...PLUS A CLOSE ENCOUNTER WITH GEORGE CLOONEY (SADLY, NOT MINE), JESSICA RADLOFF'S CRITICS' CHOICE HIGHLIGHTS, MORRIS' ONE-MAN SHOW, A VALENTINE'S SHOW UNLIKE ANY OTHER, RANDOLPH MARKET INFO AND MORE!
The queue of white stretch limos out in front of Harry Caray’s was the first thing you noticed besides the plethora of news trucks. I think every station in town was at Navy Pier to cover Cubs’ pitcher Kerry Wood and his beautiful wife Sarah’s first “Woody’s Winter Warm-Up” fundraiser. The place was packed with sports stars, TV personalities, fans and friends, all there to support popular Cubs pitcher Kerry and his Wood Family Foundation, the beneficiary of the night. “Woody” had recruited guest bartenders who suited up in t-shirts and bar aprons and competed for tips while serving drinks and food to guests. Volunteers included Val Warner (“Windy City Live”), Lou Cannelis (Fox Chicago), Peter McMurrary (The Loop FM), Cubs players Ryan Dempster, Tony Campana, Travis Wood, Chris Voldstad, Ian Stewart, Matt Garza, Randy Wells, Marlon Byrd, former Cub Rick Sutcliffe, Jon Lieber, Gary Matthews, Michael Brenly and new manager Dale Sveum. Even Bears players Otis Wilson, Richard Dent and Israel Idonije did some mixing behind the bar. Other notables in attendance included Cubs owners Todd and Tom Ricketts, President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, Cubs players Jeff Samardzija, Darwin Barney, James Russell, Josh Vitters and David DeJesus, Delores “Dutchie” Caray, Joanna and Grant DePorter, Barb and Roe Conn, event organizer Daphne Ortiz, Erica Stimac, Catie Keogh and Jeff Conway ("24/7") along with super-fan Ronnie Woo Woo, who was accompanied by his gorgeous daughter, Yolanda Linneman. The evening also included a delicious dinner buffet of Italian beef sandwiches, mini lamb burgers, mac and cheese, rigatoni, Chicago style hotdogs and other tasty treats. The silent auction was a sports lover’s dream come true and many of the offerings had “Do Not Touch” signs next to them like Ernie Banks’ signed jersey and bat. There were dozens of autographed baseballs, jerseys and other sports related memorabilia as well as a pig roast for 100 courtesy of Carvetti’s in Lake Geneva! The entertainment was world class, too and opened with an acoustic set by singer/songwriter William Beckett. Hosts for the night were Ryan Chiaverini ("Windy City Live") and Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster, who brought the house down with his spot-on impersonation of Harry Caray. (He told me he was VERY nervous but no one would've guessed this!) Ryan Chiaverini also sang and played guitar to “Sweet Home Chicago” and even Theo Epstein got in on the action playing “Rockin’ in the Free World” on guitar alongside the Grammy-nominated Plain White T’s. Cubs pitcher Randy Wells sat in for a song (Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’”) that he dedicated to Ron Santo. (They closed the show with their number one single, “Hey There Delilah.”) DJ White Shadow (aka Paul Blair) kept the crowd fueled for fun with his hot mixes (he produced Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way” album). An incredible live auction package went to Jim Beam VP Thomas Strehle for $7K and included first pitch privileges, tour of the press box, photo op, four box seats and a half hour batting session with Woody! It was doubled for the under-bidder to bring this package to $14K for the charity! More than $80,000 was raised for the Wood Family Foundation that is dedicated to supporting children’s charities in and around Chicago. To view ALL pics from this fun evening, please click here.
The film critics’ award ceremonies are just a recent memory now and, hopefully, all of your favorites won! But for Glamour.com’s West Coast entertainment contributor Jessica Radloff, the Critics' Choice Movie Awards will forever be etched in her memory! Of course, there were a gazillion stars there since this is the largest film critics organization in the U.S. and Canada so Jessica happily conducted tons of interviews for the Glamour network including Melissa McCarthy (who was battling laryngitis), Judy Greer (who was hilarious according to Jessica), Ellie Kemper, Wendi McClendon-Covey (who said she would sign up for “Bridesmaids 2” even if the script sucked), Bridesmaids’ director Paul Feig (“one of the nicest people you'll ever meet in Hollywood”) and Elle MacPherson (who she interviewed at the NBC/Universal Golden Globes After Party), among others. But of all the stars, the one person at the top of her Wish List of “Five Celebs She’s Dying to Interview” was George Clooney – “the epitome of a movie star” (and who doesn’t agree??!!!) – so when she saw him approach on the red carpet, she knew this might be her chance. She said, “George, could I ask you one question for ‘Glamour’?” But in the end, her only thought was to ask for a hug! And he graciously complied giving her “the most wonderful hug and kiss a girl could ever get from her Hollywood crush!” What a moment for this lucky and deserving lady! (To read Jessica’s WHOLE story and see ALL of her fab pics , please click HERE!) But let me back up and give you a little history about this incredible woman with this great job and you’ll understand why Clooney hugged and kissed her: I met Jessica years ago when she did a story about me for AOL.com. She was very gracious and is, of course, a fantastic writer, entertainment and sports host. Jessica hails from St. Louis and graduated from the University of Arizona in only two and a half years majoring in media arts and double minoring in journalism and theatre arts. She got her start in the entertainment industry by interning with NBC Sports in St. Louis, the “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “The Young & the Restless” and Carsey-Werner. Jessica also studied with the Groundlings (a competitive, improvisational troupe based in L.A.) and is a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (aka the Emmy organization). She is a regular contributor to Glamour and Glamour.com as well as CS Magazine, L.A.’s WHERE magazine and HuffPo. For a couple years, Jessica also starred on the Oxygen sitcom, "Campus Ladies" (executive produced by Cheryl Hines) and one of her very first scenes was featured on “Ellen.” As you can see, this girl is well on her way to superstardom. Pretty soon George Clooney will be begging HER for a hug! Congrats Jessica...I’m a FAN!
There are lots of great shows on the horizon beginning on February 10th at the DuSable Museum with Morris Gearring’s one-man show, “Something ‘Bout Oscar.” This show features Morris’s personal insights and stories about the late Oscar Brown, Jr. (1926 - 2005), a writer, poet, and commentator on life and civil rights plus a collection of Oscar’s most famous songs with musical backup by the respected Calvin “Koco” Brunson and his band. Gearring will be joined onstage by the renowned poet, Nikki Giovanni, and Maggie Brown, daughter of the legendary singer who will perform “Lyric” and duet on “The Last Hurrah.” Don’t miss this outstanding production! There will be two shows on Friday, February 10th at 10:30 PM and 8 PM. For more info, please visit www.somethinboutoscar.com or www.dusablemuseum.org. See you soon, Morris!
Here is a one-of-a-kind Valentine’s show for lovers! For the 10th year in a row, the Queen of Burlesque Michelle L’Amour is bringing her BIG SEXY SHOW to the historic Music Box Theatre at 3733 N. Southport on Saturday, February 11th for two shows – one at 8:30 PM and one at 11:30 PM. This show is an eclectic mix of burlesque and vaudeville and will feature The Chicago Starlets (voted the World’s Best Burlesque Group) and Toronto’s comedy duo Parker and Seville. You may know Michelle from her appearances on “America’s Got Talent” and on the WGN Morning News. Her new burlesque-infused fitness DVD, “Tease & Tone,” shows you why she has earned the ranking by 21st Century Burlesque as one of the “Top 5 Burlesque Stars in the World!” For more info, please contact Ajay Gosain at firstname.lastname@example.org or Leslie Smith at email@example.com.
Mark your calendars now for my favorite market in town – the Randolph Street Market – coming to Plumbers Hall at 1340 W. Washington on February 4th and 5th. Lovingly nicknamed the “Barneys of Vintage,” this market includes vintage treasures of every kind plus music, food and drinks. Designer Nate Berkus said, “I love this market...the quality is incredible!” There is free parking in big onsite lot plus free furniture delivery downtown. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. For more info, please visit www.randolphstreetmarket.com. (Sally Schwartz, I will see you soon!)
I love this city and all it has to offer! Next week, watch for coverage of Watch312.com’s Launch Party plus more exciting news from the Windy City! And, as always, thanks for checking in! (Please “Like” Watch312.com’s Facebook page, too!)
P.S. Loved these pics from friends Ines Arocena and photographer Teresa Potasiak, who have just returned from a trip to Uruguay. Now this is the way to get through Chicago’s winters!