Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Opening tonight: ‘Les Liaisons Dangereuses’


There’s nothing quite like 18th Century French folks to give us revenge, manipulation, degradation and sex in style. Good Company Players on Thursday opens a new production of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” at the 2nd Space Theatre, so prepare yourself for all the delicious intrigue.

In Christopher Hampton’s adaptation of the famed French novel, two wealthy, powerful and brilliantly manipulative ex-lovers engage in amorous rivalries to exact revenge on their enemies, relieve their boredom — and perhaps win each other back. From the company:

Directed by Karan Johnson, the show features a cast of GCP veterans such as Tessa Cavalletto, Terry Lewis, Kaichen McRae and Brian Rhea, as well as some relatively new faces to the company like Neil Cusick, Ariana Marmolejo, Heather Parish and Haley White.

The production continues through June 15.

DIY: Toasted Peeps

Easter has passed and basket receivers now have a ton of leftover sugar-covered, animal-shaped, day-glo marshmallows. What to do with those Peeps?

I don’t know how I missed out on this — what will surely be my latest confection addiction — these last 40-plus years.

peepLast week, in a chat over Easter candy purchases, the very-pregnant cashier told me of one of her ardent third-trimester cravings: toasted Peeps. With the passion of a junkie anticipating her next fix, she described her culinary process.  “Just fork ‘em, and toast them over the flames on your stove burner.” In truth I’d imaged toasting Peeps, but never beyond the cursory “Must bring Peeps camping sometime” thought, what sold me on trying it AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE was her next statement: “The sugar burns and gets crunchy, like the top of a Crème brûlée .”

Last night, I gave it a go. And her enthusiasm was spot on and I now firmly believe: These things were MEANT to be toasted. Consumed on their own or, perhaps, with a bit of dark chocolate and a graham cracker: PERFECTION.


Tonight: a special Keyboard Concerts program with Vadim Gluzman


I had fun catching up by telephone with the acclaimed Israeli violinist Vadim Gluzman, who returns to Fresno after a four-year absence. The reason he keeps coming back? His good friend Thomas Loewenheim, who conducts the Fresno State Symphony Orchestra. Loewenheim talked Gluzman into taking a working “vacation” to Fresno. But with master classes, rehearsals and two concerts within a six-day window, Gluzman is going to be busy. From my story in Thursday’s Life section:

This week he’s in the hallways and concert spaces of the Fresno State music department working with students and performing in two concerts: one an intimate chamber performance tonight as part of the Philip Lorenz Memorial Keyboard Concerts series; and the other Saturday as soloist with the Fresno State Symphony Orchestra.

At tonight’s Keyboard Concerts event, Gluzman will perform on violin with his pianist wife, Angela Yoffe, and Loewenheim on cello. It will be the first time the two old friends have performed together in public on their instruments.

Restaurants with South African twist open in Tulare County

chickenSeveral restaurants with a South African twist are coming to Visalia and Tulare. Actually, the food has quite a few global influences, but we’ll get to that in a second. A family that owns numerous businesses in South Africa recently moved to Visalia and is opening them here. The restaurants are a three-in-one deal. Under one roof you’ll find Jay’s Peri Peri Flame Grilled Chicken, Ocean Basket and Mugs & Beans. The first location opens at Tulare Avenue and K Street Thursday and the Visalia location opens downtown at Garden and Main Streets Friday.

So let me pass along the description of these restaurants that real estate broker and partner in the business Marty Zeeb told me. Or, you can check out the brands on the company’s website here.

  • Peri Peri is a chili — as in the pepper — and also known as the bird’s eye chili. He tells me that some Portugeuse folks in South Africa came up with the peri peri sauce that the chicken is marinated in. It’s grilled and then served with the sauce.
  • Ocean Basket was a restaurant started by some Greek folks in Capetown. It sells hake, along with steak and lobster.
  • Mugs & Beans is a coffee shop that’s open all day long. It serves 20 espresso-based drinks, pastries, soups, salads and burgers.

A third location that’s just a Mugs & Beans will also open soon at 202 Willow St., near Kaweah Delta Medical Center.

‘Girls’ just wants to have realistic fun

GirlsLena Dunham often gets asked by viewers of her HBO series, “Girls,” how they are suppose to sympathize with the characters since many of them are not the most likeable people on the planet.

Her answer is simple. Dunham just says, “You seem to like Walter White.”

She’s right. If viewers can sympathize with the drug-dealing character that Bryan Cranston played in “Breaking Bad,” then a few big city snotty people should be a piece of cake. Besides, it really hasn’t been easy for the “Girls” writers to add a character that would be more likeable but still fit with the tone of the show.

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Show & Tell: Sweet clock

We crafters relish the opportunity to share our creations. Half the fun in making something is finding at least one person to ooh and ahhh over your labors. And as an avid DIYer, I love when people share their work.

Recently, reader Cindy Sundes shared pics ofget this her handcrafted cuckoo clock made of — wait for it…………  candy.

Yep. Candy. And gingerbread and other non-edibles, but CANDY. Wow.

Cindy says she got the idea after seeing a candy-crafted Easter egg, and decided she wanted to make something that would last. After six months of trial and error, searching for parts that wouldn’t melt or break, she constructed a working, Candyland-themed cuckoo clock.

The clock was based on a redesigned, working clock. She used hardened candies (coated with epoxy-like materials, to last), glitters, acrylic paints, plastics, foam and a self-created frosting comprised of hardeners. Out-of-town friends helped her track down other specialty candies which she also incorporated. The result: super sweet.


Photo: Cindy Sundes

Are you a DIYer? Want to share your work? Send me snaps!


Win tickets to The Clovis Rodeo

rodeoIf there is a local event that’s run longer or has more cultural history than the Clovis Rodeo, I can’t call it.

The annual event, which kicks off on Thursday and runs through Sunday, celebrates its 100th year.

We have tickets to Friday’s rodeo competition and concert, which features country chart climber and “Redneck Crazy” Tyler Farr. To enter to win, leave a message in the comments section. Tell us your favorite Rodeo story (everyone has one). If you’ve never been, let us know why this is the year that changes.

This is a quicky. The deadline for entry is noon Thursday. The winner will be chosen at random Thursday night and notified via email (so check yours if you enter). These are physical tickets, so the winner will need to come to The Fresno Bee office to claim them.

Full contest rules and a video from Farr on the jump.

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Win tickets to the Fresno Film Festival


Are you ready for the biggest Fresno Filmworks event of the year? The 10th annual Fresno Film Festival this weekend will feature seven programs of short and feature-length movies, including special filmmaker appearances, discussions, and more:

The festival opens Friday at 7 p.m. with the Japanese family drama “Like Father, Like Son,” a Jury Prize winner at Cannes that delicately tells the story of two sons mistakenly switched at birth. The movie will be followed by a champagne reception. Saturday at 4 p.m. will bring the Australian adventure fable “The Rocket,” which follows the journey of a 10-year-old boy trying to refute his bad luck in war-scarred Laos. Saturday at 7:30 p.m. features the political thriller “Omar,” another Jury Prize winner at Cannes that follows the story of a Palestinian baker who is forced to become an Israeli informant. On Sunday at 4:30 p.m., the American documentary “Finding Vivian Maier” explores the mysterious true-life story of a nanny who secretly took more than 100,000 photos of life on the streets of Chicago. The festival closes Sunday at 7:30 p.m. with the British dramatic comedy “Le Week-End,” one aging couple’s bittersweet ode to Paris.

I have a four-pack of passes to give away to a lucky Beehive reader. Each pass can be used for admission to one program. If you win, then, you can go to four different programs by yourself — or go to one and take three of your friends.

To enter, leave a comment on this post telling us if you’ve ever gone to a Fresno Filmworks offering before — and if so, what was your favorite movie? Deadline to enter is 5 p.m. Wednesday. Please don’t enter more than once. I’ll be informing our winner by email on Wednesday evening, so keep a watch on your inbox. If I haven’t heard from a winner by Thursday morning, I reserve the right to pick another. These are paper tickets, so you’ll need to be able to come down to The Bee’s front counter by 5 p.m. Friday to pick them up. Rules are on the jump.

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You can win signed ‘Draft Day’ poster

photoThis has to be considered a touchdown in terms of giveaways through the Fresno Beehive. I’ve been able to get a mini-poster from the movie “Draft Day” that has been autographed by Kevin Costner and other actors from the movie. To be in the running to win the poster, all you have to do is leave a comment below telling me if you were starting an acting team, would you draft Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Frank Langella or Tom Welling with your first pick.

The winner of the poster will be determined by a random drawing of all of those who leave comments by 5 p.m. April 24. The winner will be notified April 25.

Even if you don’t win the poster, there’s still a chance to take home a prize. The Bee also has rounded up 25 tickets good for two people to go see a screening of “Draft Day” at any Regal movie theater. The tickets are good for Monday-Thursday only. You could use the ticket as soon as you get it or you could wait. As long as the film is playing at a Regal theater, it will be good.

But wait, there’s more. Along with the ticket, there are some “Draft Day” goodies — towels, mugs, etc — that you will get with the ticket.

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NBC series laughing matter for Minnie Driver

About a Boy - Season 1Minnie Driver’s no stranger to TV having starred in the cable series “The Riches.” She also had a recurring role on the comedy “Will & Grace.” But, the majority of her work has been in film.

Driver’s back on TV in a big way on to the new NBC comedy, “About a Boy.” In the series based on the Hugh Grant feature film, Driver plays the mother to a social awkward youngster (Benjamin Stockham) who gets some life coaching from the next door neighbor (David Walton).

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Tonight: Woodward Shakespeare Festival reads ‘The Tempest’


You’ll be able to hear an original composition by Emma Ferdinandi, a freshman at Clovis West High School, as part of tonight’s Woodward Shakespeare Festival’s reading of “The Tempest.” Ferdinandi won the 2014 Woodward Shakespeare Festival’s Young Composers Competition.

The event will begin 6:30 p.m. at the Woodward Park Regional Library.

Audiences for the summer production of the play may hear some of Ferdinandi’s music included in the upcoming summer production. All of the music will be performed prior to some of the 12 performances of the play.

Ferdinandi will receive scholarship funding from the Cultural Arts Rotary and the Bonner Family Foundation. Her scholarship includes $1,000 to attend the music camp or school of her choice.

‘Amazing Spider-Man 2′ cast, crew give a hoot

SpidermanThe cast of the upcoming feature film “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” will be staying busy for the next few weeks promoting the movie that opens May 2. I had a chance to talk with Andrew Garfield, who plays Peter Parker/Spider-Man, several days ago just before he got on an airplane to head to England.

Garfield’s back and on Monday, he joined other members of the cast and crew of the film — Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan and Marc Webb — at the Shoreline Park in Mountain View.

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Concert Announcement: 3 Doors Down

3doorsdown3 Door Down‘s “Songs from the Basement” tour, which stopped at Visalia’s Fox Theatre in January, was such a success that the band went back “in the basement” and dug up some more deep cuts, which they will play during the summer run of a just-announced tour.

The tour will kick off May 30 at Table Mountain Casino. While the band will be playing acoustic sets for the majority of the tour, which runs through September, they will plug in for full electric sets on a few select dates, including the Fresno show.

3 Doors Down also confirmed that they are writing songs for their sixth studio album to be released in 2015.

Tickets for the Fresno date are $50-$100 and on sale now at Table Mountain Casino.

Watch a video of Brad Arnold announcing the tour on the jump.

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Earth Day gets fashionable

Exhibit 1Happy Earth Day! Some fashionable folks are getting in the Earth Day spirit this week with a new take on the reduce-reuse-recycle message. Mall employees at Fashion Fair and students at Fresno City College will participate in separate events to create outfits from reused items.

Starting at 11 a.m. today at Fashion Fair mall, employees from mall retailers will compete to create works of art that are sustainable and fashionable in its Recycle the Runway event. When a mall in Washington owned by the same company did this, the creations included formal dresses made from shopping bags and drink cups.

And tomorrow from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., students in city college’s fashion merchandising class will display their Recycled Fashion Pop-up Exhibit in the Free Speech area. The photo at right is a sneak peek at what you’ll see on display there (yes, those are CDs) and keep scrolling for a few more. The exhibit is designed to bring attention to the 11 million tons of clothing that end up in a landfill.

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Fresno restaurants opening, moving

photo 1(1)So many changes are happening on the Fresno restaurant scene lately it’s like a game of fruit basket upset. One restaurant that quietly opened a little while ago is the Petite Rue Cafe — Rue for short. This little French-American bistro is at Palm and Herndon avenues, in the same shopping center as Club Habanos. Rue is open for lunch and dinner and has sandwiches, pasta and dishes such as grilled lamb chops and chicken cordon bleu. The restaurant’s owner is the same woman who used to own Rousseau before it closed. She brought a couple of chefs from Rousseau to the new place with her and Rue also has that homey French decor. (And just in case this is the first you’ve heard of Rousseau closing, check out Frankie’s 568 and Bourbon & Taps that took over that Tower District space).

Another bit of news that has people buzzing: the Cracked Pepper Bistro plans to move north. The restaurant, among the finest in Fresno, will move to the same shopping center as Rue, taking over the space Samba left behind. (Samba is now at Fig Garden, in case you missed it.) The  move is still a ways off — the owner and chef is shooting for July — but I’ll keep you updated. The reasons the restaurant is moving include the need for more parking and a bigger kitchen, along with more wine storage, he says. The dining room will remain about the same size, as Cracked Pepper is only taking over a portion of the Samba space.

Also, Richie’s, the pizza and hot dog place in the Tower District, is now open.

Jazmin Sisters get giddy over new single

jazminThe Jazmin Sisters — Nadia, Felicia, Celia and Daria — are buzzing and you can’t tell if it’s the venti servings of caffeine they’re drinking, or if this is the natural state of being for the Los Angeles pop/R&B group.

Either way, the girls talk at rapid fire pace, starting and finishing each other sentences in a way only actual sisters (the kind who grew up in sharing a single bedroom and two bunk beds) do.

You can’t fault the girls for being excited. They spent last week on a radio run, traveling the state to spread word on their EP — “90′ Baby,” which was released in November and produced by MIDI Mafia, the Grammy nominated team that has done songs for the likes of 50 Cent, JLo, Fantasia and Justin Bieber. The sisters were meeting with stations in Fresno on Friday, and played Saturday night at Cellar Door in Visalia.

Last week also saw the release of a remix for the group’s single single “You,” which features Bay Area hip-hop artist Iamsu! The track got quick love. They just finished recording the song last Sunday. By Tuesday, it was on the radio station Power 106 in Los Angeles and getting love in national hip-hop publications.

“We were in Fader, dude!” says Felicia.

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‘Sharknado’ still making waves

Sharknado - 2013The craziness that is “Sharnado” continues to be a mystery. It was understandable the cheesy Syfy cable channel movie would get a lot of attention on social media when it originally aired. You don’t have scenes of sharks flying through the air inside a tornado — over Los Angeles — and not create some buzz.

What’s so surprising is that a sequel’s being made. “Sharknado 2: The Second One” will be broadcast July 30 on the cable channel. That’s right. The phenomenon that is flying sharks will be back. This time, Los Angeles gets saved from the savagery as the latest shark-infested tornado pops up in New York. One of the actors facing the flying fins will be Mark McGrath, lead singer for the rock band Sugar Ray.

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Fresno Regional Foundation arts grants announced

The Fresno Regional Foundation has announced a new batch of arts and culture grants totaling more than $160,000 to 12 organizations.

A reception open to the public honoring the grantees will be held 5:15-6:45 p.m. Thursday at the foundation’s lobby at 5250 N. Palm Ave.

In partnership with the James Irvine Foundation, five of the twelve organizations are receiving Engagement Pathway grants for experimental programs that support how art experiences are developed for more audience relevance and create art experiences that are meaningful to the community.

Here are the recipients:

· Youth Orchestras of Fresno: $30,000 to expand free Accent on Access Violin Program giving second- through sixth-graders the opportunity to experience “Many Hands, Many Hearts, One Sound.”

· Fresno Arts Council: $28,000 for training to area artists so that they will be able to coordinate with area schools and teachers in order to provide Visual and Performing Arts Standards and Common Core Standards-based visual art lessons in Fresno elementary classrooms.

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Read all about it: Fresno State’s ‘Between the Pages’ a strong and fun exhibition

In my Sunday column I put the spotlight on a fine new exhibition at Fresno State’s Madden Library titled “Between the Pages: Intersections of Books and Technology.” From my column:

One of the delights of this clever and good-hearted exhibition, co-presented by the library’s Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature and the Special Collections Research Center, and curated by Jennifer Crow and Tammy Lau, is the way it nudges the viewer toward a greater appreciation of the staying power of books, no matter the format or technology that made them possible.

Books come in many forms: printed, audio, pop-up versions, digital. You can trace their progression in “Turning Pages” — from the hieroglyphics on a facsimile of the Rosetta Stone to an iPad version of “Horrible Hauntings,” billed as an “augmented reality collection” in which readers are able to see and interact with 3-D ghosts.

I summarize my thoughts about the exhibition in the above video review version of my column.

LUSH and ULTA cosmetics stores open

photo(71)Cosmetics store LUSH opened today in the outdoor portion of Fashion Fair mall. This retailer appears to target people who care about the ingredients that go into their soap, skin and hair products. Its products are not tested on animals and more than 80% are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. LUSH products have as little packaging as possible and customers can “go naked” — meaning buy something like a “bath bomb” with no packaging at all.

ULTA Beauty is holding a grand opening this weekend for its third location in the Fresno area (the others are at the Clovis Crossing shopping center and Villaggio on north Blackstone). This one is at the Marketplace at El Paseo and has been open about a week. The store sells cosmetics and perfume, along with other skin and hair products. It has a full-service hair salon.

The grand opening festivities include free makeovers and free gift certificates for the first 100 people through the doors each day until Sunday.

Concert Announcement: Keith Sweat, w/ Al B. Sure and H-Town

keithKeith Sweat must love Fresno. Or, Fresno fans must love Keith Sweat. Either way, I can’t think of one artist we’ve seen more of in the last few years. The R&B innovator played shows at Save Mart Center in both 2011 and 2012 (with Bobby Brown/MC Hammer and the Isley Brother respectively) and headlined his own show at the Rotary Amphitheater. In February, he was at the Selland Arena.

He’ll be back at the Arena July 19, with fellow New Jack Swinger Al B. Sure and R&B vocal group H-Town. It’ll be a full night of romance, for sure. Tickets for the show are $40.50-$60.50 and available now through Tickermaster and Ticketmaster outlets.

Watch the video for Sweat’s “I’ll Give All My Love to You,” on the jump.

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Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

5things 4-18Take a Claritin and then …

1. Record Store Day
Because vinyl is a thing again.

2. Misc. Trading Co. A Vintage Pop-Up Sale
One man’s vintage junk could be your vintage treasure.
5thing 4-18-2
3. 59 Days of Code Kick Off Party
Fresno; It’s Silicon Valley without all the baggage. This the launch of the fifth year of the web and mobile apps competition.

4. Krush Groove
M-E-T-H-O-D Man!

5. Roller Derby Season Opener
For fans of ladies in spandex and/or fishnets with knee-pads and helmets. Hmmm. Written like that, it sounds weird.

Light and sky at Fresno’s Spectrum Art Gallery

In Friday’s 7 section, I feature two exhibitions at Spectrum Art Gallery: Sally Stallings’ “Everyday, the Light” and Virginia Wilson’s “Against the Sky.” From my review:

Sunlight is the great equalizer. You can live in a mansion or a shack, but a shaft of sunlight streaming through a window is the same the world over: clean, bracing, bright, even hypnotic.

The exhibition runs through April 27.

Tonight: North Fresno ArtHop


Artist Richard Silva is a fixture on the downtown ArtHop scene, but tonight he ventures north. He’s the featured artist at the Vintage Market at 601, located at 601 W. Shaw Ave. The venue is one of a handful in the area, along with the Brush and Easel Gallery and Gallery II Pat Hunter Studio, trying to increase interest in North Fresno ArtHop happenings. From the Fresno Arts Council website:

Silva paints in an abstract expressionist style that has made him one of the most venerated Fresno artists. He was trained at the S.F. Art Institute in the 1960s, but states that the 1950s is the era that inspires him. He describes himself as essentially an action painter creating abstract expressionist images that stress spontaneity, gesture and movement. Silva will be showing a new collection of paintings and his unique wood sculptures that arouse one’s curiosity. Traditional bluegrass music will be performed by Jack Kinney and Eric Antrem.

Check out the ArtHop page on the arts council’s website for more North Fresno ArtHop happenings.

Seth Gabel bewitched by ‘Salem’

3-cotton-matherThe new WGN series, “Salem,” is set during the Salem Witch Trials. The series that launches April 20 is based in historical fact but the show takes some very magical liberties with the people, places and witchy things.

Seth Gabel, who plays Cotton Mather, who heads the witch hunt, sees the series as being more about mystery than history.

“This show is about perception and questioning the things that we accept as fact, and what is truth and how do we define truth and how do we know that the stories — because they are stories — that were told about history are, in fact, true,” Gabel says. “Are those facts actually relevant?

“What I love about this show is it questions those facts. It questions those perceptions, and at the same time, it kind of gives you an access for understanding the truth of the situation that, perhaps, may be metaphorical, and you can experience what it was like to be in Salem during that time and actually live there.”

He stresses the show should not be defined as just as a series about witches or about witchcraft or about the witch trials. What he sees as important and relevant is that the show addresses a lot of energies that exist within the human psyche that so often get repressed.

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