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May 26, 2011 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2011-05-26

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Ninety-year-old hosts TV interview show at retirement community.

Tom Huggler
Special to the Jewish News


he old saying about everyone hav-
ing their "15 minutes of fame" is
coming true for many residents
of Fox Run Retirement Community off 13
Mile Road near Novi. A growing number
have had the chance to tell their personal
stories on Rosev's Neighbors, a closed-
circuit TV program so popular it now airs
three times daily, Monday through Sunday.
Rosev Lieberman, the 90-year-old
founder and hostess of the 15-minute
show, has lived at Fox Run for six years
with her husband, Al Lieberman, 94. The
idea for the program came to her after she
was the subject of an interview for Fox Run
Update, the weekly in-house program on
channels 8 and 13 that informs the com-
munity's nearly 1,000 residents of local
Although she had no broadcast experi-
ence, Lieberman said she never gave that
or her ability to do the program a second
thought. "I've always been interested in
people and their stories:' she said. "They're
so fascinating!"
She suggested the idea to Andrea
Peragine, Fox Run's senior community
resources manager. Paragine and Michael
O'Hara, community TV lead coordina-
tor, agreed. The first episode of Rosev's
Neighbors aired early in 2008. The show
quickly became a weekly watching event
for many residents.
As demand continued to grow, O'Hara
kept increasing its air times. Now in its
fourth season, Rosev's Neighbors, which is
taped every other week, has told the stories
of more than 70 residents, from ordinary
housewives to former GM and Ford execu-
The oldest person to be interviewed was
Kay Corwin, age 101. Lieberman admits
she doesn't know her youngest guest's age.
"We don't talk about age the affable host
explained, "unless it's a matter of pride
The most famous person? "The late
Ernie Harwell, without a doubt."
"We get many requests for that one
O'Hara added, "and aired it again on the
Tigers' Opening Day" Another request,
according to O'Hara, is the original inter-
view with Lieberman, who began dancing
as a young girl, studied ballet and practiced
Born in Monessen, Pa., Lieberman
moved to Detroit at any early age with her
two older sisters and brother. She began
dance training as a young girl and even-


May 26 2011

tually became a member of the Harriett
Berg Festival Dancers as well as other
groups. She also worked in her father, Carl
Rozner's grocery store and butcher shop
on Detroit's east side. He was very active in
Congregation B'nai Moshe.
For many years, Lieberman was very
active with the National Council of Jewish
Women. In 2002, she was honored with an
"Eight over 80" award for her work as co-
chair of the NCJW Greater Detroit Section
Casa Program that provided volunteers to
the court-appointed special advocates for
minor children cared for by guardians. The
award further recognized her volunteer
work as a mediator for the Better Business
Bureau and for teaching English as a
Second Language at the Jewish Community
Liberman and her husband have four
children, five grandchildren and one great-
great grandchild.

Getting The Story
Regarding her show, she says she has yet to
run out of people to talk to, saying referrals
often come from word of mouth. "The best
leads, though',' she laughed, "come from the
dining-room table:'
Before each taping, Lieberman chats
with guests on the phone or in their
homes to get a feel for their life history.
She jots notes, sometimes glancing at
them during actual filming. Her disarming
on-air style puts people at ease and makes
them want to share details. The interview
experiences have helped Rosev to sharpen
her listening skills and to ask follow-up
questions. For example, in a recent inter-
view with Naomi Merryman, who turns
91 this summer, viewers learned that two
of her brothers played baseball for the
Chicago White Sox.
Guests sometimes bring props to the
studio. Merryman showed samples of
handsome silk neckties and scarves, which
she makes from imported Chinese white
silk and sells. She sprinkles kosher salt on
the fabric to create a one-of-a-kind pattern
and then colors the material using DuPont
In addition to such teachable moments,
the program allows viewers to listen in
on friendly conversations that may be
intimately revealing. During an interview
with Evelyn Noveck, for instance, the guest
shared the fact that her mother, Sophie
Sislin, was a close friend of Golda Meir. In
the 1940s, the future prime minister often
came to Detroit to raise money for Israel's
independence. On these visits, sometimes

Naomi Merryman and host Rosev Lieberman in the Fox Run studio readying
for an interview.

A modern TV studio is staffed by Fox Run resident volunteers.

she stayed with Sislin, who regularly sent
coffee and cartons of Chesterfield cigarettes
to Meir because they were so expensive in
During five trips to Israel, Sislin often
visited her friend.
"Golda invited my mother to dinner
one time Noveck recalled, "and when she
arrived early, there was Golda, on hands
and knees, scrubbing her own kitchen
On another visit, Sislin was standing in
line to clear Israeli customs when a voice
on the loudspeaker ordered her forward.
"My nervous mother wondered if they
were going to kick her out of the country:'
Noveck recounted, "but, no, Golda had sim-
ply sent a car to pick her up."
O'Hara relies on a rotating cast of 25
volunteers to operate Fox Rim's modern

TV studio. On the day of the interview with
Naomi Merryman, Roland Barlow ran the
video camera and two other volunteer resi-
dents managed the control room. Wearing
headphones, O'Hara directed camera
While waiting for sound checks from the
control room, Barlow agreed to share a few
details of his long working life. A mechani-
cal engineer, Barlow designed military
track vehicles while living in southern
Michigan. Born and raised in upper New
York State, he worked as a young man in a
mine that yielded high-quality iron ore. He
said the quarry, which closed about 1960,
had produced the iron that became the
steel cables for the Golden Gate Bridge.
Leaning forward, Lieberman said, "That's
really interesting. Would you like to be my
next guest on Rosev's Neighbors?'

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