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Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Win tickets to: Michael Jackson HIStory

Kenny Wizz as Michael Jackson9Kenny Wizz (or Wizz as he’s known) has done the moonwalk more times than Michael Jackson ever did. As the world’s No. 1 Jackson impersonator, Wizz has performed as Michael since 1984 and done shows all over the world. He estimates he’s done 15,000 shows in Las Vegas alone.

Right now, he’s in the midst of a two-month U.S. tour followed by trips to Australia and Indonesia. Wizz’ tribute “Michael Jackson HIStory” comes to the Saroyan Theatre on Friday. The show is a recreation of what Jackson did live Jackson — a two-hour performance covering 22 songs from pop icon’s catalog of music.

And the Beehive will be giving away tickets to three lucky readers. Enter to win by leaving a comment below. We want to know what’s your favorite Jackson song and why. For my money, you can’t get better than “Dirty Diana,” which probably tells you how old I am. The contest will run through 5 p.m. Wednesday (June 19). Winners will be chosen at random and notified via email. These are actual, physical tickets, so they will need to be picked up at The Fresno Bee office (1226 E. St.) before 5 p.m. Friday.

Good luck.

See the full contest rules (and a video of Wizz) below.

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WTF or FTW? The new ‘Fly Fresno’ jingle

I’m torn. The first time I heard Fresno Yosemite International airport’s latest radio commercial, with a jingle that rips off Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” I shook my head in disgust. As you can hear below, the jingle changed the Jackson classic — one of my favorite of his, btw — to “Come on, Fly Fresno, won’t stop ’til we get you there” and other airplane talk.

I heard the commercial over and over, sometimes more than once a day. I told people about it. Even sang it to them. Then something happened. I started tapping my foot and singing it to myself. Out of nowhere. Without thinking about it. And not the original lyrics. The “Fly Fresno” lyrics. In the interest of fairness, I’ve also been known to randomly blurt out Fresh Beat Band songs, so this could very well be a me-problem.

Or it could mean the jingle is doing its job. It’s getting stuck in my head.

So now, Beehive readers of sound mind and taste, I turn this over to you. Is the “Fly Fresno” jingle a big ol’ bag of WTF or does it FTW so much it deserves a trophy?

Voting Key:
WTF = What. The. Fudgesicle. Who thought THAT was a good idea?!?
FTW = For the win. That is a victory for all mankind.

Hollywood memorabilia to be auctioned

Michael Jackson's This Is It.JPG If you have always wanted to own a piece of Hollywood memorabilia, there’s an auction this weekend that could make that wish come true.

Premiere Props will be auctioning Hollywood memorabilia at their “Hollywood Extravaganza V” on Saturday and Sunday at their headquarters in El Segundo. There will be a preview from 9-11 a.m. each day with the live auction beginning at 11 a.m.

In addition to over 1,000 props and costumes from superstars, the auction will feature over 20 cars from film and television including the primer grey Chevelle driven by Vin Diesel in the “Fast and Furious” franchise, the Cadillac Escalade driven by James Gandolfini in “The Sopranos,” that he also signed, multiple vehicles including police cars, construction vehicles and a taxi from “Step Up 4,” and two 1978 Ford Black 150 trucks from the upcoming “Perks of a Wallflower.”

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Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

… Other than all that other stuff I already told you about.

1. BE A BARBARIAN
Audie’s Olympic hosts a great lineup of indie rock bands tonight, in what promises to be a packed show. We Barbarians headline, and if you dig bands like Cold War Kids and The Walkmen, you’ll like them. Florida duo ANR, which gets a lot of MGMT comparisons, joins, as does local faves Strange Vine. We Barbarians sold out Audie’s earlier this year. With a new EP getting rave reviews, the show should be even bigger this time around. So get there early. [info]

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Wish you were here: Soulful Sundays

On Sunday, I went to brunch — yes, brunch — at Veni Vidi Vici. It was a special event called “Soulful Sundays,” organized by the fabulous Devoya Mayo. It was part of an occasional series of themed Sunday brunches. This one was a tribute to Michael Jackson, with San Francisco’s (by way of Fresno) DJ 4 a.m. spinning.

Here’s what you missed if you weren’t there.

p.s. VVV has some really good fried chicken.

13 Things You Should Do This Week

Hi Fresno friends, as you’re reading this I’m sitting around watching a bunch of NFL highlights I already watched yesterday and trying to figure out where to go eat tacos this afternoon. Yes, I’m on vacation this week! But Fresno doesn’t stop being happening just because I’m sitting at home. So here are 13 things that should keep you busy until I return next Monday. See ya then.

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To-Do Tonight: ‘Thriller’

Move over, “Glee.” Buchanan High School’s spring choir concert tonight includes a full-fledged tribute to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” The 7 p.m. concert is at the Paul Shaghoian Concert Hall on the Clovis North High School campus. Tickets are $8, $5 students/seniors. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Here’s a pretty sharp video promo:

Michael Jackson’s ties to the Lennon Sisters

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One of the best episodes of “The Simpson” had Homer Simpson being sent to a mental institution. There, he became friends with a very large white man who said he was Michael Jackson.

When Simpson gets released, he invites Michael to come to his home for a visit. Michael ends up writing a song for Bart to sing to Lisa as her birthday gift.

Everybody: “Lisa it’s your birthday…”

It was a secret at the time Jackson did the voice and he was credited as John Jay Smith. Yeardley Smith, the voice of Lisa for two decades, says Jackson showed up at the recording session to work with the cast. She found him to be a rather shy person and a big fan of the show.

What you might not know was that it wasn’t Jackson who sang the birthday song. His record company would not allow him to do the tune.

“Michael hand picked the person to sing the song. It was this skinny little white guy who sounded just like him. Imagine the pressure of singing like Michael Jackson in front of Michael Jackson,” Smith said during breakfast. She had traveled to Pasadena to talk with TV critics about the 20th anniversary of her series.

That singer was Kipp Lennon. He is the younger brother of the female quartet The Lennon Sisters.

Weekend Rewind: Braggin’ Rights edition

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For me, it was a weekend of regional sports rivals and family visiting from the Bay Area. Where did your weekend adventures lead you? Tell us in the comments.

FRIDAY

  • In Central Valley grudge match #1: I Saw the Grizzlies duke it out with Sacramento. It was a close one (much like the entire series), but the Griz came up a little short in the end, 4-3. Overall, Sac took the five-game series, 3-2. Boo.
  • Stopped by ever so briefly at the Ms. Soulflower Michael Jackson tribute at Palomino’s. It was packed with people sweating it up on the dancefloor.

SATURDAY

  • Who knew you can’t go bowling on a Saturday afternoon in Fresno? Both Sierra Lanes and Cedar Lanes had waits of at least an hour to get a lane.
  • NoTown Roller Derby went up against Bakersfield’s Diamond Divas, in another Valley grudge match. Fresno clobbered Bako 143-90. The bout had been pretty close, 87-79, before the NoTown ladies turned it up in the third period.

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Five Things You Should Do This Weekend …

While keeping in mind that tomorrow — 7/11 — is Free Slurpee Day!!

1. HAIL THE KING (AND QUEEN): Say goodbye once more to Michael Jackson tonight at Palomino’s, as the popular Ms. Soulflower monthly tribute series also comes to an end. We already miss King of Pop and now we’ll miss Fresno’s Queen of the Tribute too.

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MJ fever: How to lose three customers

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The scene: lunchtime today at Mr. Sushi in the Tower District. I’m meeting two colleagues for a business lunch/interview. When I walk in, they’re already seated, and I notice that the big-screen television behind the bar is turned to the live Michael Jackson memorial service.

The sound: the TV is turned up to an astonishing volume, with the voice of the speaker on the podium pounding out with something close to sonic-boom enthusiasm.

The problem: I say hello to my colleague sitting directly across the table, and when she replies, I catch about 15% of what she says. We raise our own voices, and pretty soon it sounds as if we’re in a shouting match.

The request: When the server asks for our drink order, I ask, “Do you think you can turn the TV down a little? It’s too loud and we can’t even hear each other talk.” She gives me a vague look and a barely commital nod.

The result: The sound is turned up even more.

The outcome: We leave and go to Irene’s across the street. As we head toward the door, I tell the server, “It’s just too loud.” She looks at us as if we’ve just proposed a law against moonwalking.

The snippy comment: Isn’t the “All Michael Jackson All the Time” onslaught today going just a little too far?

Photo: AP

To-Do Tonight: Remember the Time

There’s a Michael Jackson tribute night scheduled at Aldo’s, compete with MJ dance contest and a request to dress like the King of Pop.

Now here’s the question: How long before MJ tributes are played out? I was kinda thinking if you didn’t do it last weekend, then there’s no reason. I have a feeling, though, we’re going to be seeing these for a few weeks to come.

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On a related note, the Opinion Talk says: “Public viewing of Michael Jackson’s body? This is too much.”

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It didn’t take long

Those PR folks work fast. At 3:33 p.m., just minutes after major media outlets started reporting that Michael Jackson had indeed died, I received this email from Legacy.com:

Legacy.com, the world’s most timely and comprehensive resource for online obituaries and the undisputed leader in Web-based memorialization, has created a feature-rich online memorial, with a Guest Book, for Michael Jackson. Individuals can visit www.legacy.com to find the Guest Book and share their thoughts and express their condolences. Jackson’s Guest Book will remain on the site indefinitely. People can order printed versions of the Guest Books for commemorative keepsakes.

And the commerce of the country marches on.

‘Idol’ fans: Get ready for an 80s flashback

Tonight’s “American Idol” contestants will sing “songs from the year they were born.” That means it’s 80s flashback time. Seven of the eight remaining contestants were born in the 1980s. Only youngster Allison Iraheta is a 90s child, born in 1992. (Am I the only one who feels old?)

Here’s what we have to look forward to:

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The oldest contestant, Danny Gokey, will sing a song from1980. Topping Billboard’s Hot 100 that year: Blondie’s “Call Me”, Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall”, Olivia Newton-John’s “Magic”, Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” and Captain & Tennille’s “Do That To Me One More Time.” I don’t see Gokey singing any of those songs. I think he’ll go with some kind of ballad from the likes of Air Supply or Bill Joel. Though, if he chooses to sing Pink Floyd, you just might hear me screaming from across town.

It will be interesting to see what Adam Lambert picks from 1982. He often surprises with his choices, and he could go harder into metal or punk or more funky with a modern rock choice. Here’s a look at the top 5 songs from The KROQ Top 106.7 Songs of 1982: The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah,” A Flock of Seagulls’s “I Ran (So Far Away),” Soft Cell’s “Sex Dwarf,” Missing Persons’s “Words,” and The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me.” My vote: The Clash.

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The five other contestants will be choosing from the mid-80s, where artists like Prince, Madonna, Whitney, and Michael ruled the charts.

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I inherited ‘Idol’ blogging; 1st week = suck

This post brought to you by the Mongolian Cow Sour Yogurt Super Girl contest.

So, with Felicia off finding a new adventure, I am the only Beehiver (Mike Oz says he will never watch the show) left who is willing to follow “American Idol” and keep the conversation going.

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So, here’s my take on Tuesday’s “American Idol” performances, where they sang popular iTunes downloads (aka top 40 music) songs.

It was the worst week of performances yet. Worse than the bad performances on Michael Jackson and country weeks put together. Here’s my take on each performer:

Anoop Desai (singing Usher): Bloody hell it was awful. No originality. And, he kept making these snarly face while he sang that made it look like he had gas pains.

Megan Joy (singing Bob Marley): Uninspiring. Flat. Dull. She at least has her own sound and looks the part of a pop star. But, it’s not enough to erase hitting all those bad notes.

Danny Gokey (singing Rascal Flats): Ballads are his thing and he does them well. Not great; not bad. Just so-so. The judges love him though.

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Chris Cornell meets Timbaland … enough to make you ‘Scream’

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A rocker (Kathy) and a hip-hopper (Mike) discuss “Scream,” the new solo CD from ex-Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell, recorded entirely with mega-producer Timbaland.

Mike: I’ve been intrigued by this Chris Cornell/Timbaland collabo album since I heard about it. Note that I didn’t say I looked forward to it or anticipated it. More than anything, I was curious. Timbaland, of course, is responsible for Justin Timberlake’s “FutureSex/LoveSounds.” I figured that’s what he’d be bringing to the table on “Scream” — I just wasn’t sure how that would mesh with throaty rock vocals. My big question is this: Who’s going to listen to this? I can’t see Cornell’s rock fans getting behind the blips and beeps of Timbo and I can’t see the Timberlake audience latching onto Cornell — despite the influx of ads I’m seeing on MySpace.

Kathy: You’re right, Mike. I think rockers are going to have that WTF moment (Kind of like a co-worker today who was startled, dumbfounded and apparently quite disturbed to hear the tunes coming from my office were that of Cornell). The whole collaboration took me by surprise. I knew Chris Cornell had a solo album coming out, but I assumed it would be a rock album. What else would you think a guy who was in Soundgarden and Audioslave would do? Add in that he co-wrote the David Cook’s hit “Light On” and it all adds up to a mainstream rock album. Boy was I wrong.

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ROGUE REVIEW: That 80s Show

“That 80s Show” is darn cute. It’s not going to be the best acted, best danced or best produced show you’ll see, but it’s fun and will make you laugh. The 80s references are funny, the music is authentic (though not year specific) and the kids, LIKE, really, LIKE, pull off the 80s speak — tubular dude!

Put on by The 2nd Street Dancer’s, essentially kids from The Dancing School of Selma, the show combines acting and dancing to tell the story of Alice, who on her 16th birthday makes fun of her stuck-in-the 80s mother and somehow ends up transported back to 1988 (the perfect avenue for a Back to the Future reference) and has to win a weird mishmash of a game show to get back to 2009.

The show goes from 2009 teens dissing Prince and the Go-Go’s (“They need to go, go away,” Alice utters at one point), to re-enacting classic 80s moments (Anyone remember a girl named Jenny whose phone number is … you got it: 8675309).

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The Jacksons: An American Dream … going down the drain

The New York Post has a juicy story about the financial troubles of the Jackson family. Michael, we’ve heard his woes. But which Jackson brother is working at Vons? Which is $5 million in debt?

Sounds like a great opportunity to play Match the Jackson, doesn’t it? Below you’ll find a list of Jackson siblings and descriptions of their current financial situation, according to the Post’s story.

Can you match them?

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All Hail Van Halen

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What did you think of Van Halen’s Fresno show? Leave a comment with your review. Love it? Just OK? Did they play all the songs you wanted? My take is below. Update: I added more pics and a short video after the break.

A couple songs into Van Halen’s set Thursday night at Save Mart Center, David Lee Roth made his way to one side of the stage, took the microphone stand and wound it up like a batter awaiting a pitch.

He swung the mic stand, paused for a second, then lifted his hand to his forehead as to watch the invisible baseball he just hit sail over some invisible fence. Then he smiled and flamboyantly pranced away.

The message is clear, isn’t it? Van Halen hit a home run in Fresno.

It didn’t really matter that a couple songs later Roth nonchalantly admitted, “I forgot the f***in words.� By that time, Roth’s antics – waving around a flag to start the show, the karate kicks, pulling out a top hat and trying to dance like Michael Jackson – combined with Eddie Van Halen’s shredding guitar work had already easily won over the Fresno crowd.

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American Idol: Top 11 Thoughts & Predictions

jordin.jpgThis week, Bee reporter Doug Hoagland sits in with our “American Idol” panel to break down Tuesday night’s show. But first a question: Who should get the boot tonight? We’ll offer our up predictions. Please leave a comment with yours.

Felicia says:
First, I think the “American Idol” producers should hire Peter Noone (of Herman’s Hermits fame) to be the guys’ coach for the rest of the run. The guys — even Sanjaya Malakar — sang with exuberance and style, elevating Tuesday’s “British Invasion” show above last week’s edition. Here’s how I rate the Top 11 show:

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American Idol: Top 10 Guys

philstacy.jpgThe “American Idol” guys — down to 10 — took the stage again Monday night. Here to talk about whether they roared back or dished out another week of mediocrity is the Beehive’s “Idol” panel, Mike Osegueda and Felicia Matlosz.

Mike says:
Overall, the guys were better this week than last. But that’s not saying a whole heck of a lot. Sundance finally shined again. Chris stayed strong. And Sanjaya signed up for a plane ticket home.

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American Idol: Hollywood Week Pt. 2

aitop24.JPGThe drama was thick on last night’s “American Idol.” This year’s crop of 24 was being selected. That meant either lots of celebration or lots of tears. Here’s what The Beehive’s Idol watchers have to say:

Felicia says:
Wednesday’s segment of “American Idol” almost felt anti-climactic. To slash a field of 40 to 24 in less than an hour (anybody ever notice how many commercials Fox crams into an A.I. hour?), you have scant time for pleasantries and “better luck next times.” Yeah, the producers try to build in drama, like keeping the 40 together in a “holding room” so they can count to 24 each time a contestant returns from the judges. But it feels perfunctory.

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