It’s always nice when the person being interviewed knows I’m going to take anything they say with a grain of salt because I know their main purpose for talking to me is to promote something. It’s safe to say no one has every told me “My new show is so bad it will increase the rate of TV destruction in America.”
The first thing Howie Mandel says in an interview to talk about the new season of NBC”s “America’s Got Talent,” is “this is going to sound like bull because we’re here to promote the show. But it isn’t. I promise you.”
If you can believe his promise, the new season will have more possibilities of people who could win the competition than ever before because the talent pool is so much stronger.
“There are things that we have never seen before and I promise you that if they are not winners on our show, they are going to be the big next acts in Las Vegas. They will be bought. They will be signed. They will be huge.” Mandel says. “I came this close to seeing almost near death experiences right in front of my eyes, and they were not planned. I don’t know if NBC is going to air them.”
I’ll say it and stand behind it: Pharoahe Monch is one of those most criminally-slept-on rappers. Monch, an ex member of Organized Konfusion, is not only a great lyricist, but he has a dizzying, unconventional delivery.
Pharoahe — “God’s gift to vocabulary,” as he’s called himself — is at Fulton 55 on Wednesday night. Every self-respecting hip-hop fan in Fresno should be there. But they won’t. He’s hardly the guy the radio-listening masses will turn off that latest New Boyz song to go see. The closest thing Monch has had to a hit is 1999′s “Simon Says.”
Nonetheless, here’s hoping he gets a good crowd in Fresno next week. He certainly deserves it. Tickets cost $15 in advance and are available at TicketFly, as well as Iron Bird Cafe and The Laundry Room.
Here are a few Pharoahe favorites. (Warning: NSFW language)
Once you thank me for being back to help you plan your weekends …
1. GUZZLE SOME SUDZ
Beer drinkers of Fresno unite. It’s time for another year of Sudz in the City, the annual microbrew festival at Chukchansi Park. If you’ve never been, it’s a pretty easy thing: You buy your ticket, which entitles you to try a bunch of different beers — from local stuff like Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Co. to regional faves. Watch out for long lines and drunk douches.
Entertainment options for this Memorial Day weekend range from fighting pandas to fast drivers.
MOVIES “Kung Fu Panda 2″: It’s always a joy to find an animated movie that has just the right blend of flashy animation to entertain children and smart writing to keep their parents happy. This sequel is as funny as it is visually spectacular. Take the whole family to see the latest exploits of Po.
DVD “I Am Number Four”: One of the last members of an alien race hides on Earth to escape the invaders who want to kill him. The first half follows the formula for teen romance that made “Twilight” so popular. The second half turns into close encounters of the hallway kind when the high school becomes a battleground between warring alien factions.
TELEVISION “2011 Indianapolis 500,” 9 a.m. Sunday, KFSN (Channel 30.1): Yes, you will have to get up early to see the start of the annual race that will originate from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis.
In Friday’s 7 section we feature a big package on the Youth Orchestras of Fresno’s 60th anniversary concert Sunday at the Saroyan Theatre. More than 40 alumni of the orchestra are expected to return to play. One of the youngest of those alums is Carl Gardner, who’s now studying bassoon at the prestigious Oberlin Conservatory.
Here’s an extended interview:
Question: How old were you when you first joined the Youth Orchestras of Fresno?
Answer: I was about seven years old when I first started playing Violin in what was then called “The Little Symphony.”
Austin-based rock band White Denim trots into Visalia on Friday night with a reputation for having one of the best live shows out there right now. Aaron Gomes, the head honcho of show promoters Sound N Vision Foundation, says White Denim is a band he’s been trying to book for a while now and is happy to have finally landed them.
White Denim’s sound is bit psych-rock, a bit garage rock. About White Denim, Rolling Stone wrote, “The band’s chopped-funk delirium is effortless sorcery, evoking Talking Heads’ dancing-bones rock, the dervish thrash of the Minutemen and the Strokes’ pneumatic-guitar pop.” Here’s a taste — their latest single, “Drug.” (Also a cool video).
It’s easy to think that making movies is just a matter of having fun. Actors show up and get pampered by those who fix their hair, apply their makeup and hand them their clothes.
Cam Gigandet enjoyed working on “Priest,” but it wasn’t all fun and games. In the film inspired by the graphic novel, Gigandet plays the local sheriff who has to help a vampire killer save a fair maiden. The setting’s a blend of future apocalypse and the Old West.
“My gun weighed 11 pounds. There were several scene where I would be holding the gun out and my hand would start shaking. By the end of the scene, it was down here,” Gigandet says while pointing at the floor. “It was like I was saying ‘I will shoot your foot.’”
By the end of the day someone would have to help him hold the gun.
For the uninitiated: “Pawn Stars” follows the crew at the Las Vegas’ 24-hour Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. The charm of the show is the odd items people bring in to sell, and how the Pawn Stars crew appraises their value.
That’s exactly what they’ll be doing in their Valley visit. Show stars Rick, Corey and Chumlee will appraise and buy gold, silver and collectibles from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (No weapons are allowed), To get in, you have to buy a $25 ticket, which entitles you to one appraisal and might be better than waiting in the long line at their Vegas shop.
Here’s another happening for tonight, another of those wonderfully odd promo nights that the Fresno Grizzlies think up. The team has rounded up the sign twirlers from all the corners around town for a showdown that will crown Fresno’s top twirler.
They’ve got twirlers from Little Caesars, the guys who want you to sell your gold and others. Anybody have an odds on favorite? It’s also a Thirsty Thursday, so get there early for $1 beer. Tickets here.
CELEBRATION OF THE NIGHT:The Juice Crew, the morning show on B95, is having a “listener appreciation” bash to celebrate 10 years on the air. It’s happening at Rome Nightclub with special guest Ron Artest of the L.A. Lakers.
Make no mistake, keeping a morning radio show on for 10 years is no small feat. Radio is a fickle industry, where morning shows get tossed aside or revised all the time. So for The Juice Crew’s Greg “G-Man” Hoffman and Andre Covington to be stalwarts in their 6-10 a.m. spot for 10 years is rarity, especially when you consider they’re a local show not a syndicated one. Can you think of a longer-running local morning show?
“So You Think You Can Dance,” 8 p.m. KMPH (Channel 26.1): The summer competition series returns for its eighth season with auditions in Atlanta and San Francisco in tonight’s two-hour premiere. The series will again look to find the best dancers who represent styles ranging from hip-hop to ballroom.
This season’s auditions will feature resident judges Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy, as well as guest judges Debbie Allen, Robin Antin, Lil C, Tyce Diorio, Jason Gilkison, Toni Redpath and Adam Shankman.
After the premiere, auditions continue in New York and Salt Lake City on June 1 and in Los Angeles on June 2.
Dancers will be invited to Las Vegas for the callback round June 8 and then on June 9, the judges will announce the Top 20 finalists.
Eardrum-popping local rockers Fay Wrays are about to unveil their new album, “Strange Confessor” with a big release party Saturday at Fulton 55. It’s coming out on limited-edition CD and cassette (yep, cassette), and digitally (which it looks like you can get now).
Here’s what singer/guitarist/bassist Ben McEntee had to say about “Strange Confessor:”
The album is partially a concept album about our relationship with the artistic writing process itself. The album is self referential and deals with the bands interactions with THE SOUND (must be in all caps, it is a long story …) There are also bits about Fresno, bits about my our friends, and bits about my amazing wife.
They’ve blessed The Beehive with a free track, the album’s opener, “When We Storm the Gates We Sing This Song,” which features Whitney Freeman of Achievement House. You can also hit up The Fresnan and Indie Nation for more free Fay Wrays downloads.
Below you’ll find details on Saturday’s show (which has a HUGE local lineup) and their cool cover art by local artist Mike Howe (aka Mycow).
I had a chance to talk with Ken Jeong a few weeks ago while he was filming the season finale of “Community.” He was so wrapped up in the episode that I had to remind him how big May was going to me for him.
The “Community” finale would air, he would be hosting the 2011 Billboard Music Awards and his “The Hangover Part II” would be released in theaters all in less than a couple of weeks.
“That’s right. We have been so busy doing the show that I hadn’t even thought about all of that,” Jeong says.
He has a good reason for forgetting the other entertainment events. No matter what other work comes his way, Jeong calls working on “Community” one of the best jobs in the world.
“I’m a big basketball fan,” Jeong says. “I’ve always thought the best basketball teams are those that can share the ball and the spotlight. And acting on TV and in films is like a basketball, you have to share it. This cast is very unselfish in terms of the glory and attention they get because everyone has their moments.”
While our beloved ‘No town didn’t get a fancy pull-out write-up, it is, literally on Wired’s map with cities like Reno, Tucson and poor, poor Joplin. If you’re looking for tech happenings in Fresno, check out 59 Days of Code which is now blossoming in its second year and the Fresno Technology Affinity Group, which you might remember from its 2010 showcase.
MEANWHILE IN FRESNO: A big one for the all-ages hardcore crowd: Foundation (from Atlanta) and Mother of Mercy (from Pennsylvania) bring their high-powered tour to The Bel Tower. There are seven bands total on the bill, including locals We Scream Jackson and Bridges. Flier with more info below.
“The Oprah Winfrey Show,” 4 p.m. KFSN (Channel 30.1): Today is the finale of the daytime talk show that became known for big name guests, gifts for the studio audience and a host who could change a person’s life by making their book or product one of her favorite things.
Don’t look for celebrity guests as the final show will be reflections by Winfrey about her 25 years as the dominate force in daytime TV. She has a lot to say.
In an interview with TV critics about her new cable channel – OWN – Winfrey talked about her aspirations when she was a child.
“I just wanted to be able to be my best. At first I thought I was going to be a fourth-grade teacher because of my favorite, Mrs. Duncan,” Winfrey says. “My big dream when I was in television — as you all know, if you are in local TV, the big goal is to be in network television. And my biggest dream was I just wanted to be a guest host on ‘Good Morning America.’
“I’ve said that I learned after ‘The Color Purple,’ that God can dream a bigger dream for you than you can dream for yourself. And I try to stay in that space and live in that space. That is the universe’s dream for me, that is the bigger dream for me. That is how I try to live my life now.”
Zombie — known from his band White Zombie, his successful solo career and his devotion to horror movies — has already proven a hot ticket. Lucky for you, we’ve got a chance to get in for free.
One fortunate Beehive reader will score a pair of tickets — they normally cost $41.50 and are available at Valentino’s or online at tgptix.com. To enter, leave a comment and fill in the blank: “If I saw a zombie in downtown Fresno I would ________.”
Deadline to enter is 9 a.m. Thursday. We’ll pick one winner at random and notify him/her via e-mail, so please leave a real address and please check it. No multiple entries, please. You’re ineligible if you’ve won something in the past 30 days. Full rules below.
Here’s a politically-charged video with a strong Fresno tie that’s making the rounds. Recently, the website Exposing Leftists took to the campus of Fresno State to do just what its name suggests.
A host from Exposing Leftists — a site started by three college students aiming to expose the “hypocrisies of liberals on college campuses” — donned Fresno State gear and walked around campus asking students to sign a petition that would ban Glenn Beck and other conservative voices on TV and radio. At the same time, they asked the students whether they believed in free speech. The rest is pretty obvious. How the students didn’t spot the ruse, I don’t know. How many people ask you to sign a petition and put a camera in your face? That should have the first sign that some trickery was afoot.
Our nation’s political climate being one that’s obsessed with a well-placed zing against those with whom we disagree, dig-your-own-grave videos like these are not uncommon — from either side of the spectrum. As I write this, the video has 87,000+ views in just four days and is getting a lot of celebration from the political right.
Surprisingly, though, there’s only a tiny bit of Fresno bashing in the YouTube comments.
After bringing its live stage show to Fresno for the first time last year, the cast of kids TV fave “Yo Gabba Gabba!” has announced its returning to Save Mart Center for two shows on Nov. 18 — at 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Tickets cost $32 and $42. They’ll go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday, June 6. Hit up Ticketmaster or the Save Mart Center box office to get yours.
Get your Tuesday night reggae fix tonight at Audie’s Olympic, where San Diego’s Mystic Roots Band makes a tour stop. The band combines elements of hip-hop and dancehall into its roots-reggae stylings. In 2010, Mystic Roots dropped “Cali-Hi,” which did well on Billboard’s reggae charts. In addition to their own music, Mystic Roots also backs up reggae legend Pato Banton.
Buchanan High School graduate Ryan Park made a huge impression on the first night of the ABC reality show “The Bachelorette.” Park so impressed Ashley Hebert that she gave him the “First Impression Rose.”
That meant he didn’t have to wait to see if he was going to continue in the competition when Hebert started handing out roses at the end of the program.
Park’s quest to win Hebert’s heart continues Monday.
His father, Gordon Park, sent me a note saying he was anxious to see how the show was going to be edited. The fear was that his son would be made to look like the villain of the show. Dad didn’t need to worry as Park came out looking like a great guy and the early front runner.
“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.
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.”
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.
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.