WHEN Sheinelle Jones left "Good Day Philadelphia" in March to spend more time with her three kids, she promised she wouldn't stay at home for long.
After a seven-month hiatus, Jones is back with an even more high-profile gig.
I've learned Jones will be the new weekend news reader on the "Today" show. Jones replaces Jenna Wolfe, a former WB17 sports reporter, who will move to the weekday "Today" as its first lifestyle and fitness correspondent.
She begins the gig Oct. 4.
Jones told me that the shift to the weekend "Today" show works around the reasons she left "Good Day" in the first place: to be with her family. "This is flexible enough where I can keep my duties at home and do what I wanted to do with the kids [son Kayin, twins Clara Josephine and Uche Ade Christian]. It doesn't stop me from working, but it won't be too consuming. It's a perfect balance between me and the family."
Her family has moved to Manhattan but Jones was adamant about keeping her Philly roots. She still has family here, and she informed me that right after we chatted she'd be heading from NYC to Bucks County for a Work to Ride fundraiser.
Jones said other job opportunities presented themselves during her television hiatus, but she was remiss to leave her Philadelphia fans. The national gig, Jones told me, allows her to reach a wider audience while remaining with the people who watched her for nine years on Fox 29, growing from general-assignment reporter and Sexy Single to anchor and mother of three. She consistently reiterated how important Philadelphia was in her professional development.
The "Today" show gig, where she'll join Erica Hill and Lester Holt, also fits in with Jones' calling on "Good Day." "One of [the show's] missions is to connect with people. That's at the heart of where I am. You're meeting people not just from one part of the city, but from all around the country," she said.
Actress Ali Larter ("Heroes," Beyonce's nemesis in "Obsessed") will celebrate her Philadelphia Style magazine cover story Thursday at the Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel. The Cherry Hill-born-and-raised actress is starring on TNT's "Legends."
OUT AND ABOUT
* Director David Lynch ("Blue Velvet," "Twin Peaks") dined at Girasole (440 S Broad St.) on Thursday night with a large group. Lynch is in town for "The Unified Field," an exhibit of his visual artwork at his alma mater, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (118 N. Broad St.). The director even posed for a selfie with Girasole's Michele Iovino.
On Saturday, Lynch stopped by PhilaMOCA (531 N. 12th St.), a building that sports a mural ode to Lynch's feature-length debut, "Eraserhead," the most Philadelphia-inspired of his films. Program director Eric Bresler told me that Lynch liked not only the mural, but the rundown quality of the old mausoleum showroom that houses the arts space. PhilaMOCA has quite a few Lynch-themed events coming up, including the art show Eraserhood Forever, honoring Lynch's work, on Sept. 27.
* Jennette McCurdy, the former Nickelodeon star of "iCarly" and "Sam & Cat," dined at Sbraga (440 S Broad St.) on Saturday night. I hear McCurdy, who is in an Instagram war (yes, people, that's a thing now) with former co-star/current pop princess Ariana Grande, posed for pictures with anyone who asked.
* Stars of the opera world, as well as "Frasier" actor and opera mega-fan David Hyde Pierce, partied on Broad Street on Friday at Opera Philadelphia's 40th Anniversary Gala. The night began with a performance by Philadelphia-born tenor Stephen Costello and his soprano wife, Ailyn Perez, who are amazingly hailed as the Jay Z and Beyonce of opera.
* James Murphy, the former mastermind behind LCD Soundsystem, stopped by Pub and Kitchen (1946 Lombard St.) on Saturday night after his DJ set at Morgan's Pier (221 N. Columbus Blvd.). I hear the musician was just as approachable as Ms. McCurdy, posing for pics with excited staff.
* Rob McElhenney, the star of FX/FXX's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," stopped by St. Joe's Prep, his alma mater, on Thursday to speak at the school's annual scholarship and donor reception. McElhenney (Class of '95) established a scholarship fund at St. Joe's Prep last spring, along with wife Kaitlin Olsen, who plays Sweet Dee on the long-running sitcom. "Young men, you get very few truly great opportunities in this life," I hear McElhenney said in his speech. "Now you've earned one. The only question is: What will you do with it?"
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