Tag Archives: CBS

Everybody dance now!

Kendall Glover teaches dance lessons at The Salvation Army day camp in Chandler. Photo by Daniel Friedman.

It was staff multimedia journalist Vicki Balint’s idea, not mine. But I promised to be a good sport.

We were at The Salvation Army day camp in Chandler to interview Kendall Glover, the 11-year-old hometown dance sensation who placed second in the finals of a national competition for the CBS program “Live to Dance.”

My 11-year-old niece, Mandy, was there to help me with the interview. She attends the same school as Kendall, is in the same grade and almost shares the same birthday. (Kendall’s is Aug. 2; Mandy’s is Aug. 3.)

We talked to Kendall about all sorts of things, including the role she will play July 30 in the FOX 10 Dance Day benefit to raise money for Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Participants will dance most of the day away at Jobing.com Arena, earning the money that was pledged on their behalf as they enjoy entertainment (hometown celebrity and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks will be performing) and the chance to hang out real dancers like Kendall Glover.

Kendall said the great thing about the event is that you don’t have to be a dancer to enjoy it. I am definitely not a dancer and neither is Mandy, though she’s a heck of a good soccer player. But with some urging from Vicki, who was there with her video camera, Mandy and I agreed to give it a shot.

Kendall patiently taught us some moves. We did okay, but not as well as the kids from The Salvation Army Camp. You’ll see them dancing with Kendall after our (blessedly short) appearance.

If we could do it, so can you. Register here to create a team for Dance Day.


Toe-tapping fun with “Live to Dance” finalist Kendall Glover

When I saw the press release, I immediately forwarded it to my 11-year-old niece, Mandy Davis.

TV Dance Sensation Kendall Glover to Appear
at FOX 10 Dance Day Benefiting Phoenix Children’s
New Family-Friendly Fundraising Event Boasts
Great Entertainment and Fun for Everyone

Mandy attends the same school as Kendall, who propelled herself into the national arena with spectacular solo performances and a second-place finish in the CBS dance competition program “Live to Dance.” Like many of her classmates, Mandy has followed Kendall’s career closely. She even got a hug from “Live to Dance” judge Paula Abdul, who came to Phoenix to make the big announcement during a school assembly that Kendall had made it to the finals.

Mandy and I were texting each other excitedly the the night Kendall performed in the finals.

When I learned about the PCH event, which is happening from 10am to 4pm on Saturday, July 30, at Jobing.com Arena, I asked Mandy if she’d like to help me interview Kendall. “That would be awesome!” she replied.

Teri Lane, director of the Children’s Miracle Network and corporate development officer at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation, put me in touch with Kendall’s mom, Ann Glover. I wrote her an email, and very quickly received her gracious response: “Kendall is so excited to work with you on the Raising Arizona Kids/Phoenix Children’s Hospital  article. She is a busy girl, but is really a homebody at heart and loves doing things for her community, too.”

I snapped this photo as Kendall took a break during the class she taught at The Salvation Army. More photos to come from RAK staff photographer Daniel Friedman!

Kendall was going to be teaching dance classes at a Salvation Army day camp for kids the next week, so we met her there, observed as she taught the class and then, with the help of staff multimedia journalist Vicki Balint, recorded an interview from a list of questions Mandy and I prepared by sending our suggestions back and forth to each other by email.

Yesterday, Vicki invited us to her home office, where she does the magical work of mixing audio for RAK Podcasts and editing stories for RAK Video. A natural teacher, she talked to Mandy about how she crafts stories in digital media. She explained what the squiggly lines meant on the screen. (“See that, where it’s flat? That’s where there’s a lull because Karen paused after she said ‘um.'”) She let Mandy select the audio and video clips that would work best for each story. And then — the really cool part — she let Mandy pick the music soundtracks that would introduce and exit the podcast.

Mandy and I will be sharing our podcast and video in the weeks leading up to the PCH event. We’re also putting together a print story for the magazine’s September performing arts issue and an extended podcast to accompany that. So I don’t want to give away too much about the fun time we had with Kendall. But consider yourself warned: You will laugh, you will be inspired and you’ll definitely be tapping your toes.

Mandy learns about podcasting from multimedia journalist Vicki Balint.

Reading tea leaves

Like many fans of Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace One School at a Time, I was glued to the TV Sunday night watching the “60 Minutes” broadcast reporting allegations that parts of Mortensen’s original memoir never happened.

Like many fans who have followed Mortenson’s story, I didn’t want to believe it was true. Even though it was CBS doing the reporting. Even though CBS interviewed Jon Krakauer, a renowned author whose own works of nonfiction are meticulously researched, who donated money to Mortenson’s Central Asia Institute and who now believes Mortensen made up some of the most dramatic and emotionally engaging scenes described in his first of two books about his experience building schools in desolate areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

I’ve read The New York Times take on the story, and NPR‘s. I believe these media entities to be reliable vehicles for information that is presented with integrity, caution and care. And still I don’t want to believe it.

Continue reading

Small world stories – weekend edition

On Friday night, I went to the movies with my cousin’s daughter Andrea, a junior at ASU. We went to see “No Strings Attached” at Harkins Scottsdale Fashion Square. It’s not like I was expecting it to be a great movie (although the characters were very endearing). But I think Natalie Portman is a wonderful actress and I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for Ashton Kutcher ever since my sons and I started watching (and laughing hysterically at) “That 70s Show.”

But that’s not why I wanted to see the movie. I wanted to see it because Greta Gerwig, the actress who plays Patrice, best friend to Portman’s character Emma, is a Sacramento, Calif. native who went to school with my son Andy’s girlfriend.

On Saturday afternoon, my husband and I went to my niece Mandy’s soccer game at Pecos Park in Ahwatukee. We’ve followed her Ladybugs club team for the last couple of years, astonished each time by the growing confidence and skills that we see in Mandy and her teammates. The girls won their game handily (3-0) and afterward, we went to lunch with Mandy, my brother Bob, my sister-in-law Judy and my 14-year-old nephew Ben.

Ten-year-old Phoenix dancer Kendall Glover.

While we were waiting for our food to arrive, Mandy told us that Kendall Glover, who is competing in the finals for the CBS Show “Live to Dance” goes to her school. And that Paula Abdul showed up at a school assembly to surprise Kendall with the good news. And that Paula gave Mandy a hug!

On Sunday morning, I saw an email from someone I’ve never met before. Somehow this mom heard about my trip to Ethiopia last summer with adoptive parents Brian and Keri deGuzman. She was writing to ask if I had any pictures of the Soddo orphanage we visited.

“My daughter was in that orphanage last year and I was hoping that you would have pictures that I could get,” she wrote. “I know you can’t show pictures of the kids but was wondering if you have any of just the orphanage itself?”

I was happy to send her the link to a post I wrote on July 30, which shows several pictures of the orphanage. The children are no longer living in this facility; they’ve been relocated to a temporary building pending construction of a new orphanage at Wolaitta Village. A project that was designed by graduate students of the EthiopiaStudio project at ASU’s School of Architecture & Landscape Architecture.

Small world indeed.

No more excuses

While my brother was here from Seattle last week, my husband and I took him with us to see the movie, “The Fighter,” starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale.

Though not a big fan of boxing movies, I was curious about this one. I had seen the Nov. 21, 2010 “60 Minutes” broadcast about Wahlberg’s years-long commitment to making this movie, the story of light welterweight contender Micky Ward (Wahlberg) and his crack-addicted half-brother, Dicky Ecklund, played by a freakishly thin and jittery Bale.

The CBS story focused on Wahlberg’s amazing transformation from New England street thug  (he was sent to prison at age 17 for attacking a man, who later lost an eye, over a couple of cases of beer) to one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actors and producers.

But that wasn’t the part that got me. At one point, interviewer Lara Logan described how Wahlberg underwent intensive physical training for the film for four years, without knowing it would ever get made. How does someone sustain that kind of commitment in the face of uncertainty? Logan hinted at Wahlberg’s “obsession” with making the film. He smiled, offering no sign of protest at the word.

A couple of days later, my husband told me about a story he’d read about Wahlberg in Sports Illustrated. I was focused on something in the kitchen at the time and nodded absentmindedly when he suggested I would enjoy reading  “And New Champion…” (Dec. 20, 2010), myself. I promptly forgot about it.

The next day, he picked up the magazine again, holding it in the air and gesturing in my direction. “Oh, here’s that article…” he said.

This time I took the hint. When I read the story, I realized why my husband had been so insistent that I do so.

In the words of writer Michael O’Neill:

“At bottom, The Fighter is the by-product of a sign posted back in a Lowell [Mass.] gym, Art Ramalho’s, where Micky and Dicky began their careers and where much of the movie was shot. In big block letters, it is the sort of thought that sits up in the top drawer of Wahlberg’s head: THE PERSON WHO REALLY WANTS TO DO SOMETHING FINDS A WAY; THE OTHER FINDS AN EXCUSE.”

The words stung. There is something I want to do. I believe I really want to do it. And yet I continue to let other things get in the way. I tell myself it is those other things that are at fault — those obligations to others, those perceived responsibilities and tasks.

I know it’s really just a bunch of excuses.

In the presence of a true champion

Ann Meyers Drysdale

Vicki Balint interviews (from left) Drew, DJ and Ann Meyers Drysdale. Photo by Karen Barr.

Yesterday, several members of our staff converged on the US Airways Arena to meet with Ann Meyers Drysdale, the Hall of Fame athlete who is now general manager of the two-time WNBA championship Phoenix Mercury and mom to three children ranging in age from 16 to 23.

Multimedia journalist Vicki Louk Balint was there to interview Ann for her monthly “A Conversation with…” print Q&A and online RAK Radio podcast. Art Director Michelle-Renee Adams and Photographer Daniel Friedman were there to get a cover shot of Ann and two of her children — Don Drysdale, Jr. (DJ), 23, a communications major at Arizona State University, and Drew, 16, a high school junior in Huntington Beach, Calif., who flew in for the day. (Ann’s third child, Darren, 21, was recuperating from a recent soccer injury and couldn’t make it).

Audio/video specialist and RAK contributor Rob Turckick was there to assure sound quality for the podcast and get some video footage of the interview for RAK Video. And I was there because, well, I’m the publisher and I get to go along on these things when I want to.

And I definitely wanted to meet Ann Meyers Drysdale.

Ann Meyers Drysdale during our interview in the Phoenix Mercury locker room. Photo by Rob Turchick.

Ann is entering her fourth season as General Manager of the Mercury. Her accolades are mighty: She was the first woman to receive a full athletic scholarship from UCLA. She was part of the US Olympic basketball team in 1976, winning a silver medal. She signed a free-agent contract with the Indiana Pacers — the only woman to ever do that. And she was the first player drafted in the Women’s Professional Basketball League, a precursor league to today’s WNBA.

Following her career as a player, Ann made her mark as an expert analyst on ESPN, NBC, ABC, FOX Sports and CBS. She has done commentary for men’s and women’s basketball, softball, tennis, volleyball and soccer since 1979.

In 1986, she married former Los Angeles Dodgers Hall of Fame pitcher Don Drysdale and took the name Ann Meyers Drysdale. They were the first married couple to hold Hall of Fame awards in their respective sports. Drysdale died of a heart attack in 1993, when her children were just 5, 3 and 3 months.

These are all things that people will remember about Ann Meyers Drysdale. Here is what I will remember:

Ann Meyers Drysdale poses with Art Director Michelle-Renee Adams, an avid Phoenix Mercury fan who rarely misses a game. Photo by Rob Turchick.

She is exceedingly gracious. When she entered the room, her immediate task was to personally greet each member of our team and extend a warm handshake. Her kids did the same. They waited patiently as we undertook all the set-up needed for photographs and audio/video recording. (Anne, who is talking with Drew about college options, compared notes with Vicki, who is also in college-search mode for her high-school-age daughter.)

She exudes calm, unpretentious confidence. I found it both inspiring and soothing to simply be in her presence. You can see how her matter-of-fact, deal-with-what-life-hands-you approach has manifested in her children, both of whom carry themselves with ease and speak thoughtfully, honestly and articulately.

She is a class act. When all the photos were done and it came time to leave, Ann went back to each member of my team, thanked them (by name!) and extended that same warm handshake. Then her kids did the same. — Karen

P.S. Look for Vicki’s “A Conversation with…” article in our July magazine.

Today at RAK: We’ll post the transcript of yesterday’s live Twitter chat on feeding issues on our Web site.