Tag Archives: Craig Melvin

Dave Briggs TV: Live Interviews With Lively Westporters

Dave Briggs is a gifted interviewer.

After a career spent in sports and political broadcasting, he knows how to make a subject feel at ease. Conversation flows naturally; insights pour forth.

After 12 years in Westport — and more than 2 decades at Fox News, NBC Sports and CNN — Briggs’ contact list bulges with big names.

Many of them live here. So it’s natural that for his new gig — an Instagram Live series of interviews for Westport Magazine — Briggs would chat with our town’s megastars.

He’s already snagged “Today” co-host Craig Melvin, best-selling author Jane Green and former NFL analyst/current ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky.

But it’s a testament to Briggs’ chops as an interviewer — and his belief that his series include local names we all can relate to — that his session with Staples High School principal Stafford Thomas drew twice as many viewers as Melvin’s.

Staples High School principal Stafford Thomas, live.

If you missed that — or any of Briggs’ other interviews, like 1st Selectman Jim Marpe — no problem. They live forever on Westport Magazine’s Instagram page.

You can find them — and upcoming interviews which may include CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, ESPN’s Mike Greenberg, actress Anne Hathaway, former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, musicians Nile Rodgers and Michael Bolton, billionaire businessman/Milwaukee Bucks owner Mark Lasry, and songwriter Justin Paul, plus superintendent of schools Tom Scarice, downtown developer David Waldman and police chief Foti Koskinas — by following @DaveBriggsTV on Instagram.

The Denver native did not expect to be sitting here this year, drinking bourbon (or tequila, or another beverage of choice), chatting with his neighbors.

But this year is unlike any we’ve ever known before.

Briggs always wanted to be a sportscaster. A broadcast and journalism major at the University of Colorado, he ascended the typical “pay your dues” ladder: covering high school sports and rodeo in Rapid City, South Dakota; college sports in Tulsa, and then the right-place-at-the-right-time Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics for Boston’s NBC station.

From there it was on to “a terrific” 5 years co-hosting “Fox & Friends”‘ weekend show with Camerota; handling the Rio Olympics, Stanley Cup, NASCAR and NCAA basketball for NBC Sports, and — most recently — 3 years as anchor of CNN’s “Early Start.”

Dave Briggs

Early is right: The show airs from 4 to 6 a.m. Briggs woke up every morning at 1:30.

That did not leave him much time to know Westport, where he, his wife Brandi and kids moved in 2008. She is deeply involved in the town: RTM representative, Westport Young Women’s League, the schools.

Briggs wanted to feel more connected. His chance came, surprisingly, from the same source that, he says, “punched my career in the face”: COVID-19.

The coronavirus put an end to his NCAA hoops work for Turner Sports. He talked to ESPN Radio about openings, but after cuts in other areas they filled those spots internally. A sports podcast called “Home & Home” was also canceled.

“It’s been a tough year for me,” Briggs admits.

But the Westport Magazine/Instagram Live interviews have been a huge bright spot.

He’d always known that many very successful, fascinating people live here. When everyone was quarantined, disconnected and frustrated, he realized an interview series could be interesting — and doable.

Jane Green, live.

Instagram Live is the perfect platform. It’s easy to use (and users get instant notifications when an interview begins). Anyone can ask ask real-time questions. And the format could not be more casual.

Whether his guests are big names nationally or just locally, they all want to talk about their home town. Why did they move here? Why do they stay here? What’s their ideal day here?

Those are staple questions. Craig Melvin was as happy to answer those as he was talking about national issues. He also discussed what it’s like broadcasting the “Today” show from his Westport home.

“People learned he’s not just a talking head. He’s of the smartest, most knowledgeable and analytical people in the industry,” Briggs says. “Plus, he’s nice!”

Dave Briggs and Craig Melvin, live.

Briggs shared drinks and a meal with Bill Taibe, at his new Don Memo restaurant.

For Jane Green, there was tequila. Many of her devoted readers asked direct questions. Whether they lived here or not, they learned how Westport inspires her.

The interview with Staples principal Stafford Thomas offered 3 surprises for Briggs. There were many more viewers than for some bigger names. Briggs learned “there may not be a better educated principal anywhere.” And the interviewer discovered that Thomas has been to every Major League Baseball Stadium in the country.

Feedback to the Westport Magazine/Instagram Live interviews has been superb. In fact, it’s so positive that the series — originally planned just for the summer — will continue indefinitely.

And without a 1:30 a.m. wakeup call.

Roundup: Library Reopens; Craig Melvin; Dirty Dancing; Yankee Doodle Fair; More


The reimagined Westport Library was a spectacular success. For a few months, it was packed with users, jammed with events, pulsing with energy.

Then COVID-19 struck.

But 4 months after it closed, the library is poised to reopen. The big date is Monday, July 13.

Limited services begin, weekdays (2 to 6 p.m.) and Saturdays (12 to 4 p.m.). Only 100 people — including staff — will be allowed in the building at any time.

Masks are required. The only entrance is the main one (upper parking lot). The only exit is through the café.

The café and store are not open. Conference and meeting rooms will also be closed. Computer access will be limited to the Express stations.

Curbside pickup services continues weekdays (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.).

The library will extend loan periods, but fines will accrue for materials not returned within the loan periods.

The library will continue to offer virtual programs and services, while phasing in the full reopening of the building.


During these disconnected times, Dave Briggs — former CNN, NBC Sports and Fox anchor (and proud Westporter) — has conducted a series of Instagram Live interviews with interesting residents.

Folks like 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, restaurant owner Bill Taibe and former NFL quarterback/ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky talk about the town, the pandemic, and answer questions from followers.

Today’s guest (Thursday, July 2) is Craig Melvin. The NBC “Today” host has been square in the middle of both the COVID and racial unrest stories.

Just follow @westportmagazine on Instagram, and click on the “Live” tab at the top of their feed at 4:30 for a fascinating chat. It will be reposted later by Dave (@davebriggstv).

Craig Melvin


There are no fireworks at Compo Beach to celebrate the 4th. BUT … there is a great movie at Westport’s own drive-in!

The Remarkable Theater shows “Dirty Dancing” at the Imperial Avenue parking lot. The classic summer romance/dance film begins at 8:45 p.m. on Saturday (the 4th). The lot opens at 7:45, and pre-film content starts at 8:15.

Tickets are $50 per car. Click here to purchase.

It’s a great movie. Even if it’s not “Independence Day,” or “Born on the 4th of July.”


COVID knocked out this year’s Yankee Doodle Fair. But the annual Westport Woman’s Club fundraiser has been around for a century. It will be back next year.

And if you want your Fair fix, check out this video shot last year by interns from Fourth Row Films. It premiered last week, at the Remarkable Theater’s opening night drive-in movie benefit for the WWC.

if you’re inspired by the video — or just want to help provide much-needed funds for the Woman’s Club community grants, scholarships, food pantry and other great causes — click here.


Want to win the war on invasive weeds?

That’s the topic of the next “Pollinator Series” online presentation from Wakeman Town Farm.

This Monday (July 6, 7-8 p.m.), University of Connecticut advanced master gardener Alice Ely will spotlight a guide to invasives, developed by WTF’s 2020 senior class interns.

Click here to register. Registrants will be emailed a Zoom link the day of the talk. Everyone gets a free guide to the area’s worst weeds too.


Missed the benefit cabaret that Staples High School senior Jamie Mann organized for Obi Ndefo — the actor/inspiration/friend who lost both legs when hit by a drunk driver?

Here’s your chance. Just click below. The sound is not great at the start, but it gets better. The performances, back story and messages are well worth it!


And finally … another fun summertime classic.

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.)

Elvira Mae’s, Anthropologie Have #Reason4Freezin

Elvira Mae’s opened last week. It took exactly that long for them to jump into their first great help-a-community-member fundraiser.

Lisa Laudico is a Westporter with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. She’s fighting the disease — and fighting to help others. With the Southport-based Cancer Couch Foundation, she co-founded the #Reason4FreezinMBC social media challenge.

It’s simple: Video yourself eating anything cold hands-free. Nominate 4 people, and donate to MBC research. 100% of all proceeds go to researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York, and Dana Farber in Boston.

Lisa Laudico

The campaign launched earlier this month on the “Today Show.” Al Roker — and Westport’s own Craig Melvin — challenged other celebrities. Among them: Westporter Jane Green, who nominated Elin Hildebrand and Robin Roberts.

That’s where Elvira Mae’s comes in.

Today (Saturday, July 13, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), volunteers will sit outside the Old Mill deli. They’ll hand out flyers, and offer to video anyone doing the challenge. Elvira Mae’s is donating a portion of all ice cream sales to the campaign.

Anhtropologie is helping too. Volunteers will be outside the Church Lane store, doing the same. They’ll hand out popsicles too.

There’s no solicitation of money or checks. Donations can be texted (“freezembc”) to 44321.

Elvira Mae’s and Anthropologie picked a great day to help. This weekend, a challenge grant — in Lisa’s honor — means that every dollar raised becomes $4.

See you at Elvira Mae’s. Or Anthropologie.

Or both.

Tavern On Main: Yesterday On “Today”

If you watch the “Today” show, you may know that Craig Melvin has made a commitment to a vegetarian, alcohol-free diet this year.

You may also have seen yesterday’s segment on his “healthy reboot.” Filmed at Tavern on Main, it showcased the restaurant’s emphasis on incorporating healthy, seasonal produce in its menu. The Westport Farmers’ Market, for example, is a frequent source of food.

Tavern on Main

Melvin and his wife, ESPN’s Lindsay Czarnink, are frequent Tavern guests. Click here to see the segment.