Delightful 'Portraits' make debut TV: Cameraman Pete Kulsziski talks to everyday people with extraordinary results.

Radio and Television

October 28, 1998|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

Peter Kulsziski is not one to give up easily. Which helps explain why "Hometown Portraits," a series of four-to-five minute profiles debuting today on WMAR, Channel 2, are such a delight.

"Everybody has a story to tell," says Kulsziski, a WMAR cameraman who produces, writes and shoots the segments. "It doesn't matter who you are, what you are -- everybody has a story. I don't stop trying, I just don't give up. I'll just keep on trying until I get it right."

The results are sincere, delightfully brief, humorous and poignant looks at everyday people. WMAR Vice President and General Manager Steve Gigliotti hopes these snippets of Baltimore life put the lie to the notion that TV news is inevitably a downer.

While meeting with neighborhood groups throughout the region, Gigliotti says, "almost every meeting we went to, we heard someone in the crowd saying, 'We're sorry, I don't watch news anymore because it just makes me feel depressed.'

"So we took that home with us, and came up with the idea for these short stories. These are not going to be people who you see in the news -- these are not figureheads or people who are constantly in the news, these are just ordinary people. But they each have something extraordinary about them."

Among the subjects of Kulsziski's profiles -- he's done about 35 so far -- are Stephanie Benoit, a hospice worker who sums up her philosophy by insisting, "It's a pleasure to help people in the last days of life"; the husband-and-wife team of Kauna and Kibibi Mujamal, the wonderfully vibrant forces behind Baltimore's Sankofa Dance Theater; and Conrad Bladey, who drives a car literally covered with bumper stickers.

His story is told by his young daughter, Margaret, who's quite a delight in her own right.

Kulsziski, 33, finds his subjects in all sorts of places, and in all sorts of ways.

Sometimes his colleagues at WMAR will recommend someone.

Sometimes his friends and family make the suggestion.

And sometimes, he just walks up to people on the street.

"I'll just straight-out ask them if they want to be in television," he says. "Of course, my face isn't on television, and they wonder if I'm who I say I am. But then they see me get out of the Channel 2 car, and they figure I'm for real."

The first of the "Portraits," introduced by Sun columnist and WMAR host Dan Rodricks, is scheduled to air at 6: 55 a.m. today, with additional pieces scheduled for 6: 25 p.m. and 11: 30 p.m., at the close of WMAR's evening and late-evening newscasts.

After today, they'll air at the same three times each weekday -- and with 100 different profiles planned, there should be enough variety to keep people watching.

Gigliotti is hopeful that "Hometown Portraits" will help WMAR in its uphill struggle to compete with WBAL, Channel 11, and WJZ, Channel 13, for local ratings supremacy.

Dance honors Zemarel

Legendary bandleader Zim Zemarel, 81, will be feted at a big-band dance Friday sponsored by WWLG-AM (1360 in Baltimore, 1330 in Havre de Grace).

Over the past 30 years, Zemarel band has backed-up everyone from Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli to Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett.

Set to begin at 8: 30 p.m., the dance at Marriott's Hunt Valley Inn will feature Zemarel orchestra, now directed by saxophonist Gene Bonner and drummer Wayne Hudson.

Tickets are $15; for information, call 410-433-2427.

Boo! Spooky music

Ghosts and goblins who find themselves in a classical mood this Halloween may want to tune their radios to WBJC-FM (91.5).

From 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., Dyana Neal will be playing such haunting favorites as Paul Dukas' "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," Franz Liszt's "Totentanz" ("Dance of the Dead") and even Bernard Herrmann's music from "Psycho."

WEAA pledge drive begins

If you appreciate the mix of jazz, gospel and Caribbean music on WEAA-FM (88.9) --) -- not to mention its public affairs and talk programming -- then it's time to put your money where your ears are.

The station's fall pledge drive begins tomorrow and runs through Sunday.

Several new shows have debuted at WEAA recently, including "Dedicated To You," a jazz and gospel program with host Jerry "The Candy Man" Bullock that airs midnight-5: 30 a.m. Tuesday through Friday; "The Morning Journey," with longtime Baltimore radio voice Sandi Mallory, weekdays from 5: 30 a.m.-10 a.m.; the "Gospel Grace" morning show, with Duane Johnson & Co., Sundays from 5: 30 a.m.-9 a.m.; "The Back Page," talk aimed at the 20-30 set, with host Craig Thompson, Fridays from 7 p.m.-8 p.m.; and "Fiesta Musical," salsa with Jose Ruiz, Saturdays from 7 p.m.-8 p.m.

TV's top shows

Here are last week's top TV shows, according to A. C. Nielsen

Co. figures:

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Rating

1 World Series Game 4:

N.Y. Yankees at San Diego Fox .. .. .. .. 16.6

2 World Series Game 3:

N.Y. Yankees at San Diego Fox .. .. .. .. 15.4

3 Monday Night Football:

N.Y. Jets and New England ABC .. .. .. .. 14.6

4 60 Minutes CBS .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... 13.9

5 Frasier NBC .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... 13.1

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