Category Archives: Media

Women’s Day Program Explores #MeToo

The #MeToo movement has brought much-needed attention to the issues of sexual harassment and assault, especially in the workplace.

There’s a lot of fire and fury surrounding those issues. To explore them during International Women’s Day next month, there’s a special event at Town Hall.

On Thursday, March 8 (12:30 p.m.), the UN Association of Southwestern Connecticut is sponsoring  “Women in the Workplace: What’s New and What’s Next for the #MeToo Movement.” It’s free, and features a facilitated discussion with audience participation.

Speakers include Westporter Alisyn Camerota, CNN”s award-winning anchor and author of “Amanda Wakes Up,” about life in the TV news trenches, as well as Dr. Marsha Ershaghi Hames, who advises organizations on ethics and compliance matters.

“The silver lining of #MeToo is that it has created a national conversation around our low levels of trust in organizations, and how best to build and maintain a respectful workplace,” organizers of the event say.

“At the same time, an extraordinary outburst of transparency about inequities and abuse of power in the workplace has sparked a worldwide movement for change.”

For more information on the March 8th Women’s Day program, email aa@aya.yale.edu.

2 Degrees Of Art Separation

As every Kevin Bacon fan knows, everyone in the world is connected by just 6 degrees of separation.

With a Westport connection, those degrees of separation are much closer.

Alert “06880” reader Evan Stein sends along a story that begins with Kate Burns-Howard and Scott Froschauer.

Before graduating from Staples High School, they had worked together at Fine Arts IV. Now Scott’s a Los Angeles-based artist, getting attention for works that use street signs to convey more useful instructions (like “Breathe” and “All We Have is Now”).

On Facebook, Kate reposted a story about a friend who was selling Scott’s art at a Palm Springs show. Kate mentioned Ann Sheffer in the post — probably because Ann is the mother of Kate’s good friend Emily Reich. And Ann (a longtime Westporter and proud Staples grad) now spends a lot of time in Palm Springs. And Ann is a noted art collector.

Turns out, Ann and her husband Bill Scheffler had already bought a piece in Scott’s show — but had no idea he’s from Westport, or that he knew their daughter and her friend.

Kevin Bacon would be proud.

Ann Sheffer and Bill Scheffler, with their new Scott Froschauer work..

 

“Abacus”: Academy Award Campaign Starts Here

Next month, the eyes of Westport will focus on Justin Paul. The 2003 Staples High School graduate/songwriting wunderkid could win his 2nd consecutive Academy Award — this time for best original song (“This Is Me,” from “The Greatest Showman”).

Most Westporters will not be as excited by the Best Documentary Feature category.

But most Westporters are not Erin Owens.

Erin Owens

She’s a high-ranking executive with PBS Distribution. Part of her job involves promoting Oscar nominees to the people who matter most: the 7,000 voters.

Right now she’s working on “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail.”

And she’s doing it right here in Saugatuck.

“Abacus” tells the story of the tiny, family-owned Chinatown community bank that — because it was “small enough to jail, not too big to fail” — became the only financial institution to be prosecuted after the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis.

Competition is tough. PBS’ “Abacus” goes up against 4 other documentaries. Two are distributed by Netflix. They spend a lot more money.

But Owens is happy to battle the big boys. (Interestingly, “Abacus” director Steve James also directed “Hoop Dreams,” a film about overcoming great odds.)

So she’s sending James to New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco for promotional events. She’s also devising many other ways to make sure that the independent film’s compelling story gets in front of the folks who count.

Owens and her husband Mark Kirby moved to Westport 3 years ago. She worked with Long Shot Factory, a distribution and consulting company specializing in documentary ad and educational campaigns.

She particularly enjoyed her PBS projects. Last January, she began working full-time, in-house with them.

It’s a short walk from her home in Saugatuck to Westport Innovative Hub — the popular co-working space on Ketchum Street.

Owens’ 2 partners work remotely too — from Woodstock, New York and North Carolina. Together, they’re pushing “Abacus” as hard and far as they can.

This is not Owens’ first Academy Award race. She spearheaded “Waste Land” in 2010 and “Hell and Back Again” in 2011, and worked on 5 other campaigns.

Voting takes place February 20-27. The Oscars ceremony is March 4.

Justin Paul may grab the headlines the morning after.

But don’t count out “Abacus.”

(“Abacus: Small Enough to Jail” is available for free on Amazon Prime, and by clicking here.) 

Julia Marino’s NBC Airings

Last month, “06880” described the heartwarming friendship between Julia Marino and Chaihyun Kim.

They met in Long Lots Elementary School kindergarten, and for the next 3 years were inseparable.

They went their separate ways later, as kids do. But — as Julia became a US Olympic team snowboarder, and Chai a pre-med student at Yale University — their friendship endured.

Chai and Julia, age 6.

As Julia got ready to head to PyeongChang for the Winter Games, Chai and her family used their South Korean contacts to help Julia’s family find lodging and tickets.

It’s exactly the type of story NBC loves. Many Olympic viewers are casual — or even non — sports fans. By showcasing athletes’ back stories, the network hopes those viewers will be drawn into the drama of sports.

Area residents can tune in at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday, February 17, WNBC-TV Channel 4) for Julia and Chai’s story on “The Olympic Zone.” NBC stations around the country will also air the show; check local listings for time.

That segment should whet viewers’ appetites for Julia’s big air competition. It begins Monday (Sunday, US time).

(Hat tips: Sharon and John Miller)

Julia Marino

Julia Marino: She’s Always Done It Her Way

Westport is justly proud of Julia Marino. Now — thanks to NBC Sports — the rest of the country knows why.

The network has given a shout-out to the Olympic snowboarder — and her family — in a widely viewed video.

She was interviewed, along with her parents John and Elaine, and sister Cece. Though her hometown was never mentioned, NBC showed clips of her riding her bike, trampolining, and at the beach.

The theme of the video was that Julia’s parents gave her a chance to take risks, dare and dream — in a “relatively safe environment.” For example, she was allowed to ride her scooter in the house (though other parents could not believe that was okay).

“She’s always done it her way,” Elaine says.

This weekend, Julia fell on her first slopestyle run. She was not alone: 41 of 50 athletes did the same. A controversy ensued over the wisdom of allowing the event to be held in high winds.

She finished 6th overall.

Next up: the big air event, next Sunday.

(Click here to see the full NBC Sports video. Hat tip: Kathie Bennewitz)

Westporter In Trump Administration Gets High Marks

Dr. Scott Gottlieb — a Westport resident — serves as President Trump’s commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

Yesterday, the New York Times assessed his tenure. The largely positive story begins:

Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, came to the job with a résumé straight out of the Trump administration’s playbook.

A millionaire with a libertarian bent, he made his money working for the industry he now regulates, and had investments in 20 health care companies whose products could come before the agency for approval. Pharmaceutical and medical device executives enthusiastically supported his nomination, while consumer and public health groups sounded the requisite alarms.

“Unprecedented financial entanglements,” complained Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, during his confirmation hearing.

Now, more than nine months after he was confirmed, Dr. Gottlieb has achieved something unusual among President Trump’s appointees: He has quieted some skeptics, while also managing to keep industry supporters content and the president on his side. He has done so by making moves to protect public health while also offering rewards to industry — double plays that have some willing to give him a second look.

Click here to read the full piece.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb

“The High School That Rocked!” Rocks Rock Hall Of Fame

Ever since 1995, a video of Steve Tyler’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame speech has played on an endless loop in the Cleveland museum.

In 1966 his band — the Chain Reaction — opened for the Yardbirds. And that, Aerosmith’s leader said, inspired him to have a career in music.

That concert — along with others by the Doors, Cream, Rascals, Animals, Remains and Sly and the Family Stone — has become legendary. “The High School That Rocked!” — a documentary by Fred Cantor (Staples ’71, perhaps the only Westport teenager of that era who did not go to one of those concerts ) and Casey Denton (Staples ’14, who obviously was born way after that golden era) — pays homage to them. It was released last year, and earned high praise on the festival circuit.

Now it too has reached the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

On Saturday, February 17, the documentary will be screened — on its own loop — prior to the Tri-C High School Rock Off Final Exams. That’s the championship round of a competition for teenage groups. Prizes include cash, scholarships, and an invitation to play during this year’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction week.

It’s all part of the Rock & Roll Hall’s 2018 film series. Other subjects explore rap, Lady Gaga, Nina Simone, Native Americans in popular music history, the music executive who signed Metallica and White Zombie, the Monkees, Prince and Hüsker Dü.

You may not get to Cleveland for the Staples concerts video. You may have missed it at its sold-out showings here in Westport.

But — in the words of Neil Young — “rock and roll can never die.”So click here to download “The High School That Rocked!”

Tell ’em Steve Tyler sent you.

ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME BONUS FEATUREClick below for the Steve Tyler video mentioned above.

Jack Caldwell Covers The Super Bowl

WWPT-FM — Staples High School’s award-winning radio station — produces great sports broadcasters as regularly as the New England Patriots used to win Super Bowls.

Jack Caldwell is the latest in that long and storied line. He’s smooth and steady. He prepares well. He knows his stuff. He’s good.

In addition to play-by-play, he does music and news. This year’s, he’s WWPT’s executive director. In his spare time, he’s broadcast director for the student newspaper Inklings.

His sports cred comes naturally. He comes from a long line of baseball fans. His grandmother told stories of listening to Vin Scully call Brooklyn Dodgers games; together, Jack and she discussed their favorite (and least favorite) announcers.

His father Chris is in sports marketing. He’s worked at every Super Bowl since XXXIV (that was in 2000, for you non-sports fans). So Jack and his dad have never had a chance to watch the big game together.

This year — as an early graduation present — Chris took Jack to Minnesota. He tried to get 2 tickets, but wasn’t sure if he could. They decided they’d watch Super Bowl LII together — even if that meant doing it at the hotel.

Sunday morning, Jack’s dad surprised him with 2 tickets.

Jack Caldwell and his dad at the Super Bowl.

Before the game on Sunday morning, Jack attended an event with broadcast personalities Trey Wingo, Tony Romo and Cris Carter. After, he chatted with them. When he said he was an aspiring broadcaster, Romo and Carter posed for this photo with him.

You’ll notice Jack’s wearing his WWPT logowear. Fans were allowed to do “mock” broadcasts on a set at US Bank Stadium. This was Jack’s first broadcast ever with his father.

I’m not a betting guy, but I bet Jack’s broadcast was better than any other fan who stepped into that booth.

It was a working weekend for Jack. He watched and learned as much as he could.

WNBC reporter Bruce Beck — an avid WWPT-FM supporter and mentor — allowed Jack to shadow him as he worked.

On Saturday — despite 6 inches of snow — he explored many media sites, and visited the ESPN set. The Lombardi Trophy was there. Well, an ice sculpture replica of it, anyway.

As for the game: Jack’s a Jets fan; his dad likes the Lions. Going in, they were “reluctantly” rooting for the Eagles. But when the training scene from “Rocky II” was shown as Philadelphia’s hype video, they were won over for the night.

It was a fantastic weekend. There’s nothing like sharing the Super Bowl with your dad.

Especially when you can take a photo like this, moments after the final whistle.

BONUS STORY ON JACK CALDWELLAs a sophomore, knee surgery forced Jack into a wheelchair for 6  months.

His favorite sport to call is ice hockey. When the Wreckers made the state semifinals — at the “Yale Whale” arena — he worried he could not get to the press box.

WWPT friends and family helped him up, then helped him set up equipment. He called the game — an overtime Staples win.

That support meant a lot to Jack. It meant even more when that broadcast earned him a 2nd-place award in the national John Drury radio competition.

Last year, Jack and the station won honors in every Drury category they entered.

WWPT-FM faculty advisor Geno Heiter (left) and student broadcasters jump for joy after earning 12 John Drury Awards.

The Super Bowl — seeing media row and shadowing Bruce Beck — was a fantastic experience. Jack learned a lot about “real world media,” and looks forward to sharing that knowledge with everyone involved in media at Staples.

For his senior internship at May, he’ll work on the “Anna & Raven Show” on Star 99.9 FM. He hopes to study broadcast journalism in college (he will hear from schools in March).

After that — well, like other WWPT sportscasters, the sky’s the limit.

The Super Bowl was an important weekend, Jack says.

“I got to have a real fan experience,” he notes. “So if I begin to cover events for real in broadcasting, now they won’t seem as daunting.”

Remembering February 5, 1978

If you were alive in New England in 1978, you remember today.

We’ve had big blizzards since. But nothing compares to the storm that struck 40 years ago today.

Snow, snow and more snow smothered the region. High winds and high tides caused flooding. It was a chaotic mess.

People abandoned their cars on I-95 — or stayed in them, hoping for rescue that never came. Governor Ella Grasso shut down the state. My friends who were still at Brown University took sled runs — out of 2nd floor dorm windows.

I was just starting my journalism career. My neighbor — Greens Farms Elementary School principal Jack Ready — was in charge of the town’s emergency shelter, located in the gym.

Around midnight, he called me to help. A police car picked me up. I spent the night fixing cots, preparing supplies, doing whatever I could.

The next morning, I walked — down the center of the barely plowed Post Road, because cars were not moving — to my new job in Brooks Corner: sports editor of the Westport News.

There was a paper to put out, and hardly anyone around to do it.

We did it.

If you’ve got memories of the ’78 blizzard, click “Comments” below.

And if you were around even earlier — for the 1930s-era blizzard, shown in the photos below — we’d really like to hear your story.

(Hat tip: Westport Historical Society)

Justin Paul Makes US Olympics

Justin Paul was a Staples Player. As in, the acting troupe.

He was not an ice hockey player. Nor did he play any other sport.

But the 2003 graduate will be everywhere at this month’s Winter Olympics.

As millions of viewers of last night’s Super Bowl noticed, “This Is Me” — a song composed by Paul and songwriting partner Benj Pasek — was the background for a dramatic, compelling NBC Sports ad.

The song — sung by The Bearded Lady (Keala Ssettle) in “The Greatest Showman,” an anthem of diversity and acceptance — fits well with the network’s goal of personalizing Olympic athletes, celebrating their many paths to success and achievement.

The ad will air frequently during the PyeongChang games. They begin Thursday.

“This Is Me” is having a run that Bode Miller would envy. It won a Golden Globe, and has been nominated for an Oscar. The soundtrack reached the top of the charts internationally, and was #1 on iTunes in over 65 countries.

So tune in this month for the athletes. And enjoy Westport’s own amazing artist — Justin Paul — too.

BONUS FUN FACTWestport resident John Miller is chief marketing officer for NBC’s Olympics coverage.

(Hat tip: Mary Palmieri Gai)