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May 29, 2013

SF PLAYHOUSE PUTS ON 'ABIGAIL'S PARTY - LEE HARTGRAVE

Susi Damilano (Bev) and  Patrick Kelly Jones. Photo: Jessica  Palopoli





IT'S MY PARTY.......

THIS PARTY IS SUCH FUN. One of Beverly's guests asks: - "is it real silver?" Beverly swings around the room in a provocative sexy dress - "Yes - it's Silver Plate!" Now that's high class - don't you think? Beverly (Susi Damilano) sure is a Blonde Hottie. Watching this show is like watching a steam bath.

Beverley is putting on a Record. She's swishes around the room to the tempo of the music at the beginning of the play. Her ample bosom is showing a lot of cleavage. This is the time of the 70's when you played records on a phonograph. Bev poors one drink after the other - waiting for her guests. She waltzes around the English furnishings. Bev loves to touch the furniture and fluffs up the pillows. She surveys the domain. All hers of course. But, we get the idea that she is planning to rope in a love affair, right in front of her husband. How many Bev's have we seen before? Many, Many and many. This one however is very overt. She has everything planned for the "Party" and more.

What starts out to be a supposedly enjoyable party, soon becomes a hilarious and curious disaster. Everyone at the Party is at Bevs command. She seems to have everything in her control - but events are about to take the wrong turn.

The play was designed for British audiences - but soon has become one of the biggest hits of all time on the stage and film. And Beverley is the main star -- she knows who to shove in the corner. She doesn't even mind making a fool out of herself in front of one of the male guests. Bev doesn't care about the male guest. Even though they practically have sex in front of everyone.

This 70's play shows us the reality of class and pride in the 70's. But the great thing about this show is that it is anything but annoying. After all -- who wouldn't be fascinated as Bev dances around as she puts out snacks all evening. Have another Drink? - Bev asks. And she will give you one whether you want it or not. She Drinks a lot. Her Green Satin Dress turns the men on as they contstanly look at the very deep "V" cut on
her Green Satin Gown. Bev takes another drink. Someone asks her is she plans to have kids. Bev says: "I like kids, but I wouldn't actually like to have them. "All that Breast Feeding - it would kill me!"

Beverly bends over "Tony", as she brings another drink. He is married and not to Bev. She bends over to make sure that Tony gets a good look at the cleavage. And he does - as his wife gives a strange look at whats going on. Oh my yes - this is a lovely evening. You might say that this is a party from Hell. But, what a delicious one.

This play at the SF Playhouse has put together a "High-Voltage" evening of laughter. The cast is unforgettable and charismatic. Bev is dominating (Susi), and the rest of the cast put on an effortless and spellbinding extraordinary show.

"You won't want to miss this audacious and divine Madness on this glittering evening of non-stop laughter!" "It's sparkling style and chic hanky-panky!" Who needs a Bar Stool - when Bev shakes her booty?" :

HERE ARE THE STARS: Julia Brothers, Susi Damilano, Patrick Kelly Jones, Remi Sandri and Allison Jean White.

WRITTEN BY: Mike Leigh. Directed by Amy Glazer. Amazing Set Design by Bill English. Lighting Design by Dan Reed, Sound Design by Brendan Aanes and Choreography by Kimberly Richards.


RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF  CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) -trademarked-

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and he also produced and hosted a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))





May 28, 2013

ABIGAIL'S PARTY - SIZZLES! (Post 4) May 28, 2013


Inappropriate flirtation between hostess Bev (Susi Damilano) - Tony (Patrick Kelly Jones)
Photo by: Jessica Palopoli 












IT'S MY PARTY.......

THIS PARTY IS SUCH FUN. One of Beverly's guests asks: - "is it real silver?" Beverly swings around the room in a provocative sexy dress - "Yes - it's Silver Plate!" Now that's high class - don't you think? Beverly (Susi Damilano) sure is a Blonde Hottie. Watching this show is like watching a steam bath.

Beverley is putting on a Record. She's swishes around the room to the tempo of the music at the beginning of the play. Her ample bosom is showing a lot of cleavage. This is the time of the 70's when you played records on a phonograph. Bev poors one drink after the other - waiting for her guests. She waltzes around the English furnishings. Bev loves to touch the furniture and fluffs up the pillows. She surveys the domain. All hers of course. But, we get the idea that she is planning to rope in a love affair, right in front of her husband. How many Bev's have we seen before? Many, Many and many. This one however is very overt. She has everything planned for the "Party" and more.

What starts out to be a supposedly enjoyable party, soon becomes a hilarious and curious disaster. Everyone at the Party is at Bevs command. She seems to have everything in her control - but events are about to take the wrong turn.

The play was designed for British audiences - but soon has become one of the biggest hits of all time on the stage and film. And Beverley is the main star -- she knows who to shove in the corner. She doesn't even mind making a fool out of herself in front of one of the male guests. Bev doesn't care about the male guest. Even though they practically have sex in front of everyone.

This 70's play shows us the reality of class and pride in the 70's. But the great thing about this show is that it is anything but annoying. After all -- who wouldn't be fascinated as Bev dances around as she puts out snacks all evening. Have another Drink? - Bev asks. And she will give you one whether you want it or not. She Drinks a lot. Her Green Satin Dress turns the men on as they contstanly look at the very deep "V" cut on
her Green Satin Gown. Bev takes another drink. Someone asks her is she plans to have kids. Bev says: "I like kids, but I wouldn't actually like to have them. "All that Breast Feeding - it would kill me!"

Beverly bends over "Tony", as she brings another drink. He is married and not to Bev. She bends over to make sure that Tony gets a good look at the cleavage. And he does - as his wife gives a strange look at whats going on. Oh my yes - this is a lovely evening. You might say that this is a party from Hell. But, what a delicious one.

This play at the SF Playhouse has put together a "High-Voltage" evening of laughter. The cast is unforgettable and charismatic. Bev is dominating (Susi), and the rest of the cast put on an effortless and spellbinding extraordinary show.

"You won't want to miss this audacious and divine Madness on this glittering evening of non-stop laughter!" "It's sparkling style and chic hanky-panky!" Who needs a Bar Stool - when Bev shakes her booty?" :

HERE ARE THE STARS: Julia Brothers, Susi Damilano, Patrick Kelly Jones, Remi Sandri and Allison Jean White.

WRITTEN BY: Mike Leigh. Directed by Amy Glazer. Amazing Set Design by Bill English. Lighting Design by Dan Reed, Sound Design by Brendan Aanes and Choreography by Kimberly Richards.


RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF  CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) -trademarked-

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and he also produced and hosted a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))



May 27, 2013

PRELUDE TO A KISS. DON'T MISS THE FUN! May 22, 2013


Peter and the Old Man Kiss. Photo Jay Yamada 







PRELUDE TO A KISS GOES BEYOND HOT LIPS 

"Prelude" is compelling and original. Right from the time that the show started I fell in love with it.  I felt like I was transported to a mysterious place. Custom Made has made this  story about love and mystery, completely convincing. Is this play magical? Well yes! The Actors utterly convince the audience. We are seeing deep seated romance. I believe in this story -- and you will too. 

There is the touching moment when a young man and an old man are drawn to each other with a kiss. I know what you are thinking. Why did that happen? Well, it a little long to figure it out -- but the old man has taken over the young man's wife. She is now  in the old man's body. Yes, it's very mysterious. 

This modern day fairy tale with a flair, brings moral and timeless wisdom that is almost believable. Hey, I'm a believer. 

Take my word for it -- this lovely play is downright engrossing. And yes - I became enchanted. You'll laugh, cry and smile. The facial expressions say it all. 

The actors are lavishly costumed. The show charms my socks up and down all evening. The exuberant charm will induce you to tell your friends to join in. The Custom Made Theater has done it again - "A Triumph!" 

Here are the dynamite Actors: Nick Trengove, Allison Page, Richard Wenzel, William Leschber, Charles Lewis III, Jan Carty Marsh, Elena Ruggiero and Dave Sikula. They are dynamite! 

Director: Stuart Bousel - Stage manager John Challenor - Scenic Design Andrew Cummings - Lighting/Video Design...Maxx Kurzunski - Costume/Props Design, Maria Chenut and Sound Design is by Cole Ferraiuolo. 

By CRAIG LUCAS 

RATING: Four Glasses of Champagne!!!! -highest rating- (trademarked)  



May 21, 2013

MAY 21, 2013 - THE MEDEA HYPOTHESIS

Jan Zvaifler as "EM". Photo: Jim Norrena 

LOVE HER OR LEAVE HER. IT'S YOUR CHOICE 

JAN ZVAIFLER (EM) IS A MODERN DAY MEDEA who will sacrifice everything to make her revenge perfect. She is a remarkable study of injustice and ruthlessness, based on myth,  tragedy, jealousy, love and hate.  Albeit, the play begins to wear thin. Oh, there is superb acting by the entire cast -- and projected visuals keep you on the edge of your seat. However, the play has uneven moments.

This new version of Medea (renamed Medea Hypothesis) is a startling new version of love gone awry. Of course no matter what the version is "Hell has no fury like a woman scorned!" Let me set the scene. At times the play is Barbaric, Raw and Brilliant. And it does drain you emotionally -- but the gruesome rawness begins to wear thin. But at times it is simply amazing. Medea (EM), as you know is fickle and power hungry. The range of emotions go from volcanic to tenderness. But the tortured interplay of love, desire and revenge, wears out with her crime of passion. 

This painfully expressive play does what it does best. And that would be in the acting department. All of the Actors are mesmerizing. But the languid weirdness begins to wear you out. The staging and the lighting is just perfect. But somehow -- I could not make a commitment to the script. It just did not connect in  good story telling. It did not keep me on the edge of my seat. 

The stage is pretty plain. There are some grand artsy moments - I was especially surprised by a huge, gorgeous silky blanket. Of course, Medea was not all that charmed. Nothing charms her. She is a nervous wreck -- but not enough to draw me into the play. However, this Medea...may be only fully appreciated by die hard Medea fans. But it is a concept that many who saw the play -- adored it! 

HERE ARE THE REMARKABLE STARS: Cory Censoprano (Ian) - Dakota Dry (Sweetie) - Joe Estlack ( Carl, Christopher, Dad, Restaurant Owner/Waiter - Jan Zvalifler (Ian) (modern day Medea) 

Written by Marian Berges and directed by Gary Graves. Now playing at the Berkeley City Club thru June 23. 

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed  many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and he produced and hosted a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED) 

May 16, 2013

5/16- GATSBY....LUSH AND HEARTBREAKING

Courtesy photo
Gatsby



May 16 2013 

THE GREAT GATSBY: - LUSH - ACHINGLY ROMANTIC

O.K -- Here it is. This Epic puts us on the edge of the seat. The movie is perfection. It is hugely entertaining and achingly romantic. The fantastic performances, the expert directing and excellent writing keep you glued to the screen. I enjoyed seeing it in regular "D" and also "3D". Each method works perfectly. 

Yep - this movie is truly one of the great films of all time. You'll want to stand up and cheer. I was stuck to my chair and so was the audience. Hardly anyone left the auditorium to go to the bathroom or to get more popcorn. It's a screen vision that will be talked about for years. And guess what - this movie is at the Top of the Charts. 

So stop talking the film down. Baz Luhrman has as usual, turned out an bright and amazing older story into something new and fresh. During the entire film I became transfixed. Luhrman's vision is amazing - and the Star (Gatsby-Dicaprio) gives us a fantastic performance. This new version is pretty much the same as you might read in the classic novel. Luhrman's flair certainly brought new and deeper dimension to this incredibly visual film.

You'll be transfixed by the sheer artistry on the screen.  And the grandiose sets and the detailed period dresses are astonishing. Please don't worry about the music -it fits exactly what they had planned for Jay-Z's track work. Yes, it's musical magic. Loved it! 

It comes down to this: Everything in this "Gatsby" is stunning. The slight modern interpretation doesn't stray much from the classic F. Scott Fitzgerald tale. 

You won't forget this spectacle. Take my word for it. Hey - it's adapted from one of the greatest novels of all time.

Rating: Four Glasses of Champagne!!!! (highest rating) -trademarked- 

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and he produced and hosted a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED))) 







  


May 13, 2013

SMUIN BALLET - GENUINELY SPARKLING...A MIXTURE OF STYLE AND FUN

'Top Center' - Terez Dean. Photo: Keith Sutter 

DEVILISHLY CLEVER

SMUIN AND HIS VISION

BLACK WATCH  - BELOW

I HAVE SEEN MANY SMUIN BALLETS -- AND THIS ONE AT THE YERBA BUENA CENTER FOR THE ARTS IS THE MOST AUDACIOUS AND ORIGINAL BALLET MOVES THAT I HAVE SEEN IN RECENT YEARS. 

The production at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco is an event of divine madness and full of comedy, opera and romance. If you want to see Thrills, chills and excitement then you will want to enjoy this glittering evening. You know you want to go. It's the perfect place for magic.

The program is Sensual, funny and outlandish at times. The direction has it -- and the performers have it all. Talent is all over the place. Believe me - this Smuin Dance Series at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts keeps Smuin's talent alive with "Bouquet", "Chants d' Auvergne" and "Jazzin". 

Lets start with dancers Jane Rehm and Jonathan Dummar in "Petal" by Helen Pickett. It is part of "Bouquet" (Smuin's 2013 Spring Dance Series. All together now is "Jazzin" (full company) - by Darrell Grand Moutrie. It is also part of "Bouquet." Also in 'Jazzin' - John Speed Orr and Erica Chipp is in the Regional Premiere of "Jazzin. If you loved "Billy Elliott" on the stage and Screen -- then you will feel the magnetism in the audience. Jazzin is explosive...sensational and yes, HOT!

I'm telling you -- this production brings out amazing imagination, originality  and immense style. I'm not kidding - it's lush and lovingly constructed. 

Next Year's 20th Anniversary Season will include World Premieres by Darrell Grand Moultrie and Smuin Choreographer-in-Residence Amy Seiwert, and Jiri Kylian's ballet 'Return to a Strange Land'. The program will move from San Francisco, to Mountain view, Walnut Creek, Livermore, and Carmel between October and June 2014. 

At the Yerba Buena Center - the show will run through May 19. 

MAGNIFICENT!!!! "A MUST SEE" 

FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) - tradmarked- 

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and he produced and hosted a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))

EXTREE!

O.K. here we go. "Black Watch" is indeed startling and at times thrilling and very upsetting. 

But, if you do decide to sit through this two hour show with no intermission. Then, you may want to keep your legs crossed. Why? Because you can't leave the auditorium to go to the bathroom. If you do they will not let you back in. The language is very coarse. You'll have to bare S---T and F---k over and over all night long. 

If that's not enough the bagpipe music is enough to drive you crazy. BORING is a better word. Yes, their is a good story here. But, the four letter words get to be a little too thorny. The physical Theatre is indeed rousing -- but are your legs still alive after sitting for two hours? I noticed that many, many people just couldn't keep their eyes open. 

The best thing about the show is that this hymn to soldiers. If you like to be depressed -- then the sadness in every scene show us constant battle scenes. 

In spite of the macho humour, constant explosions and enemy attacks in this panic-stricken noise. Simply put- I would not recommend the play as it is. It's a theatrical experience that I will easily forget. 

NOW PLAYING    






May 8, 2013

'LITTLE ME' IS REMARKABLE - EXTRAORDINARY!

Courtesy Photo 
Lee Hartgrave sez - wrap your troubles in dreams 

LITTLE ME

EXACTLYWHAT A SHOW SHOULD BE! 

The 42nd Street Moon version of "Little Me" is just the most elegantly, fun musical that I have seen in years. A stage never looked more gorgeous and elegantly crafted, and the actors are just irresistible. Better than Broadway! 

The entire evening is full of secret seduction and suspense. Neil Simon is a thought-provoking genius. To say nothing of Jason Graae, who plays at least four different guys. What an amazing performance. Totally fantastic! 

This is the most joyous and glorious evening I have seen on the stage in many years. Everything moves as it should. Yep - it's as surprising as it is eloquent. The pitch-perfect singers, actors are worth the trip. What else can I say? - it's intoxicating!

This tangled Web of intrigue just keeps the laughs a-rolling along. I never want it to stop. Please sir -- may I have just one more ACT? I just can't believe how wicked the satire is. What is it? Some kind of miracle? 

This is the show of 2013. The actors are Grade-A. The show is as Surprising as it is Eloquent and riveting. You will be bowled over with this play. It has tons of charm and heart. Here's a quote from the show: "It's nothing personal, it's just you - on the other side of the Tracks!" 

I want to see it again, and again, and again!!! 

HERE ARE THE MAGNIFICENT STARS****

Jason Graae, Sharon Rietkerk, Teressa Byrne Foss, Darlene Popovic, Zack Thomas Wilde, Kelly Brandeburg, Janine Burgener, Caleb Haven Draper, Nicole Frydman, Stewart Kramar, Zac Schuman, David Visini and Skye Violet Wilson. Stand up and cheer! 

Directed by Eric Inman - Music Director, Brandon Adams, Choreographer Staci Arriaga. 

Book by Neil Simon - Music by Cy Coleman and Lyrics by Carolyn Leigh. Based on the novel by Patrick Dennis. 

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! -(highest rating) -trademarked- 





WHAT A SHOW SHOULD BE! 

The 42nd Street Moon version of "Little Me" is just the most elegantly, fun musical that I have seen in years. A stage never looked more gorgeous and elegantly crafted, and the actors are just irresistible. Better than Broadway! 

The entire evening is full of secret seduction and suspense. Neil Simon is a thought-provoking genius. To say nothing of Jason Graae, who plays at least four different guys. What an amazing performance. Totally fantastic! 

This is the most joyous and glorious evening I have seen on the stage in many years. Everything moves as it should. Yep - it's as surprising as it is eloquent. The pitch-perfect singers, actors are worth the trip. What else can I say? - it's intoxicating!

This tangled Web of intrigue just keeps the laughs a-rolling along. I never want it to stop. Please sir -- may I have just one more ACT? I just can't believe how wicked the satire is. What is it? Some kind of miracle? 

This is the show of 2013. The actors are Grade-A. The show is as Surprising as it is Eloquent and riveting. You will be bowled over with this play. It has tons of charm and heart. Here's a quote from the show: "It's nothing personal, it's just you - on the other side of the Tracks!" 

I want to see it again, and again, and again!!! 

HERE ARE THE MAGNIFICENT STARS****

Jason Graae, Sharon Rietkerk, Teressa Byrne Foss, Darlene Popovic, Zack Thomas Wilde, Kelly Brandeburg, Janine Burgener, Caleb Haven Draper, Nicole Frydman, Stewart Kramar, Zac Schuman, David Visini and Skye Violet Wilson. Stand up and cheer! 

Directed by Eric Inman - Music Director, Brandon Adams, Choreographer Staci Arriaga. 

Book by Neil Simon - Music by Cy Coleman and Lyrics by Carolyn Leigh. Based on the novel by Patrick Dennis. 

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! -(highest rating) -trademarked- 





May 6, 2013

WHAT TO SEE AND HEAR - "LUXURY AT THE MOVIES"

Courtesy Photo. "Kiss of the Damned" 
May 8, 2013 - Lee Hartgrave Tonight



LITTLE ME

WHAT A SHOW SHOULD BE! 

The 42nd Street Moon version of "Little Me" is just the most elegantly, fun musical that I have seen in years. A stage never looked more gorgeous and elegantly crafted, and the actors are just irresistible. Better than Broadway! 

The entire evening is full of secret seduction and suspense. Neil Simon is a thought-provoking genius. To say nothing of Jason Graae, who plays at least four different guys. What an amazing performance. Totally fantastic! 

This is the most joyous and glorious evening I have seen on the stage in many years. Everything moves as it should. Yep - it's as surprising as it is eloquent. The pitch-perfect singers, actors are worth the trip. What else can I say? - it's intoxicating!

This tangled Web of intrigue just keeps the laughs a-rolling along. I never want it to stop. Please sir -- may I have just one more ACT? I just can't believe how wicked the satire is. What is it? Some kind of miracle? 

This is the show of 2013. The actors are Grade-A. The show is as Surprising as it is Eloquent and riveting. You will be bowled over with this play. It has tons of charm and heart. Here's a quote from the show: "It's nothing personal, it's just you - on the other side of the Tracks!" 

I want to see it again, and again, and again!!! 

HERE ARE THE MAGNIFICENT STARS****

Jason Graae, Sharon Rietkerk, Teressa Byrne Foss, Darlene Popovic, Zack Thomas Wilde, Kelly Brandeburg, Janine Burgener, Caleb Haven Draper, Nicole Frydman, Steward Kramar, Zac Schuman, David Visini and Skye Violet Wilson. Stand up and cheer! 

Directed by Eric Inman - Music Director, Brandon Adams, Choreographer Staci Arriaga. 

Book by Neil Simon - Music by Cy Coleman and Lyrics by Carolyn Leigh. Based on the novel by Patrick Dennis. 

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! -(highest rating) -trademarked- 





KISS OF THE DAMNED 

IN THE HOUSE 


MEET THE BI-POLARS
- WICKEDLY THINGS AWAIT 


HOLLYWOOD: SIZZLING CINEMA HAS SEXUAL ENERGY, LUST AND SCANDAL in this Lush powerful and evocative film. To be sure - it is underrated. I was dubious at the beginning of the story, then, all of a sudden - I was hooked. 

This thriller is a modern Gothic vampire tale that brings back the golden age. Sure, it's moody -- but it clicks with the audience more than it would with "Twilight" and "Interview With A Vampire". 

The lonely Mansion by a mysterious Lake is enough to give you a chill. Inside the place there is an endless staircase. But lovely as it is, events begin to get out of control. And yes, cloudy trouble floats over the mansion. You know that something really, really terrible is about to happen. 

There is a magnificent score through out the movie. Really, you can't keep your eyes and ears off the screen. But you will have them after the show. Did I mention the exciting and sexual moments? Well -- when you see it -- your eyes will pop out. 

THE ACTORS ARE UNDENIABLY FANTASTIC. THE GREAT ACTORS ARE: Josephine de La Baume, Milo Venimiglia, Roxane Mesquida. Fabulous Directing by Xan Cassavetes. Writer - Xan Cassavetes. Yes, she is related to John Cassavetes. Exciting Cast. 

(((Now playing in San Francisco and other Venues)))

Rating: Four Glasses of Champagne!!!! (highest rating) -trademarked- 




Courtesy Photo - 'In the House'  

IN THE HOUSE 

'Dans la maison" (original title)

This is a gripping story about a sixteen-year-old boy   who decides to insinuate himself into the house. A fellow student takes a liking to the sixteen-year-old. They become very close buddies. Actually, they get a little more cozy together than either of the boys thought would happen. 

The sixteen-old is very sly and clever. He actually is writing a book about the life of the fellow student. He basically borrows the fellow students life. And along that road, the young blond and handsome 'friend' is doing more to harm the fellow student by sneaking around and writing all about the student. 

A Teacher knows what is going on -- but he allows the young blonde boy to write all about the innocent classmate. Yep - he did not get permission. The blonde boy exposes everything - especially some spectacular sneaky scenes. 

The gripping affair brings brings everything to untold tragedy. The mood for everyone involved gets caught in deep depression that includes not only the young friend, but the teacher also gets involved. Yes, the teacher is also very interested in the young blonde boy. All in all the story boils over to a most shattering drama. The story breathlessly paced the secrets of the night. Everything is revealed.

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAIGN. (highest rating) -trademarked- 

HERE ARE THE AMAZING STARS: Fabrice Luchini, Ernst Umhauer and Kristin Scott Thomas. Fantastic directing by: Francois Ozon. 

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and he produced and hosted a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))