Breaking: Labor talks threaten Renee Fleming’s Fresno Grand Opera concert tonight

Here’s a story I just posted on

Tonight’s Renee Fleming concert could be in jeopardy because the orchestra members say they will refuse to play if their union agreement isn’t reached by curtain time with Fresno Grand Opera.

Larry Gardner, president of Local 12 of the American Federation of Musicians, said the union broke off talks at 5 p.m. The negotiations were the latest in an attempt to come to an agreement on a new contract.

Members authorized a strike at a vote taken Monday, Gardner said. Contract negotiations between the union and the Fresno Grand Opera started in fall 2010, he said. (The union has a separate contract with the Fresno Philharmonic.) The most contentious issue involves the opera’s hiring practices, Gardner wrote in a news release.

“Under the current agreement, musicians are hired from a roster of contract musicians by seat and rank. Local 12 AFM has been frustrated with the employer’s manner of hiring musicians. In many instances during this season, (the opera) has waited until one to two weeks prior to major productions and performances to hire musicians. This is not acceptable. Musical integrity and continuity of the ensemble are compromised by (Fresno Grand Opera’s) ‘revolving door’ hiring practices.”

Asked in an interview how the labor action would affect this evening’s performance, Gardner said musicians plan to be at the Saroyan Theatre “to walk the walk” in a picket line.

An email and phone call to Ronald D. Eichman, the opera’s general director, went unanswered late this afternoon.

Gardner said there’s still a line of communication open between the union and opera management.

The concert is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.

ValleyWho Central: Can Ryan Beatty be stopped?


The semi-finals of ValleyWho come to a close in four hours — go vote! — and despite even his own best efforts to sway his minions, rising teen pop star Ryan Beatty continues to look unstoppable. Even against local hero and literary icon William Saroyan.

On Monday, Beatty himself took to Twitter and said he was voting for Saroyan. But would his fans listen? So far, it sounds like the Team Beatty isn’t emulating its leader.


In the other matchup: I hear things are tight between Audra McDonald and Chris Colfer. Once again, it could come down to just a handful of votes, so be sure to cast yours before 8 p.m.

I’ve know at least a few people are pulling for a Saroyan-McDonald final, but what if it ends up being Colfer-Beatty, who I believe, between the two of them, have a whopping 37 years on this planet?

You can win ‘Hunger Games’ movie poster


UPDATE: Here are the winners of “The Hunger Games” posters:

Large posters: Kyle, Lauren.

Mini posters: Christian, Dominic, Trisha, Jennifer, Haley P.

UPDATE: Now that more of you have seen the movie, post your reviews in the comments. Deadline is noon Tuesday.

ORIGINAL POST, 3/22: “The Hunger Games” opens at 12:01 tonight and thousands of locals have purchased tickets to be among the first to see the film based on the Suzanne Collins book. There are still tickets available but they are going fast.

My review ran in today’s Fresno Bee. Now I want to hear what you have to think about the movie. Send me your review as a comment to this blog item. You don’t have to write a novel but tell me why you did — or did not — like the film.

From those who submit a review, a random drawing will be made to give away two (2) full size and five (5) mini “The Hunger Games” posters. That means seven winners will get a rare souvenir of the movie starring Jennifer Lawrence.

Post your review no later than noon March 27. Winners will have until 4 p.m. March 30 to pick up their prize. You must come to the Fresno Bee offices, 1626 E St., to pick up the poster. They will not be mailed.

Good luck and let the games begin.

The Week Ahead: Lady A, Sleeping With Sirens, Let’s Go Bowling and more


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LADY ANTEBELLUM: The big headliner of the week is country trio Lady Antebellum, playing Wednesday at Save Mart Center. You’re too late for our giveaway. Don’t be too late to get tickets too.

TONIGHT & WEDNESDAY: Starline hosts back-to-back nights of hard rock for the all-ages crowd — Sleeping With Sirens plays tonight, Of Mice & Men plays Wednesday. Tickets for both here.

OF LOCAL NOTE ON FRIDAY: Indie band The Soma Holidays play a reunion gig Friday at Audie’s Olympic while local ska legends Let’s Go Bowling play Fulton 55, one of their only-a-few-times-per-year performances.

HEY, I KNOW THAT GUY: Two rock bands come visit the Valley this weekend with names you might not know, but dudes you might: The Accident Experiment (with Marcos Curiel from P.O.D.) plays Babylon on Friday, then Mini Mansions (with Michael Shuman of Queens of the Stone Age) plays at The Cellar Door in Visalia on Saturday.

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