Ron Faiola clearly loves the topics he's been making documentaries about.
He'd have to, because there's little reward beyond the accomplishment. Documentary film-making is usually an expense, rather than a money-maker. And in his "Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old-Fashioned Experience," he does accomplish something, indeed, outdoing his first effort, last year's "Fish Fry Night Milwaukee."
"Wisconsin Supper Clubs" airs in Milwaukee tonight at 9 on Channel 10. That's the only scheduled airing on Milwaukee Public TV, so if you have other viewing plans, you'll want to record it. Or check Faiola's website for details on getting a DVD, which is well worth the $20 investment.
This finely crafted hour of television looks at more than a dozen supper clubs around the state, eateries that represent what may be a dying part of the state's food culture. These are stand-alone business, not part of the encroaching food chains, serving menus that can be unique, although not adventurous or cutting edge, and provide a familiar and homey place for the regular and newcomers alike.
And then there's the relish tray with those big, round, red pickled peppers that mean a supper club to me.
Hey, we all have our own versions of comfort food.
That's a defining feature of supper clubs, although they often serve different types of food and the settings aren't necessarily the same. Faiola travels the state to tell us about 14 different places that call themselves supper clubs, marketing a comfortable familiarity along with the food.
My favorite on the list (although I haven't visited, except through this documentary) is Schwarz's Supper Club is St. Anna, an unincorporated community with inhabitants who don't pronounce that final "a" in St. Anna.
Its one of those little quirks that Faiola is preserving here.
I'm hungry to see what Faiola's third effort will be.
Here's the trailer for "Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old-Fashioned Experience":
On TV: New York and Chicago will host Conan O'Brien's TBS talk show. He'll be in New York for a week starting Halloween, and hit the Windy City next year.
- Speaking of the Windy City, its still-under-construction Museum of Broadcast Communications will display Oprah Winfrey's studio door. Chicago media guru Robert Feder reports she donated the door back in 2004.
- Fox's decision to drop "America's Most Wanted" as a weekly show (it'll air quarterly specials) has, of course, spawned a "Save AMW" movement. Here's a Facebook page pushing the effort.
- TNT says it'll follow up final season of "The Closer" with a spinoff called "Major Crimes" starting Mary McDonnell carrying on her "Closer" role as Captain Raydor.
- Lisa Edelstein says her Dr. Cuddy won't be returning for the eighth and final season of Fox's "House" in the fall.
The Bill and Jon show: Comedy Central fake news anchor Jon Stewart and Fox News Channel's mudwrestler in chief Bill O'Reilly on O'Reilly's show over the rapper, Common, and his White House visit.
Here's the two-part video:
Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for OnMilwaukee.com. He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.
A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.
In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at OnMilwaukee.com.
When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.