Tag Archives: Alisyn Camerota

Roundup: Election Questions, Oka, Harvest Moon …

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This election season, the LWV Westport is sponsoring 2 candidate debates.

And they want your questions.

The 7 p.m. sessions — broadcast on Cablevision Channel 79 — are October 25 (Boards of Selectmen, Finance and Assessment Appeals) and October 26 (Planning & Zoning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, Board of Education).

Questions should be emailed to speechbyrachel@gmail.com.

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Oka is a posh British furnishing and home goods store, with 13 UK locations.

Its first US store opened earlier this year, in Houston. Coming soon: Dallas.

And this spring: Westport.

After extensive renovation, Oka moves into the former Banana Republic building on Main Street. (For years before that, it was Klein’s Department Store.)

New York Times readers throughout the region saw an advertising insert on Sunday. The Westport opening was featured on the cover, along with a 15% off offer. Just use the code “NYTIMES15.”

It’s good until October 22. Online, of course! (Hat tip: Jeff Jacobs)

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If you’re looking for a photo that encompasses nearly every aspect of life in Westport, this is it.

Paul Delano’s Imperial Avenue image from earlier this morning shows a school bus picking up one youngster, as a car waits. A jogger approaches. And — of course — a deer calmly crosses the road.

“The drivers were cautious,” Paul reports. “So everyone went safely on their way.”

(Photo/Paul Delano)

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Yesterday’s “06880” noted that Dr. Scott Gottlieb’s book about COVID-19 will be published today.

On October 4 (7 p.m.), the former FDA head — and our neighbor — will speak about it at the Westport Library. The event will also be livestreamed.

He’ll be interviewed by another familiar TV face (and Westporter): CNN’s Alisyn Camerota.

Click here for registration and more information.

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Seth Goltzer’s Harvest Moon shot was Sunday’s Pic of the Day.

He was back at Compo Beach last night, to photograph another moonrise. Other Westporters sent similar images. This was the most dramatic.

(Photo/seth Goltzer)

Meanwhile, Franco Fellah of the Westport Astronomical Society snapped this shot. I don’t know what kind of camera and/or telescope he used, but it sure feels like he was close.

(Photo/Franco Fellah)

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Did you know that the praying mantis is Connecticut’s official state insect?

Did you know that our state even has an official insect?

Or why?

Whatever. Here is a gorgeous “Westport … Naturally” shot, courtesy of Sharon Fiarman.

(Photo/Sharon Fiarman)

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And finally … on this date in 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor was unanimously approved (!) by the Senate as the nation’s first female Supreme Court justice.

Forty years later, that number has exploded to … three.

Roundup: Vaccines, Zoning, Schlaet’s Point, Ospreys …

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Not every “06880” reader lives in Westport. Sarathi Roy notes: “New York or New Jersey residents can book COVID vaccine appointments in their home state or in Connecticut.”

Here is New York state information:

A few days ago, “06880” posted a comprehensive list of Connecticut vaccine options, thanks to Sarathi’s HR department. Click here for information on CVS, Walgreens, Yale New Haven Health, Stamford Health and VAMS sign-ups.

In addition to that list, Sarathi adds:

  • Check your town’s website for information and clinics available only to residents. You may be able to register in advance or receive a call for available appointments or excess doses.
  • Connecticut’s  Vaccine Assist Line (877-918-2224) operates 7 days a week, from 8am-8pm. Agents can schedule appointments at state-run clinics. If you call early and are given the chance to leave a message, you should. They accept a certain number of messages each day, then call those people back throughout the day to assist in booking appointments. Once the maximum number of calls for the day has been reached the message option is turned off.
  • You can now search additional locations, including supermarkets and local pharmacies. A great tool to see who is administering the vaccine in your area is Vaccinefinder.org. Search a zip code, make note of the providers nearby, then search for booking websites.
  • Here are a few of the more common ones:
    Rite Aid

ShopRite

Big Y

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Did you miss last night’s webinar on the many housing bills making their way through the state’s General Assembly, and their possible impact on Westport?

Planning and Zoning chair Danielle Dobin gave a comprehensive overview. Our 4 local legislators — Senators Will Haskell and Tony Hwang, and Representatives Jonathan Steinberg and Stephanie Thomas — tackled the pros and cons. Viewers asked questions. It was a wide-ranging, engaging 80 minutes. (And I would say that even if I had not served as moderator.)

It’s now available to watch — or re-watch — at your leisure. Click here for the link.

Everything you wanted to know about zoning — including sewers — and more.

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One of the few positive parts of the pandemic: Many more Westporters have had time to walk.

Because we practice social distancing, we’re not always on the sidewalk. And — as Tammy Barry’s photo of Hillspoint Road at Schlaet’s Point shows — the result is some barren patches where grass once grew.

I’m sure saltwater flooding had something to do with t too.

(Photo/Tammy Barry)

Here’s hoping the town can find some resources to bring this beautiful stretch of waterfront back to what it once was.

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CNN anchor (and Westport resident) Alisyn Camerota’s last day on “New Day” is today. The show was filled with many nice tributes. Yesterday, co-host John Berman started things off (click here to see).

Alisyn is not going very far — just a few hours later. She’ll anchor CNN’s weekday coverage with Victor Blackwell.

Congratulations, Alisyn, on your new gig — and the chance to sleep in a little longer. (Hat tip: Seth Schachter)

Alisyn Camerota

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Today’s osprey report comes courtesy of Chris Swan.

He wants Westporters to know that there are 3 platforms near Sherwood Island State Park.

One is in the saltmarsh behind the Nature Center, midway to the last house off Beachside Common.

The second is in the saltmarsh on the eastern shore of Sherwood Mill Pond, several hundred feet above the Compo Cove homes. It’s visible from the path on Sherwood Island’s western edge, above the fire gate to Compo Cove.

Both platforms are occupied by returning osprey pairs.

A 3rd location can be seen from the saltmarsh shore of the northeastern corner of the Mill Pond, looking west. This was erected last fall. No osprey pair has yet staked their claim.

A 4th platform is at the entrance to Burying Hill Beach, in the marsh across New Creek. Chris has watched it for 10 years, but has never seen it occupied.

He thinks it’s too low. He believes old utility poles make the best platforms — citing the ones at Fresh Market, Longshore’s E,R. Strait Marina, and Gray’s Creek.

Chris should know: He spent his professional career with Eversource.

The newest osprey platform in Sherwood Island Mill Pond. A house on Grove Point is visible behind it. (Photo/Chris Swan)

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Congressman Jim Himes holds a Facebook Live session today (Wednesday, April 7) at 3 p.m. He’ll discuss how constituents can benefit from the American Rescue Plan. Click here to watch live. To watch later, click here.

Congressman Jim Himes

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And finally … on this day in 1940, Booker T. Washington became the first African-American depicted on a US postage stamp.

In November 1944, Booker T. Jones Jr. was born in Memphis. He was named after his father, Booker T. Jones Sr., a high school science teacher — who himself was named in honor of Booker T. Washington, the educator.

 

Roundup: Parks & Rec Signups, Playhouse, Help Wanted …

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Registration for Westport Parks & Recreation spring and summer programs begins online on March 22 (9 a.m.). Click here for all offerings, including sports, Camp Compo and RECing Crew. Click here to register.

The Parks & Rec office remains closed to the public. Staff is available via email (recreation@westportct.gov), phone (203-341-5152 weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) and mail (260 Compo Road South, Westport, CT 06880).

For registration, check your online account tnow. Log in, then click “Manage Family Members” on the bottom right. To view more details, click the name of a specific family member. Make any changes, then hit “save.” For address changes, email recreation@westportct.gov.

If you cannot log into your online account, do not create another profile. Email recreation@westportct.gov, or call 203-341-5152.

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Speaking of recreation:

These residents were spotted yesterday on Longshore’s first fairway.

They had not asked to play through. Nor were they wearing proper attire. Sad!

(Photo/John Richers)

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Alisyn Camerota is starring in a new role.

The Westport resident — a journalist, author, and anchor of CNN’s morning show “New Day” — has been elected as a Westport Country Playhouse trustee.

Camerota led a community conversation 3 years ago on “Female Power Unleashed:  Politics and Positive Change.” She was featured in a documentary celebrating the theater’s 90-season history last fall, and has been a Playhouse subscriber and supporter for several years.

She’ll serve with artist, economist, producer, fellow Westporter — and new board chair — Anna Czekaj-Farber. Former chair Barbara Streicker of Westport remains on the board.

Playhouse managing director Michael Barker lauds Streicker for her leadership during the pandemic

The 2021 season is scheduled to begin in April — online and in-person. Safety guidelines will be announced soon.

Alisyn Camerota

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4-year-old Elodie Kubik was born with Epidermolysis Bullosa. She is missing a critical protein that binds the layers of the skin together, making it extremely fragile and causing severe pain and wounds. There are no treatments for this life-threatening disease.

Elodie’s mom’s friends organized a Plunge for Elodie n 2018. It grew into an international movement, raising $700,000 to fund critical research aimed at curing EB and other rare diseases.

This year’s virtual Plunge (March 28) honors the life of Sophia Ramsey, who died just after her 1st birthday. She was the daughter of Westport Public Schools employee Tricia Lash’s friend and coworker. Click here for details.

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Finding Westport — the great local listing location, with both a website and social media posts — is starting a “Help Wanted” section. If you’re a business looking for help, contact Jillian@findingfairfieldcounty.com.

And if you’re looking for work, click here.

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Very quietly —  but for 70 years — Abilis has helped people with special needs throughout Fairfield County. The non-profit currently serves over 800 people — and their families.

Last year, COVID forced them to hold their biggest fundraiser online. They raised over $400,000. This year’s goal: top that.

It’s virtual again. Comedian Brett Walkow (“The Tonight Show,” Seinfeld’s “Comedian,” Comedy Central, much more…) hosts the May 1 (6:30 p.m.) show. It’s 90 minutes packed with entertainment, laughs, and a live auction.

The event is free (though of course there are many opportunities to donate). To register, click here (button is on upper right — hard to find!). For sponsorship information, call 203-531-1880 ext. 161, or email flatow@abilis.us.

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And finally … John Philip Sousa died on this day in 1932. He was 78.

Roundup: Breakfast, COVID $$, Anti-Semitism, More

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There’s a new breakfast option in town. It doesn’t look particularly healthy.

But it sure looks good.

Grammie’s Donuts & Biscuits offers biscuits, croissants, donuts and cronuts (in flavors like very berry, lemon cake and passionfruit).

You can order online 24/7, for delivery or pickup (971 Post Road East, near Cycle Dynamics, Wednesday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.).

Grammie’s is part of the new Grateful Food Company. Click here for the website, with menu and ordering options; follow on Instagram @grammies_gfc.

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On the agenda for the Board of Finance meeting March 3 (7:30 p.m., livestreamed at www.westportct.gov): Moving $400,000 from the General Fund balance to the COVID Accounts balance.

A prior appropriation of $400,000 — approved July 8 — has been exhausted. Additional funds will cover costs for protective devices, sanitizing, legal fees, signage, and employee testing.

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The Westport Library’s next “Andrew Wilk Presents” examines anti-Semitism.

The event — a screening and conversation with filmmaker Andrew Goldberg and CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota — is set for next month.

On March 10 and 11, the Library offers Goldberg’s film “Viral: Anti-Semitism in 4 Mutations.” At 7 p.m. on the 11th, Goldberg will discuss the film with Camerota — anchor of the “New Day” morning show — and take questions from the virtual audience.

Camerota lives in Westport. Goldberg recently moved here. To register, and for more information, click here.

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Two days later — on Saturday, March 13 (7 p.m.) — the Library recognizes the anniversary of the pandemic lockdown with a concert that celebrates optimism, resilience and the power of music.

The virtual event — co-sponsored with the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce — is curated by area resident Chris Frantz, of Talking Heads and the Tom Tom Club.

Several great bands will play, with proceeds going to support arts education through Bridgeport’s Neighborhood Studios.

Tickets are $25 each; for $40, you get a ticket and poster. The first 25 will be autographed by Chris. Click here to purchase, and for more information.

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Looking for a summer camp for your kids? Something along the lines of, say, Recycled/Upcycling Art, Nature in Art, Engineering and Art, Chemistry and Art, Movement and Art?

Those are some of the weekly themes at Camp MoCA, a new summer day camp for youngsters ages 3 to 13. It runs June 7 to August 27; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, rain or shine. Certified educators and art instructors are in charge.

An early registration discount of $100 per week is available through May 1. Campers can sign up for one or multiple weeks. Click here for details.

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The Westport Library is closed today (Thursday), due to the predicted snow. However, the virtual children’s programs will be held.

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And finally … on this day in 1791, Congress passed a law admitting the state of Vermont to the Union, effective March 4. It had existed for 14 years as an independent republic.

Many Westporters love Vermont. Among them: Jon Gailmor. The 1966 Staples High School graduate has lived there for decades. He runs music-writing workshops in schools, writes and performs all over, and has eveb been named an official “state treasure.”

Jon’s “Long Ago Lady” is a love song to his adopted state. It’s a beautiful tribute, to a wonderful place.

 

Roundup: Alysin Camerota, Artists Collective, Subtle Racism, More


Former CNN anchor Dave Briggs interviews his former colleague — current anchor of CNN’s “New Day” — Alisyn Camerota on Instagram Live today (Saturday, October 3) at 5 p.m. The pair of Westporters will talk about their town, and the world. Just search on Instagram for @WestportMagazine.


The “Playhouse at the Drive-In” event just got more remarkable.

As noted yesterday, the Westport Country Playhouse celebrates its 90th season on Saturday, October 17 (5 p.m.) with a a benefit event and screening at the Remarkable Theater drive-in (the Imperial Avenue parking lot).

Yesterday, The Artists Collective of Westport got approval from the Playhouse to hold their Affordable Art Trunk Show that afternoon, at 3.

Over 25 artists will be masked, in (socially distanced) cars — and as much “affordable art” as they can display on easels and tables.

The volume and flow of pedestrian traffic looking at the art will be carefully monitored by Collective volunteers.

The Playhouse and Artists Collective enjoy a great partnership, including meeting and exhibition at the WCP’s Sheffer Barn.


This Monday (October 5, 8:30 a.m.), the Coalition for Westport sponsors a Zoom talk on “subtle racism in Westport.” TEAM Westport chair Harold Bailey is the guest.

To register, email kbernhar@optonline.net.

 


Lindsey Baldwin is a Staples High School senior. She’s an EMT. And she just received kudos from State Senator Will Haskell, for another type of community service.

Last year Lindsey set up donation bins at various pharmacies and dental practices. She collected 2,000 toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes and floss cartridges. She also created a fundraiser on Facebook, and collected $1,430.

In February, Lindsey traveled to Honduras with CapeCARES. The on-profit sends volunteers to remote areas. They provide free medical and dental care.

She brought those 2,000 dental products with her. Many villagers had never had access to toothbrushes. It was an important moment for them — and for Lindsey, who returned to Westport grateful for all she has, and the opportunity to serve.

Lindsey Baldwin, in Honduras.


And finally … of course:

 

Ten Minutes With Brian Kelsey

The history of late night TV talk show hosts is — well, pretty similar.

From Jack Paar and Johnny Carson through Jay Leno, David Letterman, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon, guys* sit behind a desk. There’s a comfortable chair or sofa, an interesting backdrop, and (hopefully) interesting guests.

Zach Galifianakis broke the mold a bit. “Between Two Ferns” is a cult classic, available online.

If you liked his deliberately goofy approach — think early days of public access TV — you’ll love “Ten Minutes With.”

It too is on YouTube — not network TV. The set makes even the two ferns look lavish (guests sit in a lawn chair).

And it’s produced right here in Westport.

In Brian Kelsey’s garage.

Though he’s mined fellow Westporters as guests — CNN’s Alisyn Camerota and actress Stephanie Szostak — he also snagged singer Gino Vanelli (“I Just Wanna Stop”), en route from a show in Fairfield to the airport.

Stephanie Szostak and Brian Kelsey, on “Ten Minutes With.”

Sure, “Two Ferns” got President Obama. Just give “Ten Minutes” time.

Despite the home-grown nature of the show — Kelsey built the set himself, wrote and recorded the theme music, runs 7 cameras and adds all the sound effects — he is no Trevor Noah wannabe.

Kelsey has spent his career both in front of and behind cameras and mics. He’s done New York radio; has a thriving YouTube channel, focusing on do-it-yourself home renovations; hosted Martha Stewart’s Sirius show; did voice-overs, and works full-time as video senior editor/producer for a financial services firm.

He had the equipment. He had the background. He had the garage (and lawn chair). He built the set (a plain desk with a rotary phone; behind it, a generic city photo).

Brian Kelsey, on set. Yes, that’s his washing machine on the left.

All he needed was guests — and selling them on the idea.

This being Westport, he has contacts up the wazoo. And the format is perfect.

Guests drive over to his Cross Highway home. His assistant. Pete Scifo, lifts up the garage door. Kelsey offers a coffee (or beer). They chat for — literally — 10 minutes. Then Camerota is on to her next CNN spot, Szostak films her next movie, Vanelli does his next gig, whatever. It could not be simpler.

The banter is like most talk shows: some fluff, some substance. Kelsey probes into each guest’s work and life.

A regular feature: Kelsey reads rejection letters he’s gotten from potential guests (usually, their agents).

The garage door, leading to the “Ten Minutes With” set.

YouTube is driven by algorithms. So when a guest links to “Ten Minutes With” on their own social media, views spike — and YouTube recommends it to more people.

Next up: NBC news anchor (and Westporter) Craig Melvin.

Kelsey — who is also a drummer — has a soft spot for musicians. Among the guests he’d like to snag: Michael Bolton, Nile Rodgers and Chris Frantz of Talking Heads.

So if any of you guys are reading this: Call Brian Kelsey.

The lawn chair in his garage is waiting.

*Notice a gender pattern?

(Click here for the Ten Minutes With homepage.)

Alisyn Camerota Video Goes Viral

As Parkland High School students have spoken about gun violence — drawing the admiration and awe of much of the nation — there has been, predictably, a counter-narrative.

Some people don’t believe young people can be so passionate, articulate and motivated — even after watching as 17 of their classmates were gunned down.

Alisyn Camerota was having none of it.

The Westporter — co-anchor of CNN’s “New Day” — interviewed 2 former Republican congressmen on Tuesday. One was David Jolly of Florida. The other was Jack Kingston of Georgia.

Kingston began by disputing the notion that 17-year-olds can plan a nationwide rally. He believes they are being used by left-wing organizations, to further adults’ purposes.

Camerota pushed back. “I was down there. I talked to these kids before the body count,” she said.

“They had not been indoctrinated. They were motivated.”

Kingston continued to insist that the teenagers were being used. Camerota insisted they were not.

It’s a remarkable 9-minute interview (click below to see). Camerota manages Kingston and Jolly well.

The video has become a microcosm of many debates: about school shootings, gun legislation, and the power of teenagers to change the world.

And at the center of it all is Westport’s newest TV anchor.

 

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.

Alisyn Camerota: CNN Anchor, Debut Novelist, Westporter

Three years ago — after 16 years with Fox, including co-hosting “Fox & Friends Weekend” — Alisyn Camerota left the network.

She joined CNN. She co-anchors the “New Day” morning show. She reports on breaking international stories. She’s one of their top journalists.

It’s not easy. Camerota leaves Westport — where she has lived since 2012 — at 3:30 every morning. On the plus side: With very little traffic, her commute is just an hour.

If she was still at Fox, Camerota would be one of President Trump’s favorite TV personalities.

At CNN, she — and the entire network — are in his crosshairs.

That’s fine.

“With some regularity, we report a story in the morning, and a tweet comes out directly correlated to something we or a guest said,” Camerota notes.

“We know the president is watching. And we know he sometimes objects to a question or angle we take.

“It comes with the territory. We’re not there to curry favor. But I don’t see us as the ‘opposition,’ or an ‘enemy of the people.’ Our job is to hold people accountable for what they say and do.”

That’s not to say working at CNN is easy.

“If it’s been a particularly rough day — if we got called out at a press briefing — we’ll remark on it,” Camerota admits.

“But it hasn’t changed how we do our job. I don’t sense any chilling effect. In some way, it’s invigorated us. It’s helped us define our role, and sharpened our purpose.”

Alisyn Camerota

In fact, Camerota says, wherever she is, people thank her for doing what she does.

In Westport, some are friends. Others are strangers.

Earlier this year, she moderated a panel with diehard Trump supporters. One was convinced that 3 to 5 million people had voted illegally. As Camerota pressed her — and the woman’s answers grew “increasingly illogical” — the journalist involuntarily slapped her forehead. A video of the moment went viral.

The next day, while shopping in a local store, a woman approached Camerota, and slapped her own head. Neither said a word.

Camerota’s days are full. But with the publication yesterday of her 1st novel — Amanda Wakes Up — her life is about to get even busier.

The book was 6 years in the making. In 2011 — as the ’12 presidential campaign was getting underway — Camerota was intrigued by the cast of candidates. They included colorful folks like Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain and Rick Perry.

“There was no dearth of stories to cover,” the journalist says. She began taking notes.

She did not know her vignettes would become a book. But — because she was a weekend anchor and “could actually have a hobby” — she began writing.

Amanda follows an ambitious young reporter who lands a plum gig at a big-time cable news station — and quickly learns her “dream” job may be a nightmare.

Samantha Bee calls it “a hilarious, eye-opening glimpse into the TV news trenches, from one who’s had to navigate them backwards and in heels.”

Booklist adds, “Camerota’s timely send-up will engross readers from both sides of the political spectrum.”

“It was fun to assign my own ethical dilemmas to a fictional character,” the author says. “I let her figure stuff out.”

So how much of Amanda is Alisyn?

“All of it,” she answers quickly. “But the difference is, she figures everything out in 1 1/2 years. It took me 25 years.” That includes pre-Fox stints with ABC and NBC.

Amanda, it turns out, “is not me. She’s a distant cousin of mine.”

Tomorrow (Thursday, July 27, 7 p.m.), Camerota hosts a book signing at the Westport Barnes & Noble.

As for the rest of the summer, Camerota jokes: “I’m going to take a long nap.”

But, she continues, “My ‘day job’ has a breathless pace. I’m writing furiously during a 2-minute commercial break, trying to update a story or introduce the next guest.

“There’s something therapeutic and relaxing about sitting with my keyboard, trying to figure things out while writing a novel. I’m not sure — but I may have more stories to tell.”

Of course, she will also take time to appreciate summer in Westport.

“It’s stunningly beautiful,” Camerota says. “It’s so green. The flowers are in bloom. I love the beach, and Saugatuck Sweets. This is a glorious time to be here.”

So true. That’s definitely not Fake News.