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Scene & Heard: Matt Damon's Time in Naples

Alex J. Berliner / AP Images

The news spread fast around Old Naples in December about Matt Damon being in town. Everyone wanted to know why the Oscar winner was here. It turns out his ailing father, Kent Damon, owns a home so close to historic Third Street South he could likely hear the nightly live music and festive crowds. The star of Good Will Hunting and the Bourne franchise ventured out and was spotted buying a bottle of Orin Swift’s Mercury Head wine at Tony’s Off Third, which is only about a block away from where Matt’s dad was living. Kent had been battling a rare blood disease called multiple myeloma since 2011. Just a few days before the Naples sighting, Matt had made national headlines during an interview with Extra when he explained why he had missed several recent public appearances. “We’ll take any prayers you got, so throw ’em up there,” he said in reference to his father’s health. Sadly, Kent, who made his career as a stockbroker, passed away on Dec. 14. It had to be of some comfort to have his son by his side in his final days.

Finally. Add “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame” to the legendary résumé of The Moody Blues rocker John Lodge. He owns a condo at Kalea Bay in Naples but was at his home in England on a cold December afternoon when he got the call. Lodge told me that when he learned of the induction, it suddenly felt a lot warmer. The 72-year-old spends a lot of time in Naples because the location puts all of America within his reach for touring and to be close to his son’s family. Lodge sees legacy in this honor. “When John Henry, my grandson, visits the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with his children he can say, ‘That’s my grandad.’” It’s only fitting the nod comes on the 50th anniversary of The Moody Blues’ groundbreaking concept album Days of Future Passed. Local fans got to see the band in January during a tour stop at Germain Arena. And April brings the long-awaited visit to Cleveland for the much-coveted Hall of Fame ceremony.

’Twas the season for birthdays and parties and sparkling fundraising events, and I got to go to bunches of them. Although, with so much traipsing about and flitting to and fro, I’m ready for someone to invent a version of high-heeled Birkenstocks. Social season in Southwest Florida can be tough on a girl’s feet. So, it’s a good thing that amazing Alliance for the Arts maven Lydia Black’s 40th birthday party in November was a casual backyard affair with a bonfire, the local acoustic band Kolter & Grim, and lots food and drink from Lydia’s childhood home of Brazil. Plenty of Lydia’s and her husband, Chris’, family members came from all over. Plus, there were dear friends Tessa LeSage, Liz Abbott, Greg Longenhagen, Tom and Lourdes Smoot, and lots more to help Lydia blow out her candles. Her best friend, Katie Haas, Red Sox Vice president of Florida Business Operations, was out of town with family, so the two, along with their husbands, did a birthday vacation to Atlanta before the party. Lydia and Katie flew separately from the guys, and when a fellow passenger suffered from a seizure moments after the jet had left the ground, Lydia and Katie sprang into action. Our local arts leader and sports leader held the lady down gently and prevented her from injuring herself until the plane could turn around and land again at RSW. These women are truly a dynamic duo.

A dynamo when it comes to fashion and philanthropy, Judy Starnes celebrated her 70th in December with a surprise party at the Twisted Vine Bistro in downtown Fort Myers. Judy’s famous for her expert style and outfitting the most well-heeled ladies in and around Fort Myers since the 1980s at her legendary boutique, Janet Marie Studios. And although she recently retired, she’s still as youthful as ever. She dyed her signature maroon-colored bob platinum blond and now sports a super cute pixie cut—and she even gets mistaken for her youngest daughter. Judy still loves hitting the ballroom dance floor with her dashing husband, Judge Hugh Starnes, where they still compete in dance contests. Judy’s bestie, Sandra Donatelli, was charged with getting Judy to the Twisted Vine where family and friends (Melinda Isley, Margie Bilotti, Leigh Scrabis, Ashton Begg, Sarah Isley and more) awaited and said, “It was incredible to see Judy so surprised and delighted. She just radiated joy. She’s always doing so much for others; it was wonderful to be able to have a night that was all about celebrating Judy. She put on a fuchsia birthday boa and had a blast!”

For birthdays or holidays, there’s nothing like family, so Kathleen and Emmett Nealon along with their daughter, Kimberly, and son Chris, were happy to have eldest son Kevin Nealon of SNL fame visit for the holidays. He even posed for a selfie with Kimberly on Facebook before getting back to his many projects—including his Web series Hiking with Kevin, which is getting fabulous reviews. Find it on YouTube.

Whether it’s TV and film celebrities or Broadway stars, you just never know who might pop up in Fort Myers. In fact, Florida Repertory Theatre was abuzz with excitement when renowned Broadway star Paxton Whitehead joined members of the Florida Rep ensemble in January in Alan Ayckbourn’s comedy How the Other Half Loves. A Tony nominee, the actor originally from Great Britain has also been featured in a variety of TV shows and film and is probably best known for his role on The West Wing. Florida Rep is celebrating its 20th anniversary season, and now that Broadway stars are headed down to be on its stage, it’s getting even more exciting.

Magician Michael Carbonaro left quite a mess on stage when he bowed out at the end of his show at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall at FSW. Fans know him as the prankster from the hidden camera show The Carbonaro Effect on truTV. On this night in December, they saw a whole new side. The 41-year-old stripped down backstage and came out wearing nothing but a towel. He then proceeded to cover his body in shaving cream and sculpt it into various monsters. A bit he started as a kid is now paying the bills and a whole lot more.




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