`Homicide's flip side is all fun

Benefit: For the fifth year in a row, the cast of Baltimore's favorite police drama will perform cabaret-style for charity

Radio and Television

February 24, 1999

Kyle Secor is known to millions of viewers as Detective Tim Bayliss of "Homicide: Life on the Street." But for the last four years, he's had another less widely known life as artistic director of "Homicide Live," an annual stage show in Baltimore starring Secor and other actors from the award-winning NBC drama.

Each year the cabaret-like show has grown, and with a move to Center Stage, the troupe will be larger than ever for the March 7 production, with Clark Johnson, Richard Belzer, Callie Thorne, Jon Seda, Toni Lewis and Peter Gerety, according to Secor.

"It's always been chaos, and, so, we had to learn to just go with the chaos," Secor said in describing the job of artistic director and sounding a little like Bayliss, the Zen boy.

"But there really couldn't be a real form to it other than show up, pay your money, don't expect a lot, and you won't be disappointed. Generally, what happens is people come because they're really behind the show and they want to see the actors. So, it's a really nice time for us and the audience," he added.

Those who have seen the show know that Secor is greatly understating the case for what a terrific evening "Homicide Live" can be. Most of the cast members have strong backgrounds in live theater and/or writing, so the readings and improvised acting pieces offer a showcase for some of their most creative efforts.

And the chance to see Richard Belzer doing stand-up comedy these days is rare. Belzer is a brilliant comedian, and the only downside of his success on "Homicide" is that it means fewer chances to see him do stand-up.

"That's another big part of being artistic director," Secor said, "reminding people of the date of the show and when they're supposed to show up. Richard Belzer, up until the day of the show last year, kept going: "What day are we doing this again? I can't remember. So, mainly, my job is to handle neuroses -- mine and the other actors -- because we are a terribly neurotic bunch. But you can use that energy for good things."

One of the good things about "Homicide Live 5," as this year's revue is being called, is that the proceeds go to a variety of area cultural and charitable organizations. The event is produced by the Fells Point Creative Alliance and benefits both the alliance and the future Patterson Cultural Center in the former Patterson Theater in Highlandtown. It will also help support the Bea Gaddy Family Centers and the Children's Memorial Museum.

"Baltimore has been great to us. This was a not a place circled on any map in my head before I came here seven years ago, but I love it," Secor said. " `Homicide Live' is our way saying thanks, of affirming all of the good things in this city."

For tickets, call 410-481-6500 or 800-955-5566. There will be two shows on March 7 at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets are $110, $80, $60 and $30, with standing-room tickets for $15. Call 410-276-1651 for information on separate tickets for a reception with the cast after the 8 p.m. performance

-- David Zurawik

Carter's new at Q

Brian Carter, a native Baltimorean who's spent more than a decade at Philadelphia's WUSL-FM, will take over the pivotal morning slot on Baltimore's top-rated radio station, WERQ-FM (92.3).

"He's got 11 years of success under his belt in a highly competitive urban market and done extremely well," says WERQ program director Tom Calococci. "As he's a Baltimore native, both he and I are extremely excited to bring him back home to the Q-munity."

Carter is scheduled to begin work on the 6 a.m.-10 a.m. morning show Monday, alongside Tony Boston and Shawna Renee, who have been holding down the fort since the September departure of Frank Ski to Atlanta.

Calococci said he has no plans to change the morning line-up. "It's all going to depend on the chemistry. If the chemistry works the way it did with Frank Ski and Tony and Tara Thomas, then we'll leave it as it is."

Calococci said he briefly considered giving the lead slot to Boston, under whose stewardship the morning show has continued to garner strong ratings. "But Tony has never really led a morning show, and with this type of a situation, you really do need someone with that sort of experience."

For his part, Boston says he's ready to work with Carter. "I'm just hoping that whatever I need to give him to make the morning show number one, I'm going to help him out."

-- Chris Kaltenbach

WEAA takes top honors

WEAA-FM (88.9), the Morgan State University radio station, has been selected as the major market Jazz Radio Station of the year by Gavin magazine, which covers the radio and recording industries.

The award was presented during a weekend seminar in New Orleans. Program director Kyle LaRue was on hand to accept.

"My eyes got wide, my heart started pounding," admits LaRue. "It was an excitement that could only compare to a few things in my life."

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