September 30, 2008

Florida Forum Leads With NBC News’ Michael Beschloss

By Judy Wells

It isn't easy to find speakers who are informative and entertaining, who are of topical interest to audiences and are affordable. Talk to organizers of Florida Forum, the popular series developed as a fund-raiser by The Women's Board of Wolfson Children's Hospital, if you doubt it.

The first session, right around the corner on Tuesday, Oct. 7, at the Florida Theatre, features Michael Beschloss on What Makes a Great President? Now that's topical. As the author of nine books, NBC News' presidential historian and a regular on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer (who'll be here with David Gergan and George Stephanopolous on Tuesday, Feb. 3), Beschloss ought to have some interesting insights. Also, Jay Leno -- who was a Forum speaker in 2005 -- called him the "handsomest political historian I've ever seen."

Sexist? So's politics, poopsie.

Following Beschloss on Thursday, Nov. 6, is Dennis Miller, a journalism major who caught onto show biz fast. His Forum contract came with the longest green room rider -- he wants a French Bordeaux on hand among other things.

Charlie Rose, here Saturday, Jan. 17, in conversation with Ron Howard, sent the longest bio; it starts "As a child . . ." His agent says the Henderson, N.C., native is "quite a Southern gentleman," and we hear a number of women have been inquiring about his marital status. Haven't seen word of anyone steadily since he and socialite Amanda Burden ended their 12-year companionship.

Forum tickets are sold as a series -- $2,125 to $7,000 gets you best seating and invitations for two to six to the private receptions with speakers afterward; $200 gets you general seating -- but occasionally you can score a single. The Women's Board, (904) 202-2886, maintains a waiting list for those.


A growling stomach is not conducive to listening or looking, so fuel up first. TreeCup, the restaurant at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, will be serving a prix fixe -- $18 plus tax -- brunch noon to 2:30 p.m. before each Sunday concert.

The season's first is Sunday, Oct. 5, featuring pianist Ilya Yakushev at 3 p.m. preceded by brunch.

Concerts are free for museum members, $10 for non-members. You'd best make reservations for both concert, (904) 899-6010, and brunch, (904) 356-6857, ext. 6275.


Go to and click on Times-Union photos. You'll find more from events that I and other First Coasters attended.Pssst! Did you hear about . . .? You did? Call and tell me about it. Call, too, if you've seen, planned or are about to do something smashing, if you stuck around after your last meeting to hear all the good stuff that gets hashed over in the parking lot, or if you've encountered a hidden facet to one of our area's notables. The tip line is (904) 359-4155, and I'm interested in all the interesting waves in society's currents, from St. Augustine to St. Simons.MAKING BELIEVERSTransformations began Thursday, Sept. 18, with a street party outside the Florida Theatre, then made believers of skeptics through accounts of Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless clients who are turning their lives around. Meanwhile, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, members and believers in the power of art oohed at the uber-realistic sculpture of Marc Sijan and aahed at the work of area artists. Saturday, the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront ballroom was turned into a make-believe Broadway by supporters of the Moonlight Gala, who believe a cure for juvenile diabetes will be found.Here's to positive thinking. MAKING PLANSFRIDAYWILD THINGS: Bend your elbow with young professionals, meet wild animals up close and try some signature dishes at Brew at the Zoo, 6:30-9:30 p.m., Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, zoo casual; $30 members, $40 non-members in advance, $50 at the door; (904) 747- 4463, ext. 196 or 490.SATURDAYLEARN PINK: Find out about breast cancer at the Pink Ribbon Symposium, 8 a.m. to noon, Thrasher-Horne Conference Center, St. Johns River Community College, 283 College Drive, Orange Park, free with required pre-registration, (904) 538- 4484.Hot, hot, hot: Party arty at Caliente Nights, a spicy benefit for The Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach, 7 p.m., 50 Executive Drive, Ponte Vedra, $100 members, $125 non-members, (904) 280-0614, ext. 205. SUNDAY, OCT. 5AFTERNOON AFFAIR: Party down the sun at "Sunset on the Marsh," a benefit for the Council on Aging of Nassau County, 5:30-9:30 p.m., Amelia Island Plantation, $100, (904) 261- 0701, ext. 117.MONDAY, OCT. 6TASTY SLICE: Sample favorite courses of chefs from 15 golf clubs at A Taste of Golf, a benefit for the First Tee of Jacksonville, 5-9 p.m., Epping Forest Yacht Club, 1830 Epping Forest Drive, $125, (904) 924-0401.

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