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Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Have sharks jumped the shark?

Just when you thought it was safe to start surfing the net without some kind of terror-shark related news, Fangoria releases the trailer to “Avalanche Sharks.” Some are calling this the sequel to “Sharknado,” which we all know it is not. That film is being scheduled for 2014, according to our own Rick Bentley.

This movie may or may not be connected to a movie called “Sand Sharks,” which is pretty much the same plot-points, but with sand instead of snow. Or vice-versa. The whole of it is not too dissimilar to “Ghost Shark,” which was not as terribly terrible as it sounds, all things considered.

Still, I am thinking it is time to give it a break with the sharks.

I’m officially calling for an end to all shark movies. Can we get a new menacing animal?

Let’s see: We’ve already been through other fish. And snakes. There was the killer pig movie. And the giant rabbits. There was that devil dog movie that wasn’t “Cujo.” We’ve seen rats, bats and of course, birds … What’s left? Has there been a killer house cat movie?

In non-movie shark news, this.

You can watch the “Avalanche Sharks” trailer on the jump.

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Stephanie Leonidas embraces alien look

Defiance - Season 1Actors in sci-fi projects have to deal with elements that performers in other genres never face including special effects make-up. Think about it. For years, LeVar Burton had to stare through what was little more than a modified car air filter to play Commander Geordi La Forge on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” (Updated to correct name spelling.)

Stephanie Leonidas, who portrays Irathient alien Irisa on the new Syfy Channel series “Defiance,” doesn’t have to look through a car part to do her job but she does have to deal with a prosthetic pieces across the bridge of her nose. Looking at her, the make-up just looks like a cool way to create the kind of otherworld look needed for the character. She has to look out through the make-up and while the prosthetic piece is small, it’s affected how she acts.

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Ron Moore has new Syfy channel series

Ron 001Chowchilla native Ron Moore has a new TV series. The Syfy cable channel has ordered 13 episodes of “Helix” that would begin airing later this year. Moore will be an executive producer on the show.

The cable series is about a team of scientists from the Centers for Disease Control who travel to a research facility in the Arctic to investigate a possible disease outbreak. What they find is a life-and-death struggle that holds the key to mankind’s salvation or total annihilation.

Moore brings a wealth of science fiction and fantasy knowledge to the show having written for “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and been the producer of “Roswell,” the updated “Battlestar Galactica” and “Caprica.” He also co-wrote the screenplay for the 1996 film “”Star Trek: Generations,” in which James T. Kirk died.

Observations of a grumpy old man

2011 NBC Upfront PresentationThe comedy world was shocked this week when Christina Applegate announced she was leaving her NBC comedy “Up All Night” at the end of this season. The comedy world was shocked to hear the show was still on the air.

Linda Hamilton will play an assassin on the March 25 episode of “Lost Girl.” For those of you who don’t know the Syfy show, it’s about a succubus whose only concern is to feed off the sexual energy of others. In other words, she’s a Kardashian.

ABC’s “Celebrity Wife Swap” will have Kate Gosselin, of “Kate plus 8” fame,” trading lives with former High Hefner girlfriend Kendra Wilkinson. It’s perfect. Gosselin gets to dump her kids on someone who’s very experienced changing diapers.

Kate Upton is the 2013 Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover model. OK. I can’t be grumpy about everything.

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Chris Jericho wrestles with new career options

Chris Jericho’s professional wrestling days are behind him but he still loves a good fight. That’s one reason he’s so excited about being the host of the new Syfy competition series “Robot Combat League” that will debut in late February. The show will feature teams guiding million-dollar robots in a “Real Steel” kind of competition.

“And it really works out because each fight gets better and better as the teams learn more about fighting,” Jericho tells me during a party thrown by the cable channel. “I tried on the equipment and it was so cool because every move I made the robot did it immediately. There’s no pause.”

The show is Jericho’s latest effort by Jericho to move past his professional wrestling days. He enjoyed his time in the ring but is now excited about being able to work on his writing, music and other entertainment options that couldn’t be any further from his mat days. One such option was appearing on “Dancing With the Stars.”

“They had asked me three times before to be on the show and I said no. I finally decided if I said no again, they wouldn’t ask me anymore,” Jericho says.

He laced up his dancing shoes and performed his way through six successful competitions before being sent home. His appearance on the show was the edition won by Hines Ward.

Jericho decided his decision to do the show was right after the first time he faced the judges.

“They didn’t think I was the worst dancer in the world. That was great,” Jericho says.

David Strathairn proves a point

Golden Globes.JPG Years ago, I got into a discussion with several fellow critics about which beat was better – film or TV – when it comes to celebrity interviews. Movies attract bigger stars but there are more actors working in TV. The final winner was TV because while not every TV actor will make a movie, most film stars will work in TV.

The latest proof is Oscar-nominee David Strathairn who will star in the upcoming Syfy cable channel series “Alphas.” It’s the “X-Men” if they had to live in the real world.

Strathairn’s worked in TV but with films like “The Bourne Ultimatum,” “Good Night, and Good Luck” “L.A. Confidential,” “The Firm,” “Sneakers” and “The River Wild” on his resume, he’s best known as a film star.

The San Francisco native agreed to star in the cable series because it’s a different acting challenge.

“Well, having done a lot of theater and a fair amount of film, this landscape offers, I think, something in particular in the way a character can be explored. All the creators are talking about it being not necessarily an episodic A plus B equals C, but more of an A plus G equals maybe a different letter,” Strathairn says.

He goes on to say that the process of developing a character that has infinite possibilities but is grounded in a very complex starting point is something he finds exciting.

And that’s why a film star would agree to be on a TV show.

On TV tonight: ‘Face Off’

NUP_142364_0102.JPG “Face Off,” 10 p.m. Syfy: The new reality competition series is looking for the top special-effects makeup artist among 12 contestants. They’ll be judged on how creative they can be in weekly challenges that range from creating human/animal hybrids to creatures that might inhabit a newly discovered planet.

The winner – determined by judges Glenn Hetrick, Patrick Tatopoulos and Ve Neill – will get $100,000 and a year’s worth of makeup supplies.

If you are a fan of science fiction, this is an intriguing look at the process used to create the interesting creatures who populate TV and film. Unlike a regular makeup artists, creating these looks also calls for skills in sculpting, painting and construction.