The most striking element of opening night at the Boch Center Shubert Theatre for the musical adaptation of “The Color Purple,” Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, was the diversity of the audience and the connection that was made by people of all colors that evening.

In a world where the media seem to barrage people everyday with negativity around race relations in this country, the congeniality and shared excitement for the evening was the prevailing sentiment among the crowd. The performances by the cast of “The Color Purple” were filled with raw emotion, and the audience responded enthusiastically. Strong and natural yet controlled, the actors spun a powerful version of Walker’s story that was more upbeat and positive and less focused on the horrific treatment suffered by these southern African-American women during the 1920s and 30s because of their race and culture.

Moving quickly through the story, the vocal capabilities of the lead actresses, Adrianna Hicks in the starring role of Cecie, and Carla Stewart as Shug Avery, were worth the trip alone. The arts play an ever more important role in bringing people together and encouraging them to find common ground in the things they love. This is the message that Americans need to hear and for a few hours that magical evening all agendas were checked at the door, making opening night’s achievement truly worth the standing ovation it received.

Tickets are on sale now at the Boch Center Box Office, bochcenter.org, or by calling (866) 348-9738.

 

 

 

SDIFF Ambassadors Liese Cornwell and Terri Stanley with actor/comedian Kumail Nanjiani and spouse Emily Gordon

San Diego: Kumail Nanjiani is receiving lots of applause for his writing and acting in the new indie movie The Big Sick, and was among a handful of Hollywood celebrities honored at the 16th annual San Diego International Film Festival‘s Tribute to the Stars. Hosted by Variety magazine and held in the ballroom of the smart, new Pendry San Diego hotel, the glittering gala included Nanjiani, who won the Auteur award, and his wife Emily V. Gordon, who co-wrote the script based on the true story of their relationship. (Actress Zoe Kazan played Emily in the film.)

SDIFF’s top honor went to Sir Patrick Stewart, who accepted The Gregory Peck Award for Excellence in Film, and was presented by Peck’s daughter, Cecilia Peck. (Last year’s recipient was actress Annette Bening.)  Other awardees include Heather Graham, who brought her glam game on to accept the Virtuoso Award and Blake Jenner, who walked away with the Rising Star Award. The Chris Brinker award, given to a promising new director and inspired by the late director Chris Brinker, went to Manny Rodriquez Jr for Butterfly Caught.

One of the premier festivals in the region, SDIFF opened with the screening of Marshall  at the iconic Balboa Park Theatre and was followed by four days of screenings, panels and parties. Executive and Artistic Director Tonya Mantooth and her team deserve a big round of applause for continuing to bring quality films to the arts and film communities of southern California. For more coverage see the links below.

Fox 5 covers Variety Night of the Stars

A researcher plays David to a seagoing Goliath at Birch Aquarium at Scripps. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

Imagine you are walking into a 12-foot cube with reflective mirrors on all sides and a music score begins, transporting you underwater, where you are surrounded by light radiating off the tiny organisms, and you can imagine what it looks and feels like to be a deep-sea diver who weaves in and out of its radiance.

At Birch Aquarium at Scripps in San Diego, part of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and UCSD, this cube will soon exist. The installation is called the Infiniti Cube and is being created by a Scripps scientist who studies bioluminescence, a renowned London artist in residence at Scripps Oceanography and a New York musician and composer who teaches math.

Scheduled to open soon, the Infiniti Cube is just one example of how Birch Director Harry Helling is adapting to the times. The priorities for public engagement at the aquarium have changed along with the urgency of understanding and protecting the planet, so his focus is on education, conservation and engagement in the community, which Birch has served for the last 100-plus years.

Read more: San Diego Community News Group – World class science community support fuel Birch Aquarium

 

 

 

 

 

Dick Flavin regales the Red Sox faithful on the game he loves at a recent La Jolla Farms get-together. PHOTO BY CHRIS SHAFFER
It’s always baseball season for Dick Flavin, the poet laureate of the Boston Red Sox, who was in La Jolla Oct. 24 in support of his New York Times bestseller, “Red Sox Rhymes: Verses and Curses,” a collection of baseball-themed poems he has written over of the years.

“When I finally did this thing,” Flavin said, “it was a wake up call to me. I had loved these poems and the lyrical connection. I started writing them, and I loved doing them. I loved the Red Sox all my life. I tell people I was born a Red Sox fan and baptized a Catholic.”

Flavin, a 22-year veteran of Boston television, recited some poems and told more than a few stories about the Red Sox and the game he loves as part of a City Club of San Diego event at Michelle and Bill Lerach’s beautiful La Jolla Farms estate.

The well-attended event was organized by San Diego native George Mitrovich, president of the City Club and the Denver Forum and chair of the Red Sox & Great Fenway Park Writers Series. Mitrovitch invited Red Sox fans young and old to hear Flavin do what he does best — humorously recite his favorite poems as he weaves the history and emotion of the game throughout the words.

 

The 224-page book is published by HarperCollins.

“When I was in the third grade,” Flavin said at an interview at the La Valencia Hotel before his appearance, “I made a discovery. It was a poem by Ernest Lawrence Thayer called ‘Casey at the Bat.’ I loved the story of it, and it was about baseball. I loved the music of it as the words took you inexorably to the conclusion. I loved hearing and saying it more than reading it. I learned the poem on my own. It became part of my act, and I would recite it for anyone who would listen.”

That iconic poem was the inspiration for the poetry Flavin would write about the Red Sox and baseball for the next 15 years.

Ted Williams, a native of San Diego and in Flavin’s opinion the greatest hitter in the history of baseball, had an important influence on Flavin, as is evident by the number of poems and stories around him. Flavin got to know Williams through his pals on the team – centerfielder Dom DiMaggio, a hero of Flavin’s and to whom the book is dedicated, and player-manager Johnny Pesky.

“I’m taking the road trip of a lifetime,” Flavin begins, “and I’m with Dom DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky. We all drove down to Florida to visit with Ted, who was gravely ill. I had to do something to justify my presence among these mythic heroes of my boyhood. So we’re in Ted’s living room, and I do a rewrite in my head of ‘Casey at the Bat.’ I made it about Ted, and the Red Sox and recited it for the three of them. I knew ‘Casey at the Bat’ cold, so it was easy to do. Ted loved it, and every time he saw me, he asked me to do ‘Teddy at the Bat.’”

Flavin also has a deep admiration for “the man with the vision,” as he refers to Larry Lucchino, former Red Sox CEO and a longtime La Jolla resident. Lucchino, who is mentioned often in the book, led the efforts to restore Fenway Park to more than its original grandeur, modernized it and brought it back to life, giving a great gift to the community of Boston. But Flavin considers Lucchino’s impact on baseball to be far greater than just one park.

“Larry’s great legacy to the game,” he explained, “is what he’s done for ballparks. Baltimore is a perfect example of that. He studied what it was about the older parks that people loved and folded that into Camden Yards. He built a retro modern park that has all the bells and whistles but also the traditional aspect to it as well.

“Larry came to San Diego and built Petco Park, a beautiful facility that would not have been built without Larry. They were all Larry Lucchino’s doing. Those three ballparks and what he has done for the community in those three places, Baltimore, San Diego and Boston, should put him in the Hall of Fame as an executive.”

It was Lucchino who asked Flavin to be the poet laureate of the Red Sox, the only team to have one. Even with the season completed — and long after the Sox were in contention — Flavin is still high on the game he loves and preparing for next season.

“When you love something the way fans love baseball,” he said, “you don’t stop just when your team isn’t winning. Baseball is still being played, and I’m still watching. I’ll be ready for spring training, like all baseball fans. We can’t help ourselves.”

Read more: San Diego Community News Group – La Jolla San Diego are Red Sox Nation s West Coast outposts poet laureate says

Building empathy through film

Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive
Photo by Liane Brandon

As executive producer and founder of Spy Pond Productions, Eric Stange has produced, directed and written a dizzying array of work, mostly telling unique, often lost stories of American history. His work, which also covers science, has been broadcast on PBS, The Discovery Channel, and the BBC. Before becoming a filmmaker he wrote about art and culture for The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Atlantic Monthly, and other publications. Eric has been the recipient of a Harvard University Charles Warren Fellowship in American History. He’s on the board of Common-Place, a website devoted to early American history, and writes a column about media and history for American Heritage magazine. “Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive” stars Denis O’Hare as Poe, and was shot on location in Boston. A screening will be held on Saturday, April 29, 1:30 p.m., at the Brattle Theater in Harvard Square as part of the Independent Film Festival of Boston (http://iffboston.org), and will be broadcast nationally next fall on the PBS series American Masters.

 What was it like working with Denis O’Hare?

Denis is one of the most talented actors in the business. Virtually everyone has seen him in his many TV or movie roles (“American Horror Story,” “The Good Wife,” “True Blood, Dallas Buyer’s Club”), but like a lot of great character actors he isn’t a household name. He should be.

What sold us on casting Denis was that he spent a whole season of “American Horror Story” playing a leading character who’s mute. Our film doesn’t have a lot of dialogue—Poe is often alone and silent, though very expressive. When we saw that Denis did an entire season of episodic TV without saying a word —we knew he could be our Poe.

In addition, it turns out Denis had studied a lot of poetry in college, so he did a wonderful job reciting Poe’s poems. And we didn’t even realize until we started with hair and make-up how much he actually looks like Poe!

Left: Actor Denis O’Hare Photo by Liane Brandon

 Edgar Allan Poe is already a well-known figure, is there new information about Poe revealed in the film?

One of the reasons I made the film is because I came to realize Poe is a hugely misunderstood figure. Most people think of him in a one-dimensional way —as a brooding, mad, perhaps opium-addled denizen of the dark. Until I started researching this project I didn’t know that Poe was an important literary critic, and an influential magazine editor. He was a powerful player in the literary scene of the 1830s and ’40s—a tastemaker—one of the glitterati of his time. He helped define what American literature would be in the early decades of our nation.

I knew Poe had written detective stories. What I didn’t realize is that Poe invented the detective story as we know it today, with all the conventions we’re used to. Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, said he had modeled his stories on Poe. And virtually every detective writer since has followed suit.

 Poe is one of those iconic figures who appears in popular culture decade after decade. Even people who haven’t read his works know his face. Why?

Yes it’s amazing how often Poe pops up. He’s in “The Simpsons,” on the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and on and on.

Poe himself is partly responsible for his enduring image in pop culture. He knew that to sell his stories in a competitive marketplace he needed more than just good writing—he needed a public persona that would give him an edge. He was a fan of the English bad-boy poet Lord Byron, and he saw how a reputation—even a dark one —could help sell literature.

So he had daguerreotypes made that portrayed him a certain way, and he wrote falsified biographical materials that made him seem a more adventurous and romantic figure than he really was.

But what really cemented his reputation—and in a bad way—was the first obituary after Poe’s untimely death at age 40 in 1849. His literary enemy, Rufus Griswold, wrote the obit, and he described Poe in all the negative ways people still think of him today. So Griswold’s negative portrayal, along with Poe’s own self-mythologizing, have played a big role in keeping Poe famous —or rather infamous.

Daguerrotype of Edgar Allan Poe

What’s the real story? Was Poe just a regular guy who was terribly misunderstood or is there some truth to the dark, Halloween-figure side of Poe?

Well, like any complicated person, it’s a bit of both. If Poe were my buddy, I’d think twice when I saw him come up on caller ID. He could be a terrible friend, and a worse enemy. He was dead broke and in debt most of his life. He had a terrible time with alcohol, though he could be sober for long periods. At the same time, he was brilliant, witty, had lots of friends and was a loving husband, most of the time. Though he married his 13-year-old cousin when he was 26!

One thing I discovered is that practically anything you say about Poe, the opposite is also true. That’s part of what made the film challenging, and fun!

Why the title: “Buried Alive”?

Poe was fascinated —maybe even obsessed—with stories of people who were buried alive by mistake, which happened fairly frequently in the early 19th century. Medicine hadn’t figured out how to determine death with certainty, and particularly during epidemics there was a lot of pressure to get corpses underground quickly. One of his most famous stories is “The Premature Burial.”

I also love the metaphorical meanings. Poe lived his life under a constant cloud of grief —virtually all the women he loved died young. He struggled with a mountain of debt, and even before he died his bad reputation had begun to overshadow the reality of his life. And then, of course, there’s the never-ending mystery of his death. For all those reasons, it feels like an appropriate title.

Mystery of his death?

You have to see the movie.

 

For The Pendry hotel and Downtown San Diego, it is all about the millennials.

“We could feel the shift in luxury,” said Michael Fuerstman, co-founder and creative director of The Pendry hotel brand. “We were looking to expand our parent company, Montage Resorts, so we took a step back and looked at the new wave of luxury customer.

“The target age for us is the 30-something guest, one who is exceptionally well traveled,” Fuerstman said. “They have an appreciation for art and architecture, cultural and creative programming, and are looking for something in between a lifestyle hotel and a luxury hotel.”

By 2020, millennials — those born roughly between 1982 and 2004 — will make up more than 50 percent of San Diego’s workforce.

An area adjacent and to the open air rooftop extends the open format and allows for additional lounging. (Photos courtesy The Pendry Hotel)

Unlike baby boomers, millennials don’t necessarily want to own something; they want experiences, where luxury and lifestyle are seamlessly intertwined. As a rule, they consider wealth a very important attribute, enjoy living and working in urban areas, and have become in many ways the prototype for the unprecedented revitalization that is happening in Downtown.

The Pendry, located at 550 J St., is slated to open its doors this month — January 2017 — and is one of the first of several new residential and commercial projects planned for Downtown. Also in the mix is the millennial-driven WeWork, at 600 B St., a newly opened co-working office space that consists of six floors and 90,000 square feet of a contemporary character.

“Millennials want highly amenitized workplaces, homes, condos and apartments, so on the experience side, The Pendry is probably at the top of what they would want to see, “said Kris Michell, CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership (DSDP), the member-based, nonprofit organization that advocates for the economic growth and vitality of San Diego. “The Pendry and Montage Resorts chose San Diego to debut its first lifestyle hotel. This represents a tipping point for us, as it’s illustrative of San Diego’s emergence on the world stage as a cultural influencer.”

Other projects for the area that have been approved include: 7th and Market, a 39-story retail, hotel and condominium complex; Maker’s Quarter, a five-block urban district in the East Village with street-level retail, 800 residential units and 1 million-square-feet of creative office space; and, Manchester Pacific Gateway, a combination of commercial, retail, Navy offices and two hotels located at the former Broadway Navy Complex.

The number of residential and commercial developments on the horizon is good news for San Diego and North County residents looking for more lifestyle options, according to DSDP. That’s also why The Pendry team tapped Clique Hospitality and its San Diego-based founder, Andy Masi, to run the dining and entertainment venues.

“We recognized the opportunity to be a real cultural, entertainment and culinary hub within the city, and collaboration with local partners and brands was very important to us,” Fuerstman said. “Andy lives and breathes San Diego but also brings worldly exposure from outside of the market. Clique has years of experience in Las Vegas running upscale restaurants, lounges and nightclubs. He understands what works here and is pushing the bar forward to bring in an element and interesting things that aren’t here yet.”

Each restaurant in the new hotel is located on the street with separate entrances that make them feel as though they are their own individual brands.

The Pendry’s signature restaurant, Lionfish, will have local award-winning chef JoJo Ruiz in the kitchen, with a focus on modern coastal cuisine.

Nason’s, at the corner of Sixth and J avenues, promises to be an authentic beer hall, which will highlight the numerous craft beer makers for which San Diego is known. Located just a 5-minute walk to Petco Park, Nason’s will feature signature keg tappings, local brewers, pretzels, sausage and bratwurst along with special events.

In addition, the Oxford Social Club, an underground club located next to Lionfish, is a play on the ultra lounge scene of 10 to 15 years ago, with a DJ booth and soft, moveable seating that gives it a communal feel. A lobby bar, spa and outdoor rooftop pool deck are included in the amenities.

Montage Resorts, which currently operates six luxury hotels, are known in the industry for their service culture and Pendry General Manager Michael O’Donohue, with his more than 22 years of experience in luxury hotel management, hopes that this will set The Pendry apart.

The 12-story hotel offers 317 contemporary guest rooms and 36 suites, all with an elegant but comfortable modern design. The intent of the staff is to make the experience for the guest a seamless transition from outside to in, and that includes guests who travel with their pets. The Pendry is a pet-friendly hotel where man’s best friend is more than welcome.

“The most critical part of our success will be the service, taking what Montage is known for and bringing that to San Diego,” O’Donohue said. “It’s in their DNA. From a citywide perspective, we are seeing record levels of growth both this year and next. We believe that San Diego is on the rise and we’re hitting it at the right time.”

For more information, visit pendryhotels.com/san-diego.

—Terri Stanley is the creator, producer and host of the Emmy award-winning Boston lifestyle show styleboston and former executive editor of Boston Common magazine. Since moving to the San Diego area, she freelances as a lifestyle writer and short film producer. Reach her at terris@styleboston.tv.

There’s no mistaking when Mario Frangoulis takes the stage. The only thing that is crisper than his clothes is his remarkable voice. A sterling tenor that has taken this singer-actor to some of the world’s greatest stages and allowed him to perform in opera, classical theater and popular West End musicals. Born in Africa and raised in Greece, Frangoulis was trained at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he was discovered by legendary Broadway creator Sir Cameron Mackintosh. His “Mario Frangoulis: Sing Me An Angel” tour launches on Saturday, March 25th at the Sanders Theatre at Harvard University in Cambridge. The concert starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are still available. (https://www.mariofrangoulis.com/concerts)

 

STYLEBOSTON: Classical performers, particularly tenors, are known for being put together (tux, tails), but traditionally haven’t been known as fashion-forward trendsetters (those tux, tails). And then there’s you. You have made headlines for your “style.” Where does your sense of style come from? 

MARIO: I have always cared about fashion and how it is influenced by the various changes in our society, the political climate, the style of music and the arts. In so many ways, styling itself gives an “identity” to an artist, “signature” clothes, and one’s own style. I have been extremely lucky to meet great designers at such a young age in my life and career. Donna Karan, for example, dressed me on my first album “Sometimes I Dream.” Valentino designed my first tuxedos early on in my career and let me launch his Red Label tuxedos. Giorgio Armani designed all of the suits, costumes and clothes for the movie “De Lovely” starring Kevin Klein and Ashley Judd in which I wore a great Shakespearean period costume designed by Armani himself! He was also a very cool person to meet. Lately I have been dressed exclusively by Ermenegildo Zegna.

 

STYLEBOSTON: Do you have a favorite designer? A favorite piece in your wardrobe?

MARIO: I had the chance to meet the unique Ralph Lauren at an exclusive party at Bloomingdales and I have to admit that his casual-wear clothes are the best! Very comfortable and all time classic. I have many jackets by Ralph Lauren that I also wear with jeans for press conferences and casual smart occasions. One of my very favorite designers these days is Tom Ford. His tuxedos are incredible —especially the great thick and old-fashioned but contemporary lapels. Tom Ford’s tuxedo has to be my favorite piece in my entire wardrobe!

 

STYLEBOSTON: Just as you have made an impression for your style, you are known for your versatility on stage. Do you prefer traditional opera over Broadway or West End musicals? How does traditional Greek music fit into your repertoire?

MARIO: Opera is my first love. West End musicals, however, especially “Les Miserables” was my first big adventure on stage. The costumes were actually designed by the Greek-Cypriot English costume and Tony Award-winning designer Andreane Neofitou. Playing Marius, the romantic lead, gives me so much theatrical and stage experience.

As you said in your question, I truly enjoy being versatile on stage, and this really represents who I am. I enjoy being different in every role I play: from Raoul in “The Phantom of the Opera” to Tony in “West Side Story” at Teatro Alla Scala to the King in “The King and I” and so many leading roles in ancient Greek drama, like “Prometheus Bound,” a Titan who defies the gods and gives fire to mankind, acts for which he is subjected to perpetual punishment. Achilles was a great role for me in the ancient theatre in Epidaurus in the year of the Olympic games in 2004. It was the first time this great Ancient Greek play was presented after 2,500 years. It is a trilogy by the great dramatist Aeschylus and was so full of great adventures, heroic battles and fate itself which one cannot escape from. Dionysus, however in “The Bacchae” was the most challenging of all roles. Dionysus, the protagonist of Euripides, “Bacchae,” is one big contradiction. The character embodies many of the dualities that we see throughout the play. First of all, in some ways he represents both human and god. Dionysus definitely has all the powers of a god. He summons earthquakes, lightning, and has a knack for getting into people’s heads, driving them insane!

Another interesting duality is that Dionysus is foreign and Greek at the same time. He was born in Greece, but his religion, for some reason, first spread in Asia. Another contradiction is that Dionysus in some ways represents both male and female. Yes, he is a male god, but the mortal form he takes is said to be quite effeminate. Dionysus also had a strange birth. The play itself is full of dualities and that is what I love about it!

Perhaps the play is trying to say that everything that exists is also its opposite at the very same time—more specifically, that we as human beings are inherently contradicted. We’re all both rational and irrational. All humans are animals, but there’s also something special that undeniably separates us from the rest of Earth’s living creatures.

Though we all (or at least most of us) belong to one gender or another, there are things about all of us that don’t quite fit into the role that society prescribes to specific sexes. Even though everybody is from somewhere, we’re all a foreigner somewhere else. Sometimes we even become foreigners in our own homes. Lastly, even though we’re certainly mortal, maybe, just maybe, some part of us is eternal and divine. It seems to us, that in the character of Dionysus, Euripides captured many of the amazing contradictions that make up every human being.

Mario & Justin Hayward

In music and in theater, I must be flexible, adapting to what’s happening around me, and experimenting with new and unique combinations of music and acting skills—this also translates to my sense of personal style. Life is a mosaic of experiences that make up who we are—there is no one “right” way to do anything…everything I do has to do with my truth, my feelings and my identity. That is why Greek music is always part of my repertoire—not only because of the beauty of the language, but also because it is core to who I am and my identity as a human being. I can’t imagine a performance without Greek music…my style is the same way… in everything I do I strive for simplicity… I was trained to respect simplicity in my voice/singing, I was raised to admire simplicity in my personal life, and my aesthetic reflects this value.

 

STYLEBOSTON: Do you have a favorite stage to perform on or favorite venue to perform in? A favorite performer to appear with? Or, symphony to perform with? (No pressure to say Symphony Hall or the Boston Pops…)

MARIO: I love Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops! Symphony Hall in Boston is an amazing venue and acoustically one of the best in the world. We did an “epic” show there in 2012 that aired on public television across the country and I will never forget it. I have performed in Boston many times. It is one of my favorite cities to perform in. I love the combination of history with young energy (all the students). It has a European feel to it, and it is next to the ocean, which is so beautiful. Of course performing in venues like Milan’s La Scala and my favorite Herod Atticus at the foot of the Acropolis in Athens is tough competition! But Boston is certainly up there!

I have had the pleasure of performing with such a huge range of talented artists—from Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras to Justin Hayward and Klaus Meine to Lara Fabian and Sarah Brightman to Natalie Cole, Tina Arena and Smokey Robinson. The list goes on and on!

What I have enjoyed so much about Boston are the fantastic young and talented musicians, many of them from Berklee College of Music. I have a passion for supporting young musicians and I love to walk the halls at night when we are rehearsing and feel the energy of all of that great young talent ready to take over the world.

 

STYLEBOSTON: How did it come to be that Boston was the first location on this US tour?

 MARIO: We have been talking with my team for a while about returning to one of my favorite venues in Boston—the Sanders Theatre at Harvard. That theatre is amazing and the acoustics are fantastic. We’ve always performed great shows on that stage full of amazing positive energy. I always get so much energy and love from this city and have many friends here who I can call my family. We decided that since WGBH has been such a supporter over the years, and we got a great date to start the 2017 concert series here, why not “come home” to Boston?

 

STYLEBOSTON: Do you have any favorite haunts, places or stops in Boston? 

MARIO: Of course I love to walk around the Boston Common and Newbury Street; Harvard Square and brunch at the Charles Hotel is always a great favorite! Lobster and crab at Legal Sea Foods on the Harbor is great as well. There is a long list and it, of course, includes Symphony Hall, and also Harvard Yard. I love to walk in Boston. Bostonians have a certain casual sophistication that makes me feel very at ease.

 

 

 

 

Published – 02/10/17 – 09:00 AM | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman star in HBO's 'Big Little Lies.' PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman star in HBO’s ‘Big Little Lies.’ PHOTO CONTRIBUTED
The San Diego International Film Festival partnered with HBO for the San Diego premiere of “Big Little Lies,” the cable giant’s limited series based on Liane Moriarty’s 2014 best-selling novel of the same name, which drew a packed house at The Lot in La Jolla on Wednesday night.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to partner with San Diego’s independent film festival and HBO to showcase this amazing venue,” said Lot General Manager Robert Smythe. “We have beautiful theaters, ample parking, and a fantastic restaurant to support what Hollywood and networks like HBO need to do. It’s a perfect marriage.”

Under a fine evening mist that blanketed the sky, the crowd of 300 film supporters and friends walked into the sophisticated and hip venue that combines entertainment with al fresco dining to preview the first two episodes of “Big Little Lies,” which stars Reese Witherspoon and was created by seven-time Emmy Award-winner David E. Kelley.

The opening night excitement was immediately replaced by a hush as festival director Tonya Mantooth took to the stage to introduce Tupper, who talked about the extraordinary experience shooting with director Jean-Marc Vallee.

Guests were treated to a lively red carpet followed by an after-party at the theater’s restaurant with actor James Tupper, who plays Nathan Carlson in the comedy-drama, and who, with his partner Anne Heche, enjoyed mingling with San Diego’s film lovers and cultural cosmopolites before and after the film.

“The director was the part of the puzzle that really was phenomenal for me,” said Tupper. “He kind of created a whole new way of filmmaking, where he hangs out with a camera and we shoot in one place for six hours—he just moves the handheld camera around and gets all these little nuances, little details—no lighting packages, no hair and makeup people around, just us.”

Based on the New York Times best-seller, “Big Little Lies” is a seven-episode “who done it” that deals with domestic violence and friendship in the seaside town of Monterey, CA. Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, who bought the rights to the book and are two of the executive producers, lead a stellar cast that includes Tupper, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravitz, and Alexander Skarsgård.

Described by HBO as a tale told through the eyes of three mothers, Madeline (Witherspoon), Celeste (Kidman), and Jane (Woodley), befriend each other in a town fueled by rumors and divided into the “haves” and “have-nots.” Conflicts, secrets, and betrayals compromise relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children and friends and neighbors.

On the red carpet, Tupper was effusive in his praise for HBO but was most impressed with his accommodations during the shoot. “Working with HBO was amazing, and everyone on that set felt the same way but I really knew I made it when I walked into my trailer-I had a big flat screen and I brought my kids over and said ‘Come on, you gotta see what Dad is doing!’”

The “Big Little Lies” screening kicks off the SDIFF’s Insider Series and is the first in a sequence of six private screenings that will be held once a month from February through July in La Jolla. The series is available to the public and can be purchased for a limited period of time, at the reasonable price of $150. Created by Tonya Mantooth, the executive and artistic director of the SDIFF, the package includes private screenings, a cocktail party, and a “Q and A” session with special guests and a post champagne reception with dessert.

“The Insider Series gives people a chance to come out and see exclusive premieres, meet the actors or filmmakers and socialize with fellow film-lovers,” says Mantooth. “It is exactly the experience I want to create for our members. In a time when things are so divisive, the film reminds us that our bond is through human connection. San Diego International Film Festival is a place where people can come together, experience cinema, create dialog and maybe take in a new perspective.”

The 2017 festival, which begins on Oct. 4 and will run through Oct. 8, comes on the heels of the most successful year the festival has ever seen in terms of attendees and star power. A few of the Oscar-nominated independent films screened at the 2016 San Diego festival include the Weinstein Company’s “Lion,” nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, and “Hell or High Water,” which garnered four Academy Award nominations including Best Actor for Jeff Bridges.

According to Mantooth, the goal of the festival this year is to grow the awareness and audiences that attend the October festival and to increase the audience of film lovers in the San Diego and north county communities that want to engage in independent films all year long.

For more information on the Insider Series, visit www.sdfilmfest.com/.

Terri Stanley is the creator and executive producer of the Emmy award-winning Boston lifestyle show “styleboston” and former executive editor of Boston Common magazine. Since moving to the San Diego area, she freelances as a lifestyle writer and short film producer. Reach her at terris@styleboston.tv.

San Diego Community News Group – HBO premieres Big Little Lies at SDIFF

Project Bread - The Walk for Hunger - Boston, Massachusetts - May 1, 2016

Project Bread – The Walk for Hunger – Boston, Massachusetts – May 1, 2016/David Leifer photo

BOSTON—Despite a rainy May 1st, the 48th annual Walk for Hunger & 5K Run brought together more than 35,000 neighbors to raise money to fund hunger-relief programs throughout the state. In the morning, participants were greeted by some of Boston’s biggest on-air personalities from Project Bread’s partners, including iHeart Media radio stations, Kiss 108, JAM’N 94.5, and 101.7 The Bull. Kiss 108’s legendary morning show host Matt Siegel was joined by Frankie & Ashlee, Lisa Donovan and Billy Costa. WHDH-TV Boston’s 7News anchors Kim Khazei and Adam Williams joined Jeremy Reiner on location for the morning weather, and Sarah French cooked up healthy school lunch recipes with Project Bread’s Chef Educators in the Snack Station.

The Snack Station was a new feature to the Walk for Hunger’s Walk Village, presented by the Walk’s flagship sponsor Arnold Bread. After crossing the finish-line, completing a 10-mile scenic route through Boston and Cambridge, Walkers were entertained by performances from the Main Stage while re-fueling with an Arnold Bread sandwich and sampling other treats from Shake Shack, KIND, Polar, and more.

All money raised from participants of the Walk funds more than 300 critical hunger-relief programs, including: food pantries, soup kitchens, community gardens, summer meal programs, and more. To make a donation to support the Walk for Hunger please visit www.projectbread.org/walk.

 

Steve FisherDespite having one of the best records in the country, the San Diego State Aztec men’s basketball team will not be going to The Big Dance this year. Coach Steve Fisher, who was recently named one of the top ten college coaches in the country by ESPN, is undoubtedly disappointed but most assuredly focused on his team’s victory as the number one seed in their league. Now gearing up for the National Invitation Tournament, Fisher and his team will most likely shrug off the fickle process of the NCAA bid and focus on winning again. We sat down with this iconic coach to talk about how he wins on and off the court.

http://sdnews.com/view/full_story/27121981/article-Courtside-with-SDSU-s-Steve-Fisher—the-architect-of-the-Aztecs–success?instance=most_popular1

 
Beverly Hills w Craig @ Craig's

Craig Susser with Terri Stanley and Melissa White at Craig’s

Craig Susser, a good friend of ours and the super cool, low key owner of Craig’s in West Hollywood was just named among the Wall Street Journal Magazine’s top six restaurants, where some of L.A.’s biggest names love to dine.  We were there a few weeks ago and were not disappointed-the food, especially the filet mignon with blue cheese ravioli, was outstanding and we caught sight of a few stars close by. If in LA in the near future, be sure to check the article out so you know where to go.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/6-l-a-restaurants-that-bring-out-the-stars-1446126150

Brendan Cieko and Elizabeth Dobrska

Brendan Cieko and Elizabeth Dobrska

The theme, “Something Blue” kicked off the Museum of Fine Arts annual summer party with fantastical lights that illuminated the beautiful gowns on the steps of the Huntington entrance. This best dressed crowd of 25-46 year old revelers gathered to celebrate artist Juan Travieso and show their support for one Boston’s finest cultural institutions. Guests raised the fashion bar even higher this year, influenced I’m sure by the fact that Valentino was the lead sponsor. Boston and New York designer Michael DePaulo created a beautiful black, full petticoat, hi-lo gown with feathers and leather trimmings pour moi, while Abby Cushman stunned the crowd in a Michael DePaulo Valentino-red, floor length, off the shoulder trumpet gown. Blogger babes Jessica Diaz and Alisa Kapinos both sported floral—Jessica in a beautiful low cut, floral Alice and Olivia gown, which was news to me since I had no idea designer Stacey Bendet was doing ball gowns. But this was obviously a trend because Pia Miller, one of the co-chairs, also chose Alice and Olivia—a beautiful gold and auburn print floor length gown.  Co-chair Dobrska had a gorgeous vintage white and lavendar floral gown. I admired creatives like jewelry designer Maria Stokalska, who put together unexpected fashion combinations for the evening with her emerald green knee length circle skirt and a silk animal top-perfect for the night.

Endangered Bird #55a

Endangered Bird #55a, Juan Travieso

Aside from the gowns, the highlight of the evening was Juan Travieso. An artist we claim as our own, he was trained at the MFA Museum School and has since moved to Miami, where I saw his beautiful murals on the Walls of Wynwood. Juan came to Boston for three days to create one of his signature murals  and he enlisted a team of 5 local artists, (@graves_miller, @bruceybluejeans, @pt35mm, @farzanehsafarani, @paulkotakis), who were his cohorts at The Museum School. Working around the clock, they helped him finish the mural, each one being assigned separate triangles to paint to ultimately construct his Picasso-like, brightly colored, cubist mural with a deer head bursting out of the center.

The Summer Party kicks off the season for young and stylish Bostonians. A social calendar highlight for over ten years, this annual event raises vital operating support for the Museum of Fine Arts. A portion of the proceeds from this year’s Summer Party benefits an endowed Museum Council Special Exhibition Fund. I love supporting emerging artists and giving them this platform where art collectors, young and experienced, can bid on juried works of art. The event took place in the main gallery—50 foot ceilings, bodies bustling about taking pictures in front of the 10,000 pound, green glass Chihuly tree and partygoers snacking from the antipasto buffet. Ben and I snuck downstairs to view the Pupils of Hokusai Exhibit and unfettered by hoards of people, we sat in the calm, silent room, where our thoughts could roam as we pondered the beautiful Japanese paintings.

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Photography by Todd Mazur and Michael Blanchard

577B9923Since summer is in full swing, and shorter hemlines are on the horizon, I decided a seasonal beauty overhaul was in order. After all, with sunny spells coming and going as they please, a girl has to be ready to flash some leg at a moment’s notice. With that in mind, I beelined it to G2O Spa to see expert esthetician Gina Hernandez for the secret tricks of the trade on how to get summer ready skin from head-to-toe. Luckily for you, I’m “spa’ing” and telling…

That’s A Wrap
Looking for skin that is both radiant and soft to the touch? Enter G20 Spa’s body wrap. Carefully balanced to both cleanse and replenish, G20’s body wrap treatments lift the veil of dullness and dryness to restore hydrated silkiness to skin. Using seaweed from the seas of France, Gina told me this purifying treatment detoxifies the body while restoring skin tone and vitality by drawing out toxins from the skin. Gina finished my treatment with lymphatic drainage to enhance detoxification, boost circulation and promote overall slimming and toning effects.

Glow on Girl
Think facials are just for women who love to be pampered? Think again. If done regularly while you’re still in your early 20s, they can prevent premature wrinkles, sun damage and aging. Not sure where to begin? Let G20 Spa be your guide. After a skin consult, Gina started by applying a Pumpkin Peptide Polish to my face to exfoliate skin cells; provide antioxidant support and stimulate collagen activity, leaving skin feeling smooth and looking bright. Next, Gia helped me get my glow on with the use of LED, which stands for Light Emitting Diodes, that help to target common skin problems such as blemishes, redness and uneven pigmentation by stimulating new cell growth.

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Nailed It

Looking to nail your summer look? Step into summer by looking polished from head to toe with a G20 Spa deluxe pedicure. This full service pedicure includes a lower leg and foot exfoliation, nail grooming, and massage. Conclude this relaxing experience with a natural nail buffing or a bright polish application of your choice for a look that is sure to start your summer off on the right foot.

Photography by: Lisa Richov

 

_H6A6879Have you heard of Jennifer Aniston’s line of beauty products called Living Proof?  I just learned that this uber cool brand is headquartered right here in our own backyard. Scientists from MIT got together with beauty experts and developed this brand with one simple ambition: “To challenge conventional wisdom to solve your toughest beauty problems.”

_H4C8561 _H4C8354Now this may sound like something rather simple to do, however, this lab has taken hair care and hair products to a new level, measuring out what works and what doesn’t on specific hair types, colors and textures.  Living Proof has done for hair what Mario Testino has done for fashion photography. There are a core group of testees who come in periodically to test out new products, see what works, what doesn’t. We got to play a little, and discover the inner workings of this lab the other night at the opening and debut of their Style Lab.  My favorite part of the tour was seeing a row of mannequin heads, hair of all different colors and textures, all lined up, ready for testing—the first phase of product development, apparently. Though their office, which consists of 60% female employees, is located in tech den Kendall Square, their outreach spans all the way to the west coast where Jennifer serves as  brand ambassador.

_H6A7221I was so excited to get my hands on the Perfect Hair Day Night Cap Overnight Protector, an overnight hair mask that you simply apply and let the magic happen while you sleep. A genius idea for busy moms like myself! Another notable that I can’t wait to try: Blowout, and Restore Instant Protection—it protects your hair from UV rays for 24 hours and is perfect for those summer beach days. Stop by to have your hair tested and find out what product will suit you best. I assure you, every woman I saw that was working for the company had gorgeous locks. I asked Grace Ray if great hair was a pre-requisite for being hired. She said, “ Definitely not!” and chuckled a bit. I suggested they make a “before-after” facebook! I’ll be on the lookout for that.
photocredit: Michael Blanchard

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