Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Wilson Cruz tackles mature role on ‘Red Band Society’

Wilson Cruz is going through the kind of acting adjustments actors face as they get older. He proves it doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

I remember talking to him when he landed his first professional acting job playing Rickie Vasquez on the critically acclaimed “My So Called Life.” He was 20 at the time but was still cast as one of the high school students.

Now, he’s surrounded by young actors playing hospital patients in “Red Band Society.” The 40-year-old Cruz portrays Nurse Kenji Gomez-Rejon, who works closely with Nurse Jackson (Octavia Spencer).

“I’m no longer one of the teenagers on the show. I’m one of the old people,” Cruz says during an interview at the TV Critics meetings.

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Ice Fight: Downtown ice rink vs. Gateway Ice Center

Excitement has surrounded the new outdoor ice rink on the Fulton Mall since it opened last Friday. It’s brought out good crowds, increased foot traffic and helped spur both new visitors and new businesses downtown.

In short, it’s a step in the right direction for downtown revitalization efforts.

What it’s not: Good news for Gateway Ice Center, Fresno’s year-round, indoor ice rink.  In Tuesday’s Bee, Bill McEwen wrote that Gateway — after one weekend of the downtown rink — is saying the new rink will cause its closure by next spring.

[Owner Bob] Glassman’s problem is that November, December and January are Gateway’s busiest months. Without winter profits, he says, it’s impossible to keep the rink open for occasional skaters, as well as 300 club hockey players and 100 figure skaters. The rink on the mall, meanwhile, is scheduled until Jan. 13. Then the owners will remove the boards and ice-making equipment and move on.

“This is the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Glassman said Monday. “The publicity they got was unbelievable. I went down there Saturday night to take a look and they had a huge crowd. I don’t blame anybody, but they ought to think about what they’re doing.”

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Fulton 55: Recap of the community meeting


The community meeting on Wednesday night to talk about in-the-works music venue Fulton 55 was far less antagonistic than might have been expected if you read the back-and-forth here on The Beehive.

A group of about 60-70 people — neighbors, musicians, downtown supporters — gathered at Iron Bird Cafe as Fulton 55 general manager Tony Martin went over his plans for the venue, and eventually turned it over for questions. Since some neighboring business and churches have already expressed their disapproval for the up-to-500-capacity concert venue, it seemed this is where things might be explosive. But not really.

“When we open, it’s going to be all about working together,” Martin said.

Only Stephen Carlson, pastor of nearby Bethel Lutheran Church, spoke in opposition of the venue (video of his exchange with Martin below) — citing many of the reasons we’ve already heard, parking being foremost.

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Fulton 55: The controversy has begun


While the local music community is bubbling with anticipation for in-the-works local music venue Fulton 55, not all the club’s neighbors are happy.

Fulton 55 — scheduled to open in December at the corner of Fulton and Divisadero streets — has drawn the ire of some neighboring churches, who have filed complaints about the venue opening close to them.

Ultimately, a planning commission meeting on Dec. 1 (it was originally scheduled for last week) will make the call.

But first, Fulton 55 is inviting the community to an informational meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Iron Bird Cafe . Venue management will go over its plans and answer questions from the community.

Is it just me, or does all this all sound a little too similar to the controversy that surrounded the Neighborhood Thrift mural?

UPDATE: Ranee Johnson, co-owner of Wildrose Chapel & Funeral Home, located diagonal from Fulton 55, is one of its opposers. She says the club will bring too many people and cars to a neighborhood that cannot accommodate them.

Chief among her concerns were parking, safety, the club being open until 2 a.m. and alcohol being served. She cited Salvation Army and Evangel Home as other nearby business that share the same concerns.

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Team Leno or Team Conan?

By now you all probably know that Jay Leno is going back to “The Tonight Show” and Conan O’Brien is going … well, nobody is quite sure yet. Tell ya the truth, I’m more interested in what’s happened in result.

Like how Conan put his Tonight Show set up for sale on Craigslist. Or Jimmy Kimmel’s appearance on Leno last night, where he pretty much clowned Jay up and down his “10 at 10″ segment. Here’s a video. Question five was my favorite.

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Tiger Woods scandal inspires some pretty trashy press releases


Look, I’m as tired of hearing about Tiger Woods as the rest of you, but I’m now also irritated with the press releases I’ve been getting with companies trying to leech themselves onto this scandal.

This one — subject line: “Safe Sexting Story Idea” — that landed in my inbox this morning particularly made me gag:

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What the heck is going on at B95?


Big changes have been going on at hip-hop/R & B radio station B95 with regards to its on-air talent. In the past few weeks, the station lost both afternoon jock Danny Salas (who also did Ruthless Radio on Sunday nights) and Mo’nique, who co-hosted their Juice Crew morning show and was on from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Things got especially drama-filled on Friday, the day Mo was fired, because she appeared on rival Q97 later that night. It was reminiscent of the good ol’ WWF/WCW pro wrestling wars.

As Rick Bentley reports in his weekly column, B95 brass isn’t talking about what happened or what its plans are. And Q97 said they didn’t officially hire Mo’nique, just gave her a tryout. B95′s John Magic did announce via Twitter that he’s moved from nights to afternoons.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens on our local hip-hop airwaves in the coming weeks. Although, I hesitate to even call Q97 a hip-hop station anymore, as they’ve gone toward playing a lot more Taylor Swift, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga lately.

B95, on the other hand, lost the closest thing resembling a real hip-hop show with Ruthless Radio, which at least switched up the playlist from what is an otherwise conservatively programmed mix of Pitbull, Jeremih, Drake and more Pitbull.

Will The Game be on this best behavior Saturday night?


To me, the most interesting concert at The Big Fresno Fair is Saturday night’s show with The Game. Not because of him or his music — he’s pretty overrated, me thinks. But because of the all the scheduling drama that’s come to the fair’s “hip-hop night” and the potential for more drama on Saturday.

You might recall that Drake was originally scheduled for Saturday, which was quite a coup for the fair. Then he hurt himself, and Flo-Rida was booked in his place. Then Flo-Rida had to drop out. That’s when The Game was recruited.

An interesting aside: About a week after the fair added Flo-Rida, Tachi Palace had to fill a hole in its annual car show and scheduled Flo-Rida. Upon learning the fair had also booked him, the Tachi folks ended up booking The Game. Ironically, the fair ended up with The Game too. This leads me to believe that this guy is available to do shows just about anytime.

My first reaction to hearing the news of The Game at The Big Fresno Fair was: “Wow. I wonder if Fresno PD is OK with this?” He’s not exactly the Fresh Prince. In addition to being the biggest name-dropper in hip-hop, The Game is also rather explicit and talks a lot about gang stuff.

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Starline: Do we have a revolt on our hands?


UPDATE: Starline’s manager gives his side of last night’s incident after the jump.

ORIGINAL POST: It’s only Tuesday and it’s already a not-so-good week for Starline, the Tower District nightclub and music spot.

Apparently, local band Yesterday’s Chonies, which is prone to playing out in the street, had a run in with Starline management last night. Now they’re telling people not to go to Starline. The band explains:

[We] were playing music on the street outside Livingstones/Bank of America last night right after closing time (we had played at the open mic night at the Starline earlier). The starline gentleman came out quite aggressively, when he started yelling at me in my face I gave him a rude gesture and he hit my in the face. Our baritone player and he begin to tussel until it was broken up. I was intoxicated, however I feel that even if we were in the wrong the starline gentleman could have approached us differently and not used violence.

Meanwhile, there’s now an “I Hate the Starline” group on Facebook. I don’t know that these two things are directly related. If not, that’s even worse.

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