By EVELYN CAIRNS
Richard Norton Smith, biographer of American presidents, historian and television panelist, will be the speaker for a Downriver Town Hall program at 11 a.m. Thuyrsday at Crystal Gardens in Southgate.
Smith is familiar to C-SPAN viewers as a member of “The News Hour with Jim Lehrer,” which features a roundtable of historians.
The speaker’s first biographical work, “Thomas E. Dewey and His Times,” was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. Smith also wrote “An Uncommon Man: The Triumph of Herbert Hoover,” and “Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation,” among other biographies.
He received the Goldsmith Book Prize, awarded by Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, for “The Colonel: The Life and Legend of Robert R. McCormick,” then began research for a biography of Nelson Rockefeller.
Smith has directed, updated and expanded numerous presidential libraries, including the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library in Ann Arbor. In addition, he worked with the Gerald R. Ford. Museum in Grand Rapids and was called “a true visionary” by Ford when the museum was rededicated.
A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University with a degree in government, Smith started his career as a White House intern, and then became a freelance writer for the Washington Post and later a speech writer for Sen. Bob Dole.
Additional Town Hall lectures are scheduled for Feb. 13, when Gentry Lee will be the speaker, and March 13, when “Perfessor” Bill Edwards will entertain the audience.
Gentry is known as the chief engineer involving the U.S. solar system’s exploration through the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA in Pasadena, Calif.
Edwards, who embarked on a musical career after his talent for playing ragtime was discovered while he was working in a pizzeria, will perform during his lecture.
TNT slates ‘Vaudeville’
A dinner theater presentation of “Vaudeville” by TNT Productions is slated for Jan. 10, 11, 17 and 18 at the James R. DeSana Center for Arts & Culture, 81 Chestnut St., Wyandotte.
Impressions of such legendary singers and stars of comedy including Milton Berle, Lucille Ball, Sophie Tucker, Doris Day and Gilda Radner will be presented by TNT cast members.
Dinner will be served at 7 p.m., and the show will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $30. For reservations, or information about other dinner options and reduced prices, call the Downriver Council for the Arts at 734-720-0671.
‘Avatar’ exhibit at Henry Ford
James Cameron’s “Avatar, The Exhibition,” on view until Jan. 26 at The Henry Ford, depicts the technology and inspiration that brought the film “Avatar” to the screen.
Visitors are able to experience being in the world of Pandora, participate in an interactive display that shows how concept art was used to create the movie, and ex-plore the sound design used in the film.
There is no charge to view the display beyond the cost for admission to the museum: $17, adults, and $12.50, youths. Children 4 and under are free.
A special combination offer allows purchasers of museum admissions to take advantage of a buy one, get one half off offer for “Avatar Special Edition: an IMAX 3D Experience.” The movie is being screened at the Henry Ford IMAX Theatre through Jan. 26. For additional information, call 313-982-6001.
‘Girls Night’ musical set
A play about five women in their 30s and 40s who reminisce about the successes and tragedies in their lives since they were teens, “Girls Night: The Musical,” will be staged Jan. 9 through 19 at the City Theatre in the Hockeytown Café Building.
Tickets, $38, are available at all Ticketmaster locations and www.ticketmaster.com. To charge tickets, call 800-745-3000; for more information, call 313-471-6611.