Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Elisabeth Harnois dives into death duties

There are some actors who just look like they are always having fun. That’s the feeling I get watching Elisabeth Harnois on “CSI.” Even when her character, Morgan Brody, is digging through disgusting remains of a crime scene, it always looks like the actress is enjoying the job.

“That’s because I am,” Harnois tells me at a CBS/CW/Showtime party. “Part of that is because I have a little bit of a morbid side. I’ve always loved horror.”

She got to explore that side after being cast. Many of the “CSI” actors have gone to a real morgue to observe an autopsy and Harnois wanted that experience.

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TONIGHT: Dizzy Wright

dizzyIt’ll be awhile before we get an official full-album release from Dizzy Wright.

But fans are still privy to new music from the Las Vegas rapper, who was named one of XXL Magazine’s freshman class last year (he was the people’s choice). “I’m always releasing stuff. I released a song today,” says Wright, who’s State of Mind Tour stops tonight at Fulton 55.

That song is “Spark Up The Flame,” a summer-time party anthem that was written just for the season (as things start to heat up) and is available for free.

Wright has been prolific since his full-length debut “SmokeOut Conversations” was released in 2012. He’s put out a half-dozen mix-tapes and the “State of Mind,” EP, which was released in March.

He’s also been soaking up the experiences of being a touring musician, of getting out of Las Vegas (in a tour bus this time around) and seeing how other people live. “I get to travel, get to see other people’s environments,” he says. “It gave me a different outlook on how to put on a show.”

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Electronic group AndDrop! plays the “Discovery Stage” at EDC

25153Pro tip: If you want to get some hometown press for your accomplishments, just tell your mom. I’ve said it before, proud parents make the best PR reps (at least with me).

So there’s the preface.
Here’s the story: AndDrop, a group of electronic DJ/producers (and Fresno natives) from Los Angeles, was chosen to play the Discovery Stage at this year’s Electric Daisy Carnival. The carnival, which takes place this weekend, is like an overgrown version of your local warehouse rave. It’s a three-day event that draws close to 300,000 people, making it the largest electronic music festival and dance music event in North America.

So, it’s pretty impressive if you can get on the bill. We emailed producer (and Fresno native) Harris Kauffman to get the full scoop on the group, the festival and the rise of EDM (electronic Dance Music).

First tell me about AndDrop! Who does what and how did you all come together?

AndDrop! is comprised of DJ Joe Wiseman (Washington, DC) and producers/brothers Harris and Sylvain Kauffman. Joe and I met in the dorms at UC Berkeley, and instantly bonded over a shared appreciation of hip-hop and dub reggae. All three of us were very interested in the rise of new wave electronic/dance music. Artists like Crookers, Jack Beats, and Wolfgang Gartner were driving the scene in 2008. Sylvain and I had been working on hip-hop instrumentals and Joe had been developing his skills on the tables when the three decided to combine forces under one name.

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Trace Adkins already feels like ‘Apprenctice’ winner

Trace AdkinsThe winner of this season’s “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice” will be announced May 19 and it all comes down to magician Penn Jillette and musician Trace Adkins.

Win or lose, Adkins is happy he’s been on the reality competition show twice. He’s convinced that its introduced him to people who weren’t fans of his music.

“They like the way I represented myself on the show and that made them start listening to my music,” Adkins tells me during an NBC party. It’s loud in the hotel lounge but Adkins has the kind of deep voice that can be easily heard. “I have people who come up to me in airports and the TV show is the only place they know me from.

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Observations of a grumpy old man

Britney Spears“Extra” is reporting that Britney Spears will be starring in a Las Vegas show. In honor of her being in the Nevada city, it will be mandatory at all Blackjack tables that players must say “Hit me baby one more time.”

Shocking news about how the Post Office wants to discontinue Saturday mail delivery in August. The shocking part is that there are people who still use the Post Office.

Generally, this year’s Super Bowl commercials weren’t memorable. The most effective was the GoDaddy commercial that featured a slurping kiss between a nerd and Victoria Secret model Bar Refaeli. Dot-com domain sales rose 40%. Everyone is buying getthisoutofmy, and

Lindsey Lohan has reportedly turned down a $550,000 offer to be on “Dancing With the Stars.” Makes sense. Did you ever try to do the Tango with a police ankle bracelet?

Disappointed about the news that Honey Boo Boo’s mom, Mama June, has lost more than 100 pounds. I was sure she dropped the weight by sending Honey Boo Boo to live with relatives. Because of the weight loss, “The Soup” host Joel McHale will have to stop calling Mama June the “human thumb” and now call her the human finger.

Name for ‘Worlds Away’ character has unusual origin

Hollywood film and TV producers often have to play the name game. Coming up with the right moniker for a character isn’t as easy as putting a first and last name together. There are often legal concerns. Imagine the grief anyone who happened to be named Hannibal Lecter would have gone through after the release of “Silence of the Lambs.”

It’s no big deal with stories based on real stories but even then some names get changed to protect the innocent.

In the film “Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away,” scheduled to open Dec. 21, the character played by acrobat/actor Erica Linz is named Mia. You might not have picked up on that unless you stay for the credits as her name’s only mentioned once.

Mia goes to a rundown circus where she’s smitten by the aerialist. He’s so distracted by here that he misses a grab and falls to the circus floor. Instead of being killed, he’s pulled down into a sandy vortex followed by Mia. She ends up in a wonderland of strange and weird characters not unlike Alice’s trip down the rabbit hole in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”

“A little known fact is my character is named for the actress who starred in the recent ‘Alice in Wonderland’ movie,” Linz tells me.

It was Mia Wasikowska who played Alice in the 2010 Tim Burton movie “Alice in Wonderland.”

Epic Meal Time gets gentlemanly … with some Fresno gents

It’s been a while since we checked in with Epic Meal Time, mainly because I don’t know if you all like bacon-wrapped everything and bleeped-out curse words as much as I do. But the episode released this morning is of specific Fresno interest.

For Epic Meal Time’s “Gentleman’s Episode,” the guys hit Las Vegas and hang with Fresno’s own Twitter celeb @YourFavWhiteGuy — aka Branden Hampton, the guy with the Facebook-spoof app — while cooking up epic beef wellingtons.

But wait, there’s more: If you pay close attention, at 4:26 you’ll see someone who looks a lot like Mr. Fresno Infamous Kirk Vartanian — which makes a lot of sense since part of the episode takes places in Privilege Gentlemen’s Club, which Vartanian now owns or co-owns or something. Turns out it’s not Kirk, we’re told, but his brother. But hey, a Vartanian is a Vartanian.

As usual with Epic Meal Time, this is borderline NSFW and might gross you out.