George W. Bush honored at 74th Annual “FATHER OF THE YEAR AWARDS” 2015

George W. Bush honored at 74th Annual “FATHER OF THE YEAR AWARDS” 2015

SAM_0851As we all celebrate Father’s Day we think of our Father’s and our children. At the 74th annual Father of the Year event at the New York Hilton, given by the Father’s Day/Mother’s Day Council, Emceed this year by Mark K. Shriver, a Kennedy look alike he made reference to one of the awardees, former President George W. Bush and how nauseating it is to play on a family name.

Daughter, Barbara Bush gave the presentatoin speech for her dad, and welled in tears “a family trait” as she recounted all her parents and grandparents had done for her and her sister. When the former President accepted his award, he credited becoming a father with helping him stop drinking and then spoke with humor and eloquence about the importance of the role of a father, “I think the most important priority for a dad is to be a dad. In my case, I might have been slightly self-absorbed at times, but when I became a dad, I only had one real job and that was to provide for these little girls. “ He said he didn’t think he would have quit drinking if he hadn’t become a father. But most of his time at the microphone was to speak from his book 41 A Portrait of My Father about his father.

Also receiving recognition from the National Father’s Day Committee was Morris Goldfarb, the head of the G-III Apparel Group, who spoke about his children and grandchildren and how he changed his ways over the past five years after realizing how much he missed traveling and building his business and being away from his family and how now when he shares his vacation home in Saint Barts with his children he is the first one up to prepare breakfast for his grandchildren, and of course, how much money he has given to them.

David Gonzales of Jacksonville, Florida, was recognized as the Ashok Sani “All-Star” dad, who met his child when she was three after falling in love with her mother. Both father and daughter agreed that the bond of genes did not matter to them, agreeing they love each other and feel for each other as if they were genetically bonded.

As a father and grandfather, this award makes me think about what my kids and grandchildren think of the role I played and will continue to play in their lives, as I remain an integral member of the family. I can only hope, though I’ll never win a national award like President Bush did today, that in their minds and hearts that they always knew and will know that I love them unconditionally and that I am there for them in any way I can be. That’s my view of my being a Dad.

And to my Dad, allow me to take this time to wish you a happy Father’s Day too.


Night At the Museum: Secret of the Tomb interviews with the cast

Night At the Museum: Secret of the Tomb interviews with the cast

Night At the Museum 3 Poster HiResNight At the Museum is a franchise that has become part of our national heritage. One of the reasons Ben Stiller’s night watchman is an iconic character is because he feels so at home at his museum. We learned that when Ben Stiller was growing up, more than a few times, he cut class and hung at the Natural History Museum on Central Park West. “And, in that era, you can be sure, I wasn’t there smoking clove cigarettes”.

Watch for the scene of Owen Wilson as Jedediah and Steve Coogan as Octavius, the two miniature men, being flown across the screen by the museum’s air exchange. Seeing their lives coming to an end, Octavius asks to hold Jedediah’s hand, for the first time indicating that these two best friends might love each other. I will suggest that this storyline finds legs as the movie moves along. Owen Wilson sitting next to the film’s director, Shawn Levy, explains that he loved flying and loved the scene where they realize that this might be the end. But then he and Shawn explain that the entire dialogue of the scene was written by the two actors while flying and while realizing that this might be the end.

It was that kind of love for the characters, that they could write what they felt in the moment. All actors agreed that under the direction of Shawn, they all had a certain amount of latitude in creating on the set. This collaboration has been continuing for all three movies and even newcomers to the team, Dan Stevens and Rebel Wilson bring their own sense of play to the set. Dan played Sir Lancelot, of the Knights of the Roundtable fame. He is a member of the team until his own agenda must outweigh the needs of all, and then he becomes the brutal antagonist who must be stopped or all of the life force in the characters will perish forever. With all his on screen charisma and charm, Dan’s Sir Lancelot is revealed as an antagonist we can watch forever. His favorite scene was the art and dance of his fight with the mythic snake (dragon) which he did on a set all by himself, as they computerized the giant anaconda around his movements. But as comedy would have it while he fights to the death, it is Larry the night watchman who comes to the rescue and slays the dragon with his flashlights. But thinking about the scene played against nothing, is a choreography worth note.   By the way, Dan is as beautiful, charming and sexy off screen as he is on. Time to watch Downton Abbey to get more of him.

Rebel Wilson explained that her bubbly sexpot role was created by her understanding that she had a role to make strong by “Girl Power” and that became her great ally bringing the British Counterpart of Ben Stiller’s night watchman into her character. Her bubbly personality and her powerful performance not only steal every scene she’s in, but her character transforms from lonely night watchman sleeping on the job to the courier who comes back to save the exhibits at New York museum from expiring.

NATM3-GroupShawn Levy is all smiles, totally attentive to the questions from the panel as he talks about Night at the Museum, Curse of the Tablet, as a story of a dad and his son. The crossroads that each character faces and the love that each character gives and receives as the real elements of life within the comedic farce that is how the movie’s story is told.

But the overriding story in this movie is and will always be the tribute to the co-star who was not being interviewed, Robin Williams. Shawn expressed his sadness at losing a friend and collaborator having worked with Robin on all three movies in this franchise they had spent much time together and as we all knew about Robin, he was given carte blanche in every scene he was in to bring more to his Teddy Roosevelt than was on the page. And in tribute to the fallen star, all on the panel express working with him was an experience they will never forget as everyday he brought joy and comedy to the set, the scene, and to the days work. The movie ends with the words with a final tribute to Robin Williams “The Magic Never Ends” but it was the final scenes where Teddy realizes he must retire and say goodbye to his friend Larry the Night Watchman that will bring a tear to everyone’s eyes, It was written and played with the longing and sadness built in, because the actors and director were aware this was the end of the franchise and they wanted the goodbye to be a bit sad. But, now everyone can see that life follows art, as Robin was in effect saying goodbye to the world audience.

When the exhibits at New York’s Natural History Museum start behaving strangely, Larry Daley (Ben Stiller)… — now the director of nighttime operations — must find out the cause. He learns that the Tablet, which magically brings Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Jedediah (Owen Wilson) and the other exhibits to life at night, has started to decay. Larry, along with his son and museum friends, must travel to London’s British Museum to learn how to prevent the Tablet’s magic from disappearing, and all live happily ever after, except of course, Robin, the comedic talent for two generations who will be remembered as a member of Hollywood’s elite.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb could be the Best Sequel Ever!

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb could be the Best Sequel Ever!

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM 3Night At the Museum opens Christmas Day and with all the choices for your entertainment dollar, this is a don’t miss. Hollywood stars make this movie which has it all, just a little bit more because of the place in history it will have. The franchise has been around since 2006. We’ve grown to love Larry, the night watchman, Jedediah and Octavius, (Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan), Sacajawea (Mizuo Peck) and this even returns old favorites like Dick Van Dyke, whose role is to show he’s can still really shake ‘em down. Mickey Rooney (who died in 2014) and now add a bit of Ben Kingsley and a lot of Rebel Wilson (who steals every scene she’s in as the bombshell blond) and allow Shawn Levy to shake it up one more time and you got a blockbuster.

Did I miss someone, Oh, yeah. The reason for giving this review starting with the stars rather than the story. It turns out this movie, as good as the story is, as good as the comedy and family bonding comes across, as good as the effects are, that makes us watch a monkey pretend to die, as good as every moment of this movie is, it will be remembered as the last film with Robin Williams. Not only that, but Teddy Roosevelt’s final line is something to the effect of There will always be another sun rise tomorrow. Think about that.

night-at-the-museum-secret-of-the-tomb-releasesThe story starts on the set of every Indiana Jones movie and the boy who discovered a lost tomb. Seventy-five years later he’s dancing at an old age home. Dick Van Dyke proves he’s still got the dance in those old legs. Owen Wilson’s character, Jedediah, the miniature cowboy and Steve Coogan’s Octavius, the miniature Roman Sentry, bond. Larry bonds with his son. Rami Malek’s ahkmenrah finds his father, in London and having not seen each other since the expedition split the spoils, they bond. Ricky Gervais retires from the directorship of the museum, and finally sees what he’s never believed before. We learn lessons of the importance of family and accepting friends. We learn that it is always hard to let go of our loved ones. After all of these hard times, there is always the next dance, the next day, the next party. We learn that in life we can do what we need to do, and each step of progress in our lives, is just a step to redefine next wonderful moment that will become a memory if not in our own minds then in the minds of those who we’ve touched. As And allowing us to move forward is a wonderful thing that allows us to redefine our lives, our goals and the memories we leave others with.

The comradarie, the fun, the love, it’s all palpable. The quest to save the lives of every museum exhibit, is upon us. The plot weaves from comedy to adventure with the ease of watching family movies of our last vacation. Everything just fits in to tell one story tidbit, after the next. But then there is that one actor who just can’t fit in. Rebel Wilson has already proven herself to be a standout. But in her ten or so scenes, each of which she just down and out steals, her smile, her accent, her ability to show lust while making us laugh at what we’re all thinking just endears a new member of the NATM cast in our hearts and heads.

In the end the next generation takes over, but along the way, the lives of the characters in the museum, have been saved, and while the franchise might be dead, the character’s lives have all been changed.

Shawn Levy, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Robin Williams began and ended their journey in a better place than they had been. And having watched the trifecta of Museum movies, we are all the better for having watched them, grown with them, and loved them.

Father of the Year Awards 2014 – interviews

Father of the Year Awards 2014 – interviews

photo 2After the ceremony, I was able to speak to Vince Camuto who expressed the heartwarming feeling that his children are not his only family, but that he sees his employees, most, at least a generation younger than him, as his family.  All part of why he won the award and his company has been so successful.

I was able to speak to Curtis Martin at length and was impressed by his calm.  He had answers ready for all questions asked.  Because his father was an abuser his mother was his mentor.  Asked how to guide children in the balance of winning and sportsmanship, Martin said, just try to be the best you can be.  Winning at all costs is fine as long as you don’t break any rules.  “But it is not competition with others that is important, it is the competition within oneself.  Be better than yesterday,” he suggested, “and let the chips fall where they may.”  This reporter responded with “And for you, the chips fell pretty well.” And Mr. Martin gave the broadest, warmest smile of ease and grace.  It was easy to see how even though the father of rather young children he was honored on this day with father’s of twenty and more years, he is a role model for being the best while remaining cool.  A full interview has been recorded.

Fathers of the Year Awards 2014

Fathers of the Year Awards 2014

photo 3 Father’s Day is June 15 but at the NY Hilton Father’s Day celebrations started yesterday.  The Father’s Day/Mother’s Day Council held it’s annual event awarding FATHERS OF THE YEAR to 5 awardees.  Fashion Icon Vince Camuto, Governor Chris Christie, medical device executive Robert Reid, Bloomingdales Chairman Tony Strong and Football Hall of Famer Curtis Martin shared the award and one other thing.  Each of these men of wealth and power stated in rather similar words “The most important thing that I get to do every day is to be a father.”

photo 2In the world in which we live where women in the workplace fight for equality, men are learning to balance responsibilities of work and being a dad.  Several of the recipients had children there to speak about the role models their fathers are to them.  Robert Reid was nominated for his award based upon his being a swim coach for his daughter’s swim team in the Special Olympics.  While four of Camuto’s five children attended, Governor Christie told the audience that only one of his four children could make the ceremony and, in front of the audience of more than 1,000 he told her she was “My new favorite child.”  Then smiling, he suggested to her, “You have no idea what this is going to do for you.”  Curtis Martin, the final awardee to speak, explained that neither of his children were there, nor his wife, because she is home, breast feeding their new baby and his 2½ year old son was a bit too young to understand what this means.  All the other recipients, as well as the Hostess of the event, CBS news personality Nora O’Donnell, who was awarded one of the Mother of the Year honors just last month, expressed humility in winning the award and told of the reaction of their children based in surprise.  Basically asking “You?  You’re the best?”

photo 4Governor Christie has taken heat for his relation with his children for being in Disney World during a snowstorm that buried New Jersey and for taking a state police helicopter to watch his son’s baseball game.   The Governor garnered praise when this past Easter he invited another son’s Princeton baseball team to the governor’s mansion, because their team schedule did not allow the teammates to go home for the holidays.  He proudly announced that the daughter that attended was going to start Notre Dame in September.

Another common thread of all winners were their recalling their childhoods and the fathers they had.  photo 1Vince Camuto’s father died at a young age, which caused his family lose their home and build a life from that point.  He found his first job as a ladies shoe salesman on Fifth Avenue and he learned that all ladies wanted was for a man to listen to what they need, and that early experience became the cornerstone for his business.  He felt that while his father gave him lessons, which he used in life, it was his mother who reared the family.  Curtis Martin learned from his father what not to be.  The lesson he learned from his father was to forgive for the abuses of his childhood.  He recalled that one of his greatest moments in life was getting his mother to forgive his father for his lifetime of improper actions.  But other fathers were true role models, which guided these fathers.

photo 5As a father, this reporter was reminded by this ceremony, the commonality of mankind.  Every fathers first day of becoming who they are, was the day their first child was born.