Wilkes-Barre Times Leader

March 21, 2004

DAWN SHURMAITIS Special to the Times Leader

HUNLOCK TWP. – Today is Albert Yascavage’s 81st birthday. He has survived the Great Depression, the storming of Omaha Beach, the Battle of the Bulge, the Agnes flood and the death of a beloved son.

Ever-curious and self-taught, Yascavage continues to forge ahead in this age of the Internet, creating his own Web page and even trading on eBay.

Over the years, the Hunlock Creek resident has earned a worldwide reputation for an encyclopedic knowledge of military radios and manuals, trading under the moniker “Surplus Al.” Read the rest…

On the Air with SCOTT and TODD

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By Dawn Shurmaitis

WPLJ “Morning Show” co-hosts Scott Shannon and Todd Pettengill have a unique talent for convincing loyal listeners to do really weird things. One morning, they pulled a prank on a New Jersey man linked up to the radio show during a signature phone “scam.” By the end of the call,, the DJs had the man so panic stricken with a bogus tale of bacterial water contamination he screamed to his wife to “get out of the shower immediately” while thousands listened in.

It’s the kind of viewer connection Scott and Todd pray for: incredibly silly and awfully funny. “That’s the one you take home to momma. That’s the big show with Scott and Todd,” Shannon says from the New York studios of WPLJ-FM. Read the rest…

Righting Wrongs With Marvin Kindler

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By Dawn Shurmaitis

It’s Friday night in Houston at the city’s No. 1 TV station. Marvin Zindler is on the air delivering his weekly “Rat and Roach Report,” detailing health code violations at area restaurants. Moldy cheese. Kaput coolers. And “sliiiiiiime in the ice machine,” one of Zindler’s favorite segments, jazzed up by a sensational graphic and dramatic voice-over.

“This is Maaarrrrrvin Zindlerrrrrr. Eyewitness News,” he bellows at the camera, working his long familiar, oft-imitated trademark sign-off to KTRK-TV viewers. Imagine John Barrymore cloned with Paul Harvey, and you’ll get a feel for the thespian flair intensifying each Zindler expose. “Television is show business,” he says. “We put on our finest clothes and do our hair, and it’s show business.” Read the rest…

Phyllis McGrady: ABC News veteran tackles new role

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By Dawn Shurmaitis

When Phyllis McGrady was growing up, policemen carrying arrest warrants often knocked on her family’s door in the middle of the night. For the daughter of a Virginia justice of the peace, late-night callers were part of life, an interesting life. The justice of the peace – who needed to sign those warrants – was her mother.

“My mother had a very unconventional job. Sometimes I’d go to the jailhouse with her. I really knew my way around the courthouse,” says McGrady, whose worldwide travels started in a small Southern town. “That’s why I always loved documentaries. They took me to places I didn’t think I’d ever get to go.” Read the rest…

Mural masterpiece

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Texas)

Pride and a new vision bring a seasoned artist back to his original creation on a butcher shop wall.

BYLINE: Dawn Shurmaitis, Special to the Star-Telegram

The Michelangelo of Mansfield Highway is at it again.
He squints one brown eye. Sticks out one flat thumb.


“I’ve got to highlight the clouds more. Shadow in over here,” said
artist Pete Foster about the Arizona scene he is creating on the
concrete side of The Butcher Shop.

Painting sure and fast, Foster fills in rough charcoal outlines of
yucca, cactus, cows and cowboys with just-mixed splashes of brilliant
red, lush green and warm yellow. Read the rest…

On Stage With Joy Behar

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By Dawn Shurmaitis
ABC Ink, 2002

Picture Brooklyn in the 1950s. Joy Occhiuto – skinny kid with kinky hair – is at an Italian wake, keeping a keen eye on all her relatives. Later, when she gets home, Joy turns all her observations into dead-on impersonations. Her family roars.

“Italian women are all funny. Some of them know it, and some of them don’t. The ones that don’t were my targets,” says the once-skinny kid who grew up into comedienne Joy Behar, who now makes millions laugh with her astute, hilarious observations on the ABC Daytime program, “The View.” Read the rest…

Between the Lines with George Stephanopoulos

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By Dawn Shurmaitis

Bookworms, political junkies, Greek-Americans and giggling girls in show-off clothes are packed into Border’s Bookstore in New York awaiting the prompt arrival of first-time author and one-time Clinton confidante George Stephanopoulos.

By the time the bushy-haired boy wonder takes his position behind a desk stacked with extra copies of his 448-page memoir, “All Too Human,” the line snakes all the way to the back of the store. It’s a common sight – Stephanopoulos has been packing them in throughout his 25-city tour. Why do they come, from work, school and home, to spend what amounts to $24.95 for the book, a hand-shake and a 16-second encounter? Read the rest…

DREW CAREY Bares His Funny Bone

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By Dawn Shurmaitis

ABC sitcom star Drew Carey has just written a book — a curious hybrid of fact and fiction — and it is a doozy. “Dirty Jokes and Beer: Stories of the Unrefined” covers a lot of expected ground in a breezy, take-no-prisoners style. It is easy to believe Carey when he writes: “I wrote it imagining that you were sitting with me in a bar, and that we’ve decided to stay up all night getting drunk together. The jukebox is going to play nothing but our favorite songs, and I’m buying.” Who could resist an introduction like that? To top it all off, each chapter is introduced by a silly, dirty joke (none of which can be repeated here). Read the rest…

Charlie Gibson: Great Expectations

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By Dawn Shurmaitis

When it came time on May 1 to say his good-byes to the staff of “Good Morning America,” Charlie Gibson exited with typical warmth and frankness. “I know you all worked incredibly hard under enormous pressure the last couple of years,” he said to staff, friends and family who gathered after the show in New York City. “You commit an act of faith every morning. There’s no question you work your butts off. You deserve all the credit in the world.”

To show his appreciation, Gibson took the time after all the speeches to pose for individual pictures with each employee. Gibson – who also wrote notes to each “GMA” staffer before ending his 11-year run with the program – promised to sign and return each picture. Read the rest…