Tag Archives: Melissa Joan Hart

Westport’s Musical Canyon.

For as long as she could remember, Canyon. thought she’d be a dancer.

Growing up in the Sierra foothills town of Nevada City, California, the girl — who in 7th grade shortened her very long name to just the first one, Canyon (and added a period, for good measure) — spent most of her time on ballet.

When she was 16, her mother took her to Manhattan. She fell in love with the city, and vowed to live there.

On her 18th birthday, in 2003, Canyon. moved to the East Village. She had a job — at Starbucks, where she’d worked while in high school — and a dancer’s dream.

But she also had health issues, which made dancing difficult. On a whim, she’d brought her mother’s guitar to the city. Canyon. filled her down time writing songs.

“I never mourned the loss of dance,” she says, looking back now in wonder. “I put all my energy into music.”

Canyon. (Photo/Marion Lynott for Irish Flare Photography)

What kind of songs did she write?

“Really bad ones,” she laughs. “That’s how I processed everything. But that’s also how you get better as a songwriter.”

Slowly, her music became “less bad.” All these years later, Canyon. says, she is still honing and refining her songwriting skills. She describes her music as “chill.”

She sang at open mic sessions. “Cranky sound engineers” taught her tough but important lessons about performing.

Soon after arriving in New York, Canyon. met a model and actor named Mike Sharits. They married in 2006, and moved to Los Angeles. She got a job as a nanny for  Melissa Joan Hart. Canyon. loved the work, the actress and her family.

When Melissa was moving to Westport, she described it as an “artists’ community.” Canyon. and Mike moved here too. She worked for Melissa for a few years. She now manages an apartment building downtown, and remains close to the actress.

Coming to Westport, Canyon. says, “I was expecting Ojai” — meaning the cool Southern California town.

It’s taken her nearly a decade. But finally — thanks to friends like Darcy Hicks and Lissy Newman — she’s discovering the artsy side of Westport.

One reason she did not explore Westport earlier is that she was playing at out-of-town restaurants, house shows and small festivals.

Now — with a 20-month-old son — she’s booking more local gigs. She’s played recently at Jesup Hall, Amis, The Boathouse, Tavern on Main, Rizzuto’s and the Black Duck.

The other day, Canyon. recorded her next single: “Tooth and Nail.” Next month she’ll record 4 more.

It’s taken Canyon. a while to find the arts in Westport. Now her voices echoes with many others’.

(Click here for Canyon.’s website. Hat tip: David Wilson)

Melissa Joan Hart Wants Westport To #StopSucking

America knows Melissa Joan Hart as an actress — the star of sitcoms like “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and “Melissa & Joey.”

Westporters know her as our neighbor. Like moms all around town, she cares about the environment, and the world we’re leaving our kids.

Melissa Joan Hart, with her family.

One of her major concerns is plastic straws. They’re too light to be recycled, and are one of the most common pollutants found in waters — on Compo Beach, in Long Island Sound, everywhere really.

Melissa is not alone. Other Westporters are working to eliminate plastic straws. Internationally, a Plastic Free July Foundation — based in Australia — is taking aim at all single-use plastics.

But Melissa has taken special action. Spurred by the knowledge that ours was the first town east of the Mississippi River to ban plastic bags, 10 years ago — a move many other communities have emulated — she’s beating the bushes to get restaurants to stop using plastic straws.

Or, to use her favorite hashtag: #stopsucking.

The idea, Melissa says, is for restaurants to move to “straws on request only” — and use alternatives like bamboo, paper, pasta or stainless steel straws. Another option: Patrons can carry reusable straws.

A number of leading restaurants are already on board. Melissa has commitments from The Spotted Horse, Gray Goose, Arogya, Jesup Hall, The Whelk, The Cottage and OKO.

She’s working on Terrain, Amis, Bartaco, Granola Bar and Tarantino’s. Then she’ll keep going, through all our many restaurants and other food places. (She’s got an ally in Westport Farmers’ Market director Lori Cochran).

But that’s not all. Melissa wants influential Westporters to post each restaurant that makes the #StopSucking promise, and drive traffic there.

If it’s posted to Instagram accounts like @LonelyWhale, @LifeWithoutPlastics and @Take3fortheSea, the campaign can reach far beyond Westport, she says.

Melissa Joan Hart loves living, raising her kids — and dining — here.

She’ll love it even more when we all #StopSucking.

Broadcasting Christmas

Yesterday’s “06880” looked back at Cynthia Gibb. In 1986, she played fellow Westporter Jean Donovan in the 1986 movie “Salvador” about the rape and murder of 4 Catholic lay missionaries.

Today’s “06880” looks at her latest project.

Tonight at 8, the Hallmark Channel airs “Broadcasting Christmas.” The film stars Gibb — and fellow Westporter Melissa Joan Hart. (Dean Cain — “Superman” — plays a love interest.)

“Broadcasting Christmas” — about the search for a TV host in the days before a holiday telethon — is set partly in Westport.

But you won’t know it when you see it. Shooting took place in Fairfield, Bridgeport and Stamford.

The film crew stayed in Norwalk. Westport did not benefit at all from the millions of dollars spent making a film about our town.

And to all a good night…

Westport's Melissa Joan Hart and Dean Cain, in "Broadcasting Christmas."

Westport’s Melissa Joan Hart and Dean Cain, in “Broadcasting Christmas.”

 

Sweet Harts In Westport

A new sweet shop is coming to Westport. It’s got a very interesting back story — which may or may not be true.

Betsy Pollak — of the great Our Town Crier fame — sent a link to a post earlier today on Deadline Hollywood. Apparently, Melissa Joan Hart will help develop a new “family docuseries.”

deadline-hollywood-logo-o

The show will focus on the star of ABC Family’s “Melissa & Joey” show

and her  ex-showbiz siblings as they open and operate Melissa’s dream dessert store – Sweet Harts – in her hometown of Westport, CT. After a failed attempt with other partners in Sherman Oaks, CA, Melissa is ready to try again – but this time, the right way. With her opinionated family by her side helping her, everyone is excited to see this dream to fruition – but of course, it wouldn’t be a dream without a little drama along the way.

“I did  not know that she grew up here,” Betsy said.

Neither did I. For a very good reason: I don’t think she did.

A quick check of Wikipedia reveals:

Hart was born in Smithtown, New York, on Long Island, the first child of Paula, a producer and talent manager, and William Hart, a carpenter, shellfish purveyor, clam hatchery worker, and entrepreneur. Her maternal grandfather Stanley John Voje was a Navy Veteran and Catholic. Melissa grew up in nearby Sayville. Her parents had four other children after Melissa: Trisha, Elizabeth, Brian, and Emily, who are all in acting. Her parents were divorced in the early 1990s, and she moved with her mother and siblings to New York City.

Wikipedia lists her occuptions as “actress, director, producer, singer, fashion designer, business woman.” It does say that her current residence is “Westport, Connecticut.”

Melissa Joan Hart

Melissa Joan Hart

Every journalist needs 2 sources. So I headed to IMDB:

Melissa grew up in Sayville, New York. Her acting career started at the age of four, when she did a commercial for a bathtub toy called Splashy. Her mother, Paula Hart, has been her agent from the beginning. Melissa is the oldest of eight children, some from her mother’s second marriage. Six sisters, Trisha Hart, Elizabeth Hart, Emily Hart, Alexandra Hart-Gilliams, Samantha Hart, and Mackenzie Hart who is the only sibling who never appeared on Melissa’s TV series “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” (1996). Her brother is Brian Hart.

According to Deadline Hollywood, “Sweet Harts” will also include Emily, Brian and Trish. No word as to whether Westport is their hometown too.

Home Is Where Her “Hart” Is

Melissa Joan Hart — known to young fans across America for her roles in “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” and “Melissa & Joey” — is a Westport resident.

So she won’t have far to go on Monday (July 29, 7 p.m.) for a play reading event.

“Any Wednesday” is at — and a benefit for — the Westport Country Playhouse.

Melissa Joan Hart

Melissa Joan Hart

For over 80 years, the Playhouse has hosted some of the biggest names in theater: Paul Robeson, Helen Hayes, Alan Alda, Cicely Tyson — you get the idea.

But Monday’s reading has a decidedly local feel.

There’s fellow Westporter Brian J. Carter. Joanna Gleason and Chris Sarandon will also read — they’re in Fairfield, and no strangers to Playhouse productions.

There are other intriguing tie-ins too.

Sandy Dennis — a longtime North Sylvan Road resident — originated the “Any Wednesday” role on Broadway. She also starred in many Playhouse shows.

Jason Robards — who was in the “Any Wednesday” film — lived in Southport. The Playhouse’s theater is named in his honor, and his son Jake has appeared on the Playhouse stage.

Jane Fonda — who played Melissa’s role in the film — appeared on the Playhouse stage in 1960. Her father — Henry Fonda — preceded her here in 1937.

It’s starting to sound less like “Any Wednesday.” And more like “Six Degrees of Separation.”

(Tickets are $100, $50 and $25, and include a “Meet the Cast” party following the July 29 reading. For information and reservations, call 203-227-4177, or click here.)