RED BANK: STEWART CREW RETURNS

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.

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RED BANK: STEWART CREW COMING TO TOWN

jon-stewart-1-121612-2Whether or not Jon Stewart, seen above at a Basie event in 2012, shows up Thursday, his collaborators, and satirical spirit, will be in Red Bank. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Basie academy 062216Though he’s cultivated a grey beard since backing away from his desk at The Daily Show 16 months ago, Jon Stewart hasn’t exactly adopted a hermit-like existence.

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.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? HEALTHY, EARTHY PIZZA

031516earthpizza2The vegan, one of the many selections on the menu at Earth Pizza, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

031615earthpizza1When 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.

Three years ago, tired of the parent company’s rules on menu changes, the Finklers bought out their contract, redubbed the restaurant Earth Pizza and did as asked.
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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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AT BARNACLE BILL’S, VIEWS, VIBE AND VITTLES

010615 barnaclebills3A busy Tuesday night at Barnacle Bill’s, where the Tilefish Francaise swims in a pool of buttery, lemony sauce. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

010615 barnaclebills7How 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.
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RED BANK: FEELGOOD MUSIC, REAL TIME LAFFS

david-bromberg-2-500x332Master multi-instrumentalist David Bromberg makes his annual pilgrimage to the Count Basie Theatre tonight, with politically pointed standup Bill Maher in the wings for Sunday.

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.

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STORM CHARITY DIGS IN FOR THE LONG HAUL

RebuildRecover co-founder Mike Hernandez surrounded by donated materiel in the organization’s initial home: his Sounds to Go DJ office on East Front Street in Red Bank. (Click to enlarge)

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 area’s 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.”

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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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M’TOWN ESTATE PLAN IRKS NEIGHBORS

hillendale-farm-2Arthur and Leslie Parent’s plan to subdivide a portion of the former Hillandale Farm has some neighbors alarmed. Below, a detail of the proposed plan. (Click to enlarge)

hillendale-farm-11

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.

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JON STEWART GOES FOR TWO ON NAVESINK

stewart_1024Jon 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)

jon-stewart-coverJon Stewart has doubled down on Red Bank.

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.

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CABLE SATIRIST FINDS A HOME IN RED BANK

stewart-houseHouse of Stewart: TV funnyman Jon Stewart, below, paid $3.8 million for this house on the Navesink, records indicate. (Click to enlarge)

jon-stewart

Take that, Rumson! Eat our shorts, Navesink section of Middletown!

Red Bank has finally bagged a true celebrity homeowner.

Jon Stewart, the political satirist who anchors the Daily Show on Comedy Central, bought a house fronting on the Navesink River here last December, according to property records.

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.

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