Barney’s On the Beat

Wedding Crashers: Guests were arriving at the Old Mission, but soon what should have been a heavenly nuptial experience turned hellish. According to a Superior Court suit filed by former Fiesta El Presidente Al Pizano and his family, they were “assailed” by Mission personnel “demanding money” and threatening to cancel the wedding if certain rules weren’t obeyed. As the September 4, 2004 wedding was about to begin, Mission “agents, servants and employees” objected to “flower arrangements, processional arrangements, vehicle parking and other ceremony-related matters, all without warning or notice, all rudely and peremptorily expressed or demanded,” claimed Pizano, his wife Lillian, and bride Sonia Pizano and groom Philip Nicholas Bellotti.

Pizano declined to comment when I called him, but I have heard numerous complaints in recent months claiming that the Mission had imposed draconian rules restricting what can and can’t happen at a wedding, including a ban on a father walking his daughter down the aisle and strict rules against music not considered “sacred.” The suit was filed only after numerous attempts to discuss the situation with the Mission staff and parish lay council, but they weren’t interested in discussing it, said the Pizanos’ attorney, Desmond O’Neill. “Even a mild apology would have been okay,” O’Neill said. Mission pastor Fr. Daniel Barica did not return my phone calls seeking comment.

According to the Mission’s music rules included with the suit, “ALL music which is sung must express a SACRED and liturgical viable text.” As opposed to wedding options at nonsectarian chapels or country clubs, “Musical selections which might be appropriate at the wedding reception but which speak of love purely in secular terms are NOT appropriate in a sacramental ceremony. “Also, please be aware that secular music, although very beautiful, is not appropriate to liturgy.” The rules ban flash photography, runners along the aisle, and a reception line after the ceremony, and require three large flower arrangements to be left for Sunday masses. “No rice, bird seed, rose petals, etc., may be thrown.”

The Pizanos say that they were surprised by the 11th-hour demands because they had made arrangements during the months before the wedding and signed a contract. The wedding went on but the family “suffered humiliation, mental anguish and emotional and physical distress and have been injured in mind and body as follows: stress, anxiety, depression, frustration, loss of sleep and loss of enjoyment and pleasure in the occasion of the wedding.” The suit seeks general, exemplary, and punitive damages but cites no amount.

Betrayal: Harold Pinter had an idea. Write a play about two men, best friends, and one of their wives, having affairs. But have the play run in reverse, the breakup first and the passionate start coming last. So goes Betrayal, being presented by Ensemble Theatre. It’s a pretty cool, stiff-upper-lip evening among the three Brits, played by Geoffrey Lower, Hayden Adams, and the marvelous Ann Noble, as Pinter explores their relationship. The play runs through October 22.

Two More Split NP: Al Bonowitz was a prize-winning travel editor at the News-Press — first place last year in the Society of American Travel Writers contest for papers of this size — but he quit this week. Also leaving is reporter Starshine Roshell, whose funny, pithy column was cut recently (maybe because Star was a leader in the successful fight to form a union). In resigning, Star announced: “For 11 years, I have been proud to work for this company. I was honored to have managers who were smarter than me, and had something to teach me. They weren’t bullies. They weren’t liars. And remarkably, they were able to manage our newsroom by employing scruples rather than lawyers. But they’re all gone now, and the only thing our current leaders have been able to demonstrate is the heartbreaking mess that ensues when ambition far exceeds talent, and hubris trumps wisdom.”

Meanwhile, former News-Press managing editor George Foulsham, one of the first to split during the NP meltdown, is the new assistant managing editor for presentation at the L.A.-area Daily News. Reporter Camie Cohee, another of the departed ones, has gone to work in PR for the Chumash Casino. Kim Burnell has joined Foulsham at the Daily News, on the copy desk.

Wendy at Sea: According to Dallas Morning News columnist Alan Peppard, “Last week, megawealthy Californian Wendy McCaw had more pressing business than putting down the staff insurrection at her Santa Barbara News-Press. She pulled her 193-foot helicopter-equipped yacht, Calixe, into harbor at St. Tropez in the south of France to attend the wedding” of British-born Dallas businessman Horatio Lons­dale-Hands. Co-best man was “McCaw’s fiancé, Baron Arthur von Wiesenberger,” Peppard reported.

Nobel Prize: It would surely be the first time that a travel writer wins a Nobel Prize for literature, but Montecitan Bill Tomicki, publisher of ENTREE travel newsletter, has been nominated by Andrew Simmons, professor emeritus at Cal State Fresno.

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