Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

April big month for comic book collectors

April is a big month for comic book, toys and movie collectors with both WonderCon going on in Ahaheim over the Easter weekend and the Big Wow in San Jose on the weekend of April 18.

If you can attend both, that’s great. But, if you are having a hard time deciding between the two, here’s a little information that might help you decide. This is coming from someone who has attended both in the past.

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Ann Friel goes on ‘American Odyssey’

One of my favorite shows that got canceled too early was “Pushing Daisies.” It was a sweet – and quirky – love story about to two people who can not touch because of a mysterious power that bring dead people back to life that aired in 2007.

Lee Pace, who currently stars in the cable series “Halt and Catch Fire,” starred with Anna Friel on the network series. Since the ABC show ended, Friel has had an interesting career. She starred in the painfully bad feature film “Land of the Lost” and the Scandinavian TV series “The Heavy Water War: Stopping Hitler’s Atomic Bomb.”

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James Van Der Beek gets smart role

It’s clear from the first few episodes of “CSI: Cyber” that James Van Der Beek can handle playing a tough crime fighting character. His Agent Elijah Mundo is just as strong as all of the others agents and detectives who have appeared in the endless configurations of “CSI.”

I hate that.

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Cuthbert’s cougar days behind her

It’s a little confusing listening to Elisha Cuthbert talk about starring in he new NBC comedy, “One Big Happy.” She’s talking about how her previous series, “Happy Endings,” helped move her away from drama to comedy.

She was the best part of “Happy Endings” and showed a lot of comedic skill. But, I remember laughing at her series work before “Happy Endings” because of a comedy moment that is as hilarious today as it was then.

Who could imagine a drama like “24” could provide such a moment. But, there was that scene in the first season of the Kiefer Sutherland series where Cuthbert, playing Jack Bauer’s daughter, is threatened by a cougar. It’s considered the lowest moment in the history of the series.

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National Crayon Day is coming

Mark your calendars as March 31 is National Crayon Day. It’s time to get out those raw sienna, peach, melon, almond, red, shamrock and asparagus colored crayons and do some coloring.

While you do, ponder these facts supplied by the Los Angeles-based Crayon Collection, a national initiative that collects millions of crayons from restaurants every year.

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Dennis Haysbert’s role very complicated

Dennis Haysbert has a very interesting character in the new FOX series, “Backstrom” starring former “The Office” star Rainn Wilson. Not only Haysbert’s role a very competent detective but his character also runs a church. This strange mixture makes the character very distinct.

The problem is, Haysbert’s character could also be a pirate, astronaut and weekend brain surgeon and the only think I can think when I see him is that he’s the President of the United States.

Curse you “24.”

And, even worse, when he opens his mouth, all I want to do is check to see if I have enough car insurance.

Curse you Allstate.

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‘Downton Abbey’ will end with sixth season

Sad news for “Downton Abbey” fans. The sixth season, currently filming in England, will be the last for the popular program that airs on ValleyPBS.

“Millions of people around the world have followed the journey of the Crawley family and those who serve them for the last five years. Inevitably there comes a time when all shows should end and ‘Downton’ is no exception.” Gareth Neame, Carnival Film’s managing director and executive producer, says. “We wanted to close the doors of ‘Downton Abbey’ when it felt right and natural for the story lines to come together and when the show was still being enjoyed so much by its fans.

“We can promise a final season full of all the usual drama and intrigue, but with the added excitement of discovering how and where they all end up.”

The series debuted on public television in 2011 as part of the “Masterpiece” series. It quickly became the most popular series in the “Masterpiece” 44 year history. It has earned 48 prime-time Emmy nominations and three Golden Globe awards.

Season five was seen by 25.5 million viewers and episodes were streamed more than 12.6 times. 

The final episodes will begin to air in January.

You can be an extra in ‘Steve Jobs’ movie

Here’s your chance to be in a movie.

The Universal Pictures’ movie, “Steve Jobs,” is currently filming in San Francisco. Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet star.

Men and women who are 18 and above are being sought to be extras for a scene in the movie. Attendees will receive free parking, free food and drink and a chance to win giveaways including four tickets to Universal Studios Hollywood and two tickets to the premiere of the film.

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Miller, Purcell love being bad on ‘The Flash’

Almost 10 year years ago, I sat in the same bar at the Langham Huntington Beach Hotel talking with Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell about their roles in the under-appreciated FOX series “Prison Break.” They played brothers who through an elaborate plan escape from prison and go on the run.

Now, I’m talking to them about playing criminals again. 

They aren’t portraying brothers on the under-appreciated CW series, “The Flash,” but they are criminal cohorts as Captain Cold and Heat Wave. Their work is so good, there’s talk the pair will be part of a new comic book-based series for the network.

The actors were excited about the opportunity to work together again because they had become close friends during their days on “Prison Break.”

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Christopher Gorham lands film role

Fresno’s Christopher Gorham has been signed to star in the feature film “Po” from director John Asher. Gorham will play a recently widowed man who must learn to cope with becoming a single father to his 9-year-old autistic son, Po (Julian Feder).

Asher, whose directing credits include episodes of “One Tree Hill” and the feature film “Dirty Love,” is the parent of an autistic child.

“I can’t wait to start working on Po.  It’s the best script I’ve read, to date, that dramatizes the challenges, and rewards, of raising a child with ASD.  My character’s journey, in this movie, will hit very close to home to a lot of folks, and the fantasy element, I hope, will help open some minds and hearts to the potential and promise of children whom are often overlooked,” Gorham says.

Production begins in April during Autism Awareness month. No release date has been announced.

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Kenneth Branagh keeps ‘Cinderella’ fans in mind

Whether it’s a fairy tale character or a character from the comic book world – as was the case with his “Thor” – director Kenneth Branagh brings an understanding of how important it is to respect the mythology behind the character. These are the elements fans are going to expect when they see a big screen offering based on the character.

In the case of “Cinderella,” there was only one question Branagh was asked when he would say he was directing the movie.

“Everyone wanted to know if GusGus would be in it,” Branagh tells me during an interview at the Four Seasons Hotel.

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‘Frozen’ sequel in the works

“Frozen 2” is in development at Walt Disney Animation Studios with directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee and producer Peter Del Vecho, the Oscar-winning filmmaking team behind “Frozen.” 

No release date for the sequel has been announced. 

Don’t look for “Frozen 2” anytime soon. When I talked to Buck and Del Vecho a couple of weeks ago for their work on the animated short, “Frozen Fever,” that is featured with the live-action movie “Cinderella, they had another project that was taking up their time.

They are mounting a Broadway show based on the animated film that has their full attention.

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‘Prince Farming’ ready to make up his mind

The latest ABC  search for love in front of millions of people comes to an end Monday, March 9, when the man known as “Prince Farming,” Chris Soules, will make his decision on “The Bachelor.”

The field has been narrowed to Becca and Whitney. It will be revealed whether one of them is about to be whisked off to Arlington, Iowa or Soules will fail to find true love (or at least as true as it can be on a reality TV show).

I had a chance to chat with Soules in January during a party thrown by ABC. He says he was willing to put himself through the public spectacle because the idea of being the Bachelor seemed like a good way to have some fun.

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Dean Winters faces ‘Battle’ after health scare

Dean Winters has become a familiar face on television from his insurance commercials as the character of “Mayhem” to his new starring role in the CBS series “Battle Creek.”

Not bad for a guy who died almost six years ago.

Winters woke up on June 18, 2009 with a bad fever. He decided to try and sleep it away. But, he woke the next day to see that his entire body was gray because of  a bacterial infection. On his way to the hospital, his heart stooped for two and a half minutes.

The paramedics brought him back. That was the start of a three-week stay in the intensive care unit.

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Leonard Nimoy leaves lasting legacy

Other than Gene Roddenberry, no one meant more to the “Star Trek” franchise than Leonard Nimoy. His passing leaves a black hole in the “Star Trek” universe that will never close.

It wasn’t the bravado that William Shatner and Chris Pine brought to the show. It wasn’t the comic relief supplied by James Doohan and Simon Pegg. It was the Nimoy’s stoic performance as Spock that served as the tent pole for the series. Without his logical views on the world, the series would have been just a standard action offering. Spock was a true original.

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Terrence Howard faces fears to do ‘Empire’

It’s a good thing Terrence Howard overcame his fears about being in the new FOX series “Empire.” Had he passed on the show, Howard would have missed out on being part of the biggest phenomenon of this TV season.

“Empire,” the story of a family involved in the music industry, has attracted more viewers each week since it launched in January.

What scared Howard was how his character treated people including a scene where he throws a child into a garbage can. That’s not the kind of action that will earn any points toward “Father of the Year” voting.

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Margot Robbie wins over ‘Focus’ producers

Will Smith was convinced Margot Robbie wasn’t interested in playing the female lead in his new movie, “Focus,” when she arrived at the audition. She wasn’t wearing any makeup, her hair had not been done and she was dressed like a beach bum.

And yet, she got the role. The film opens Friday, Feb. 27.

The reason the stunning blonde, who was the subject of so much chatter when she was on the red carpet for the recent Academy Awards because of how good she looked, was in such a state was that she had made a trip halfway around the globe to tryout for the part of the female con artist.

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Latest ‘Dancing with the Stars’ lineup revealed

The 10th anniversary cast for “Dancing with the Stars” is the usual collection of semi-celebrities. They will get their first chance to dance when the ABC competition series returns at 8 p.m. March 16.

Here are the early odds for the lalest lineup:

Singer/actor Riker Lynch partnered with Allison Holker. (3-1)

Olympian Nastia Liukin partnered with Derek Hough. (4-1)

Disabled veteran Noah Galloway partnered with Sharna Burgess. (10-1)

“Hunger Games” star Willow Shields partnered with Mark Ballas. (12-1)

Carl’s Jr. model Charlotte McKinney partnered with Keo Motsepe. (15-1)

Actress Rumer Willis partnered with Valentin Chmerkovskiy. (18-1)

Producer/performer Redfoo partnered with Emma Slater. (18-1)

Gridder Michael Sam partnered with Peta Murgatroyd. (18-1)

Actress/author Suzanne Somers partnered with Tony Dovolani. (20-1)

“Shark Tank” star Robert Herjavec partnered with Kym Johnson. (20-1)

Singer Patti LaBelle partnered with Artem Chigvintsev. (25-1)

Zachary Quinto gets emotional in ‘The Slap’

When it comes to ranges of emotions, Zachary Quinto has played the extremes. As Spock, in the new incarnation of “Star Trek,” the Pittsburgh native plays a character who keeps his emotions under close check.

His role in “The Slap” is the opposite. Quinto portrays a guest at a birthday party who loses control of his anger and slaps the faces of the 5-year-old son of another couple. The mini-series starts Feb. 12 on KSEE24.

This explosion of emotions comes with him having to film the scene where his character slaps the child. The scene with the actual slap was done under strict scrutiny and all of the emotional explosions that followed were filmed without the children on set.

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Sophia Bush faces arresting developments

Back when Sophia Bush was starring on the drama “One Tree Hill” there weren’t a lot of opportunities to chase down bad guys or drive a speeding police car. Her character was more into chasing down relationships and driving emotional moments.

These days, she gets to do a lot of cop stuff as she stars in the NBC series, “Chicago P.D.” playing tough, no-nonsense detective Erin Lindsay.

She’s not really a police officer but she has to make it look real. That’s accomplished with the police officers who are on set. Even with all the advisers, some of the simplest actions – such as stopping a  patrol car and jumping out – can go wrong.

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Thomas Dekker goes for different look

It’s one of those cases where a person looks familiar but out of context, it’s difficult to put a name with the face. It takes a few moments but it suddenly becomes clear the young man dressed in the perfectly tailored suit and hair gelled to the ceiling is Thomas Dekker.

Fans of the short-lived “The Secret Circle” or the almost as short-lived “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” will recognize his name as starring in those shows. He was John Connor in the “Terminator” franchise that doesn’t seem to end.

As different as he looks now, he goes through an even more elaborate transformation to pay Valentine, the roommate to Everett Backstrom (Rainn Wilson) on the new FOX quirky procedural, “Backstrom.”

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Let’s talk about sex

The film based on one of the most talked about books of the past few years, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, will open Feb. 13, just in time for a Valentine’s Day date.

Or is it the wrong film to go see on Valentine’s Day?

The book has been described as mommy porn. Anything I write about the movie will come from a male point of view.

This is where I could use your help.

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Timothy Omundson now has music in his life

Even diehard fans of “Psych” might have had some problems spotting Timothy Omundson on the short-run ABC series “Galavant.” When he was playing Carlton Lassiter on the cable show, Omundson sported short hair and a clean shaven face.

He has long hair and a “Duck Dynasty” length beard as King Richard in the musical comedy. The other big difference is that while there was plenty of humor in “Psyche,” “Galavant” is a full-blown comedy romp through the Middle Ages.

Doing the series has given Omundson a new love for musical theater. There was a musical episode of “Psych” but it did not challenge him the way the series has.

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Lorenzo Lamas meets his match with Trump

For five years, Lorenzo Lamas played tough guy Reno Raines on the syndicated series, “Renegade.” He faced a wide assortment of bag guys during the 110 episode run of the show.

Nothing  compared to the defeat he was handed at the hands of Donald Trump on Monday night’s “The Celebrity Apprentice.” Lamas and Shawn Johnson got the boot leaving nine players to vie over the next three weeks to be named the top “Celebrity Apprentice.”

Lamas says he probably wouldn’t have done the show 20 years ago. He’s found a new comfort zone with age.

“I think at 56 years of age, I am a little more comfortable in my own skin,” Lama tells me during an interview at the TV critics meetings in Pasadena. The interview takes place before the episode aired where he was fired.

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NBC looking at full year when judging success

NBC’s lack of successful new shows coupled with the impending end of “Parenthood” and “Parks and Recreation” had network boss Robert Greenblatt pushing for a more expanded look at the TV year. He suggests that the entire 52 weeks should be considered when talking about the network.

That’s because NBC has upcoming programming such as “Heroes: Reborn” and the short-run series, “The Slap.” It’s a TV production but “The Slap” boasts the kind of cast you only expect in a major feature film: Thandie Newton, Peter Sarsgaard and Uma Thurman to name a few.
Here’s a sample of some of Greenblatt’s other comments to critics:
QUESTION: “Peter Pan” got panned. Will you do another musical?

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