By Thom Smith
It’s Greek to most folk. Better to just call him Yanni. Though some call his music new age gimmickry, he’s a global superstar and has sold millions of records. He’s played at the Taj Mahal, in Beijing’s Forbidden City and at the Acropolis in Greece, the country of his birth.
Yanni first appeared in South Florida in the late 1990s as the boyfriend of Dynasty star Linda Evans. He accompanied her to Chris Evert’s Celebrity Tennis Classic then returned to play for the big-ticket patrons at the black tie gala.
He obviously liked the neighborhood. In 1998, after he and Evans parted, he bought a modest little oceanfront bungalow in Manalapan for $5.7 million. Still, two decades passed after the Evert gig before he played any public concerts, drawing raves at the Kravis Center in 2012 and 2013.
Yanni obviously learned some investment tricks from his banker father. Today the house is valued at $10 million to $15 million. He’s worth an estimated $40 million.
But while he may be a showman in concert, he prefers a much lower key offstage. Few local sightings; the seawall behind his house collapsed during Hurricane Sandy; then-girlfriend Silvia Barthes accused him of battery in 2006, but charges were never filed.
He’ll make his third public appearance Feb. 6 at Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach, and chances are you might spot in the wings the newest woman in his life. She’s tall and dark, with a smile as wide as the Grand Canyon, possibly a camera in hand.
Any resemblance is purely hereditary.
A year and a half ago during an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Yanni introduced the world to Krystal Ann, his daughter. She is in her mid-30s and manages his social media. But that’s all we know. (It’s purely coincidence that Evans’ Dynasty character was “Krystle.”)
Krystal Ann was born in the early ’80s, years before Yanni and Evans met. Speculation abounds that she is from Minnesota and is the product of a relationship that began while Yanni was earning his degree in psychology at the University of Minnesota. But that remains off the record.
Some people visit, making a big splash as they come through the front door. But when the opportunities arise for others, they are more content — and more effective — quietly working their way around back.
That’s Leon Charney.
On Dec. 21 he was given a front-door welcome at Florida Atlantic University, honored with an honorary doctorate in humane letters for his lifetime of work in the pursuit of peace.
Charney. C-h-a-r-n-e-y. His résumé, hmmm, let’s see. At 20, the son of a sewing supply salesman became a cantor to pay his way through law school. He became an entertainment lawyer. Represented Sammy Davis Jr. Then hit the mother lode representing oil interests.
But Charney’s interests went far beyond hit records and energy. He was a supporter of Israel. He was an adviser to U.S. Sen. Vance Hartke. He worked with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir to free 1,000 Soviet Jews and help them migrate to Israel.
His connections to Meir, Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizman and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat caught the attention of President Jimmy Carter. Charney’s back channel work was directly responsible for the Camp David accords.
Carter later credited Charney as the treaty’s “unsung hero.”
On the day Carter lost reelection in 1980, Charney bought his first building in New York. A billionaire — currently No. 1,741 although once 386 — his holdings include three skyscrapers in Times Square. He has written five books, and hosts The Charney Report, a nationally syndicated TV public affairs show. Last fall, The Leon Charney Resolution Center opened in Israel, dedicated to the history and the future of negotiations, peace and learning.
And, oh yeah, he has a condo just south of Boca Inlet.
and is starting a job at Intel in Colorado at age 17.
FAU super success stories: Way back in 1968, Edith Stern received a degree in mathematics from Florida Atlantic University. She landed a job with IBM and over the course of her career has been issued more than 125 patents, managed an IBM team pioneering remote health care monitoring for the elderly and served as a member of the Academy Technology Council. Stern was and remains the university’s youngest graduate (she was 15).
Last year, Kate Bush, a Hollywood resident, took her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a week later her high school diploma from FAU’s University School, one of many young students who are enrolled in FAU’s joint studies program. Bush, 16, is not the first in her family. Two sisters, ages 17 and 18 and a cousin, 17, have followed the same route.
A teacher at Don Estridge Middle School in Boca taught Denise Kutnick how to create Web pages and encouraged her to study computers. She, too, entered the joint studies program at FAU, and in December received her degree in computer science. But Kutnick won’t have time to sit on her laurels: Two summers ago she landed a summer internship with Intel in Colorado as a component design engineer. So instead of going to Disney World, Kutnick, 17, is headed back to Colorado and a full-time job with Intel.
With the likes of these kids, this nation’s future is bright, regardless of what some may say.
As the owl flies, the beach is 2 1/2 miles due east of FAU Stadium. So after a week of sub-freezing lows in Toledo and Philly, and South Florida pushing the high 70s, a little rain wasn’t going to spoil the the Marmot Boca Raton Bowl on Dec. 22.
On game day fans packed the pre-game festivities on the stadium’s perimeter: live bands — both rocking and marching; automotive displays; public service organizations; vendors; team colors flowing, and mingling.
Intermittent showers may have flushed the excitement out of the stadium in the first half, but the teams picked up the pace in the second with Toledo dominating in the eventual 32-17 upset. Though attendance was down from last year thanks to the weather, bowl officials were pleased with the turnout of 25,908.
Perhaps Toledo had an inspirational advantage. After all, on the road they usually don’t bunk at the likes of the Boca Raton Resort & Club. One observer said players just dropped their bags and gaped when the bus first pulled up to the entrance.
No one could have been more delighted than John Tolbert, a veteran hotelier who first came to the resort in 1994 as a vice president for sales and marketing. He jumped to the Ritz-Carlton for two years before returning in 2004 for two years as president of sales and marketing for new owner Blackstone/LXR.
Now, after a decade in other ventures and just chilling out, he’s back, and “this is it,” he said. “I’m here for good.”
Other familiar faces in the President’s Suite included original FAU football coach Howard Schnellenberger, Trustees chairman Anthony Barbar, developer Jim Batmasian and wife Marta, Boca Mayor Susan Haynie and former Mayor Susan Whelchel.
Though a Harvardian, former Boca Raton and Palm Beach County Mayor Steve Abrams was pulling for Temple. He’s from Philadelphia.
“My father taught there for many years,” he beamed, “and my grandmother studied pharmacy there in the 1920s when women weren’t supposed to do that kind of work.”
FAU President John Kelly planned to catch another bowl game Dec. 31 — the Orange Bowl betweern Clemson and Oklahoma.
“I had thought that Carolyn and I might just be able to sit back and watch the game at home,” Kelly said of his wife. “But then my brother called and asked if I could get some tickets. He went to Clemson, too.”
Kelly didn’t really need much convincing. The Clemson grad was born nearby and then spent 28 years as an administrator and ultimately vice president. But Carolyn will not attend; she’ll stay home with toddler Stella. Beside, she earned her undergrad degree from arch rival University of South Carolina before going to grad school at Clemson.
“I’m still an Owl,” former FAU athletic director Craig Angelos semi-joked outside the stadium. The newly named deputy director of athletics at Temple, also nicknamed the Owls, liked what he saw. The stadium was built on his nine-year watch.
But in April 2012, FAU’s new president Mary Jane Saunders fired him. He reportedly wasn’t raising enough money. A year later, Saunders thought she had a $6-million deal for stadium naming rights, but when news escaped that it would be named after for-profit prison company Geo Group, she was canned.
After FAU, Angelos became an assistant AD at the University of South Florida with oversight of its improving football program. In June 2014 Florida International University in Miami hired him, ironically, to find new revenue sources for the athletic department.
At halftime, Glades-bred All-American and former Tampa Bay Buc Reidel Anthony was introduced as the Marmot Boca Raton Bowl’s second Palm Beach County Football Legend for his work on and off the field. But he almost didn’t make it because of traffic, said proud papa Clarence Anthony, 24-year mayor of South Bay and now executive director of the National League of Cities, who holds a master’s in public administration from FAU.
Big week for the arts.
Pulitzer Prize-winner and former United States Poet Laureate Robert Hass serves as special guest for 12th annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival (Jan. 18-23). The first of three artistic festivals beginning the week of Jan. 18 will be held at Old School Square and offers nine literary workshops, talks, panel discussions and even coffeehouse performances with a dozen nationally renowned poets. (www.palmbeachpoetryfestival.org)
Among hundreds of assignments, Walter Iooss Jr. has photographed every Super Bowl for Sports Illustrated — but before he heads to San Francisco for his 50th, he’ll stop in West Palm Beach for FotoFusion.
Iooss, who captured “The Catch” by Dwight Clark and a lifetime of Christie Brinkley in swimsuits, will receive his award at a Jan. 20 dinner and on Jan. 21 give a lecture and attend a reception for the opening of his exhibition.
FotoFusion also offers a variety of paid and free events, including seminars, photo shoots with master photographers, exhibitions, book signings, portfolio reviews and evening “Fuse and Schmooze” parties. (www.fotofusion.org)
Dough, starring Jonathan Pryce, opens the Donald M. Ephraim Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival 2016 on Jan. 20 at the Kravis Center. Before Raise the Roof closes the festival three weeks later at the Duncan Theatre in Lake Worth, 30 films celebrating the world of Jewish experience will be shown at Cinemark theaters in Boca Raton and Boynton Beach, Frank Theatres Cinebowl & Grill in Delray Beach and Cobb Theatres at Downtown at the Gardens in Palm Beach Gardens.
Of special note is Look at Us Now, Mother, a documentary directed by Emmy-winner Gayle Kirschenbaum that explores the relationship between her and her testy mother, Mildred Kirschenbaum, a resident of Boca Pointe. Both will attend the screenings (Palm Beach Gardens, Jan. 25; Delray, Feb. 6; Boca Raton, Feb. 7). For tickets and information, go to www.pbjff.org.
With the Tedeschi Trucks Band headlining for the fourth year at the Sunshine Musical Festival at Mizner Park, Jan. 17, this year’s lineup will be hard to top. In addition to the bluesy-jazzy-rocky-funky sounds of Susan Tedeschi and hubby Derek Trucks, the bill includes Indigo Girls, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe and two of the top instrumentalists anywhere, dobro specialist Jerry Douglas and guitarist Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane fame. (livenation.com)
A little farther west on the edge of the Everglades, a Southern Jam is coming to Sunset Cove Amphitheatre in West Boca on Jan. 30. The bill: Kris Kristofferson, Lucinda Williams, John Hiatt and Shawn Colvin.
During the show, Music Jam Productions will raffle off two guitars signed by the performers to benefit Hope From Harrison and The Wounded Warrior Project. (www.musicjamproductions.com)
Worth Avenue may have the reputation, but when it comes to fashion, Atlantic Avenue can hold its own. That’s what the Third Annual Delray Beach Fashion Week is all about. The bash opens Jan. 16 on the runway in front of The Colony Hotel with The Fashion Show on the Avenue and concludes 35 events later on Jan. 23 with the Surf & Swim Show at Worth Park.
Sponsored by the Downtown Development Authority, the week will offer in-store and runway events, all of which are free and open to the public. Special VIP seating and after-event parties are available for a charge. And, of course, the Vince Canning Stiletto Race returns at 6 p.m. Jan. 22 with high-heeled entrants sprinting, strutting and sashaying their way to the finish line. Proceeds from premium tickets support Achievement Centers for Children & Families.
After a four-month renovation that cost nearly $2 million, Oceans 234 offers diners a clear view of the white sands of Deerfield Beach and the newly redone pier jutting out into the blue-green waters of the Atlantic.
Unobstructed water views are just part of what’s new. Repurposed space makes the views accessible to more people dining indoors and at the spacious bar, where the crafted cocktails and wine list have been given an upgrade.
There’s also a new menu created by chef Victor Franco. While keeping old favorites like fried calamari, Franco has added imaginative items featuring international flavors. Now you can enjoy anything from local fresh fish and sushi, to beef, burgers and pork belly bahn mi.
Ask the chef as well as owner Danielle Rosse their favorite dish and they agree it is the grilled 7-ounce skirt steak. Here it’s served with mashed sweet plantains, toasted garlic and a tangy lime reduction as well as roasted corn with asparagus.
Waiter Josh Rock favors French toast spread with Nutella and peanut butter then dipped in granola before being fried. It comes with syrup kicked up with cayenne that leaves a slow burn you extinguish with the garnish of fresh banana slices.
“We do things differently around here,” Rock says.
Oceans 234, 234 N. Oceans Blvd., Deerfield Beach; 954-428-2539; oceans234.com; Gluten-free items are marked and compiled on a separate menu.
Chef and managing partner Angelo Romano of Paradiso Ristorante, Lake Worth, has purchased Renzo’s of Boca. “We invite all of the wonderful patrons back to rediscover Renzo’s of Boca — joining us on another 25-year culinary journey, exploring and experiencing traditional Italian dishes,” Romano said.
He’s offering Italian fare with a new perspective, as well as dishes unique to Renzo’s. The restaurant, at 5999 N. Federal Highway, is open daily for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and for dinner 5:30 to 10 p.m. Live entertainment is offered at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For reservations, call 994-3495.
Deborah S. Hartz-Seeley and Christine Davis contributed to this report.
Contact Thom Smith at email@example.com.