Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

On TV tonight: Three big finales

scotty McCreery_jpg.JPG Lauren Alaina_jpg.JPGCompetition shows top tonight’s viewing options.

“Dancing with the Stars,” 8 p.m. KFSN (Channel 30.1): All of the weeks of training, bad falls, confrontations, failed expectations and desires to win the grand prize come down to tonight’s final dance and voting.

“Biggest Loser: Couples,” 8 p.m. KSEE (Channel 24.1): All of the weeks of training, bad decisions, confrontations, failed expectations and desires to win the grand prize come down to tonight’s final weigh-in.

“American Idol,” 8 p.m. KMPH (Channel 26.1): All of the weeks of training, bad musical numbers, confrontations, failed expectations and desires to win the grand prize come down to tonight’s final performances. OK.Technically, the “American Idol” winner gets named Wednesday night. But, the finale begins tonight.

The Week Ahead: Sudz, Flogging Molly, Rob Zombie, Fay Wrays, Stankonia and more


GET YOUR SUDZ: Fresno beer drinkers, raise your glass for this year’s Sudz in the City. It offers the opportunity to taste numerous brews inside Chukchansi Park, with live music, food, etc. More info here. When you’re done, go see “The Hangover 2.”

BIG CONCERTS: It’s a good week for concerts. The Moody Blues are at the Visalia Fox Theatre on Wednesday, Flogging Molly is at Rainbow Ballroom on Thursday and Rob Zombie is at Crest Theatre on Friday night. If you’re looking for Zombie tickets, come back to the site tomorrow. We might be able to help.

FAY WRAYS: Local rock band Fay Wrays are releasing their new album at Fulton 55 on Saturday night, with a big lineup of good local bands — Fierce Creatures, Achievement House, etc.– and a nice-looking poster. Look for free music from Fay Wrays on the site later this week.

SPOTTIEOTTIEDOPALISCIOUS: Another cool tribute night from The Soulflower Group — they do the Prince tribute and others. This one is dedicated to one of my favorite hip-hop groups: OutKast. It’s happening Friday at Audie’s Olympic. You better get up, get out and get something, Fresno.

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Latest talk with J.J. Abrams goes better than first

abrams.jpg The first thing J.J. Abrams does after I’ve joined him at the small table near the Four Seasons Hotel swimming pool is offer me something to eat. I decline.

“You have to eat some chicken. Everyone likes chicken,” Abrams says. A small white bowl of chicken strips and a white dipping sauce is in front of the writer/director.

I like chicken but Paramount has given me a limited amount of time to talk to the director about his new film “Super 8.” It’s one of the most anticipated movies of the summer so the time can’t be wasted eating.

We talk about working with Steven Spielberg on the project, the most difficult scenes to shoot, casting young actors, how the train wreck sequence is the best since “The Fugitive” and how he’s too impatient these days to write multiple scripts for TV shows like he did with “Alias.” All of that will be in my feature scheduled for June 5.

As I get the signal to wrap up the interview, I remind Abrams the first time we talked was back in 1998. In my review for the launch of his series “Felicity,” I said I liked the show but couldn’t buy the idea that a modern woman would change her college plans to move across country for a guy.

Abrams called me after the review published.

“That was you? I remember making the call and asking you to watch a few more episodes,” Abrams says.

I did and the show became a favorite.

Hey, remember me?

I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaack!

In the month I was off work and hanging out with my new son, I got spit up on dozens upon dozen of times, changed lots of diapers, watched every episode of “Friday Night Lights” on Netflx (pretty good), spent too much money on formula, took lots of cute pics of my kid, enjoyed Fresno’s surprise visit from Prince and most of all, mastered the art of baby talk.

It’s a little bittersweet to be back at work. I miss my son, of course, but I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t looking forward to interacting with adults again, exchanging mature ideas and engaging in intellectual dialogs — which is always the case around The Beehive, right?

Speaking of: I saw this in the toy aisle at Target the other day. Thought you all would enjoy it.


[Update] Daniel Tosh to perform in Fresno

UPDATE: Due to overwhelming demand, a second show with Daniel Tosh has been added. He’ll perform at 10 p.m. on Aug. 19, following his 7 p.m. show. Tickets here.

ORIGINAL POST, 5/17: Daniel Tosh, host of the popular Comedy Central show “Tosh.0,” is coming Aug. 19 to Fresno’s Saroyan Theatre. It’s part of his “Tosh Tour On Ice,” which is traveling to more than 30 U.S. and Canadian cities this summer.

Tickets go on sale on Friday at 10 a.m. and can be purchased at, select Live Nation and Ticketmaster retail outlets and via Charge-By-Phone (800)745-3000.

On TV tonight: ‘The Bachelorette’

hebert.JPG “The Bachelorette,” 9 p.m. KFSN (Channel 30.1): The latest round of girl-meets-boys starts with Buchanan High School graduate Ryan Park in the mix. Park will try to win the heart of Ashley Hebert over the efforts of 24 other suitors while millions watch.

TV note: Tonight’s scheduled appearance by Clovis East graduate Chris Colfer on the CNN talk show “Piers Morgan Tonight” has been delayed. Instead of a chat with Colfer, host Piers Morgan will be in Joplin, Mo., to cover the tornado damage.

You can still see Colfer this week as the season finale of “Glee” airs Tuesday on KMPH (Channel 26.1).

Ben Savage can still attract a crowd

savage.JPG If there’s a minor league baseball team out there looking for a bump in attendance, they should call Ben Savage. The star of the ’90s TV series “Boy Meets World” knows how to attract a crowd.

Savage’s the special guest for the “Mad Tight 90s Night” for the Fresno Grizzlies. Along with throwing out the first pitch and participating in a few contests, Savage signs autographs.

At one point, Savage climbs on the chair at the table where he’s been feverishly signing his name and looks at the long line that winds through the stadium. A stunned look comes across his face.

“I don’t do a lot of things like this. This has really been an eye opener,” Savage says.

Although he’s made a few film and TV appearances since “Boy Meet World” ended more than a decade ago, Savage has been mostly working behind the scenes writing scripts. He never expected to be greeted with such a huge outpouring of fan affection.

One female fan – who decides not to wear her glasses when she meets Savage – tells him she could be his new Topanga, referring to the character Danielle Fishel played on the series. She’s not the only one to make the offer.

The only awkward moment is when Savage’s asked if he’s a baseball fan.

“I am a big Los Angeles Dodgers fan,” Savage says in a stadium filled with San Francisco Giants supporters.

Entertainment this weekend

gorham_jpg.JPG Pirates, spies and TV stars top this weekend’s entertainment options

“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”: Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is on a quest to find the Fountain of Youth. Director Rob Marshall deals with multiple storylines such as the race between the English and Spanish to find the fountain, a feud between Sparrow’s old foe Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and the ruthless Blackbeard (Ian McShane), a live-action story line of “Little Mermaid” and sexually-charged battles between Sparrow and an old flame Angelica (Penelope Cruz).

“Covert Affairs: Season One”: The cable action series works because of the strong performances by Piper Perabo and Christopher Gorham who plays a blind CIA agent who uses his computer skills to mentor a CIA trainee. It’s a perfect mix of action, drama and comedy.

This weekend’s top TV pick is not a program but a book signing. Mary McDonough will be signing copies of her autobiography, “Lessons From the Mountain: What I Learned From Erin Walton,” at the Barnes & Noble, 7849 N. Bloodstone Ave., at 1 p.m. Sunday.

You can be part of ‘Showboys’ film

RON JEREMY.JPG Diana Vu, producer of the small-budget film “Showboys” that’s currently filming in and around Fresno, needs loads of extras for a big scene to be filmed Monday-Wednesday at the Rainbow Ballroom. Go to the film’s website – – for more information about how you can be in the movie.

The film’s loosely based on a short film Fresno’s Johnny Soto and Vu made about a young man attending a collectible magazine show.

The scene is a collectors convention for the men’s magazine. Extras – who must be at least 18 years old – are needed to fill the room.

And, Vu’s looking for local vendors who would like to set up as part of the convention scene. Anyone who has a product that might be part of such an event such as clothes designers, tattoo shops, spas, etc. will be able to sit up a booth and display their company banner. Contact the filmmakers through their website if you think you would like to participate.

If your business is selling Bibles or baby clothes, this filming probably isn’t for you.

Vu says that while there will be plenty of pretty women in the scene the filmmakers want this to be a PG-13 movie.

The filming will include scenes with actor Ron Jeremy who plays the founder of the magazine and becomes a central figure in the story.

Talking points: Do you care about Arnold’s infidelity?

On the front page of this morning’s Bee, another update on the Schwarzenegger-Shriver-infidelity story: The media descended Wednesday on the Bakersfield area after unconfirmed reports flashed across the Internet that the mother of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger “secret” 13-year-old son lived there. The AP reports:

Reporters and photographers didn’t see Mildred Patricia Baena or her family, the three having left just ahead of the horde.Baena’s name was first reported Wednesday by Radar Online and subsequently by other news outlets, including The New York Times, which cited two unnamed friends of the family …

The Schwarzenegger scandal exploded into public view on Monday when the former movie star confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that he had fathered a child out of wedlock years ago and that Shriver, a prominent TV journalist until she put her career on hold after her husband was elected governor, never knew until this year.

What do you think? Surprised at the hoopla? Or is coverage of this story too much information about a guy who isn’t in office anymore?

To-Do Tonight: ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’


It’s opening night for Good Company Players’ “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” the enduring musical classic based on the MGM film of the same name. The show continues at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater through July 17. Details from GCP:

Set in 1870′s Oregon territory, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS tells the story of Adam (GREG RUUD), the eldest of seven brothers, who goes to town to get a wife and convinces Milly (HEATHER PRICE) to marry him that same day. Milly returns with him to his backwoods home, only to discover that all six of Adam’s brothers will be living with them. She sets out to reform the ill-mannered siblings, who are anxious to get wives of their own. Things get riotous when Adam develops an inspired solution to his brothers’ loneliness…kidnap the women they want!


Laurie Pessano directs.

City College announces 2011-12 season

ILLUSION 05 cover.jpg

‘Tis the season for theater season announcements. Fresno City College will tackle three productions next academic year. Here’s the lineup:

Oct. 7-15: “The Illusion” by Tony Kushner. Directed by Janine Christl.
Dec. 2-10: “The Drunken City” by Adam Bock. Directed by Chuck Erven.
March 9-17: “Almost Maine” by John Cariani. Directed by Janine Christl

From the theater department’s release:

As you can see there is “magic” (real and metaphoric) in all of these plays. Also the plays veer much more toward comedy than drama and although these are not generally known titles we think they are beautiful, entertaining and completely charming. Without intending we seemed to have picked a season of love and magic.

After the jump, more detailed descriptions of each of these shows.

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‘Prada’ changed Emily Blunt’s career

THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA.JPG One of the more fascinating parts of talking with actors is finding out how one role can change an entire career.

Emily Blunt, whose animated film “Gnomeo & Juliet” will be released on DVD on Tuesday, thought her career was going in a dramatic direction until she landed the role in “The Devil Wears Prada.”

“It changed everything for me. It’s a film everyone saw. It did really well. And everyone loved it. When you’re in a movie that’s successful like that it will change your path,” Blunt says.

Not only was it a successful film, but “Prada” was Blunt’s first big comedy role. She’s convinced she would have never landed the part in “Sunshine Cleaners” if she hadn’t been in “Prada.”

“All I’ve ever wanted to be seen in is playing character parts. ‘Prada’ made people sit up to the fact I could probably do other stuff,” Blunt says.

Since “Prada,” Blunt’s worked in the horror, sci fi, comedy, animation and Muppets film genres.

On TV tonight: ‘The Mentalist’

THE MENTALIST.JPG “The Mentalist,” 9 p.m. KGPE (Channel 47.1): It’s taken a long time but the identity of the murderous Red John will be revealed in this two-hour season finale.

Ever since Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) became an independent consultant with the California Bureau of Investigation he’s helped solved numerous cases. But, the big mystery has been trying to find the person who murdered his wife, Angela, and daughter, Charlotte.

Tracking down Red John has been part of the CBS drama since it started in 2008.

Don’t expect the chase to end tonight. Knowing who Red John is and capturing Red John are two different things. Look for more Red John next season.

CW Network adds four shows to fall schedule

bilson.bmpThis morning’s announcement by the CW Network of its 2011-2012 lineup includes three new dramas and one new reality show. The network continues to have no comedies on its schedule.

The new dramas include “‘Hart of Dixie,” a medical show starring Rachel Bilson, the thriller “Ringer” starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and “The Secret Circle” based on the L.J. Smith books.

Maria Lopez will host “H8R,” a reality show that brings celebrities face-to-face with the people who love to hate them.

Returning series include “90210,” “America’s Next Top Model,” “Nikita,” “Gossip Girl,” “The Vampire Diaries” and “Supernatural.” “One Tree Hill” will be back in the spring for its farewell season.

Leaving the CW lineup are “Hellcats,” “Smallville,” “Life Unexpected” and “Shedding for the Wedding.”

Here’s the 2011-2012 CW Network lineup.

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StageWorks Fresno announces 2012 season


The 2012 season for StageWorks Fresno includes the recent Broadway musical “Xanadu” and a first-ever collaboration with Fresno Grand Opera with a production of “Master Class.” The season includes three Fresno premieres. From artistic director Joel Abels, here’s the lineup:

The theatreʼs five-play season opens with the Fresno premiere of the fantasy musical
Xanadu (February 3 through February 19, 2012); followed by Terrance McNallyʼs
Master Class (April 27, 29 & 29, 2012); Ahrensʼs and Flahertyʼs musical farce Lucky
(July 13 through July 29, 2012); Sondheimʼs wildly romantic A Little Night Music (September 7 through September 23, 2012) and the family holiday musical treat A Year With Frog and Toad (November 30 through December 16, 2012).

A note to Fresno area actors: Start brushing up on your roller skating skills for “Xanadu.”

Valley falls short with NEA grants

Bee Washington correspondent Michael Doyle writes today that NEA arts funding for the Valley is scant this year:

The National Endowment for the Arts on Tuesday bestowed millions of dollars on assorted artists, musicians and storytellers, but left little for the San Joaquin Valley. With the new funding, the federal arts agency now has delivered 192 grants to California this year. Only two recipients reside in the area between Stockton and Bakersfield.

This year’s San Joaquin Valley tally adds up to $125,000, or a little less than 2% of the state’s total.

I checked in this afternoon with Don Reinhold, executive director of the Fresno Philharmonic, and asked what he thought about the news. He writes:

We have not been applying to the NEA – partly because the timeline for specifying a project tends to be just outside the range of our planning process. Having done NEA grants previously elsewhere, they are a ton of work for generally minimal return. Having sat on one of the review panels six years ago, the grants are extremely competitive. One needs to come up with a pretty original idea to make a panel go “wow.”

I understand that grants are a part of the whole non-profit world. But I wonder if the emphasis on them — and the expectation that organizations devote significant resources to grant writing, right down to the emergence of professional grant writers — is just a big time/money suck within a field already strapped for resources. Have we created a system in which only large, grant-savvy organizations can afford to apply?

One thing’s for sure: There needs to be more equity within regions in California. The San Joaquin Valley has a heck of a lot more than 2% of the state’s population. When Rocco Landesman, the new head of the NEA, comes to visit Fresno next week, that’s an issue he needs to address.

To-Do Tonight: Prince


Talk about a tight turnaround: Tonight’s 7:30 p.m. show at the Save Mart Center was announced just last Friday. I just checked Ticketmaster and tickets are still available.

Fresno State has issued a “Prince traffic advisory” warning of “heavy event traffic in the Save Mart Center and Fresno State area from 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm. Plan to arrive early to avoid delays.”

It’s finals week at Fresno State, by the way. Hope no one misses the big exam because of Prince traffic.

Melissa, Joan Rivers pull no punches

People Joan Rivers.JPG I’ve always wondered how celebrities react when they get taken to task by programs like E!’s “Fashion Police.” It can’t be fun to have your bad taste pointed out on television.

Melissa and Joan Rivers have made a living out of sizing up celebrities and their fashion choices. They don’t worry about what they say because they know if someone’s making $20 million for a movie of $800,000 for each TV episode, a few snarky remarks won’t ruin their day.

Melissa Rivers says the bigger the star, the more they understand the importance of how they look because they are such a big part of pop culture. She talks about how Jim Carrey came up to her mom and asked if he should or shouldn’t be wearing a pocket square. When Joan says he shouldn’t, Carrey threw the square to the ground and walked away.

When stars who aren’t as big complain, they’re told they should just be happy someone’s talking about them.

CBS says no ‘$#*!’ in the fall

emerson_ful.jpg CBS will add five new programs to its lineup for the 2011-2012 season. They include the dramas “Person of Interest,” “Unforgettable” and “A Gifted Man.” The network’s new comedies are “2 Broke Girls” and “How to Be A Gentleman.”

Although there had been speculation that one of the “CSI” shows would go, all three will return. But, “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” moves from its long-time Thursday night time slot to make room for “Person of Interest” starring “Lost” cast member Michael Emerson.

Canceled CBS programs include “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior,” “$#*! My Dad Says,” “The Defenders,” “Mad Love” and “Chaos.”

Returning shows include “How I Met Your Mother,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Mike & Molly,” “Hawaii Five-0,” “NCIS,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “The Good Wife,” “Criminal Minds,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “CSI,” “The Amazing Race,” “Survivor,” “Blue Bloods,” “48 Hour Mystery,” “Rules of Engagement,” “The Mentalist,” “CSI: NY,” “60 Minutes” and “CSI: Miami.” “Undercover Boss” will be a midseason replacement.

Here’s the CBS 2011-2012 lineup.

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On TV tonight: ‘America’s Next Top Model’

wind flower full1.JPG “America’s Next Top Model,” 9 p.m. KFRE (Channel 59.1): The latest new next top model will be revealed tonight. The finale of the 16th edition of the competition series includes the taping of a Cover Girl commercial that shows the strengths and weaknesses of the two finalists.

The winner will either be Molly, the 22-year-old South Carolina college student, or Brittani, the 19-year-old Pennsylvania college student. My money’s on Molly.

Fashion photographer and model Jay Manuel joins the final judges’ panel.

CONCERT UPDATE: Motley Crue and Poison coming in August (update)

UPDATE: Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday instead of Saturday. Ticket prices are: $29.50, $49.50, $69.50, $85.50 and $99.50.


Attention 80s headbangers, this one’s for you: Motley Crue and Poison, plus special guests the New York Dolls, booked an August 16 show at Save Mart Center.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday and will be available at Live Nation and Ticketmaster retail outlets plus via Charge-By-Phone (800.745.3000).

It sounds like this show will resurrect some of Crue’s big arena theatrics. This tour staging is described as “rock n’ roll burlesque theatre.” The show is supposed to include Tommy Lee’s “360″ drum rollercoaster. The set list will be picked by fans, which should include some of the band’s really great early tunes. Heck, if it was up to me they’d play all of Too Fast For Love.

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Lily Collins got acting bug from her father

801230 - PRIEST.JPG Lily Collins casually mentions to me that she got into acting because her father was an actor before he became a singer. Most people don’t know that her dad, Phil Collins, appeared in TV shows and films before he found fame with Genesis.

She’s got a ways to go before she matches her father’s success. Then again, she’s only 22 and has starred in “The Blind Side” and “Priest.”

“Maggie Q and I were the only girls on the set when we were filming ‘Priest.’ That was fun being around a bunch of guys making jokes all the time,” Collins says.

The young actress didn’t do the film for laughs. She did all her own stunt work. When I suggest that’s why studios hire stunt people, she’ll hear nothing of it.

“I wanted to do my stunts because it makes it that much more memorable and that much more real,” Collins says. “I don’t mind getting bruised but they wouldn’t let me fly into the iron wall. I was like ‘Please please please.’”

The fact they turned her down could be why she’s still around to do a third film. Next up for her is a fantasy role.

“I have always lived in a fantasy, fairy tale world in my head. I was cast as Snow White. I love reading all kinds of script. It just so happens fairy tales in so getting to play an iconic character like that is wonderful,” Collins adds.

Tips needed for ‘Waltons’ actress Mary McDonough

HEALTH IMPLANTS.JPG Mary McDonough, who played Erin on “The Waltons,” will be in town Sunday for a book signing at the Barnes & Noble, 7849 North Blackstone Ave.

Her autobiography, “Lessons from the Mountain: What I Learned From Erin Walton,” offers a behind-the-scenes look at the popular TV series, “The Waltons,” that ran from 1971-1981. It’s also full of life lessons she’s learned along the way.

I need your help in connection with her visit. McDonough wants to visit some interesting dives and diners while in the area. Please send me your suggestions so I can pass them on to her.