the globe and right here in his home town.

So it reads simply “Actor/Philanthropist.”

To which Westporters proudly add: Our actor/philanthropist.

(For more information on the stamp, click here. Hat tip: Melissa Chang)