Friday, January 27, 2012

New "Celebrity Corner " TV series heads out to Great Lakes Bay restaurants

by Janet I. Martineau
Television premiere:
“Celebrity Corner”
6:30pm Sunday (Jan. 29)
Channel 19/35
Chances are, in the next five months, you might end up appearing on television if you dine out at a Great Lakes Bay region restaurant.
Hint: Molly’s Bistro in Midland is a possibility in March. Frankenmuth’s  Bavarian Inn is for sure in February.
“She’s is singer and performs there,” says Saginaw filmmaker Ricardo J. Verdoni of Molly McFadden, who owns and operates Molly’s with her husband Brian.
Verdoni is the creator of “Celebrity Corner,” a half-hour series spotlighting the region’s arts, entertainment and business enterprises and shot on location in restaurants. It debuts this Sunday (Jan. 29) at 6:30pm on Delta College’s Channel 19/35 and is slated to run in that fourth Sunday slot for six weeks, says Verdoni.
The Laurie Middlebrook Band
David Oppermann, the long-time leader of the New Reformation Dixieland Band, hosts each segment -- interviewing the restaurant patrons and the arts/entertainment/business guests.
“The idea is everybody on this show is a celebrity,” says Verdoni, “even the people eating. And I think I may increase the time we spend with them in each segment because Dave is such a natural with them. He can get anybody to talk. And he does not need a script. I just give him some background and off he goes.”
The guests in Episode One are Brett Mitchell, the conductor of the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra; Laurie Middlebrook, a country music singer/songwriter/band leader; JoAnn Crary, CEO of Saginaw Future, and Tricia Arner, director of the mobile Saginaw Area Foundation for Eye Care.
And the restaurant is Horizons in Saginaw Township, where Oppermann drops in on members of the 1949 class of Saginaw High School enjoying their monthly lunch.
Mitchell chats about his conducting gigs in Houston, Washington D.C., St. Paul and France and the fact the Saginaw orchestra is recording record audiences these days. Cow girl Middlebrook is seen with her horses.
Arner says the mobile eye bus visits 20-25 sites each year, its volunteer doctors and staff providing eye care, including surgery,  to people who cannot otherwise afford it. And Crary says yes jobs are in short supply, but the Great Lakes Bay jobless rate is 8.1 percent to the nation’s 9 percent and then lists a half dozen promising careers in the area.
Thankfully, Verdoni has for years taken his camera everywhere he goes, so he has an ample supply of stock footage on most of his guests or their businesses....and if not, he shoots some for the new series. Middlebrook is seen in several concerts and Mitchell too.
“I don’t like shows with talking heads, so this one will not be that.” He also found that the   four guests being interviewed in the first installment seemed  more relaxed chatting in the restaurant setting rather than a more formal studio, so he plans to continue that as well -- even though there is at times some noise bleed.
February’s show will head out to the Bavarian Inn, and among the guests are Dorothy Zehnder, the no-spring-chicken founder who still runs the place, as well as Judy Zehnder who oversees the Bavarian Lodge.
Also on Verdoni’s radar, along with Molly’s Bistro, are the Bay City Players -- the state’s oldest community theater. “And I won’t limit the show to just Saginaw, Midland and Bay City. There’s Chesaning... Birch Run.”
Verdoni is an avid supporter of the Great Lakes Bay region and says he pursued doing this show “to show the quality of life, the good stuff in our communities. So many people just don’t seem to know what is happening here.”
Earlier he filmed and aired “Saginaw Celebrates Summer,” a span of three months during which there are dozens of entertainment options.
Channel 19/35 plans to air the six installments of “Celebrity Corner” and then see what the ratings are. Verdoni, who owns and operates Verdoni Productions, adds that he retains the rights to each installment and is open to showing it for clubs and other interested groups.

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