Tanya McRae and the art of television

Tanya McRae simply describes the best title for her work in television production as "I do it all." And as anyone who works with her can attest, that's an accurate description. 

Originally from New York City, but we won't hold that against her, McRae went to middle school in Amherst and graduated from Cambridge Rindge & Latin High.  She has been working as a host, reporter, producer, and writer in Los Angeles for the last 18 years.  Her credits include shows on all four networks, and several cable channels including Lifetime, Travel Channel, Discovery, MTV, TLC, E! Entertainment Television, and A & E. She moved back to Boston last fall to be closer to family and heard the buzz around town about "styleboston," a 30-minute independently produced lifestyle show that airs on Wednesdays on NECN. She is now hosting segments and doing business development for the show.

McRae's Irish roots are deep. Her maternal great-grandfather, Thomas Casey, was from Waterford. During the famine, when he was eight years old,  his family put him on a boat alone and sent him to the United States. Somehow, he survived the journey that killed many others and made his way to St. Louis. 

As a young man, Casey traveled to Red Wing, Minn., and then eventually settled in Denver.  He owned a ranch that he called the Lazy KC (brand for "Casey").  And, says McRae, "Family lore has it that Sitting Bull, on his way to his last meeting with the federal government, bought a horse from Thomas's ranch." In time, Casey built a brick factory with the "KC" brand stamped on the bricks.

On her mother's side, her family traces its roots to County Cork, with the family landing in Philadelphia.  In 1854 members of the family were murdered in Know-Nothing riots and those who survived migrated to Minnesota and Denver. But McRae, like so many others, claims a diverse lineage. "My heritage also includes Swedish, Scottish, African American, Cherokee, Lumbee, Cree, and Yuchi Native American tribes."


Another "styleboston" person in the news is one of the show's co-hosts, former Massachusetts lieutenant governor Kerry Healey, who conducts interviews for the 30-minute show that was created by former Boston Common editor Terri Stanley. Healey's interviews have included Charles Hotel owner Dick Friedman, former US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, and state Representative Linda Dorcena Forry. 


When Jeffrey Donovan, star of the USA Network's hit series "Burn Notice," was an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, he used to get up at 4 a.m. and drive the campus shuttle bus to pay his tuition.

Donovan made his comments to Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa on their ABC morning show "Live With Regis and Kelly" as "Burn Notice" was finishing up its third season. 

In the one-hour show, Donovan, an Amesbury native, plays a former "special ops" spy who now helps other people in trouble, is known for his martial arts skills and doing his own stunts. It's a skill he has honed over the years. 

"When I went to college, I wasn't good enough to play any sports, so I took up karate," Donovan said on the morning chat show. He later studied akido and Brazilian jujitsu. 

And now on "Burn Notice" Donovan practices both his training at the New York University's Graduate Acting Program and karate, but he's actually been hurt on the set. "I got used to the long hours and the tough schedules, but I was injured in the pilot," said the Amesbury High alum. Donovan would train visiting actors on the show's stunts, but no matter how much he would stress it was all acting, "I would get hit in the face."


Fans and friends of Coach Jim Cotter and Boston College High School football – and they are legion – have been celebrating the release of Cotter's illustrated memoir, "A True Man for Others: The Coach Jim Cotter Story." A well-attended event was held recently at the school to celebrate Cotter and the book's publication and to raise money to support the school's Cotter Scholarship, Compassionate Care ALS, and The Angel Fund.

Cotter's name is nearly a synonym for BC High football. And now this man, who has been hailed for teaching his players how to be tough and fair on and off the field, has collaborated with Paul Kenney for the book in which Cotter calls himself "a Battler." Cotter made his way through BC High and Boston College as a two-sport athlete and worked on the docks, all before returning to his alma mater in 1960 as a teacher. He would go onto to become the head coach of BC High's football program, which he would run for 41 years. Now, as the memoir lays out, Cotter is battling his toughest opponent, ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease.

Kenney is from the Columbia/Savin Hill section of Dorchester where he grew up on the "top floor of a Wattendorf tri-level ranch" and spent his "formative years on the corners of Romsey Street." Kenney met Cotter at BC High in 1967, when the young aspiring writer took Cotter's American history class. 

The accolades have been rolling in for the book, including one from BC High alum Dennis Lehane, the bestselling author of "Mystic River" and "Gone, Baby, Gone." Lehane writes of the memoir: "A wonderful book about a Boston legend. As colorful, insightful, and enthralling as its subject. You'll end up buying two copies, one to read, one to pass on in hopes of inspiration." 


And speaking of Lehane, "Shutter Island," the third feature film to be made from the bestselling author's books, has set box office records for the movie's star and director. "Shutter Island," which was filmed in Massachusetts, opened Presidents' Day weekend and brought in $40.2 million in the first three days it was in theaters. That's a record for Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese.

Boston has been lucky for DiCaprio and Scorsese, who worked together on "The Departed," which brought Scorsese his first Oscar. That film was written by another Boston native, William Monahan, who also won an Oscar for that film.


Scituate native Nick Flynn has enlisted the help of some of Boston's best musicians for the release of his latest book, "The Ticking is the Bomb." Flynn added musical performances for his recent appearances at Berklee College's Cafe 939 where he was joined on stage by Eric Martin (of the Neats and Illyrians) and Drew O'Doherty for his early performance, and Bill Janovitz and Chris Colbourn of Buffalo Tom, along with Franc Graham for the later 90-minute show. 

An award-winning poet and the author of the bestselling memoir "Another [expletive] Night in Suck City," Flynn's book is about how in the months leading up to his daughter's birth in 2007, he became so outraged by the photographs of the torture of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib that he traveled to Istanbul to meet some of the Iraqi men show in the photos. 

Flynn spent six years working at the Pine Street Inn, which led to his memoir. He has published two collections of poetry, "Some Ether" and "Blind Huber," and his work has appeared in The Nation, New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The New York Times Book Review. 

He is teaching for a semester at the University of Houston and now calls upstate New York home.


Ray Flynn, former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican and Mayor of Boston, will serve as the Grand Marshal of the Cape Cod St. Patrick's Day Parade that will be held on Saturday, March 6. The parade's theme is "Heroes and Heroines of Ireland." Flynn was the Grand Marshal for New York City's St. Patrick's parade in 2007. The parade begins in West Dennis at 11 a.m. at the intersection of School Street and Route 28 and concludes at the Cape Code Irish Village Motel in West Yarmouth.