NBC orders medical drama “Heart Matters”

January28

From DigitalSpy.com:

NBC has ordered two drama pilots for the 2015-16 season.

The network has ordered a pilot for Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s Unveiled, as well as medical drama Heart Matters, reports Deadline.

nveiled follows a group of guardian angels who intervene in the lives of people needing help in an attempt to save their lives.

John Sakmar and Kerry Lenhart (The Glades) are behind the script, and will executive produce alongside Burnett and Downey.

Heart Matters is a medical drama inspired by the life of Dr Kathy Magliato and her memoirs.

Executive produced by Amy Brenneman, the pilot follows outspoken heart-transplant surgeon Alex Panttiere as she tries to balance her professional and romantic life.

My So-Called Life‘s Jill Gordon wrote the script, and will also executive produce alongside Brenneman and Brad Silberling.

Amy, Benjamin Bratt & Annie Potts Lend Star Power to Support of Inclusive Education

January28

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Big names in performing arts, music and the Los Angeles community come together next month to support CHIME Institute, housed at California State University, Northridge, and its unique model of inclusive education at the annual CHIMEapalooza celebration on Saturday, Feb. 21.

Acclaimed actress Annie Potts, musician Tom Morello and former Los Angeles schools superintendent John Deasy will join actors and longtime CHIME supporters Benjamin Bratt and Amy Brenneman to raise funds and awareness of the institute’s mission to educate children of all abilities. The evening also will feature the musical talents of Gloria Loring, Chris Stills and others.

The celebration will be held at the El Portal Theatre located at 11206 Weddington St. in North Hollywood.

“I’m touched that all these talented performers are coming together for a special evening to support CHIME’s educational programs and spread the word about our mission,” said Annie Cox, executive director for CHIME Institute’s Early Education Programs.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the CHIME Institute.

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Amy and Carmella Riley at last year’s CHIMEapalooza. Photo by Christy Cannon.

“I am thrilled to be once again emceeing and helping to create CHIMEapalooza,” Brenneman said. “It is so inspiring to witness the growth of this event and the mission of the CHIME Institute. CHIMEapalooza 2015 will be a wildly entertaining, funny and touching celebration of the vision of CHIME and the miracle of its many successes. There is no place like CHIME, and no event like CHIMEapalooza!”

Tickets are $65 pre-sale or $75 at the door. Ticket prices include a pre-show reception from 6 to 7 p.m., the show from 7 to 9 p.m. and a post-show party. To purchase tickets, visit www.CHIMEapalooza.org.

Established in 1990, the CHIME Institute is a national leader in developing and implementing model educational programs and dynamic research and training environments to disseminate best practices in inclusive education. The institute’s research and training center is housed in California State University Northridge’s Michael D. Eisner College of Education.

The institute began with an early childhood education program based on the CSUN campus. The success of that program, coupled with needs of the community and sound research, prompted a group of parents and CSUN faculty to develop a public charter elementary school in 2001 and a public charter middle school in 2003. The two schools merged into a K-8 school located in Woodland Hills in 2010.

CHIME also serves as a model for educators through its partnerships with the Eisner College and the Los Angeles Unified School District. It facilitates research opportunities and regularly hosts visitors from around the United States and the world who are interested in replicating its successes in their own schools. The institute has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a model for full inclusion of students with disabilities and for providing a blueprint for local schools across the country.

Proceeds from the CHIMEapalooza will go toward supporting inclusive practices in the institute’s early educational programs and charter school. For more information about the CHIME Institute, call (818) 677-4979 or (818) 346-5200 or visit its website www.chimeinstitute.org

Darsan IV: Original Church

January23

For me, the Mona Lisa is a disappointment.

I mean, we’ve seen that poor woman’s visage SO MUCH. We’ve thought about it to death, analyzed her smile, her clothes, and the backdrop. By the time we actually trek through the Louvre to see the original, we’re tired, the way we’re tired of a new acquaintance that all of our other friend have been telling us, for years, that WE’RE GONNA LOVE!

Don’t tell me whom I’m supposed to love. I’m ornery that way.

It didn’t help that we went to the Louvre on Christmas Eve morning, along with the rest of Europe. While we were still suffering from jet lag. Such that we wanted to be in bed sleeping at 9:30 a.m. Not at the Louvre. With the rest of Europe.

We had a great trip, but that morning was our one clusterfuck. I had tried to let my kiddos find their own way in Europe, not museum them to death, not tell them what they were supposed to feel or how grateful they were to be there. And there I was, approaching the Mona Lisa, with not one but two oncoming tantrums, shrieking: “The Mona Lisa is AMAZING! It was painted by Leonardo da Vinci! You are gonna LOVE IT!” My children do not like to be told who or what they are “supposed” to love. The apple does not far from the tree.

I was approaching Stonehenge the same way. I’ve seen too many pictures, I’ve researched it too much, and too many people love it so therefore I will not. Enough with the hype.

But something was different about that day. We drove out of London and onto the Salisbury Plain in frosty drifty air. We were leaving modernity behind. The countryside got more and more impossibly beautiful and still, I tempered my expectations. It’s not going to be as good as the pictures. Calm down, Amy. It’s just a bunch of rocks.

As it has for millennia, it exceeded and defied my expectations. In fact, it left my expectations sputtering in 2015 dust.

In the spirit of seeking darsan, Stonehenge delivered. There is a feeling there, as there has been since 5000 BC. In part it comes from the ingenuity and commitment of the builders (how the f did they…?) in part it comes from the rocks, in part if comes from the spot itself. You simply can’t help but be worshipful and bow down to whatever you call god.

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After learning about all the eras and micro eras that comprise European history – the endless jockeying for power through bloodlines and war, –in which monarchs declared their reign by naming it for themselves, I was struck by the fact that it took (they think) 1500 years to build Stonehenge. 15 centuries. 300 generations. Millions of people decided that this place was worth committing to and that these stones were worth raising. Their collective commitment – beyond sects or bloodline or clan –infuses that spot with stone-age reverence. Beyond language, beyond cult of personality, beyond any one definition of religion. Beyond it all.

We learned that in the Mesolithic period – the Stone Age – folks were buried communally. But when bronze – metal – was discovered, everyone wanted to be buried individually, with his own personal bling. The beginning of velvet ropes at nightclubs, cordoning off those who can afford it. They don’t get to be on the communal dance floor anymore. They may not realize it, but something has been lost.

After the churches in Paris and England – so beautiful yet so politicized – I was grateful to be back at the Original Church, there on the Salisbury Plain. Thanks to my ancestors who raised those beloved rocks. May we modern folks strive to be as committed to the collective as you.

Darsan #3: Surviving St. Paul’s

January20

Back to darsan and seeing the holy/god’s face/feeling the “ah-ha” in the most unlikely of places.

Needless to say, I dragged my children to a ton of churches in Paris, London and Edinburgh over the holidays. In the stones of Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur and St. Paul’s, I stayed alert to feel the Spirit Moving, but it was hard. Bustley tourists made it hard, and so did buried politicians at St. Paul’s. It felt more like a war memorial than a Holy place. The crypt felt better – after all, Blake was buried there.

Beautiful as they are, it’s hard to be in these grand European cathedrals and not feel the church’s bloody history of domination. Hard to think that Jesus would feel at home there; I think of him slapping his swarthy forehead, “Oy vey! What does this have to do with feeding the poor??”

And yet.

Amid the tourists (ourselves included) and the holiday crowd at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, a priest spoke over a microphone. “Excuse me,” he said in an impossibly plummy British accent. “At St. Paul’s we pause once an hour for a moment of prayer. I ask that you stop for a moment to observe that.”

Tourists shuffled, I cocked my ear like a terrier. Could it be? That in this church there was actually going to be some church-business?

He asked us to pause in silence to think about those folks who were struggling, in pain, without shelter or resources. In this grandest of cathedrals, with the whispering gallery soaring above us, some of us ceased our texting and guide booking and tried to do what the man said.

“I’ll be at the side chapel if anyone wants to talk about St. Paul’s or anything else,” he finished up. He sounded like, well, he sounded like a helpful clergy in an actual church.

Imagine that.

After the moment was observed, the tourists (ourselves included) went back to our texting and guide booking. My group moved towards the gift shop and as we went, I saw the priest. Much to the horror of my children, I went up to him. “Thank you for that, “I said, not really knowing what else to say. “That was lovely.”

The priest looked surprised, and suddenly shy. “Oh, great! That’s great! Let me know what else I can do for you and ….. Have a great day.”

Charlotte tugged at me to get to the gift shop. I nodded good-bye to the priest, amazed with his ability to create a holy moment of darsan in the midst of Disneyland.

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