PLUS SARAH AND WOODY'S WARM-UP; STEVE HARVEY ROCKS; RMHC'S FIFTH; TICKLED PINK FOR BRIGHT PINK'S 10TH; SPEX SEES HOPE FOR LITTLE CITY; JACOB'S "SWEET" 40TH; COSTNER'S "BLACK OR WHITE"; JOHN'S WORDS OF WISDOM; WILKIE WEDS; MY 2ND ACT; PURPLE AFFAIR FOR THE BEAR; I HAVE A VOICE GALA; REVERIE'S PARTY FOR PRIMO; SAMANTHA'S SMALLTALK; NEW WATCH312 VIDEO AND SO MUCH MORE!
For 32 years, Today's Chicago Woman Magazine has kept its promise. It has been a loyal and vigorous champion of women's rights and issues and for all things Chicago. Recently, as a contributor (my videos appeared online), I received this message from TCW Managing/Digital Editor Carrie Williams: I have some news I’d like to share with you and it’s best said in a quote by Sherren Leigh, owner of Leigh Communications, Inc. “Yesterday was my
birthday and I made a decision to close TCW effective with the January issue, which comes out this Friday. After publishing the magazine for 32 years, I want to work less, enjoy life more and embrace new activities while I’m in excellent health. It’ll be a new chapter in my life I’m looking forward to. I have
enjoyed our working relationship over the years and wish you the very best in the future.” We wanted to give you the courtesy of hearing the news straight from us before it is covered in the Chicago Tribune in the next day or so. As for me, I want to thank all of you for your dedication and talent."
I had such mixed feelings about hearing this news. First of all, I think Sherren has been one of the hardest working women in "showbiz" who certainly deserves a break. As long as I've known her at TCW,
she's been a tireless worker--never leaving her work behind even though the days were done. In this terrific Chicago Tribune article by Melissa Harris , Sherren shares, "I want the luxury of a do-nothing day. I have a house in Michigan, and I used to joke after I turned 50, the new three G's were geezers, gardening and golf,
and I haven't had time for any of them." She also said the recent deaths of her ex-husband and close friends, including Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka (who she'd had lunch with a week before she passed) and Flying Food Group founder Sue Ling Gin
were factors in her decision. The Tribune article states that Sherren launched the business as a women's career convention in 1979 at Chicago's Apparel Mart, charging $5 for an advance tickets and drawing about 17K people. In 1982, following the success of her cross-country conferences, she launched the magazine titled Today's Chicago Woman calling it a "smart read" for "smart women." Sherren also
founded the TCW Foundation to give back to women's and children's charities around town. She is the real deal so, in honor of TCW, Sherren and all of her contributions to Chicago, friends and fans gathered together to celebrate the last issue of the magazine and its dynamic founder at Fulton Market Kitchen on Wednesday night. Fashion designer
Azeeza Desai Khan appeared on the cover shot by John Reilly Photography. However, Sherren's not really retiring. Her LinkedIn update describes her new "job" as "independent contractor and consultant." Frankly, I would like to see Sherren try her hand at Chicago politics. We could have no better champion.
Three years ago, Chuck and I were invited to the Hard Rock Cafe in Chicago for the official announcement that the production of The Steve Harvey Show was coming to the Windy City. I saw lots of media types there and all of the NBC employees had puffed out chests over this exciting news and, rightfully so. Larry Wert, former
President and GM of NBC5, had worked long and hard to bring Steve to Chicago. During his comments, he jokingly added that he had to throw in a fur coat for Steve's wife Marjorie to convince her to make the move to our colder clime. It was a joyous occasion that involved a lot of backslapping, photos and congratulations. Steve exudes such charisma, he's like a rock star with
everyone gravitating to him like a magnet. I have pics of him and I chatting, but I have no idea what sort of babble came out of my mouth since I was completely smitten, too. He's a work-a-holic, as most
of you all know, who works as a comedian, television host, radio personality, actor, and author. He hosts The Steve Harvey Morning Show, Steve Harvey, and Family Feud almost simultaneously. And besides his hosting duties, he's written several books Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, Straight Talk, No Chaser and A Conspiracy Of Wizards: The Cloven Accord, Book One.
Where he finds the time, I can't even imagine, although he's been quoted as saying, "By failing to have a vision, you are stripping yourself of every possible blessing, relationship and opportunity." Steve clearly has lots of visions and, from the looks of
things, plenty of blessings, too! Last week, by serendipity, I received a very exciting call to appear on this top-rated national show and I had to pinch myself. The executive producer had also cast me in
the premiere of hometown reality show, Chicagolicious, a few years earlier. So many coincidences! The title of the segment for my Harvey Show appearance was My Fair Lady and my role was similar to Professor Henry Higgins who turned a girl who's a little rough around the edges into a lady. To see their production team in action was like watching a lunar launch--precision, timing, attention to details--it was astounding. The day of the first shoot
(there were two), I was picked up in a loooong limo which made me feel quite special and also amused my darling doormen. The shoot took place at the Intercontinental, which is a glorious old world-style hotel on Michigan Avenue. There I met my willing "victim" Wendy Gross. Wendy's brother and a couple of her
childhood male friends submitted her for a makeover and she couldn't have been more delightful. I took her through a series of "classes" that included instruction in fine dining, elocution, fashion, the art of conversation and etiquette do's and don'ts. She was darling as is, a sort of rough and tumble NY sports writer with a very strong penchant for
the NY Giants. Her everyday (and every night) attire consisted mainly of sports jerseys and cut-off jeans. I made it clear that we weren't looking to change who she is as a person, but rather, just filing down the
rough edges. The true test came when she was my guest as a "dinner party" I hosted in the Grand Ballroom. Her entry made guests gasp. I can't share any more details, but I hope you will watch this heart-warming, joyful segment when it airs Tuesday, February 3rd!
always, was spot on and very insightful. (I'll keep you posted on the air date). I returned to shoot the actual studio segment with Steve a couple of days later with a live audience. They loved it and Steve
mentioned that this was one of the best makeover shows they've ever done! I want to thank my friends who joined me at the dinner party: Jennifer Sutton Brieva (with her friend Jodie Wilmot), Paul Iacono, Rochelle
Trotter and Katie McLenaghan. You most certainly dressed up the shoot! Thanks to the show's expert staff-- all the producers, makeup artists, hair stylists and more--who made this moment in time one that I will never forget! (The Steve Harvey Show, weekdays
from 2 to 3pm on WMAQ, NBC 5).
Beloved, retired pitcher Kerry Wood kicked off the 2015 Cubs Convention weekend with his annual Woody’s Winter Warm-Up fundraiser on January 16th at the new Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch Restaurant and Chicago Sports Museum. More than 550
fans, supporters and celebrity friends were in attendance for this annual event benefiting the Wood Family Foundation. Emceed by WTMX radio personalities Eric Ferguson and Kathy Hart, the Warm-Up featured musical performances by the Plain White T’s and DJ Matt Roan. Guests enjoyed ‘meet and
greet’ opportunities with players, a premium open bar, food stations and raffle. The silent auction featured a home makeover, behind the scenes at Comcast Sportsnet, first pitch at Wrigley ($2050) and a wagon full of 70
bottles of spirits. The live auction’s Ultimate Cubs Experience package went for $12,500 and included two game tickets in Theo Epstein’s private box at Wrigley Field and a 7th inning stretch’ sing-a-long
with Kerry. “This is one of our favorite events to host and with the new location, guests were able to enjoy music as well as the interactive games in the Chicago Sports Museum," explains Kerry. Chicago Cubs (past and present), local celebrities and media personalities served as ‘guest-bartenders’ mixing drinks and competing for tips while also challenging guests in the Museum’s
interactive games. Those in attendance included: members and coaches of the 2015 Cubs team including, Jon Lester, Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, and Jake Arrieta, former players -Mark DeRosa, Bob Howry, and team executives Tom Ricketts (Co-owner), Laura Ricketts (co-
owner) with darling Brooke Skinner, Theo Epstein (President), Jed Hoyer (Exec VP) and Crane Kenney (President of Business Operations). Additionally, Ron Kittle (former White Sox),
Chris Ritter (Chicago Fire), LaRoyce Hawkins (Chicago P.D.), TJ Zizzo (Top Fuel driver), Paul Blair (DJ White Shadow), Jerry Hester (former University of Illinois basketball star), Jarrett Payton (philanthropist), John Vincent (Ditka’s), Dino Kourelis (Lovehammers), Bobby Kourelis (Lovehammers), Ryan Chiaverini (Windy City LIVE), Sarah Spain (ESPN Radio), Kelly
Crull (Comcast), Kip Lewis (Comcast), Jane Monzures (WGN Radio), Pete McMurray (WGN Radio), Showbiz Shelly (B96), JNiice (B96), Lisa Fielding (WBBM-AM), Brendan Greeley (Steve Dahl Show),
Aly Bockler (WCIU's "You & Me This Morning") and DC Crenshaw were in attendance. “The money raised from this event (more than $100K) enables us to grow Pitch In, our after-school mentoring program, so that we can continue to support students at Lawndale Community Academy,” explained Sarah Wood. Congrats to all!
Take a walk down memory lane with me in my new Watch312 video! These are highlights from my favorite shows, from camel riding to Pacino, with a special shout-out to Illinois Center for Broadcasting's Bill Natale, the talented cameramen I've worked (and played with) through the years (including Alonzo Stallings, Dave Thennes, Matt Natale and Brian Kaempen (also an editor). My patient editor Kes Akalaonu does a great job with the videos and I'm so lucky to have him! (Other editors included Josh Orr and Brian). I've also been lucky to have promising students from ICB join me on many of my shoots. They've helped out with everything from manning the cameras to social media. It takes a village and I've been blessed with a city! Thanks to all and I look forward to an even bigger 2015!
Ronald McDonald House Charities has a brand new HOUSE! The fifth Ronald McDonald House was dedicated January 18 in Winfield in the Western suburbs near Central DuPage Hospitial, now a part of Northwestern Medicine. The grand opening featured a ribbon cutting ceremony and a
balloon release with special guests including Illinois State Senator Michael Connelly, Val Warner (co-host of ABC’s Windy City Live), Mike Vivoda (Northwestern Medicine West Region
President), Erik Spande (Village President), Jack Bajor and Tony Reyes (Village of Winfield trustees) and Dave Sabathne and Patricia Haskins (Western DuPage Chamber of Commerce members). One very special family was also
in attendance—the Posts—who will be the first family to stay at the new Ronald McDonald House while their 17-month-old son Caleb, receives treatment for ependymoma at the CDH Proton Center. Known for its advanced
pediatric care, hundreds of families each year visit the Hospital during, what is likely, one of the most trying times in their lives. Now, those families have a place to call home while their child
receives life-saving treatment. The new 19,000-square-foot, two-story, craftsman-style House is located at 0N150 Winfield Road, across the street from Central DuPage Hospital. In addition to families of children at CDH, the House will
also support families of hospitalized children at the CDH Proton Center in Warrenville, Delnor Hospital in Geneva and other area hospitals. Situated among beautifully landscaped walking paths,
a reflection pond, and a wooded river basin in the oxbow of the DuPage River, the new Ronald McDonald House will be a comforting ‘home away from home’ for families in need. Designed by Antunovich Associates, the
new House will accommodate 52 people, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Common areas include comfortable living spaces, a spacious dining and kitchen area, fitness center, game room, laundry facilities, an outdoor patio and even a unique putting green, courtesy of the Illinois PGA. Keeping in mind their youngest guests, the House also features a walk-in toy closet sponsored by longtime supporter Coldwell Banker, where each child can select a toy upon arrival. Multiple play spaces
and a game room will also provide hours of entertainment. Other stand-out features include a whimsical art glass display in the vestibule depicting fond family memories such as rain boots splashing in puddles and a kite flying high from artist Rita Shimelfarb, and a donor wall, created by artist Chris Duh, which features backlit birdhouses with lighting that changes to reflect the time of day. The $6.3 million project has been financed largely by support from the Cadence Health Foundation, the Cadence Health Auxiliary Board and the Topfer Family Foundation, as well as countless other generous donors. RMHC always does it right! Congrats! (To learn more and become a volunteer, click here!)
Tickled Pink for Bright Pink will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Friday, February 20, at Morgan Manufacturing (401 N. Morgan). For the past nine years the fabulously-pink, feathered affair has raised close to $1 million to benefit breast cancer organizations. Tickled Pink Chicago was founded by Jodi Fyfe in 2004 in honor of her cousin Carrie Kenney, who lost her seven-year battle with breast cancer at the age of 35. In 2013, Tickled Pink Chicago announced its partnership with
Lindsay Avner's Bright Pink, the only national non-profit organization focusing on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer. Together these two dynamic groups have combined forces for a common goal. The 10th anniversary party will include live music by the Chicago Players, tastings from more than 50 restaurants, an open bar, raffle prizes and so much more! Come join the party and support a great cause! Until February 1, tickets are $95 and after $125. (For tickets and more info, click here).
Get your poker face on! Spex, Chicago’s premier destination for luxury eyewear and sun wear, joins with Little City Foundation Friday, March 6th, from 6:00pm to 12:30am, to present “Seeing Hope Together.” This is the third year of sponsorship for the action-packed poker tournament and casino night fundraiser. The
Montgomery Club, located at 500 W. Superior Street, will visually dazzle guests who attend in support of children and adults with autism and developmental disabilities. Iconic fashion sun wear collections will be playfully modeled by the Spexettes and artistically displayed during the festivities. The "gaming for a cause" party will include a lavish, all-night buffet by Gibson's Bar & Steakhouse; a premium open bar, raffle and
goodie bags. Little City has successfully changed lives, created hope and challenged the limits placed on children and adults with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities for over 50+ years. Their comprehensive services and programs make them the preeminent organization of their kind in Illinois. Michael Caputo, Spex Director of Marketing, said, "We’re particularly proud of our association with an Illinois organization whose core advocacy –
simply stated, sees hope." (For tickets and more info, click here).
The recent screening at Kerasotes Showplace Icon brought out some heavy hitters! Handsome hunk Kevin Costner (who is taller than you think) walked the Red Carpet with Black or White co-star Anthony Mackie and director Mike Binder. This is the story of a
grandfather (Costner) who is suddenly left to care for his beloved granddaughter. When her paternal grandma (Octavia Spencer) seeks custody with the help of her brother (Mackie), the little girl is torn between two families who love her
deeply. Based on real events, the movie is a look at two seemingly different worlds, in which nothing is as simple as black or white. During the Q & A at the end of the film, Costner said he financed the movie himself when bigger
studios passed it up with the hope that it will "provoke thoughtful and more complex conversations about race." He ended with, "I've had a full career playing some of the most interesting leading men in film but, if this was my last, I would feel complete." Can you spell Oscar? (Photos by Mila Samokhina)
Fulton Market Kitchen is on a hot streak! This cool spot at 311 N. Sangamon was also the destination for a party for the much loved Jacob Neminarz. Founder of Sugar Hills Bakery, Jacob celebrated his 40th in style with an intimate group of friends who enjoyed a 10 course tasting menu (the highlight being a whole deep fried
snapper with tempura peppers) from Chef Kyle Petersen. The delicious offerings included "Little Wedges" salad with Maytag bleu cheese; beef tartare with homemade steak sauce and quail eggs; bay scallops and
sweetbreads with crispy lemon and spiced tobiko; ravioli and foie with mascarpone veal jus; prime angus filets with bacon roasted green beans; lamb with spiced cauliflower puree mint; chicken with roasted Brussels sprouts and FMK fries with chili-citrus aioli. Whew! I felt like I was dining with Henry VIII! The dramatic chocolate cake in
the shape of the number 40 was a masterpiece from Sugar Hills Bakery, of course! Friends seen on the scene included Monika and Geoffrey Dixon, Nina and Bob Mariano, Debi Lilly and Mike Springer, Marcus Boggs,
Anna Majewski (Jacob's darling business partner), Amanda and Giacomo Marinello, Gary Zickel, Gosia Martyka-Long and her husband Jim. The cocktails, crafted by award-winning mixologist Brian Sturgulewski, were Jacob's favorites--Mascow Mules and Old Fashioneds. The party continued at Bordel, a Parisien-style speakeasy in Wicker Park. Happy Birthday Jacob!!! Love you!
I met my good friend John St. Augustine when he contacted me to join him on his
WGN radio show. This was a few years ago and he never ceases to amaze me. John is an author, radio rock star, motivational/inspirational speaker and beloved dad of beautiful Amanda. While he enjoys using radio to reach the masses and writing books and blogs to round out his "platform", he's decided to add a unique event to his lineup. The "Common Sense for
Uncommon Times" speaking tour is underway! John will be barnstorming across America, from living rooms with groups of 25 to public and business venues of 250 and more, he is thrilled to share the messages of his best selling book "Every Moment Matters" along with some real nuts and bolts life lessons that
are desired to inform, inspire and entertain your guests and audiences in a truly unique event. If you are interested in hosting John in your private or public space or business/organization, please contact him here (www.johnstaugustine.com) and make your event a memorable one! I love his quote: "If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got."
The Women Survivors Alliance will presents its inaugural performance of "My 2nd Act" in Chicago on Sunday, February 8 at the Athenaeum Theatre (2936 N. Southport) at 2 pm. This live storytelling event features 10 Chicagoland women, survivors of 8 different kinds of cancers, reading their personal stories of taking their lives back after a cancer diagnosis. These women are not professional actors, but everyday survivors who have created 2nd Acts and are using their gifts of time and experience to give back to society for the greater good! Three lucky attendees will take home a beautiful Survivor Journey pendant (valued at $350) from Rogers & Hollands Jewelers! (For tickets and more info, click here!)
On Saturday, March 14th generous hearts will come together to celebrate 12 years of giving to help individuals and their families with Down syndrome. The 2015 international GiGi’s Playhouse "I Have a Voice Gala" will be held at The Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace. Hosting more than 1,000 guests in the Chicagoland area and emceed by CBS news anchor Rob Johnson, this gala is their most important fundraiser of the year. The funds raised will support the organization’s mission to increase positive awareness of Down syndrome through national campaigns, educational programs, and by empowering individuals with Down syndrome, their families and the community. GiGi’s Playhouse currently has 24 locations providing FREE educational and therapeutic programs across the US and Mexico. This year’s event will also feature entertainment by the band 7th Heaven. To learn more about GiGi’s Playhouse, to purchase tickets and learn about sponsorship opportunities, please click here.
The Blackboard Affair Masquerade Ball, an annual fundraising event benefiting Working in the Schools (WITS), will be held on Saturday, February 7th, at Preston Bradley Hall in the Chicago Cultural Center featuring a premium open bar, beer by Revolution Brewing, heavy hors d’oeuvres, live DJ, amazing silent auction and dancing. Suggested attire: creative black
tie and masks. :-) (For tickets and more info, click here).
Thodos Dance Chicago will celebrate its 23rd anniversary, "Get Inspired Chicago!", on Saturday, March 7, at the Pritzker
Pavilion Stage in Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St., with an exciting evening full of "Chicago Inspired" drinks, food, and dancing. Immediately following the performance at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, TDC will host a post-show benefit on the enclosed stage with incredible night views of the city as its dramatic backdrop. The evening will be devoted to celebrating Chicago as a significant source of inspiration for creativity and community. (For tix and more info, click here).
The Auxiliary Board of Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation will host a Purple Affair for the Bear Masquerade Party to benefit the Foundation. On January 31, enjoy a magical night of live music, dancing, delicious food, cocktails and a silent auction at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., from 8 pm to midnight. (For tix and more info, click here).
Gather your friends to Sip, Spa & Shop in benefit of the Primo Center for Women and Children on Thursday, January 29, at Lou Canellis' and Ryan Baker's hotspot Reverie, 414 N. Orleans. Enjoy passed appetizers and a signature Reverie Cocktail for a $10 donation at the door.
(Men are welcome!) RSVP at email@example.com.
Confirmed bachelor Michael Wilkie has changed his tune with the announcement of his upcoming marriage to longtime companion Teri Leontios. The happy couple will wed at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo on February 25. You may recall, Michael caused a Fleet Street scandal when he danced with Princess Diana at the Field Museum when she came to town for a visit. Congrats to
Sad news--Beloved New York restaurateur, Jean-Claude Baker, reportedly committed suicide at the age of 71. His restaurant, Chez Josephine (414 W. 42nd St.), was the home of unique artists with Chicago's own, Morris Gearring planning to mount his show, "Something About Oscar", there. Jean-Claude was adopted by legendary dancer
Josephine Baker as one of her Rainbow Tribe. He will be greatly missed. He was always such a gracious and colorful presence.
Chicago native Samantha Thomas, an Emmy Award-winning producer, foodie, restaurant lover, new blogger, daughter and a big sister, has launched SmallTALK. This web-based show will take you on a meet-and-greet across Chicago, getting to know people on the social scene as well as some of the best spots to grab
something delicious to eat. Early in her career she worked as a television news producer for several local markets across the U.S. including Missouri (CBS), Las Vegas (FOX, and CBS), and Chicago (CBS). Samantha said, "The goal of SmallTALK is to highlight what makes Chicago, "Chicago", by introducing viewers to their neighbors and places that fill up the neighborhoods." I was honored to be her first interview so take a look at her first episode filmed at Fig & Olive, 104 E. Oak St.
I hope you've enjoyed this week's edition and I hope you had a memorable Martin Luther King Day. This is one of my favorite quotes from this humanitarian/Civil Rights activist.
Love, as always,
P.S. I'd like you to meet Angelica and Toby from the Zoological Wildlife Foundation in Miami. The sad one on the left is Angelica who's upset because she's been put in a "timeout". Toby is trying to lend a friendly paw. Awwww! (Thanks to WCIU's "You & Me This Morning" for sharing this darling clip!)