Runaway Spoon

Italian and presidential power link up

October 30, 2011

A national Italian television program is filming this week at Cafe Milano for a show to air in Italy on prominent Italian Americans in the United States. One of the featured TV stars is Amalfi Coast-born Franco Nuschese, principal owner of the Georgetown restaurant.

Nancy Pelosi (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Nancy Pelosi
The TV crew was at the National Italian American Foundation’s exclusive gala-eve dinner Friday night, packing Cafe Milano and its tented-for-the-occasion patio areas to accommodate several hundred high-up Italian-Americans, including Italian Ambassador Giuliomaria Terzi di Sant’Agata, U.S. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, and General Peter  Pace, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.   Famous faces included Joe “ Joey Pants” Pantoliano , known for his role in the TV series “The Sopranos” and the film, “The Matrix;”  former Los Angeles Dodgers and York Mets catcher Mike Piazza; and Tony LoBianco, actor in "The French Connection."

On Saturday night, the TV cameras were at the NIAF gala at the Washington Hilton, where President Obama lavished praise on the music, cuisine, architecture, sculpture and other aspects of Italian culture. 

Actress Sophia Loren, he said, is "my favorite." And, he added with a wicked grin: "What would politics be like without the likes of Machiavelli ... especially in Washington."

He said he has no Italian blood and can't cook. "All I've got is that my last name ends in a vowel."

Joey (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Joey
Filming at Cafe Milano and other locations around Georgetown, including on Georgetown University’s campus, and the wider metropolitan area will take place through Nov. 4. 

The television program is “Sognando Italia” and will air on Mediaset’s Retequattro  during the second half of November. The show is a co-production between Project I SRL and Mediaset RTI.

Fabio at gala (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Fabio at gala
Other Italian Americans from New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, New Orleans and Miami also are subjects of the program.

The first season of the hour-long program, hosted by the blonde and model-slender Morgan Witkin , will consist of 11 episodes. The first 10 episodes will focus on extraordinary Italian individuals and how they integrate Italian culture and heritages into their daily lives in America and promote Italian society and traditions. The 11th and final episode will be about the NIAF gala, where Italian-Americans came together to honor their heritage, culture and achievements.

How many visiting Italian film crews are lucky enough to have the president on camera for one of their feature segments?  Answer: not many.

Maria  Bartiroma at gala (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Maria Bartiroma at gala
Receiving awards at the NIAF gala Saturday with mistress of ceremony CNBC's Maria Bartiromo, were Claudio Bozzo , president of Mediterranean Shipping Company; Ohio Senate Minority Leader Capri Cafaro ; Dion DiMucci , Rock and Roll Hall of Famer; former U.S. Congressman Frank J. GuariniFrank G. Mancuso Sr., former chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studio;  Emma Marcegaglia, president of Confindustria; Paolo Scudieri, CEO of Adler Plastic S.p.A.; and Santo Versace, president of Gianni Versace, S.p.A.

President Obama (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) President Obama

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The gang's all here

October 23, 2011

City officials, business movers and shakers, and -- hey, that’s Halle Berry’s ex -husband over there!-- packed the Marriott Wardman Park’s huge ballroom Saturday night for the DC Chamber of Commerce’s annual Choice Awards and Gala.

Eric Benet (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Eric Benet
Most youngish eyes were on the incredibly cool singer Eric Benét, who was a guest, not a performer.   Benét, as celebrity watchers don’t have to be told, was once wed to actress Halle Berry.

Lorraine Green, former head of Vince Gray’s winning mayoralty campaign, was at the table of DC Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Barbara Lang and her always witty husband, Gerald Lang.  For several minutes, the Mayor had a private conversation standing with Green amongst the tables. Green is a member of the DC Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

The University of the District of Columbia’s table, hosted by president, Dr. Allan L. Sessoms and his wife,  had, among others, Judith Terra, chair of the DC Arts and Humanities Commission.

Among other notables were PR and events executive Linda Greene (who arrived with the Mayor); District of Columbia Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton; most City Council members, including Chairman Kwame R. Brown; former campaign manager for Gray’s campaign Adam Rubinson; D.C. City Administrator Alan Y. Lew; D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi; and Cora Masters Barry (who is gearing up to host her celebrity tennis matches this Saturday at the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center).

Gerald Lang and Lorraine Green (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Gerald Lang and Lorraine Green
Jim Vance, NBC4, the evening’s emcee, was given a surprise Lifetime Legacy Award.

Awards were presented to:

  • Georgetown resident Mark D. Ein of Venturehouse Group, LLC, for Business Leader of the Year.
  • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, Inc., Business of the Year.
  • B. Smith of her eponymous restaurant at Union Station, Chamber’s Choice Award.
  • W. Christopher Smith, real estate executive, Chair’s Choice Award.
    Barbara Lang (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Barbara Lang

City Council Member Vincent Orange and Judith Terra (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) City Council Member Vincent Orange and Judith Terra
En Vogue singers at gala (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) En Vogue singers at gala
Lawson W. Brooks III and B. Smith (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Lawson W. Brooks III and B. Smith

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D.C. Arts and Humanities Commission picks new executive director

October 15, 2011

Lionell Thomas, a resident of Ward 5, is the new executive director of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, replacing outgoing interim director Ayris Scales.

He recently served as executive director for the Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council.

A native of D.C., Thomas previously served with the D.C. commission for 22 years in posts that included deputy director and interim director.

Judith Terra, who was selected by Mayor Vincent Gray as commission chair, praised Thomas, saying he brings enormous knowledge of the city and a great vision for the future.

Terra, a former Georgetown resident, had initiated the Thomas appointment. 

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