RED BANK: JIRKS AND SERAPHS UNITE

kirkJirks bandleader Brian Kirk plays springtime Santa with a benefit concert for Middletown’s Mater Dei Prep high school, Thursday night at the Count Basie.

STSemailIn an interview that appeared previously here on redbankgreen, businessman and bandleader Brian Kirk discussed what it takes to put on a big benefit concert — musing to the effect that “maybe I get whatever organizational skills I have from my mother, who used to work as a volunteer at St. Mary’s Thrift Shop in New Monmouth — they ran a tight ship over there!”

A party-starting pro with an ear for a crowdpleasing tune and an eye for a serious cause, the man who produces the annual “Santa for…” shows at the Count Basie Theatre (and who brought us years of Dunesday beach-concert benefits in Sea Bright) returns to the Red Bank stage on Thursday — this time rallying to the aid of Mater Dei Prep, the Middletown-based Catholic high school (and companion institution to both his elementary-school alma mater and that legendary thrift shop).

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RED BANK: WILLIAMS’ STORY NOT IMPROBABLE

brian williams 121612NBC News anchor Brian Williams onstage at the Count Basie Theatre in December, 2012. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Was news anchor Brian Williams robbed at gunpoint while selling Christmas trees in Red Bank in the late 1970s, as he has repeatedly claimed – including once before a packed house at the Count Basie Theatre?

That question, and some speculation by local old-timers, threw fuel on an already-raging firestorm about the truthfulness of the NBC News helmsman and former Middletown resident, who was later suspended by the network earlier this month for misrepresenting facts about an incident in Iraq.

Brian Donohue, an nj.com writer and commentator, did some legwork on the Red Bank piece of the story. And while he and his colleagues failed to unearth any specific evidence supporting Williams’ claim, he found plenty to refute the rose-colored reminiscences of locals who said it could not have happened because stuff like that just didn’t happen in Red Bank in the 1970s.

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STEWART RIPS MEDIA’S WILLIAMS REAX

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)

RED BANK: WILLIAMS’ MUGGING STORY A LIE?

williams stewart 2 121612NBC News anchor Brian Williams, left, onstage with comedian Jon Stewart at the Count Basie Theatre in December, 2012. (Click to enlarge)

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.

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JON STEWART AND BRIAN WILLIAMS SLING IT

News anchor Brian Williams, left, and comedian Jon Stewart traded barbs on the stage of the Count Basie Theatre in a fundraiser for Hurricane Sandy relief. (Click to enlarge)

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.

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STEWART, WILLIAMS TAKE IT TO THE COUNT

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.

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McLOONE SLATED FOR NATIONAL CAMEO

mcloonesmallTim McLoone (right), whose Holiday Express big band brings wall-of-sound cheer to those most in need of it this time of year, is about to get some network love.

Brian Williams, the Middletown and former volunteer fireman who now anchors NBC Nightly News, is scheduled to air a segment on McLoone’s charitably-oriented musical endeavors on the program Friday night, according to a report in the New York Daily News.

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