Sunday, October 27, 2013
By James Lomuscio
During his more than two decades as a United Press International and CBS News correspondent and bureau chief in New York, London, Moscow and Tokyo, Westport First Selectman Gordon Joseloff said there were times he was “shot at, beaten up, tear gassed, and arrested.”
“All of that prepared me for political life in Westport,” quipped Joseloff, who is not seeking a third term, to a round of laughter in the packed Town Hall auditorium today.
The occasion was the Westport Arts Advisory Committee’s (WAAC) “20 Years of Celebrating the Arts,” an annual awards event started by the late Burt Chernow to honor those who have contributed to the town’s artistic heritage.”
Each year, several awards are presented to authors, actors, composers, fine artists, illustrators and alike, but this year departed from tradition to honor only one—Joseloff—with a “Special Recognition for Lifetime Excellence in Journalism.”
The award was presented to Joseloff, founder and publisher of WestportNow.com, by award-winning photojournalist Spencer Platt, a previous award recipient, who credited a brief meeting with Joseloff 20 years ago with inspiring him to pursue the same career.
“I learned that one could become a witness to history,” Platt said. “We could personally enter history and engage with it.”
And with that Platt choreographed Joseloff’s journalism career from helping launch WWPT radio as a high school student and writing for the Westport Town Crier at 17 to stringing for The New York Times and UPI while at Syracuse University.
Then, with Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” as background music, Platt presented a large screen photo display of an ever dogged, darker haired, more hirsute Joseloff throughout the years.
With camera in hand, he is shown near Bobby Kennedy, Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and legendary North Vietnamese Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, or holding a microphone while reporting from CBS News from Moscow, or sharing down time with Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather. In 1984, Joseloff won an Emmy for his coverage of the assassination of India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
In accepting the honor, which also brought a citation from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy that was presented by state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, plus an award from the state General Assembly presented by state Sen.John McKinney, Joseloff acknowledged former journalism award recipients, including locals Lynsey Addario, Tyler Hicks and Matt Davies.
Joseloff also noted that Westport’s time honored arts legacy is self-perpetuating since “good culture attracts good culture.”
“This is something that honors all of us who helped make Westport a special place all these years,” he said.
According to David Rubinstein, who co-chairs the WAAC with Leslie Greene, the committee picked Joseloff because of his career and his administration’s consistent support for the arts.
“The committee just felt that he deserved it for his achievements as a journalist and his support for us,“Rubinstein said. “Who better that him.”
He added that the WAAC, instead presenting more awards, decided to offer a retrospective this year.
“We said after 20 years, let’s celebrate what we’ve done,” he said.
That is what the audience experienced, beginning with scenes of past ceremonies filmed by Martin West.
In one of the scenes actor Christopher Plummer, a Weston resident and past recipient, muses over the fact that so may creative individuals have been drawn to Westport.
“I do believe that people can be drawn by some invisible force back to where they were meant to be,” Plummer says.
There were also literary selections read, with past award recipient Hans Wilhelm reading his children’s book “I’m Not Scared,” and Scott Bryce, emcee, reading excerpts from works of past award recipients, all with ties to the area: Evan Hunter’s “The Blackboard Jungle,” Sinclair Lewis’“Babbitt,“and John Hersey’s"The Wall.”
There were also film selections from Ring Lardner’s “M*A*S*H,: F. Scott Fitzgrald’s “The Great Gatsby,” Howard Fast’s Spartacus,“and Max Schulman’s” Rally Round the Flag, boys!”
They were followed by actors Joanna Gleason and James Naughton, a former award recipient, performing a scene from"Triangles,” comedy by local playwright and past award recipient David Wiltsie.
Then violinist Igor Pikayzen, another former honoree, played “Red Violin Caprice” by John Corgliano, another past award recipient.
The celebration ended with a theater and dance selection of “Forget About the Boy” from “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” performed by the Staples Players, who have also been honored by the WAAC.
Afterward, all were invited across the street from Town Hall to the Westport Historical Society for a reception and to view: “Framing the Past, Present and Future: 20 Years of the Westport Arts Awards.”
Posted 10/27/13 at 10:21 PM Permalink