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“Everybody Loves Neil”

Doris Roberts January 2013

Doris Roberts January 2013

“Everybody loves Neil.” Well at least I know my mother does and so too my wife, but perhaps now even Doris Roberts, best known for her role as Marie Barone in the hit TV show, “Everybody Loves Raymond. I was commissioned to photograph Doris Roberts during a show in January 2013 and had a chance to chat with her alone in the Green Room before she went on stage.

Debbie Mazella, Magic 98.3 and Doris Roberts.

Debbie Mazella, Magic 98.3 and Doris Roberts.

Before our chat, I introduced myself to her manager Michael Cannata, as the photographer, and also to the show’s moderator Debbie Mazella from Magic 98.3 and then I went up to Doris Roberts and asked who she was, (jokingly of course), and not surprisingly she gave me one of those looks usually reserved for her fictitious daughter in-law, Debra Barone.

Her first big theatrical role.

Her first big theatrical role.

The lovable Doris told me about her latest movie due to be shown in November 2013 where she plays the role of a Grandmother in the latest remake of “Little Rascals”. Her favorite memory while making the movie was of how each of the children in the cast, ages ranging from 5-11, and whose personalities were not at all the depicted misfits in the storyline, gave her a warm hug at the beginning of each day on the set.

From Russia with love?

From Russia with love?

Did you know the Russians have their own show, “Everybody loves Sacha”? The American directors went over to help the “Soviets” with the show and suggested it be screened in front of a live audience. Despite several efforts to convince the Russian team of how and audience would greatly benefit the show’s dynamics they resisted but later admitted it was because they could not afford to buy chairs for the audience.

Doris Roberts and Neil Anthony of 21st Century Digital Photography.

Doris Roberts and Neil Anthony of 21st Century Digital Photography.

So why do I think Marie Barone “loves Neil”? Well during the evening’s performance the actress shared that she once attended a ‘Weight Watchers’ group and the group leader went around the room and asked each person what it was they wanted from the group. When they got to Doris, she said, “a man dipped in chocolate.” Well later that evening back in the Green Room a number of people had gathered for me to take their photos with the star and I of course seized the opportunity to have my own picture taken too, (with the help of my favorite blogger, Robin Birkel.) I soon realized that I was the only black man in the room, so I surprised everyone by announcing as I approached Doris for my photo opp, “As you can see, I have already been dipped in chocolate”. Rapturous, ‘chest heaving’ laughter filled the room and with a big smile, Doris Roberts declared that she will use my amusing remark in her future events. So there you see, ‘Everybody Loves Neil’.

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We don’t just do weddings

Neil Anthony of 21st Century Digital & ‘In The Moment Photography’ photographs and films business marketing events and weddings both internationally and throughout the Tri-State area. At a wedding Neil Anthony captures the transition of time, by being reactive, a quiet observer, the person who reports what he sees and doesn’t try to improve it, arrange it or fictionalize it, but captures the moments, naturally at its best. His clearly conveyed creative vision in the business arena always results in sharp authoritative imagery.
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21st Century Digital chats with former gymnast, actress and Tony Award nominee, Cathy Rigby

The making of Cathy Rigby‘s, Olympic story and the resulting after effects of her fame are well documented on the internet, so no need to rehash it here in a short blog. I will tell you this though after chatting with her for a only a few moments at the State Theatre, Rigby has after all these years managed to retain an enviable childlike spirit which she allowed us to witness during an impromptu cell phone conversation with the children of one of the guests that came to hear her speak at the 2012 Smart Talk series.

Donning the voice of her latest iteration of Peter Pan, you were soon able to discern from the poorly reproduced, over-amplified squeals emitted from a typically imprecise Smartphone loudspeaker, that Cathy engendered great delight into the hearts of two young children who were getting ready for bed moments before her call; even her British accent was quite convincing. Interestingly, Rigby seemed at home with the Peter Pan character and has in fact played the role many times over the decades. One might be forgiven for concluding that she finally found what she was looking for after giving of herself so completely during her former years as an Olympic athlete.


Neil Anthony & Cathy Rigby

Wow I never realized I was quite so tall.

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Neil meets Frances Mayes, poet, and author of the Number One New York Times Best Seller “Under the Tuscan Sun.”

Mayes delights the audience at the State Theatre with her famous Tuscan Story. You knew right away that there was no danger of Mayes somnolently regurgitating the storyline of her famed book, instead she enchanted the audience with crisp visions of a ‘life sized’ canvas oil painting crafted with little known facts about the Tuscan culture in which she has become immersed.
Her stories were so down-to-earth you were left wondering, “Why did God choose for me to live among the oil refineries of New Jersey instead of making Olive Oil under the Tuscan Sun? It’s hard not to think of God when listening to Mayes describes what seemed like heaven. The people, the food and the wine all existing in what seemed like self replenishing harmony. According to Mayes everyone pretty much grows and cooks their own food and shares the fruits of their labor with neighbors, friends and in many cases uninvited friends of your guests. In Italy there simply isn’t anything wrong with bringing a couple of extra friends along for a meal even if your host wasn’t informed. You just find a couple of extra chairs and boil more pasta. Mayes and her husband have become avid cooks and have written several books on the subject. Interestingly Mayes actually trained in French Cuisine, but found herself veering towards Italian cooking as she preferred the unique flavors that can be created with just two or three homegrown ingredients picked from her own garden moments before they hit the chopping board.

Neil Anthony & Frances Mayes

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21st Century Digital Meets Author, Professor & Political Analyst, Donna Brazile.

This image was photographed while revising the second iteration of her presentation which she later delivered with a steady stream of jocularity at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ. Without lifting her head from her writings, or missing a beat while she wrote at a pace rivaling a high speed printer, Donna remarked that although she gave a similar speech in Wilmington, Delaware the night before, she intended to give the New Jersey audience something new. In a later conversation she defended her use of what some might argue as “defunct pen and paper” by resisting the lure of technologies such as the omnipresent iPad. In the past she witnessed lectures given by prominent speakers grind to a bone jarring halt along with the frozen operating systems and low batteries of their laptops and iPads.


If I were asked which animal best describes Donna Brazile, it would be a duck. The way she has handled many of life’s injustices is akin to water running off a duck’s back. She spoke of many setbacks in her life, some of which were due to her gender, others because of her race, and not surprisingly some because of her political affiliation and her application of today’s typical incendiary moral opinions. Although not everyone will agree with her on chief subject matter, she remarked, “…it’s not what they call you it’s what you answer to.” Good advice for either side of the political fence.



 The audience was eager to hear Donna Brazile speak long before they even stepped into the theater. Recounting her childhood, Brazile shared many of her mother’s sayings that taught her and her siblings lessons about life: “If you want to eat, you have to sweep.” “If you want to earn, you have to learn.” These elementary child rearing tools are sadly omitted from many corners of today’s society. The simplicity of yesteryear has made Brazile a formidable woman of the 21st Century. She spoke so intimately of her now deceased mother you left the theater almost believing you lived next door. Her mother would have been incredibly proud to see so much of herself in her daughter. I hope my own children will feel about me, even half of what Brazile conveyed about her mother to a room full of strangers .


From left to right: Neil with Donna Brazile. Newspaper article. State Theatre. Balcony Shot of Donna.





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Pioneering Primatologist

Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall is an incredible woman. Aside from the fact that she possesses an exceptionally warm and magnetic personality, one would be compelled to say without question that she is a true celebrity. Formidable yet unintimidating, Goodall captivated a large audience spanning at least three generations during her recent talk at the State Theatre in New Brunswick. Commissioned by Smart Talk, Jane Goodall gave a succinct yet entertaining insight into her life as a young child before the 2nd world war right up to the 21st Century.

Chicken Egg

Here you see her describing her curiosity of the world of animals during early childhood when at the age of 5 years, she went on a trek to a chicken coop on her parents farm to discover how an egg of its size could  possibly come out of a chicken. Her hasty disappearance from her parent’s  farmhouse brought about much dismay for her mother of whom she spoke fondly.

Chimp Bite

When asked, Jane describes how she was once bitten by one of the chimpanzee’s that she spends her life protecting. She points out however that this particular chimpanzee was held hostage by its human captors and like any animal, (or human for that matter), seized an opportunity to escape and took a chunk out of her right thumb.

State Theatre, NJ

I’m not an animal activist, or any kind of activist for that matter, but after meeting Jane Goodall and studying her mind during the 30-40 minuets of her speech, I have become more aware, and now deeply saddened at how we as humans exploit each other, animals and the resources of our planet, largely for selfish gain.

Book Signing

Finally, I have photographed a number of celebrities at the State theater; the likes of world renowned Oceanographer Silvia Earl, Phylicia Rashad of the Cosby show and many more, but I have never seen patrons line up for a book signing that went all the way out of the theatre and down the street; in frigid weather no less.

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