Monday, December 12, 2011

David Gergen Review

Our second engagement of the season also proved to be very successful. As is to be expected with a political speaker, some of our patron feedback displayed discontent with Gergen and his viewpoints. However, most of our patrons who didn’t necessarily agree with his political stance on certain issues nevertheless enjoyed him as a very engaging speaker.

I think his opening anecdote about the talking frog was the perfect way to start off his speech. Although I’m sure I could be swayed by the promise of a handsome prince, it’s important that we learn to look at things from different perspectives. An extended cheesy metaphor of Mr. Gergen’s point – one man’s trash is another man’s treasure kind of feeling. The same goes for politics – what one person thinks to be the cat’s pajamas, another thinks to be hell on earth. It’s important that we realize that there are all kinds of opinions; it just depends on someone’s perspective. And judging by our patron feedback, most people appreciated Mr. Gergen’s presentation, even if they might not align with his political philosophies.

I especially appreciated that his speech ended on a positive note: although the outlook in the near future might be grim, he’s confident that America will bounce back. A little optimism is good for all of us.

And as with Mr. McCullough, Mr. Gergen was an absolute delight to work with. And he taught us that George Clooney is apparently never to be trusted. I’d say we’re two for two now.

The following illustrates how patrons felt about the David Gergen engagement:


Lecture: 4.5
Q&A: 4.1
Moderator: 4.1
Lighting: 4.3
Acoustics: 4.3
Overall: 4.3

94% of audience polled felt the engagement was "money well spent".

89% of audience polled felt the night met their expectations.

Comments from our patrons:

“Mr. Gergen represents the best of the political class of commentator – intellectually curious, philosophically fair, realistic about our problems but steadfastly optimistic about the future.”

“Outstanding! One of the best speakers ever. I loved that Mr. Gergen actually gave opinions and assessments of people instead of waltzing around in the politically correct way. His comments gave me a lot to think about.”

“Have appreciated and respected David's balanced approach to his political commentary for years, and thoroughly appreciated his thoughtful, serious societal/economic/political/historical insights, leavened with his delightful wit.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

David McCullough Review

What a success we had for our first engagement of our 2011-2012 season! This being our first year running the Series, I was cautiously optimistic about how the evening would turn out. In my opinion, and also judging by patron feedback, the evening exceeded my expectations. I’d like to thank everyone for their kind words and for warmly welcoming us to the Series.

As far as David McCullough’s lecture, overall I thought he was very interesting and extremely charismatic. I especially related to his viewpoint on the future of education, emphasizing the importance of teachers and especially of learning history. He made me want to read more, to learn more. And judging by multiple patron comments, he had that effect on quite a few people in the audience.

Everyone seemed to agree that McCullough’s enthusiasm in his presentation gave way to (for lack of a better word) catchphrases of the evening, including “history doesn’t have to be boring” and “there is no such thing as a foreseeable future”; both of which I have repeated to friends who didn’t attend the engagement. I also couldn’t agree more with patrons that the Q&A session was clearly the most exciting part of the evening – I too will be on the lookout for a Royal typewriter.

I couldn’t have asked for a better kick-off speaker. He was not only warm and charming onstage, but he was even more so backstage (if you can believe it). I hope they are all this enjoyable to work with. And when things start to get complicated, I will always remember to look at my fish.

The following illustrates how patrons felt about the David McCullough engagement:

(1= Low / 5= High)

Lecture 4.5

Q&A 4.7

Moderator 4.5

Lighting 4.4

Acoustics 4.5

94% of audience polled felt the engagement was "money well spent".

88% of audience polled felt the night met their expectations.

Comments from the patrons:

“Mr. McCullough was a very engaging speaker and I appreciated his insights into the history of our nation as well as his experience of researching and putting together a book.”

“The engagement exceeded our expectations. We found ourselves jotting down comments, quotes and themes after we had left the engagement.”

“David McCullough is a great story teller and I appreciated his praise of the teaching profession. He understands how testing and “No Child Left Behind” legislation has changed the priorities in the classroom.”

“He was amazing! I LOVED HIM! What a fantastic evening. He is SO knowledgeable, so relaxed and passionate. I left feeling real good and inspired. He used no notes, stood in the middle of the stage and could have talked all night; he was so full of knowledge! Thanks for bringing him-I hope to hear him again! Just fantastic!”

Friday, October 7, 2011

David Gergen Goes to Italy

Did you know that David Gergen was political advisor to FOUR U.S. Presidents? Maybe. But I bet you didn't know that when Gergen went to Italy to interview George Clooney, they did a little bit more than discuss politics.

See how Gergen describes his (literal) romp in Lake Como by clicking here.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Richard Roeper Talks About Film, Jobs, And Social Media

Richard Roeper: occupation: film critic extraordinaire, with an interest in being a rodeo clown?

Richard Roeper sits down with Rachel Gillman and discusses topics about his life as a media personality, to social media's impact in modern society, to his aspirations in another interesting field of occupation.

Find out more about Richard Roeper in this article:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Peter Greenberg's Sweet New Post

Still not sure if you're excited to see Peter Greenberg? Well you may have more in common than you think. Besides going gaga for travel, it looks like he has a sweet tooth, or, more specifically, is a (gasp!) chocolate lover!

In a recent Travel Tip, Greenberg told us which travel destinations have the best chocolate hotel treats. From England to Italy to St. Lucia and finally to our very own Hershey, Pennsylvania, Greenberg knows where these gems lie.

To read the article, click here.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Lisa Ling Among Latest Celebrities to Take "Hollywood Pledge"

This week our own Sacramento native and final speaker in our upcoming season, Lisa Ling, became one of the latest celebrities to take the "Hollywood Pledge".

According to, this Pledge is a "philanthropy campaign led by the Give Back Hollywood Foundation and inspired by Bill Gates & Warren Buffett's Giving Pledge. The "Hollywood Pledge" and its companion website unites celebrity philanthropists and serves as a convenient way for them to promote the charities and causes they are most passionate about."

Fans of the celebrites are also encouraged to give back. Check the website to see if your favorite stars are on there, and see how you can contribute. Click here to read the rest of this article.

Monday, June 20, 2011

David McCullough interviewed by WSJ

David McCullough, the kick-off speaker to our 2011-2012 season was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal this past weekend. Following the release of the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress, McCullough had a few comments on what makes the youth of America "historically illiterate" and some ideas on how to change it.

He says that we've been teaching history poorly. He blames teachers, methods, and textbooks, but also notes that "Teachers are the most important people in our society."

To find out what else McCullough said, including a look into the reasons he wrote his new book, "The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris", please click here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Condoleezza Rice Stresses the Importance of Freedom

Our 3rd and probably most well-known speaker of the 2011-2012 season was in the news recently.

In a conference hosted by the George W. Bush Institute two weeks ago, Rice spoke about reforms in the Mideast.

She said that "the message should be freedom is always worth it."

To read more of this article click here.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Gergen Celebrates Teach for America

Our 2011-2012 season speaker, David Gergen, was in the news last week.

He was the main speaker at the first ever "Path to Empowerment" lunch put on by Teach for America. Gergen serves on the national board of TFA and has said that the program "holds out hope for helping low-income and minority students achieve at the same level as white and middle-class peers - and for American to catch up with other nations on education."

However, TFA is controversial among some teachers. Why? Click here to find out.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

John Hofmeister Review

While the feedback from patrons on the John Hofmeister lecture was somewhat varied based on one's political affiliation and belief system, everyone in attendance agreed positively on one subject: his passion.

In producing this series for over five plus seasons, I cannot remember any other speaker orating with such passion and verve. His energy and passion toward his belief for energy policy reform was felt all throughout the theater. From time to time, our distinguished guests are accused of "leaning on their celebrity", "mailing it in", or "not taking a stand". From my own viewpoint, Mr. Hofmeister not only took a stand; he wouldn't leave it for the 90 minutes he was on stage.

In the end, you may not have agreed with everything he said, but his sobering talk about energy use, policy, and conservation hopefully opened your eyes and made you think and question your thought process.

At any rate, the following illustrates how patrons felt about the John Hofmeister engagement:

(1= Low / 5= High)

Overall Experience 4.4

Lecture 4.3

Q&A 4.4

Lighting 4.4

Acoustics 4.6

88% of audience polled felt the engagement was "money well spent".

92% of audience polled felt the night met their expectations.

Comments from the patrons:

"Disappointing rehash of old familiar facts. Any well read news and current events junkie like myself already knew most of his "facts." Pretty much what I should have expected from a career rip off artist from a rip off industry."

"As a fairly liberal minded person & believer in Global Warming etc. It was good to hear the issues from a different perspective. I think he presented his case well."

"Wow, what a remarkable speaker - so much pragmatic knowledge about such an important topic, very effectively communicated. Great stuff, I learned a lot. Hopefully those who came in close-minded opened their minds a bit during the talk."

"ALL of us thought he was great. It was very encouraging to see that there is someone willing to tilt against the Washington Windmills and try to get the US to develop an energy policy that produces rather than prevents energy generation. I am very glad you had him on."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tom Brokaw Shines

There is a working theory inside the "Lecture Series" industry in "booking" a season line-up that generally holds true: book the big names to attract new customers and book "high content" speakers to renew subscribers. Based on the patron feedback from our Tom Brokaw engagement, our season "anchor" seemed to prove the theory wrong!!

It is extremely refreshing to see a BIG name come to Sacramento and over deliver and leave patrons with a rich and overly positive experience.

Very little to add to the patron remarks (below). Mr. Brokaw was a true class act; very engaging, interested, and willing to make the evening special for all involved.

At any rate, below details how the collective voice of the patrons judged the engagement, followed by some quotes from individual attendees; all judged on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being the best / 1 being the worst)

Overall Engagement 4.8 (highest of season)

Lecture 4.8 (highest of the season)

Q&A 4.6 (highest of the season)

Lighting 4.3 (highest of season)

Acoustics 4.5 (highest of the season)

98% suggested it was "money well spent" (highest of the season)

97% suggested the engagement met their expectations (highest of the season)

"Best one EVER!!!!!!!!! worth the whole speaker series just to see him. BRILLIANT man, great poise and grace. GREAT ability to speak in an easy listening tone. And the scope and variety of topics that he talked about was amazing.He is HOPEFUL and POSITIVE even after all he has seen in his life. Made me want him for MY friend,VERY inspiring.FABULOUS."

"We thought Tom had such interesting stories, I would have wanted to listen to him for hours. He is a true gentleman. He did not speak for the left or the right which I liked. Journalists should remain neutral and not lean or favor right or left."

"Superb speaker, statesman-like. Mr. Brokaw obviously understands his unique place at the intersection of reporter and celebrity."

"I found parts of Mr. Brokaw's lecture and Q&A lacking. The media is so entrenched in the system, they don't see the forest for the trees. Journalists need to take more responsibility for the tremendous power or persuasion they possess. They need to challenge lies and demand direct answers, not talking points."

"I was struck by the way Mr. Brokaw led us in laughter and then suddenly brought us to listen and look at ourselves, our country, and the way our future will depend on the way we treat each other. I especially was struck by his ending hope that we will live up to our children's and grandchildren's expectations. Thank you for bringing him to us."