Jeffrey Weingrad to come to Norwich Jewish Center to speak on SNL, journalism

NORWICH – The Norwich Jewish Center is pleased to bring to Jeff Weingrad, co-author of ‘Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live,’ to the Center to discuss the early years of the well known TV show and his lengthy career in journalism.

The event is slated for 2-4 p.m., Sunday, March 6 at the Norwich Jewish Center, 72 South Broad St., Norwich.

Weingrad spent more than 40 years in the newspaper industry, and will recount his stories about celebrities and newsmakers from the early 1950s through today.

He will speak about John Lennon, Howard Stern, Meryl Streep, the Dalai Lama, Dan Rather, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Mickey Mantle, Prince Charles, and numerous others.

“[Jeff] Weingrad will give an appealing presentation,” said co-organizer Dr. Mark Vogel. “His style in journalism was rather unique. He would invite someone to play golf, or go out to lunch. His style was very informal.”

Vogel shared an anecdote regarding his history with Weingrad.

“Years ago when he was writing about Saturday Night Live (SNL), he was privy to all the extras,” Dr. Vogel said. “He would bring me along. One show was hosted by Tom Hanks and Tom Petty, so later that night I ran into Tom Hanks and Tom Petty. I also saw Conan O’Brien, and while chatting he shared that he had just learned his cholesterol was elevated, so I proceeded to tell him some good foods to try.”

Dr. Vogel said that he had just completed teaching a swing class in Norwich and – while with Weingrad at a SNL party – proceeded to swing dance with actress Molly Shannon.

At the event at the Norwich Jewish Center, Weingrad will discuss the creation and first ten years of SNL, the triumphs, tragedies, and the on-air and backstage craziness of some of the original stars of the show, including Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, Al Franken (now Democratic Senator of Minnesota), and Steve Martin.

Susan Fertig and Dr. Vogel, co-organizers, said that this event is just the first of many that are slated to take place at the center.

“We have been planning cultural, education, musical, dance, and informational events for the community,” said Dr. Vogel. “We want events that bring general community appeal, while maintaining an emphasis on Jewish values and culture.”

“We want the Norwich Jewish Center to be accessible to the community at large,” said Fertig. “I think we have some very great events planned.”

Other community events scheduled include Peri Smilow in May, a nationally renowned Jewish musician, singer and philanthropist; a swing dance session in June with Martha Ryan that will be a benefit for both a local charity and a national Jewish charity; and Dr. Jeffrey Kirshner, an oncologist in Syracuse who will present a pictorial review of his trip to Israel, titled ‘Guns and Moses,’ where he will show photos with commentary and humor, with Fertig assisting in the presentation.

“Our events will emphasize the Jewish values of giving back to the community, and are open to everyone,” said Fertig.

“We want the Center to be a place where culture is enhanced, and be a bright light where people can enjoy themselves,” said Dr. Vogel.

Events are free, with the exception of June’s swing dance benefit where a donation will be requested for charity.

With regard to the first upcoming Weingrad event, light refreshments will be served, and if time permits, he will host a question and answer period.

The book, ‘Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live,’ has recently been republished electronically for those interested in reading.

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