San Joaquin ValleyTown Hall hosts experts for informative lecture series

The Fresno BeeSeptember 2, 2013 

San Joaquin Valley Town Hall this season has rounded up experts on identity theft, the Dust Bowl, markets and morals, astronomy, brain science, and U.S. government and media.

Town Hall's 2013-14 lecture series begins at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 16 at Saroyan Theatre with Frank Abagnale, whose former life as a con man provided the inspiration for Steven Spielberg's 2002 film, "Catch Me If You Can," starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks.

Abagnale's lecture — "Catch Me If You Can" — is his life story.

Typically, Town Hall lecturers give just one presentation during a season.

The day before Abagnale's lecture, however, he also will give a presentation at Town Hall's special evening event at 7 p.m. Oct. 15 at the Tower Theater.

Abagnale, now a crime-stopper who provides the latest information to protect institutions, associations and corporations from white-collar crimes, is speaking on "Fraud/The Art of the Steal."

"We decided to go a different way," says Charlene Heuer, president of Town Hall. "We had Frank Abagnale (lined up), and it so happens he does a different topic on identity theft. So we decided he would do two lectures, which is unusual for our speakers. We decided to go with him also for our popular evening event.

"Everything we've heard, he is very entertaining and makes it fun with his presentations, even though white-collar crimes in a technological world is a serious topic."

Other lecturers are author/journalist Timothy Egan, political philosopher/Harvard professor Michael Sandel, astrophysicist/University of California astronomy professor Alexei Filippenko, brain scientist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor and investigative journalist/author Carl Bernstein.

"We look forward to having a very good selection of speakers on all kinds of topics who are experts in their fields and wonderful presenters," Heuer says. "I don't think they will disappoint."

Here's a closer look at each lecturer:

Timothy Egan, Nov. 20: He won the 2006 National Book Award for nonfiction and was named a New York Times Editors' Choice for "The Worst Hard Time," a book about people who lived through The Great Depression's Dust Bowl.

Michael Sandel, Jan. 15: His topic — "What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets" — also is the title of his latest bestseller, which rethinks the role that markets should play in a democratic society and people's lives.

Alexei Filippenko, Feb. 19: His research has been mainly on supernovae, black holes and gamma-ray bursts. He also played an integral role discovering that the universe is actually speeding up — a finding that has rocked physics. His lecture is on "Dark Energy and the Runaway Universe."

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, March 12: She is a spokesperson for stroke recovery based on the insight she gained from her own massive stroke. Talking on "My Stroke of Insight," she explains how her stroke taught her the meaning of life.

Carl Bernstein, April 16: He worked with Bob Woodward at The Washington Post on the main reporting of the Watergate scandal in the 1970s. Bernstein's work continues to reveal the inner workings of government and politics. His talk is on "The System Can Work: A Legendary Journalist Looks at America's Government and the Media from Watergate to the 21st Century."

San Joaquin Valley Town Hall series

10:30 a.m. Wednesdays, Saroyan Theatre, 700 M St. Season tickets $115, single tickets $25. For an additional $25, there are a limited number of reservations available for lunch with speakers. Details: (559) 444-2180 or


The reporter can be reached at or (559) 441-6304.

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