Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Milwaukee Group Wants to Bronze the Fonz

MILWAUKEE (AP) - The Fonz in bronze? It could happen. Visit Milwaukee, a group that promotes the city as a tourism and convention destination, is leading an effort to raise money for a bronze sculpture of the character played by Henry Winkler on TV's "Happy Days," which was set in Milwaukee.

Some $45,000 has been raised toward a goal of $85,000 to commission the statue.

"It's an honor," says Winkler. "But it is so bizarre to think there should be a statue."

"If it helps the city, a city that has been so supportive and warm to me over the years, then I am so OK with it," the 61-year-old actor says.

Winkler played Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli on the family comedy, which aired from 1974 to 1984. The series also starred Ron Howard, Marion Ross, Tom Bosley and Erin Moran.

Visit Milwaukee is confident the statue will be unveiled next year, says Dave Fantle, vice president of public relations for the nonprofit group.

Fantle says the dedication ceremony would draw media attention to Milwaukee, and the sculpture would provide another tourism draw.

"This is a statue of a TV icon who remains the epitome of cool," he said.

Winkler said he would be willing to come to Milwaukee for the statue's dedication.

TV Land, a cable network that airs reruns of vintage shows, has donated six statues commemorating memorable TV events or characters to various cities, starting in 2000 with a statue of Ralph Kramden, Jackie Gleason's character on "The Honeymooners," which was given to the city of New York.

But TV Land isn't planning to donate any more statues and is re-evaluating the program, said network spokeswoman Jennifer Zaldivar.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Business Journal of Milwaukee

A new basketball tournament featuring four traditionally all-black colleges will play in Milwaukee during Thanksgiving weekend.

The "Fresh Coast Basketball Classic," using a term dubbed by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, will be held in Milwaukee Nov. 23-24. It will feature a matchup of Dillard University, of Louisiana; Langston University, of Oklahoma; Lane College, of Tennessee; and Central State, of Ohio.

Harley-Davidson Inc. and Manpower Inc. are the primary sponsors of the event. The event will be held at the Midwest Airlines Center and the U.S. Cellular Arena in downtown Milwaukee. It will include other entertainment and events, such as a slam dunk contest, a college recruitment fair and a career fair for young people.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


A polling memo on a survey commissioned by Progressive Majority Wisconsin pegs Milwaukee County Exec. Scott Walker's re-election support below 50 percent and suggests he is vulnerable to a challenge. But Walker’s campaign says the poll may mean little.

The poll, conducted by the Democratic polling firm Forward Strategies, showed 43 percent of likely voters support Walker for re-election, down from 64 percent in January 2004. The poll also showed that 58 percent of voters though the county is on the wrong track, compared to 23 percent who felt that way in 2004.

“Walker has fallen below the key value of 50 percent, even against an unnamed opponent, suggesting the county executive could be very vulnerable to a challenge in the next election,” the poll summary said.

The poll of 400 Milwaukee voters was conducted from Aug. 13 to Aug. 16 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Walker campaign chair Tim Russell said that without seeing the whole poll, it’s difficult to assess whether leading questions were asked pertaining to Walker and the direction of county government. Russell said that even if the poll was conducted fairly, it followed a run of negative stories regarding a pension buyback program that could have affected people’s opinions.

“There wasn’t at the same time any positive or countervailing media that showed the great things are going on in Milwaukee County,” Russell said. “Perhaps that’s a more accurate representation of one point in time.”

Russell noted that the results were compared with a survey in 2004, when people were paying attention to the race and Walker had an identified opponent in David Riemer.

“I think in the end, if you get a real candidate out there, not some nebulous, fantasy candidate, I think you’ll see the executive’s numbers do much differently,” Russell said.

Russell said the campaign hasn’t done any of its own polling recently, but expects to do some between now and the end of the year. “I’m confident that we’ll see much different numbers than that,” he said.

But Russell said the only poll that matters will be at the ballot box, should Walker decide to run.

“In the end, the only poll that counts will be taken in April and that’s the one that I’m confident the county executive will win,” Russell said.

Although commissioned by a progressive interest group, a Democratic Party insider said the poll is a “real poll” and described the below-50 percent mark as “a really bad place to be” for Walker.

The source also said voting patterns and demographic shifts spell bad news for Walker, noting that Democrats are strong in Shorewood and Whitefish Bay and are gaining ground in the southern suburbs.

“Democrats are spreading out, and that's bad news for Scott Walker,” the source said.

Among those considering a potential bid are Sen. Lena Taylor, Rep. Jon Richards and Milwaukee Ald. Mike D'Amato. Both Richards and Taylor expressed satisfaction with their current posts in previous interviews with WisPolitics, and the Democratic source said that while both would be strong opponents, it is questionable whether they will run.

Milwaukee County Sup. John Weishan said he's also considering a bid, but is waiting to see which progressive candidates emerge that he may decide to support.

“I'm not interested in having a real ugly primary with somebody.” Weishan said. “Milwaukee County needs for us to get together on the progressive side of the issues.

“Once those people on the more progressive side kind of get together and decide what's going to happen, I'll be more than willing to work with whomever they want to put up.”

Joe Klein, who ran for the post in the 2004 election and failed to make it through the primary, said he’d file papers by Aug. 27 if no candidate emerged. Klein has yet to do that, but said today it’s likely he will file soon.

The Democratic source pegged D'Amato as a particularly strong opponent, noting that he's young, ambitious and already has a considerable campaign war chest as well as a strong base on the east side.

To run, D’Amato would have to give up his seat on the Common Council, but the source said the recent polling data could provide the extra push to influence D'Amato's decision and that he could be at a point in his political career where he'd like to “move up or out.”

Even with $146,993 in his campaign fund as of June 30, he'd have to raise considerable funds to compete with the $414,572 in Walker’s war chest.

Both Walker's campaign and the Democratic source have noted that money could be raised quickly for the race. Both pointed to David Riemer being able to raise more than $500,000 after his late start in 2003.

The Dem source said that although it's not too late, the clock is ticking.

“A month from now, it's starting to get too late,” the source said.

View the poll memo

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


The mission of the non-profit Milwaukee International Film Festival (MIFF) is to present quality, thought-provoking films from around the world and here in the Midwest. Education is an integral part of that mission. MIFF's educational objective is to promote understanding between individuals and social groups across the barriers of language, culture, ethnicity and religion.

The main initiative of MIFF's Midwest Filmmaker Competition is to promote and develop Milwaukee as the independent filmmaking center of the Midwest.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Edwardo's Natural Pizza has closed the location at 700 E. Kilbourn Ave.

A recorded message says the restaurant has lost its lease.

There is still a location in Wauwatosa, on Blue Mound Road.

Director: Milwaukee a fresh alternative for Hollywood

Business Journal of Milwaukee

The director of a new television series set in Milwaukee said he would like his cast and crew to return here to shoot scenes for future episodes.

Actors Lou Diamond Phillips, Billy Burke and a crew for an NBC series with the working title "The Watch" are in Milwaukee for three days shooting at outdoor locations for a pilot episode. They took a break from their work this morning to participate in a press conference at O'Donnell Park at the lakefront. Also present were politicians, tourism officials and supporters of the Wisconsin TV and film industry.

"The Watch," which revolves around a suburban neighborhood watch group gone awry, is scheduled to debut in February 2008 with an initial run of 12 to 13 episodes, said director Charles McDougall, whose credits include "Desperate Housewives."

A majority of scenes will be filmed at indoor sound stages in the Los Angeles area.

McDougall said that 90 percent of TV series tape and film outdoor scenes in the Los Angeles area and all the locations there have become overexposed with viewers. He said he hopes to explore Milwaukee as a fresh alternative.

"I'd rather shoot here," he said.

Pete Schindler, vice president of production with Sony Pictures, which is producing the series for NBC, said the return of "The Watch" crew will depend on financial incentives from the state and the presence of a larger sound stage in the Milwaukee area.

The incentives are scheduled to start in January 2008 under the Film Wisconsin legislation that is designed to encourage the development of the film, television, TV commercial and video game industries in the state.

"That's how you compete with Toronto," he said, referring to the Canadian city that's the backdrop for many TV shows and movies.

In the meantime, VISIT Milwaukee, the local convention and visitors bureau, established a $100,000 fund for productions that are conducted prior to the state incentives. "The Watch" is receiving about $25,000 from the VISIT Milwaukee fund, said CEO Doug Neilson.

Schindler said the television series will need an indoor sound stage of at least 12,000 square feet, and preferably as large as 20,000 square feet.

Scott Robbe, executive director of Film Wisconsin, a private Milwaukee company supporting the industry in the state, said plans are under way to create a sound stage of that size in the area. He didn't identify who was creating the sound stage or where.

"The Watch" is employing a crew of 40, mostly from the Milwaukee and Chicago areas with some Los Angeles staffers.

Lou Diamond Phillips and Billy Burke were in scenes in the downtown area and along the lakefront.

Friday, January 26, 2007


The City of Milwaukee turns 161 years old this year, and the Milwaukee Press Club has teamed up with local businesses and organizations to host its annual celebration Jan. 31.

This year’s theme for the party is “Legends of Milwaukee,” which seeks to celebrate individuals who have made significant contributions to Milwaukee.

The public is invited to vote online for the “legends” in eight categories: sports, media, entertainment, business, government/politics/civic, founders, community enrichment/philanthropy and icons. Voting ends Jan. 26.

To place votes visit:

The party is to be held at the Milwaukee Public Museum from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Winners of the contest will be announced at the party by Milwaukee historian John Gurda. A fee of $25 includes food, complimentary Miller and Sprecher products, birthday cake, a cash bar and live entertainment.

For more information, visit:


To the surprise of few, Midwest Air Group Inc. board today turned down an AirTran Holdings offer of $13.25 a share and unanimously recommended that its shareholders also reject the bid.

Tim Hoeksema, Midwest’s chairman and president, said AirTran’s latest offer continues to undervalue Midwest and that selling to Florida-based AirTran would be wrong because Midwest is beginning to grow again after five years of struggles.

"It's no wonder AirTran thinks Midwest is a good company to buy,” he said. “We think we are a great company for our shareholders to own."

But he said the offer was “opportunistic and inadequate.”

Spurned yet again, AirTran CEO Joseph Leonard reacted angrily, charging that the Midwest board had “unilaterally rejected” what it termed a strong offer. Leonard urged Midwest shareholders to pressure the board and tender their shares.

Hoeksema said he remains cool to an offer by AirTran officials to sit down and talk.

“You have to remember that AirTran is a competitor,” Hoeksema said. “To bring them in and open up our books and show them all of our competitive information is something that is of concern to us.”

Hoeksema pointed to an offer last year by AirTran for $4.50 per share.

“You think we should have taken a lot of time, diverted our attention from other things … and open up our books to them for a $4.50 offer when our stock in the last 12 months has gone up 167 percent?” asked Hoeksema.

Hoeksema contrasted AirTran’s record with its own, saying Midwest provides a competitive, yet differentiated product, that AirTran has cut back service to smaller markets it once served and said AirTran has not been profitable.

“AirTran lacks long-term commitment to new markets,” Hoeksema said. “We’ve been committed to this market for 22 years, we continue to grow here and we are committed to this community.”

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