Teesee`s Town: Friends of La Rabida to salute Merri Dee at ‘Big Top Ball’

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Free Money for Teens–The Illinois Commission on Diversity and Human Relations is giving students, ages 12-16 years, a $40 savings account to jump-start their future savings. It’s all taking place Saturday at Fenger Academy high school, 11250 S

Free Money for Teens–The Illinois Commission on Diversity and Human Relations is giving students, ages 12-16 years, a $40 savings account to jump-start their future savings. It’s all taking place Saturday, Sept. 20, at Fenger Academy high school, 11250 S. Wallace, beginning at 9 a.m. Registration closed earlier this week, but there are a few spots left. Participating banks include National City, Washington Mutual (WaMu), Harris, Charter One and TCF. A parent must accompany each student. To get on board, hurry and call Kandias Conda at (773) 495-5585. Good luck! Attn: Jazz Junkies!–The Hyde Park Jazz Society welcomes vocalist Everett Greene to the CheckerJazz stage at the Checkerboard Lounge, 5201 S. Harper (northeast corner of Harper Court) on Sunday, Sept. 21, at 7:30 p.m.– 11:30 p.m. Admission: only $10; $5 for students over 21 with college/university IDs.

A favorite of many Chicagoans, the Indianapolis resident “has a voice that sounds like it was dipped in hot fudge–a kind of cross between Joe Williams and Arthur Prysock,” so say critics in the know. He has worked with such greats as Junior Mance and Gerald Wiggins, Groove Holmes, Melvin Rhyne, Houston Person, Lou Donaldson and David "Fathead" Newman. Remember, you can bring your dinner if you wish, have a great evening of jazz and still be home at a "respectable" hour. Come for one set or stay for the evening–all for one price. Anniversary Affair–Christian Fields Style Bar, 6550 S. Cottage Grove, celebrates its first year anniversary, “The Carnivale,” on Saturday night, Sept. 20, at its Woodlawn facility, showing appreciation to its customers, clients and the media “who have made it all possible.” “On Air”– CBS 2 Chicago will broadcast live for the very first time from its new, state-of-the-art building on Sunday, Sept. 21, at 10 p.m. Located in the heart of Chicago at 22 W. Washington (at Dearborn), the CBS 2 Broadcast Center is an all-digital, high-definition facility that faces Daley Plaza and the iconic Picasso statue in Chicago’s Loop. “This is the first television station in Chicago that has been designed and built from the ground up as a high-definition facility,” says Joe Ahern, president and general manager. “The new building is a centerpiece for information and community service. Our street-front presence allows us to interact with the public like never before and to provide our neighbors with breaking news, weather, sports scores and more.” The facility features a street-level, glass-walled news studio, as well as an anchor desk and interview set which look out onto Daley Plaza. A 19-feet high video wall on the outside of the building serves as an information resource for the thousands of pedestrians who pass through the area each day. The video wall features CBS Outdoor 10mm video imagery, providing the highest resolution in an outdoor environment. It will be programmed with all local and national newscasts, syndicated programs like The Rachael Ray Show and Dr. Phil, sports and special events. The video wall will also be a source for breaking news, weather and for live coverage of major events on Daley Plaza. The building will also serve as the new home of the CBS Network News Chicago Bureau.

In celebration of the new CBS 2 Broadcast Center, the station will broadcast a series of special programs and news stories. A historical retrospective celebrating the past, present and future of CBS 2 will air at 6 a.m., 1 p.m. and 10:35 p.m. as the station closes its historic building on McClurg Ct. A live report from the new space during the 10 p.m. newscast will bring viewers inside the building for a behind-the-scenes look. Heart of Chicago will examine the history of Block 37, feature an interview with Mayor Daley, and highlight the Chicago Loop and the station’s new location surrounded by businesses, government, theaters, parks and shopping. The program will look back at some of the most significant news stories and events of the last 50 years, including the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debate, the first televised presidential debate, which originated from the McClurg Ct. studios. Tune in! Write On!–Omar Tyree, the New York Times’ best-selling author, comes this way Saturday, Sept. 20, as the special guest for the Authors and Artists’ Chicago Book Fair, themed “The Last Chapter: Exploring the Endless Possibilities of Literature and Culture.” Sponsored by 220 Communications, it will be held at Columbia College, 623 S. Wabash, from 1 p.m.–6 p.m. Admission: $10, which includes a raffle ticket for a trip to Las Vegas, panel discussions and prize giveaways totaling $1,000. A portion of the proceeds will benefit The Urban Literacy Project, says Glenn Murray, coordinator. Besides Tyree, some 20 other writers, artists, filmmakers will be on hand. For more details, call (886) 533-9884 or visit http://www.authorsandartistslive.com. The Grand Ballroom of Four Seasons Hotel will take on a circus atmosphere when Friends of La Rabida Children’s Hospital hosts its annual fundraiser on Friday honoring Merri Dee, WGN-TV’s retiring community relations director and its Children’s Charities’ manager. The Big Top Ball committee is co-chaired by Joli Burrell and Bob Arthur, and since the mid-80s, the group has raised millions of dollars for various clinics and service programs at La Rabida, the only hospital in the country solely dedicated to children with lifelong medical conditions or who have suffered abuse and neglect. Located on the southern shores of Lake Michigan (at 65th St.), La Rabida has been caring for children for 112 years, regardless of their ability to pay.

Proceeds from the black tie dinner will support the Joli Burrell Children’s Advocacy Centers (in Chicago and Park Forest), which serve kids with traumatic experiences, such as sexual abuse, physical abuse, burns, witnessing family violence and violent crimes. Among planning committee members: Linda Johnson Rice, Diane Dinkins Carr, Lyle Logan, Heather Morris, Jacqueline N’Namdi, Regina Daniels and lots of others. ABC 7’s Cheryl Burton is emcee; actor author Steve Schrirripa is host. The evening kicks off with cocktails at 7 p.m. Individual $500 tickets can be reserved by calling La-Verne Mathews, (773) 753-9602.

Newsy Names–“Highly hilarious” and “scrumptiously unscripted” is how Yvette Moyo describes Real Men Charities’ second annual Roast & Toast on Dec. 13 at South Shore Cultural Center, celebrating state Senate President Emil Jones, soon to be retired.

Cong. Danny Davis (7th), Ill. Commerce Commissioner Lula Ford, Judge E. Kenneth Wright, Dr. Herbert C. Harris, Dr. Lewis Baskins, Atty. Thomas Vaughn and ShoreBank’s Robert Nash receive “Distinguished Alumni” honors from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff’s Chicago Chapter at its Black Gold Scholarship Dinner-Dance on Sept. 27 at Chateau Bu-Sche (location changed from Harambee House). Spear heads: Bobbie Dixon Heard, chair; Doris Odem, president. For tickets, call (312) 842- 4974.

Hosea Sanders, ABC 7’s early morning (5-7 a.m.) news anchor, is MIA (missing in action), recovering for four-six weeks from hip replacement surgery. Ouch!

Happy b’day to Marcus Alston (Danielle Ashley Communications), Monique Young (Defender layout artist), Ron Childs (Flowers Communications) and Valinda Jones (Sixth Grace Presbyterian Church).

Nemi Johnson is recovering from surgery at Warren-Barr Pavilion.

Makin’ History–Eartha Kitt, 81, (born Eartha Mae Keith in North, S.C.), an international show-biz legend indeed (stage, screen and recordings), will be saluted by Julieanna Richardson and The HistoryMakers on Saturday with a PBS-TV special, An Evening with Eartha Kitt, to air in February ’09. The interview and performance (Kitt will sing several of her signature hits) will be videotaped before a live audience at Northwestern U’s Thorne Auditorium. Washington Week’s award-winning correspondent Gwen Ifill will conduct the interview and host the career retrospective; Merri Dee will emcee. The HistoryMakers, a national non-profit, is the world’s largest African American archival collection.

A performer in the truest sense of the word, Kitt’s career has spanned over six decades. She’s an author, two-time Daytime Emmy winner who’s raised over a million dollars to benefit African American schools and frequently gives benefit performances for HIV/AIDS organizations. In 1968, you remember, she encountered a professional setback when she made anti-war remarks at a White House luncheon, reportedly causing first lady Lady Bird Johnson to cry. Just last year, Kitt co-starred in an independent film, And Then Came Love, with Vanessa Williams and Ben Vereen. An Evening With Eartha Kitt is the 14th program in The HistoryMakers’ PBS-TV series, which so far has raised in excess of $7 million for the development of the priceless archive. Support for Saturday’s event has come from McDonalds, Discover Financial Services, Coca-Cola, Aon, Best Portion Foundation, Allstate, Verizon, Walgreens, ITW, American Airlines, Chicago Tribune, Sprint and Palmer House Hilton. Call (312) 674-1900.

TV-OP Fest–Milana L. Walter, former NBC 5 exec, is the brains behind TV-OP 2008 International Television Festival this Friday and Saturday at Columbia College Chicago’s Film Row, 1104 S. Wabash. The second annual two-day event, “Creating Program Diversity and Career Opportunities in TV and Broadband Programming,” will focus on opening doors of opportunity for professionals of color and women in the powerful medium of television, Walter says. “The only one of its kind, it was created to advocate diversity in front of and behind the cameras, and connect entrepreneurial creators of viable, entertaining productions with global companies in need of quality content.” Newly christened TV-OP, the fest follows the successful soft introduction in 2007 at the Black Harvest Film Festival. Nielsen Media Research and TV One have returned to join Columbia College as the presenting sponsors of this effort to expose talented producers with their multicultural stories and varied viewpoints to key industry decision-makers. In 2007, the festival awarded Joseph L. Lewis ll and Eugene Haynes, co-creators of the animated pilot, The Adventures of Teddy P. Brains, an all-expense-paid trip to TV One headquarters to meet and pitch their executives. It also honored Emmy winner, Barbara E. Allen, with the first Chicago TV Excellence Award for her work on Paper Trail: 100 Years of The Chicago Defender, and featured panel discussions and presentations by top execs such as Johnathan Rodgers, TV One’s CEO; Bruce DuMont, Museum of Broadcast Communications’ president; Ken Smikle, Target Market News’ president; Jenny Alonzo, Lifetime Entertainment’s former SVP.

Amy Hilliard, Brenda Sexton and Abe Thompson co-chair Saturday’s Awards Ceremony, which will induct Nat King Cole in TV-OP’s Hall of Fame for his groundbreaking television show that ran for 64 consecutive episodes, 1956-1957. His twin daughters, Timolin and Casey, co-founders of the Nat King Cole Generation of Hope Foundation Inc., will accept the award. Also honored: creators of multicultural TV productions, including vintage TV and reality shows, plus comedy, drama, animation and documentaries. For tickets to the fest and info on the extensive, jam-packed schedule, visit www.tv-opfestival.com or call (312) 588-1500.

Breakfast BonusESPN columnist-commentator Scoop Jackson addresses the 111th Man-Boy Breakfast hosted by Concerned Christian Men on Saturday at Simeon Career Academy and Prof. James Wilson “unlocks the secrets to success in math.” Spirited sports competition is on the agenda, and always welcome at this monthly tradition are men 18 and over ($5 donation) and young men 6-17 (free). Call George Glenn, CCM founder, (773) 401-0025; email stgdg@yahoo.com or visit www.concerned christianmen.org. CCM is celebrating 13 years serving African American youngsters.

Mardi Gras Fun–Wear a colorful mask and join ComEd’s Angel Perez and Citizen Group’s Bill Garth on Friday at Chatham Business Association’s Annual Awards Gala & Mardi Gras Celebration at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza. Other hosts include Joseph Caldwell, Dr. Felicia Blasingame, Leonard Harris and Monica Thomas. Call (773) 994-5006.

On AirPaul Lisnek, Comcast CN 100 anchor, has joined WVON’s weekend lineup as host of his self-titled radio show that airs Sundays, 4-5 p.m., live on 1690 AM and streamed live on WVON.com, says Melody Spann-Cooper, president/GM. Lisnek also hosts Political Update on CN 100 (The Comcast Network), anchors Newsmakers on CNN Headline News, serves as a political analyst for WGN-TV and his analysis, and commentary has been heard on NBC’s Today Show and CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360. For some, he’s been a regular guest on radio icon Cliff Kelley’s show, discussing all things politics, law, entertainment and current events.

______ Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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