Top journalists, top chefs and a top scientist People once dubbed the "sexiest astrophysicist alive" are among the great speeches and lectures coming to the Tampa Bay area in the coming months.
Date-night worthy talks by smart people include Tom Brokaw, the "Barefoot Contessa" Ina Garten and Neil deGrasse Tyson, the most pop culture-savvy geek to walk the Earth. You can also see the Food Network's Alton Brown bring messy and "potentially dangerous" food science experiments to an interactive show at Tampa's David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts and hear from some of the area's top local chefs talk about the science of food.
The Poynter Institute, owner of the Tampa Bay Times, has lined up Pulitzer Prize winners and well-known journalists for talks and fundraisers for the educational outfit's St. Petersburg campus. And the Times Festival of Reading on Nov. 12 will bring more than 45 authors of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and books for young readers will be giving talks and signing books.
If you like a good lecture, here are some of the best ones coming this season:
Neil deGrasse Tyson (Nov. 17): The astrophysicist is known for his wit, keen insights and an encyclopedic knowledge the universe. His appeal as a teacher and intellectual has led to hosting duties on shows such as NOVA, NOVA ScienceNOW and StarTalk, a popular podcast and TV series on the National Geographic Channel that combines celebrity guests with informative banter. He also took over where Carl Sagan left off in Cosmos, the hit television miniseries exploring the mysteries of space. $45-$127 on Nov. 17 at Carol Morsani Hall at the Straz Center in Tampa. strazcenter.org.
Ina Garten (Nov. 2): The culinary icon known as the Barefoot Contessa brings behind-the-scenes stories of life in the Hamptons, filming of her Food Network show, writing best-selling books and her enjoyment of food. $35-$85 at Carol Morsani Hall at the Straz Center.
Alton Brown (April 21): The author of James Beard award-winning cookbooks won a Peabody for his science-centric series Good Eats for 13 years on the Food Network. The Iron Chef America host's live show is called "Eat Your Science." He will have songs, comedy, puppets and lots of messy food demonstrations. $35-$125 at the Straz Center.
Kathleen Parker (Oct. 13): The Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist for the Washington Post is the first of four planned community conversations as part of the Poynter Institute's annual speaker series. She will offer a special look at the 2016 campaign. $25, $75 with dinner at 5:30 p.m. at the Poynter Institute, 801 Third St. S, St. Petersburg. poynter.org.
Dan Rather (Nov. 11): The former anchor of the CBS Evening News will appear as part of Poynter's Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists. Rather has called Murrow his "north star" and will reflect on the life and career of this television pioneer. $100. The Poynter Institute.
Times Festival of Reading (Nov. 12): Among the dozens of writers at the free festival will be Tampa resident and bestselling author Michael Connelly, whose detective Harry Bosch is the title character of the Amazon TV series. Also, essayist and author Joyce Maynard, political thriller novelist Brad Meltzer and famed sportswriter Frank Deford. See the full lineup at festivalofreading.com.
Marty Baron (Dec. 13): The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist was the Boston Globe editor portrayed by Liev Schreiber in the Oscar-winning movie Spotlight. Baron will share his insights on the 2016 election and the current state of the media. $40, $100 with dinner at 5:30 p.m. at the Poynter Institute.
The Bowtie Ball (Dec. 9): This fundraiser for the Poynter Institute will honor Tom Brokaw with the Poynter Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism. $125. 6:30 p.m. Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon Parkway, 950 Lake Carillon Drive, St. Petersburg. poynter.org.
Carl Hiaasen (March 5): The Florida native began as a newspaper columnist (and still is) but then he spun comedy gold in a series of novels for both adults (Tourist Season, Strip Tease) and young readers (Hoot) using the oddball goings-on of the Sunshine State as a backdrop. He will give a talk March 5 in Ferguson Hall at the Straz Center. $35-$55.
National Geographic Live: Hear the story behind the stories from the writers, photographers, filmmakers, scientists, explorers and adventurers of National Geographic. The seventh season of this popular and informative series will include Ocean Wild: The Light Beneath the Seas with photographer Brian Skerry (Jan. 17), Spinosaurus: Lost Giant of the Cretaceous with paleontologist Nizar Ibrahim (Feb. 21) and Rhinos, Rickshaws and Revolutions: My Search for Truth with photojournalist Ami Vitale (March 28). $25-$30. Straz Center.
The Science of Food (Oct. 18 and 27): In conjunction with the Dali Museum's exhibition Ferran Adria: The Invention of Food, the museum will have free talks with top local chefs including chef Jeannie Pierola (Oct. 18) and Greg Baker (Oct. 27), both multiple James Beard Foundation semifinalists. The events are free but RSVP by Oct. 17 for Pierola or by calling (727) 803-9799 ext. 201 or emailing [email protected] Doors open at 6 p.m., discussion begins at 6:30 p.m. 1 Dali Blvd. (Bayshore Drive SE and Fifth Avenue SE), St. Petersburg. thedali.org.
Dick Crippen (Nov. 10): The longtime Tampa Bay radio and TV personality will be at Happy Hour with the Historian at the St. Petersburg Museum of History to talk about the evolution of Tampa Bay sports, from the Rowdies to the Rays. $5, members free. 335 Second Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. spmoh.com.
Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at [email protected] Follow @SharonKWn.