Five reasons to visit Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo-Skytree

LMG has rounded up the best of Tokyo, Japan for our friends over at Newswhistle.com, a website covering the latest news and tips from around the world.

After a setback from the natural and nuclear disasters of 2011, tourism has rebounded in Japan’s capital Tokyo.

The renewed surge of visitors is being partly attributed to Tokyo’s successful bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to bulk up the economy.

This sprawling and marvelous metropolis brings high-tech gadgets and visions of the future together with glimpses of old Japan. Tokyo has something for everyone.

1. City Views

The Tokyo Skytree, which is approximately twice the height of the Eiffel Tower, is the tallest tower in the world and second tallest structure in the world.

The Skytree has two enclosed observation decks which offer spectacular views over Tokyo. One of the observation decks contains the Tembo Gallery.  Dubbed “the world’s highest skywalk”, the Tembo Gallery consists of a sloping spiral ramp that gains height as it circles the tower. It allows visitors to look over the Kanto Region to spectacular distances. You can also enjoy a sky-high meal at the Musashi Sky Restaurant, which serves French-Japanese fusion cuisine.

Another fantastic option is the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, a 54-story high skyscraper that houses companies like Google Japan, Pokemon, and The Mori Art Museum. The gorgeous observation deck offers a breathtaking 360-degree view of the city skyline, and the Sky Deck/helicopter pad on the roof of the building is the only open-air observation deck in the city.

Or you can live like Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation and stay at the Park Hyatt Hotel in the Shinjuku Park Tower, where the 2003 hit film was set.  The Hotel is an elegant oasis of space and calm overlooking Tokyo and the Kanto Plain all the way to Mount Fuji.

For more information visit www.tokyo-skytree.jp/en/, www.roppongihills.com/ or tokyo.park.hyatt.com/en/hotel/

2. Sukiyabashi Jiro Restaurant

The famed three-star Micheln restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo is owned and operated by sushi master Jiro Ono, who became internationally known after the 2011 documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

The fascinating documentary by David Gelb, which showed at Tribeca Film Festival and is available to stream on Netflix now, follows 85-year-old Jiro Ono as he follows his quest to perfect the art of sushi. It also profiles his two sons, both of whom are sushi chefs.

The restaurant is located inauspiciously in a Tokyo subway station and only has seats for 10 diners at a time. It is so popular that international travelers have made it a destination and the waiting list is booked months in advance.

Chef Ono serves a tasting menu of roughly 20 course for a total of 30,000 Japanese Yen (just under US $300).

For more information visit www.sushi-jiro.jp/eng-index.html

3. Japanese Grand Prix 2014

Sunday, 5 October, 2014

Round 15 of the 2014 Formula One World Championship takes the drivers to Suzuka this weekend for the Japanese Grand Prix, held at the famous Suzuka Circuit, which is close to the town of Nagoya, 2.5 hours’ drive away from Tokyo.

Suzuka is one of the most revered circuits in the world; it’s a race track which only the best drivers succeed, which may explain why 18 of the last 19 grand prix at the track have been won by world champions.  The circuit was originally built by Honda in the sixties to test their bikes and cars and is still owned by the company today.

This year, Max Verstappen will become the youngest driver to take part in a Formula One weekend when he drives for Toro Rosso at Suzuka after his 17th birthday. The Dutch youngster, who is the son of the former F1 driver Jos, will drive Jean-Éric Vergne’s car in the first practice session at Suzuka

In the host city of Suzuka, this is also plenty to do. You can jump on the thrilling roller coasters that give a great view of the circuit and the sea, and there’s plenty of excellent restaurants with local cuisine to try.

For more information visit www.formula1.com/races/

4. The 2014 Tokyo International Film Festival

Thursday, October 23 to Friday, October 31, 2014.

The 27th edition of the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) will run at Roppongi Hills and other central Tokyo venues.

TFF started in 1985 has since grown to become one of the leading film festivals in Asia, as the only one accredited by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF).

This year, a 21-movie lineup has been announced for its special screenings section, including The Expendables 3; Martin Scorsese and David Tedeschi’s documentary about the The New York Review of Books, The 50 Year Argument; and The Cathedrals of Culture documentary series, with episodes from Robert Redford and Wim Wenders.

Although the Tokyo festival will only have this one Japanese film in competition, Pale Moon, it has been aiming to promote more local films through programs such as this year’s focus on Japanese animation. TIFF has also unveiled a seven-year initiative to promote Asian films and nurture Asian film professionals.

For more information visit 2014.tiff-jp.net/en/

5. Sumo wrestling

Tokyo has three grand tournaments for sumo wrestling, which take place over 15 days in January, May and September at Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo’s National Sumo Hall. The world’s best square off in thrilling matches that can be as short as five seconds.

If you don’t happen to be in Japan during one of these tournaments, try experiencing it on American soil instead. The US Sumo Open at Long Beach in Southern California has grown to become the largest amateur sumo competition outside of Japan. Seventy men and 15 women from more than a dozen countries compete at the Walter Pyramid at California State University. This year’s championship will be broadcast as a two-hour special on the Universal Sports Network on Tuesday, October 14, 2014.

For more information visit www.usasumo.com/

Vaneese Thomas sings backing vocal for Aretha Franklin on David Letterman

Soul sensation Vaneese Thomas provided backing vocal to the great Aretha Franklin, who performed a powerful rendition of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” on the David Letterman show last night (Monday, 30 September, 2014).

Thomas, who is a renowned singer-songwriter in her own right, performed alongside the Queen of Soul at the Ed Sullivan Theater, and other 1960s legends backup singers Cissy Houston and Fonzie Thornton.

Showbiz 411’s Roger Friedman was lucky enough to be a part of the audience, who were enthusiastically clapping along and gave the performance a standing ovation.

Friedman was excited to spot Thomas as one Franklin’s backup singers. “Then there was Vaneese Thomas, daughter of Rufus, sister of Carla, a recording artist in her own right. Rev. C. L. Franklin married Vaneese’s parents to each other,” he said.

Thomas, a profound talent, has worked with some of the best in the business, from Phil Ramone, to Luciano Pavarotti, Sting and Stevie Wonder, and she is always Aretha Franklin’s backing vocal of choice.

Aretha, who is releasing her new album, “Classic Diva Songs,” is available today on vinyl, and will drop as a CD on October 21.

Thomas’ album, Blues For My Father, which was launched June of this year, taps into her southern heritage and brings forth a roots album that is authentic and true. Every track adds to the blues and soul legacy that is hers to claim. She dedicates the album to her father who was considered the king of Memphis soul and is currently petitioning for him to be inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You can sign the petition here.

Click here to watch the performance on David Letterman. 

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Bobby Van’s: New York’s Premier Steakhouse Family

Bobby Van’s has become well known as one of the best authentic American steakhouses. It’s the place to go for Prime USDA beef and fresh seafood, and has an outstanding bar plus an award-winning wine list.

In New York City, where restaurants tend to come and go like tourists, Bobby Van’s Steakhouse has more than passed the test of time. The celebrated grill on West 50th Street has been a dining staple for more than four decades now, firmly establishing itself as the city’s premiere steakhouse after first opening its doors way back in the sixties.

Bobby Van opened his first restaurant in Bridgehampton, New York, in the summer of 1969, and after two successful decades, Bobby sold this restaurant to a group of four restaurateurs: Joseph Smith, Joe Phair, Rick Passarelli, and Joe Hickey. This entrepreneurial team soon opened a second Bobby Van’s Steakhouse location in the Helmsley Building on Park Avenue in New York City.

The restaurant has seen success by sticking to the tried and true traditions of a traditional steakhouse, founded on the principles of classic ambiance, quality food and superior customer service, and maintaining the same high standards over all these years. The only thing that has really changed at Bobby Van’s is its stature – it’s success seeing it grow to include five other restaurants, as well as a takeout burger joint called BV’s Burger, and its newest addition – BV’s Grill on 3rd Avenue at 57th Street. The newest location is set in a modern and elegant space with a large open kitchen.

Legendary for its chops, steaks, seafood, and atmosphere, Bobby Van’s is the place to go for a quintessential American steakhouse dining experience.

For more information, please visit: www.bobbyvans.com

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BOBBY VAN’S GRILL

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Bobby Van's - Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna

Bobby Van's Customers Eating Dinner

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French Consulate holds Moet & Chandon reception

The Consulate General of France in New York City held a Moet & Chandon Imperial champagne reception on Monday, September 22, 2014 to honor several guests and hear about the fascinating Hermione Project.

The Guest of honor was Madame Ségolène Royal, French politician and the Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, who is also the mother of the President of France, Francois Hollande’s four children.

The event was hosted by Consul General of France in New York, Bertrand Lortholary, and the Consul General of France & friends of Hermione – Lafayette in America.

The Hermione Project came about twenty years ago when a small group of visionaries met together in France and imagined reconstructing an exact replica of The Hermione, the French frigate that carried the young Lafayette to General Washington, pledging French support for the American insurgents.

The result turned the tide of the American Revolution. As the year-on-year reconstruction became a regional, now national, attraction in Rochefort, the idea grew to recreate Lafayette’s voyage on The Hermione with a historic return to the iconic port cities of the American Revolution, celebrating and reaffirming the historical relationship between the United States and France.

Guests at the reception learned about Lafayette’s Hermione Voyage of 2015. The Hermione sets sail to the United States in summer 2015, making landfall at Yorktown and then proceed up the coast to Mount Vernon, Alexandria/Washington DC., Annapolis, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Greenport, Newport, Castine, Maine, and then on to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia before heading home to France.

Guest who attended included: Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, Helen Appleby, Ambassador H.E. Gerard Araud, Renee Berger, Janna Bullock, Sharon Bush, Fernanda Capobianco, Hillary Cooper, Dovile Drizyte, Francis G. Dubois, Dee Dee Eustace, Mrs. and Mrs. Jonathan Farkas, Remi Forgeas, Bruno Fulda, Catherine Godbille, Elbrun Kimmelman, John Kluge, Patricia Kluge and Williams Moses, Inga Kozel, Helen Maclsaac and Eric Kuhn, Carola Mack, Daniel Morel, Pascale Richards and Nick Millard, David Lincoln Ross, Charlotte Sarkozy, Elena Stephanoupolus, Tracy Stern, Rachel Tashjian, and Miles Young

For more information on The Hermione Project, visit http://www.hermione2015.com/

Photographer: Max Lakner/BFAnyc.com

Janna Bullock, Inga Kozel

Janna Bullock, Inga Kozel

Helen Appleby

Helen Appleby

Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, The High Representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilization

Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, The High Representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilization

Francis G. Dubois

Francis G. Dubois

Ségolène Royal, Bertrand Lortholary

Ségolène Royal, Bertrand Lortholary

Tracy Stern

Tracy Stern

L'Hermione-mosphere

L’Hermione-mosphere

Five Global Trending Events

Our friends over at Newswhistle.com, a website covering the latest news and tips from around the world, have rounded up some of this week’s most newsworthy and interesting events from around the globe.

 

1. Opening of the 69th United Nations General Assembly

Monday, September 22 – Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The United Nations’ 69th General Assembly gathers this week, drawing dozens of world leaders at the old General Assembly Hall, which has been reopened after extensive renovations. Heads of states are set to reaffirm their commitments to a UN action plan aimed at placing people at the center of development and to consider new population challenges. Tuesday September 23 is the Climate Summit meeting, which inspired the largest climate change demonstration in history in Manhattan over the past weekend, and the General Debate begins on Wednesday September 24. President Barack Obama will chair a meeting of the Security Council to address the growing problem of foreign fights in countries like Iraq and Syria, and Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will convene a meeting on the growing Ebola crisis in West Africa.

For more information visit http://gadebate.un.org/

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2. The 52nd New York Film Festival (NYFF)

Friday,September 26 – Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s New York Film Festival (NYFF) begins with the world premiere of David Fincher’s highly-anticipated thriller, Gone Girl. Founded in 1963, NYFF was once almost exclusively geared toward celebrating art-house films, but has expanded to include more films with more mainstream appeal. This year, 31 titles make for a diverse showing of exciting and accomplished works of world cinema. The festival covers 17 days of world premieres, award winners, retrospective screenings, spotlights on emerging filmmakers, panel discussions, galas and more. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman, the satire that has garnered positive feedback at Venice and Telluride, closes the festival and Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice, featuring an all-star cast including Joaquin Phoenix, Owen Wilson and Reese Witherspoon serves as the centerpiece film.

For schedule and ticket information visit http://www.filmlinc.com/nyff2014

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3. The 2014 Ryder Cup

Thursday, September 25 – Sunday, September 28, 2014

One of the biggest bi-annual events on the golfing calendar – the 40th Ryder Cup – will begin on Thursday September 25 with the opening ceremony, televised on the Golf Channel from 9AM – 1PM. The competition, held at the PGA Centenary Course at the Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, Scotland, won’t be short on drama as current cup-holders Europe seek to defend their title against the United States. Ryder Cup veterans Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar, along with new talent Jordan Spieth and captain Tom Watson, make up part of Team USA, who will search for redemption from 2012’s stunning loss at the Medinah Country Club in Illinois. Throughout the competition, Golf Channel and NBC will deliver over 80 hours of coverage, including analysis and interviews.

For more information visit http://www.rydercup.com/

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4. Clinton Global Initiative (C.G.I) 2014 Annual Meeting

Sunday, September 21 – Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Each September during UN week global leaders convene in New York City for the C.G.I Annual Meeting to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. This year members come together under the 2014 theme of Reimagining Impact to facilitate the development of forward-thinking approaches that re-envision the way we impact the world. Speakers include the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton; Co-founder of Water.org, Matt Damon; and President Barack Obama. The event kicks off with the Global Citizen Awards, which honors individuals who exemplify global citizenship through their vision and leadership. This year’s awards, held on Sunday, September 22, was hosted by NBC Late Night host Seth Myers and honored notable philanthropists such as Leonardo DiCaprio (Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation).

For more information visit http://www.clintonfoundation.org/

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5. Munich Oktoberfest

Saturday, September 20 – Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Munich Oktoberfest, held annually in a meadow just outside of Munich’s city center in an area called Theresienwiese, spans over two weeks and is the largest of its kind in the world, attracting more than six million people. This year, the 181st Oktoberfest, will see visitors consuming around 7 million of liters of beer, enjoying colorful parades and fairground rides, and dressing in traditional Bavarian gear.  If you can’t travel to Germany, there are plenty of other places in the United States and around the world to enjoy Bavarian alcohol and traditional food such as sausages and pretzels. In New York, Munich on the East River runs from Friday, October 3 to Sunday, October 12, 2014 at the Zum Schneider Oktoberfest tent, the city’s first official Oktoberfest venue.  Blumenau, Brazil is home to the world’s second largest Oktoberfest, with over 700,000 people attending to celebrate the mix of Brazilian and Bavaria traditions.

For more information visit http://www.oktoberfest.de/

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Fashionable philanthropist Jean Shafiroff shines at Fall Galas

Philanthropist Jean Shafiroff recently attended The Metropolitan Opera Opening Night Gala on Monday, September 22, 2014, and the New York City Ballet 2014 Fall Gala, on Tuesday September 23, 2014.

The MET opened its 2014 – 2015 season with its glamorous black-tie gala, called “Le Nozze di Figaro”, which showcased a new production of Mozart’s eternal masterpiece, directed by Richard Eyre.

Shafiroff wore a stunning pink and purple Oscar de la Renta gown from his Fall 2014 collection, and heels by French footwear designer Christian Louboutin.

The evening drew designers including Zac Posen, Vera Wang, Sophie Theallet, and Thom Browne, and celebrities including actress Patricia Clarkson, Gina Gershon, and HBO show Girls’ stars Jemima Kirke and Andrew Rannells. Other notable guests included Bruce Kovner, Willem Kooyker, Doris Meister, Henry Kravis, John Paulson and David Koch.

The following evening, Shafiroff attending the highly anticipated New York City Ballet Fall Gala at Lincoln Center, which saw high-profile attendees come together for a champagne reception, five ballet performance, and black-tie supper ball on the promenade of the David H. Koch Theater. She wore a beautiful dress by American designer B Michael, who is known for his glamorous designs.

Esteemed designers such as Mary Katrantzou, Carolina Herrera, Thom Brown and Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton designed costumes for the ballerinas on opening night event, which was co-chaired by Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer and Trey Laird, Marianne Lake, and Cindy Chao.

For more information visit http://www.nycballet.com/ or http://www.metopera.org/

New York City Ballet 2014 (Photo: Patrick McMullan)

New York City Ballet 2014 (Photo: Patrick McMullan)

The Metropolitan Opera Opening Night Gala (Photo: Patrick McMullan)

The Metropolitan Opera Opening Night Gala (Photo: Patrick McMullan)

Chloe Moretz and Denzel Washington attend NYC premiere of The Equalizer

Stars of Antoine Fuqua’s new action-thriller film The Equalizer, including Chloë Grace Moretz and Denzel Washington, gathered for the New York City premiere on Monday, September 22, 2014 at AMC Lincoln Square Theater.

Moretz, the 17-year-old star of Kick-Ass, showed up wearing a Dior Couture dress, Jimmy Choo shoes and Tiffany & Co. jewels. She was joined by The Equializer co-stars, Steve Tisch, Ethan Hawke, Spike Lee, Anthony Mackie and Antonio “L.A.” Reid.

Other attendees included actors Christian Campbell and America Olivo, Boardwalk Empire actress Paz de la Huerta, Marjorie Gubelmann, NBC News’ Tamron Hall, actress Melissa Leo (“Oblivion,” “The Fighter”), and Saturday Night Live’s Jay Pharoah.

The Equalizer is based on the 1980s CBS television series of the same name. Denzel Washington plays McCall, a man who believes he has put his mysterious past behind him and dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life. But when McCall meets Teri (Moretz), a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can’t stand idly by – he has to help her.

The Premiere’s After Party, presented by the Gerber Group, was held at The Stone Rose Lounge.

The film is set for release in the US on Friday, September 26, 2014.

For more information visit www.equalizerthemovie.com/

Photo credit: Dave Allocca/StarPIX

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A Special New York Screening Of "The Equalizer" An Imax Experience

A Special New York Screening Of "The Equalizer" An Imax Experience

A Special New York Screening Of "The Equalizer" An Imax Experience

A Special New York Screening Of "The Equalizer" An Imax Experience

A Special New York Screening Of "The Equalizer" An Imax Experience

The Best of Chicago: Tre Soldi

Tre Soldi restaurant in Chicago by restaurateur Jack Weiss has remained a popular spot to enjoy Roman-style cuisine since opening last year.

It’s a bright and inviting space, modeled on a trattoria, which captures the Roman experience and completes it with true Italian comfort food. Fresh and earthy meat, seafood and vegetables play an important role, and Roman pizza comes hand-tossed, with thin, crisp crust and tender edges. Rich pastas are crafted for peak flavors, including carbonara, Cacao E Pepe, or Bucatini all’Amatriciana.  House-made gelati and an ever-changing rustic crostata make Tre Soldi’s menu one of a kind.

The exquisite menu is the work of executive chef, Frederico Comacchio. Born in Italy, Federico started cooking when he was in his early teens, inspired by his mother’s family feasts. Frederico is passionate about the clean, clear flavors of Tuscany. His early hands-on culinary education took him through Italy including Genoa and Milan where he worked for two Michelin Star restaurants, and after moving to Chicago in 2001 he worked as executive chef at Phil Stefani’s 437 Rush.

Tre Soldi, meaning “three coins”, garners inspiration from the Trevi Fountain, made famous in the 1954 movie Three Coins in the Fountain. Murals of the iconic fountain and the rooftops of Rome bring a warm ambiance to the casual, contemporary atmosphere.  Glass tiled pillars, an open kitchen and large windows that open to the neighborhood create a lively surrounding that’s perfect for gathering with friends.

Tre Soldi is located at 212 East Ohio Street, Chicago, IL 60611.

For more information visit http://tresoldichicago.com/

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The Best of Chicago: Japonais by Morimoto

Japonais by Morimoto in Chicago offers a seamless blend of Japanese and Western cuisine that celebrates the vibrant essence of the Asian culture.

The restaurant, which is located in River North, is a dynamic dining experience due to the culinary creativity of critically acclaimed Chef Masaharu Morimoto, and upholds some of the freshest fish and shellfish options in the city. Speciality dishes include the Toro Tartare, which is served cold, with wasabi nori paste, avocado and sour cream; the Marimoto Sashimi, which is seared toro, smoked salmon, eel, tuna, Hamachi and fives sauces; and the Wagyu Surg & Turf, a 12oz American wagyu new York strip and whole roasted lobster  masala.

Chef Marimoto, who is known as the star of Japanese television show Iron Chef and the Food Network’s Iron Chef America, has garnered acclaim for his restaurants in Philadelphia, New York, Napa, Honolulu, Boca Raton, Mumbai, New Delhi and Mexico City. He also produced an award-winning cookbook entitled, ‘Morimoto: The New Art of Japanese Cooking’.

The newly designed space, by Jeffery Beers International, features an elevated sushi bar, on which sushi cases display a breathtaking view of some of the freshest fish and shellfish options in the city.  The Blue Room and Garden Terrace, which were opened in May this year, add to the restaurant’s modern and sophisticated feel. The Blue Room features local and national artists’ work in a revolving gallery which changes every couple of months.

Exclusive private tasting rooms, which can accommodate parties from eight to 24, fill the romantic space separated from the dining room, along with a lounge area and a shochu and sake bar. The bar also features Chef Morimoto’s own line of shochu, sake and craft beers, as well as the largest selection of Japanese whiskey in Chicago.

For more information visit www.japonaismorimoto.com/

Follow Japonais by Morimoto on Twitter (@JbyMorimoto) or Facebook (Japonais by Morimoto) or call 312.822.9600.

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Paula Forelich launches new Yahoo! Travel program

A Broad Abroad is a new travel show on Yahoo! Travel by Paula Forelich, journalist and New York Times best-selling author.

It is the first female adventure show and highlights some important issues from around the world.

In the first episode, entitled “On the Frontlines of the Rhino ‘Genocide’,” Forelich follows a team fighting to save South African rhinos from extinctions, as poachers decimate the animals for their valuable horns.

To date, there are only 26,000 rhinos left in Africa — 80 percent of which are in South Africa, mostly in Kruger National Park. Last year, 1,004 rhinos were killed in South Africa. So far this year, the number has climbed to 618, with the toll in Kruger at 400.

Click here to watch the show online. 

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Paula Forelich, journalist and New York Times best-selling author.

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