Tag Archives: Stephanie Szostak

Roundup: Laddie Lawrence, Christian Siriano, Stephanie Szostak, More


Starting Monday (September 21), the Board of Education will resume in-person meetings.

Board members, administrators and invited speakers will all be present. Members of the public can participate via real-time broadcasts, and comment via Google Docs.

“Unfortunately, we cannot predict or control the turnout at our meetings, and a large gathering at a public meeting of the board could pose a public health risk,” the Board says.

“In evaluating the viability of a limited number of socially distant seats for the public in person, the logistical challenges of ensuring social distancing and mask-wearing, determining who is allowed into the meeting and who is turned away, etc., are substantial and might interfere with the work of the board in real time.

“We are heartened by the substantial increase in public participation through our use of Google Docs. This method will continue to afford anyone who feels uncomfortable about coming out to a public meeting during a pandemic a voice in our decision-making process.”


As Architectural Digest notes, fashion designer Christian Siriano moved to a modern house near Compo Beach a few months ago.

And as alert “06880” reader Mary Hoffman notes (via the Wall Street Journal), the backyard of that home was the site yesterday for a fashion show. Among the guests: Billy Porter.

Siriano famously dressed Porter in a tuxedo ballgown for the Oscars.

Billy Porter in Westport. (Photo/Charlie Sykes for AP)


After 55 years as a summer staple, the Westport Parks & Recreation Roadrunner races went virtual this year.

The weekly events — starting first with a couple of miles, increasing each Saturday to a 10-mile run just before Labor Day — are the baby (and now near senior citizen) of Staples High School’s longtime track coach and guru Laddie Lawrence.

The most recent Road Race Management newsletter — aimed at race directors and industry professionals — highlights Lawrence’s long involvement with the series. There’s an extensive interview looking back on 55 years, and vintage photos. Click here to see.

Laddie Lawrence, at a Roadrunner race finish line.


The Westport Library edges one step closer to normalcy. On Monday (September 21), the Library Store begins offering personal shopping appointments.

The 15-minute sessions can be in person or virtual (via FaceTime or WhatsApp). Slots are available weekdays, from 2 to 6 p.m. Click here to schedule.

The Store accepts credit cards, checks, Apple Pay and Google Pay — no cash. Purchases made virtually will be scheduled for pick up weekdays, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information, click here.


Last night’s Remarkable Theater screening of “Top Gun” — a fundraiser for the Catch a Lift Fund — drew a great crowd to the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

Fall is almost here. But Westport’s love of the pop-up drive-in theater — and support for excellent causes — has not wavered one bit.


Dave Briggs’ intriguing Instagram Live interactive interviews continue today (Friday, September 18, 6:30 p.m.). The former CNN, NBC Sports and Fox News anchor’s guest is Westport’s own noted actor Stéphanie Szostak (“A Million Little Things,” “The Devil Wears Prada”).

You can listen — and participate — on Instagram:@WestportMagazine.


The other day, “06880” mentioned Positive Directions’ new Teacher Support group. It meets weekly via Zoom. The cost was $40.

Now, however — thanks to the generosity of Positive Directions’ board of directors –this group will be underwritten. It’s now free to all teachers and school personnel. Email amiceli@positivedirections.org, or call 203-227-7644 to reserve a spot.


Groove is known for its trendy clothes, for women, children and babies.

But on Saturday, October 24 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.), the Post Road West boutique welcomes Dana Ciafone to a book signing. The author of Celebrating Bentley — the kids’ book about a boy and his dog — will be there. All profits go to Little Black Dog Rescue.


And finally … in these days of wildfires, hurricanes and much more, it’s nice to hear James Taylor’s soothing voice. No matter how dark the lyrics. (Hat tip: Jerry Kuyper)

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.)

Moms Matter

Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 12.

But you don’t have to wait that long to celebrate Mom — or, more specifically, motherhood and the “MOMents that Mattered.”

WestportMoms — the wonderful, multi-platform resource — sponsors a cocktails-and-conversation event by that name on Tuesday, May 7 (7 p.m., Pearl at Longshore).

Six rock-star local moms —

  • Alisyn Camerota, CNN anchor
  • Stephanie Szostak, star of ABC’s “A Million Little Things”
  • Melissa Bernstein, co-founder of Melissa & Doug
  • Elyse Oleksak, founder of Bantam Bagels
  • Lindsay Czarniak, sports broadcaster
  • Emily Liebert, author

— will share some of the tough choices they’ve made balancing families and careers. And they’ll talk about what makes Westport special to them.

The food is on WestportMoms. There’s also a cash bar.

Attendees are asked to bring a package of diapers, for donation to the Diaper Bank of Connecticut.

It’s all a “celebration of being moms together.”

Save the date. Then book a babysitter.

Or better yet, tell your spouse to feed the kids that day.

(Click here for more information.)