Bye-Bye Bondi and Leno’s Laughs ...
FEBRUARY 3, 2010
CIVIC TREASURE: Craig Noel, the much-loved director-producer whose name has been synonymous with the Old Globe Theatre for more than seven decades, has always seemed younger than springtime. But, sad to report, even he cannot dodge the winter years forever. For the first time since the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle named its awards for him nine seasons ago, Noel was unable to personally deliver The Lifetime Achievement Award at last week’s annual ceremony. Friends say Noel, whose 95th birthday is this year, is now in frail health and under hospice care.
SAN DIEGO SHUFFLE: With charities and nonprofits especially hard hit by the economic downturn, Jazz 88.3 FM has turned to the soft sell. Next week, volunteers plan to call each of the station’s 3,000 supporting members with a simple message: “Thank you.” No pitch for money, says development director Jennifer Montgomery. On the other hand, if supporters are so moved, they can always contribute more . . . Four San Diego companies have cracked Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for 2010: Qualcomm (9th; up from 16th), Scripps Health (40th; up from 59th); Intuit (94th; down from 49th) and DPR Construction (new at 57th) ... If you drink to relax, San Diego’s Scripps Research Institute can probably tell you why. A team of Scripps scientists say they’ve identified a specific stress hormone that causes alcohol dependence. What’s more, they say, chemically blocking the stress factor has been shown to block the signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction. So far, only lab rats are sobering up in the Scripps study.
RESTAURANT REBORN: Shelter’s Island’s Bali Hai, one of San Diego’s oldest and most-enduring restaurants, is getting the facelift it’s long deserved. More than a facelift, in fact. The Point Loma landmark, opened in 1953, and operated by the same family for more than half a century, is undergoing some $4 million in improvements (including a new dock and pavilion), with a contemporary design by architect Graham Downes. Businessman-accountant Tom Ham bought the restaurant out of bankruptcy in 1954, after examining the books. “He just fell in love with the place,” says his daughter, Susie Baumann, who now runs the Bali Hai with her husband, Larry, and two sons. In addition to the new look, the restaurant will debut a revamped menu, conceived by new chef Christopher Powell, previously with Rancho Valencia. It will still embody the Polynesian theme, says Baumann, but the menu will be widened to include Pacific Rim cuisine. The reopening is planned for early April.
DOTTED NOTES: Latest in the lengthening list of restaurant casualties of the recession: Bondi, the Australian restaurant-bar in the Gaslamp Quarter, shuttered after three years ... Longtime Union-Tribune sports editor Tom Cushman, who commutes these days between homes in San Diego and Colorado, will be at D.G. Wills in La Jolla the night of February 20 to autograph copies of his new book Muhammad Ali and the Greatest Heavyweight Generation ... And San Diego’s Jesse Kellerman, best-selling scion of best-selling novelists Faye and Jonathan Kellerman, has his fourth novel, The Executor, due April 1 from Putnam. He’ll be at Mysterious Galaxy on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard that night to sign copies ... Actor Eric McCormack, star of TV’s landmark gay-themed Will & Grace for eight seasons, comes here May 1 to accept the 2010 Equality Ally Award from Equality California, the LGBT civil rights organization, at the U.S. Grant Hotel.
QUOTEWORTHY: Jay Leno’s standup routine at the Farmers Insurance Invitational’s Diamond in the Rough Gala here studiously avoided any mention of the controversy surrounding his own Tonight Show battles with NBC. But Tiger Woods, absent from the golf tournament in the wake of his well-publicized sex scandal, was fair game. “I have to tell you, I’m really exhausted,” Leno opened. “I was in a foursome today with Tiger Woods.”