Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

DeShawn Stevenson is having too much fun


DeShawn Stevenson, your team just won the NBA Finals, what are you going to do now? “Starting acting a damn fool as soon as possible.”

It ain’t Disneyland, but Fresno-bred NBAer Stevenson has been on a tear since his Dallas Mavericks beat the Miami Heat on Sunday night to clinch their championship run.

The latest news is that Stevenson has proven comic Daniel Tosh right and gotten himself arrested for public intoxication. While wearing a “Free Weezy” T-shirt, no less.

From ESPN:

Irving police were called to the Grand Venetian apartment complex at about 10:30 p.m. CT after receiving a call to report an intoxicated person walking in the area. Officers reported that Stevenson, who does not live at the complex, appeared intoxicated and did not know where he was.

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On TV tonight: ‘Happily Divorced’

PeterAndFran.JPG “Happily Divorced,” 10:30 p.m. TV Land: The new cable comedy looks at what happens when a Los Angeles florist – played by Fran Drescher – returns to the dating world after finding out her husband (John Michael Higgins) of 18 years is gay. The comedy will come from the ex-husband living under the same roof.

This show looks to have a short life-span if all of the humor comes from gay jokes.

While I’ve never been a big fan of Drescher, the supporting cast – Higgins, Rita Moreno, Robert Walden – is reason enough to watch tonight’s opener. Then we’ll see.


miss fischer.JPG


No question about it, staring down Pablo Picasso across an interrogation table would not have been easy — even for the interrogator. As portrayed by Jaguar Bennett in the thoughtful play “A Picasso,” which continues through June 25 at the Broken Leg Stage, the unbridled, double-barreled impact of this intriguing historical figure comes through: bullish, full of himself, intimidating, ready to wield his own swollen ego in self-defense.

Yet there’s a more vulnerable side to Picasso revealed in this production from The New Ensemble, courtesy of playwright Jeffrey Hatcher’s imagined encounter between the great artist and a Nazi cultural official (portrayed in this two-character drama by Chelsea Bonilla). He has a soft spot for his art, it seems. And as details of his childhood emerge, you sense that his tempestuous yet tender inner child has never really grown up.

I’m attracted to the whimsy of pieces such as this: the playwright taking a deep, educated breath and hurling himself into the realm of historical conjecture. In this case, Picasso — scratching out something of a morose existence in 1941 Nazi-occupied Paris — finds himself hauled into an interrogation room. Miss Fischer, the culture official, informs him that she’s asked him here to authenticate paintings seized from others who are attributed to him. What she’s after, it seems, is “a Picasso” — hence, the title.

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Visitors meant the most to Jason Earles

jearles.JPG It takes a few minutes to adjust to the shock that Jason Earles, the actor who played Jackson Stewart in “Hannah Montana,” is in his 30s. He’s playing an adult in his new Disney XD series “Kickin’ It,” but he looks so young he could play one of the karate school’s young students.

It becomes very clear after talking to the San Diego native for a few minutes that he’s wise for his years.

He was part of one of the most successful tweens show in TV history. That means Earles could have come away from “Hannah Monatan” with only memories of fame and fortune. Instead, he says his best and dearest memories of his time on the series has to do with visitors to the set.

“We would get all of these young people from ‘Make a Wish’ coming to the set. I just couldn’t get over how they could ask for anything and all they wanted was to come to the show,” Earles tells me during a break on the set of “Kickin’ It.”

He’s obviously still very moved by those visits.

“We had one parent say that their child had been really sick but seemed healthier and happier being on the set with us than they had in a long time. That’s why I have taken a little piece of each one of them with me,” Earles says.

Great Fresno Tweetup 3: The update

We’re just a few days away from The Great Fresno Tweetup 3, when our local Twitter community gathers for a night of baseball, $1 beers, games and networking at the Fresno Grizzlies game. In preparation, The Grizzlies have turned the spotlight to their own outfielder/prolific Tweeter Thomas Neal (aka @TDaddyNeal) for the promo video above.

A things to know now that it’s almost Tweetup time:

  • You can still RSVP on Twitter with @fresnogrizzlies to get on the list for $5 seats in our “Tweetdeck.” Those include your first Thirsty Thursday $1 beer. Like last year, we’ll have our own beer cart so our Tweeps don’t have to wait in those long lines.
  • Another good reason to be there: Word out of San Francisco is that Barry Zito will be in Fresno on Thursday night for a rehab start.
  • We’re making the Tweetup extra cool for a few local Tweeps. One lucky fan will get to throw out the first pitch, while a few others will get to take the field with Thomas Neal before the game. Watch both @fresnobeehive and @fresnogrizzlies on Wednesday and Thursday for contests.

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To-Do Tonight: Experimental Folk Heroes


A couple of New York-based experimental folk bands — The Relatives and Town Hall — hit Fresno tonight on their West Coast tour.

Their tour stops at C.A.F.E. Infoshop for an all-ages show with Sacramento’s math-rockers The Speed of Sound In Seawater . Adding some local flavor to the bill are The Milford Higgins & Illgrum

Heroes — the downtown sports lounge — revives the weekly Heroes of Comedy night that used to happen during its days as Hero’s (read the whole long story).

It’s hosted by Danny Minch, who has hosted just about every comedy night in town at this point. It features local comics and has a $2 cover charge.

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The return of Campagnia


Everybody who’s been pouting since Campagnia closed in March, can now revel in the news that the once-popular Champlain-and-Perrin eatery is re-opening.

It’s opening again for Father’s Day, which happens to also be the restaurant’s 10th anniversary. Our cohorts at the Opinion Talk blog beat us to the punch on this one. They pointed out that Campagnia made the announcement on its Facebook page:

Campagnia is re-opening on Sunday, June 19th & it’s our 10th Anniversary. New menu but we still have your favorites. New decor too! Join us for Father’s Day Sunday Brunch or Dinner. Stop by to make reservations or starting Wed call 433-3300.

As you might recall, when Campagnia closed its doors, the issue wasn’t so much about Campagnia itself, but financial trouble stemming from former Fig Garden restaurant Pangea, which closed in 2009 and had the same owner.

On TV tonight: ‘Covert Affairs’

covert.JPG “Covert Affairs,” 10 p.m. USA Network: In case you missed it, the second season of this spy series starring Fresno’s Christopher Gorham has started. Don’t worry. Tonight is just the second episode of the new batch so you can get caught up quickly.

Agent Annie Walker (Piper Perabo) is sent to Paris to cultivate a new asset. Salma Devrient is a potentially vulnerable secretary who works at the Syrian Embassy.

A simple spy mission would be too easy for this show. While Walker’s trying to get close to Devrient, she runs into an old acquaintance — Mossad agent Eyal Lavin. The fact that Lavin is in Paris means Israel is interested in turning Salma as well. Oded Fehr guest stars.

My only complaint with this cable series is that Anne Dudek, who plays Walker’s older sister, is being wasted.

The Week Ahead: Blues for Dad, local noms, Mickey Avalon, Luis Miguel, Malo and more

HONOR THY FATHER: It’s the second year of the Tower District’s Father’s Day Blues Festival — headlined by Ron Thompson and featuring the likes of Rudy Parris. The African-American Historical and Cultural Museum also starts off its summer concert series with a Father’s Day jazz concert with Bobby Logan and the Professionals.

THE WEEK IN NOMS: Save your space in your tummies. This week brings us the first of the mayor’s Local Bites dinners, the Organic Stone Fruit Jubilee and Fresno’s first Chile Festival on the Fulton Mall.

TOUR DE FORCE: Lots of touring music acts headed our way, including: Kill the Noise and Robotic Pirate Monkey (Thurs. at Karma), Mickey Avalon (Thurs. at Rome Nightclub), Malo (Fri. at Fulton 55), Blue Skies for Black Hearts (Fri. at Audie’s), Surfin’ Safari (Fri. at The Cellar Door), DJ Jay West (Fri at Veni’s), Luis Miguel (Sat. at Save Mart Center), Dance Gavin Dance (Sat. at Karma), Marc Broussard (Sat. at Visalia Fox) and Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit (Sat. at Audie’s).

FOR THE TECHIES: The Hashtag hosts the beta launch party for, a locally created digital résumé builder that’s getting the full reveal at the upcoming 59 Days of Code. It has music, photos, drinks, etc. — so it sounds like happenin’ social event too.

CHEAP PLUG: Great Fresno Tweetup. Be about it!

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Talking points: Cops and Club Photos — offensive or good PR?

Of all the controversies we’ve heard related to local nightclub events, this is a new one. Some local police officers and firefighters are facing scrutiny after posing with bikini-clad models outside Aldo’s Nightclub last Wednesday during a car show.

The story broke over the weekend thanks to KSEE 24. Here’s their report:

As you would expect, every news outlet in town (including The Bee) latched onto the story, particularly after the Police Chief Jerry Dyer and City Manager Mark Scott announced the incident was being investigated. Meanwhile, the story has spread all the way to Boston TV.

The pics were the work of ClubFlys, a site that has been documenting nightlife events in town for years — and is no stranger to racy photos.

Reading The Bee’s story, one quote that struck me was from ClubFlys founder Sal Hernandez, who said:

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Arthur Dyson: the profile


I started working last November on a profile of local architect Arthur Dyson, and over the months I dipped in now and again on the story, absorbing lots of knowledge about this very talented man. It call came together (finally!) on Sunday with a major Sunday Page A1 package. If you have some time, check it out.

I got a nice letter this morning from Paulette Kalebjian, whose dental office on Palm Avenue, above, was designed by Dyson. She writes:

From the perspective as one who inhabits a Dyson design daily, can tell you it is a wonderful experience.

Our old office was on Fine Avenue, and I used to drive by the other building you noted for many years, and had known who Dyson was through his work. In the mid 90′s had visited Taliesin West (as I have always admired Wright) and at the bookstore there, among all things ‘Wrightian’,was the book about the Architecture of Art Dyson. It was only non-Wright merchandise! It was truly amazing that this talent was in Fresno, had such high standing there…..and in our community was virtually unknown!

When we saw this building come up for sale, had always thought it would make a great dental office, viewed it, and after it fell out of sale was disappointed. It then came up for sale later, and we were able to make the purchase. It has always been attractive to alot of people, many stop by just to look, , and we are always happy to oblige. We have even been approached to shoot exteriors for a horror movie, though that was not a good fit for a dental office! We keep a folder of information to help people learn about Art Dyson. We have followed his career and are now happy to see his career arc include more local renown, as it is so well deserved. We love our “jangled angles”!

Neil Patrick Harris at the Tonys: FTW

Awesome, hilarious, edgy opening number at last night’s Tony Awards. Don’t miss the endearing Brooke Shields screw-up where she forgets the words to her song. Go live TV!

I’m feeling a bit full of myself this morning for having successfully nabbed tickets to both the winning best musical (“The Book of Mormon”) and best play (“War Horse”) on my recent New York jaunt. Plus, I saw the winning best play revival (“The Normal Heart”). The only one I missed out of the Top 4 awards was best musical revival (“Anything Goes.”) For a recap of my thoughts on “Mormon” and “War Horse,” check out my Sunday column. And here’s a roundup of the other shows I saw.

Concert News: Blaze Fest with Cheap Trick, Tesla, Everclear and Candlebox


Rock station 105.1 The Blaze (KKBZ, FM) has announced its first Blaze Fest, an outdoor rock festival that’s mixing classic rock, ’80s hard rock and ’90s alternative.

Cheap Trick, Tesla, Everclear and Candlebox perform at Blaze Fest, which is happening Sept. 17 at the Regional Sports Complex (Jensen Ave., near Highway 41).

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at Vallitix locations, by phone toll free (888) 825-5484 or online at

If you want tickets to Blaze Fest, it’s best to act quick. Tickets cost $20 until June 26, jump to $30 on June 27 and will cost $40 the day of the show.

In addition to the music, the day includes everything you’d expect from a rock festival — beer, food, muscle cars and an appearance from Playboy’s 2011 Playmate of the Year Claire Sinclair.

Kasey Kahl will be on ‘Bachelor Pad’

kaseykahl.JPG, the web version of Entertainment Weekly, reports Clovis native Kasey Kahl will be among the invited guests to live in a mansion for the summer series “Bachelor Pad.”

The show brings together 18 contestants from the past “Bachelor” franchise to compete for $250,000 and possibly a second chance at love.

“Bachelor Pad” starts Aug. 8 on KFSN (Channel 30.1).

Kahl was in season six of “The Bachelorette” that featured Ali Fedotowski. His attempt to win her heart by getting a tattoo on his wrist to show how he would “guard and protect” her heart didn’t work.

Fedotowski dumped Kahl by leaving him on an iceberg.

On TV tonight: ‘Nora Roberts’ Carnal Innocence’

ANWAR.JPG “Nora Roberts’ Carnal Innocence,” 8 p.m. Lifetime: After watching Gabrielle Anwar play such a tough role on “Burn Notice,” it’ll take a little adjustment to watch her as a world-renowned violinist facing some professional problems in this made-for-cable movie.

To sort out the problems in her life, Caroline Waverly (Anwar) heads to Innocence, Miss., a place where she spent summers as a child. She needs some peace and quiet.

You know it’s a Nora Roberts story because the musician thinks she’s met a charming young man (Colin Egglesfield) only to discover he’s the prime suspect in a series of murders.

Shirley Jones also stars.

From ‘Sister Act’ to Alexander McQueen: Donald’s busy week in New York

When I go to New York, as I did several weeks ago, I don’t just take in a play or two.

I go hard-core cultural, squeezing in as much as I can.

In my Sunday Spotlight column today, just in time for tonight’s Tony Awards, I focus on two of the seven plays I saw: “The Book of Mormon” and “War Horse.” (I think there’s a pretty good chance they could win best musical and best play, respectively, which would make my show-picking skills quite good indeed.) As promised at the end of my column, here’s a rundown on the other five shows I saw, plus a roundup of a few of the museum special exhibitions I was able to attend.


“A MINISTER’S WIFE,” Lincoln Center Theater. I make it a point to seek out “chamber musicals,” those mostly quiet, mostly sung-through, small-cast productions that offer not the dazzle of Broadway but the delicate marriage of text and music. “A Minister’s Wife,” with music by Joshua Schmidt, lyrics by Jan Levy Tranen and book by Austin Pendleton, is an adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s “Candida.”

And what a tender, touching production this was. (It ended its limited run June 12.) Marc Kudisch, a Broadway powerhouse, played the blustery minister of the title, a charismatic preacher with an activist streak. His wife (played by a strong, moving Kate Fry) is seemingly content with her husband’s expectly oafish views toward marriage — these are Victorian times, after all — at least until the ardent young poet, Eugene Marchbanks (a superb Bobby Steggert, in one of the most ferocious musical-theater performances I’ve ever seen), declares his love for her.

It all built to a fervent, intense climax, with the spirit of Shaw’s prose and the music swirling together toward a passionate conclusion. The intimate space, brisk direction and musical textures all brought a classic tale to life in a burst of emotion.

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Mark your calendar: Fresno Chile Festival

Want more festivals on the Fulton Mall? Of course you do. We all do. Well here’s a new downtown festival happening June 18 (aka next Saturday). It’s the Fresno Chile Festival, and it’s dedicated to the chile pepper that shares a name with our city, as opposed to the stuff you get on your hot dog at The Chuck Wagon.


Here’s some more info on the Fresno Chile Festival, press release style:

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It’s the chef who must make cooking changes

Food Twittering Chef.JPG There’s one thing I’ve noticed with cooking competition shows. Players can be sent packing because they’ve made a dish that a judge just doesn’t like. It isn’t the quality but just a matter of conflicting tastes in food.

Is this fair? Just because a judge doesn’t like – let’s say squid – should that be a negative even if it’s the best squid ever cooked?

Celebrated Chef Rocco DiSpirito’s new Bravo series, “Rocco’s Dinner Party” has three skilled chefs creating the perfect evening for him and his celebrity guests. He’s asked if the definition of success be whether the food is properly prepared or it’s a menu the diners like.

“When you invite people into your home, there’s an implicit contract that you’ve made that you’re going to show them a good time. So if showing them a good time and creating an environment where people give themselves permission to have fun – which is what you’re supposed to do at a dinner party – means that you have to put your culinary force aside, then that’s what has to happen,” DiSpirito tells TV critics. “We’ve had guests come in and say, ‘By the way, I don’t eat pork, fish. I don’t drink alcohol. No cheese, no dairy, no this, no that.

“So there are entire menus that had to be reworked with 40 minutes left to the dinner party. So it really does become about who is going to be able to please the guests.”

That means chefs on competition shows should know ahead of time just what the judges like and dislike. They will need to adapt and not expect the judge to change culinary desires.

You Review: Tim McGraw

Anyone see Tim McGraw last night at the Save Mart Center? Tell us about the show. What’d you think of the setlist? His performance? Was it better than his previous visits to Fresno? Worse? How was the crowd? Big as usual?

We’d also like to hear about opening acts Luke Bryan and The Band Perry. Did either of them wow you?


Check out more photos from The Bee’s John Walker below.

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Concert News: Michael Bublé returns


Crooner Michael Bublé returns to Fresno’s Save Mart Center on Aug. 14, the arena announced this morning, much to the delight of the K-Jewel-listening ladies out there.

Tickets to see him go on sale at 10 a.m. June 17 and cost $52.50, $72.50 and $92.50.

It’s the third time in Fresno for Bublé. He played to a half-house at the Save Mart Center in 2008 and made his Fresno debut at an infamous Saroyan Theatre show in 2006 where the theater’s air conditioning broke on a 110-degree summer day. Bublé sweated through it, but lots of fans were quite upset.

Entertainment this weekend

super 8.JPG This might be a fool’s errand because the weather’s going to be so beautiful this weekend. But, those of you who opt not to enjoy the sunshine should consider the following indoor entertainment options.

“Super 8″: The film from director/writer J.J. Abrams is a brilliant blend of action with a strong family story. This is the best film to combine the adventurous nature of youth with the thrills of a mysterious situation since “E.T.”

“True Grit”: Sibling directors Ethan and Joel Coen combine the grandeur of a traditional Western with their quirky sensibility. It takes an actor of Jeff Bridges’ caliber to step into the big boots of Rooster Cogburn, a role that earned John Wayne his only Oscar. With strong supporting performances from Hailee Steinfeld and Matt Damon, the film is one of the best of the West to come moseying along in years.

“Game of Thrones,” HBO, 9 p.m. Sunday: This is one of the best new offerings for the summer. The series is filled with the trappings of a typical fantasy tale: kings, knights, dragons and mysterious creatures. But, at its very dark heart, this series based on George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, is closer to a medieval version of “The Sopranos” or “Dallas” than it is to a “Lord of the Rings.”

More on ‘A Picasso’


The New Ensemble theater company on Friday opens an intriguing new play, “A Picasso,” at the Broken Leg Stage. I caught up with director Heather Parish for an interview. A condensed version runs in Friday’s 7 section. Here’s the extended version:

Briefly put, what is the play about?

The year is 1941, the Germans have rolled into Paris and Pablo Picasso has been ushered into a makeshift office by a beautiful Nazi bureaucrat to authenticate three works of art the Reich have recently “acquired” for exhibition. Soon, the master artist learns that the exhibition is a burning of art designated as “degenerate” by the Germans. A battle of wits ensues between the tough-minded Nazi and the passionate artist over the survival of Picasso’s work– and possibly the survival of the man himself.

What can you tell us about the play’s production history?

Jeffrey Hatcher, a very prolific playwright and screenwriter, wrote the piece when grappling with issues concerning his own art and the critical reaction to it. As such, it tends to resonate with artists of any stripe who put their work out there for public comment.

It premiered in 2003 by the Philadelphia Theater company. A subsequent production followed in 2004 at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami starring Lucie Arnaz (who has had a strong regional theater career in Florida) as the Nazi. After that, the eminent Manhattan Theater Club in NYC picked it up with Dennis Boutsikaris and Jill Eikenberry playing the roles. Since then, it has been seen in myriad regional theater companies, including San Jose Repertory in 2009.

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