BOSTON — Are the spirit of the times and the spirit of the holidays on a collision course? Thanksgiving and Christmas have always been a time of good cheer towards all men (and women), a celebration of our founding fathers giving thanks to their new world, and, for many, the birth of Jesus Christ.
But today it could be said that the feeling among many people this holiday season is not one of joy and hope, but a heightened sense of anxiety that threatens to derail the holiday train and throw it right off the tracks.
One way to return the essence of the season is to see a “Charlie Brown’s Christmas,” which opens on Nov. 29 for a four-day run at the Boch Center-Shubert Theatre. The unforgettable music of Vince Gueraldi brings people back to this story time and time again and there are several threads to pull on that resonate today-inclusion, tolerance, anti-bullying, and independent thought and speech.
This story also works as a reminder of better days and kinder times, when the world seemed a lot simpler and in many ways much safer. Baby boomers grew up with the Peanuts gang and introduced them to their kids, who still love the timeless group of characters. Lucy, Charlie, Linus, and Schroeder are a staple in the line up of holiday must-sees and accompanying the original Peanuts gang will be Rudoph, Frosty, the Grinch and “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Perhaps what remains relevant for so many of us is that in each one of these stories lies the power to defeat the bad guys and believe, in the end, in decency and the basic goodness of mankind.
For those looking for fun ways to celebrate the holidays, Charlie Brown’s Christmas runs from Nov. 29 through Dec. 2. Or, by clicking here.
SAN DIEGO — One of this town’s biggest and best events took place last week and the celebrities came down to party. The San Diego International Film Festival’s “Night of the Stars Party,” held at the glamorous Pendry hotel, was electrifying in the excitement and buzz around this year’s honorees. Topher Grace, Kenny Loggins (who wowed the sold-out ballroom with three amazing songs to close out the night), John Cho, Kathryn Hahn, Keith Carradine, Zachary Levi and Alex Wolff all made the trip from LA to celebrate film.
Sponsored by Morgan Stanley, Maserati of San Diego, Jamul Casinos, Pendry Hotel and The Nemeth Foundation, the festival screenings and events spanned five days and included films of all genres and subjects that would entice any film lover to this beautiful waterfront city. Check the website for 2019 festival dates and mark your calendars for a premier way to experience one of the most standout film festivals in this Oz-like setting.
HARTFORD, CT — Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Dave Matthew, and John Mellencamp and other acts performed at the day-long, sold-out annual Farm Aid 2018 concert that took place on Sept. 22 at the Xfinity Theatre in Hartford, Connecticut. The amphitheater holds 30,000 people and tickets for the benefit concert sold out shortly after they went on sale.
The day’s lineup also included Nathaniel Ratecliff & The Night Sweats, Margo Price, Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real, Kacey Musgraves, Chris Stapleton, Jamey Johnson, and Ian Mellencamp. There were also demonstrations and farmers on hand to show concertgoers the importance of supporting Farm Aid.
For more on the Somerville, MA, based Farm Aid, read here.
All photos are by Steven Tackeff
Willie Nelson at the pre-concert press conference
Neil Young plays late in the night at Farm Aid 2018
Photo by Steven Tackeff
Neil Young performs at Farm Aid
Photo by Steven Tackeff
John Mellencamp, at the pre-concert press conference, above right, and performing at the concert.
Jamey Johnson at Farm Aid 2018
Ian Mellencamp got things started at the Farm Aid 2018 concert.
Photo by Steven Tackeff
Chris Stapleton at Farm Aid 2018
Photo by Steven Tackeff
Dave Matthews, right, with Tim Reynolds
Photo by Steven Tackeff
Kacey Musgraves performs at Farm Aid 2018.
Photo by Steven Tackeff
Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real at Farm Aid 2018.
Margo Price at Farm Aid 2018.
Photo by Steven Tackeff
Nathaniel Ratecliff & The Night Sweats at Farm Aid 2018.
Photo by Steven Tackeff
Ian Mellencamp was the day-long concert opener.
Photo by Steven Tackeff
The fans get to the Xfinity Theatre in Hartford hours before the start of Farm Aid 2018.
Photos by Steven Tackeff
The pre-concert press conference featured Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young, and Dave Matthews. Photos by Steven Tackeff
The crowd stayed all day to see the acts at this year’s Farm Aid. Photo by Steven Tackeff
ALL PHOTOS and VIDEOS by Joane Nelson
By Anna Paula Goncalves
LOS ANGELES — I’ll just cut straight to the chase:
Go catch “Mile 22” in theaters, Aug. 17! As you can see from watching our fun “black” carpet experience, maybe these 22 [no spoiler, here] reasons of why I think you should, means you will.
Ready? Here we go.
1) This is Mark Wahlberg and Director Peter Berg’s fourth collaboration (“Lone Survivor,” “Deepwater Horizon,” and the Boston-set “Patriots Day,” about the Boston Marathon bombings) yet “Mile 22” is their first collaboration on a fictional story.
2) Mark Wahlberg’s character, James Silva, will give you a little bit of everything you love about Mark.
3) Lauren Cohan. I was already familiar with her work on ‘The Walking Dead,’ but she was a revelation to me in this film. And she may just end up being one to you, too.
4) Iko Uwais. WHAT?!?!? Where did this guy come from and why wasn’t I familiar with his work before?!
5) Ronda Rousey. I personally love seeing her reinvent amd rebrand herself. If you dig her as much as I do, you’ll appreciate her character, Sam Snow.
6) John Malkovich. Need I say more?
7) Nikolai Nikolaeff. I got a taste of his work and definitely want to see more.
8) Every single cast member that was on that carpet loved being there and it showed. That made me much more excited to see them on the big screen. And after watching them on the big screen? Yup, that was some great casting.
9) In fact, I’m just going to go ahead and give credit where it’s due and where it’s usually not given: Casting Director and guru, Sheila Jaffe, for her and her team’s work.
10) Did you realize just how many of the actors come from TV series? Some of which didn’t have film credit at all prior to “Mile 22”! As someone involved with the casting world, I love seeing professionals appreciate talent and hunger over a resume. Hence my point No. 9.
11) Sound effects team made me really take in everything that was happening.
12.) You will want to applaud… (I lost track of how many ‘applauding’ moments happened in that theater.)
13.) You will be ‘shook’…
14.) You will also laugh, though…
15.) And yes, you will probably want to shout, too…
16.) You won’t want to look away. In fact, you may get mad at yourself if you do or if anyone walks in front of you. I saw it happen three times (one being with me, I’ll admit it.)
17.) You will be caught off guard…
18.) You will want to watch the sequel. Oh yes, there’s a sequel already set to happen you guys! That should tell you something. For more, read here.
19.) Lea Carpenter and Graham Roland. Intentionally left these two toward the end because every point made here was thanks to their original story.
20.) Screenwriting was also well done (Lea Carpenter).
21.) Although we see a lot of this kind of theme, these two really wrote something that was unexpected. You have to watch to know what I mean.
22.) Left the best for last: A reminder, even through a fictional film, of how sacrificial it is for our service men and women to sign up to give their lives as a shield to protect others.
And there you have it! My 22 reasons why you should drive however many miles to your nearest theater to catch this film on Friday, Aug. 17!
Susan Hassett, CEO and creator of a new brand of casual footwear called “Cocktail Sneakers” is surrounded by women. Hassett says that she did not intend to work exclusively with women in this new Boston-based venture, but as it turns out that is exactly how the company is getting off the ground.
“I did not set out to involve only women but the timing is incidental. …It wasn’t pre-planned,” she says. “It started out with creating a beautiful, more feminine sneaker for women who want a look that is effortlessly chic-whether she is a stay at home mom or business woman.”
Hassett was very clear at the beginning on what she wanted to create and why. Three and a half years ago she identified a void in the women’s shoe market for an attractive sneaker, one where women could have a shoe that actually transitions all day from casual to elegant without a hiccup in their wardrobe.
Once the idea for the shoe was in place, she built a team that would help her launch the new brand. Through a series of serendipitous introductions she found her designer, Mar Espanol of Shoe Girls Studio in Brooklyn, who introduced her to a woman-run, woman-owned factory, the marketing team Grier Park with Daniella Vollinger and Bianca Brown, and the creative/branding duo Dames, founded by Jemme Aldridge and Emilie Hawtin, who all happen to be very accomplished women.
The introductory selection of cocktail sneakers comes in white, black, navy, blush, and red and range in price from $195 to $225. They can be purchased online at CocktailSneakers.com and at a select number of boutiques on the East and West Coast.
“I feel like I am re-defining sneaker culture for women. Every woman should have a few great pairs of fashion sneakers–this is what we all want to wear. It will never take the place of a beautiful stiletto but the fact that you can put on an outfit now and go to a cocktail party or out to dinner, take off those heels without people looking at you and saying you’re wearing sneakers? No more. ”
So to all fashionistas, when you find yourself on your feet you can get there from here, even if your path is walking through Quincy Marketplace cobblestones, and still look like a perfect ten.
Most people might have slowed down by now. But Mary Higgins Clark is decidedly not most people. With more than 50 best-selling books to her credit (100 million copies of her thrillers are in print in the United States alone) and a new novel, I’VE GOT MY EYES ON YOU, just released, the “Queen of Suspense” is still on the move. In fact, this Bronx-born denizen of Saddle River, N.J., produces two books a year.
Clark, who celebrated her 90th birthday on Christmas Eve, always makes time for her many (many) fans and will put her pen down long enough to be recognized by her fellow writers. For her “distinguished service to the literary community,” the Authors Guild Foundation on May 16, 2018 will honor Clark, along Fulcrum Publishing’s Charlotte and Robert C. Baron, and Vida: Women in Literary Arts.
Beyond her prodigious and well-received work, Clark has been an indefatigable supporter of the FRAXA Research Foundation, a Massachusetts-based non-profit leading the way into research of Fragile X, the most common inherited form of autism.
Clark indulged our own (resident Clark fan) Carol Beggy in a few questions about her work, her fans, and her philanthropy.
CB: Mary, if I can be so bold as to call a literary hero by her first name, how do you do it? Specifically, you’ve continued to write books that resonate with readers when other authors would have taken their winnings and retired to the beach or the mountains.
MHC: Yes, call me Mary. It’s very flattering that readers have enjoyed my books over the last 43 years. I am at heart a storyteller. That’s what I do. I’m not much of a cook, although my five children did not starve to death. I can’t sew a stitch. Nothing I planted in the garden grew properly. So, what would I do all day if I didn’t write? I hope I never find out!
CB: Are your fans really as loyal as they seem? I overheard two people waiting at the airport, one was reading one of your books, and the conversation involved them first trying to not ruin any plot lines and then debating various stories you told. Do they engage you about your stories? How do you keep it all straight?
MHC: I have been blessed with many readers who say, and they mean it, “I’ve read every one of your books.” We’ve had a relationship that’s lasted over 40 years. I love it when readers tell me my book kept them up until 2:00 in the morning. It’s also great when they tell me which of my books is their favorite. It’s gratifying that their answers are many different titles.
CB: Even within the industry, you have a large following of fans. I have been at Book Expo, the annual publishing industry trade show, and when you are doing a signing the editors, librarians, other authors in attendance “fight” for a spot in your line. (You and James Patterson get that same treatment.) Does it ever surprise you or make you pause that you’ve achieved a kind of rock star status?
MHC: I can honestly say I am living my dream. I know so many people who are wonderful writers who can’t make a living doing it, who get very modest contracts if they can get published at all. I must share a story from the old days. The first book I wrote was a historical novel on George Washington. Its title was ASPIRE TO THE HEAVENS. This was 1968. I would go around to the few bookstores that carried it and volunteer to autograph the copies. In those days the stores could not return a signed book for credit, so every signed book meant a sale. I made a pact with God. If I ever become famous, I’ll never refuse a request to sign a book. I’ll always remember that a signed book meant a sale.
CB: I have a Little Free Library (one of those take a book, leave a book, swapping stations) in front of my house. Your books, any time or format, are among the fastest moving. I put one in the Library’s shelf and it is gone. I even saw an older man take one telling me that he loves to read your books, but people give him a hard time. Has it ever surprised you to learn that someone was a fan?
MHC: My publisher tells me that about three quarters of the people who buy my books are women. But I’ve been delighted to hear from so many men who became readers when their wife, girlfriend or mother insisted that they give my books a try.
CB: As new audiences find you, do you ever want to go back and re-tell a story or re-do a book?
MHC: Not really. Whenever I finish a book, I say, okay, I’ve told the best story I can possibly tell. The only time I have regret, and maybe that’s too strong a word, is when a lot of readers tell me they figured out early on who the killer was, and they were right. I remember in one of my early books I introduced a character who was expert at imitating other people’s voices. That skill makes people very uncomfortable, and they immediately suspected him. I try to keep readers guessing, but when the killer is revealed, I want the reader to agree that there were clues along the way that built a case for this person to be the killer. Nobody likes an ending that comes out of left field.
CB: I understand your son Dave plays an important role in your writing. Can you tell me about that?
MHC: Dave started working with me about five years ago. In the beginning he was doing research and handling my email correspondence with my editor. I developed arthritis in my hands and typing became difficult. I started dictating to Dave. He would bring back what I wrote with some suggestions on how things might be said differently. They were good. It quickly evolved into talking plots and characters with him and the results have been very good. Dave came up with idea for my current book, I’VE GOT MY EYES ON YOU.
CB: Now to the non-writing work that you and your family have dedicated yourselves to: advancing research toward improved treatments and a cure for Fragile X, which affects your grandson. What’s the most important thing people who have not been directly affected by this genetic condition should know about it?
MHC: It’s not always obvious that a child has Fragile X, so if you see a child who is having a hard time – anxious, afraid. having a meltdown – it’s quite possible that they are doing the very best they can. But despite challenges, most people with Fragile X are very friendly and love humor.
CB: Fragile X has been a cause close to your heart. Tell us why it’s so important to you?
MHC: There are so many worthy causes and diseases to be cured, but the impact is greatest when it hits close to home. When my grandson was born, his parents quickly became aware of a relatively new organization called FRAXA Research Foundation. Almost 30 years ago, shortly after my grandson was diagnosed, Katie Clapp and Mike Tranfaglia came to my house, shared the story of their son Andy and how they were devoting their lives to finding treatments and a cure. I was so moved that I pledged $1 million to FRAXA and I hosted a fundraising gala in New York City.
CB: You and now so many members of your family are big supporters of FRAXA Research Foundation. Could you tell us a little bit about FRAXA?
MHC: FRAXA is a national 501c3 nonprofit founded in 1994 in Newburyport, MA. FRAXA’s mission is to find effective treatments and a cure for Fragile X, the most common inherited cause of intellectual disabilities and autism. To date, FRAXA has invested over $27 million into cutting edge biomedical research, yielding discoveries that are changing the lives of families coping with fragile X.
CB: Of the many FRAXA fundraising parties/events you’ve attended, tell me about the one when your granddaughter Elizabeth gave a remarkable speech, “This is my brother”, about her brother David who has Fragile X.
MHC: I thought it was remarkable. Elizabeth has always been so wonderful in how she has gone out of way include her brother in every facet of her life. I’ll never forget her line, “I judge people by the way they treat my brother.”
CB: How can people help?
MHC: There are two ways people can help. Research is expensive. FRAXA is such a worthy cause. And the research they are doing is making a difference in the lives of those affected by Fragile X. There’s another way the relatives and friends can help a family with a child who has Fragile X. Many of them are so good about minding the kids so the parents can have a break. What they should also consider is the sacrifice that siblings of Fragile X kids make. If you can take care of the child with Fragile X while the family and the non-affected siblings have a chance to do an activity together, that is so helpful. We should remember that the siblings of kids with Fragile X are really special, too.
By Joane Nelson
LA JOLLA, Calif.—Those who were lucky enough to be at the ArcLight Cinema for the U.S. premiere of “I’m Not Here,” on April 25 will not soon forget the special night. If, alas, you were not at the San Diego International Film Festival VIP pre-screening on Wednesday night, then you missed out on a thought-provoking, exclusive screening with a theater packed with people excited to see J.K. Simmons do what he does best.
The film “I’m Not Here” is directed by Michelle Schumacher, whose star is her husband, Academy Award-winner Simmons. It was nothing short of amazing. In addition to Simmons, the features Mandy Moore and Sebastian Stan, who can be seen in “Avengers: Infinity Wars” and “I, Tonya.”
There’s really no way to describe this feature without any spoiler alerts but we have to try: Simmons plays a man at the end of his rope who’s dealt with problems that a lot of people can relate to. The film’s teasing logline is “A man struggles with the tragic memories of his past to make sense of his present, but soon realizes that time isn’t the enemy he thinks it is.”
In addition to the pre-screening, SDIFF also announced it had a new sponsor, the blue chip financial investment company, Morgan Stanley, which was represented by several staff including systems and policy expert VR Raman. Also in attendance were members of styleboston.tv and LeftCoast.LA.
Tonya Mantooth, CEO of SDIFF, led a lively post-screening Q & A panel with Simmons, Schumacher, and others who held nothing back as the night was full of thoughtful conversation, drinks, and laughs.
(Screening location: ArcLight La Jolla, 4425 La Jolla Village Drive, CA 92122.)
Speaking of movie director Michelle Schumacher, J.K. Simmons talked about the important qualities she brought to the production, including her sense of purpose, her detailed preparations and an ability to adapt to different situations. Michelle on her part told the SDIFF audience that the production was very dear to her heart. She thanked everyone who supported the project and described the movie as a low budget production which was made possible through the collaboration of friends and family.
Answering questions from the audience during the prescreening of the movie, Simmons talked about how he decided to shed more than 20 pounds to play the role of an emaciated 60-year-old alcoholic. According to him, he had a choice between getting emaciated or bloated for the movie role but he chose the former.
He and Michelle also talked about similarities/differences between the movie characters and real life.
In “I’m Not Here” J.K. Simmons played a remarkable character that did not speak a single word throughout the movie. He told the audience during the SDIFF prescreening that he had to completely immerse himself in the screenplay to prepare for the movie role. He said he was able to make a success out of it by relying on the guidance of the movie director
EDITOR AT LARGE
CHIEF FASHION CORRESPONDENT
Anna Paula Goncalves
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