Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

ValleyWho Central: First-day buzz


With voting under way to crown our favorite local icon in The Beehive’s ValleyWho March Madness-style bracket game, mental images abound: Anthony Taylor gripping Kevin Federline in a pretty solid headlock; Ray Appleton getting his behind kicked in the ring by Jennifer Alcorn; Chris Colfer caught in a life-and-death struggle with a California Raisin.

Of course, voting continues in the ValleyWho contest’s first round through 8 p.m. Sunday, so there’s plenty of opportunity for front-runners to fade and early stumblers to come from behind. In the meantime, think of this post as a low-rent version of one of those ESPN March Madness shows (minus the generous clothing allowances for the talent) in which we offer a mix of updates, news notes, expert commentary and blatant campaigning by individual Beehivers for their favorites. Here goes:


THE VOTES: At the top of the heap are Audra McDonald in the Peach Regional (the Broadway star and No. 1 seed is crushing local pitchman Crazy Bernie with 91% of the vote) and No. 6 seed Al Radka in the Raisin Regional (the radio/TV icon is pounding annoying “Bachelorette” contestant Kasey Kahl with 90%).

Compare that to the two tightest races: Channel 30 anchor Graciela Moreno has been trading the lead all day with poet Gary Soto in the Almond Regional, while Olympic snowboarder Andy Finch is locked in a tight battle with author David Mas Masumoto in the same conference.

THE POTENTIAL UPSETS: Again, voting has just started, but several low seeds are off to really strong starts, including No. 16 The Waving Lady with 54% of the vote against No. 1 seed Alan Autry, and No. 15 seed and Broadway star Heidi Blickenstaff with 63% of the vote against No. 2 horror-movie icon Sid Haig. The Appleton-Alcorn and Taylor-K-Fed match-ups are possible prime upsets as well.

Athletes are doing well. The theater community is showing some impressive strength with the Taylor and Blickenstaff results (along with Audra and Sharon Leal, of course). On the classical-music side of things, Theodore Kuchar is comfortably ahead of Timmy T. The literary slate is holding its own, with Philip Levine with a big advantage over Broadway actress Jacqueline Antaramian, and Gary Soto and David Mas Masumoto with significant strength in their contests. Visual artists aren’t faring so well, with Robert Ogata, Joyce Aiken and Barbara Van Arnam in precarious shape. Pop music contestants — with the exception of Steve Perry — are having a tough go of it, too. Fashawn, Planet Asia, Ryan Beatty, Timmy T and Astrid Plane all face big deficits.

There’s been some fun response to ValleyWho on local media. Our favorite is from KSEE24:


Other local media:

  • The Fresnan gives the Beehive props for the idea, blasts No. 15 seed Anthony Taylor and picks Kopi to go all the way;
  • Channel 47 blogger (and contestant) Mike Scott weighs in and asks for votes;
  • Fresno Famous follows the bracket through to the end. (Prediction: Saroyan takes all.)


Among our favorite Facebook posts and Tweets:









We’re getting letters, too. One reader writes:

It appears some of or Valley’s finest are being set up for emberassment. Alan Autry , Chris Coffer and Ray Appleton (I know the voting is early and this could change) but I fear this cool and fun concept could result in The California Rasin vs. the Freeway Lady in a final round when novelties like that seems like they should play in the first round. I strongly disagree that Jennifer Alcorn is a 15 seed , Ray couldnt have got Jacqueline Antaramian, Kasey Kahl , Joyce Aiken or Boogaloo Saam and Popin’ Pete ? it appears the art and education type are getting easier matchups than political players. I also feel the % sign being shown before you vote can have influence on voters… alot of online voting polls show the % after you vote…


OK, time for some blatant electioneering. Beehivers are picking two candidates they want to push:

DONALD: Sure, it’s a tough road ahead for Joyce Aiken (up against Bob Mathias!) and Barbara Van Arnam (taking on Tom Seaver). But these two talented artists can be competitive if Fresno’s arts community bands together. Go visual arts!

MIKE: UFC fighter Josh Koscheck oughta be doing better, I think. I picked him to beat the salsa out of Bobby Salazar and I still think it could happen. Also: Lets get some votes for Fashawn — he’s a tried and true local guy, not an athlete who came here for college.

KATHY:I’d really love to see David Mas Masumoto pull out the upset over Andy Finch. How can you not love a guy who describes himself as as “artist farmer” on his website? I’m also rooting for Christopher Gorham because he Tweeted me back.

RICK: I understand the novelty of voting for the California Raisins, but Chris Colfer is a talented actor who doesn’t deserve to go out in the first round. And Sid Haig might not be a familiar name and face to a lot of moviegoers, but in the fantasy and sci-fi world he’s a superstar.

HEATHER: With all due respect to Heidi Blickenstaff, I cannot believe Sid Haig isn’t creaming this match-up. The guy’s IMDb page speaks for itself. Not only that, he can still be spotted having a cup of coffee on a Sunday morning in Fresno. And seriously, if Chris Colfer loses to a group of animated raisins, I will lose my faith in humanity. Raisins are gross, people, and you know it.

Responses to "ValleyWho Central: First-day buzz"

Stephen says:

Heather speaks BLASPHEMY!!! Benedict Judas there going against our precious raisins.

The seedings were skewed, which is weird since there were no sports reporters involved in the seeding (those who might be anti-artists).

Joyce Aiken’s resume IS art history nationally, but she made her name in Chicago, and that’s gotta hurt her chances.

How does Timmy T have votes for his one-hit wonder more than Astrid for hers? (Maybe Mia is voting often?)

And BOO to Brad Meyers for not using his academic power to push for votes. C’mon Brad, offer some extra credit! Threaten to fail some people. Call your former students for help!

When it comes down to the finals, I wanna see a Phillip Levine vs Audra game held at the Tower Theatre, poetry reading vs song styling, vote via text!

JodyM says:

Years ago I came *this close* to buying a foot-tall Capt. Spaulding doll (action figure?), so of course I’m pulling for Sid Haig. And we need some Chipmunks fans out there to help Ross Bagdasarian give Laura Berg a battle. AAAAAALL-VIIIINNN, we need you!

ed says:

man, i want the rounds to go faster. i can’t wait to vote again.

Kristin C says:

I tried several times to log on to vote, but the system wouldn’t let me in. So I’m going to chalk this up to something I no longer care about. *shrug.