Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

‘Utopia’ failed FOX experiment

If you ever have the opportunity to make a wager with Simon Andreae, executive vice president of Fox’s alternative programming, take it. There’s no way to lose.

During the summer, when FOX unveiled it’s new reality series, “Utopia,” to TV critics, Andreae was confident the year-long program would be a hit. He was wrong by 10 months as the network finally canceled the series that was DOA.

Only Andreae seemed to not be able to see what everyone else saw: the show was a stinker from the start.

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UPDATE: You can win special ‘Gotham’ poster


The winners of the “Gotham” posters have been randomly selected. Wes and TjMathew get one of the promotional items for the new FOX series. Thanks to those who participated.

ORIGINAL POST: “Gotham” is shaping up to be one of the big hits for the 2014-2015 network television season. The new series looks at life in Gotham City just after the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents. It will focus on the efforts of a young Jim Gordon to clean up the city and the police force.

At the same time, viewers will learn how The Penguin, The Riddler, Catwoman and other villains got their starts.

The series launches Sept. 22 on FOX.

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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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Life peachy for ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ actor

Fresno Bee TV critic Rick Bentley is in Los Angeles at the summer TV critics tour. These are his early reports.

Keep an eye out for actor Joel McKinnon Miller, who plays Scully on the FOX comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” He could be in the Fresno area in the next few weeks.

He’s coming to the area for fruit, specifically peaches from the farm of David Mas Masumoto. The Del Rey author is known for being a peach and grape farmer.

“I adopted a peach tree from him 10 years ago,” Miller says during a chat on the set of the comedy. “Some friends and I share the tree. We will be going up in the next two weekends to pick part the fruit. And, it’s some of the best peaches you have ever eaten in your life.”

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Facebook photo of the day: bad dancing edition


Fresno filmmaker Vince Cosentino shared this photo on himself on Facebook this morning. He and Haley White were on KMPH’s “Great Day” promoting this Thursday’s eighth installment of The Germ short-film festival. Cosentino notes:

My fists tell you how comfortable I am dancing.

I love this photo. Cosentino looks like he’s ready to march onstage singing “Do Re Mi” as one of the Von Trapp Family boys.

Fox dealing with ‘Glee’ loss, Friday nights

Cory MonteithFOX’s Chairman of Entertainment, Kevin Reilly, talked about everything from “Glee” to “Bones” during his time in front of TV critics meeting in Los Angeles. Here’s a sample of what he had to say.

On how “Glee” will deal with death of Cory Monteith:

KEVIN REILLY: “The third episode will deal with the Finn Hudson character being written out of the show. I can’t speak to it yet because, frankly, the guys are still breaking it. What I will tell you is that episode will deal directly with the incidents involved in Cory’s passing and the drug abuse in particular. Ryan (Murphy) himself is going to shoot some PSAs with the cast, in which, as cast members, as friends of Cory’s, they’re going to speak directly to the audience. I think they’re going to be very, very impactful. What we all said, what everybody knows, is you see some people struggling with addiction. And it’s clear why. They’re very easily put into a category. Cory was a big, open, wonderful life force. He was not a problem. Everybody loved him. He didn’t look like that. He looked straight as an arrow. He was very open about his past, not as open about it in the present. And nobody was shocked, but everybody was ultimately shocked, because it was an accident. It was not an intentional thing. It was an accident that happened to somebody struggling with an addiction.”

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My e-book now available on Nook, plus my visit this morning to KMPH


The Barnes and Noble e-bookstore isn’t going to set any records for speed, but it finally managed to get my recent e-book about Dan Pessano and Good Company Players, titled “The Company We Keep,” in “stock.” The 105-page book, which was published by The Bee to coincide with the company’s 40th anniversary celebration, can be downloaded for the Nook here.

I had a great time this morning chatting with Kopi Sotiropulos and Kim Stephens on KMPH’s “Great Day” about the book. If you saw me today and are looking for the easiest way to download “The Company We Keep,” you can buy it for $2.99 on Kindle, Apple’s iBookstore, and at (Vook offers a desktop version if you don’t have a mobile reading device, along with ePub versions that can be transferred to devices.) And don’t forget the Fresno Bee videos and photo galleries (including shots from all 436 Good Company productions) online.

Kai gets auto-tuned

OK, those of you already up to your ears in coverage of Kai might want to skip over this post.

(If you’ve been in a coma the past week, you probably don’t know about this hero homeless hitchhiker — he prefers the term “homefree,” thank you very much, which makes me suspect an agent has already latched onto him — who is singlehandedly responsible for a huge spike this past week in KMPH’s online clicks. Heck, Kai’s probably already gotten KMPH reporter Jessob Reisbeck a job in a Top 10 market, or maybe even a guest-hosting gig on “Fox and Friends.”)

But for Kai fans, here’s some big-deal news, indeed. None other than the venerable Gregory Brothers have turned Kai’s memorable “Smash, smash, smash” moment on KMPH into one of those perky auto-tuned creations that can go viral.( Warning: NSFW.) As the Brothers write on their website:

Kai the Hitchhiker sings an uplifting anthem about the human soul, while warning he also might smash you.

Couldn’t have said it better myself. In other news, KMPH is milking this story for all it’s worth. Check out this banner on the station’s home page:


Reisbeck — “the only person to speak with Kai on camera about his newfound fame,” the site breathlessly announces — caught up with the new Internet celebrity for a follow-up report last night.

And in other pop-culture sightings, the original “Smash” video made the Clip of the Week on Joel McHale’s “The Soup.” Which means Kai beat out the inevitable clip from one of the “Real Housewives” franchises. Could a Kai reality show be far behind? For more media mentions, KMPH has a roundup.

Did They Just Say Fresno? Stephen Colbert, KMPH and Kai the homeless hitchhiker – updated with new Kai video

Stephen Colbert jumped into the mania around Kai the homeless hitchhiker with this hilarious take on the man with the hatchet, including a great shout out to Fresno’s KMPH (1:19 mark) for landing the now-famous interview.

For more on Kai, check out this update from KMPH. There’s also apparently a new fundraiser to get Kai a surfboard and wetsuit.

UPDATE: Not sure what the story is behind this video, which was shared in a link to a Kai Facebook page on The Beehive’s Facebook page. NSFW video after the jump:

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Fres-Know: KMPH scores with homeless-hitchhiker-vs.-racist-Jesus interview

Proving that there is ALWAYS a market on the Internet for stories with 1) weird headlines and 2) videos of heroic hitchhikers performing vigorous reenactments of thwarting racist, bear-hugging-Jesus impersonators by using the (presumably) blunt ends of conveniently accessible hatchets, KMPH has gone viral with its story about the black Fresno PG&E worker attacked last week.

If you recall, the unfortunate worker was injured Friday after a 54-year-old Washington man named Jett Simmons McBride rammed his car into him. McBride was making racist comments, and after pinning the worker with his car jumped out and started attacking him. That’s when the hitchhiker named Kai, who had caught a ride with McBride, came to the rescue and started hitting the agitated man with a hatchet.

A weird story, yes, but the reason it went viral has all to do with the KMPH video, in which the enthusiastic hitchhiker basically reenacts the incident with a performance best described as a cross between interpretive dance and surf rave. Here are some of the outlets we found that picked it up:

Buzzfeed: Bryan Harley of local blog The Dumb Drum helped make the story go national. (Video: From DumbDrumTV on YouTube.)

Gawker: “Meanwhile, Kai has become something of a guru to many after participating in an eminently quotable interview following the drama.”

The Blaze:  “It’s a sentence you won’t read every day, or hopefully ever again.”   “Local news is an often-wonderful, even-more-often-bizarre place.”

FresTube: Don’t Drop That Baklava

The snippet of “Don’t Drop That Baklava” — a parody of current hip-hop hit “Don’t Drop That Thun Thun Thun” — we saw last week was so great, it’s been turned into an entire video. It turns out a couple guys at KMPH are behind this, and they flushed out the lyrics and took their cameras to the Greek Fest to make the accompanying video.

Even if you’re Thun Thun Thun’ed out, it’s still a good way to see what you missed at the Greek Fest.

Elphaba vs. Elphaba


First off, major points to KMPH’s Anna Laurel, who scored a backstage exclusive with a story about how “Wicked’s” makeup artisans turn the leading character of Elphaba green before each performance. (I’m impressed and envious that she got backstage at any point during the run after Tuesday’s load-in at the Saroyan; the “Wicked” company supposedly has a strict policy about media access.)

The only problem: Laurel evidently got confused about her Elphabas.

The nice young woman she interviewed for the piece is Christine Dwyer, who is the Elphaba standby. Dwyer’s job is to fill in for “Wicked” star Anne Brummel, the principal Elphaba, when Brummel is sick or on vacation. Also, the standby often performs at matinee performances on days when there are two shows.

Yet in Laurel’s story, she identifies Dwyer as transformed “every night” into Elphaba, which will come as a surprise to the thousands of people who will see Brummel perform in the starring role at the Saroyan in the coming week and a half. To make things even more confusing, the story intersperses footage of Dwyer in the makeup chair with stock footage of what I’m pretty sure is Brummel onstage as Elphaba.

Which brings us to my “Wicked” story today with Brummel in the 7 section, in which I interviewed her about — you guessed it — what it’s like to play green.

So to set the record straight: Brummel is the principal Elphaba, Dwyer is the standby (and I’m told she gave an impressive performance at the Thursday matinee), and I got stuck with a phone interview talking about green paint while KMPH got to witness it in person. Is it any wonder I feel a little wicked this afternoon?

On TV tonight


“So You Think You Can Dance” 8 p.m. on KMPH (Channel 26)

The finale of this season of the Fox Network dance competition airs in this two-hour special to originate from the Kodak Theatre.

The show will feature surprise guests and performances by the Top 20 who will reunite on the Kodak Theatre stage. The winner will dance off with $250,000 and will be featured on the cover of the November issue of Dance Spirit magazine.