Rob Schneider is a good husband

Britain Bedtime Stories.JPG

Britain Bedtime Stories.JPG TCA Winter Tour: Actors take roles for a variety of reasons. Rob Schneider stars in the new CBS comedy “Rob” because his wife, Patricia Azarcoya Arce, told him he should do it. The idea came from his own marriage. Schneider met Arce when she was working as a television producer in Mexico and he kept bugging her to go to dinner and finally won her over.

“It was her idea to like, ‘You should do a show with you married to a Mexican girl, and then you should do it all and you should have a crazy uncle who never leaves.’ So she’s been great about that,” Schneider says.

The series has Schneider playing a man who marries into a large Mexican family. Most of the comedy comes from the character’s complete lack of knowledge of Mexican culture. Schneider can relate as his actual in-laws don’t speak English.

The cast is largely Hispanic – Cheech Marin, Eugenio Derbez, Claudia Bassols, Lupe Ontiveros – but Schneider says the series should appeal to any and all families.

“The idea of this show is a family and it just happens to be a Hispanic family. I think there are differences and cultural things which are fun, but ultimately there’s always one person who’s kind of on the way out or doesn’t fit in, and there’s always somebody misunderstanding something, and there’s something that is going on behind somebody else’s back,” Schneider says. “So I think it’s really relatable for everyone.

“I think it will be fun for everybody to watch with their families, and I think especially fun for people of Hispanic descent to catch these little words that are thrown in there, and hopefully, CBS won’t check all of them. But it’s funny there’s some slang in some cultures that’s really kind of nice. There’s like an American Spanish slang, and then there’s Mexican Spanish slang. Some things it’s different for different cultures. So that’s been interesting, the conversations behind the scenes in Spanish for me.”

He knows even if no one else likes the show, his wife will be happy.

Anjelica Huston is a close encounter


huston.jpg The best way to describe Anjelica Huston is using a term from “Seinfeld.” She’s a close talker.

I found this out when I ran into her at an NBC party during the Television Critics Association Winter Tour. She’s made the move to television to star in the upcoming series “Smash.” It’s the story of the efforts to mount a Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe.

I knew her father, director John Huston, had worked with Monroe and wondered if she had ever had the opportunity to meet the Hollywood icon.

“No. My father directed her three times including her last movie, ‘The Misfits,’ but I never got to meet her,” Huston says. Monroe died in 1962 when Huston was only 11.

It’s not what she says but how she says it. The party is crowded but not to the point that would make Huston get so close for our conversation. We were less that a foot apart as we talked about her career, theater and her father. No matter how many times I would inch backwards, she stayed right in my face.

Of course when you are as interesting as Anjelica Huston, she could be 10 inches or 10 feet away and still be the most fascinating person in the room.

As for her decision to make the leap to TV with “Smash,” Huston told me, “Because it’s beautifully written. It’s a fantastic cast of actors, a phenomenal team of people behind the scenes. We’re working with the best of the best. I’d be a fool not to participate.”

‘Napoleon’ name real dynamite


Nap-LivingRoomC.JPG Names of movies are always interesting. The first time saw the poster for “The Grey.” I thought it was a Civil War movie.

I had no idea what “Napoleon Dynamite” was about just by hearing the title. The only time I heard the phrase used was when Elvis Costello referred to himself by that name.

Jared Hess, co-creator and executive producer of the live action film and new animated series “Napoleon Dynamite” says the fact his project and Costello share the same name is just a coincidence.

“I was a Mormon missionary in Chicago, and I met a dude on the street and he was like, ‘Oh, you guys are called elders. You’ve got the same name. What’s an elder?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, you know, it’s a title we have and we’re missionaries.’ And I was like, ‘What’s your name?’ And he was like, ‘My name is Napoleon Dynamite.’ And I was like, whoa, and I wrote down the name,” Hess says. “That’s where I got the name from. Where he got it from, I have no idea. It could very well have been the Elvis Costello thing. But the first time I heard it was from this old Italian guy in Cicero.”

Costello has talked about the name in interviews. Hess thinks the musician believes he’s lying about the origin. And the debate may start again as the film has become a new FOX animated series.

“So if I can clear the air, ‘Elvis, I’m not lying.’ Heard it on my mission, so you should talk to the Italian guy who told me,” Hess says.

CBS enjoying ratings success


THE BIG BANG THEORY.JPG It’s executives and stars from CBS talking with critics today at the TCA Winter Tour. Because of all the success CBS had with the fall launches, the only new program on the schedule is “Rob!” Here’s what CBS boss Nina Tassler had to say about some of the other shows on the network.

On moving “The Good Wife” to Sundays: “The show feels like a better fit on Sunday night. We’re thrilled with the critical response and the awards and the attention the show gets. More importantly, the audience that does watch the show on Sunday night, it’s very upscale. It’s very female. And they’re very engaged. So we feel it was a very good move.”

As the to future of reality competition shows on the network: “We’re in the fortunate position of having successful, long running franchise shows. That is the reality of reality. And so as those shows, ‘Survivor” and “Race” and “Big Brother” had ratings growth, they continued to. We have a very, very heavy development slate this year in alternative, not only for summer, but next year as well. Our goal has always been in reality, you know, not necessarily follow the same path that everybody else follows.’

Impact of NBC’s “The Voice” on CBS Monday night lineup: “I don’t know what that matchup is going to do. I know that we have an unbelievably devoted fan base for our comedies. I think that there’s as we’ve seen from viewership across the board, there are a lot of people watching TV this season, and I think that’s going to continue into next year as well. So the hope is everybody will continue to get maximum audience exposure.’

The role of social media: “As far as social media, we know it plays an important role. We have certainly with the bigger brands and the more successful shows, there is a lot of chatter in social network. We see that as a great promotional platform for many of our shows, so, yes, it is important.

Struggles to find companion series for “The Big Bang Theory”: “Part of the challenge of ‘Big Bang’ is it is a monster hit. And looking for a show that is a companion isn’t limited to just another multi-camera show. It can be a single camera show. And the challenge has been, as I said, when you’re following a show that has that loyal a following and ratings as large as “Big Bang” has, it may take time to find its right companion. But, you know, we’re dedicated to doing it, and we’ll get there eventually.”

On the future of “Person of Interest”: “We have reached no decisions about next fall. The show is performing very well for us. It’s one of the top two dramas of the fall. I would say that’s a great achievement. We are extremely pleased with the show.”

Tonight: Garrick Ohlsson at Keyboard Concerts



In the classical piano world, Garrick Ohlsson is a very big deal. He’s also a longtime friend of Fresno. He’s actually lost count of how many times he’s played for the Philip Lorenz Memorial Keyboard Concerts series at Fresno State, but one thing he does know: He loves coming here because of the attentive audience and the intimate venue in the Fresno State Concert Hall.

Ohlsson originally came to Fresno in the 1970s because of his friendship with Lorenz, who started the series, now in its 40th season. Ohlsson, who performs at 8 p.m. today, is dedicating his performance to Lorenz, who died 20 years ago.

You can read my interview with Ohlsson that ran in Tuesday’s Life section here.

THEATER REVIEW: ‘Chesapeake’



When we first meet Kerr, the performance artist in The New Ensemble’s cheeky new production of the one-man show “Chesapeake,” he’s disturbed. It’s hard to blame him. After an intense feud with a powerful U.S. senator– who just happens to own perhaps the most famous dog in politics–Kerr can’t escape the sound of barking in his head.

The fact the barking in question comes from the senator’s actual dog, a faithful Chesapeake Bay retriever named Lucky, is not the most offbeat thing about Lee Blessing’s play, however. Not by a long shot. Spend nearly two hours with the agitated Kerr — who is brought to life along with other human and animal characters by the very fine James Sherrill, who rises to the challenge in a well-prepared and solid performance — and you’ll soon be steeped in a theatrical soup so cheerfully weird that the mere idea of hearing a dog voice or two in one’s head will seem downright normal in comparison.

You can either look at the experience, directed with a sure hand after a wobbly beginning by Anthony Rico Nan, as jolly good fun or as an exercise in overwrought and vapid silliness. I definitely lean toward the former.

It’s not every day you get to be exposed to an experience that is part pointed political commentary about government funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, part fascinating art-history recap of the early 20th Century Futurism movement, part metaphysical musings about the nature of religion and part — a big part! — a goofball series of entertaining plot machinations involving reincarnation, karmic payback and straight-up doggie sex.

The play continues through Saturday at the Broken Leg Stage.

Tonight: Take a bite out of Mayor Swearengin … or something

At tonight’s January installment of Local Bites, Mayor Ashley Swearengin and the pack of foodies at TasteFresno travel to Sante Fe Basque. OK, you don’t actually take a bite out of the mayor — but it is a chance to dine with her. How many mayors have you had dinner with? Getting Starbucks and seeing Alan Autry doesn’t count!

Here’s a video from TasteFresno’s web series that sets up tonight’s event. Want even more info? Get it on their site.

If you want something a little more rockin’ tonight, check out what’s happening in some of music venues:

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