“Operation Varsity Blues” — the Netflix movie about the rich-and-famous college admissions scandal — has taken America by storm.
There’s a Westport angle. Thankfully, it has nothing to do with a parent pretending his or her child was a star water polo player, even if he or she cannot swim.
“Operation Varsity Blues” was written and edited by Jon Karmen. He’s the 2008 Staples High School graduate who made a huge name for himself there as half of “Rubydog” — a moviemaking duo who, working with media instructor Jim Honeycutt, made a number of way-beyond-high school videos back in the day. (Click here to see some of their pioneering work.)
Karmen is known too as the writer/director of “Fyre” (2019), a behind-the-scenes look at that infamous music festival.
“Varsity Blues” was #3 on Netflix’s Top 10 Most Watched Movies & TV Shows yesterday. But it wasn’t the only one with an “06880” connection. Jamie Mann’s “Country Comfort” checked in at #7. (Hat tip: Kerry Long)
Speaking of Staples: More than 60 years after helping found Staples Players, Christopher Lloyd is still acting.
In 1958 he was a Staples High School student who wanted to do more than just act in a class play. He found a mentor in English teacher Craig Matheson. The rest, as they say, is history.
Lloyd went on to a career that includes “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” the “Back to the Future” trilogy, “Star Trek III,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and 2 “Addams Family” films.
At 82 years old, he’s got a new movie: “Senior Moment.” He stars with Jean Smart and William Shatner, who play a pair of older star-crossed lovers in an old-school romcom.
Lloyd talks about that project; his 5 wives — and growing up in Westport — in a wide-ranging Guardian interview. He was the youngest of 8 children, though the closest in age was 7 years older. Click here for the full interview. (Hat tip: Jeff Mitchell)’
Speaking again of Staples: Staples history classes absolutely crushed the National History Day regional competition.
Their papers, documentaries and exhibits examined everything from the Daughters of the Confederacy and Queer Communications in the Age of Oppression to Crypto-Analysis in World War I, Cigarette Advertising and the Freedom Riders.
How dominant was Staples? 32 students placed. There were only 5 other winners in the entire region, from just 2 other schools.
Placing first were Ishan Prasad, Sabrina Paris, Maya Hruskar, Lilly Weisz, Srushti Karve, William Jin, Michael Nealon, Zachary Brody, Jeffrey Pogue, Jack Ginsburg, Preston Norris, Tyler Clark and Matthew Gatto.
Finishing second were Nikos Ninios, Franca Strandell, Camille Vynerib, Julet Tracey, Lily Klau, Olivia Stubbs, Hannah Fiarman, Franky Lockenour, James Dobin-Smith, Coco Laska, Karlie Saed and Sarp Gurdogan.
Taking third were Sebastian Miller, Analise Vega, Emma Porzio, Arda Ernamli, Hannah Conn, Samantha Paris and Ethan Cukier.
Their (superb) teachers are Drew Coyne, Nell-Ann Lynch, Cathy Schager and Kelly Zrenda.
Up next: state and (hopefully) national competition.
A US championship? That would be historic.
Speaking once again of the arts: On Tuesday (March 30, 7 p.m.), the Westport Country Playhouse presents a world premiere of “New Works/New Voices.” These 4 new pieces — all written by community members — honor women who inspired them: Constance Baker Motley, Anne Bogart, Mary Freeman, Mary McLeod Bethune and Gloria Steinem.
Local storytellers and actors will bring to life these very personal, beautiful stories recorded on the WCP stage.
Viewers are invited to pay what they can. 50% of ticket sales and donations during the broadcast go to the Playhouse’s community partner, Women’s Mentoring Network, providing career, educational and personal resources for the economic empowerment of low-income women and their families.
Click here to register for “New Works/New Voices.”
Westporter Rob Simmelkjaer was confirmed yesterday, by a bipartisan State Senate vote, as chair of the Connecticut Lottery.
It’s a volunteer — but quite active — role he’s served in since May. Area senators Will Haskell and Bob Duff spoke warmly on the media executive’s behalf.
Update from Parks & Rec: The concession stand at Compo Beach will open in mid-April. Last year, during COVID, it opened late, and ran only from a trailer adjacent to the brick building.
MoCA Westport has added 5 members to its board of directors. Two are from Westport.
Jennifer Kanfer has served on the board of The Conservative Synagogue, including co-chair of the Social Action, Membership and Fundraising Committees. and with the Coleytown Elementary School PTA. She previously worked in healthcare communications for 14 years. She holds a BA in political science from the University of Michigan, an MPA in healthcare policy and administration from NYU, and an MBA in Finance from NYU’s Stern School.
Samantha Yanks is an award-winning editor with over 20 years experience in luxury fashion and lifestyle publishing. In 2018 she launched a social, digital and branding agency, Samantha Yanks Creative. She was most recently editor-in- chief of Gotham and Hamptons magazines. As senior accessories editor at O, she collaborated closely with Oprah Winfrey. Yanks has discussed fashion, beauty and lifestyle on “The Today Show” and “NBC Nightly News,” “New York Live,” “Good Day New York,” E!, the Martha Stewart and Howard Stern shows, and more. She graduated from Tulane University.
‘Tis the season — for both holiday lights and daffodils.
And finally … the great — and greatly underrated — Billy Stewart was born today, in 1937. He died in 1970, only 32 years old.
If you only have time to listen to one song, it’s “Summertime.” But everything he touched was a classic.