McDonald’s turns up the heat

first_imgMcDonald’s turns up the heatOn 1 Oct 2003 in Personnel Today Head of training Lynn Phillips explains why the rebranding of foodphenomenon McDonald’s brings a massive skills programme in its wakeWalk into a McDonald’s this month and you should notice a difference. RonaldMcDonald is still going strong and so too are the burgers and fries, but nowcustomers can choose from a menu that includes chicken, fish, a choice ofsalads and possibly low-fat yoghurt. What’s more, it’s all being served with asmile. This rebranding, which comes with the slogan ‘I’m lovin’ it’, is part of aworldwide initiative to get the fast-food giant back on track. At the end of last year and for the first time in its history the firm wentinto the red, hit by food scares and changing tastes in family eating. Soworried was the US firm by its falling sales that it wooed its former companypresident Jim Cantalupo back from retirement to help turn the firm around. In addition to its changing menus, McDonald’s is refurbishing itsrestaurants and has launched a global advertising campaign aimed at winningback customers. But such a massive rebranding campaign can not happen withoutinput from the training and HR function. As a result a massive hospitalitytraining programme is about to sweep through the firm’s 1,231 restaurants inthe UK. This is where head of HR and training Lynn Phillips (right), who has beenwith the firm for more than 20 years, comes in. “The fast food industry isnow a completely different place from when I started working here,” shesays. “The whole pattern of people eating out has changed. Perhaps what wehave seen recently at McDonald’s is the result of us not changing quicklyenough.” Phillips started working as a part-time crew member in her local McDonald’swhile still at school. She continued during her gap year between school anduniversity, rising to a first-line supervisor. When she finished her degree inmodern languages she went back to McDonald’s as a management trainee. “I started out in restaurant management, but I had already said that Iwas interested in moving to personnel. It was a very small department then, butafter three or four years McDonald’s found me a job in the personnel team andI’ve been here ever since.” Phillips moved up the ranks until 1995 when she took over as head of HR. Twoyears later she was given responsibility for customer services as well, andearlier this year she became head of training too, reporting to the UK’s chiefoperating officer. “It’s a fantastic opportunity to work closely with the operations partof the business,” Phillips says. “I know that training is a strengthfor us, but I want to see it translated into business results.” McDonald’s decision to bring HR and training under one person meant Phillipscould be intimately involved with early rebranding plans in the UK. “Thissort of global exercise is a first for us although each country does have theautonomy to adapt the global framework to its own needs,” Phillips says. She and her colleagues worked closely with the communications team in thebuild-up to the rebranding, especially when it came to talking to restaurantmanagers about what was happening. “We’ve helped with the content of thesesessions and made sure they were relevant to the management audience,” shesays. In addition they have been pulling together the hospitality trainingprogramme that, by the end of this year, will have cascaded down to the 68,000crew members working in McDonald’s wholly owned and franchised restaurants inthe UK. According to Phillips, the development work really started a year agowhen McDonald’s began rolling out a training programme for restaurant staffcalled ‘out to make you smile’. “From each restaurant we brought together the core team of managers andkey staff into one of our training centres and went through things like customerprofiles, what customers are looking for and the barriers to good service. “The aim was for all these teams to take this information and developtheir own mission statement to take back to their restaurants and instil it inother crew members.” It has proved a highly successful programme, Phillips says. “We’ve useda mystery shopper exercise to measure it and found that the restaurants thatreceived the training were scoring between 3 and 5 per cent higher on servicethan the national and regional averages.” Next generation On the back of this programme, McDonald’s is now running what Phillipsdescribes as the next generation of hospitality training. Called ‘FriendlinessFirst’, the programme will take restaurant management teams off-site to one ofthe firm’s seven regional training centres. There will of course be a video to bring home the purpose and processes ofthe rebranding, but teams will also be encouraged to thrash out the principlesof hospitality, the importance of how they interact with customers and how bothof these apply to the new face of McDonald’s. They will then return to theirrestaurants with a package of training materials to use with crew members and,by the end of 2003, all restaurant employees will have completed FriendlinessFirst. When it comes to what people see in a restaurant, hospitality training iskey, but it’s not just about reinforcing the rebranding, it’s about ratchetingup McDonald’s level of service overall. “The challenge of continuallyimproving service levels has always been there, but our competitors have gotbetter and we have not moved on as fast,” Phillips says. Hospitality It comes back to changes in the fast food business. McDonald’s has built itssuccess on the back of an emphasis on speed and functionality. But what peoplewant now is hospitality, not just service. Hence the current stress onfriendliness and smiling. As well as restoring the fast-food giant’s fortunes, Phillips is hoping thatthe ‘I’m lovin’ it’ rebranding will finally put paid to snide, clichéd remarksabout ‘McJobs’. It’s not a concept that she has ever recognised or understoodbecause, as far as she is concerned, McDonald’s offers some great careeropportunities. “Fifty per cent of our senior managers have been promoted from withinand 75 per cent of our restaurant managers have come up from crew members. Thisis a better track record than any other restaurant chain in the UK,”Phillips says. What’s more McDonald’s in now 29th in the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers.Graduates come for training but often stay because the career opportunities areso good. “We have never aimed to be the highest payer. Our salaries andbenefits are competitive but beyond that it’s about the work we offer,”Phillips says. She blames the McJobs label on the snobbish UK press. “There’s still abig stigma in this country attached to working in the catering or servicesector,” she says. Research from the Work Foundation earlier this year,backs Phillips’ view. It described McDonald’s as one of the “unsung heavylifters at work in the UK economy… who dig deepest into some of the country’smost difficult and marginalised labour markets.” And it praised the firm’straining and development for taking unskilled workers and turning them intohigh-skilled employees. “We took part in the research because we knew we had good things to sayabout ourselves as an employer. We weren’t surprised by the findings but wewere encouraged to see that what we do is valuable,” Phillips says. She believes the key to McDonald’s training strength lies in the fact thatunit managers are so hands-on. “We say that training is everyone’s job, every day – that’s thetraining department’s mission statement,” Phillips says. Blended approach So as well as delivering most of the initial training for new recruits,managers will be there on the floor ready to provide coaching when it’s needed.More experienced crew members are also encouraged to take on the role of buddyor mentor to new and more junior staff. At the same time there is a form ofcurriculum for crew members. So there are check lists of tasks they mustcomplete and standards they should reach, there are work books to ploughthrough and NVQs to work towards. It’s a blended approach that works well forMcDonald’s. As a result the training department is relatively small with only 30 people,including regional training managers. What is more internal trainers have hadoperational experience with many coming on secondment from the front line for twoor three years. It all adds to the department’s success and credibility.”We want our trainers to be able to speak from a position ofknowledge,” Phillips says. As head of both training and HR she sees her role as one of co-ordinator orfacilitator. In many ways she is the glue between McDonald’s people strategyand operations. “My role is about making sure training is working tosupport the business, working with the regions and with other strategic areas.It’s about co-ordinating people and activities,” she says. After 20 years with the firm she cannot imagine being anywhere else.”The thing about this company is that every time I think I’ve gotsomething under my belt they find me a new challenge.” For the next fewmonths at least, that challenge will be getting managers and crew members inthe restaurants geared up for the rebranding and convincing them that ‘I’mlovin’ it’ is really worth it. rials to use with crew members and, by the end of 2003, all restaurantemployees will have completed Friendliness First. When it comes to what people see in a restaurant, hospitality training iskey, but it’s not just about reinforcing the rebranding, it’s about ratchetingup McDonald’s level of service overall. “The challenge of continuallyimproving service levels has always been there, but our competitors have gotbetter and we have not moved on as fast,” Phillips says. Hospitality It comes back to changes in the fast food business. McDonald’s has built itssuccess on the back of an emphasis on speed and functionality. But what peoplewant now is hospitality, not just service. Hence the current stress onfriendliness and smiling. As well as restoring the fast-food giant’s fortunes, Phillips is hoping thatthe ‘I’m lovin’ it’ rebranding will finally put paid to snide, clichéd remarksabout ‘McJobs’. It’s not a concept that she has ever recognised or understoodbecause, as far as she is concerned, McDonald’s offers some great careeropportunities. “Fifty per cent of our senior managers have been promoted from withinand 75 per cent of our restaurant managers have come up from crew members. Thisis a better track record than any other restaurant chain in the UK,”Phillips says. What’s more McDonald’s in now 29th in the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers.Graduates come for training but often stay because the career opportunities areso good. “We have never aimed to be the highest payer. Our salaries andbenefits are competitive but beyond that it’s about the work we offer,”Phillips says. She blames the McJobs label on the snobbish UK press. “There’s still abig stigma in this country attached to working in the catering or servicesector,” she says. Research from the Work Foundation earlier this year,backs Phillips’ view. It described McDonald’s as one of the “unsung heavylifters at work in the UK economy… who dig deepest into some of the country’smost difficult and marginalised labour markets.” And it praised the firm’straining and development for taking unskilled workers and turning them intohigh-skilled employees. “We took part in the research because we knew we had good things to sayabout ourselves as an employer. We weren’t surprised by the findings but wewere encouraged to see that what we do is valuable,” Phillips says. She believes the key to McDonald’s training strength lies in the fact thatunit managers are so hands-on. “We say that training is everyone’s job, every day – that’s thetraining department’s mission statement,” Phillips says. Blended approach So as well as delivering most of the initial training for new recruits,managers will be there on the floor ready to provide coaching when it’s needed.More experienced crew members are also encouraged to take on the role of buddyor mentor to new and more junior staff. At the same time there is a form ofcurriculum for crew members. So there are check lists of tasks they mustcomplete and standards they should reach, there are work books to ploughthrough and NVQs to work towards. It’s a blended approach that works well forMcDonald’s. As a result the training department is relatively small with only 30 people,including regional training managers. What is more internal trainers have hadoperational experience with many coming on secondment from the front line fortwo or three years. It all adds to the department’s success and credibility.”We want our trainers to be able to speak from a position ofknowledge,” Phillips says. As head of both training and HR she sees her role as one of co-ordinator orfacilitator. In many ways she is the glue between McDonald’s people strategyand operations. “My role is about making sure training is working tosupport the business, working with the regions and with other strategic areas.It’s about co-ordinating people and activities,” she says. After 20 years with the firm she cannot imagine being anywhere else.”The thing about this company is that every time I think I’ve gotsomething under my belt they find me a new challenge.” For the next fewmonths at least, that challenge will be getting managers and crew members inthe restaurants geared up for the rebranding and convincing them that ‘I’mlovin’ it’ is really worth it. CVLynn PhilipsMay 03            Head ofHR and training (and customer services)May 97            Head of HR and customerservicesAug 95             Headof HRApr 94             London HR and trainingmanagerApr 90             Regionalpersonnel managerMar 87             Fieldpersonnel officerOct 83             JoinsMcDonald’s as a graduate trainee manager Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Speech: Margot James speech at Radio Festival

first_imgGood afternoon everyone.In this country we are all very blessed with one of the most diverse and vibrant radio sectors in the world.And don’t just take my word for it. Last year, two of the five Grand Awards from the New York International Radio Festivals went to the UK broadcasters.So our radio industry is in great shape.On average, UK listeners consume around a billion hours of radio each week.And the average listener tunes into over twenty hours of live radio every week.It is a time of great change and great opportunity for the UK radio sector. Recent months have seen exciting new stations, like Scala Radio, being created and more ways to listen to audio content than ever before.But this vital industry cannot be complacent. The market is more competitive than ever, with competition from podcasts and music streaming services.Six million people listen to podcasts each week in the UK – and many of them are younger people, who are increasingly seeing podcasts as their default way of getting audio content.Alongside this change in consumption habits, digital advertising is become more prominent, which can create challenges around how to gain value from content.This issue was set out clearly in the recent Cairncross Review into the sustainability of high quality journalism.So we need a concerted effort to keep this important radio industry thriving.And I wanted to use my speech today to set out what Government and industry can do to make this mission a reality.I firmly believe that there is a place for traditional radio.Whatever technological changes may take place, people are still striving for high quality and relevant audio content, with very high production values.Just as in the TV industry we are seeing a revival of hit show moments’ Fleabag and the Bodyguard, the same applies to great radio content too.Such as The thought provoking You, Me and the Big COr last week’s live coverage of Liverpool beating Barcelona in the champion’s league semi-finalRadio stations have always had a real role to play in creating some of the shared moments that help bind our communities together.And last year’s Mental Health Minute was an outstanding example of radio collaborating on a topic that matters to the whole UK but which needs a real and sustained effort from all of us to raise awareness.I am so pleased that the BBC, Commercial Radio and Community Radio have all come together this year to build on last year’s impact.I’m looking forward to seeing the RAJAR results this week to see the impact of the new stations and new formats we have seen in recent months.This is part of a golden period of innovation, with record investment in audio content.And as a Government, we want to support this momentum.We are providing three million pounds to support innovative radio content through the Audio Content Fund.This landmark package of support is designed to unlock the potential of independent production companies to develop innovative and challenging content.It is available for public service radio programming that is traditionally more difficult to support on a commercial basis, including documentaries, comedy, drama and entertainment.This high quality content is what we need to treasure in our radio sector and this fund will help it to reach a wider audience.This means commercial radio will be able to commission high quality programmes that they would want to have on their networks but can’t afford to do day-to-day.And it means production companies can get new outlets for public service content, beyond the BBC.This means more commissions, greater competition and a higher quality of content across the board.I am delighted that former BBC Director of Radio Helen Boaden will be chairing an experienced panel, who can bring to bear their extensive knowledge from across the industry.The first application round closed a few weeks ago and I am delighted that we received 50 bids covering a wide variety of genres.There will be further application rounds in July and October and I hope that those of you who are eligible will be taking part.This is part of a wider programme of support that includes Young Audiences Content Fund of up to 57 million pounds is available for new TV programme for young audiences.But Government support should not only be financial. We also have a responsibility to create the best possible environment for radio broadcasting to thrive.The commercial sector has performed relatively strongly in recent years and has seen growth in terms of both share of listening and revenue from advertising and sponsorship.But this recovery has been against the backdrop of a severe reduction in revenue in the last recession and the slow recovery of commercial revenues.If we are to help the sector adapt to the changing world, we need regulation that is fit for the digital age.Commercial radio remains the most regulated UK media sector and subject to a system of regulation designed for AM and FM radio services in the late 1980s.And this regulation is becoming increasingly out of date and burdensome as analogue radio audiences decline.Digital radio now accounts for more than 52 per cent of all UK radio listening and we need a legislative structure that reflects this change, and gives us flexibility to deal with the change that lies ahead.The rapid growth of digital technologies like digital and online radio, and on-demand audio services like TuneIn, Spotify and Apple Music provide a real challenge to all radio broadcasters but also an opportunity.This has been a spur for the sector to find new ways of attracting and retaining listeners, especially younger audiences.As I am sure you are aware, Ofcom made changes to its localness guidelines last Autumn following the first review since 2009.The changes – which we welcome – will give commercial radio licences more flexibility in how and where they produce their programmes, while ensuring that listeners’ expectations for high quality local news and other content continue to be met.However, I appreciate the strong attachment many people have to local radio and we certainly do not want to see this valuable local content disappear.This is why we have been supportive of new, local stations, whether they are commercial or community based. We have over 280 community stations launched since 2005.We are also responding to a desire expressed by smaller stations and new entrants – to open up access to the terrestrial DAB radio platform -and offer communities a wider choice of radio services on digital.We provided financial support for Ofcom’s technical trials of small scale DAB technology in ten towns and cities, which have been extended until 2020.They have seen around 160 small stations broadcasting on terrestrial DAB and DAB plus for the first time – including in my own area, with Black Country Radio.We consulted industry on detailed proposals for new licensing arrangements for small scale multiplex services last year and received a wide range of considered responses. We published our response to the consultation last October.We have been working hard since then and I am pleased to inform you that – subject to the wider Parliamentary timetable – we intend to bring forward the detailed secondary legislation next month,Ofcom will be consulting on their proposed approach to licensing shortly after this.We have seen considerable interest in these proposals – with Ofcom receiving over 700 expressions of interest. We hope this will be translated into many more community and commercial stations broadcasting on digital, giving listeners an even greater choice of local content.With this work taking place, combined with the BBC’s very welcome commitment to investing in and reinventing its local stations, I am confident that we will have the right balance between national and local in the years ahead.Reaching 50% share of all listening last year was an important milestone in the development of digital radio and for radio as a whole.The package of measures announced by DCMS in December 2013 including improvements to digital radio coverage alongside the investment in content by broadcasters and support from car manufacturers and the supply chain have helped to drive the take up of digital radio by consumers.We said that we would review the progress of digital radio and consider the next steps once the listening threshold had been reached.I had preliminary discussions with representatives from the BBC and commercial radio and industry at a roundtable in March. We also supported an industry workshop in April.It is clear that changes in technology and the competitive landscape in the past 5 years [since December 2013] mean that the debate about a future digital transition programme for radio has shifted.Previously the radio industry’s boundaries were clear: radio was delivered through a bespoke distribution system to a bespoke individual device. But this is no longer the case.Increasingly audio consumption is through hybrid devices that also do a myriad of other useful things – such as smart speakers in home and dashboard info-tainment systems.A consideration about the future of radio can no longer be seen as just a binary decision about a switch from an analogue to a digital broadcast platform.A review must have a much broader focus to reflect the growing challenges arising from IP based audio content delivery and how this affects future decisions on radio distribution.But there is also an opportunity here.For broadcasters and other stakeholders to collectively develop a shared vision for a sustainable vibrant digital audio sector for the UK. And to come up with some tangible steps to achieve the vision.So I can confirm that we will begin a review of digital radio. We will move forward on a programme of work that will begin in a few weeks and conclude by the middle of next year.But in order to be successful it will have to be a collaborative effort.I look forward to working closely with the BBC and commercial radio and with manufacturers, the car industry and others in the radio supply chain over the coming months.Finally, I wanted to end on another subject that is very important to me. Diversity in the UK’s media sectors.Ofcom’s first survey into diversity in the radio industry was published in June, and the findings were extremely striking.It showed that women are under-represented at senior levels, where men make up 81% at Board level.Whilst women are heavily represented in marketing and support roles, they are under-represented in technical or programming roles.Meanwhile, ethnic minorities make up only 6% of staff at the broadcasters that submitted data – compared to 14% of the UK population. This percentage is a lot higher in London and other big cities.Disability was virtually invisible.So there is some way to go to make sure the radio industry represents the variety and diversity that makes up modern Britain.Proper representation is vital to maintaining the trust of different audiences – whether it is on the air or behind the scenes.This isn’t just the right thing to do. It makes good business sense.To know how to evolve to meet the needs of younger, more diverse audiences as they get older; you need to employ them.And provide genuine opportunities for those who have talent but may not yet be the finished product, or might not know the right people.I know there is some excellent work taking place here.Both Global and Bauer have invested in academies aimed at giving young people from diverse backgrounds and communities an opportunity to develop skills and training opening helping access into the media.And in January, the BBC and RadioCentre held a masterclass with Creative Access aimed at young BAME (black, Asian, and minority ethnic) people looking to get into the radio industry.But there is much more that needs to be done. Indeed I would argue that the future success of our radio industry partly depends on how well we tackle the lack of industry diversity.And I will keep advocating for the industry, so we can give this important industry the support it needs.Our vibrant radio sector is an integral part of our daily life and our national discourse.Whatever technological changes lie ahead, we need to make sure we maintain the benefits provided by audio content, and enable the breadth of programming and formats that we currently enjoy.This conference is an important forum to discuss how we can remain ahead of the challenges on the horizon.And how we can work together to make this brilliant sector stronger and more sustainable in the digital age.last_img read more

News story: Government launches Health and Care Visa to ensure UK health and care services have access to the best global talent

first_img We are indebted to overseas health and care professionals for their tremendous contributions, not just in saving thousands of lives throughout this crisis, but for the vital role they play year-round. This new visa is part of our new immigration system making it quicker, cheaper and easier for the best and brightest health and care professionals from around the globe to work in our brilliant NHS. Right across the immigration system the Home Office is already supporting frontline healthcare staff through initiatives such as visa extensions and the creation of the bereavement scheme.The Prime Minister has previously announced that health and social care workers will be permanently exempt from the Immigration Health Surcharge going forward, and Immigration Health Surcharge payments made since 31 March will also be refunded.As part of the launch of the Health and Care Visa, those who apply via the visa and their dependants will be exempt from the Immigration Health Surcharge. The government has already began refunding Immigration Health Surcharge payments for any healthcare professionals on Tier 2 visas who have paid since 31 March 2020, and this process will continue. More information will be published on the Immigration Health Surcharge GOV.UK pages for customers to contact us directly if they believe they are due a refund. The Department of Health and Social Care is currently working with the sector to set up operational arrangements for reimbursing health and social care staff outside the scope of the Health and Care visa. These arrangements will commence from 1 October in 6 month reimbursements.The new Health and Care Visa will apply to eligible roles within the health and care sector. The events of recent months have illustrated just what a crucial role the care sector plays in UK society. The government is working closely with the sector to support and recognise the contributions of care workers. This includes a widespread focus on training and introducing a proper career structure to provide opportunities for those in the sector and makes it an attractive profession for prospective carers.The independent Migration Advisory Committee has been very clear that immigration is not the answer to the challenges in the social care sector and, as we implement the new immigration system, we want employers to focus on investing in our domestic workforce. Our health and care system has always had a proud tradition of welcoming overseas staff to work, train and live in the UK, and I’m proud that the NHS is a destination of choice for talented people from around the world. The unwavering commitment, skill and compassion staff have shown during the fight against this deadly virus is nothing short of phenomenal, and the reimbursement of the immigration health surcharge recognises the enormous contribution of those who have come to the UK to work in health and social care. I’m incredibly proud of our health and care workforce and look forward to welcoming new professionals from across the globe to continue the fantastic work to ensure our health system remains the best in the world. The Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care have today announced the new Health and Care Visa will be launched this Summer, creating a new fast-track visa route for eligible health and care professionals and delivering on a key manifesto commitment.They have also today announced further details on how the exemption to the Immigration Health Surcharge will work for health and care staff, who will now be permanently exempt from this charge.The Home Secretary and Health and Social Care Secretary have together developed the Health and Care Visa to demonstrate the government’s commitment to deliver for the NHS and wider health and care sector. It is designed to make it easier and quicker for the best global health professionals to work in the NHS, for NHS commissioned service providers, and in eligible occupations in the social care sector.The legislation needed to open this new route will be laid in Parliament today and health professionals will be able to apply from August.The new Health and Care Visa will come with a reduced visa application fee compared to that paid by other skilled workers, including exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge. Health and care professionals applying on this route can also expect a decision on whether they can work in the UK within just three weeks, following biometric enrolment. Those working in health and social care who do not qualify for the Health and Care Visa will still be able to claim a reimbursement from the Immigration Health Surcharge if they have paid this on or after 31 March.Home Secretary Priti Patel said: Health and care professionals from all over the world have played a vital role in hospitals and care homes across the country fighting coronavirus. The introduction of the Health and Care Visa follows a number of unprecedented measures to show the UK’s gratitude to health workers from overseas.Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said:last_img read more

HBS announces 2014 Leadership Fellows

first_imgNow in its thirteenth year, the program provides fellows with a one-year position in a nonprofit or public-sector organization where they can make a significant impact. Since 2001, the program has placed 125 fellows with 53 organizations. Participating organizations pay fellows $45,000, and Harvard Business School (HBS) awards fellows $50,000. Throughout the year, fellows also benefit from access to HBS resources and return to campus for networking and professional development events with other fellows.The Leadership Fellows program gives nonprofit and public-sector organizations the opportunity to maximize their effectiveness by leveraging the experience, energy, and analytical skills of graduating MBAs for one year. Fellows apply their expertise to roles where they will produce immediate results and build long-term capacity in the organization. Leadership Fellows Program organizations are selected each year by an HBS steering committee of faculty and staff.More than 90 percent of fellows receive an offer to stay at the organization that initially employed them. Approximately one-third of the program’s alumni are still at that organization, while one-third have moved into other social enterprise roles, and one-third have joined the for-profit sector. For more information, visit the HBS Leadership Fellows Program website. Read Full Storylast_img read more

Natural Woman! Cassidy Janson Set for London’s Beautiful

first_img View Comments Some kind of wonderful news for Cassidy Janson, who will take over for Katie Brayben in the titular role in the West End production of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. Diane Keen will also board the cast as Genie Klein, King’s mother, stepping in for Glynis Barber. The pair will begin performances on November 30.Janson was a member of the original London cast of Wicked and played standby Elphaba. Her additional stage credits include Dessa Rose, Candide, Tick Tick Boom, Lend Me a Tenor, Company and Avenue Q. Janson has been seen on screen in Sweeney!, Thirteen at Dinner, Silverdream Racer, The Hike, Tail’s End, Day Trip to London, Full Circle and Coma. Keen’s multiple TV and film credits include Rings On Their Fingers, You Must be the Husband, Foxy Lady, Doctors, Brookside and New Tricks. On stage she has been seen in productions including Same Time Next Year, Ladybird, The Vagina Monologues, Small Hand and You’re Never Too Old.Featuring songs written by Gerry Goffin, Carole King, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and a book by Douglas McGrath, Beautiful tells the story of King from her early days as a Brooklyn teenager (named Carol Klein) struggling to enter the record business to her years spent as a chart-topping music legend.Alan Morrissey will continue as Gerry Goffin, along with Lorna Want as Cynthia Weil, Ian McIntosh as Barry Mann and Gary Trainor as Don Kirshner.The Broadway production continues its run at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.last_img read more

Joshua Jackson & More Set for Smart People Off-Broadway

first_img View Comments Related Shows Show Closed This production ended its run on March 6, 2016 Smart People This off-Broadway show is getting more intriguing by the second. Stellar names Joshua Jackson, Mahershala Ali, Anne Son and Tessa Thompson have been tapped for Lydia R. Diamond’s Smart People. The previously reported New York premiere production, helmed by Tony winner Kenny Leon (The Wiz Live!), will begin previews on January 26, 2016. Opening night is set for February 11 at Second Stage Theatre’s Tony Kiser Theatre.Jackson has appeared in the West End in A Life in the Theatre. Currently seen on screen in The Affair, his TV and film resume includes Fringe and Dawson’s Creek. Ali is familiar to many as lobbyist Remy Danton on House of Cards. Other screen credits include The Hunger Games series. Son was a series regular on My Generation; off-Broadway credits include The Trojan Women and The Crucible. Thomson was most recently seen as civil rights activist Diane Nash in Selma; other film credits include Dear White People and For Colored Girls.The quest for love, achievement and identity is universal, but what role does race play in the story of our lives? On the eve of Obama’s first election, four Harvard intellectuals find themselves entangled in a complex web of social and sexual politics.Smart People will feature scenic design by Riccardo Hernandez, with costume design by Paul Tazewell, sound design by Nevin Steinberg, lighting design by Jason Lyons and projection design by Zach Borovay.There’s also been an update on the eagerly anticipated new musical Dear Evan Hansen. Featuring music by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, book by Steven Levenson, and directed by Michael Greif, the production’s first preview date at Second Stage has been set for March 25, 2016. We will be there!last_img read more

Valentine’s Day Plant

first_imgWalking down the long Crape Myrtle Allée at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm, you’ll see several large, Vietnamese glazed pots filled with cool-season flowers. For this to be the first week in February, they are looking rather impressive thanks to what may be the perfect Valentine’s Day plant, the Persian cyclamen. Just thinking about Valentine’s Day used to give me the shudders. Now, three cyclamen in a basket and a nice dinner at a Savannah, Georgia, restaurant, and I am home free.You cannot beat the number of flowers it produces or its long period of bloom. Cyclamen comes in the traditional Valentine’s Day colors of red, pink and white, and the shades of purple and lavender will leave her mesmerized. If that were not enough, consider that the plant’s incredibly striking leaves are heart-shaped.Cyclamen is one example of a plant whose foliage contributes significantly to the plant’s beauty. Most cyclamen, you see, have some pattern of silver or gray variegation in those heart-shaped leaves. Another thing I like about the cyclamen is its ability to tolerate cool conditions. Cyclamen loves temperatures from 40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. That is the average outdoor temperature range during much of the late winter and spring. This means the pot near the front door where a geranium bloomed all summer can now be filled with cyclamen.Most plant-lovers think about using them indoors, but I urge you to be bold and use them outdoors too, like we are. We have them partnered with various shades of fragrant dianthus and a touch of variegated lamium. Try them in containers, window boxes and even baskets. Don’t skimp and buy the bargain heavy potting soil, but instead use a good, lightweight soil mix. This will pay dividends because, with a little care, your cyclamen will still be blooming as spring arrives.Keep the cyclamen evenly moist, but never soggy. When watering, I like to use a little can with a spout to place the water around the edge of the container without watering the crown or center of the plant directly. If bone-chilling temperatures are in the forecast, simply tuck your container inside for a day.The cyclamen will certainly last longer than cut flowers. Try a mix of three differing colors in a decorative container or basket, add a fine dinner at her favorite restaurant, turn on the charm that stole her heart and you’ll be in great shape for Valentine’s Day.Follow me on Twitter @CGBGgardenguru. For more information about the UGA Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm, go to www.coastalgeorgiabg.org.last_img read more

Cristiane Pilon

first_imgPhysiologist Cristiane Pilon is the newest member of the University of Georgia Peanut Team. Her expertise in the physiological processes of the peanut plant and management of the plant’s stress levels will equip Georgia farmers with tools to produce an even better crop.Pilon joined the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences March 1 and is based on the UGA Tifton campus. She works with fellow peanut team members to answer the questions they are fielding from Georgia’s peanut producers.“The peanut team needed a physiologist here to try to help manage one of the state’s high-value row crops. They had general agronomists, breeders, entomologists, all of whom have general areas of expertise for peanuts, but a physiologist was needed to help answer other questions,” Pilon said.She views drought as one of the main problems that Georgia peanut farmers face, especially because half of the state’s peanut crop is produced in nonirrigated fields. Last year’s drought, which spanned a couple of months in late summer and early fall, led to low yields for much of Georgia’s peanut crop.Drought conditions can make aflatoxin problems worse. “When that happens, one big problem leads to another,” Pilon said.The carcinogen aflatoxin becomes more prevalent when a peanut plant undergoes drought and heat stress. The presence of aflatoxin, even on just one peanut, can severely downgrade a peanut load.Pilon will study the physiological and metabolic processes of peanut plants and identify how the plants respond to stress conditions such as drought, high temperatures, insect and disease pressures, especially pressure from the tomato spotted wilt virus.“There are several physiological processes involved in the growth and development of peanut plants that contribute to productivity,” Pilon said. “Our goal is to understand those processes and how we can manage the crop to improve tolerance to stresses and achieve high productivity. Then, information obtained from our research can be relayed to Georgia’s growers by the peanut team.”UGA Cooperative Extension peanut agronomist Scott Monfort believes Pilon’s expertise will serve Georgia well.“Peanuts are a high-value crop in Georgia, so it’s incredibly important to have a row crop physiologist like Cristiane Pilon working at UGA. She is already helping our peanut team members understand and grasp the inner workings of the peanut plant,” Monfort said. “If we know how much drought and extreme temperatures a peanut plant can tolerate, we can convey that information to our growers.”A native of Brazil, Pilon received her doctorate in cotton physiology from the University of Arkansas.At UGA, Pilon’s primary focus will be peanuts, a crop that Georgia farmers are expected to dedicate more than 700,000 acres to this year. Pilon said that Georgia producers depend on the collaborative effort of the peanut team to navigate what’s estimated to be a huge crop.“Whether I’m talking to Extension agents and specialists or other researchers, we’re trying to figure out what our main needs are for the crop, then set up experiments to try to answer those questions so the growers can increase yields,” Pilon said. “That’s why our responsibilities are so important. We are all serving Georgia’s peanut growers.”Georgia’s peanut industry recorded more than $684.6 million in farm gate value in 2015, according to the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development.last_img read more

Convicted Molester Sentenced To Twelve Years

first_imgA former Aurora man has been sentenced after he pled guilty to two counts of child molesting.Cornelio Salinas, 40, was sentenced to 12 years in prison and 18 years of probation in Dearborn County Circuit Court on Friday, Feb. 14. According to sentencing information, he will also have to register as a lifetime sexual offender.He could be out much earlier due to the time he has already served in jail. He was credited with 1,026 days good time served.He was arrested in September 2012 after an investigation that he allegedly molested a young girl between 2000 and 2002.last_img read more

Saturday almost had it all at Shawano

first_imgJoey Taycher won for the first time in his IMCA Modified career Saturday at Shawano Speedway. (Photo by A and H Photos)By Scott OwenSHAWANO, Wis. (June 10) — One night removed from a full moon, the Shawano Speedway al­most had it all … a nasty wreck, a first-time winner, sweet redemption following a nasty wreck and drivers coming from deep in the field.Joey Taycher got soaked in victory lane after his first career IMCA Modified victory. Travis Van Straten won his fourth local IMCA Sunoco Stock Car feature of the season and Jason Ebert won his first Karl Chevrolet Northern SportMod feature of the season.The IMCA Modified feature got off to a scary start as more than half the field was involved in a wreck at the end of the back straight away. Lance Arneson rolled multiple times before his car came to rest on its side. All drivers were okay though numerous cars were eliminated from action.Once the race got going again, Taycher and Matt McDermid raced side-by-side for the top spot before Taycher pulled ahead. Taycher led the rest of the race for his first career win in the divi­sion. McDermid held on to finish a strong second in only his third night back after a seven-year hiatus. Seventy-six-year young Jerry Muenster continues to amaze after a third place finish.Luke Uttecht led early in the IMCA Stock Car feature as Van Straten quickly raced to se­cond. Van Straten and Justin Jacobsen passed Uttecht to begin a battle for the lead. As the laps clicked away, Jacobsen made numerous attempts to find a way around Van Straten. Jacobsen tried the high line right on the wall and the low line right on the barrels, but to no avail. Van Straten held on to win the race, his fourth in a row. Dan Michonski came from 15th to finish third.The Northern SportMod feature was led early by Tyler Thiex but Ebert quickly moved to the front. Ebert led the rest of the way fending off a late charge by Lucas Lamberies for the win. For Ebert, it was sweet redemption after a nasty wreck a few weeks back. Lamberies, fresh off a big win in Davenport, Iowa the previous night, came from 18th to finish second. Jordan Barkholtz took third.last_img read more