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By Tia Lynn Lecorchick Managing Editor

The Steffen Thomas Museum of Art (STMA) is gearing up for the grand finale of their latest fundraiser, Madison Confidential.

The fundraiser, which aims to raise $14,000 kicked off Feb. 14 with the Madison Confidential Tabloid Parody contest, which is an online tabloid competition with 10 contestants pose for tabloid parodies, shot by Greg Strelecki and designed by Karen Strelecki, director of the STMA.

Contestants compete for vote dollars to win for best tabloid. The fundraiser benefits the Museum’s arts outreach programs for kids called Art$mart. The month-long competition will culminate with the Madison Confidential Reality Show, starring the “Tabloid Tattlers,” hosted by Steve Schaefer on Saturday, March 14 at 7 p.m., held at the STMA.

Dan Mathews flat to paperweb

“The contestants are really getting into their characters and will be interviewed during our live performance,” said Karen Strelecki. “

The centerpiece of this event is the fake tv show in which Steve will put the contestants in the HOT SEAT and delve into their hi-jinks and tabloid tall tales.” “This is the first time we’ve done a performance based fund raiser.  Our writers of the script for the show are brilliant!

Schaefer is not only the host of the show, but he’s the leader of our creative team with Claudia Davis, Angelina Bellebuono and myself.   We’re pulling out all the comedy stops on this one!  We are going for non-stop laughs and over-the-top crazy!” explained Strelecki.

Cathy Lewan flat to paperweb

Strelecki thought taking a cue from the sensational and outrageous tales told in outlandish tabloids would be a one-of-kind fundraiser for the museum. “We wanted to offer the public something really different that involved a lot of members of the community and something that has a funky twist to it!  My husband and I came up with the idea of the tabloid as the visual for the on-line competition because what’s funnier than those nutty grocery store tabloids?

And our fund raising committee suggested that the perfect live version of the tabloid is REALITY TV, so the idea arose to have somebody host this interview formatted show with our wacky group of “interesting” people and their tabloid tall tales,” said Strelecki.

Karen Strelecki flat to paperweb

The 10 contestants are comprised of local residents involved in the community, ready to have fun for a good cause. Dan Mathews, director of Camp Twin Lakes is playing the character Big Dan P, a prepper. Mary Leslie Hartman, an artist and Susan Vaughn are pet psychics who can channel passed pets of the confederacy. Emmie Smock is the “winner” of the Nigerian Lottery who is now ruined. Patsy Harris is the victim of a mauling by her own shadow. Kate Booker was involved in a Bigfoot sighting that somehow turned into an Elvis sighting.


Jeremy Skidmore, music teacher at the primary school, was jilted by a reality TV star, Big Momma and turned his sorrow into a hit song on the country music charts. John Copelan and Jennifer Hendrix, of the Greene County Players, are Snidely Whiplash and Nell Fenwick, who were both candidates for mayor of Madison, till Snidely killed her with a poisoned cake at a campaign fund raiser. Cathy Lewan has been abducted by aliens in the past and has narrowly escaped a recent attempt during one of her flights (she’s a pilot who has an aerial photography business in real life). Chris Hodges, a city council member in real life, plays a ghost hunter who can commune with the spirits and haunts in historic madison. Finally, Karen Strelecki (director of STMA) plays Queenie, a crazed glitz pageant “mom” who forces her “child” into pageants.  “The bizarre thing is that her little darling, Barbie-Darlene is really a doll from Walmart.,” joked Strelecki.

Brooke Hatfield will entertain during intermission at the even with her hilariously famous review of the local Police Blotter. The Citizen’s very own Dianne Yost is providing choice tidbits for her to read. There are a myriad of ways for the community to get involved and contribute to the STMA’s fundraider. According to Strelecki, people can participate by going to the website, and voting for their favorite tabloid(s).

There is a $5 minimum vote, but no maximum. “They can type in any amount they want to donate, the more the better!  There will be a prize for the tabloid tattler who raises the most money!” said Strelecki.

“People can also participate buying a $40 ticket and have a great time at the event on March 14.  People can also buy jewelry raffle tickets. One ticket costs $10 or 3 tickets for $25. “You need not be present to win!,” said Strelecki. The Reality TV Show will be held at the STMA, located at 4200 Bethany Road, Buckhead.

Whidby Jewelers is a jewelry raffle sponsor, donating diamond and smoky topaz earrings in white gold worth $1899 to be raffled off. The Caboose in Rutledge is catering the event. Ernest Rogers is providing music with “Big Ern’s Trailer Park Band.” The event will also feature dancers from DanceFX of Athens.

Other sponsors include Morgan County Citizen, Madison Studios, Greg Strelecki Photography, and Smith Communications. Strelecki is committed to finding fun creative ways to keep their children’s program going. According to Strelecki, the museum’s arts outreach program for kids is called Art$mart and these programs will benefit from every dollar that comes into the museum during this two-part fund raiser.

The programs include our Creative Teens Earning Green program at the Morgan County Crossroads Alternative School, A Day @ STMA, which is a field trip program for all school children in the area, and College Connections the exhibition program with college and university art students. “I am personally completely immersed in this fabulous museum and the museum, in turn, is immersed in the community!

We are committed to bringing art experiences of all kinds to the folks in Morgan County and the surrounding counties and we are on a quest to really broaden the definition of those experiences!” said Strelecki.

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