‘Around the Corner with John McGivern’ opens with profile of Shorewood

Michael Muckian, Contributing writer

His travels for the popular Milwaukee Public Television series “Around the Corner with John McGivern” landed the actor in Shorewood last summer to film an episode that was chosen to open the program’s second season on Jan. 10.

The north shore Milwaukee community is one of the state’s most liberal and colorful suburbs – and one that’s close to the city’s East Side. That’s where McGivern grew up surrounded by characters who became some of his most entertaining and beloved stage material.

The Shorewood episode is the first of 13 that will take viewers in 2013 around the state to visit communities, including Mineral Point, Madison and Whitewater. People who live or work in Shorewood are invited to a free screening of the episode Jan. 3 at 6:30 p.m. at Discovery World’s Innovation Theater, 500 N. Harbor Drive, Milwaukee. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first- served basis.

Explorer Pere Jacques Marquette was thought to be the first European to set his eyes on the land that constitutes Shorewood when he and his companions sailed down what is now the Milwaukee River in 1674. During the 19th century, the village was variously known as Mechanicsville and Cementville – the latter for its rich limestone deposits that could be used in producing cement.

The town was established in 1900, when it seceded from what was then the town of Milwaukee. It was known as East Milwaukee until 1917, when it adopted its current name.

“Shorewood is really all about the water,” says McGivern. Its location between the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan is a determining factor for the area’s personality, he explains.

Resident Diedre Martin, a researcher for the “Around the Corner” series, suggested Shorewood as a destination for the show.

McGivern’s shows are designed to explore individual neighborhoods and communities through the eyes and voices of the people who live and work there. Even though each community or neighborhood is different, their residents share a common appreciation for where they live, McGivern says.

“There is a lot of pride in the various neighborhoods, and the enthusiasm is remarkable,” McGivern continues. “It doesn’t take but a question to get (interviewees) going about how much they like to live and work there.”

McGivern and MPTV producer Lois Maurer traditionally spend several days in the neighborhood before filming and conducting interviews. When filming the Shorewood segment, McGivern visited the Village Hall, the Shorewood High School drama program, Hubbard Park, Benji’s Deli and other familiar locations. He talked with Anne Marie Topel, whose Lake Drive home is listed on the National Register of Historic places, entrepreneurs Anne and John Nehring, and Leonard Sobzcak, owner of the Wisconsin Gazette.

“I went to grade school with Leonard,” McGivern says. “It was so nice to sit on the porch and talk with him, knowing that he is representing my community.”

“Around the Corner” already has been renewed for a third season, with new episodes scheduled to be filmed this coming spring and summer. The show is carried on all Wisconsin Public Television stations and airs in Milwaukee on channel 10 Thursdays at 7 p.m. and repeats Fridays on channel 36 at 8 p.m.