You may remember seeing a picture of me with super sibs David and Adam Rudman of Spiffy Pictures from PBS Annual Meeting. We were there talking about their latest gem for PBS Kids called Nature Cat. You may not recognize them right away, because David is usually busy performing as Cookie Monster and Adam is usually writing half of the kids’ shows on television. In fact, they both have had incredible award winning careers steering some of the most beloved children’s entertainment on record. When I first viewed trailers from Nature Cat, I was immediately struck by how the voices were SO hilarious and characterful – something one doesn’t often find in these days of having celebrity voices in animation. I really get aggravated by all the current films that use recognizable straight voices of pop stars and film actors for animated characters while there are those actors who strive to master the voice. While Nature Cat may use some famous talent that you might find on a late Saturday night, including Bobby Moynihan, Kate McKinnon (her Squeeks is my favorite), Taran Killam, Kate Micucci, and Kenan Thompson, these comedic actors have obviously fully embraced their animated manifestations and created characterful voices that make the show absolutely hilarious! I commented to the brothers that I was thrilled by the voice talent, and they seemed so glad that this wasn’t unnoticed, as they grew up on Looneytunes, SchoolHouse Rock, and Fractured Fairy Tales just like I did. The shows were funny because the cartoons were fully developed personae, and we had no idea what the person behind the voice looked like.
My Critter and I just screened the first three episodes of Nature Cat, and we loved it. You can see the show Wednesday November 25th on your local PBS station right after the also brand new and awesome Wild Kratts Christmas Special – LA folks can find it on PBS SoCal. I’ve linked to some really cool activities you can do with your own two legged critters in the thumbnails too. Looking forward to calling this one a classic!
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When I discovered that this year’s meeting would take place in Austin, Texas, I immediately thought GIRL TRIP! I had just reconnected with my best best best friend from high school (thank you Facebook), and she lives in Austin. My BFF Debra, who was my first roomie here in LA is now happily married and living in Houston, so I announced we would get together as soon as my meetings ended.
A huge thank you to the folks at PBS and PBS Kids for making our visit completely awesome! In the realm of tradition, our PBS Kids Very Involved Parent group have now attended three Annual Meetings, and now here we were at the fourth – we now have connected as friends and had a terrific time catching all the moments together – the highlights this year included: a special performance at the venerable Austin City Limits by the up and coming Peterson Brothers, hilarious and inspirational breakout sessions with the creators of the latest PBS Kids programming Ready Jet Go! and Nature Cat, and a fun informative cook’s tour of the pristine new Whole Foods Market. I learned (and ate) more in these few days than I have room to share, but stay posted for a more information as the premieres of the new shows come nigh, and a trip to the JPL with the folks from Ready Jet Go!
I hugged goodbye to all my VIPs and before I knew it Bianca was there to pick me up, just like when we were in high school! We talked so much and caught up on the last twenty years, and it was like no time had passed at all. We talked kids, husbands, history, food, drinks, politics, fashion, and I don’t know what else over lots of great food in several different locations. I got to meet her super creative smart kids and see where she lives, and it was all good. She is still a raving beauty who can make me belly laugh, and I can’t wait until our next rendezvous.
Debra rolled in from Houston on Friday afternoon, giving me a chance to lie around binge watching Grace and Frankie, (which was perfect, considering that it’s a show about old friends), and then get my act together, because she was looking fabulous from H-town. We figured out that we have now been friends for twenty years! It’s hard to believe that so much time has passed since we were roommates near the Farmers Market for my first summer working for Wilson and Associates – we were instant gal pals and have never wavered in supporting and cheering one another on, and it was so good to be together in this funky fun town to do nothing but gab, eat, drink, and take in local culture. Taking pity on me as a mom who has to keep up with everyone’s schedules, Deb had sussed all the cool stuff to do, so all I had to do was be ready to go, and go we did. She found some terrific hot spots for us to do our apps and cocktails thing, and some fantastic music venues that took me back to my college days of hitting the Subway Lounge and the Delta Blues Festival. We even managed to do a power walk and do a little shopping. I have to say that Austin is a really cool place – great culture, sophisticated quality dining without pretense, and an all around good time, in fact, I really want to go back as soon as I can! Check out my photos to see some of our highlights and for information on the venues – it was a perfect place to have me-time with my girls and come back to Beverly Hills revitalized.
Thank you again to my sweet friends and the wonderful staff at PBS Kids for making this such a special trip – next year: Chicago! I have to get on Facebook and see who I know there…
I am still swooning from all the creative inspiration that I found this year at the PBS Annual Meeting. The PBS Kids VIPS were guests of PBS so that we might bring our readers more information on new AND tried and true programming on our favorite station! Very exciting this year is Mando, the new man (or should I say hombre) on Sesame Street, aka Ismael Cruz Cordova. I feel so lucky to have access to the people who embody these wonderful programs – here’s a clip of a little get to together I had with Rosita and Mando just after Mando’s debut. You can see how bad my Spanish really is.
I also found the introduction of Peg + Cat, a very artful new show with a female heroine that promotes math learning, to be particularly exciting, as I loved the combination of the illustrative aesthetic and mathematical thinking, along with some very fun original songs. We were also able to spend some time with the creators, Billy Aronson and Jennifer Oxley, who are literally TITANS – their individual bios include such classics as Beavis and Butthead and The Wonder Pets. They were incredibly generous with their time to discuss how the program developed, and I adored how they are so smart AND silly at the same time. Check out this clip of their new show, debuting this fall.
There was more than I can possibly explain, but spending time in Miami was a great way to start the summer – I had some GREAT dinners and terrific conversations with my fellow VIPs and can’t wait to see them (and the Fountainbleu) again.
Y’all know my history with Chris Mann, and you know how much I love PBS, so you can imagine how thrilled I was when I got the invitation from Barbara at One2One Network to attend the taping of his upcoming PBS Special! I went to Sony last night and watched and listened to him BRING IT for four hours, and I can assure you the special will be something…special. I thought this about Chris since the first night I heard him play and am so happy to see all the great things that have happened since then – that he’s in the skilled hands of the production people at PBS is also very reassuring. I know that they’ll “get” him and create a wonderful program with all his hard work. His voice is in top condition, and every note her delivers is rich and clear. My favorite songs he performed? Cuts from his new album Roads: My Way ( Frank Sinatra and his grandad would be proud), and Cuore (it really doesn’t matter if you know what he’s saying, just close your eyes and listen). After seeing this special you will also want to add his Christmas album to your permanent collection – his version “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” is just amazing.
Here we are together after the show – I got to give him a hug and tell him how happy I am for all he’s achieved since that night at Genghis Cohen…
One of the best parts about having a kidlet is having the legitimate excuse to immerse myself in kids’ stuff, to which I have admitted an addiction. I think back on summers in Gulfport Mississippi, where my parents’ office was located across the street from the very glamorous (really!) Gulfport-Harrison Library. I would spend hour upon hour reading every book in the children’s section, proudly watching the librarian make a new hashmark by my name each time I reported to her that I had read another. The books would take my mind near and far, teach and entertain me, and broadened my mind to wanting to learn more.
The love of reading and learning was also supported by shows on PBS like the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, The Electric Company, and Sesame Street – even though it was television programming, the number one theme was that if you can read you can learn, and if you can learn, anything is possible. The more things change the more they remain the same. Now I have a preschooler embarking on the summer before kindergarten. I want him to read, to learn, and to enjoy it the way I always have. He has lots of wonderful books and tons of cool online resources to help me teach him.
As a PBS Kids VIP I attended the PBS Annual Meeting last month and was thrilled to be able to preview the newest program called Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. I was whisked from LAX to Denver for a whirlwind trip where I was also able to gather with folks from PBS Kids / PBS, meet the other PBS Kids VIPs, and get another visit with my kids’ TV idol Angela Santomero. Angela promised that Daniel Tiger, the “child” of the Fred Rogers Company and PBS Kids has enough lovey-love and cuteness to melt the coldest heart, and will also teach preschoolers how to cope with emotions and have empathy for others. It really was inspiring to be able to see her speak to a huge crowd of people who grew up with Mister Rogers Neighborhood who were all excited to see how the themes from our beloved “neighbor’s” lessons would translate to the new millennium. The trolley, red sweater, sneakers, the Land of Make Believe, and the sweet characters are all still there, but this time all in animated form, since there is no way to replace Mr R. The real Mrs. Rogers was there too, and I got to give her a hug and tell her how my son watches Mister Rogers just like I did and how happy I am about the new series.
There’s a reason PBS Kids programming survives and thrives after all these years. It’s still made by people whose mission is to change lives, one house at a time, and that everyone can afford to watch – it’s still public and reaches 99% of all homes. I left Denver energized, looking forward to seeing Daniel again on Labor Day, and ready to host a little summer kick off party of my own, with the help of PBS Kids, iVillage, and Scholastic. Last Friday I had a Summer Reading Party at the Critter’s preschool support literacy through the iVillage PBS Kids Summer Reading Community Challenge. We read books, colored printable pages, took fun photos, and watched PBS Kids programming. All good Beverly Hills events end with a goody bag, and this was no exception – the wee ones took home discount coupons, notebooks, bookmarks, tatoos, sticker sheets, activity story sheets, and reading charts that parents can use to encourage reading all summer.
I have been keeping some great news under my hat until I could do a proper announcement. See that little button over there to the right on my home page? I was recently asked to be A PBS Kids VIP! I have been a fervent supporter of all things PBS, and now that I have the Critter, the educational programs of PBS Kids have enriched our lives so much. My new designation as a “VIP, or Very Involved Parent”, is basically a backstage pass to the wonderful resources including programming, apps, tools and toys that the teams at PBS Kids successfully produce time and time again. I will, of course continue to share news and information with y’all about all the stuff we love and great news and events, including attending the PBS Annual meeting, where I’ll learn more (and share with you) about how the folks at PBS Kids continue to deliver wonderful educational moments for our children.
I got to hang out with my beloved MomsLA founders Yvonne, Sarah, and Elise – they are always my homies at this event, and they (along with Jessica) got to see me lose my mind over the B-52s and dance like a maniac to their performance, the third time I’ve seen them live. They clearly are still the best party band in the world. In March PBS is broadcasting a February ’11 performance in their hometown of Athens, Georgia that commemorated the 34th anniversary of the band’s first-ever live show on Valentine’s Day 1977. During the Q & A I was able to ask them how they managed to be so brave with their style and their sound in a small Southern town. Fred Schneider and Kate Pierson shared the reply and said that Athens was a college town and very liberal; they were pretty much able to let their freak flag fly.
I thank the Lord that they did, and that I was able once and for all to tell Kate Pierson in person that she has been my style idol since Planet Claire. Thanks, PBS for getting me ba-a-a-ack to the Love Shack!
I was initially invited by the amazing folks at PBS to their annual fall press tour to get a preview of their new kids’ programming. I LOVED the new shows and will tell you all about them before they air. I have to say, though, that being invited to sit about fifteen feet from Yoko Ono and to hear her field questions from the press was really something. Although I am not quite old enough to have lived during the initial rage that was the Beatles, I was very aware of the disdain folks have for Ms Ono-Lennon, and probably have reiterated that she was the cause of their breakup. For that, Yoko, I apologize – I was so ignorant!
Yoko was at the Beverly Hilton to promote LENNONYC, a new PBS American Masters documentary chronicling the life of the Lennon family in New York after the breakup of the Beatles. I remember the press having a field day with their entry into the country and Nixon trying to deport them, I remember how much people hated Yoko, and most of all, I remember this photo by Annie Leibovitz. Upon receiving my copy of Rolling Stone in the mail, I remember thinking to myself (as a high school sophomore in Mississippi) that I hoped to be loved one day like John loved Yoko. It took me about twenty five years to attain that goal, and now I have things that Yoko had – an adoring husband, a precious child, and a home. These are things worth protecting, and how this tiny hip septuagenarian managed to keep the wolves at bay, survive the loss of John, and raise a son in safety is nothing short of phenomenal .
I was not prepared for how endearing Yoko would be. I was REALLY not prepared for how well I understood her plight, which, after seeing her this close, I do – she is the keeper of the flame, of the treasure that was her home. I was surprised that pro journalists still wanted to dwell on criticisms of her, veiled by polite demeanor / rude questions, like “Why didn’t you move out of the Dakota?”, the Manhattan apartment building occupied by many famous people. Yoko said “because John lives there”. Then she flatly told the reporter that his question was sexist and racist and that no one would have questioned a white man about why he stayed in a home he shared with his deceased wife.
We viewed footage of the film and we all wanted more. I think if the world had seen this footage while John was still alive, the public opinion would have swayed more toward seeing the two of them as a love story, not kooks, as they were often portrayed. This is the crux of the dilemma of being the keeper of the flame – can Yoko ever give enough of her home to the people who loved Lennon? She mentioned that she was stunned by the amount of footage that was available to make the film – that she had so carefully guarded their private life and that even thirty years later there are still so many reels and negatives from the days before the internet that she viewed for the first time during production of LENNONYC.
One clip in the movie was a recollection of Lennon’s producer seeing him push his son Sean in a stroller Central Park and noticing that John seemed so happy with this part of his life, that the producer chose not to broach the subject of making a new album (which would later evolve to “Double Fantasy“) – why would he take on that aggravation now that he had such riches of home and fatherhood. Yoko’s comment about this particular incident was that before John came to New York, only nannies strolled babies in the Park! No daddies did that – daddies were at the office and didn’t do domestic things like that! John Lennon was a trailblazer not only in music but in the realm of fatherhood.
I also noted that she twitters “on the weekends”. I am now a devoted follower! LENNONYC will air Monday, November 22 at 9pm on PBS
Earth Day is also Double Points Day on Eekoworld, the recently-launched interactive website designed to introduce children to the basics of ecosystems, conservation and pollution. My Critter loves to play with Cheek-o, the eek-O world spokesman!