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Saturday, June 07, 2003

Martha Stewart to Fans: You

Martha Stewart to Fans: You Have My Deepest ThanksӔ
Martha Stewart may be avoiding the media in the days after her indictment on federal charges related to her insider-trading case, but she is talking to her fans directly on the Internet.

I am very grateful for the goodwill that so many friends and supporters have shown me by visiting these web pages,Ӕ Stewart wrote on her Web site, www. marthatalks.com.

In its first day, the site has logged more than 2 million hits, and more than 20,000 visitors have taken the time to send messages of support and encouragement.

ԔWhile I am unable to respond to each of these messages individually, I have read many of them already and I am doing my best to read them all.

I especially want those who have written to know that your kind words and good wishes mean a great deal to me.  You have my deepest thanks.

ԔI hope to provide updates for you here as often as I can. Many thanks again for your interest.

Playboy Editorial Director’s First Peek at Magazine Was in “Boring” Westport

Playboys editorial director, James Kaminsky, says his first peek at the Hugh Hefner property came while he was growing up in Westport.

According to Toronto’s Globe and Mail, Kaminsky started reading Playboy when he was 15 and restless in the tony but boring Connecticut town of Westport. (His dad left the mag lying around the house.) It gave him a view of a larger world.”

His father is former Westporter Leonard P. Kaminsky, who now lives in Shelton, Conn. Leonard Kaminsky is a former chair of Westport’s Planning and Zoning Commission and most recently served on the Board of Assessment Appeals.

Kaminsky, 41, joined Playboy last October from Maxim magazine.

At the time, he said: “As a writer and editor, I’ve long admired Playboy for its ability to demonstrate the power that a magazine can have. This is the magazine that convinced me to go into this business.”

Prior to Maxim, Kaminsky was a top editor at Conde Nast Womens Sport & Fitness, which he helped launch in 1997. In the mid-1990s, he was a senior editor at Men’s Journal while also serving as editor-in-chief of the top-selling Mens Journal Buyers Guide

A graduate of Boston University with a B.S. in journalism, Kaminsky also has been a freelance writer and project editor during his career.

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06/07/03 03:08 PM Comments () • Permalink

Ray Charles Highlights Levitt Pavilion

Ray Charles Highlights Levitt Pavilion Summer Fare
Westports Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts kicks off its summer season this month along the banks of the Saugatuck River and has announced the annual fundraiser will be a benefit concert by Ray Charles.

The July 31 event highlights the two-month season of the open-air performances—a Westport summer tradition for almost three decades.

Tickets for the benefit are $50 with preferred seating for $75. A gala pre-concert dinner on Jesup Green is additional.

Foundation grants, corporate sponsorships, individual support, and a select number of special ticketed events provide the necessary funding for 52 nights of free programming.

The season opens June 23 with “Dynasty’s Caribbean Fiesta” featuring island music, calypso, limbo dancers, and stilt-walkers and ends Aug. 24 with “Fairfield Counts,” a night of big band sound and swing.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Martha Stewart: I am Innocent

Martha Stewart: I am Innocent and Will FightӔ
In an open letter today published as a full-page ad in USA Today, Martha Stewart said, “I want you to know that I am innocent—and that I will fight to clear my name.”

“I simply returned a call from my stockbroker,” Stewart wrote. “Based in large part on prior discussions with my broker about price, I authorized a sale of my remaining shares in a biotech company called ImClone. I later denied any wrongdoing in public statements and voluntary interviews with prosecutors. The government’s attempt to criminalize these actions makes no sense to me.”

The letter was also published on a Web site—marthatalks.com—where Stewart said she would post information about the case.

The site also includes a statement issued Wednesday from her attorney as well as an e-mail link where visitors are invited to send a letter to Stewart.

Martha Humor: Shes Recruiting Westport

Martha Humor: Shes Recruiting Westport Look-Alikes to Take Fall for Her
With Martha StewartҒs latest insider-scandal troubles, the comedians and satirists are keeping busy. One reports she was seen recruiting look-alikes on Westports Main Street.

The Borowitzreport.com Web site tells readers that intelligence sources said ғIt is Ms. Stewart’s hope, according to those sources, to find someone who looks enough like her to take the fall for her in an eventual criminal trial.

ԔMs. Stewart was seen driving what some called a terrifying-looking Hummerђ down the streets of Westport, Connecticut yesterday, apparently on the lookout for preppy middle-aged bottle-blondes who could fill in for her in the witness box, the report said.

ԔAccording to eyewitnesses, the embattled CEO pulled at least 20 such women off the street, sometimes grabbing them as they were on their way into Starbucks or Talbots.

“She appears to be having a great deal of success in finding these look-alikes, because half the women in Westport look like Martha Stewart already,Ғ” one intelligence source said.

Jay Leno on NBC said: “I was watching ‘America’s Most Wanted’  last nignt—no, that was ‘Martha Stewart Living.’” And: “Martha showed up at prison with her new boyfriend—Sammy Sosa.”

Also: “Martha Stewart had an interesting show this morning. She showed her viewers how to make bail.”

Martha Stewart and Her Broker

Martha Stewart and Her Broker Indicted and Plead Not Guilty
It was all-Martha-all-the-time coverage on the cable news networks today as Westports latest and most famous possible federal prisoner pleaded innocent to federal charges stemming from her insider-trading scandal.

Hours later she stepped down as chief executive of her company but said she would remain on the board, but not as chairman.

“I love this company, its people and everything it stands for, and I am stepping aside as chairman and CEO because it is the right thing to do,” Stewart said in a brief statement.

A 41-page indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court charged Stewart with securities fraud, obstruction of justice, conspiracy and making false statements to prosecutors and the FBI.

The indictment also charged Peter Bacanovic, Stewart’s stockbroker, with perjury and obstruction of justice, among other charges. He also pleaded innocent to all charges.

As the expectation increased that this would be indictment day for her, media representatives descended on Westport asking residents what they thought.

A private security guard maintained a vigil at Stewart’s Turkey Hill Road South home.

U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum released Stewart and Bacanovic without setting bail until their next hearings. The judge ordered Stewart to notify authorities three days ahead if she planned to leave the country.

Stewart has denied wrongdoing in her December 2001 sale of shares of ImClone Systems Inc. ahead of an unfavorable government ruling. She said she had an arrangement with her broker for the automatic sale of the stock when it dropped to a certain price.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney James Comey said the case centered on Stewart’s lies to the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission and investors.

“That is conduct that will not be tolerated,” Comey said at a news conference. “Miss Stewart is being prosecuted not because of who she is, but what she did.”

Meanwhile, the SEC filed a civil suit in Manhattan seeking to bar Stewart from being in charge of any public company.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Martha Stewart Indictment Expected Soon;

Martha Stewart Indictment Expected Soon; Her Attorney Says She Will Plead Innocent and Go to Trial
Martha Stewart is expecting to be indicted soon by a federal grand jury in connection with her insider-trading case, her company said today.

Her chief attorney, Robert Morvillo, later in the day issued a brief statement saying: “If Martha Stewart is indicted, she intends to declare her innocence and proceed to trial,” according to the AP.

CNBC quoted sources as saying the indictment would come Wednesday and that Stewart would be arrested on the charges. It said it is not known whether agents would arrest her at her home or whether she would arrange to surrender to them.

All was quiet around the Stewart home on Turkey Hill Road South this afternoon. But there was a burly man sitting in a red SUV parked facing outward in her driveway outside her gate. He carefully eyed passing cars.

CNBC also said she would step down as head of the company following the indictment.

A statement issued this morning by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia said the company was preparing for all contingencies.

The brief statement said: “Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. (MSO) has been informed by Martha Stewart’s attorneys that the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has informed them that Ms. Stewart is a target of a criminal investigation and that the United States Attorney’s Office intends to request the grand jury to return an indictment against her in the near future.

“Additionally, MSO has been informed that a civil complaint by the Securities and Exchange Commission is also expected.

“MSO and its board of directors have been planning for a number of possible contingencies, are evaluating the current situation and will take action as appropriate.”

Federal investigators had been considering bringing criminal and civil securities-fraud charges against Stewart for her sale of ImClone Systems stock in December 2001, just days before an application for review of its promising cancer drug was rejected.

There were reports that her attorneys and investigators were trying to work out a plea agreement, but today’s statement indicated that the talks failed.

The announcement came hours before the company held its annual meeting in New York. Stewart did not attend the meeting but made a statement to shareholders via videotape saying she regretted she could not be there.

Arthur Martinez, an MSO board member, later told reporters that Stewart had taped the message this morning and in it expressed “her gratitude for support shown to her by her shareholder family.”

He said during the meeting a shareholder had asked whether Stewart had resigned as head of the company and was told it was “categorically untrue.”

Martinez said the company was in good shape, adding that he was confident about its future. He would not answer any questions from reporters.

The meeting lasted about 45 minutes and Stewart, chairman and CEO, was among those re-elected to the board, attendees said.

CNBC said Stewart would be indicted on charges of obstruction of justice and making false statements, according to its sources. The network said she would not be indicted on federal insider trading charges but would likely face civil insider trading penalties.

CNBC said her trial could be more than a year away, posing major uncertainties for her company in the interim.

Stewart, 61, has denied any wrongdoing in the ImClone sale. She said she had an arrangement with her broker for the automatic sale of the stock when it dropped to a certain price.

Westports State Sen. Judy Freedman

Westports State Sen. Judy Freedman Lone Dissenter on Primary Bill
WestportҒs state Sen. Judith G. Freedman cast the only nay vote today when the state Senate voted to schedule a single primary date, days after the governor warned he would veto legislation that set two primaries, according to the AP.

Proponents of the bill said the new date, the second Tuesday in August, was a compromise between those who favor keeping the primary in September and those who want it held in June.

The Senate passed the primary reform bill 34-1. Freedman, a Republican, said she voted no because she believed many voters would not be available in August. The bill returns to the House of Representatives for further action.

It was unclear whether there was enough support in the House for a single date, the AP said.

Update (6/4/03): The House Tuesday passed the primary bill by a vote of 129-17 and sent it to the governor for signature.

Monday, June 02, 2003

Westport Public Library Honors Writer Pete Hamill

More than 300 persons jammed the Westport Public Library today to honor novelist and journalist Pete Hamill.

The Booked for the Eveningӓ event included readings of Hamills works by performers Joanne Woodward, Keir Dullea and Mia Dillon, as well as columnist Mike Lupica. There were also musical selections by songstress Susan Terry tied to HamillҒs career.



Hamill told the crowd that he spent many days as a youngster in the library in his native Brooklyn and he felt that by honoring him, the library was really honoring all libraries.

Libraries are temples of human memory ӗ without them we lose our memory, he said.

He said it was important to have Hitler as well as Homer in libraries because ԓwe must have shadows as as well as light.

Hamill praised philanthropist Andrew Carnegie for donating so much money to libraries around the country, including 65 in New York City and added, ԓImagine Donald Trump doing that?

The author won applause from the audience when he denounced federal agents being authorized to snoop into library lending records as part of increasing homeland security.

ԓI dont think anyone should come into a library and demand to know what people are reading,Ҕ he said.

Hamill drew laughter from the crowd when he said it had taken him years to figure out why librarians always whispered. His explanation: They knew they were working in a temple.Ӕ

The “Booked for the Evening” event is the library’s annual fundraiser. Previous winners of the Westport Library Award were Tom Brokaw, E.L. Doctorow, Calvin Trillin and Wendy Wasserstein.

Sunday, June 01, 2003

Death of Helen Keller 35 Years Ago Recalled

Then, as now, June 1 fell on a Sunday and by the time the day was over in 1968, the Westport, Conn. dateline was printed in newspapers around the world.

The stories from the small Connecticut town 35 years ago today carried news of the death of what many believed was one of Westport’s most famous residents Helen Keller.

The New York Times reported it this way: ֓WESTPORT, Conn., June 1—Helen Keller, who overcame blindness and deafness to become a symbol of the indomitable human spirit, died this afternoon in her home here. She was 87 years old.”

Trouble was Keller lived in Easton, not Westport, and had been a resident there for many years. Easton proudly celebrated the life of its legendary resident by naming a middle school after her.

Why biographies and news clippings still refer to her as a Westport resident is unclear. But it probably stemmed from the fact that Westport was better known than Easton and her home, known as Arcan Ridge, was not far from Westport.

Many Americans learned her story from William Gibson’s play “The Miracle Worker, first performed as a live television play in 1957.

In 1959 it was rewritten as a Broadway play and opened to rave reviews. It became a smash hit and ran for almost two years. In 1962 it was made into a film and actresses Patty Duke playing Keller and Anne Bancroft playing her teacher Anne Sullivan won Oscars for their performances.

Update (6/5/03): Lois Bloom, president of the Easton Historical Society, told WestportNow the discrepancy about where Keller’s home was located resulted from her living in Easton but having a Westport postal address.

“All her stationery listed a Westport post office box,” Bloom said. Other parts of tiny Easton at the time used Fairfield postal addresses, she said.

Bloom said she has answered a number of inquiries over the years about the confusion and noted that several biographies of Keller erroneously listed her home as being in Westport.

Update (6/18/03): Not all of Keller’s stationery, however, included a postal box. A Keller letter for sale on the Internet merely has as its heading “Arcan Ridge, Westport, Conn.”

Saturday, May 31, 2003

Has Rowland Signed Bill Naming

Has Rowland Signed Bill Naming Post Road Bridge for Ruth Steinkraus Cohen?
Has Gov. John G. Rowland signed a bill naming the Post Road Bridge over the Saugatuck River for longtime Westporter Ruth Steinkraus Cohen?

The state legislative Web site Friday showed the measure, part of an overall transportation bill, has been designated Public Act 03-115.

But a summary of legislation on the Web site today showed the measure (HB-6404) has yet to be signed. In fact, it shows Rowland has not signed any bill since May 23.

The bill passed the House on May 15 and the Senate on May 22—the latter passage came despite an effort by Westport’s Sen. Judith G. Freedman to block the legislation.

She said the bill had not had a fair hearing in Westport and that people were not aware that a naming process was underway. The legislator said there were other names that could have been considered

The bill was introduced by fellow Westport Republican Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard and gained endorsement from the Westport Board of Selectmen by a 2-1 vote and the Representative Town Meeting by a 26-5 vote.

The act states: “(Effective from passage) The bridge over the Saugatuck River in Westport shall be designated as the ‘Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Memorial Bridge.’”

Streinkraus Cohen, an avid supporter of the United Nations and the arts, died May 26, 2002, after a long battle with cancer. She had been a Westport resident for more than 45 years.

Friday, May 30, 2003

Sen. Judy Freedman Fails to Block Mascot Bill

Last week she failed to block a bill naming the Post Road Bridge after Ruth Steinkraus Cohen. This week Westports Sen. Judith G. Freedman failed in her attempt to block another bill—about the state mascot.

According to the AP, the state Senate on Thursday approved by a 28-8 vote legislation that would make the University of Connecticut husky dog Connecticut’s official mascot. The bill goes to the House for further action.

Sen. Joseph Crisco Jr., D-Woodbridge, said because UConn is the state’s flagship university and has brought the state much acclaim, the school’s mascot should be the state’s mascot, the AP said.

But Freedman, a Republican, questioned why other Connecticut school mascots were not considered for the honor, according to the report which quoted her as saying: “We should table it for future reference so we can have a contest in the state.Ҕ

The bill passed overwhelmingly, the AP said.

Update (6/6/03)
: The House failed to take up the bill in the closing session rush and it died.

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