On Politics
by Anthony Stasi
Apr 07, 2009 | 8478 views | 5 5 comments | 88 88 recommendations | email to a friend | print
If you live in Queens and you say you've never seen the Queens Public Television Show Talking About, you're a liar. Okay, you might not have known you were watching it, but it has been on QPTV for more than ten years. The show is a Charlie Rose-style interview show hosted by the trio of Jonathan Griffith, J.C. Alvarez, and original host Christine Kallinger.

The show usually features guests that are either from Queens, or have some influence in the borough. Griffith is the show's creator, and the general ebb and flow of questioning and comfort conversation is clearly indicative of his own demeanor. People from the arts, as well as activists and community service groups, usually make up the menu of guests on Talking About.

Why am I writing about a public access show that has a somewhat predictable format? Talking About will celebrate its 200th episode on April 17 at 8 p.m. on Queens Public Television Channel 34. It will be a live show, and often the live shows have call-in options for home viewers.

Having worked in television for more years than I would like to admit, I know how difficult it is to keep creative content pumping, and 200 episodes is laudable. Griffith has a lot of pet causes that often get a great deal of visibility on the show, such as AIDS activism and people that may have experiences to share about autism. Keeping the show open to a free exchange of ideas has been Griffith's main objective, but he certainly works hard for his own causes.

The reason why this show is important is twofold. People watch these programs whether they admit it or not. I have appeared on a few public access political shows, and it's strange how many people tell you they saw it. (I admit, however, that most of these shows only act as a nightlight for people when their TV is on.) The other important reason for this show is that it can certainly hold its own - productively and creatively - on a commercial network. I'd watch Talking About without the sound before I would endure five minutes of Keith Olbermann on CNBC.

Over 100 shows are archived on the Talking About's website, www.talkingabout.info. I cannot say exactly what Griffith has on the menu for April 17, but if you're around a television you might tune in to see what he's talking about.

Project HEAL

Some elected officials have begun to focus on eating disorders as more young people are suffering from esteem issues. Think it's not really an issue? If someone you're related to doesn't have an eating disorder, then someone you know probably does.

It wasn't always like that. Eating disorders are becoming more and more common as advertisements and the television increasingly tell us who and what is beautiful. Add to that the explosion of social networking sites, where people share photos with the world, and you have a real reason to feel self-conscious.

Self-image disorders are no longer relegated to young women. One in 10 people that are reported as having an eating disorder are men. Kristina Saffran of Douglaston, along with two friends Becky Allen and Liana Rosenman, started Project HEAL (www.theprojectheal.org) in order to raise money for young people with eating disorders. The goal of this organization is to help place people that want help with eating disorders in treatment facilities.

This is by no means a makeshift vanity group for these young women to put on their resume. Project HEAL was incorporated in May of 2008, and they are now pending 501-c3 status. They have already placed people in facilities due to their ability to tap funding streams. The three founders are only in their teens, but they run a completely professional organization.

Project HEAL is planning a dress sale in Douglaston on Saturday, May 23, between the hours of 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., at The Douglaston Club. The group focuses on three types of eating disorders: anorexia, bulimia, and binge eaters. These three women met and became friends when they were hospitalized with eating disorders. They decided a year ago to help other people with esteem issues.

Legislatively, Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (New York - AD 51) has been pretty active in starting The Comprehensive Care Center for Eating Disorders, which has a 24-hour, toll-free hotline (888-747-4727). New Jersey State Senator Joe Vitale is helping to launch STAR (States for Treatment, Access, and Research). Vitale wants medical professionals to be trained and familiar with eating disorders. He also wants to see health care organizations recognize eating disorders as real illnesses.

Eating disorders are often about empowerment, or the false sense of it.

"You want control over your body, so you think that by controlling your weight, you are exercising control, but it really is a lack of control," says Saffran.

What eating disorders do is similar to depression - it takes the individual out of their lives. Suddenly a person that was very focused on their career or schooling is now obsessed with how they feel about their identity.

A few years ago, I became good friends with Ben Kramer of Vancouver. Ben was autistic, as well as a mountain climber, photographer, and a marathon swimmer. Like these young women, Ben raised awareness and money for his cause. He stayed at my apartment one weekend and wound up telling me that he suffered from depression. He told me he was on medication, and that if he had not gotten help, he never would have accomplished such amazing things, such as swimming around Manhattan (21 miles non-stop) for 16 years in a row. He got himself back on track, and his life became incredible.

Project HEAL aims to get people back on track. Visit their website, and you will be able to read about the experiences of the three founders. They openly tell their story, and they openly wish to help you if you need it. Here is hoping you never need the help of Project HEAL, but also that you will help them in their mission.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Billy C
April 14, 2009
Great article! I'm looking forward to the show.
Mike V
April 11, 2009
What Jenny said. times ten.
Jenny S
April 11, 2009
JC Alvarez is a sexy beast. I love watching him
Christine D
April 10, 2009
I watch that show
Bob_Forest Hills
April 09, 2009
Thank you for the article about one of my favorite community TV shows, Talking About. Whether I agree or disagree with the views expressed the hosts always treat the guests and callers with the utmost respect. I will set my DVR for Channel 34 next friday at 8.