Robservations: Steve Sanders saves the day on WGN’s ‘Family Classics’

Steve Sanders

Robservations on the media beat:

Dean Richards

In the eons since WGN-Channel 9 first raised the curtain on “Family Classics” in 1962, the iconic movie series has had only three hosts — Frazier Thomas, Roy Leonard and Dean Richards. Until now. Steve Sanders, veteran news anchor at “Chicago’s Very Own,” was pressed into service at the last minute after Richards took a spill and had to miss Monday’s taping. So when WGN presents the Irving Berlin classic “Holiday Inn” at 7 p.m. Friday, it’ll be Sanders (in place of Richards) introducing and hosting the film. As for Richards, he suffered a fractured wrist and facial abrasions after he tripped on a pothole and struck his head on the pavement Sunday outside Water Tower Place. “I definitely wasn’t camera ready,” joked Richards, who’s back on the job as entertainment critic at the Nexstar Media station.

Patti Vasquez

When Patti Vasquez appears on the ballot this spring as a candidate for Illinois state representative, she’ll be identified by her legal name — Patricia D. Bonnin. The former talk show host for Nexstar Media news/talk WGN 720-AM disclosed this week why she’s been going by her mother’s maiden name all these years: Her half-brother, Michael Bonnin, was one of 33 young men killed by John Wayne Gacy in 1979. “I knew our name was going to be in the paper again,” Vasquez told Robert Chiarito of chicagomag.com. (Here is the link.) “I didn’t want [the murder] to precede every conversation and interview I gave.”

Jacqueline Serrato

Bilingual Chicago journalist Jacqueline Serrato has been named editor-in-chief of South Side Weekly, an alternative newspaper based in the Woodlawn neighborhood. Serrato, a former staff reporter and multimedia producer for Hoy Chicago, also has written for The Chicago Reporter, Block Club Chicago and City Bureau. A graduate of Colgate University, she previously held a community reporting fellowship with Chicago Public Media WBEZ 91.5-FM and worked as a production assistant at Window to the World Communications WTTW-Channel 11.

Chaz Ebert

Chaz Ebert, publisher of RogerEbert.com and president of Ebert Productions, has been named 2019 laureate of the Beethoven Spirit Award. She’ll be honored at an event celebrating Beethoven’s 249th birthday hosted by the International Beethoven Project December 16 at the Chicago Cultural Center. (Here is the link.) “Chaz Ebert is a humanist who promotes justice and a better world through the arts, highlighting important voices in film, supporting young and emerging artists, caring for the urban environment,” IBP president George Lepauw said in a statement. “Chaz is a model citizen of Chicago and, through her many personal and philanthropic engagements across the globe, of the world.”

Entertaining Chicago

Entertaining Chicago: Remembering the Places, Performers, and Stories Throughout the 20th Century is the title of the 28th book on Chicago by author and publisher Neal Samors. Co-written with creative consultant Bob Dauber, the blast from the past features photos of the city’s most legendary venues and interviews with more than 80 performers — from comedians Shelley Berman, Shecky Greene, Tom Dreesen, Tim Reid and Mort Sahl to musicians Ramsey Lewis, Johnny Frigo, Bonnie Koloc, Judy Roberts, Corky Siegel and Ronnie Rice. It’s available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and bookstores across Chicago.

Wednesday’s comment of the day: Steve Roess: Watching the Tribune go downhill has been sad. As a subscriber of 40-plus years, I now regularly wonder why I continue. Previous owners have already nearly gutted the reporting staff. The paper is filled with articles from other papers and the AP. Once in a while an investigative report looking into shady government is productive, but too often the good reporters remaining are wasted on other crusades while our local and state governments continue their shenanigans with impunity. The quality of the writing and editing, once exemplary, is now noticeably inferior to papers like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. The stable of one-note columnists and critics is tedious. That leaves the op-ed pages as the only interesting part. Mary [Schmich] is right. History isn’t waiting.