Two Jews in Kentucky Part 4

I had a lot of fun hosting the Angie Awards last night and, despite a few technical glitches, the audience seemed to enjoy it, too. I was stunned to pick up the Owensboro Messenger Inquirer this morning and see this splashed across five columns on the front page:

   Mystery festival’s stars praise event, Owensboro

Lee Goldberg, a writer for the TV show “Monk,” waves a rib while wearing a Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn T-shirt on Sunday during the annual International Mystery Writers Festival’s Angie Awards ceremony in the Jody Berry Cabaret Theatre at the RiverPark Center. Photo by John Dunham, M-I

By Keith Lawrence, Messenger-Inquirer

Published: Monday, August 17, 2009 12:29 AM CDT

Voice actor Phil Proctor gave a ringing endorsement to Owensboro’s International Mystery Writers Festival in accepting his Angie Award for best featured actor in “Three Blind Mice” on Sunday night at the RiverPark Center.

“I love this festival,” Proctor told the dinner crowd in the center’s Jody Berry Cabaret Theatre. “I love this award. I want this festival to go on forever, and I’ll do everything in my power to see that it does.”

The third annual festival downsized because of the closing of the Executive Inn Rivermont — and the resulting hotel room shortage — and construction along the riverfront.

Instead of stage plays, it produced four radio plays by Agatha Christie — “Personal Call,” “Butter in a Lordly Dish,” “Three Blind Mice” and “Yellow Iris.”

“Personal Call,” a Christie work first performed on the BBC Radio Light Programme on May 31, 1954, won top honors at the festival.

The Angie Awards are named for actress Angela Lansbury, who was honored with the festival’s first First Lady of Mystery award in 2007.

Travis Estes, the center’s director of sales and marketing, said the festival drew more people than had originally been expected.

“We had to add seats for every performance,” he said. “There are still more people coming from out of town than from Owensboro, but the local audience picked up on the weekend from word of mouth.”

David Breckman, a writer, producer and director for the TV show “Monk,” wrote and directed a 10-minute film, “Murder in Kentucky,” during the festival.

“We would like to do more of that in the future,” Estes said. “The mystery genre attracts a more mature demographic, but the Hollywood component brings in younger people to the festival.”

Lee Goldberg, a writer for such shows as “Monk” and “Diagnosis Murder,” was master of ceremonies for the awards show.

He came out in a stained Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn T-shirt carrying a plate of bones.

Owensboro and the RiverPark Center, Goldberg said, have become “a hotbed of mystery … a major force in the mystery field.”

“Oh, how beautiful,” Melinda Peterson said as she accepted her Angie for best featured actress. “How amazing, warm, kind and generous the people of Owensboro are.”

“I love this town,” Amy Walker said in accepting her award for best actress. “I fell in love with all of you last year.”

Gary Sandy, best known for his work on the TV series “WKRP in Cincinnati,” was named best actor.

“I was just knocked out by the radio guys two years ago,” he said. “May this last forever. To be a part of it is too much.”

Rupert Holmes’ “You’re the Thorn in my Side” was named best song of the festival.

David Ossman was named best director.

Novelist and Louisville native Sue Grafton was named First Lady of Mystery for her work as a novelist in the Kinsey Millhone mysteries — “A is for Alibi, “B is for Burglar”… .

Secretary of State Trey Grayson commissioned 10 people who have appeared at all three festivals as Kentucky Colonels.

Special Angies went to the city of Owensboro, Daviess Fiscal Court, line producer Judith Walcutt, Breckman, Goldberg and David Dial of WNIN-FM in Evansville, which has broadcast the radio plays.

“I think this is a unique thing that sets Owensboro apart,” Mayor Ron Payne said. “It puts us on the map and sells us as a culture center.”

“It looks like it’s been very successful,” Judge-Executive Reid Haire said. “It’s a shot in the arm for tourism and the arts in our community.”

The festival is the brainchild of Zev Buffman, RiverPark president, who produced more than 40 Broadway shows and 150 national tours of Broadway shows early in his career.

Winners List

These are the Angie Awards presented by the International Mystery Writers Festival at the RiverPark Center on Sunday night:

Best Play — “Personal Call”

Best Actor — Gary Sandy as James Brent in “Personal Call”

Best Actress — Amy Walker as Pam Brent in “Personal Call”

Best Featured Actor — Phil Proctor as Paravicini in “Three Blind Mice”

Best Featured Actress — Melinda Peterson as Mrs. Boyle in “Three Blind Mice”

Best Song — Rupert Holmes’ “You’re The Thorn in My Side”

Best Director — David Ossman

My wife saw it and said “I’m so glad you didn’t make a fool of yourself while you were there.” My daughter’s reaction: “Only people in Kentucky will see that, right? It’s not going to be in our newspaper is it?” Me, I loved it.

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