Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Five Things You Should Do New Year’s Eve


There’s a comprehensive look at New Year’s events over at The Bee, but here is a quick list of things you might want to do.

1. Catacomb’s NYE ’69
The gang behind the Catacomb Party (and last year’s NYE NOCO collab at the Pacific Southwest Ballroom) are taking over Fulton 55 to recreate New Year’s Eve 1969.

2. Erna’s Elderberry House
If you’re going to splurge on a meal, make it five stars, right?

3. Chuck Leonard/Trey Tosh at Mono Wind Casino
The Central Valley Buzz host has a party bus headed up the hill and (if you are brave) you can hop on. Once there, you’ll get live music from Trey Tosh.

4. “Portraits” at Cuvee
The Tower District lounge will have more than 20 Champagne/sparkling wine options for the night, including the Moet Imperial, at a mere $890.

5. Stay home
Let’s face it, some years being around actual people is just too much.

Jimmy Fallon hits another home run with Jon Hamm ‘Celebrity Photobomb’

I’ve watched Jimmy Fallon for years on “Late Night,” so I easily followed him in his move as the new host of “The Tonight Show.” I have to say, he’s just killing it in his first few weeks. So many laughs and good times.

First there was the Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing with Will Smith, then Brian Williams rapping “Rapper’s Delight” and another installment of the History of Rap with Justin Timberlake. There’s also the lip-sync off with Paul Rudd and The Roots playing “Let it Go” with Idina Menzel using classroom instruments.

And now, this awesome “Celebrity Photobomb” skit  with Jon Hamm at the Top of The Rock in New York City:


Something to watch: ‘The Wrong Mans’

huluFor many, this is an extended weekend — which means more time to fill. If you’re up for avoiding Black Friday and looking for a new TV series to consume, have I got a show for you: “The Wrong Mans.”  This BBC Television dramedy is a highly digestible 6-shows long, entertaining without being complex and available in one giant chunk — only on Hulu.

The premise (via IMDb): “The Wrong Mans series centers on Sam Pinkett and Phil Bourne, office workers for Berkshire County Council, who have their menial existence turned upside-down by a chance phone-call and a case of mistaken identity. After being sole witness to a car crash on a desolate country road, Sam answers an abandoned mobile telephone and hears a message that was clearly not meant for him: “If you are not here by 5 o’clock, we will kill your wife”. Encouraged by office mail-room delivery boy Phil that they can be the heroes of the hour, the duo soon find themselves plunged into a deadly kidnap situation.”

Not a subscriber? Not a problem. Hulu is offering this entertaining show free.



7 picks for 7 days

October is full of things to do, including these 7 picks for Oct. 17-23. From a silent film at the historic downtown Warnors Theatre to Fresno State Football, a beer festival and a big-time rock concert, these are some of the best bets for your entertainment.

Liz Claman taking care of business

Claman officialYou would think with all of the business insights Liz Claman brings to the Fox Business Network through shows like “Closing Bell” and with special programming like next week’s “Three Days In the Valley,” her biggest influences growing up would have been great business minds like Bill Gates, Henry Ford or Winthrop W. Aldrich.

The person who had the biggest influence on her career is better known in the world of fashion than industry: Diane von Fürstenberg. The designers claim to fame is the wrap dress.

This odd inspiration came when Claman was 10 years old and sitting in the dressing room of her mother, actress June Beverly Claman.

“I started looking at Diane von Fürstenberg’s book of beauty. My favorite chapter wasn’t about her designing dresses but how she would go to Asia to buy bolts of material and then have to deal with with customs officials at JFK airport. It was then when I realized that mommies can run businesses,” Claman says.

Read more

Charlotte Ross bared it all for art

Charlotte Ross "Hit the Floor" VH1The subject of nudity is rarely discussed when talking with celebrities. Often, they’ve made a movie or two where the wardrobe department didn’t have a lot to do. But, unless the movie is dealing specifically with nudity, then there’s no real reason to discuss the matter. When the subject is mentioned, it’s always the actor who starts that conversation.

In a recent interview with Charlotte Ross to talk about her VH1 series “Hit the Floor,” the interview turned to recent work from the uptight role she played on “Glee” to the wild part she had in the Nicolas Cage movie “Drive Angry.” There’s no way I can describe the scene where Ross is totally nude without having to look for other work. You’ll just have to rent the movie if you really care.

Read more

All juiced up on ‘Orange is the New Black’


DONALD: I knew that Beehiver Traci Arbios had fallen head over heels for the new Netflix original prison comedy-drama series “Orange is the New Black” the morning she walked into the newsroom wearing a jumpsuit the color of a traffic cone. OK, maybe she didn’t go THAT far. But Traci did admit to binge watching all 13 episodes of the series in something like three days, which is roughly equivalent in junk-food terms to inhaling two packages of Oreos plus a Costco bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos in one sitting. That piqued my interest in this series’ storyline about a hapless woman named Piper (played by Taylor Schilling) who finds herself serving 15 months in a woman’s prison for running drug money. Before I knew it, I’d inhaled four episodes myself. Now I’m addicted, and I find myself in the peculiar position of actually enjoying a pop-culture phenomenon – which “Orange” seems to have become — while it’s still hot. (Let’s put it this way: I didn’t get around to the new “Battlestar Galactica” until “Portlandia” made fun of it.)

Because Traci led me to the Orange, you could say, I consider her on this subject to be my guru and me the disciple. And, in the tradition of a devoted follower sitting at the feet of the enlightened master, I decided to interview her. My first question: Have you ever mistakenly stuck a screwdriver in your sweatshirt pocket and forgotten about it, thus making it quite possible for your sentence to be extended five years for carrying a deadly weapon?

TRACI: OK, first, your junk-food analogy is dead on — because like Doritos, after the first nibble of this show, one finds oneself in that odd, zen-like state of simultaneous satisfaction and voracious desire. From the first episode,  “Orange” became my crack; I’d finish one episode, and crave just one more hit… and just one more… until, after inhaling all 13 episodes in one giant, three-day binge, I was left muttering to myself in a strung out, desirous stupor. HOW COULD IT JUST END LIKE THAT?

Read more

Follow news from the TV Critics meeting in LA

It’s TCAs time again. That’s the part of summer where all the TV critics, like our own Rick Bentley, head to LA to rub elbows with TV stars and executives to find out what’s new on TV in the coming year. Rick is already sharing tidbits on Twitter (@RickBentley1) and will post updates on The Beehive over the next week. Lots of other TV folks at the event are chiming in, too. Here’s a feed of tweets from the TCAs:

Audra McDonald promotes Fresno

audraThere are many reasons I like Audra McDonald. She’s an award-winning performer, has an angelic voice and, despite her star status, has always been willing to do an interview. It’s what she does during those interviews that may be one of the most impressive things about McDonald.

The majority of the time, when I talk to a celebrity, they don’t mention their hometown. Sometimes, where a person grew up, can say a lot about the kind of person they become.

What I’ve noticed with McDonald is that even when she talking to press that isn’t from Fresno, she has no problem mentioning her roots. Her willingness to talk about Fresno is really important for the city because it shows the kind of talent that has come out of this area.

Read more

Vincent Kartheiser defends Pete Campbell

Picture 3Vincent Kartheiser believes Pete Campbell’s gotten a raw deal. He keeps hearing about how awful his “Mad Men” character is because he was the one who suggested Joan (Christina Hendricks) sleep with a client as a way to land the Jaguar advertising account. Joan agreed to the proposition with her compensation being that she became a partner in the advertising firm.

He understands viewers don’t necessarily like Pete but they love Joan and that’s why the reaction was so negative.

Read more

1980 Winter Games produce big ’80s moment

1980 US HOCKEY TEAMStarting April 14, the National Geographic Channel will present “The ’80s: The Decade That Made Us.” The six-part series, narrated by Rob Lowe, examines the politics, culture, technology and other elements that defined the 10 years.

When it comes to sports, one of the biggest moments came during the 1980 Winter Olympics, Lake Placid, N.Y. The world watched as a ragtag group of American hockey players defeated the Russians in what’s considered one of the biggest upsets in sports history. It’s still known as the “Miracle on Ice.”

Read more

Annette Funicello was a special person

ANETTE FUNICELLO   FRANKIE AVALONThose of you old enough to remember the original “Mickey Mouse Club” — and I’m not talking about the lame remake in the late ‘70s with Britney Spears — know that of all the child actors on the weekday show, it was Annette Funicello who became the biggest star. She was certainly my favorite Mouseketeer.

About 22 years ago, when I was working as the TV writer for the Bakersfield newspaper, rumors began to circulate that Funicello and her husband, Glen Holt, were living just outside of town on a horse ranch. I wrote a column saying how big a fan I was and that maybe someday I would run into her at a local store.

Read more

Some TV shows remain real mysteries

42One of the worst things about television is how a series will end without revealing the truth behind some big mystery. I’m still trying to find out the secrets of the 1967 series “Coronet Blue.” Frank Converse played a man who was shot and his body dumped in the river. He doesn’t die, but loses his memory. The only thing he can remember is the phrase “Coronet Blue.”

There have been other shows that have caused such anguish. What was really going on in “Tru Calling?” Where was “FlashForward” headed? Did Alf escape?

Read more

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:

Read more

Lauren Scott still cooking on ‘The Taste’

350x260The first night of competition on the ABC reality show “The Taste” could not have gone better for Lauren Scott, the Buchanan High School grad who now lives in Laurel, Miss. Her chicken stew was selected by guest judge Gabrielle Hamilton, chef and owner of Prune in New York, as the winner of the “The Team Taste Test.” The win gave her immunity and moved her ahead to next week’s competition.

The show features four celebrity mentors — Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre and Brian Malarkey — who selected four chefs to be on their teams during the initial auditions. Scott was selected to be part of Lawson’s group.

Because she knew she wasn’t going home, Scott decided to try something different in the “Blind Taste Test” elimination round where four contestants created dishes to be judged in one bite by the mentors. The judges didn’t like her effort .

Micah Kasman from Team Malarkey and Renatta Lindsey from Team Nigella were sent home.

‘Love It or List It’: Most of the time I love it


My guilty-pleasure confession in my most recent Sunday Spotlight column: I have a pretty big crush on the HGTV show “Love It or List It.” Yes, it’s sheer formula. But there’s something comfortable about how the show goes through the same routine each week, from decorator Hillary fighting with the couple for whom she’s doing a makeover to real estate agent David stumbling badly on the first alternate home he shows them.

I don’t know how long my crush will last, but I’m riding with it for now. And, of course, this being me, I get a little philosophical about my fixation. From my column:

TV has always gotten a bad rap — and will continue to do so — for being mindless and deadening, and goodness knows, I’ve offered up my share of belittling comments about it over the years. And on most evenings, I’d still rather curl up with a good book. But there’s something to be said for comfort. There comes a time when you just want to settle back into your sofa, put your mind on autopilot and watch Hilary and David re-enact a series of familiar rituals.

For now, I definitely love it.

Emma Thompson not big fan of Audra McDonald (wink, wink)

THOMPSON NICHOLSEmma Thompson says she has a deep dislike for Fresno’s own Audra McDonald. I find this out while talking to Thompson — England’s answer to Meryl Streep — about her upcoming movie “Beautiful Creatures” that opens Valentine’s Day. She plays a witch who has gone the dark side, not much of a stretch by the way she talks about McDonald.

The source of the discord started when the pair filmed the 2001 cable movie “Wit.” Thompson turns in a brilliant performance as a professor who’s forced to reassess her life after being diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. McDonald is equally as wonderful as the nurse who helps her deal with the terminal illness. Both picked up Emmy nominations that year.

“I’m quite bitter about working with Audra,” says Thompson in such a sarcastic tone it becomes clear that she doesn’t really have any dislike for her former co-star but is a big admirer. This is just an example of the Thompson sense of humor that all of her co-stars in the movie say made the filming process so much fun.

Read more

Reedley’s Trevino writes Doritos ad contest winner

image002The Doritos commercial, “Fashionista Daddy,” written by Fresno State and Reedley High School graduate Gabriel Trevino has been named the winner of the “Crash the Super Bowl Contest.”

Mark Freiburger is listed as the official winner of the grand prize because he directed the 30-second commercial. Trevino could not be reached to find out if he will get any of the  award.

The commercial was one of 6,000 entries.

“Fashionista Daddy” was the highest ranking of the Doritos consumer-created commercials on the USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter. It came in fourth place among all of the commercials during the CBS telecast watched by 108.4 million viewers with a 7.20 rating. The overall winner was the Anheuser-Busch’s commercial about the bond between a Budweiser Clydesdale and his trainer that finished with a 7.76 rating. Tide’s “Miracle Stain” was second with a 7.75 followed by the Ram commercial about American farmers with a 7.43.

Trevino’s commercial features a father heading out to play football with his buddies. He is stopped by his daughter, who wants him to play princess. She overcomes his objections by offering him Doritos. Soon, all the football buddies join playtime. Trevino came up with the idea because he’s a new dad and has seen how parents will do almost anything for their children.

He was initially concerned the commercial he wrote and help produce would have a tough time because it was shot on an extremely limited budget. The biggest expense was renting the largest wedding dress they could find for one of the macho men to wear.

The closest Doritos commercial competition was “Goat 4 Sale,” created by Ben Callner, Decatur, Ga., that scored No. 7 on the USA Today Ad Meter rankings.

All five finalists received $25,000 and a trip to attend Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.

CORRECTED: Post was updated to remove the $1 million dollars prize. It’s unclear whether or not the commercial earned the additional bonus money. Neither Trevino nor PepsiCo  could be reached to clarify the matter.


Watching TV will never be the same

The one thing that has become clear after all these years writing about television is that the way we watch TV continues to evolve.

It started decades ago with families grouped around a small TV screen in the living room watching programming on a handful of channels. That changed when cable launched and the number of options grew as fast as the size of the television screen. DVD boxed sets provided the next big change as TV viewers were no longer the slave to the weekly morsels fed out by networks or cable shows but could power watching an entire season in one setting.

The next step in TV’s evolution has come in the form of Internet offerings from providers such as Hulu, Netflix, Blip, TV One and StageVu. Many of these services once started out as a way to watch TV shows that have already aired but now the original programming continues to grow.

The biggest change in this new Internet world is evident by the way Netflix will be showing its series “House of Cards” that starts Feb. 1 and “Arrested Development” launching in a few months. There also will be a new comedy, “Derek,” from Ricky Gervais and the fantasy series “Hemlock Grove.”

Every episode in the season for these original shows will be made available immediately. This is a big change from DVD sets where a season of a series can be power watched over a weekend but the programming is not been made available until the full run of the season of a series has been completed. Instead of a family sitting around a TV set each week, each family member can watch this original programming on Netflix at the pace they want.

Ted Serandos, chief content officer at Netflix, grew up watching television in the traditional manner and believes TV is important because it’s a major source of entertainment.

“TV matters in our lives. It defines and shapes who we are. And it’s with that deep appreciation for the rich history of television that we are leading the next great wave of change in the media; not to destroy it, but quite the opposite, we are trying to help TV to evolve for the current generation and for generations to come,” says Serandos. “We are programming for the On Demand generation. They will tell us how many episodes they want to watch. They are going to tell us what time to watch them, and they are going to tell us what device they want to watch them on.”

These Internet offerings aren’t just low budget shows pieced together. Kevin Spacey stars in “House of Cards,” a series that rivals any big-budget movie in quality and scope. For performers like Rocky Gervais, the move to Netflix is the next step in changing the way TV programming is watched. He’s been a big advocate for the Internet for years including starting a podcast 10 years ago that have been downloaded 300 million times.

“We didn’t know what was going to happen. I did it for fun. I did it to be in a room with Karl Pilkington, and I wanted to put it out there. I just left the radio show because I was doing ‘The Office.’ And I loved doing the radio show, but I thought, ‘Now I can do it when I want.’ You can upload it. It was global, which is very exciting,” says Gervais. “The most exciting thing for me about the Internet is that it’s global. It’s your own reality that dictates what’s tasteful and what isn’t. So that excites me.”

Read more

Fresno State grad Gabriel Trevino finalist in Doritos Super Bowl ad contest

Fresno State and Reedley High School graduate Gabriel Trevino is in the running to have a commercial he made be part of this year’s Super Bowl broadcast. His work is one of the five finalist in the “Dorito’s 2013 Crash the Super Bowl Contest.” Voting ends today to see which commercial will be shown during the telecast Sunday.

The commercial he wrote, directed by Mark Freiburger, features a father heading out to play football with his buddies. He’s stopped by his young daughter who wants him to play princess with her. His objections are countered when the little girl offers him some Doritos. Soon all the football buddies are involved in the playtime.

“The idea came to me because I just became a new dad. It’s about the crazy and kooky things a father will do for their children — and Doritos,” Trevino says.

This isn’t the first Doritos commercial for Trevino, a communications major at Fresno State, as he was one of the writers behind the “Swing Baby” Doritos commercial that aired during last year’s big game.

Not only did he write this year’s entry, Trevino produced the commercial that cost $300 to shoot, far below the $5,000 spent by some on other contest entries. Trevino could keep the price low because all of the actors and crew were friends. The biggest expense was the cost of renting the largest wedding dress they could find.

Trevino doesn’t make commercials for a living. Along with working for a company that places promotional advertisements for Disney products in major outlets, he’s done some improv work.

The director was informed their commercial was a finalist in a phone call from director Michael Bay. The man behind the ‘Transformer” movies was involved in narrowing down the more than 6,000 entries into the finalists.

Read more

‘The Americans’ heats up Cold War

The FX Network became a major player in the cable world with “Sons of Anarchy,” “American Horror Story” and “Justified.” Its latest offering, “The Americans,” only adds to the quality the cable channel has to offer.

The series debuts at 10 p.m. Jan. 30 on FX.

“The Americans” looks at what appears to be a typical suburban couple — played by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys — living the American Dream during the early years of the Ronald Reagan administration. They’re actually two KGB agents who have been living a secret life for almost 15 years.

It’s a dark and thrilling look at the spy game during the peak of the Cold War. It’s not your typical Americans-are-better series because its told from the point of view of the Russians. The natural tendency is to hate them but the series shows that behind the cold determination of the spies are two humans trying to deal with love, parenting and a mortgage.

Russell’s performance is particularly strong because the series doesn’t take the usual tactic when it comes to spies. Her character is the one who has the unwavering loyalty to the Motherland while Rhys plays the role of realist who knows if they continue their ploy, it can only end badly. Russell is anything but the typical casting to play a female Russian spy which makes the deception all the more believable.

Read more

Lauren Scott advances in cooking competition

Lauren Scott, a Buchanan High School graduate who now lives in Laurel, Miss., was selected Tuesday night to be one of the competitors on the new ABC cooking reality show “The Taste.”

The 24-year-old — who regularly appeared in local community theater productions with Good Company Players at Roger Rocka’s, Children’s Musical Theaterworks, and CenterStage Clovis — was selected by “The Taste” judge Nigela Lawson to be on her team.

Contestants had to create a dish that was served to the judges in a spoon. The one bite item that earned Scott a place on the show was a Flourless Chocolate Cake.

Before she faced the judges, Scott revealed that her wish was to be on Lawson’s team. It’s a perfect fit as Lawson is the champion for home cooks and Scott has never worked as a professional chef.

Once the remaining contestants are selected, Scott will go into the spoon-to-spoon competition starting Feb. 5 as she tries to win the competition.

Reality stars talk about love, romance

It may not seem like it, but Valentine’s Day is not that far away. Romance can be such a tricky thing, it seemed wise to turn to a few experts — people who found true love through a television show — for some tips.

There have been about 8,000 editions of ABC’s “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” so far and yet not many have found the kind of everlasting relationship that comes from speed dating through a couple dozen of people while cameras capture every intimate moment.

It looked like the show was going to have a good track record with Cupid as Trista Rehn Sutter found love with Ryan Sutter after her turn on the first “The Bachelorette.” The couple is still together after a decade.

Trista says the secret to a good relationship is to do small things for each other. As an example, she points to how she’s currently writing a book and has been under a lot of stress because of deadlines.

“He’s been taking over the reins with the kids and been incredibly supportive,” Trista says. “One morning, he left me a card — and four caramels that I love — that said ‘I support you and I know you can do this.’ It was so sweet.”

Trista loves Valentine’s Day but thinks it’s more important to celebrate romance every day.

Read more

‘The Following’ killer new FOX series

It was beginning to look like cable was the only place to find great drama with programming such as “Breaking Bad,” “The Walking Dead,” “Dexter” and “American Horror Story.”

FOX shows with “The Following,” scheduled to launch at 9 p.m. Jan. 21 on KMPH (Channel 26.1), that’s there’s still some creative life in the networks. The new thriller is the most addictive network show to come along since “Lost” but while the mystery is as thick as a unkindness of ravens, it certainly isn’t as confusing. This is just a smart story about the battle between good and evil that will be your next TV addiction.

Kevin Bacon stars in his first TV series playing burned out FBI agent Ryan Hardy. He’s a broken man who gets called back to duty when charismatic teacher turned serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) escapes from prison. What makes this production from Kevin Williamson (“The Vampire Diaries”) so intriguing is that unlike a typical escapee story, Hardy captures Carroll in the first episode. This allows for the pair to square off in psychological battles as Carroll’s followers continue his dirty deeds.

The series gets an even darker tone by the use of Edgar Allan Poe’s work as a backdrop to all of the death and destruction. Poe’s twisted and macabre writings send a charge through each step of the mystery that is chilling.

But, it’s Bacon and Purefoy who make this work so compelling,. Bacon, who thought he was reading a script for a feature film when he first read “The Following,” has the gaunt features and tired eyes that make him look like a man who has faced the devil and paid the price for a victory. He knows no happiness, just a determination driven by duty to stop this man and his psychotic minions.

Purefoy’s the perfect foil. He plays the role as a man whose heart is evil, but there’s a charm about him that makes it easy to believe he could get a large group of people to do his bidding. He gets as much joy from watching Hardy struggle with the mystery as he does causing pain.

“The Following” will immediately have you doubting everyone. By the end of watching the third episode, there were moments where it seemed possible I could be the serial killer. There’s no way to be a passive observer as each tiny move by the characters could be a clue to their involvement.

This show pushes past what has been acceptable on network TV in terms of subject matter. It’s not as strong as a cable show, but this is not a series for the young or faint of heart. As to watching the new FOX series, those people should say nevermore.

Those who dare enter the dark world of “The Following” will find it a mesmerizing journey that will leave you craving the next episode.