Thursday, October 25, 2018

Inside Their Minds: Re-Imagining 'The Phantom of the Opera' Mask 30 Times Over

The current principal cast — Peter Jöback (The Phantom),  Ali Ewoldt (Christine) and Rodney Ingram (Raoul) — and the original mask. Photo by Jeremy Daniel


this the ultimate re-masking: Zang Toi conjures up ostrich feathers and a white rose. The Toledos (Isabel and Ruben) stick with the number - 30 - albeit, in a colorful way?

This re-masking is "Phantom Fashion 30," the continuing celebration of the 30th anniversary of "The Phantom of the Opera." That milestone was reached on 26 Jan. for Broadway's longest running musical. 

Isabel and Ruben Toledo.

With Phantom Fashion 30," fashion designers (30) have reinterpreted the iconic mask originally designed by Maria Björnson and executed by milliner Rodney Gordon.

The "Phantom Fashion 30" masks, including Chloe Gosselin's somber floral motif, will be revealed on 30 Oct. during an invite-only cocktail sponsored by Bank of America. An online auction of the masks also opens on 30 Oct. They will then be on display to the general public as of Halloween (31 Oct.) at the Museum of the City of 
New York
for one month. 

Chloe Gosselin.

The auction ends on 30 Nov. and proceeds benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. "Phantom Fashion 30" is a collaboration of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), Bank of America and "The Phantom of the Opera."

The  complete list of "Phantom Fashion 30" designers: Badgley Mischka, Chloe Gosselin, Christian Roth, Dennis Basso, Edie Parker, Eugenia Kim, Gigi Burris, Ilesteva, Isabel and Ruben Toledo, Judith Leiber, Kendra Scott, Kenneth Cole, Lizzie Fortunato, Marchesa, Naeem Khan, Nick Graham, Nicole Miller, Pamella Roland, Paul Marlow, Rebecca Minkoff, Sachin & Babi, Sally LaPointe, Stephen Dweck, Swarovski, Tadashi Shoji, Tanya Taylor, Title of Work, Vivienne Tam, Wolk Morais, Zang Toi.

Dennis Basso.

Visit the following web addresses to learn more about "Phantom Fashion 30," "The Phantom of the Opera" and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS:

Monday, October 8, 2018

It Should Go Without Saying:  Treat Your Team Well and It Will Go Well for the Company

Kerry Washington wears a metaphorical white hat and a white coat as benevolence-dominant leader Olivia Pope in "Scandal." Archive photos.


wages continue to fall across most sectors, as employees are increasingly working longer hours for less pay, as many are compelled to take on part-time work to make ends meet, and as the country seems to be moving further away from the notion that one gets an honest day's pay for an honest day's work. As, as, as ...

It is heartening that a study like “Benevolence-dominant, authoritarianism-dominant and classical paternalistic leadership: Testing their relationships with subordinate performance” serves as a reminder of a basic universal truth: if you treat your employees like you care about them, they will work harder for you and therefore be more productive. Of course, this is good for the bottomline - profits.

Lloyd (Rex Lee), left, suffers many humiliations at the hands of his mainly authoritarianism-dominant boss Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) in "Entourage."

"Being benevolent is important because it can change the perception your followers have of you,” said Chou-Yu Tsai, an assistant professor of management at the Binghamton University School of Management and a lead researcher of the recent study, published in "The Leadership Quarterly."

Tsai added, “If you feel that your leader or boss actually cares about you, you may feel more serious about the work you do for them.”

To reach their findings, Tsai and his colleagues -- a number representing Asian institutions -- surveyed nearly 1,000 members of the Taiwanese military and close to 200 full-time workers in the United States after they had been subjected to three different types of leadership styles. 

Vanessa Williams' Wilhelmina Slater is a taskmaster in "Ugly Betty."

The leadership styles: Authoritarianism-dominant leadership:  "Get it done - at all costs - in the very precise manner that I have illustrated, or else." Think Wilhemina Slater ("Ugly Betty").

Benevolence-dominant leadership: "OK team, these are the goals. Questions/concerns, because we won't move forward until everybody is onboard and clearly understands the objectives? This brand of leadership is more reminiscent of Olivia Pope's ("Scandal").

Classical paternalistic leadership: "We must perform this task in five minutes. Please take this time to do a final check of your equipment and make any necessary adjustments.  Ask for help if you need it." Leadership qualities much like those of  Capt. Jean-Luc Picard ("Star Trek: Next Generation").

Capt. Jean-Luc Picard
(Patrick Stewart) of the USS Enterprise in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" is an ideal boss because he is both demanding and caring.

Not surprisingly, the benevolence-dominant leadership received positive feedback, while authoritarianism-dominant leadership received decidedly negative feedback.

“Subordinates and employees are not tools or machines that you can just use. They are human beings and deserve to be treated with respect,” said Tsai.

Classical paternalistic leadership - a combination of both benevolence-dominant and authoritarianism-dominant - was also received positively. It also, observed Tsai and other researchers, mirrors  a relationship that is famliar to most.

Tommy Steele as Ebenezer Scrooge, a classic authoritarianism-dominant boss, in "Scrooge - The Musical."

“Make sure you are focusing on their well-being and helping them find the support they need, while also being clear about what your expectations and priorities are, " Tsai said. "This is a work-based version of ‘tough love’ often seen in parent-child relationships.”

In essence, it is good business to care as much about your employees as you do results.

Visit to read the complete version of or an abstract of “Benevolence-dominant, authoritarianism-dominant and classical paternalistic leadership: Testing their relationships with subordinate performance."

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Chew on This: Breakfast Of This Particular Champion Is Berry, Berry Heavy

Berries possess many heart-healthy benefits. Archive photo.

the one hand, there are eggs, bacon, home fries and toast. On the other, a berry smoothie.

While most of us would go with the former, Robert Gerszten goes for the latter. So, what, right? Except he is a leading cardiologist (heart doctor) at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He also runs the Gerszten Lab, a research operation.

Dr. Robert Gerszten keeps his breakfast simple. Photo courtesy of the Gerszten Lab.

Dr. G’s smoothie recipe:
Raw strawberries
Raw raspberries
Raw blackberries
2 raw bananas
Liquid yogurt

Mix all in a blender. Pour. Drink.

Liquid yogurt is a good base for smoothies. Archive photo.

Imbibe with the knowledge that not only are you, you, you and you enjoying a delicious breakfast, but a nutritious one. Between raw berries and bananas, we can have better hearts, less inflammation, more balanced blood sugar levels, strong cells (that won’t be damaged, inviting all manner of diseases) and improved digestion.

Smoothies are a power breakfast for those on the go. Archive photo.

That’s not to say we should avoid bacon and eggs. Not at all. However, they should be consumed in diligent moderation. As for raw berries, Dr. G. recommends as much as 2 1/2 cups a day.

Berry good, indeed!

Visit to learn more about what Robert Gerszten&Co. are up to.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

'Handle' Stress When You Actually Know How to Do So, Plus Other Ways to Stay Chill

Hanging out with friends can be a de-stressor, particularly if the conversation doesn't veer toward polarizing subjects. Archive photos.


all intents and purposes, summer is over.

The children are returning to school. Parents and other adults are returning to work, laboring five days instead of four, then a long weekend. The stresses and strain of restarting after taking it easy for almost three months will set in for many.

But stress does not have to get the best of us - not if we do something about it.

Two professionals featured in Penn State Health's popular weekly Medical Minute offer typical advice (eat healthfully, get sufficient sleep and exercise.).

However, they also offer up two bits of advice about managing stress that may not immediately spring to mind.

“If you spend a lot of time on unproductive worries, we tend to get stuck and feel helpless, which creates more stress," says Julie Radico, a psychologist and behavioral scientist at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

A key locator can keep you from losing it.

Radico adds, “Consider instead if there is something you can do about it or a part of it that you can control and make better, and then put that on your to-do list.”

In other words, if you must belabor a problem, focus on the part that you can handle.

For example, if an upcoming job interview is causing all kinds of stressors, including oversleeping and being late, you can do a few things to prevent it. You can go to bed earlier than normal, plus set several

Further, you can decide the night before what you are going to wear - from the skin out: under garments, outer garments, accessories, including umbrella and/or sunglasses. Locate your keys.

Meanwhile, Peter Rainey, a behavioral scientist with Penn State Health Medical Group (in State College), has put stress in three categories: stress outside the home, stress inside the home and past family challenges. “The good news is that we know things that help with stress,” Rainey said.

The Joyful Heart alarm clock comes with various bells and whistles to get a sleepy head up and out.

Spending more time with a spouse or friends is one. And avoid talking about hot topics, like religion and politics, that can cause tempers to flare.

Don’t you feel your stress level dropping already?

Sunday, September 2, 2018

US Open Day 7: John Isner (and Sam Querrey) Imagines That Night Matches on Louis Armstrong Are a Capital Idea


is the fourth round the 2018 US Open.

It is also the day that John Isner, the No. 11th-seeded tennis player in the world and the highest ranked U.S. player, makes his debut on the court of the new Louis Armstrong Stadium at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in the borough of Queens in New York City.

During a breakfast press conference last week at The Tuscany, a St Giles Hotel in Manhattan, Isner and fellow American player, Sam Querrey,  gave a thumbs up to scheduled night matches on Armstrong.

Isner disclosed that he was not aware of this development but says "it makes a lot of sense."

Both players also shared their feelings (like it) about the service timeclock that is has been introduced at this year's open.

And they revealed some things about themselves that they believe most people may not know. And they spoke about players they admired when they were up and  coming.

Though Isner's match against Canadian Milos Raonic is slated for the afternoon, it can theoretically go into the night.

The dedicated night match on Armstrong, however, is a doubles meetup: American brothers Christian and Ryan Harrison take on Radu Albot of Moldova and Malek Jaziri of Tunisia.

Visit http:// to learn more about the 2018 U.S. Open, including  scores and schedule of play.

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Tribeca Film Festival Is No Longer Just About the Business, It Is Also About Serious Art and Is Being Taken Serious-ser and Serious-ser

Ilhan Omar is the subject of “Time for Ilhan,” a documentary that chronicles the campaign of the woman who would make history when she was elected to the Minnesota Legislature. Photo from Time for Ilhan website.


works that have an African theme should have strong appeal.

In “Tanzania Transit,” a train ride reveals various facets of contemporary life in that part of Africa. Scientists undertake a 1500-mile journey in an effort to understand why Botswana's Okavango Delta wilderness is shrinking in National Geographic's “Into the Okavango.” Inspiration awaits the viewer in “Time for Ilhan,” a look at how a Somali-American Muslim woman made history when she was elected to the Minnesota legislature.

Muslims also figure prominently in “Terminal 3.” In the virtual reality piece - part of Tribeca Immersive - the viewer is asked to interrogate Muslims at the airport to determine whether they should be admitted into the country

All of the aforementioned are documentaries and are part of the 17th Annual Tribeca Film Festival (18-29 April 2018).

Over the last few years, festival organizers have invested their energies in curating some of the most interesting docs out there, and this year is no different.

Other notable documentaries to watch for: “Blowin’ Up”: a Queens court is a place where young women and men charged with prostitution aren’t treated like criminals;
“The Fourth Estate”: In the festival closer, a team of reporters from The New York Times covers the first year of the Donald Trump Administration:
“Love Gilda”: The festival opener is a love letter to comedian and trailblazer Gilda Radner;

San Diego Chargettes doing their thing, circa late '70s. Photo by Jack Schwaesdall.

“Sidelined”: The story of cheerleaders from the-then San Diego Chargers football team who were fired for appearing in “Playboy”;
“Unbanned: The Legend of AJ1”: How Air Jordans went from banned to spawning sneaker culture and its massive economy;
“McQueen”: The rise of uber talented designer Alexander McQueen;
“Studio 54”: The rise and fall of the world’s most famous disco;
“Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes”: The story of the record company that launched jazz greats and gave talent 100 percent artistic control.

Meanwhile, one of the signposts that marks a film festival as serious is the number of world premieres. That means that directors are taking a pass on Berlin, Toronto, Sundance and other prestigious festivals.

With that in mind, the Tribeca Film Festival has entered a new sphere. Among its 96 feature films, a staggering 75 are having world premieres. Fewer than 20 have been seen elsewhere first. Do note that this does not include programming in other categories; world premieres abound across categories. Tribeca is no longer just a festival with a major Hollywood star behind it and a strong financial imperative behind the disproportionate amount of Hollywood fare with a bankable star attached.

A case in point is “Diane” starring Mary Kay Place as a woman living a mundane life as penance for past misdeeds. Sex on the hour may be the undoing of two frustrated women in “Duck Butter.” A retelling of Chekhov’s “The Seagull” is set on a lakeside estate. Among the stars are Annette Being, Mare Winningham and Brian Dennehy. In "Dry Martina," a singer begins to get her groove back when she leaves Argentina for Chile, prompted by a visit from her "sister."

The festival centerpiece, “Zoe,” is an entry with a more Hollywood feel. The futuristic drama about technology-produced love stars Léa Seydoux, Ewan McGregor, Christina Aguilera and Rashida Jones, among others.

Sir Ben Kingsley and Liam Neeson in "Schindler's List." Archive photo.

This year, three films will have anniversary screenings: "Schindler's List"(25th) "Scarface" (35th) and "In the Soup"(25th).

Shorts-wise, a one to watch is "The History of White People in America," an animated affair that explores the invention of race in this country. It is one in the Whoopi Goldberg category. In the Bold Moves category, geopolitics might complicate a joint concert by musicians from North and South Korea in "9 at 38."

“Homeless: The Soundtrack”
in the Home Sweet Home shorts category follows a woman who finds her long-lost father homeless. And a musician, like herself. The Lighten Up! category offers “So You Like the Neighborhood.” If you want to stay and not be evicted, some mafia members might be able to help. Two sisters must rethink their building plan in “Paper Roof,” a Loose Ends entry.

As the digital revolution continues to blur the lines of how and where content is consumed, Tribeca is trying to keep up with the times. Part of its response is both the Tribeca TV and N.O.W. (New Online Work).

Ones to watch on TV include Jay-Z’s (executive producer) “Rest In Power: The Trayvon Martin Story” and “Bobby Kennedy for President,” coming to Netflix.

On N.O.W. is “Snugglr,” or a young woman who cuddles strangers as an income-generator to make rent. A guy in “Driver Ed” hopes to impress a racecar enthusiast gal by getting his driver’s license. Drug counseling gets a twisted treatment in “Cleaner Daze.”

Jacob A. Ware as the title character in "Driver Ed." Photo courtesy of "Driver Ed" production.

“Tribeca Talks” offers post-screening chats with Brian De Palma, Sir Ben Kingsley, Liam Neeson, Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer and more. Those in conversations include Alec Baldwin, Edward Burns, Claire Danes, Jamie Foxx, John Legend, Nancy Meyers and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Visit to learn more about it and the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Holiday Gift Guide 2017: From Catskill Provisions, Honey for Your Honey, 'Cause Nothin’ Says Lovin’ Like It Does, Honey!

The cost to impress with the Catskill Provisions Weekend Kit is an easy-to-swallow $115.50, including packing and shipping.

HEADS UP: We're back – from outer space – and touch down to find you here with that stupefied look upon your face. Don't be petrified. We will be your guides ... As per usual, til 24 Dec., the elves at The Wright Wreport will introduce at least one or a series of products, items and brands that we believe are worthy of consideration as holiday gift(s). You will survive (the Yuletide season and beyond)!


good ol' boys was makin' whiskey from rye and adding New York State honey from the "state's happiest bees."

The happy result is an ultra-smooth whiskey made from local grain, but mellowed with artisanal honey to remove the spirit's sting (apologies to those well-adjusted bees). The whiskey alone is wonderful, but sensational as part of the inclusive Weekend Kit.

Thanks to proprietor Claire Marin of Catskill Provisions, who is both a beekeeper and the formulator of the multiple award-winning New York Honey Rye Whiskey, there is gender-neutral honey and more.

The whiskey, though a full 80 proof, is gentle enough for serious sipping, but hearty enough to use in upgrading your customary cocktail. It's more than half rye, but packs a mild sweetness not only from added honey, but from the natural sugars in sprouted barley and a bit of corn in the "mash bill."

The Catskill Provisions Weekend Kit arrives in a smart box similar to this one.

Catskill Provisions' Weekend Kit packs a 3/4 liter bottle of that beautiful whiskey, a pound-and-a-half of two different seasonal Catskill Mountains wildflower honeys (made by happy bees from clover, apple and pear flowers in springtime, and a sharper honey from chestnut and maple blossoms and asters harvested in the fall).

Also included are a pancake-and-waffle mix that will amply feed two hungry lovers, nine ounces of Grade A New York State maple syrup, plus for perfect drizzling, a handy honey wand crafted from wood.

Claire Marin knows her way around bees and whiskey, honey(child).

The packaging of the Weekend Kit by distribution partner Mouth Foods smartly announces love and good taste. The items come in an attractive box made from recycled materials that includes a cotton totebag from Mouth Foods.

Meanwhile, want to venture beyond honey at Catskills Provisions? Our thoroughly-researched luscious favorites are the chocolate honey truffles, the precious hand-made confections carefully nestled in clever die-cut protective presentation boxes.

The chocolate and honey in Catskill Provisions' chocolate honey truffles make for good bedfellows.

And don't think that chocolate and honey cannot make a good marriage. They can ... and they do!

Not only that, but – purists, forgive me – they harmonize well with the mild spicy taste and notes of blackberries, butterscotch and dates found in New York Honey Rye Whiskey.

Visit or to learn more about Catskill Provisions and/or other products.
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