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By JOHN T. WARD
By JOHN T. WARD
Long on sarcasm, feigned eye-rolling and Jersey love, the hosts of the nation’s top-rated television shows in their respective categories traded zingers in a conversation about the media, politics and growing up in the Garden State before a packed Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank Sunday night.
In a sparring mood that might have been a continuation of their pre-show dinner at the nearby Broadway Diner, The Daily Show host Jon Stewart and NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams traded insights into their jobs and flashing wit for two hours and 20 minutes, including a Q&A session with the audience.
“Thank you for dropping the F bomb 41 seconds into this,” Williams said to Stewart, who sniped that Williams’ job entailed his being removed from a “vegetable crisper” just in time for each night’s news broadcast.
Jon Stewart’s riverfront houses on Alston Court, left, and Fisher Place, right, represent a combined $7 million investment in Red Bank, not counting major renovations now underway on one house. (Click to enlarge)
The host of Comedy Central’s ‘The Daily Show,” who quietly paid $3.8 million for a riverfront home on Alston Court late last year, has supplemented that buy with the equally hush-hush purchase of the adjoining property one lot to the west, on Fisher Place, redbankgreen has learned.
Property records show Stewart, through an entity called Red Bank River Trust, paid $3.2 million in June for the second property, the former home of Kerri and Pat McGeehan. P.J. Rotchford, manager of the Gloria Nilson Realtors office in Rumson, which was involved in the transaction, confirmed that the trust is Stewart’s.
Jon Stewart in a lunch truck preparing food for construction workers and employees at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in 2018. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
Contributors to Jon Stewart’s new HBO project — including writer Brendan O’Hare, above, in the guise of obsessive basketball fan — make an encore appearance at Count Basie’s Performing Arts Academy Thursday.
As they did two months ago, writers and other contributors to Jon Stewart‘s hush-hush new HBO-project-in-the-works are scheduled to take a stage Thursday night in what one of them called a “dope little room that probably was a garage three weeks ago.”
Hey, a little respect: that “dope little room” next door to Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre was once a Wa-Wa convenience store, we’ll have you know.
He’s made memorable appearances on the programs of former colleagues Stephen Colbert and Larry Wilmore. He’s been busy with his wife, Tracey, in establishing a new home for rescued farm animals. A new book titled “The Daily Show (The Book): An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests,” has rekindled interest in his legacy. Oh, and he signed a four-year contract with HBO that had media observers salivating over the possibilities.
While Stewart’s still-untitled HBO project is said to be readying for debut by March, a live audience on the Greater Red Bank Green is slated to get an advance taste Thursday night, when the Count Basie Theatre mounts a special Evening of Comedy spotlighting its writers and performers.
On Monday night’s edition of the Daily Show, Red Banker Jon Stewart weighed in on the controversy over NBC News anchor Brian Williams, whose embellished account of an incident early in the Iraq war has drawn widespread media scrutiny. Stewart did not comment directly on a claim by Williams, a former Middletown resident, of having once been robbed at gunpoint in Red Bank, which he made to Stewart himself onstage at a Count Basie Theatre fundraiser in December, 2012. (Click to enlarge)
Locally connected guys Brian Williams and Jon Stewart pictured during one of the NBC news anchor’s frequent appearances on THE DAILY SHOW team up on December 16 for a Hurricane Sandy Relief fundraiser at the Count Basie, with tickets going on sale at noon today.
By TOM CHESEK
Ask anyone who’s ever wound up in line with him at Welsh Farms or Super Foodtown. Scroll through those tweets and Facebook posts from your sister-in-law who was seated at the very next table from him at Blue Water Seafood. Remind yourself that of all the refuges in this great land, the most recognized political satirist of our time chose to make his double-wide domicile on the Red Bank side of the Navesink (a scoop first reported right here on redbankgreen). No two ways about it Jon Stewart is a Local Guy.
Then consider the case of the internationally renowned newsman, whose first job in media was delivery boy for the old Courier weekly in Middletown. A major figure on the national scene, whose interviews are frequently peppered with references to Brookdale Community College, or the former Perkins Pancake House on Route 35. From his days at Mater Dei High School to his time as a volunteer firefighter, Brian Williams remains at heart a Local Guy.
Although the host of The Daily Show and the anchor of NBC Nightly News have sometimes blurred the discussion of “which one’s the journalist, and which one’s the jokester,” the two titans of television have forged a fast friendship over the years guesting on each other’s shows (with Williams tallying more than 20 shots on Stewart’s cablecast), and joining forces for the occasional tandem appearance. That is, when they’re not variously hosting the Oscars, reporting from war zones, interviewing heads of state, or drawing over 200,000 people to a rally at the National Mall.
On Sunday, December 16, the two locals team up once again for a one-time, one-of-a-kind live appearance this time on the stage of the Count Basie Theatre, where they’re scheduled to sit down with moderator (and New York Times media reporter) Bill Carter in a free-form event from which all proceeds go to benefit Monmouth and Ocean Counties for Hurricane Sandy Relief, and for which tickets go on sale at noon today, December 5.
Its lineup of shows canceled under the near-lockdown we’re living with to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank has repurposed its marquee.
The marquee now displays messages of “optimism from our local heroes,” the Basie said in a press release. They include quotes from part-time borough resident Jon Stewart and other New Jersey stars.
More below. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
By JOHN T. WARD
After some 90 years as a lights-down sanctuary from the outside world, visitors to Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre will be greeted by heavy pre- and post-show branding by the Asbury Park Press starting Tuesday.
According to an “exclusive” report about itself Monday, the Neptune-based Press will have its name in lights throughout the entertainment space: in front of the stage, on a drop-down screen, and on the walls before and after performances and during intermissions.
“You will be seeing an act that is performing on the Asbury Park Press Stage,” Basie CEO Adam Philipson is quoted as saying.
Monty Python co-founder John Cleese (at lower left in above photo, and below in 2016) makes his Count Basie Theatre debut introducing a Sunday evening screening of the 1975 comedy classic ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail.’
You know you’ve drifted into uncharted cultural waters when the co-founder of the most cheerfully anarchic comedy institution of all time likens your nation’s new presidential administration to a “pirate ship” — with the man who famously brought you the “Dead Parrot” sketch going on to brand the skipper of that ship as “delusional.”
Having returned in recent years to his British birthplace (where he advocated for Brexit-ing the European Union) after some two decades as a resident of the United States, John Cleese comes to Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre for the first time this Sunday, when the self-described “writer, actor and tall person” hosts a special screening of one of his troupe’s finest celluloid moments, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Jersey guy Francis Albert Sinatra: his birthday is marked every December with merriment and song, and perhaps nowhere more so than here in the heart of downtown Red Bank. And why not, given that we’re home to a hallowed hall christened in memory of one of the Chairman of the Board’s partners in pop perfection: piano player, bandleader and “Kid From Red Bank” Bill “Count” Basie.
Each year our own Joe “Mooche” Muccioli — noted conductor, arranger, scholar and artistic director of the nonprofit Jazz Arts Project — fires up the Red Bank Jazz Orchestra for a grand concert that salutes the signature songs and style of Sinatra with the help of some special guest vocalists. Read More
Donny and Marie Osmond, below, bring the holiday cheer and more to the Count Basie Monday… followed by a twice-as-nice engagement by the touring company of the hit musical ONCE, seen in the promo video above.
The entertainment-packed November/December schedule at Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre makes for especially interesting sked-fellows this time of year — with the holiday season getting into early jingle via offerings like Phoenix Productions’ A Christmas Story: The Musical and this past Monday’s seasonal spectacular starring Brian Setzer, even as recently featured acts like Joe Bonamassa and The Pretenders have offered up a happy-humbug alternative to any potential reindeer overkill.
In the February 28 edition of his cable show,“Last Week Tonight,” comedian John Oliver urged viewers to “make Donald Drumpf again.”
By JOHN T. WARD
According to various news reports, including the New York Post and NJ.com, the forced resignation of Joe Ventre drew protests from supportive students and parents at the school’s board of trustees meeting Wednesday night.
The vegan, one of the many selections on the menu at Earth Pizza, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
By SUSAN ERICSON
When Paul and Lisa Finkler opened a Pizza Fusion franchise in Red Bank in 2010, they may not have foreseen the niche their restaurant would fill. But the Broad Street restaurant was an immediate draw, and soon customers were asking for more gluten-free and vegan dishes.
By JOHN T. WARD
Was news anchor Brian Williams robbed at gunpoint while selling Christmas trees in Red Bank in the late 1970s?
The big-money network newsman, who’s in hot water for claiming he was in a helicopter that was hit by enemy fire in Iraq a dozen years ago, claims that he was mugged one night at what’s now known as Veterans Park, at the junction of West Front Street and Riverside Avenue.
But some area residents think the story is bunk, according to a report by the New York Post Saturday.
By SUSAN ERICSON
How many years does it take for a saloon in a marina to become legendary? At the dead end of First Street in Rumson, Barnacle Bill’s has been searing burgers on an open grill and filling glasses at the bar for more than 40 years.
With high-top tables, coveted window seats overlooking our beautiful Navesink River and cozy family-sized tables in the slightly more gentrified dining room, it’s no wonder that there’s a waiting list any given night. In warmer weather, groups happily wait outside, taking in views of the river, the boats in the marina and the mansions on the bluff across the way. In frigid January, though, the waiting masses crowd around the fireplace in the bar area, children and adults making small talk with neighbors.
Its author flat-out declares that it’s not technically a child’s bedtime story, even if its many inspirations include the “Brave Cowboy Bill” tales he used to hear as a young child. He’s also forthcoming about the notion that he “didn’t have much to do with it,” although he’s dutifully promoted the project in venues that range from Jon Stewart’s Daily Show to the Times Book Review.
Still, the fact remains that the new book Outlaw Pete takes its title and its text from Bruce Springsteen’s song of that name, a gunslinger epic that opened his 2009 long-player Working on a Dream. As illuminated by artist Frank Caruso, the eight-minute song becomes an illustrated fable of what Springsteen describes as “a man trying to outlive and outlast his sins.” And on Thursday, December 18, the artist comes to the Lincroft campus of Brookdale Community College for a signing event at the school’s Student Life Center building.
In an interview that appeared here on redbankgreen during one of his past jaunts to Red Bank, Grammy-lauded multi-instrumentalist and musicologist David Bromberg explained the importance of scheduling a yearly trip to the banks of the Navesink by saying, ”I do have a lot of fans on the Jersey Shore, and we do a different show every time. No set lists — it’s better that way.”
When the well-mannered virtuoso and good-humored entertainer brings his 12-piece Big Band back to the Count Basie Theatre on June 21, he’ll be performing his usual unpredictable mix of originals, bull-in-a-used-record-shop covertunes (Bob Wills to Bob Dylan to Bo Diddley to Dave Dudley), and flights of fancy that may well land upon a bluegrass tribute to Ethel Merman. These shows tend to gather their own fanatical crowd of genre-hopping musical gourmets; tonight’s 8 pm set is another promising party of the sort that comes but once a year, and you can score your ticket ($20 – $59) here.
By WIL FULTON
Eight weeks after the hurricane, a grassroots effort to provide necessities to residents of neighborhoods damaged by Sandy is still going strong, and plans to morph into a permanent relief operation, its founders say.
Created by six twentysomething friends who wanted to provide aid on their own terms, Red Bank-based RebuildRecover quickly became one of the Shore areas most visible and influential nonprofit charities, attracting the attention of The Daily Show host Jon Stewart, who lives in town, and hundreds of lesser-known donors.
After three days of working with another, really well-known charity organization that will not be named, my co-founders and I decided to take matters in our own hands,” said vice president David Cruse. The idea, he said, was to “create an organization that would provide those in need with direct, immediate help.”
Michael Davidman, who’s now all of 15 years old, comes to the Monmouth Conservatory of Music on Saturday.
With Christmas little more than a week away, there’s a full weekend of holiday events all around the Green…
Friday, December 14
FAIR HAVEN: The First Floors House Tour, put on by the PTA, is both a fundraiser for the Fair Haven School District, as well as a collection for Hurricane Sandy donations by Sandy Family Match. Eight Haven homes will be open to tours between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and will each feature cuisine samplings from local eateries. Tickets ($50) will be available for purchase at 248 Kemp Avenue and 85 Grange Avenue. No children allowed.
RED BANK: Free yoga session at the Red Bank Public Library at 1 p.m. by Amy Richardson. No registration required, bring your own mat. 84 West Front Street.
RED BANK: Two River Theater hosts a preview performance of A Wind in the Willows Christmas at 7 p.m. and features Grammy-winning Nashville songsmith (and ex-NFL player) Mike Reid in this new take on the adventures of Mr. Toad, Badger, Mole and company. Adult tickets $50-55, 18 and under $25. Repeat performances Saturday at 12 and 7, Sunday at 12. 21 Bridge Avenue.
On the agenda for tonight’s zoning board meeting in Middletown: a plan to subdivide a 5.1-acre property in the upscale Chapel Hill area that has neighbors concerned about a change in character to the the cloistered area of large estates.
The applicants are Arthur and Leslie Parent, who bought the 5.1-acre property and its 12,000-square-foot house for $1.3 million last December, just days before they sold their Red Bank residence to cable funnyman Jon Stewart for $3 million, according to Monmouth County tax records.
The Parents want to cut the parcel into two unequal-sized lots, and have no immediate plans to build on the proposed new lot, according to documents on file.
But that hasn’t stilled concern among neighbors, who complain a township OK would leave an enormous house on one lot, set a precedent for the construction of another, and result in the loss of buffering trees between giant estates.
“It really would be a very significant change of character for the area,,” says John Moody, whose Independence Road property abuts the Parent’s.
Take that, Rumson! Eat our shorts, Navesink section of Middletown!
Red Bank has finally bagged a true celebrity homeowner.
And while he’s no Bruce Springsteen or Bon Jovi, the purchase instantly puts the rubbery-faced Stewart at the top of the heap in terms of star power in the borough, ahead of a couple of children’s book authors and butcher Ralph ‘Johnny Jazz‘ Gatta.