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Who is the Guild's Mystery Guest of 2008?

The Providence Newpaper Guild's annual Follies, the most Rhode Island-related fun that someone can have while eating and drinking in Massachusetts, takes place tonight, as always, at the Venus de Milo in not-too-distant Swansea. By statutory requirement, the event can not take place in the Ocean State. (It's sold out, if you don't already have tix.)

The Follies is a satirical send-up of the year in Rhode Island news, performed by Journal employees and co-conspirators, accompanied by a rich high-cholesterol buffet and a thronged cocktail hour featuring lively chatter among pols, reporters, and more than 1000 assorted movers and shakers. The whole thing began in the early-mid '70s as a way of healing the wounds of a brief but bitter strike at the ProJo. And in terms of creative fodder, not for nothing, but Vo Dilun is the gift that keeps giving, as we inkie wretches like to say.

One highlight of the night is the reveal of a Mystery Guest from the world of politics. Last year, Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Roberts did a bravura turn, playing against her friendly, down-to-earth manner as a secretly hyper-controlling Machiavellian of the first order. A very young lad portrayed Paul Tencher, her 20-something chief of staff.

Other Mystery Guests in recent years include Bill Murphy + Joe Montalbano, David Cicilline, Linc Chafee, and Patrick Kennedy.

As always, we expect a great show. And since Chelsea Clinton is in town to campaign for her mother, as part of Rhode Island's hard-fought March 4 primary, could she be the One? Ted Kennedy is another possibility.

Hey, what could be better than the both of them?

Stay tuned.

At any rate, Guild members can be thankful about the ProJo's relatively frugal style of management, and how the paper, unlike the New York Times-owned Boston Globe and Worcester T+G, isn't seeing sharp staffing cuts.

In related news, Guild administrator Tim Schick, a shameless ham during his annual on-stage moments, is a busy guy these days. Not only has he been rehearsing and overseeing the distribution of Follies' tickets, Schick is managing the top of one of the two slates facing off during a national Guild convention at the Providence Westin (rank and file will vote in an Apri electionl). About 180 Guild folk from across the states, Canada, and Puerto Rico are in town.

In what Schick calls the first contested races in 12 years, he is co-managing A Stonger Guild, topped by Bernie Lunzer, currently secretary-treasurer of the organization. Lunzer is challenging incumbent Linda Foley of Team Guild. Regarding the convention, which began yesterday, Schick says, "I'm sure there will be lots of fireworks."

With the newspaper industry in a continued state of change and high anxiety, Schick says, "A lot of the concerns deal with how the Guild as an organization is approaching these issues, and what sort of influence we can have on the employers to listen to us."

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