Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Donald’s mailbag: Will I reconsider ‘I Love You’ review?


Anita Morris writes:

You are usually my go-to reviewer as our tastes are very similar. The really bad review you gave “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” [playing at Roger Rocka's Dinner Theater through May 15] was a surprise. As a season-ticket holder I attended, but was not expecting much. On the night I went there were a total of 70 people in the audience. I felt that perhaps your review contributed to the sparse turnout. Although the musical was not my cup of tea, I did feel that the performances were spot on and that any failings were script-related and not the performers. I felt they gave 100% and i enjoyed the evening in spite of the musical being sort of dated.

Good Company is a staple of the Tower District and has been an anchor in an area that is in constant flux. I don’t feel that that needs to be taken into consideration when you do a review, but do you think you could give this musical another look? Like I said, there were a lot of empty seats, which is disheartening. I know your plate is always full, but please consider giving them another chance.

My response: I touched on some of these same issues in the recent Beehive post “Filmworks fans bite back on reviews,” namely: Can a newspaper “support” a local production while offering sometimes critical reviews? (To be even more specific, can one person wearing two hats — as I do in the case of writing advance stories about upcoming productions and also reviewing them — make it work?)

Read more

The Beehive Interview: Vicki Shaghoian

Vicki Shaghoian has performed in a lot of famous venues over the years, from Avery Fisher Hall in New York City to San Francisco Opera. But none will likely have as much impact on Shaghoian as performing at the Shaghoian Concert Hall.

She’s appearing with the Fresno Community Concert Band in a 3 p.m. Sunday concert titled “Resplendent Glory.” I wrote about the basics of the concert in Friday’s 7 section. Here’s an extended interview I conducted via email with Shaghoian.

Question: Let’s talk first about your program at the concert. What can you tell us about the three pieces by Strauss?

Answer: Richard Strauss is one of my favorite composers of the romantic period. The pieces are rich in poetic and musical texture – you simply have to honor the relationship of the music to the text, believe what you are saying and let the music do the rest.

Read more

Are you going to watch the royal wedding?

Royal Wedding.jpg

The royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton is two weeks away. I’m wondering if anyone plans to indulge and watch? It’ll be at 2 a.m. our time. I’m thinking the DVR might be in order.

There are some folks making a big deal out of the wedding. I was reading an AP story today that included this tidbit:

In the Los Angeles suburbs, a pub owner plans to stay open all night for a champagne party. In Washington, one woman plans a British tea for 20 guests. In Mississippi, college students will watch as their one-time heartthrob marries his own university sweetheart.
One fan plans to fly halfway across the country to watch the wedding with her daughter, just as they watched Princess Diana’s wedding in 1981, while another is taking the day off from work to soak up the details in solitude.

Has anyone heard of any local restaurants or bars doing anything? I’m hoping we can compile some fun things people are doing here.

Adam Pally jokes about breakup

pally.JPG The majority of interviews are either done in person or over the telephone. If I am not sitting in the room with the person I’m talking to, I have to listen very carefully for changes in their voice.

I would have know “Happy Endings” star Adam Pally was being sarcastic even if he had answered via e-mail or smoke signal a question about any personal experience he had with a bad breakup.

“I used to date Dame Helen Mirren, and it was a bad breakup. She broke up with me at Wimbledon. And it was really sad. It was horrible,” Pally says. “And she did it the way some people would propose — on the big screen. So if any of you know her, tell her that I miss her.”

Sarcasm noted.

Donald’s weekend picks

Just like Mike says, outdoors is going to be a powerful draw. Enjoy spring while you can!

As part of my coverage of the Fresno Choral Artists’ “Return to Broadway” concert 4 p.m. Saturday at Hope Lutheran Church, I got to spend some time with the two delightful ladies pictured below. Barbara Volker, 68, will perform the song “Bosom Buddies” from “Mame” with her mother, Ruth Goble, 90. They make a charming pair. My account of our photo shoot with them is here.


Read more

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

First and foremost: It’s going to be beautiful this weekend. Go outside.

I’m a fan of blues/soul singer John Nemeth, who brings his act to Fulton 55 on Saturday night. Nemeth is a white dude from Idaho, but he channels the blues and soul of yesterday in his music. To make this local-cool: Nemeth recently added Fresno blues guitarist A.C. Myles to his band. Learn more about Nemeth in this interview I did with him. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets: $15. Get ‘em here in advance. Here’s a sample of Nemeth.

Read more

What Fresno food spots are worthy of ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives?’


In my Friday column in The Bee, I write about how Fresno is long overdue for some love from the Food Network’s hole-in-the-wall celebrator “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

We’ve never had a local restaurant featured — in fact, the closest (according to Triple D map site Flavortown USA) is in San Jose. San Jose?!? C’mon now. We’ve got some great local treasures that are worthy of Guy Fieri and his silly haircut.

Among the places I’d recommend:

But I know there are others worth a sniff from “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” so let’s hear what they are and why. Once we get a good list going, I’ll send it to the show and hopefully we can get one our local treasures some national love.

Win tickets to ‘Resplendent Glory’ at the Shaghoian Concert Hall


This is sure to be a memorable performance. The Fresno Community Concert Band gets its turn for an inaugural concert 3 p.m. Sunday at the beautiful Shaghoian Concert Hall. I write about the performance in Friday’s 7 section, and I plan to post an in-depth interview with guest artist Vicki Shaghoian — the sister of Paul Shaghoian, the beloved Clovis Unified music teacher for whom the hall is named — tomorrow afternoon.

The concert is close to sold out, but I have two tickets to give away to a lucky Beehive reader. Just enter by leaving a comment on this post. (If you’re so inclined to mention a fondly remembered music teacher, or any teacher, in honor of Mr. Shaghoian, that could be sweet.) Deadline is 2 p.m. Friday. We’ll draw one winner at random and notify that person by email. So please leave a real e-mail address, and please check it Friday afternoon. You’ll be able to pick up your tickets at Will Call. You’re ineligible if you’ve won something in the past 30 days. Complete rules on the jump.

Read more

Talking points: Hanson vs. Bullard Pride


If you haven’t ventured near The Bee’s news sections the past few days, you’ve missed a continuing dust-up involving members of Bullard Pride (a group of parents and Bullard High supporters trying to break away from the Fresno Unified School District) and Superintendent Michael Hanson (pictured). Things got really tense this week when Mark Arax, a member of Bullard Pride, gave an interview on KVPR’s “Quality of LIfe” program charging, among other things, that Hanson had “nearly killed” a youngster in an unreported accident that took place three years ago. (Here’s a link to the audio.)

That wasn’t the only charge. Arax (whose sister, Michelle Arax Asadoorian, is president of the school board — another twist in the story) also said, among other things, that Hanson has diminished the ability of teachers and administrators in Fresno Unified to suspend students in order to keep attendance numbers high.

But it’s the traffic-accident allegation, along with the recent revelation that Hanson faces a court hearing this month after recently being cited twice by police for speeding and driving with an expired driver’s license, that has garnered the headlines.

Read more

Shout out to The Stone Foxes + Strange Vine


Tonight in Mesa, Ariz., two rock bands with Fresno ties will each be having one of the biggest gigs of their careers.

The Stone Foxes, the SF-by-way-of-Fresno band whose profile has risen a bunch in the past couple years, and Strange Vine, the much-loved local ’70s rock-inspired duo, will be playing with The Black Keys. Yup, those Black Keys. The Stone Foxes scored the gig and brought Strange Vine along to back them up.

If you’re familiar with either The Stone Foxes’ or Strange Vine’s music, you know this is a big deal, because The Black Keys are basically the modern MVPs of that style of rock. Also on the bill tonight is Cage the Elephant, no slouches themselves.

Since you’re probably not going to Arizona tonight, you’ll be happy to know that you can see The Stone Foxes and Strange Vine together on April 30 when they play an exclusive concert at Rotary Storyland. (Sacramento band Agent Ribbons is playing that gig too).

It’s Creative Fresno’s Members Only party. But fear not, you can join Creative Fresno — more on that here – and get into the concert for free. Dues are $20 and membership includes discounts at local shops and restaurants.

Another good note: The Stone Foxes just got booked at the mega-cool Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco Aug. 12-14.

Two ABC soap operas canceled

AMC.JPG This is a sad day for daytime drama fans.

ABC has popped the soap opera bubbles for two long-time running daytime dramas. The final episode of “All My Children” will air in September and the last “One Life to Live” will be broadcast in January 2012.

“One Life to Live” debuted in 1968 and “All My Children” came along two years later.

If you are wondering why the ax fell, it’s all about money. Daytime dramas have large casts and long shooting schedules. There was a time when they dominated the ratings but viewer numbers have fallen to a point where they’re no longer cost efficient.

There was also a time when soap operas were therapeutic. No matter how bad a viewer’s life had become, there was someone on a soap that was going through worse. Now, the dirt-cheap reality shows fill that bill.

“All My Children” will be replaced by “The Chew,” a show that will focus on food. The “One Life To Live” replacement will be “The Revolution,” a look at health and life transformations. They sound like shows that are already on the air but will be a lot cheaper to produce.

Concert Watch: Wet Electric brings Paul Oakenfold to Fresno water-park party


Wet Electric has plans to turn Island Water Park into an adults-only outdoor club with music from big-name DJs such as Paul Oakenfold.

Wet Electric was founded in SoCal last year, and this year is expanding on its tagline — “the pool party evolved” — by creating an eight-city tour that launches in Fresno on May 7.

DJ Skribble, Robbie Rivera, Bad Boy Bill, Dieselboy are among the out-of-town DJs on the schedule. Local guy Jimmy Martinez is playing.

Essentially, Wet Electric turns the water park into a nightclub, with music, dancing, drinks — but during the day. All the regular rides will be open. It’s open only to 21-and-older.

Here’s a highlight video from last year’s Wet Electric in SoCal:

Read more

On TV tonight: ‘The Paul Reiser Show’

reiser.JPG “The Paul Reiser Show,” 8:30 p.m. KSEE (Channel 24.1): It’s been 12 years since Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt entertained viewers on NBC’s “Mad About You.” The show lasted seven seasons because of the likable nature of the New York couple.

It’s no more Mr. Nice Guy for Reiser as he returns in this self-titled series. In what’s nothing more than a pale copy of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” ad Reiser plays an actor by the name of Paul Reiser.

He’s been enjoying his life since his popular sitcom ended by being a husband and father. The series follows a very angry Reiser as he hangs out with family, friends and agent.

The comedy is suppose to come from how the TV Paul Reiser is a jerk. It’s a lame attempt to get laughs from the format that Larry David used so well on “Curb.” The difference is viewers knew little about David and could easily accept him as such an annoying person. Reiser’s not a good enough actor to get past the nice guy image he had on “Mad About You.” So, he comes across as the kind of guy you do want to spend 30 minutes with on a Thursday night.

David makes a guest appearance to give a wink and a nod to how Reiser’s show is so much like “Curb.” All it does is serve as a reminder of how much better “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is than this new series.

To-Do Tonight: G-Funk, Death Marches, Death Matches and more


Rapper/producer Warren G is at Rome Nightclub tonight as part of its hip-hop throwback concert series.

Best known for “Regulate” — which anointed both him and buddy Nate Dogg as hip-hop stars in the ’90s — Warren G is considered West Coast rap royalty more for his affiliations with Dr. Dre (his stepbrother), Snoop Dogg and the G-Funk sound than his own catalog, which has been inconsistent at best after his stellar debut album.

You can expect Warren G to pay tribute to his fallen friend Nate Dogg, who died in March after years of health problems.

Tonight’s show starts at 10 p.m. Tickets cost $20 in advance and can be purchased from They’ll cost $25 at the door.

Next up in Rome’s hip-hop concert series is Bay Area vet E-40, who performs next Thursday.

Read more

Have you won the ‘Wicked’ ticket lottery?


When “Wicked” opened last week, Bee reporter Paula Lloyd told us about the lottery for “Wicked” tickets held before each performance. From her story:

A lottery for about 20 bargain-priced tickets will be held prior to each show, which runs through April 17. Hopefuls can sign up 2 1/2 hours before show time; winners’ names will be drawn one-half hour later. Each winner can buy two tickets and must pay cash.

The lottery is a great deal. Tickets are $25 for seats that can go from $65 to nearly $130. And I’m told that some are prime seats because they’ve been held back by the promoter till the last minute for VIPs, box office errors, etc.

Counting tonight’s performance, there are still seven “Wicked” shows left in Fresno. So even with nearly-sold-out shows, you still might have a chance with the lottery.

Meanwhile, I’m curious what experiences have been like for people entering the lottery. Have scores of people showed up at each one? Have there been any lotteries when every person who entered got a ticket? Has anyone gone back and again until they got lucky? Let me know by Thursday morning, and I might use your comment in my wrap-up “Wicked” Spotlight column.

Above: “Wicked” fans line up for the lottery at the Saroyan. Bee photo by Mark Crosse.

Fresno is trying to set a couple of world records this week

Fresno, fueled by marketing students at Fresno State, is taking aim at setting two Guinness World Records this week. The first is for the number of people standing on one leg at the same time, the second is for the world’s largest water balloon fight. Here’s more info on each.


Before Thursday night’s Fresno Grizzlies game, fans will challenge the record for the most people standing on one leg. The current record is 339, which shouldn’t be too hard to beat.

For their part, the Grizzlies are offering free ticket vouchers to the first 100 people who sign up to make the old one-leg record fall. If you’re interested, meet at Gate 3 at 5 p.m. The world record attempt will take place on the field at 6:15 p.m.

FYI: It’s a Thirsty Thursday, so having a bunch of people stand on one leg in the nation’s DUI capitol is kinda fitting, don’t ya think?

Read more

Aimee Teegarden loved time on ‘Friday Night Lights’


The interview time I was given to talk to Aimee Teegarden and Thomas McDonell was to talk about their starring roles in the feature film “Prom.” I just had to take a moment to ask Teegarden about playing Julie Taylor on “Friday Night Lights.”

There’s never been a TV series that got so much praise from critics plus had such a loyal following and not been able to find a home on a network. After NBC ceremoniously jumped the drama, it stayed alive because of DirecTV’s commitment to making new episodes. NBC broadcast the new episodes after DirecTV had shown them.

Despite how NBC treated the show, Teegarden says she’s just happy to have had the opportunity to work on a series with such wonderful writing and great acting.

“It was frustrating because the studio was going through changes but we were giving 110% and doing this amazing show that we wanted to share and we didn’t have that outlet. There was an outlet for realty shows about liposuction and bridesmaids,” Teegarden says.

The actress is certain that once all five seasons of “Friday Night Lights” hits DVD, there will be this huge following for it.

The final season of “Friday Night Lights” is airing now on NBC and “Prom” opens April 29.

To-Do Tonight: The start of this year’s Coachella-Visalia pipeline

Tonight, dance/punk band ! ! ! (Chk Chk Chk) arrives in Visalia, the first of four pre- and post-Coachella concerts stopped at The Cellar Door. Fresno indie band Fierce Creatures opens the show, which starts at 9:30 p.m. with $10 tickets.

I wrote in detail about the Coachella-Visalia connection in Sunday’s newspaper. You can read the article online for more about how Visalia gets a taste of the super-sold-out Coachella festival and how people come from out of town to see it.

The rest of the Coachella acts stopping in Visalia:

All the shows are at The Cellar Door, start at 9:30 p.m. and have $10 tickets. You can buy them in advance at

Kathy’s mailbag: Is this movie preview appropriate for kids?

Taking a page from Donald’s blog, I thought I’d share part of an interesting letter sent to me from a local moviegoer who has a beef with Regal Cinemas for some of the previews shown at movies targeting families. The letter writer, a father who took his 6- and 9-year-old children to see “Soul Surfer” last weekend, wrote the letter to Regal management and copied it The Bee, suggesting a story about appropriate content in previews. Here’s the concern:

We were then appalled to have a preview for Jumping the Broom thrust into the the previews. The preview opens with sex and infidelity, continues with racial segregation, and then adds more sexual references. This is an adult comedy with adult themes, and adding PG-13 content to a preview for a PG movie then makes the whole movie-going experience PG-13.

I’m not sure if this is the exact trailer shown locally, but here’s what’s on YouTube:

Read more

Around the Valley: Ick factor

Teresa Douglass, writing in the Visalia Times-Delta, catches up with a guy who has, um, a stinky job: professional dog-poop picker-upper. She writes:

Sometimes called the “Doo Daddy,” [Steve] Suggs goes after one pile of poop after another, quickly raking in a week’s worth of dog waste in about 10-15 minutes.

“I’m a turd herder like no one’s business,” he said.

Suggs charges $12 per week for one dog. An additional dog raises the fee $3.

Is it worth it? Would you shell out $50 a month to relieve yourself of this unpleasant task?


Photo: Visalia Times-Delta

On TV tonight: ‘Happy Endings’

happy.JPG “Happy Endings,” 9:30 p.m. KFSN (Channel 30.1): “Happy Endings” is a modern romantic comedy that looks at what happens to six close friends when Elisha Cuthbert’s character calls off a wedding to another member of their group. This totally disrupts the friendship dynamic.

The series also stars Eliza Coupe, Zachary Knighton, Adam Pally, Damon Wayans Jr. and Casey Wilson.
This is not a new format for TV comedy. Put six good looking young people together and watch them have fun. What will make it work is the energy of the players. Most of the sparks in the first episodes come from Eliza Coupe, Casey Wilson and Damon Wayans Jr.

If the other three can turn up the comedy juice, this series will have a chance.

Alphonso McAuley knows pressure

breaking.JPG fatalbert.JPG If Alphonso McAuley’s nervous about the future of his Fox series “Breaking In,” he’s not showing it when he arrives at WonderCon to promote the show about a company that test security systems.

“The guy I play would be right at home here,” McAuley says of the comic book and pop culture convention. His guy’s a computer wizard.

Starring in a new series is nothing compared to his big film break back in 2004 when he played Bucky in the live-screen version of “Fat Albert.” McAuley had only done one TV guest spot on “Joan of Arcadia” before taking on the role so near and dear to its creator, Bill Cosby.

Cosby was on the “Fat Albert” set to watch the young cast. That could have created enough nerves to make even a seasoned actor sweat. It ended up being just the opposite.

“Cosby is even more intimidating in person but he was awesome,” McAuley says. “I’m like ‘Dr. Huxtable. What’s up?’”

McAuley then impersonates Cosby as he says, “Let’s do it like this.”

The biggest tip Cosby gave McAuley was how to deal with the media. Cosby told him never to say anything too outlandish.

The interview ended there.

Mark your calendar: Fresno Grand Opry


Nashville ain’t the only city that can have an opry. Radio station KFSR (90.7 FM), the Big Fresno Barn Dance and a committee of community volunteers have announced plans for the Fresno Grand Opry.

The event is May 14 at the historic Liberty Theatre (aka the Hardy Theatre).

The idea is for a handful of well-known local musicians, not of the country-music persuasion, to cover classic country music from the likes of Conway Twitty, Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash.

Confirmed performers: Mofo Party Band, Deja Blues, Blake Jones & Trike Shop, Strange Vine, Karen Marguth, Rockville and Josh & Jaime.

Read more

To-Do Tonight: a free play reading


The New Ensemble theater company is in the middle of a series of readings of new plays called Hot Off the Stages! at the Revue Cafe in the Tower District. I caught last week’s reading of John Logan’s “Red.” It was a nice experience with great ambiance in the generous expanse of the Revue’s back room, which has a theater-like feel. I highly recommend the series.

Tonight is the second in the series: Tracy Lett’s “August: Osage County,” which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize. It starts at 7 p.m. Arrive early to order beverages and food to support the Revue, which is providing the space for free. The event is free.

Heather Parish, artistic director of the New Ensemble, writes:

A vanished father. A pill-popping mother. Three sisters harboring shady little secrets. When the large Weston family unexpectedly reunites after Dad disappears, their Oklahoman family homestead explodes in a maelstrom of repressed truths and unsettling secrets. Mix in Violet, the drugged-up, scathingly acidic matriarch, and you’ve got a major new play that unflinchingly–and uproariously–exposes the dark side of the Midwestern American family.

The New Ensemble brings together an exciting cast of local actors (recently in “The Pillowman,” “The Light in the Piazza,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “The Godling” and various shows around town) to read this explosive drama: Joel Abels, Jaguar Bennett, Chelsea Bonilla, Kristin Lyn Crase, Terry Lewis, Candace Metzler, Thomas Nance, David Otero, Jessica Reedy, Erica Riggs, Amelia Ryan, James Sherrill, and Christina Tellifson.

Again, if I can get out of work in time, I hope to be there!