Philly-based forensic sculptor

Frank Bender

, who is famed for helping detectives ID victims and solve cold cases, is the subject of a documentary now in production.

Bender and filmmaker Karen Mintz acknowledge that the film is a race against time. In the fall of 2009, doctors told Bender that his pleural mesothelioma was terminal. Mintz wants him to be able to see the film.

Mintz - who met Bender several years ago and followed him as he created his final work, the bust of a woman whose body was found in 2001 near Easton, Pa. - is seeking funding to complete the project. (See the outline via

"It's too important of a story not to do," says Mintz, who is producer-director. Simon Egleton, a former associate producer of The Wire, is also producing.

Unable to sculpt, Bender spends his days painting and working on his model trolley cars. He is a founder of the Vidocq Society, a group of volunteer cold-case gumshoes whose story is the subject of the best seller The Murder Room, by Michael Capuzzo.

Media notes

CBS3 anchor

Ukee Washington

will be a guest Washington Generals player against the Harlem Globetrotters at the Wells Fargo Center at 1 p.m. Sunday. The Generals plan to use him as a four-point specialist - putting him in select offensive sets to shoot the new four-point shot, at least 35 feet from the hoop. In a moment made for CBS television, he will be pitted against the Globies'

"Big Easy" Lofton

, who happens to be competing on CBS's

The Amazing Race

. Washington will wear No. 00 on his jersey. No. 3 belongs to Generals owner

Red Klotz

. During a halftime ceremony, the 89-year-old Klotz's number will be raised to the rafters in a ceremony.

Wednesday will mark the return to work of NBC10's Justin Pizzi, who spent five weeks in a brace after surgery to replace two disks in his neck. Pizzi, 32, said the pain had come out of nowhere and turned chronic.

Joey Fortman, last heard on Now 97.5 before it became a sports-talk station in late 2009, is back on the radio. She is a fill-in/weekender on WXTU (92.5).

Behind the scenes

James Franco


Tyrese Gibson

played boxing naval officers in the 2006 movie


, which was filmed at Girard College. But when the punches seemed to turn real, the filmmakers had to separate the actors, as veteran actor

Charles Napier

relates in his new book,

Square Jaw and Big Heart

(BearManor Media). Napier, who played tough guys/authority figures in such films as

Rambo: First Blood Part II

(an intelligence officer),


(the judge), and

The Silence of the Lambs

(a prison guard and Hannibal victim), told his stories to

Dante Renzulli Jr.

, whom he had met on the


set. Renzulli says his day job as a lawyer in Exton, handling estates and small businesses, pales in comparison to his hobby of appearing as an extra, which has landed him roles in other films, such as


and the now-in-theaters



Restaurant report

Chestnut Hill is seeing a growth spurt as a dining destination. Last week, Iron Hill Brewery announced that it would open its ninth brewpub in its 15-year history at 8400 Germantown Ave., now an empty space between the Talbots and Jos. A. Bank stores. It also will be the first Philadelphia location for partners

Kevin Finn


Kevin Davies

, and

Mark Edelson

. Opening is projected for this year. On Friday,

Chip Roman


Jason Chichonski

plan to open Mica, a restaurant at 8609 Germantown Ave. In the works for late spring is Chestnut7 Kitchen & Bar, which

Brian Harrington


Kevin Clib

want to fill the spot at 8201 Germantown Ave. vacated recently by Solaris Grille.


Cost of a Soul

, a film written and directed by Norristown native

Sean Kirkpatrick

about the homecoming of two Iraqi war veterans (played by

Chris Kerson


Will Blagrove

), won the I Am Rogue Big Break Movie contest, sponsors Relativity Media and AMC Theatres announced Friday. It will play 50 AMC theaters nationwide April 15 after a to-be-announced screening at the Philadelphia CineFest. Kirkpatrick, a 2001 Kennedy-Kenrick High grad, and producer

Edward J. Eberwine III

had titled the film


during shooting in Philly neighborhoods in spring 2009.

Chef Vola's, the Italian restaurant in Atlantic City with the reputedly unlisted phone number (relax - it's 609-345-2022), is being honored by the James Beard Foundation in its "America's Classics" category. Michael and Louise Esposito will get their prize in a ceremony May 9 at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall in New York. Previous America's Classics winners include Mustache Bill's Diner of Barnegat Light, N.J.; John's Roast Pork of South Philly; and the White House Sub Shop of Atlantic City.

Travel + Leisure Magazine ranks the Rittenhouse Hotel fourth among city hotels in America. Tops are the Trump International in Chicago, the Bel-Air in Los Angeles, and the Peninsula in Chicago.

Out and about

Patti LaBelle

's connection to the Philadelphia International Flower Show? Not her bright stage getups. It's Convention Center event manager

Don Johnson

, who in a previous life was a backup singer for her. "I'm in wonderland," said LaBelle of her show visit Thursday, her first ever. Her tour guides were Pennsylvania Horticultural Society president

Drew Becher

and Flower Show director of design

Sam Lemheney


Homegrown retired running back Eddie George and a son toured the Please Touch Museum on Friday. A staffer who is a Tennessee Titans fan recognized the Heisman winner, who let on that it was his first visit.


"Not unless I'm signing it and giving it to charity." - Phillies alum

Mike Schmidt

, when I asked him the other day if he still picks up a baseball bat.