Friday, October 10, 2008

XIX (Nineteen) Restaurant Park Hyatt at the Bellevue re: Philadelphia restaurant with a view

The Park Hyatt at the Bellevue recently revamped its restaurant XIX (Nineteen). Located on the 19th floor of the hotel, XIX offers all-day dining, exquisite views, and an expanded menu.
Last week the restaurant threw a shindig for the unveiling of the newly restored 15ft windows. Years ago before the American Music Theater relocated to the Prince, they would have their cabaret in an adjacent room. I remember that I had to walk through this room to get to the cabaret room and it was always dark as their were bookshelves that lined the far wall which hid these beautiful windows.

It was there on the 19th Floor that we found Andrew Perekupka and CN8 Jennifer Ruiz, who filled me in on the live show that takes place at the Loews. It's there I could photograph celebs visiting the studio, but the show is taped from 6 AM to 8 AM, a time I am barely awake. Hmm guess I will just have to catch them out and about or at the Luxe Lounge of late.
Three types of complimentary XIX signature martinis were being passed around during the party featured Courvoisier Exclusif, Cruzan Estate Light Rum, and Starbucks Cream liqueur. They are apart of the new cocktails list that they just created for the fall season. They looked delicious. Striking a fashionable pose are Nam Lee & Courtney Fefer who wanted to pose near the fire place, which was roaring because, unlike tonight it wasn't 68F at 1:30AM as I write this.
The view from the newly restored windows are fantastic; they were restored by A. Robert Torres of Studio Torres LTD with the help of Jamie Roslie (on left). Jamie tells me that the windows are waiting for a few more things, a light shade, as the sun can be brutal while one is waiting for it to set, a valance and a sheer that can easily be pulled back. (The flash doesn't do the view justice as it's reflecting the equally breathtaking decor)
XIX went all out serving delicious hordouvres and oysters, none of which I partook in as I am still trying to stay honest on my Nutrisystem. Now tonight I have two events, I give you permission to slap my hand if you see it near either of the parties I am covering. Happy 25th Anniversary Mural Arts Saturday in between the Obama rallies please attend

MURALPALOOZA! Family Celebration

Saturday, October 11 · 11:00 am - 2:00 pm
Benjamin Franklin High School, Broad & Spring Garden Streets

Judy Ellis-Taylor, Park Hyatt GM Jeff Miller and CN8's Lynn DoyleOught oh, did I learn a lesson from these folks. No matter how crowded or how much someone wants to go back to talking, if you take their photos make sure you pay attention that they write their names in order. Wednesday this shot was published in my weekly "On the Scene" column for the Metro and they were a tad out of order, it could have been worse as the photo editor caught Mac's name out of order, but then I didn't catch the other two til it was too late. (Thank God they have facebook as I was able to put it in order for Philly Style Mag. Megan Stecher, Jill Schoenfeld, Mac Francis and Danielle Sheller (I think that's right)
Nice place for a drink. And you can also get a late night snack.

The Cafe overlooking the city and is as romantic a rendezvous as you can find in Philly. The best buy here is brunch and lunch with a $30 fixed price for 3 courses. Great burgers, lobster club sandwich, fries, and the best iced tea in town. The Restaurant is classically beautiful with a wonderful raw bar, try the cucumber, mint gimlet and even the pierogies are great.

Damian Kohn and author Karrie Gavin, she wrote Moon Philadelphia. She says "For a special occasion, XIX Restaurant (on the 19th floor of the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue Hotel) cannot be beat for romantic atmosphere and amazing views." She's right!
It's always a joy when I run into friendly faces, and these three will always be right up there with people I admire. Mary Patel, Phila Inquirer Photographer Eric Mencher and his love story continues with his wife Kass Mencher . I always get nervous talking to him, he's right up there with Madonna who you know I photographed for the first time last week, having passed up many opportunities before as silly me I know they all put their pants on one leg at a time, but I am such a fan of some people.
Laura Burkhardt someone else I really admire, who has really blazed a trail, and I apologize for standing her up the other night, I was going to cover a newsworthy event for her, but when I finally had a chance to look at the Philly event schedule, I saw the Barrymore Awards, which my agency wanted me to cover, and I wanted to cover it ever since I didn't last year, I really want to promote Philadelphia Theater and the actors and the productions; I'm sorry if I caused you a bit of distress Laura, I love ya. Come to think of it the company she keeps have also blaze a fiery trail Jimmy Contreras of Kimberly Boutique , and Red Tettemer's Matthew Vlahos who is spearheading two events coming up next Thursday at Vlanni's a Fashion Show with hostess Brini Maxwell and then the following Wednesday "Rumble in the Kitchen" at the Loews.
And if you're not receiving the newsletter "Inside The Bellevue" from Anna Iredale, PR for the Bellevue, then you are out of the loop. Did you know you can meet domestic diva Martha Stewart on 11/7/08 at Williams-Sonoma. Also with Anna are Meredith Corlett and Paul Banegas.
In conclusion I recommend a trip to XIX , especially the cafe to check out the views, catch a sunset, propose to that special someone or just hang out with friends. Sadly in this spectacular town of ours, with so many buildings being built, besides the City Hall observation deck, which is not opened in the evening, no other public space has captured the view like the Park Hyatt - XIX.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Obama for America

You're Invited
This Saturday, October 11th, please join Barack Obama for a special rally in your neighborhood.

Barack will be traveling across Philadelphia to talk about his vision for creating the kind of change we need.

Sign up for the rally in your neighborhood now:

Change We Need Rallies
with Barack Obama

Saturday, October 11th

Progress Plaza
1501 N. Broad Street

Mayfair Diner
7373 Frankford Avenue

Vernon Park
5789 Germantown Avenue

South 52nd Street and Locust Street
Public entrance on Spruce Street


These events are free and open to the public. Tickets are not required; however an RSVP is strongly encouraged.

For security reasons, do not bring bags. Please limit personal items. No signs or banners permitted. We know you love him, just by you showing up.

-Philly Chit Chat endorses Barrack Obama. I do not want another 4 Years of Bush. I want an end to this war, (I want the soldiers to have proper funded healthcare) and I want Iraq to give us half of their $79 Billion Surplus, then I want Bush impeached, and Cheney tried for War Crimes.

HENRI DAVID BALL 2008 INFORMATION Plus other Halloween Party Events in Philadelphia


I can see by the search words that a lot of you are trying to get information for the upcoming 40th Anniversary Henri David Ball in Philadelphia.
I took a walk down to Henri's Jewelery Store aptly named Halloween over at 1329 Pine Street. I had never been there, and was really blown away by the collection of bling on the walls, in cases, hanging from trees, the ceiling just about anywhere.

At 3PM on a Wednesday business was booming, otherwise I would have asked to take a photo of the store, so instead I just asked his partner his partner Paul Struck.The largest Halloween party in the city of Philadelphia! Join in the Halloween costume party. Costume contest begins at the stroke of midnight.

This year it is again being held at the Sheraton Center City Hotel at 16th and Race Streets in Philadelphia, Pa
HALLOWEEN 2008 - FOUR DECADES OF DIVINE DECADENCE celebrated on FRIDAY OCTOBER 31, 2008 in the Grand Ballroom

Doors open at 9PM

Arrive before 10pm if you plan on buying tickets at the door as the lines get long (recommended). Advanced tickets are for sale from
Halloween Jewelry Store, 1329 Pine St. 215-732-7711. Gov Rendell stops by every year.
This will be Mike and mine's 12th Henri David Ball

(I missed 3 years, as I was in San Fran for 2 Halloweens and 1 year in NYC when I was on biz trips)
Promptly at Midnight, They Pompously Promenade for Prizes
Most Originals Couple Best Period Costume
Most Hysterical Most Beautiful Female Impersonator
Most Decadent Most Believable Female Impersonator
Most Horrifying Best Celebrity Lookalike


$25 for those in Costumes $60 for Voyeurs

October 31: Dignitaries, celebrities and all-around party people will flock to Philadelphia to attend the 40th annual Henri David Ball at the Sheraton Philadelphia Center City Hotel. For this decadent costumed spectacle, the host—the colorful owner of jewelry shop Halloween—promises to “pull out all the stops.” Starting October 1, advanced tickets are available at Halloween. Tickets also available at the door. Halloween, 1329 Pine Street, (215) 732-7711; Sheraton Philadelphia City Center Hotel, 17th & Race Streets, (215) 448-2000

Other events going on this month can be found here: Halloween Events in Philadelphia

Maybe you can party hop as all the clubs and bars will be having a good times as well as this new event: Elvira Presents: A Haunted Halloween Bash at the Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

PLEASE TOUCH MUSEUM in Philadelphia re: it's not just for kids anymore

On Friday night, Philadelphia's Please Touch Museum (PTM) debuted its new home in Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park with a grand opening gala. The Please Touch Museum is the children’s museum of Philadelphia. Please Touch is designed for families with young children and since 1976, has dedicated itself to enriching the lives of children by creating learning opportunities through play.
This fun, "purple-tie" event kicked off the museum's two-week series of pre-opening events, giving guests the very first look at the new space. Pictured here are Lori and Jim Sims of Havertown, Pa enjoying a go around on the The Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel, which was built in 1924 by the Dentzel Carousel Company of Philadelphia. The original carousel contained 52 hand carved, multi-colored animals (40 horses, four rabbits, four cats, two pigs, two goats) and two chariots. It originally operated at Woodside Park—a favorite Philadelphia amusement park located less than 10 blocks from Memorial Hall—until 1955. Patti Hommes, Al berry and Melissa Wojcik enjoy the nights festivities
At Please Touch Museum, we encourage children to play and grow through the myriad of experiences we offer. We know that play provides the foundation for basic life skills such as building relationships, cooperation, negotiation and compromise as well as providing opportunities for children to find out who they are and what they enjoy doing. Play offers an emotional outlet, develops the imagination and creativity, and cultivates problem-solving skills.

With young children playing daily at Please Touch Museum, we see that it is a process-driven way of creating, exploring and investigating the surrounding environment with adults, other children or by themselves.

Play is a fun and imaginative way to become familiar with the world we live in.
The Alice in Wonderland MazeAl Spivey, Jr. and Traci Jackson enjoy a spot of tea in Alice in Wonderland's garden

Chamara Cotton, Pinky, Alice Gonglewski, Patricia Cross and Kendra Williams love their jobs at the Please Touch because "everyone is so happy and has fun when they visit"
Michael & Allegra Cosgrove, Ed & Georgine (sometimes I have no idea what people write down as their last names) Gayle & George Gowen, Patrick & Kristen Traynor, Molly & Arnie Schneider.
I love love love a catering company that puts out a table where you can drop your plate and napkin, and marks the table so you know it's ok to do so.
Interesting piece of art made up of tin toys and doll parts. Update: A reader informs me: 1983 was also the birth year of Artie the Elephant, created from toys and found objects by Philadelphia artist Leo Sewell. (Thanks Harriet)
Peggy and Bruce Earle with Ann and Everett Keech (The centerpieces were donated to the Parkside neighborhood children, sometimes they were elaborate trucks and dolls.)Reggie Corbin and Vanessa Stroud. Reggie used to be the engineer at the Memorial Hall, where the PTM is now located. He says it's gone through a few incarnations since the Centennial back in 1876, including being a Civil War Museum. The one thing that he is really excited about is that the PTM had enough funding to fix the leaky Rotunda ceiling which routinely let water in when it rained. He also told me the museum doesn't have any ghosts, I asked.

I ran into my old friend Tom who does the magic shows at the Please Touch Museum. Tom used to work at a camera shop years ago, and often gave me valuable lessons that I carry with me today. It was great running into him.
Here's a fun group: Dean Phelus Director of Meetings & Professional Education American Association of Museums , Nancy Kolb, President and Chief Executive Officer of PTM, Dennis Wint, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Franklin Institute since 1995, and Jack Ferguson Executive Vice President for the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau.
I wish I were 10 again because the wonderment and joy I got just observing all the wonderful exhibits and learning experiences would be ten fold if I let myself really be a kid again and experience the touch, participation, smell and fun that awaits the children of the world at the Please Touch Museum. Don't let the opportunity pass your kids, take them here, again and again. It's also a great place to have your child's birthday party as well as renting out the place for a wedding, charity event or just because. Here's the website with all the info you need: Please Touch Museum

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


The 14th Annual Barrymore Awards were unveiled amid plenty of glitz and glamour in Philadelphia last night. I was so excited to attend my first one having covered NYC's Broadway scene for the past 3 years and shooting the Tony's for the 2nd year in a row, I really wanted to see my hometown theatre award shows. Hopefully from here on out I will get a chance to cover this vibrant scene and bring it to you (OK theater Companies email me to come out and cover your opening nights to appear on Philly Chit Chat, the photo will also be sent nationally to my agency, and to media outlets in Philly.)

The statuettes take their name from a moniker for the famed Philadelphia-Based first family of theatre, The Barrymore Awards are the region's only comprehensive theatre awards. Part of the glitz glamour starts here with Julie Craig and Demetrios Kalkamis

Continuing with best actress nominee Lee Ann Etzold and Bill Irwin

I hear this was the 2nd year of the Red Carpet at the event (and it was sponsored by Macy's - Thanks Macy's!!), and if you are a long time reader of this blog you know I welcome a Red Carpet, it just brings that extra pizazz to the event. Next year I might move the step up and repeat about 6 feet forward next to the Red Carpet as to leave room for pedestrians to walk by, at 6:30PM there are still plenty of people on the sidewalk compared to 7:45PM when I took this shot. even the MC Perez Hilton, er I mean Alastair Spatz brought a little more excitement to Philly. It's always fun to get interviewed on the Red Carpet, pose on it and have the paparazzi and TV camera's there. In fact I tipped off my friends over at off of the event , and they should have video up in the next few days.The classy Sally Mercer
Broadway's Spring Awakenings Philadelphia born, Gideon Glick made an appearance
as did this youngster, and I may have gotten this last name wrong, Gianna Bruzzese; she played young Cosette in Les Mis at the Walnut Street Theatre. She’s also the voice of Tasha in Nick Jr.’s Backyardigans. Very poised and fashionable on the red carpet. You go girl!!
Isn't it great running into old friends, former coworkers, people you don't get to see all the time. The woman on the left is Cathy Simpson…the man on the right is Larry Loebell.
TV's Grease contestant, Steven Calakos with Jaimie Standish; both are appearing in My Fair Lady at the Media Theatre for the Performing Arts.
Bill Irwin, best actress nominee in "In The Happiness Lecture" Lee Ann Etzold and Doug Daub, chatting with Sara Garonzik, “The Suzanne Roberts Theatre, home of Philadelphia Theatre Company”company's producing artistic director where the play was staged. Mr. Irwin tells me that he's in a movie Rachel Getting Married starring Anne Hathaway. He plays her father.
Opening the show with this rousing number from State Fair, The Walnut Street Theatre celebrated its landmark bicentennial season with this Rogers and Hammerstein classic.
Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical - The World Goes Round

Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical

The World Goes 'Round, 11th Hour Theatre Company

Michael Philip O'Brien, Marybeth Gorman, Dan Kazemi, Steve Pacek, Billy Bustamante, Melina Bass, Alex Keiper, and Megan Nicole O'Brien (The O'Brien's are related, brother & sister)

Outstanding Ensemble in a Play

Suburban Love Songs, 1812 Productions

Ensemble in a Play – Jennifer Childs, Mary Carpenter, Amy Smith, Mario Fabroni, Dawn Falato, Karen Getz, Fred Siegel.
Lisa Nutter and the winners of:

Excellence in Theatre Education and Community Service

Philadelphia Theatre Company's PASSPORT Theater Residency Program

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play

Lee Ann Etzold, The Happiness Lecture; Philadelphia Theatre Company

Outstanding Costume Design

Richard St. Clair, Sleeping Beauty; Arden Theatre Company

Who had to run back to the Academy to prepare for Friday nights opening of The Philadelphia Opera and FIDELIO (I bet he is glad he stopped by the Barrymores last night)

I was planning to cover this event, but there are at least a 6 other events on my radar, but I do hope to cover it at some point. I hear it is just amazing with the art direction of World-Renowned Artist Jun Kaneko and FIDELIO Designer. I've heard from more than one source that the set design is really something to behold, I think it will be the talk of the theater going City after Friday night.

An 1812 Production: Cherry Bomb, by 1812 Productions, is their holiday show this year; an excellent listing of all the theatre productions can be found on the Theatre Alliance website here.

F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Philadelphia Theatre Artist awarded to
actor-director Matt Pfeiffer, 31, who has received both acting and directing Barrymore nominations, won the $10,000 F. Otto Haas award for an emerging artist. Trained in theater at DeSales University near Allentown, the site of the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Pfeiffer has worked with many professional companies in Philadelphia and last summer returned to the festival for his first directing stint at that venue.

Matt Pfeiffer on the right, with last year’s winner Matt Saunders and the founder of the award named for her husband, Carole Haas Gravagno.

Special Thanks to their Sponsors...


Winner of Outstanding Sound Design Christopher Colucci and winner of Outstanding Choreography/Movement Karen Getz, both from Suburban Love Songs; 1812 Productions (her energy is so refreshing)

Hello new friend, ok Hello Gorgeous!

Outstanding Leading Actress in a Play

Geneviève Perrier as Kyra, Skylight; Lantern Theater Company; Geneviève told me she kicked off her shoes right before she went up on stage, she had no idea where they landed, me thinks she has seen too many Patti Labelle concerts as Patti always kicks her shoes off, sometimes flying into the audience when she gets excited.

Outstanding Choreography/Movement Suburban Love Songs; 1812 Productions with Karen Getz, Robert Smythe, with Bug actress Mt. Airy actress Grace Gonglewski and winner of Outstanding Music Direction Eric Ebbenga, Assassins; Arden Theatre Company "Eric finally won because he deserved it, I am so excited for him" said my new favorite person.
more sponsors...thanks and I am sure I am missing a bunch
Karen DiLossi, Theatre Alliance, Joshua Schulman, Art; Delaware Theatre Company for Lighting, Jeff Gordon, PECO and Margie Salvante, Executive Director of Theatre Alliance

Last but not least,

New Approaches to Collaborations

Abigail Adams and Louis Lippa were on stage in that photo accepting the award for Outstanding Overall Production of a Play for Six Characters in Search of an Author at The People’s Light & Theatre Company.

As a gift to you click on the link below, find your photo right click and save to your computer:

The Barrymore Awards Photo Album

Update: There's a really great article in the Phila Inquirer about last nights events. I wish I had been so educated in all the people I covered. Next year will be better as I will know who I am talking to.