Things to do in Sacramento and Beyond

The Bee's guide to events, activities, arts and entertainment

January 31, 2008
Idol Chatter: Mad for Miami

Fox/Michael Becker

Hey, I actually enjoyed Wednesday night's "American Idol" auditions in Miami. Yes, there were the usual wack jobs, but they didn't seem quite so, well, out there.

OK, so Contestant No. 1, Shannon McGough, 18, of Okeechobee, Fla., looked promising and, my gosh, I really wanted to get her out of her family's meat-grinding business. I had high hopes she could sing as good as she could, well, belch. (Indeed, Shannon could peel paint with her burping!)

Unfortunately, her Janis Joplin performance was an upchuck. And judge Simon Cowell, who apparently experienced a late night the night before, crowed, "I feel worse after that. It sounded like a Hungarian Janis Joplin. It actually sounds like you're eating when you sing."

Yikes. Poor Shannon was just devastated, whining that "I've never been told I sing bad before!"

Thankfully, the overall crooning improved after the belching. If you missed the auditions, here's my recap:

* Most likely to marry Paula: The sparks flew between judge Paula Abdul and Venezuelan (now in Miami) heartthrob Ghaleb Emachah, 27. Still, Simon didn't take the bait. "I would like you if I was drunk. Sober, I don't like you." Randy Jackson pointed out that Ghaleb's heavy accent might be a problem, but he and Paula let him through, prompting a flurry of kisses - from Ghaleb to the producer, the security staff, even host Ryan Seacrest.

* Most likely to marry Simon and/or Randy: Oh mama, were best buds Corliss Smith and Brittany Wescott (pictured), both 20 of Jacksonville, a hoot or what? They seemed more interested in scoping out men than singing, but both of them have major pipes. Corliss opted for throwback jazz for Randy; Brittany serenaded Simon with "My Guy." Major hugs were exchanged and both women bolted through the double doors with golden tickets.

* Most talented gals (the guys were a screaming mess at this point): Props to Suzanne Toon, 21, of Clearwater, Fla., Ramiele Malubay, 19, of Miramar, Fla., and Syesha Mercardo, 20, of Miami. Simon liked Suzanne's "sultry sexiness." Randy said Ramiele, who hopes to become the first Asian American "Idol," had "a big voice for a small girl." Syesha got through on her "effort."

* Most likely to get beat up outside the audition room: Easy enough. I wanted to climb through the tube and throttle Julie Dubela, now 16. Four years ago, we learned she made the Top 20 on "American Juniors." "I'm not a quitter," Julie intoned. But, duh, why would she tackle another Joplin song, "Me and Bobby McGee?" Simon jumped on the performance quickly. "Are you precocious?" he asked. "What does that mean?" Julie responded. Then things pretty much fell apart. Julie whined, the judges said she was over dramatic. She complained she gave up singing at a Red Sox game to audition (this was last fall). Afterward, Julie told "America" to be sure not to watch "American Idol."

* Most ridiculous, most ludicrous: Brandon Black, 20, of Pompano Beach, Fla. Period. Biggest idiot verging on lunacy. I can't remember ever hearing Simon begging security to "Get him out, get him out."

Ultimately, only 17 tickets to Hollywood were doled out. Mercifully, there's only one more audition - Tuesday in Atlanta (Ryan's hometown) - before we finally get to La La Land.

Let's hang in there together!

January 31, 2008
You ought to be in pictures


Sami Swanson couldn't wait to get out to Arden Fair mall the day she found out she was one of the newly installed "faces" of Abercrombie & Fitch Kids.

But, first things first: As a school cheerleader, she had a gig at a freshman basketball game at Rio Americano.

"At halftime of the game, my mom (local TV personality Beth Ruyak) brought me some ice water and showed me photos she had taken of my pictures at the store," Sami recalls. "After the game, we went straight to the mall so I could see for myelf."

The picture above, taken by her mother, shows Sami posing with the entryway photo of herself and a male model. (The image also pops up online; click here to see it and more photos.)

I spoke with Sami and Beth recently about the whirlwind experience. The Q&A appears on today's Scene cover. But there's always more to talk about when it comes to fashion and having fun, right?

Sami is definitely the right choice for an A&F Kids campaign. As her mom says: "She just exudes joy in the pictures."

Sami was discovered in August 2006 in a Starbucks in Santa Barbara by someone in the biz who said (natch), "Have you ever thought about modeling?" One Polaroid led to another, and soon Sami had an agent in L.A. and bookings with Abercrombie. She's traveled to the Florida Keys, the company's home base in Columbus, Ohio, and the Hamptons in New York.

But for the time being, Sami is firmly grounded in Sacramento. She's about to turn 15 and has quite the busy teen schedule. In addition to cheerleading, she performs with the River City Theatre Company; they're in rehearsals for the spring production of "Swing."

She also swims on the Gold River Stingrays swim team, holds a 3.7 GPA, and maintains quite a connection with not only her friends in town but "model" friends she's met on her shoots.

"I recently heard from the guy who is in the picture with me," Sami says. "He messaged me to say he couldn't believe we were in the stores."

(An interesting note: Beth's parents, who live outside of Milwaukee, visited an A&F Kids store out there to see their granddaughter's pics. The store clerk informed them that the male model's grandparents were on their way in to see them, too. How's that for a coincidence?)

Anyway, Sami refuses to rest on her good looks. Eventually, she says, she wants to go to medical school and perhaps become a plastic surgeon - not so much for cosmetic clients, but to help veterans with scarring.

For now, though, there's nothing wrong with having a little reminder of your big accomplishment. In fact, Sami has two small shopping bags from A&F Kids, and one big bag, with, of course, her image on them.

"We call them 'Sami Bags,' " Beth says.

January 30, 2008
Idol Chatter: A lot of corny antics


Omaha was the setting, and corn was the crop of the day during Tuesday night's "American Idol" auditions. The show has never been to Nebraska (that I can remember), and 10,000 hopefuls showed up.

But, guess who was a no-show? Judge Paula Abdul, whose plane was delayed, leaving Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson to "flirt" with each other.

Actually, the flirting was more entertaining than the "singers," who were a mix of part-time farmers and, well, the worst of the Heartland - both vocally and fashion-wise. Where are these people shopping?

Anyway, only 19 golden tickets to Hollywood were passed out, the least of any audition city so far.

If you missed the show, here's my quick recap:

* Most wasted time spent on a human being: Chris Bernheisel, 25, of Fremont, Neb., was waaaay too excited to be there. Dude wore me out opining about how "happiness is going flying everywhere. This is the greatest moment of my life!" He wooed Simon and Randy with gifts, including stuffed animals, some sort of shirt and copius pics of himself with Kelly Clarkson. But his version of her "Since You've Been Gone," featuring a handstand of all things, was horrifying.

Chris bombed but was still rewarded by Simon, who promised him he could work the red carpet at the season finale for the local Fox affiliate. Apparently, bribes do have payoffs.

* Most likely to be an alien: Former pro wrestler Sarah Whitaker, 25, from Iowa, who did the whole Goth thing and almost beat the you-know-what out of Ryan Seacrest before "singing" for the judges. Again, awful. Simon called her warbling the perfect "soundtrack for this town."

* Most times forgetting the lyrics: Was there something in the Midwest waters? Soooo many contestants crashed and burned trying to remember their words. The show even played one of its silly games, "You Forgot the Lyrics," to illustrate the point. Jason Rich, 21, of Stout, Iowa (population 500), was given four chances to croon his country song. He made it through, but Simon berated him, saying, "I'll never give you another shot like that. If this were live, we'd be off the air."

* Most likely to get caught in the middle: Poor, delicate Samantha Sidley (pictured), 22, came all the way from L.A. to get trapped in a judging juggle when Ryan and Paula (who finally arrived) swapped jobs, with Ryan quipping, "How do I pretend to be overpaid for doing no work?" Hah! Actually, Samantha's rendition of Norah Jones' "Don't Know Why" was very good. She twirled a bit much, and her performance was overshadowed by the judges' antics - planned out, I'm sure.

* Most likely to get on the wrong show: One contestant, whose name I can't recall 'cos I was probably numb by then, descended the escalator after making it through, only to proclaim that "I'll prove to Simon I'm 'America's Next Top Model.' " Uh, that's with Tyra Banks, honey.

* Most schmaltz. Period: Of course, what would the auditions be without a heartfelt audition coupled with a family squabble. That would be Angelica Puente, 17, from Kenosha, Wis., who doesn't live with her parents because she has "issues" with them (read: her father is too strict). She went after Celine Dion, got chastised for listening to too many "records," but made it through because it wouldn't be "Idol' without a phone call to the father to tell him his daughter, who doesn't live with him, is going to Hollywood.

* Most worthy of the gold: There were several rocker contestants who wanted to follow in the footsteps of Chris Daughtry, probably one of the show's most successful non-winners. The best? Definitely David Cox, 24, of Tulsa, who watched and re-watched Chris' audition from Season 5. His "Livin' on a Prayer" earned an odd remark from Simon - "It was a little bit worthy" - but this guy actually has major potential.

The last auditioner, Leo Marlowe, 23, of Charlotte, Iowa (only 200 people live there), scored major kudos, including a "touchdown" from Paula. I can see him and David definitely making it to the Top 24.

* Least worthy of gold: Yikes, that would be Johnny Escamilla, 18, of Scottsbluff, Neb., whose gold lame jacket was a fashion disaster. Couple that with a ridiculous rendition of "Shout," and you've got "one of the weirdest guys you could ever meet," according to Simon. One thing in Johnny's favor? He cured Paula's bout of hiccups.

Tonight's show (at 8 on Channel 40) comes to us from Miami. Let's hope there are no contestants wearing bathrobes and using a feather duster as a microphone. (Yes, it happened in Omaha.)

January 29, 2008
Benefit for Happy Tails Pet Sanctuary on Friday at Fox & Goose


As a kid, I always had a pet dog and now, as an adult, I'm pretty much a certified Crazy Cat Lady. (Ask around, it's true). That said, here's a show I can really give a paw stamp of approval to.

This Friday at the (aptly named) Fox & Goose, proceeds from the Music for Mutts show will benefit the Happy Tails Pet Sanctuary.

Happy Tails is a local no-kill facility dedicated to protecting and caring for homeless and abused animals. You can learn more about them here.

Not only will the show give a boost to your karma points balance, but the lineup's a good one: Richard March (pictured), Danny Secretion, Pushtonawanda, the Inversions and 2Me.

The 21-and-over show starts at 8:30 p.m. and costs $5 at the door. The Fox & Goose is at 1001 R St. For more information, visit the pub's Web site.

January 29, 2008
Idol Chatter: No Super Sunday for Pauley


Paul Marturano (a.k.a. "Pauley Nipple," pictured), the "American Idol" contestant who serenaded judge Paula Abdul with his creepy "Stalker" song at the Philadelphia auditions, continues to command his 15 seconds of fame.

According to the "Idol" insiders at, Pauley has exceeded 150 radio interviews (including one recently at Sac's own The End, 107.9).

He's appeared on "Access Hollywood" (wow!), and has his own Web site.

Alas, Pauley's attempt at an appearance at this Sunday's Super Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., has been scotched. WIRN radio says it had planned to have Pauley provide on-field coverage but were denied a press pass because the NFL "considered the musical comedian a liability and did not want any antics during Paula Abdul's performance."

Note to me: Am I missing something or has Fox neglected to promote that Paula is set to appear at halftime? All I've heard about is Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.

Anyway, says Pauley was not too happy about the NFL's decision, saying, "Why not give them (WIRN) their passes on the condition that I stay home? Take me out of the equation and don't punish WIRN for having a creative idea that you (NFL) didn't like. Oh well, maybe Tom Brady can lend me one of his girlfriends."

Yeah, right. Like that's gonna happen.

So, Pauley aside (and on a couch somewhere, I'm sure), the "Idol" auditions continue at 8 tonight (on Channel 40) with a stop in Omaha, Neb. Does it feel like this part of the show has been going on forever?

January 28, 2008
Pssst !!

Sacramento Theatre Company quietly revealed its 2008-09 season by slipping the titles into the program for “Topdog/Underdog” and sending out postcards to current subscribers only. Though my posting undermines the integrity of that stealth campaign, here’s what’s coming:

The Main Stage season opens with “Treasure Island” (Oct. 8-Nov. 2), an adaptation by playwright Ken Ludwig (“Lend Me a Tenor”), based on the well-known adventure novel by Robert Louis Stevenson.

The English panto-based “Cinderella” returns for the holidays (Dec. 3-Jan. 4, 2009), with book and lyrics by Kate Hawley and music by Gregg Coffin (his “rightnextto me” is playing now at the B Street Theatre).

The company then follows with the opening installment of its pledge to present the complete 20th Century Cycle by August Wilson with “Gem of the Ocean.” It will be the first professional Sacramento production of a Wilson play in nearly 20 years.

Another playwright who doesn’t get as much exposure as he used to, Aristophanes, gets some play with his 411 B.C. comedy “Lysistrata” (March 11-April 5, 2009), as the women of Greece try forcing an end to war with a sex strike.

The Main Stage closes with what may be a perfect play, Michael Frayn’s devastatingly funny “Noises Off” (April 22-May 17, 2009).

Managing director Mark Standriff says subscriptions will go on sale some time in March. For more information, call (916) 443-6722 or go to

Meanwhile, there are also plans for a Stage 2 season and a naming announcement for that smaller theater, which the company will doubtlessly reveal in its own inscrutable way.

January 28, 2008
The greatest public radio pledge pitch ever


Really. I'm serious.

It's on Capital Public Radio's Web site during this pledge time.

Staffer Nick Brunner plugs the Peets Coffee thank-you gift.

Good stuff (the video - and the coffee).

January 28, 2008
SAG awards in full fashion

Associated Press

The Hollywood that we all know and love - i.e., the red carpet fashions - were back in full regalia Sunday night at the Screen Actors Guild awards show.

From TV stars to movie stars, most (emphasis on most) of the actors didn't misstep when it came to what they wore. This, after not having to pick anything for last month's Golden Globes televised "announcement." In fact, most of the stars said what they wore to the SAGs wasn't a leftover from the abbreviated Globes.

They started from scratch!

E! covered the red carpet with the usual mix of silly questions, e.g. to nominee Glenn Close: "What actor best represents this generation?" Glenn looked completely dumbfounded but managed to mention a few up-and-comers. How about narrowing that a tad?

Anyway, I digress. Back to the clothes. I heard over and over what a chilly, yucky day it was in SoCal, so what do many of the women wear? But of course: strapless, metallic gowns and cocktail dresses.

Among the TV stars, I loved Debra Messing in her beaded bronze Oscar de la Renta with a jeweled halter neck, and Eva Longoria (pictured) looking radiant - as usual - in a beaded dress with a cowl front and cowl back (dipping oh-so-low) by designer Naeem Khan.

Among the movie stars, I didn't know Cate Blanchett was pregnant with her third child (due in April), but she looked elegant in a navy strapless gown from Balenciaga. And, speaking of adding to the family, there was quite the red carpet buzz as to whether Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, who both showed up, were expecting. This because of the looseness of her coffee-colored vintage gown.

Meanwhile, "Ugly Betty" nominee Vanessa Williams, took bad advice from her oldest daughter, wearing a bright, bright yellow Escada gown with an ill-placed black waistband.

Blue was a wildly popular color choice for stars like Kyra Sedgwick and Marcia Cross, both wearing it well.

Of course, I enjoyed all of the hoopla from the confines of the couch at home, appropriately swathed in flannel and fleece.

Now, we move on the fashion insanity of the upcoming Grammy Awards on Feb. 10, followed (and cross your fingers) by the Oscars on Feb. 24. Stylists, get ready!

January 28, 2008
Taryn Winter Brill's on-air farewell


The most talented member - IMHO - of Channel 31's "Good Day Sacramento" lineup is leaving, alas.

Check out Taryn Winter Brill's farewell message here.

Please give me a moment to compose myself before I resume working.

January 28, 2008
Dogged reporting by KGO's Christine Craft


Lefty talk show host Christine Craft (late of KSAC in Sacramento and currently on San Francisco's KGO 810-AM) nabbed a choice interview on Sunday - Hector, the pit bull terrier rescued from NFL quarterback Michael Vick's "Bad Newz Kennels."

Hector (pictured with Craft in KGO's studio), now living happily in Oakland, didn't say too much about his nightmare as a dog-fighting participant, but the scars on his chest told Craft all she needed to know. Craft, however, did have a nice interview with Leslie Nuccio, Hector's new owner.

The dog, Craft tells us, is a sweetheart.

Read more about Hector's journey here.

January 28, 2008
KTKZ to end FM simulcast?


That certainly appears to be the case, based on announcements going out over 105.5 FM (the FM simulcast for conservative talk AM station KTKZ 1380).

No official announcement from Salem Broadcasting yet, but word on the radio street is that the station will switch to a Spanish Christian format called "Radio Luz," with the branding, "Iluminando mente y corazon." (That means, "illuminating mind and heart," if my college Spanish can be trusted.)

Stay tuned.

January 25, 2008
Time warp again tonight


Every movie critic has a soft spot for a certain type of film, no matter what he or she might say to the contrary. I, for instance, am a sucker for films where men dress in drag.

Especially bad drag. A flowered dress and stubble equal hilarity for me, for reasons I probably don't want to investigate too thoroughly.

But I also appreciate good drag, and there's been none better than Tim Curry 's Dr. Frank-N-Furter in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."

One of my fondest memories from adolescence is of watching "Rocky Horror" for the first time at a midnight screening. Seeing Curry's sweet transvestite command the screen made the experience worthwhile despite the plumes of clove cigarette smoke and candy missiles that came dangerously close to my head.

"Rocky Horror" plays at 10 tonight as part of the Movies on a Big Screen series at 600 4th St. in West Sacramento. Admission is $6, and costumes are encouraged.

The evening of films starts at 7 p.m. with "Miss Gulag," a decidedly non-camp documentary about women prisoners in Siberia. Tickets are $5 for the earlier show.

For more information, click here.

January 25, 2008
Adrienne Bankert braves the elements


Alert the Peabody Awards committee.

Channel 3 traffic diva Adrienne Bankert recently made her first reporting foray to Blue Canyon.

It was unintentionally hilarious.

Here are some soundbites:

* "It's actually very fun. Snowflakes are actually coming down."

* "I can't believe (it), this is so exciting. This is cool."

* "When you come up here, you want to be prepared. I forgot my gloves, so 'Hi, I put my socks on my hands.'" (Giggles and waves to camera).

And, finally, her classic toss to Walt and Deirdre back in the studio:

* "Coming up in the next half hour, I'll show you what my mom packed for me to make sure I was well prepared."

January 25, 2008
Lisa Heyamoto style watch

Michael A. Jones/Sacramento Bee file, September 2007

The Bee's very own columnist, Lisa Heyamoto (pictured), shows up in the Up Front section of the February issue of Sacramento magazine. Lisa, a founding resident of 21Q, left the blog last fall to pursue a higher calling - to write a three-times-a-week, three-dot column for the metro section. (She also physically moved from the third floor of the newsroom to the second floor. But, I digress.)

Anyway, what fame now! The mag focuses (as well it should) on Lisa's personal style. I've known Lisa since she arrived in Sactown from Seattle two and a half years ago. And the mustard-yellow Stuart Weitzman shoes she wears for her Sac mag photo shoot are just the best. And you've got to appreciate a young woman for discovering the unique qualities of the mani-pedi and a good night's rest.

Now, about her desire to own a Marc Jacobs handbag...Are we working in the same industry? Just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something.

January 25, 2008
Dana Jacobson update: Salud!


This photo, shot during the infamous roast, has surfaced on the InterWebs and it explains a lot about why ex-News10 sportscaster (now with ESPN) Dana Jacobson went off on a profane tirade against Notre Dame and Catholics.

January 24, 2008
Fox40 morning news hires meteorologist


Hey, who's that new weather guesser on Fox40's morning show?

It's the show's brand new meteorologist, Rosemary Orozco, who joined the station last week after a seven-year stint at KEYT in Santa Barbara.

According to a Fox40 press release, Orozco (pictured) is a Citrus Heights native who graduated with a broadcast journalism degree from San Francisco State. While at the Santa Barbara station, she pretty much did it all - morning news anchor, meteorologist, reporter and guest host of the business report. (What, she didn't do sports, too?)

January 24, 2008
Dirk explains it all

Great segment on My58TV's morning show. Every Thursday, meteorologist Dirk Verdoorn answers a viewer weather question. Today's query: "What is rain?"

What captivated me most was the teacher-pupil vibe going on between Dirk and anchors Chris Riva and Adrienne Bankert. They all played their parts to perfection: Dirk the wise, somewhat condescending, professor; Bankert the smarty-pants A student who knows all the answers and tries to impress teacher; and Riva the deer-in-the-headlights slacker who came to class unprepared.


Dirk: "The water cycle. Are you familiar with that?"

Bankert: "I remember that."

(Riva: blank stare)

After Dirk explains it all, Bankert enthuses: "Looks just like what we saw in third grade."

Still later, Bankert gushed: "How do you know all this stuff?"

Riva, deadpanning: "He's a meteorologist."

January 24, 2008
Idol Chatter: Simon's fashion sense


I've been so fixated on the cast of zany characters during auditions for Season 7 of "American Idol" that I haven't paid that much attention to the panel of judges.

Plus, Randy, Paula and Simon (and host Ryan) are such show stalwarts, I don't really take note beyond what they say to the winners and losers. But local "Idol" viewer Debbie e-mailed me to register a fashion complaint:

"So, do you have any idea what's up with Simon's shirts? (pictured). He seems to own only two - plain white and charcoal gray. He seems to interchange the two frequently during the day. The (producers) may need to work on their editing. Simon is not consistent in his wardrobe, and it really bugs me. Randy and Paula each have one outfit for each (audition) day. Have you noticed?"

Well, Debbie, I fear I've become somewhat jaded to Mr. Cowell's simplistic wardrobe. I don't recall him wearing anything but jeans and T-shirts for past auditions and then slipping in one or two long-sleeved crew shirts once the show moves on to Hollywood and goes live. (I guess that's his formalwear.) He has gotten gussied up for the "Idol" finales.

You're right, though. Randy and Paula must have vastly larger wardrobes than Simon. I know Paula is a shoe-aholic!

Bottom fashion line: Simon marches - and dresses - to his own beat. But hey, my biggest issue with him is I want him to take that stupid pen out of his mouth!

January 24, 2008
Ex-KCRAer John Gibson makes light of Heath Ledger death on radio show


What is it about former Sacramento TV reporters making grossly inappropriate comments on national programs?

Wednesday, we told you about ESPN's Dana Jacobson (formerly of News10) being suspended for a profane rant against Notre Dame and, by extension, Catholics.

Now, it's Fox News' John Gibson (formerly at our own Channel 3), pushing poor taste to its limits with some awful comments about the death of actor Heath Ledger.

Gibson (pictured) jokes with colleague Tom Sullivan (another ex-Sac media type) that Ledger must have killed himself because of the stock-market tumble. Later, Gibson jokes that Ledger ended his life because he watched the Obama-Clinton debate.

An excerpt, courtesy of the blog "Think Progress", which streams some audio of Gibson's rant:

GIBSON: "Maybe he had a serious position in the market."

TOM SULLIVAN: "And possibly today, he looked at the window and said…"

GIBSON: “Oh my God.”

SULLIVAN: "His name’s not Keith Bledger, right?"

GIBSON: "He was depressed about yesterday’s downturn in the world stock markets."


UPDATE AT 10:23 A.M.: An alert reader points out two other ex-Sac media types who have made inappropraite on-air remarks: Rush Limbaugh and his "Monday Night Football" "black quarterback" comments, and Don Imus and his comments about the Rutgers' women's basketball team.

January 24, 2008
Idol Chatter: Did the South rise again?


One of the best things about Wednesday night's "American Idol" auditions in Charleston, S.C., was imagining myself on a warm beach instead of the damp, dank surroundings in Sac.

But the show proved something else: Gather together more than 10,000 people, and most of them can't sing a lick.

The scenery was pretty, but the crooning was anything but. The first three "acts" were, as judge Simon Cowell might say, "torturous." And there seemed to be a particular need to butcher Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood's songs. "Before He Cheats" took a vocal beating.

In all, only 23 yellow tickets to Hollywood were handed out. So, if you didn't set your DVR or you want to relive the evening, here's my recap:

* Most creative coif: Raysharde Henderson, 27, of Atlanta arrived with a perfect Afro, dubbing himself the next "black Clay Aiken." His version of "I Can't Make You Love Me" was, er, quite theatrical. Simon even quipped, "I wouldn't have been surprised if you had thrown a magic trick in the middle of that." Raysharde might have elicited the seaon's first "cruise ship cabaret" reference.

* Duo dos and dont's: Charleston saw its share of duets, including brother/sister Jefferey and Michelle Lampkin. He definitely had the "ow" factor, sporting a tie around his head. They sang "I'm Your Angel," and there was some discrepancy among the judges as to whether to let both through. (Michelle's voice was not as strong as her brother's.) But, Simon insisted they couldn't split the pair. On the flip side, Randy Stark, 27, of Abilene, Texas, and Crystal Ortiz, 26, of Raleigh, N.C., (boyfriend/girlfriend) only had love going for them. Their duet hurt everyone's ears, but I was impressed that Randy's expertise is in giving audition advice on an "Idol" message board.

* No means "No": Great montage of contestants getting the boot. Some seemed resigned to the rejection; others, like Aretha Codner, 22, of Buffalo, N.Y. (pictured), refused to accept their lack of talent. Aretha, named after "Aretha," sported a horrifying pale blue cocktail dress with an oversized silver belt. "I'm as good as Fantasia (Barrino) or any of the other 'Idols,' " she said, promptly murdering a Whitney Houston song. "But I have a beautiful voice," she whined. "I stop crowds." Judge Paula Abdul, never one to be too mean, told Aretha she "loved your confidence."

* A love/hate thing: I wished Air Force pilot Lindsey Goodman, 28, of Charleston could sing as well as she flies C-17s. She was genuinely nice. However, I completely agreed with Simon that Amy (Catherine) Flynn, 16, of Knoxville, Tenn., who made it through, will annoy the snot out of everyone. The captain of her high school dance team, Amy also preaches abstinence to other students. She even gave Simon a lecture on pre-marital sex! HAHHH! I personally didn't think her rendition of "Reflections" was anything to gloat about.

* Most likely to serve rather than sing: That would be DeAnna Prevatte, 26, of Albemarle, N.C., hometown of that Southern darling, Kellie Pickler from Season 5. Like Kellie (who worked at a Sonics), DeAnna waits tables at a restaurant where the patrons are aggressively hungry on Sundays. "It's all you can eat, and they (customers) run us to death. It's not a buffet," DeAnna complained. "Then they just leave you a dollar." DeAnna took out her frustration on a song called "Fancy," losing her dress straps and dropping to her knees at one point. Unlike Kellie, though, it was a "No" for DeAnna.

Of course, it wouldn't be "Idol" auditions without a schmaltzy ending story. And that would be Oliver Highman, 27, of Cornelius, N.C., who missed the first day of the auditions because his very pregnant wife, Allison, went into labor and delivered their daughter, Emma Grace. Not missing a beat, the new parents showed up on Day 2, newborn in tow. Oliver, who looked more like he should be selling insurance than singing, pulled a falsetto on the judges and was dubbed "corny and old-fashioned." But the baby was really, really cute.

We're heading down the audition stretch. On Tuesday (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40), the gang hits the heartland with a stop in Omaha, Neb. I'm not sure when it happens, but host Ryan Seacrest will become Judge Ryan, replacing Paula for part of the gig.

January 23, 2008
Some good news about Hollywood writers

My story on the Oscar nominations focused on the pictures and performances that made it into the best-picture and acting categories, along with those that were omitted. But some of the more interesting Oscar choices happened further down the line, in the screenwriting categories.

That's where Sarah Polley was recognized with a best adapted screenplay nomination for "Away From Her," and three women (Tamara Jenkins for "The Savages," Diablo Cody for "Juno," and Nancy Oliver for "Lars and the Real Girl") made the cut in the original-screenplay field.

This great showing by female screenwriters seems all the more exceptional in a broader Oscar field dominated by the male-centric "There Will Be Blood" and "No Country for Old Men."

Jenkins and Polley also directed their films, but women have famously been shut out of the directing category. In 80 years, there have been just three nominees (Sofia Coppola , Jane Campion and Lina Wertmuller) and 0 winners.

January 23, 2008
Giving Stockton bureau reporters their due

Jose Luis Villegas/Sacramento Bee file/Dec. 6, 2005

So I made a rather broad-brush generalization in a posting the other day about how all local TV reports about Stockton are crime-related.

I didn't mean it literally. (Though, during a sweeps period in November, 2006, I did count up the stories and 22 of the 29 about Stockton were about crime.)


Anyway, Tim Daly (pictured), News10's Stockton reporter, called me on my assertion and kindly sent me 15 recent non-crime stories that News10 has done from that lovely Central Valley metropolis. Here's Tim's list:

* Today, Stockton Arena (pictured, above), and Thunder hosting all-star game

* PG&E tree trimmers (as the big storm approached)

* Well-known Stockton doctor claiming successful Parkinson's Disease treatment

* Amtrak busier as gas prices increase

* Christmas donations to police for the needy

* Governor visits Stockton for foreclosure town hall

* Hot tub business adjusts to foreclosure climate - (fewer employees, fewer customers)

* New Sheraton Hotel opens downtown

* Toyota sued by local family in fatal traffic accident

* Effort to save downtown residential hotels

* Salvation Army giveaway

* Two kids offer free hugs, and put their efforts on YouTube

* Franklin High School recruiting scandal

* Franklin High School national essay award winner

* Point Break, a workshop for troubled teens

January 23, 2008
Dana Jacobson , suspended sportscaster, had Sacramento ties

Dana Jacobson BW.JPG
Dana in her Sacramento days...

...And Dana now at ESPN

The blogosphere is buzzing (OK, maybe it's a faint hum) with news about ESPN sportscaster Dana Jacobson's profane and sacrilegious tirade at a recent roast for colleagues "Mike & Mike" in Atlantic City.

Read the sordid details here.

You may recall, with the proper swell of civic, uh, pride, that Jacobson went to ESPN in October, 2002, after a stint as a sports anchor at our very own News10. She hosted a show called "The Red Zone." Now, she's just red-faced - and suspended from ESPN.

But at least Jacobson took responsibility for her remarks in her apology. Which is more than you can say about Channel 3 reporter Adrienne Bankert's "if I offended anybody..." apology after remarks about Jewish people.

Note to broadcasters: When it comes to religion, it's best to keep your thoughts to yourself.

January 23, 2008
AARP: Is 50 the new, er, 50?


A lot of things/people have been turning the big 5-0 recently. And at 21Q, we don't like discussing ages.

Nevertheless, I admit I've been hearing a lot lately from AARP, in particular its magazine, which also marks a golden anniversary this year. In honor of the momentous occasion, the publication devotes its January/February issue to famous faces who also are marking a 50th birthday, including Caroline Kennedy, who graces the cover.

So, do we really believe 50 is the new 50?

There also are six celebs who will turn 50 this year and who were quite willing to open up to AARP about what it feels like - or will soon feel like.

For example, Ellen DeGeneres will celebrate on Saturday as well as on her show, with some new dance moves. Actress Sharon Stone (March 10) is my kind of 50-something, adhering to a vigorous lifestyle of no exercise and lots of dark chocolate. And Michelle Pfeiffer (April 29) has given up smoking and taken on sunscreen.

Prince (June 7) is contributing to the fragrance world with 3121, and Viggo Mortensen, who on Tuesday received a Best Actor Oscar nomination, may be celebrating from Feb. 24 (when the Academy Awards are set to be handed out) all the way to his big day, Oct. 20.

And it does my heart good to know how great a woman can look at 50 when she has plenty of "people" to keep her going. Of course, that would be Madonna, who will mark the day on Aug. 16. AARP says the Material Girl is even contemplating a "Madonna at 50" tour.

Maybe I'll go and find out what all this yoga yakking is about.

The 50th anniversary issue of AARP is on newsstands now. No discounts for being old!

January 23, 2008
Idol Chatter: San Diego is so-so


The "American Idol" auditions Tuesday night in San Diego produced the most yellow tickets to Hollywood - 30 - but the show itself hit one too many sour notes as far as this fan is concerned.

It was only an hourlong show, but it left me thinking about shows to come, including the season finale of "The Real Housewives of Orange County." What does that tell you?

About 12,000 contestants showed up, and viewers were "treated" to a smattering of bad singers from Northern California, including one Christopher Mitchell, 19, of Citrus Heights, who was absolutely horrible!

Anyway, just in case you switched over to "The Biggest Loser," or just want to relive the moments, here's my recap of the show.

* Most endearing contestant: This one's easy, and it really wasn't the contestant, but his son. Perry Cataldo of Phoenix is a single father who brought his adorable kid with him. Mom died in 2005, so Perry has been going it alone. His little boy was allowed in the audition room after dad made it through to Hollywood.

* Worst Mariah moment: The honor goes to Valerie Reyes, 20, of Riverside, who was told by judge Simon Cowell that her Mariah CD "had been left out in the sun for a year." When will these folks learn the rules regarding Mariah, Whitney, et al.?

* Most 'that-creeped-me-out' moment: Contestant Samantha Musa, 20, of Baldwin Park, Ca., dragged her Simon-obsessed sister into her audition. While Samantha belted out a pretty decent Aretha Franklin song, the sister was perched on Simon's lap! She even got to vote (natch), making it four "yeses" to send Samantha on to Hollywood. Yuck!

* Most memorable moments: I liked the Aussie Michael Johns, 28, who now croons in L.A. Simon likened him to a "white soul singer." And then there was young David Archuleta, 16, from Utah, who had suffered some form of vocal paralysis, but pulled off a great audition, with Randy Jackson singing with him.

* Most embarrassing moment: Christopher Baker (pictured), 22, of San Diego couldn't get over the fact that the judges just didn't like him. Changing songs didn't help. At one point, Simon put it bluntly: "You and I are listening to two different things."

* Most worthy show stopper: "Idol" always saves either a freak or a swan song for the final audition. In San Diego, it was Carly Smithson, 23, who originally is from Ireland. She auditioned for Season 5 (in Las Vegas with eventual winner Taylor Hicks) and earned a ticket to Hollywood. Alas, Carly's visa didn't come through in time and she was disqualified. This audition, in which she sang "I'm Every Woman," took about five seconds before she got another ticket - and another chance.

Tonight (at 8 on Channel 40), the auditions move back to the East Coast and lovely Charleston, S.C. Prepare for some "drawling" and, if we're lucky, some decent singing.

January 23, 2008
Callison, Krasny team up Thursday on the radio


Northern California's two erudite radio talk show hosts, KXJZ's Jeffrey Callison (left) and KQED's Michael Krasny, will put their heads together (will there be room enough in the studio?) Thursday as cohosts of a public radio political forum, "Primary Concerns: California Speaks Up," from 9 to 11 a.m. on both stations.

The forum, a joint effort by Sacramento and San Francisco's NPR affiliates, along with KPCC and KPBS in SoCal, will include a panel of experts and listener call-ins. Callison and Krasny's topic will be the economy, specifically health care.

The second hour, broadcast from down south, will deal with immigration and foreign policy.

January 22, 2008
Friday's Shaun Slaughter goodbye party is on the move

Just got word that Friday night's Shaun Slaughter good-bye party that I told you about in today's Coming Distractions column is in search of a new home.

The festivities were supposed to take place at the Townhouse, but apparantly the Townhouse was forced to shut down late last week and now there's no word on when it may re-open.

Oh, also - not sure why the midtown venue's been shuttered. Working on that one, but if anyone has any info, please give a holler.

In the meantime, Slaughter and company are hustling to find a new spot. Stay tuned for details or visit Shaun's MySpace Page for updates.

January 22, 2008
Death by...cholesterol?


A tip o' the (chef's) hat to Fox40 for giving us a story from Stockton that doesn't involve crime.

The aptly named Fat's Grill and Bar recently made the largest cheeseburger in California, weighing in at 220 pounds and featuring 480 cheese slices. (Check out the story here.)

Wait! This might be a crime story, after all. That cheeseburger is murder on a guy's cholesterol level.

January 22, 2008
Public radio pledge choice: environment, caffeine or jazz?

tree.jpg peets.jpg dbrubeck.jpg

Take this as a warning advance notice: Capital Public Radio is starting its winter pledge drive on Friday.

There are the usual array of bribes"thank you" gifts. But a new twist this year is that our NPR affiliate is jumping on the green bandwagon.

If you pledge $60, you can get a tree planted in your name as part of the Boca Fire Restoration Project in Tahoe National Forest.

If you'd rather have that Peets gift certificate or Dave Brubeck DVD, click here.

January 21, 2008
KFBK hires New York's Ed Crane as new morning anchor

Ed Crane.jpg

News-talk radio station KFBK (1530 AM), which for several months has been auditioning a bevy of possible replacements on the morning news for soon-departing Kelly Brothers, has made a hire.

Ed Crane (pictured), a veteran of CBS radio since 1982 and currently an anchor and reporter for WCBS-AM in New York, will join KFBK as Amy Lewis' morning news cohost on Feb. 11. (Brothers' last day is Feb. 8.)

"I'm thrilled Ed has agreed to join KFBK," said Alan Eisenson, KFBK's operations manager, in a prepared statement. "He's a talented, seasoned, experienced journalist with a big personality."

Crane has worked in both television and radio throughout his career. Among his previous jobs: a reporter for "CBS Marketwatch" and anchor on CBS' program "Up to the Minute," both on television. On radio, Crane has anchored hourly news updates for the CBS network out of New York.

Brothers, who has been at KFBK for four years, recently replaced Tom Sullivan as Channel 3's business anchor. He will continue to give business updates in the mornings and afternoons on KFBK.

January 21, 2008
Oscar wishes

hirsch2 amyadams1

As I track the Academy Award nominations early Tuesday morning, I will be rooting for a few things. First: a settlement of the writers' strike in time for the Feb. 24 Oscar ceremony to go off without a hitch.

Secondly, I hope two performers currently on the bubble will be nominated: Emile Hirsch in "Into the Wild" and Amy Adams in "Enchanted."

I'm also hoping the Academy will announce that Philip Seymour Hoffman will get a special Oscar for giving three terrific performances in one year - in "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," "The Savages" and "Charlie Wilson's War."

The Hoffman thing is unlikely, sure, but this has been a wacky awards season. Before last Sunday night, I never dreamed I would one day hear the esteemed film scholar Billy Bush question the quality of Cate Blanchett 's performance in "I'm Not There."

It's a whole new world.

January 21, 2008
Idol Chatter: 107.9 is my 'Idol'


As we head into Week 2 of "American Idol," Season 7, it's occurred to me that maybe no one is more invested in the show than me.

That, despite the fact that more than 75 million other viewers tuned in for the two audition shows, which took place in Philadelphia and Dallas, respectively.

But, just when I felt sooo alone, I got an e-mail from Jason Barsky (pictured), host of the local "Wake Up Call" on 107.9 The End, which proves that I'm not the only Sacramento "Idol" geek.

Jason wrote to say that he agreed with me that "AI" contestant Renaldo Lapuz and his original "Brothers" anthem (sung at the Dallas audition) might earn him the same kind of "fame" as "She Banger" William Hung.

"Was it kind of ridiculous? Yes. That is a typical theme of our (radio) show," Jason says. "We typically spend a lot of time talking about 'American Idol.' "

In fact, just last week, Jason and crew interviewed ousted contestant Pauley Nipple, who crooned that "stalker" song to judge Paula Abdul. Keep in mind that, because the auditions actually happened last August/September, folks like Jason have had plenty of time to set up interviews with the, er, losers.

"Pauley was pretty outrageous," Jason says in his e-mail. "He seemed like a pretty good guy. His personal Web site,, actually has some very funny content on it."

Jason warns, however, not to view the site with the kiddies around.

On Tuesday night (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40), "American Idol" broadcasts its only West Coast stop - in San Diego. Socal is a relatively quick Southwest flight from Sactown - might we see someone local make it through to Hollywood?

I'll be watching! Jason, too. Tune in to the "Wake Up Call" to see if he and the gang continue to agree with the 21Q assessment of "Idol."

January 21, 2008
Now this is just plain freaky


cody eyes.jpg

It's from "Good Day Sacramento," naturally.

Click here, if you dare.

January 18, 2008
Carla Meyer's Movie Picks

In today's Weekend Ticket, I review movies opening this week. But if you're interested in other options, here are my recommendations for previously released films:

3 stars
Pregnant at 16, Juno (Ellen Page) is fortunate enough to have understanding, if also quietly horrified, parents. Her stepmother (Allison Janney) guides the girl through her pregnancy while reminding her that she’s not as grown-up as she thinks she is.
Rated PG-13


The Orphanage
3 stars
Belén Rueda ’s (pictured) performance engenders sympathy well before the most disturbing scenes begin. Her character’s love for her son radiates from the moment Rueda and her angelic-looking co-star (Roger Princép) first share a scene.
Rated R

There Will Be Blood
3 1/2 stars
Director Paul Thomas Anderson emphasizes the rope-and-pulley mechanics and constant physical dangers (punctuated by Jonny Greenwood ’s provocatively jagged score) of oil man Daniel Plainview ’s (Daniel Day-Lewis) endeavors. It’s a rare man who can go from silver mining to wildcatting and not just survive, but thrive. But Plainview is extraordinarily resilient and determined.
Rated R

January 18, 2008
Overuse syndrome: A dreaded media disease

Jon Stewart (great to have him back) did a funny riff on the penchant of TV talking heads to use the cliche, "Take the gloves off," when talking about the Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama smackdown.

Note to all media types: People spend time compiling lists of overused words, and many are perpetuated by our TV news friends. For instance, Lake Superior State University is doing an ongoing "banished words" blog.

Here's one example:

EMOTIONAL – “Reporters, short on vocabulary, often describe a scene as ‘emotional.’ Well sure, but which emotion? For a radio reporter to gravely announce, ‘There was an emotional send-off to Joe Blow’ tells me nothing, other than the reporter perceived that the participants acted in an emotional way. For instance: I had an emotional day today. I started out feeling tired and a bit grumpy until I had my coffee. I was distraught over a cat killing a bird on the other side of the street. I was bemused by my reaction to the way nature works. I was intrigued this evening to add a word or two to your suggestions. I was happy to see the words that others had posted. Gosh, this has been an emotional day for me.”
January 18, 2008
Five for Friday


It's a sunny Friday, and I've got weekend fever. This one's gonna be a good one - there are places to go, people to see, songs to hear. Here are a few things on my to-do list:

1. "Sonic Youth: Sleeping Nights Awake"
This new documentary, which airs tonight in West Sacramento as part of the Movies on a Big Screen series, shows the legendary noise-pop band (pictured) playing a 2006 show in Reno.

The flick was shot by seven high school kids who made the film as part of Project Moonshine, a nonprofit group aimed at teaching documentary filmmaking to students.

The screening takes place at 600 4th St. in West Sacramento. Show time is 7 p.m. and it costs $5 at the door.

2. Knock Knock, Them Hills, Radermacher, Death to Anders at Old Ironsides
I know I already mentioned this show in my Coming Distractions column, but I just can't stop listening to the new Knock Knock album, "Girls on the Run." The local band's second full-length is just pure pop goodness - it really reminds me of another fave, Imperial Teen. Think boy-girl harmonies and killer hooks.

The 21-and-over show is a CD release for the band, so bring your money and be prepared to throw down. Starts at 9 p.m. and admission is $7 at the door.

3. The Cassidy's: "Girlfriend in a Coma"
The local band does a really sweet, kind of trippy, take on the Smiths classic. You can listen over at the band's MySpace page.

4. Concordia / Discordia T-shirts
Local artists Graciela Guardado and Richard St.Ofle - a.k.a. Concordia / Discordia - just made up some awesome new T-shirts (pictured) and you can snap them up at Olipom (1115 21st St.).

They're $18 each - a low, low price for such stylishness. Call ahead to Olipom at (916) 442.4470 to make sure they have your size in stock or visit the Concordia / Discordia MySpace page for more information.

5. Chelsea Wolfe: Last Days of Summer Sessions CD Release Party at the True Love Coffeehouse
The beguiling singer-songwriter celebrates the release of a CD with a name that makes us long for iced teas and flip-flops. Also on hand: Jay Shaner, Bobby Jordan, Noah Nelson and all those yummy True Love coffee drinks.

Show starts at 9 p.m. and is all-ages. The True Love is located at 2315 K St. For more info, go here.

January 18, 2008
Don't play games with hair


One of my biggest concerns about the impending sports-filled weekend is that sports "widows," who have no interest in basketball, football or any ball for that matter, will wander into their favorite supermarket or drugstore and start perusing the hair-care aisle, possibly for something to do while their significant others are glued to the tube and a tub of wings.

OK, I'm all for hair color - no one loves it more than me. That said - unless you're a home hair-color pro, or you have "virgin" hair, i.e., you've never had any color applied to your hair - picking up a box and locking yourself in the bathroom to avoid the gridiron is not generally a good idea.

What can happen? Well, the color on the box might not end up being the color on your head. In other words, you might have a color disaster on your hands, er, hair.

Most local salons are closed Monday (it's also a holiday), so you could be stuck with a bad dye job and no recourse until Tuesday. That's when you could end up floating a loan to pay for a color correction - some salons charge as much as $100 or more an hour!

For all that trouble, you could pick up two or three fashion magazines at the store instead and sift through them for hair-color ideas. All the spring looks are starting to appear, and this way, you won't have any hair regrets Sunday night.

January 17, 2008
Even more new faces at Channel 13


Well, it's been a while since we've checked in on that revolving reportorial door at Channel 13. Since our last posts (Taryn Winter Brill and Rafer Weigel leaving), we need to look at the new faces recently on the scene.

* Laura Cole (pictured), a general assignment reporter who came from Columbus, Ohio.

* Andrea Menniti, a general assignment reporter who spent two years in Salinas.

* Andrew Luria, a sports anchor who was a morning news anchor in Santa Barbara.

Man, it must be hell to work in HR at that station, with all the comings and goings and recitations of benefits packages for the arrivals and COBRA plans for the departures.

January 17, 2008
Idol Chatter: Big 'D,' little talent


Day 2 of the Season 7 "American Idol" auditions landed us - and the contestants - deep in the heart of Texas, specifically Dallas, Wednesday night. And it didn't take long to grow weary of the phrase, "Everything's bigger in Texas!"

Of course, there were also the incessant references (both in dialogue and song choice, particularly the annoying "Never Again") to Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson, who hails from Burleson, Texas, but made it through from Big D.

And, unless I heard it wrong, only 13,000 showed up for this cattle call, including a former meth addict, Jessica Brown, 24, of Longview, Texas, who is now a cleaned-up mother of two. She did well enough to make it through to Hollywood, even though we might have heard our first "pitchy" critique from judge Randy Jackson.

At least Jessica's past won't come back to bite her when they do the background checks. There's nothing left to tell.

Meanwhile, from Sweetwater to Grand Prairie to Killeen, contestants tried to snag a yellow ticket, many of them warbling so badly I was losing my sense of humor. There were some high notes, particularly from (natch) the country music stylings.

Anyway, for those of you who want to re-live the auditions - or happened to miss the show - here's my recap:

* Most likely to like herself: Alaina Whitaker of Tulsa, Okla., was quick to make the comparison between herself and Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood. "I look like her, sound like her, but with a wider range," she announced. The judges let her through, but Simon Cowell was quick to quip, "I don't think you're as good as you think you are."

* Most sheltered contestant: Yikes, that would have to be Bruce Dickson, 19, who showed up with his father - both of them wearing necklaces that made reference to young Bruce's confession that he had never been kissed. (Think back to Tuesday and Brooke White, who had never seen an R-rated movie.) Bruce says he has the "key" part of the necklace, which fits into the "heart" part his dad wears. When he meets his future wife, then he'll give her the heart - and seal the deal with a kiss. OK ....

But, I digress. We'll probably never know if Bruce ever locks lips with anyone. He can't sing (and was advised by the judges to kiss some girls).

* Most enthusiastic "Ks": That would be Kayla Hatfield, 24, of Campbell, Texas, who was just happy to be there, given a bad car accident that almost killed her. And there was Kady Malloy, 18, of Houston, whose Britney Spears impersonation was dead-on. She also can sing on her own. Both got through.

* Most gross. Period: Hands down, Brandon Green, 21, from somewhere in Mississippi. He revealed to the world that he saves his peeled fingernails, even showing a Ziploc bag to host Ryan Seacrest, who reeled at the collection. Somehow, it came down to judge Paula Abdul, who thought Brandon's "Rich Girl" rendition merited a trip to Hollywood.

* Most worthy of our votes: The very Bill Gates -esque Kyle Ensley, 21, a student at Oklahoma State University, who wants to be governor and, oh, by the way, the next "American Idol." His version of "Somebody To Love" (the Queen cover) reminded Randy of a glee club or some frat boys' choir, but Simon and Paula found Kyle endearing. Me, too.

* Most likely to succeed: Nina Shaw, 24, of Burleson (Kelly's hometown) and Pia Easley, also 24, of Chicago. You might be looking at two Top 24 candidates.

* Most disturbing. Seriously: Douglas Davidson, 27, of Austin, demonstrated an odd warm-up ritual a la Christina Aguillera, and then proceeded to sweat profusely and wander aimlessly in circles. His "Livin' on a Prayer" left Simon wondering, "What the bloody hell was that?" Indeed.

* Most endearing contestant: He didn't make it to Hollywood, but Reynaldo Lapuz (pictured) of Reno showed up in a Sir Walter Raleigh get-up (silver lame cape, white hat and suit) and performed an original song, "We're Brothers Forever," which he sang to Simon. Eventually, the chorus, infectious as it was, took over with Randy and Ryan joining Reynaldo, and Paula "signing" the lyrics for the hearing impaired. Remember, you heard it here - maybe first. Someone, somewhere will turn this guy into the next William Hung.

All in all, 24 tickets to Hollywood were handed out Wednesday night. "Idol" returns Tuesday (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40), where the gang lands in Sea World, er, San Diego.

January 16, 2008
Who says college students don't care about news - er, newz

A new Web site,, officially launches on Monday. It's a news program especially designed for college students, and we've snagged a preview of one of the "top stories" - a disquisition on the size of dorm beds.

It seems several colleges are replacing twin beds with doubles.

Says the news reader: "The extra mattress real estate doesn't just make hooking up easier; it also meets a different need - the literal growing student population. Studies show college kids are fatter than ever before."

Oh, so that's the Web site's demographic - husky, randy undergrads.

Here's the local angle: already is available on large LCD screens in "high traffic areas" on the campus of UC Davis.

January 16, 2008
TV reporters get Pauled (er, mauled) at Clinton event



We usually don't pity TV reporters, but our hearts went out to Fox40's Teri Cox and Channel 13's Koula Gianulias for getting Ron Pauled while doing live stand-ups Tuesday night outside the UC Davis Pavilion, where President Bill Clinton was stumping for his better half.

Then again, no one forced Cox and Gianulias to set up in front of the fervent Paul supporters. News10's Dana Howard, old pro that he is, wisely chose to do his stand-up far from the madding crowd.

January 16, 2008
Idol Chatter: What happens in Philly...


Opening night of "American Idol", Season 7, had the usual bag of tricks: freaks, geeks, overly confident bad singers and, hey, even a few melodic voices thrown in for good measure.

What I couldn't believe? That more than 100,000 hopefuls showed up in Philadelphia for a shot at the crown! Now, only a smattering of those got through to the three judges over the course of two days. But still, 100,000?

Despite the turnout, viewers didn't quite turn out as anticipated. According to the Associated Press, an estimated 33.2 million tuned in to Tuesday night's debut - 4 million less than last season. Nevertheless, juggernaut that it is, "American Idol" was still the most-watched show of the TV season -
excluding sports, of course.

The show played out pretty much like it always does, opening with a success story - Joey Catalano - who lost a ton of weight but gained a yellow ticket to Hollywood with a pretty good Maroon 5 cover.

After him, things got a little hairy, literally, and a little uncomfortable. For those who missed it - or just want to re-live it - here's my recap:

* Most embarrassing: Tour guide James Lewis, whose "Go Down Moses" was laughed off by judges Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul. Simon Cowell managed to chew on a pen most of the time.

* Most sincere flop: Temptress Browne, 16, who auditioned while her sick mother waited outside the audition room with the rest of the family. Temptress couldn't handle her Jennifer Hudson song and was reduced to tears. In what seemed like a genuine act of kindness, the three judges dried her tears, gave her a group hug and walked her out to her family, telling them "what a beautiful daughter they had raised."

* Most wacky: Easy. Dubbed "Philly's scariest woman," Alexis Cohen, 23, was glittery and reeked of incense (according to host Ryan Seacrest). Other than being a lot left of center, Alexis got through her rendition of "Somebody To Love" and left with the suggestion that she join a '60s cover band. OK. But, somewhere between getting the boot and being shown the door, Alexis lost it - dropping F-bombs, flipping fingers, attempting an illegal mooning, and vowing to "go for actressing" after her failed attempt at singing.

* Most hair-raising: Hands - and hair - down, it was Ben Haar (pictured), who showed up in a fur cape with some sort of Princess Leia, sultan-like get-up underneath. Instead of just having him go home with some dignity, Paula suggested Ben leave, have his chest hair waxed and come back. So, of course, viewers had to see the hair removal (ouch!) and Ben's return, hairless, but with a body that was – shall we say? - a tad over-exposed to the American public.

* Most likely to win: There were several. I liked Kristy Lee Cook (horse trainer, martial arts guru) from Selma, Ore., and Chris Watson, 20, of Dover, Del. He sang "Follow Me" and easily could have been just as successful on that other reality show, "Make Me a Supermodel."

Out of the whole lot, only 29 contestants made it through to Hollywood, not including any of the "Star Wars" types. Next up? Tonight, "Idol" takes the audition bus to Dallas. I'm sure there will be plenty of bull to go around. Maybe even some more talent. Tune in at 8 on Channel 40.

Your thoughts? Send them to 21Q!

January 15, 2008
The saga of Daisy the dog strikes again


Deo Ferrer/Woodland Daily Democrat

What is it about Daisy (pictured) - the dog working with the Yolo County District Attorney to help victims of child sexual abuse - that makes the media use some questionable judgments?

First, we had the Woodland Daily Democrat setting up a photo (a la William Wegman) that made it appear like the dog was half-human and could take notes. A little flippant for a serious story on child abuse.

Now, we get News10 doing a fine report by Deborah Hoffman. But the anchor banter by Dale Schornack was of questionable taste.

After Dale and co-anchor Cristina Mendonsa talked about how cute and furry Daisy is, Schornack added: "Almost makes you want to get busted in Yolo County, doesn't it?"

Busted for child sexual abuse? Uh, no, Dale, it doesn't.

Then, a look of horror crossed Schornack's face as he realized what he had said. He quickly added: "Well, sort of."

Uh huh.

January 15, 2008
Idol Chatter: Are you 'Idoling?'


I sure am! Can you believe it's been almost eight months since "American Idol" dropped the curtain on Season 6? And, I must say, I agree with most of the stuff I've been reading from various media sources: This had better be a much-improved version over last year.

I don't want to be sitting here in March or April with another Sanjaya Malakar on my hands, uh, ears. But, according to judge Simon Cowell, whom I spoke with last week on a conference call, viewers can expect a more talented cast of characters.

At least by the Top 12.

Simon, of course, didn't say that the audition shows - which start tonight with the round from Philadelphia (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40) and then continues Tuesday from the one in Dallas - wouldn't have the usual weirdos, including one Pauley Nipple (pictured, and I couldn't make up that name) from New Hope, Pa., who apparently auditions - complete with chest hair showing! - with a love song written just for judge Paula Abdul.

Now, that's always a bad idea, no matter the season.

And, even though he doesn't really appreciate crying jags, Simon says that "tears on 'American Idol' don't do contestants any harm." Hey, just like with political candidates.

I'm hoping enough fans will dive in from the get-go, so we can keep some "Idol Chatter" going here at 21Q. I'll be posting as the show progresses with my thoughts on the talent level, the silliest moments, who Ryan Seacrest hits on, etc. Join the fracas - early and often!

January 14, 2008
Voting booth/ticket booth - Tuesday night

To think that every vote actually counts - whether in a national election or for one's favorite "American Idol" contestant - is naive in this computer age. Still, the degree to which votes might not have been counted in presidential and congressional elections is almost too scary to contemplate.

The documentary "Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections" maps out a case for electronic-voting errors, combined with too-long lines and a few dirty tricks, helping to skew the 2004 election in favor of George W. Bush. But lest the film seems too partisan or sore-loser-ish, it also notes that problems persisted in the 2006 election dominated by the Democrats.

Most of all, David Earnhardt's s film sets out to be a wake-up call for voters to become more aware of problems associated with the elections process and to help work for change in 2008.

Prospective activists can start their campaign Tuesday evening by watching "Uncounted" at the Crest Theatre, 1013 K St. Earnhardt will be in attendance and will answer questions from the audience.

The film will play twice - at 5:30 and 8 p.m. For tickets ($10; $8.50 seniors and students), visit the Crest box office, call (800) 225-2277 or click here.

January 14, 2008
Emphasis on the globe with these Globes


Perhaps it was the stripping down that made it so noticeable, but the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (composed of journalists from other countries who cover Hollywood) seemed to skew especially foreign in awarding its movie Golden Globes Sunday night.

"Atonement" and "Sweeney Todd", winners for best drama and musical/comedy, respectively, take place in London. Best dramatic actor Daniel Day-Lewis and actress Julie Christie both are British, and best musical/comedy actress Marion Cotillard, who completely embodied Edith Piaf in "La Vie en Rose," couldn't be more French.

Javier Bardem and Cate Blanchett, winners for supporting acting, hail from Spain and Australia, respectively. Best director Julian Schnabel is American, but his film, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," is French-language.

So, what does it all mean? Is there some sort of anti-American sentiment going on here? Hardly. Much of "our" greatest talent comes from elsewhere, and has for a long time, partly because actors from other countries tend to go to drama school.

Now post-Globes, the most exciting race for an Oscar (the nominations for which will be announced Jan. 22) is shaping up in the supporting-actress category - between Blanchett, for her gender-bending performance as Bob Dylan in "I'm Not There," and Amy Ryan, for her daring turn as the borderline-unsympathetic mother of a missing girl in "Gone Baby Gone."

The academy, like the HFPA, likes Blanchett a lot, and for good reason. But it should be noted that Broadway veteran and early awards-season favorite Ryan is an Anerican who went to drama school. Or at least to New York City's famed High School of the Performing Arts, which is close enough.

January 14, 2008
An affair from afar

Associated Press

Her sister basically refers to Carla Bruni as a "man masher." If you haven't caught up with this l'affaire du jour, the brouhaha focuses on French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his girlfriend - supermodel-turned-singer (right!) Carla, whom he's been spotted squiring around the world to exotic destinations while his country's economy supposedly is in the bidet.

From a modeling perspective, Bruni was always a force to be reckoned with on the catwalk. Let's face it, she's a handful no matter who's handling her!

This morning, on the "Today" show, the romance between Bruni and Sarkozy was good breakfast tabloid fodder. There's the two of them, arm in arm, near the pyramids in Egypt, walking through the ruins in Jordan, etc. Word on the street is that he's been invited to Buckingham Palace in March. And you know what that means: separate boudoirs while the queen is watching.

So, will Sarkozy make an honest woman of Bruni? Or will she eat him up and spit him out a la Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger?

Now, I ask you: Why can't we get good stuff like this on the Sacramento political scene? Budget smudget, it'd put us on the global love map!

January 14, 2008
Tune in Tuesday to hear a radio legend


I don't usually shamelessly shill for my Tuesday "Media Savvy" columns here on 21Q. But, I'm making an exception in this case because it's a Q&A with radio and TV legend Daniel Schorr, 91 (pictured).

Not only will you be able to read Schorr's thoughts on the state of the media world (hint: kinda bleak), but you'll also be able to hear the entire interview. Yup, I've succumbed and done a podcast. (After hearing my voice, you'll know why I chose print as my medium.)

Anyway, here's a taste of vintage Schorr from my interview:

Q: You talk in one of the commentaries about how, in TV, visuals dominate content. Is that troubling?

A: In many of the (reports) I did for CBS and CNN, you had to read the teleprompter, got to get the right shade of Max Factor to put on. You got to go out and stand on a street corner to say it because saying it in the studio doesn’t look exciting enough. Here (at NPR), I can do it just sitting down. Let me tell you, you may someday know that when you reach that age, sitting down is wonderful.

As if to illustrate Schorr's point about the importance of makeup in TV news, here's a YouTube clip of a MSNBC anchor's lipstick slip (coming at about the 30-second mark):

January 11, 2008
Few surprises in local radio ratings

Jose Luis Villegas/Sacramento Bee file, June 2002

There were only a few mild surprises in the Arbitron fall ratings for Sacramento radio stations, released this afternoon. Read the raw data for the 12-plus age category here.

(Note: Arbitron does not release specific demographic breakdowns to the media.)

Or, if you just want the executive summary, don't click off. We'll tell you all you need to know:

* And, in other news, the sun rose in the East: News-talk KFBK (1530 AM) once again finished in first place, with a 7.6 rating - down a blip from its 7.8 number in the summer book.

* Are you ready to rawwwwk?: It was a bountiful book for 98 Rock (KRXQ, 98.5 FM), led by morning team Rob, Arnie and Dawn (pictured). It jumped from ninth place in the summer ratings period to second place in the fall, with a 5.0 rating.

* "Right" talk makes a big jump: KSTE (650 AM), the conservative chat station, went from 11th to 4th this time around. It'll be interesting to see where it lands in the next ratings book (due May 6), after the ousting of local talker Phil Cowan.

* And now for the bad news: Soft-rock Mix 96 (KYMX 96.1 FM) fell from third to ninth, and country radio giant KNCI (105.1 FM) dropped from eighth to 10th.

January 11, 2008
Carla Meyer's Movie Picks

In today's Weekend Ticket, I review movies opening this week. But, if you're interested in other options, here are my recommendations for previously released films:

The Great Debaters

3 stars
Showing a flair for period detail and – just as he did in his equally fine first directorial effort, “Antwone Fisher” – a gift for directing young people, Denzel Washington quickly establishes the rarefied atmosphere within a small African American college in 1930s Texas. When the picture moves outside the school and into the Jim Crow South, the contrast shocks and saddens.
Rated PG-13

3 stars
Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) disquiets adults with frank descriptions of her pregnancy. She incorporates tired phrases like “kick this old school” into her vocabulary, perhaps quasi-ironically, perhaps not. She’s trying these phrases out. She’s trying a lot of things out.
Rated PG-13

The Orphanage
3 stars
The cinematography in this Spanish horror film is evocative, but the greatest visual asset is actress Belén Rueda’s face. Throughout what will be an ordeal for the family at the center of the film, Rueda always imparts her character’s physical and emotional duress. Sometimes, her face reveals more than the action occurring on screen.
Rated R

January 11, 2008
Mark S. Allen's film criticism gains national attention

"Underdog," Mark S. Allen-approved

Can't you just feel the swell of civic pride when an alert reader pointed out to 21Q that Sacramento movie critic Mark S. Allen of Channel 31's "Good Day Sacramento" made a Top 10 list for 2007 on the widely read Internet site,

What's that? You mean it was a list of the worst critics, the ones who shill for studio movies, no matter their cinematic worth?

Oh, sorry.

Here's what Erik Childress, the journalist who authored the list, had to say about Allen, who checks in at No. 6:

(Allen) recommend(ed) the blasphemous Underdog with his own brand of rhyme and one of the worst-reviewed films of the year, Premonition, (140-of-152 negative at Rotten Tomatoes).

( is a site that aggregates reviews from media outlets around the country. "Underdog," for instance, garnered 48-of-56 awful reviews.)

Here are some of the blurbs attributed to Allen that highlights to justify his inclusion on the list:

* "Funny, thoughtful and the most heart-felt movie you’ll see this season!" (P.S. I Love You)

* "Outstanding!" (Enchanted)

* "Exciting! Spectacular! Funny…and absolutely breathtaking from beginning to end!" (Meet the Robinsons)

* "One of the most original animated films ever." (Surf’s Up)

* "Awesome fun for thy whole family! Elephant sized laughs! Divine! Thou shalt laugh a lot!" (Evan Almighty)

* "See this movie, do not fail! You will leave with a wagging tail!" (Underdog)

January 10, 2008
Geographically incorrect


Any time Sacramento gets mentioned in a movie, I get a kick out of it. But there's nothing like a cinematic shout-out to my hometown, Bakersfield (actually, nearby Shafter). Especially one that's not derogatory.

So I appreciate the even, unbiased tone of Paul Dano's preacher character in mentioning Bakersfield in "There Will Be Blood," which opens Friday.

The only problem is that he talks about taking his ministry to Oildale and Taft, "then on to Bakersfield." Oildale is next to Bakersfield. Taft is about 30 miles away, making for an inefficient trip.

Let's just hope this horrendous gaffe doesn't hurt the film's Oscar chances.

You can read my review of "There Will Be Blood" in Friday's Weekend Ticket section.

January 10, 2008
'Monster' set to attack the Crest on Friday night


Honestly, I don't know if there's anything scarier than last Friday's bone-chilling, fence-killing, power-defying winds, but here's a little something that might come close:

This Friday, the Trash Film Orgy people bring you "The Monster From Bikini Beach." The campy horror film is a throwback to all those fun '50s and '60s-era exploitation flicks and features a ton of familiar faces, including Sacto expat Amber Kloss and RetroCrush blogger Robert Berry.

The film's plot is about what happens...oh, come on, do I really need to explain?

Monsters. Bikinis. A Beach.

You get the picture. Or, rather, you should, Friday night at the Crest (1013 K St.).

Show time is 9:30 p.m and tickets are $5.50 at the box office. This is a one-night only thing, kids - you snooze, you lose.

A word of warning: "Monster From Bikini Beach" is unrated, but we've got word that there's some, um, bare flesh on the screen. So you might want to keep the little ones at home - just sayin'.

Visit the "Monster's" MySpace page for more info or to check out the film's trailer.

January 10, 2008
Catwalk contest


Are we ready for yet another reality show about models?

You bet!

The latest comes to us from Bravo: "Make Me a Supermodel" (at 10 p.m. Thursdays.) The hosts are super-duper models themselves, Niki Taylor and Tyson Beckford (pictured), who showed up this morning on "Today" to promote their show.

Hey, I picked up on a trend. Camel hair - big!

But, I digress.

Anyway, the reality show will have 14 wannabe models competing - seven men and seven women. Bravo viewers can help by voting on their favs - a la "American Idol" - during "Supermodel's" 12-week run.

On Bravo's Web site, the term "naked ambition" pops up in a description of the show. Also, as has been my expierence with models, they're quick-change artists, so don't be surprised if you see a little skin. Not much, just a little.

Host Taylor says the show won't be about catfights ("They won't be arguing over Red Bulls"), but will be about catwalk challenges. And, of course, what would a reality show be if it didn't include an exploration of friendships and romance, as the Web site says?

The 14 will compete for $100,000 and a modeling contract with New York Model Management (Think: Elle Macpherson.)

Buckle up - sounds like a wild ride!

January 10, 2008
A uniquely Davis problem


This post has nothing to do with local media, but indulge me.

I've got to share a "moment" that happened to me Wednesday night in my humble adopted hometown, the People's Republic of Davis.

Near dusk, in the gathering dark, I pulled into the parking lot of the Davis Food Co-Op to pick up some tempeh (my eldest son's decided to become a vegetarian). The place was pretty full, so I found a spot for my powder blue Toyota Prius somewhere in the middle of the lot.

When I emerged with my groceries a few minutes later, I walked toward my Prius.

But, wait!

It wasn't my powder blue Prius.

I looked around and there were four - count 'em - four identical blue Prius' in the parking lot. (And that's not counting the white Prius and the gold Prius also around.) I tried the first door. Oops, not mine. Then a second.

The third time was the charm and I was on my way home, thinking about the odd form of conformity in my notorious noncomformist town.

January 9, 2008
Ah, so this is Channel 13's strategy


Channel 13 morning new anchor Chris Burrous will be the guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Public Relations Society of America, Sacramento chapter, on Jan. 24.

But - all due respect to Burrous - that's not the interesting part. Here's what the organization sent to members concerning the subject of his talk:

Chris Burrous, anchor and executive producer of the CBS-13 Morning News, will reveal the secrets. We'll also learn how his team has managed to successfully - and purposefully - driven away some viewers, why that's good for KOVR and how you can benefit from reaching a more targeted audience. CBS-13 Morning News continues to climb in the ratings locally, and has received national attention for its ruthlessly efficient effort at building a show watched by only the most attractive demographic.

Two things:

1) Driving away people as a strategy? Why hasn't anyone else thought of that?

And which demographic isn't "attractive"? (We suspect it's anyone over 17.)

2) Channel 13's morning news ratings are rising? Let's consult the November sweeps numbers: At 5 a.m., Channel 13 is last, with a 1.0 rating. At 6 a.m., Channel 13 is fourth out of five (Fox40 is last), with a 1.4 rating.

Want to attend the lecture? It's at the River City Brewing Company (545 Downtown Plaza, Sacramento) at 11 a.m. on Jan. 24. Cost: $30 for members, $35 for nonmembers.

January 9, 2008
Best of Blackwell


I'm baaack! After a hiatus from my 21Q buds, your fashion/beauty/reality show correspondent has returned. And, after spending Tuesday with the erstwhile Mr. Blackwell's worst-dressed list of 2007,
I thought it only fair to let everyone know he didn't think all of Hollywood is a fashion disaster.

So, in fairness to the women of Tinseltown - and beyond - who had their fashion act together in the year past, here are Blackwell's picks for "Fabulous Fashion Independents":

* Reese Witherspoon, Jemima Khan, Beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Helen Mirren (pictured), Nicole Kidman, Katie Holmes, Kate Middleton, Katherine Heigl and Cate Blanchett.

I can't argue with any of these picks, though I found it interesting that Blackwell had placed Katie's new right arm, Victoria Beckham, at the top of the worst-dressed list. Since the two became BFFs, it sure seemed like Katie was copying many of Posh's looks, including her bob and the gigantic sunglasses.

As for Middleton, Prince William's on-again, off-again girlfriend, seems a bit of a stretch since she loathes the paparazzi and is seldom photographed these days. Guess that tweedy, Welly boot look does it for Blackwell.

Personally, I loved that Mirren made the list. In addition to sweeping last season's major Hollywood awards, she looked every bit the "queen" at all of the events. After all, good style isn't relegated to the Olsen twins. Oh, I forgot, Mary Kate made the worst-dressed list!

Here's to better accessorizing in 2008.

January 9, 2008
Weather trumps politics on some TV newscasts

Permit me a morning rant...

Tuesday was perhaps the most newsworthy political night yet, what with the New Hampshire primary and our own State of the State address by The Guv.

So, what happens when I turn on my TV for the 10 p.m. news Tuesday night?

Both Fox40 and Channel 13 lead with ... the weather.

Oh, come on. It had been a normal winter day in the area - drizzly rain in the Valley, snow in the foothills. No news there. Or, at least, nothing to merit top-story status.

But gosh darn it, Fox40 had Louisa Hodge and Channel 13 Anny Hong all bundled up and talking snow, so that obviously trumps the comeback wins of John McCain and Hillary Clinton and Gov. Schwarzenegger's budget musings.

I will give some credit to Fox40 for wrapping up its weather coverage relatively quickly and moving on to politics. But Channel 13 spent the first eight minutes on the weather, even wasting time analyzing Hong's snow garb.

Fortunately for news-loving viewers, at 11 p. m., both Channel 3 and News10 got it right and led with politics.

January 8, 2008
Guv's State of the State: Word-by-word

Brian Baer/

Capital Public Radio (KXJZ 90.9 FM) has set up an informative Web site archiving its coverage of today's State of the State address, as well as analyzing Gov. Schwarzenegger's previous SOTS speeches.

An interesting feature are the "cloud tags," which show the frequency of words the Guv used during today's address and in 2007.

We found several telling differences:

* "Budget": In 2008, he mentioned the word 14 times; 4 times in 2007.

* "Economy": 8 times in 2008; 4 times in 2007.

* "People": 29 times in 2008; 22 times in 2007.

* "Cuts": 5 times in 2008; 0 times in 2007.

* "Taxes": 6 times in 2008; 0 times in 2007.

* "Happy": 6 times in 2008; 0 times in 2007.

And finally,

* "Ladies": 4 times in 2008; 6 times in 2007.

January 8, 2008
Media departures: Davey D and Taryn Winter Brill


We have no official word yet from management - hey, we'll get back to you - but we've got that Davey D (pictured), morning DJ at the hip-hip station KBMB (103.5 FM), is out.

Larry Lemanski, top suit at the Entervision radio cluster that owns the station, has not been available for comment. But we hear it was the usual thing: poor ratings. All traces of Davey D have been expunged from KBMB's Web site.

Davey D's morning replacement, at least for the short term, is DJ Short-E.


Meanwhile, on the TV side, fans of Taryn Winter Brill (also pictured) and her comely curly hair are mourning. Soon, she will be the latest among the ranks of departing folks in the combined newsroom of Channel 13 and "Good Day Sacramento."

Brill, the "GDS" weekend anchor, has been replaced by Kelly Chapman, a former Miss Utah who, by the way, is married to Channel 13 weather guesser Jeff James. Brill, who is now doing general assignment reporting for "GDS," declined to comment on her departure.

UPDATE, 3:10 P.M.: You can still catch Brill in the anchor chair from 6-7 a.m. on weekends, before Chapman takes over for the final three hours.

When people e-mail "GDS," seeking a reason for the change, here's the curt response:

"Thanks for your e-mail and watching Good Day Sacramento. Kelly and Taryn have shifted because Taryn is moving on so she can be closer to her family on the east coast. This is giving Kelly a chance to ease into and learn the duties of the anchor desk."

January 7, 2008
A MLK 'Legacy'

It seems like Lisa Lacy and Charles Cooper of Images Theater Company are making a venue tour of Sacramento. After working at Benvenuti Performing Arts Center in Natomas, Magic Circle Theater in Roseville, and Chautauqua Playhouse in Carmichael, among others, the pair will bring their new musical “Legacy” to the Guild Theatre in Oak Park on Jan. 18.

Lacy, who writes and directs, and musical director Cooper, who writes the songs, have created the new work to acknowledge and celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It’s a subject the pair know well from their work on the California Musical Theatre-sponsored “Keeping the Dream Alive” in 2003 and “And the Dream Goes On” in 2004. The two also wrote the musicals “Evangalize,” “Everyday People, A Musical Revue” and “Wings of Freedom” together.

The “Legacy” production, which features Bill Miller, Sara Von Davenport, Derrick Miller and Michael Turner, is a fundraiser for ITC. It will play four times at the Guild Theater, 2828 35th St. (35th and Broadway).

The 8 p.m. Jan. 18 performance will be preceded by a 6 p.m. reception. The $50 ticket for the event includes hors d’oeuvres, music by the Charles Cooper and the Images Band, a show souvenir and VIP seating.

The other shows are 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Jan. 19, and 3 p.m. Jan. 20. Tickets are $20 for general admission, $18 for seniors (65 and older) and $15 for children (12 and younger). Tickets are available at ITC (, at Underground Books (2814 35th St.) or at The Culture Collection (6391 Riverside Blvd.) For more information: www. or (916) 428-1441 for reservations.

January 7, 2008
Calling all bridesmaids: Got ugly? Please share


Lucky me, I've never been subjected to wearing an ugly bridesmaid dress. Well, at least, I didn't think it was ugly. Hopefully, no one was snickering behind my back.

Anyway, in case you missed my bridesmaid story in today's Scene section, we're looking for photos of the ugliest, saddest, most tragic, Goodwill-bound bridesmaid dresses, ever.

You know, kind of like the sherbet-rainbow oddity that Katherine Heigl sports in the upcoming flick, "27 Dresses" (pictured).

E-mail your photos to and we may include it in an upcoming online photo gallery. Because the whole world should know about that evil lime-green number that your so-called best friend made you wear.

Oh, and please, don't e-mail them to me - I don't think my eyeballs could handle the horror.

January 7, 2008
'Top Model' arrest update

Here's the latest on that Elyse Sewell/Marty Crandell scuffle.

Crandell's label, Sub Pop, issued a press release to Pitchfork and other media outlets acknowledging Crandell's arrest:

Marty Crandall and his ex-girlfriend Elyse Sewell were both arrested over the weekend following an argument at a Sacramento hotel, which resulted in hotel staff calling the police.

They were both taken into police custody and released over the weekend.

There will be no further comment at this time and we would appreciate their privacy being respected.

Crandell, who plays with the Shins and Sewell, a former "America's Next Top Model" contestant, are expected, according to Pitchfork, to appear in court in Sacramento later this week.

January 7, 2008
Ex-'Top Model' contestant becomes Sacramento's latest jailbird

OK, normally we like to reserve the salacious gossip and news tidbits for our US Weekly-reading pals, but this one's too big (and bad) to let go without a mention.

According to her own blog, model Elyse Sewell was arrested on Friday, Jan. 4, along with her now ex-boyfriend Marty Crandell. The pair, she says, was nailed on domestic assault charges in a Sacramento hotel following an alleged fight.

Sewell (pictured in a photo property of The CW) is, perhaps, most famous as the witty med student-turned- "America's Next Top Model" hopeful. She was eliminated third-from-last on the show's first season. Crandell, meanwhile, plays with the Shins, a popular Portland-based indie pop band whose 2006 CD "Wincing the Night Away" earned rave reviews.

The two, Sewell wrote, were traveling through Sacramento on their way to Portland. Here's her entry on the incident Sunday on her LiveJournal blog:

Think you had a (bad) weekend? Nah. Why not compare it to mine?

1.) On the drive home (home?) from Albuquerque to Portland, my ex-boyfriend got (drunk) and roughed me up in a Sacramento hotel. I escaped from the room through a blitzkrieg of violence and talked to hotel security, who called the fuzz.

2.) Because he had a bite mark, inflicted in self-defense, on his arm, Marty told the police to PRESS CHARGES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST ME. Now I am a felon.

3.) I spent the night in jail.

The entry, posted by the Pitchfork music site, was previously available for anyone to read, but in a new entry posted Sunday night, Sewell had a change of heart, explaining, "I've decided to heed the advice of many commenters (lawyerly types) and lock my last entry about the legal foibles between me and my ex-boyfriend.

(That was, of course, after we were able to eyeball it!)

Sewell says she was released Saturday morning and, according to the Sacramento Sheriff's Web site, Crandell was released on Sunday. According to Pitchfork, both are expected to appear in court here in Sac later this week.

January 5, 2008
Local TV news weather coverage: A coda

Well, the wall-to-wall weather coverage by local TV news weather is behind us, at least until the next storm.

Two comments, one from me and one from an astute 21Q reader:

From me: Given the massive power outages, I'm wondering just how many viewers actually saw the coverage and how that might affect what the TV folks care about most - ratings. For instance, we in Davis had been without power from 9 a.m. Friday until about an hour ago (5:30 p.m. Saturday).

With no cable and no Internet access, my family learned more about the conditions from two "old media" standbys - newspapers and the radio (thanks to battteries).

From reader Tracy Ralls of Roseville: "Why can't local TV news cover the state Legislature and budget process with the same aggressiveness it applies to weather coverage?"

Excellent question, Tracy. Maybe if the state Legislature could hold press briefings on the windswept Yolo Causeway, it might draw more TV coverage.

January 4, 2008
Doh! News10 reportedly shows Channel 3 on air

Try as we might, we can't catch all the weather coverage.

So, it's left to readers to help fill in the gaps. One alert reader who prefers not to have his name shouted out here (and, no, he's not in the TV news biz) sends this missive:

"Another interesting weather coverage event today (was) on Channel 10. At about 4:50 p.m., Dan Adams was presenting a package from Vacaville about their emergency operations office. Of course, they were monitoring the television news. So Adams decided to show a close-up shot of the TV radar they were watching. The only problem? It was Channel 3's."
January 4, 2008
Mike TeSelle, now safe and dry


If there's one seminal television image from today's storm, it would have to be the shots of Channel 3 reporter Mike TeSelle getting blown all over the banks of the Yolo Causeway during live morning reports.

At one point, TeSelle was even nearly horizontal as he did his shot. Viewers were so concerned, apparently, that they called and e-mailed the station and asked them to send poor old sopping wet TeSelle home to dry off.

"A couple of people even found my cell phone number and called me to ask whether I at least had a hat," TeSelle says, laughing.

But, you know what? Channel 3 couldn't have gotten TeSelle to leave even if they had tried.

"I love these type of assignments," TeSelle says after his 12-hour shift ended and, yes, he had dried off. "Yeah, I did (volunteer for it.)"

Those familiar with TeSelle, who has been at KCRA for nearly 10 years, can attest to his severe-weather reporting chops. He routinely reports from Blue Canyon during heavy snow periods.

Why does he do it?

"You want to be where the story is," TeSelle says.

But he's not doing it to draw attention to himself, he adds.

"Whenever you've got a story that involves snow or rain and wind, what viewers want to see is how people - or a reporter - deal with it," TeSelle says. "This was tough conditions today. Every time my photographer and I stepped out to do a hit (live report), we'd just get blasted."

Armed with a hand-held anemometer, which gauges wind speed, TeSelle says the highest reading he got this morning was 60.2 miles per hour. So, to illustrate it for viewers, he decided to do a test.

On the air, he leaned into the gust, like a ski jumper, spread his arms wide and let the wind keep him from falling on his face.

"I was thinking, holy moly, this is like covering a hurricane without the hurricane," he recalls.

Finally, at 3 p.m., TeSelle pulled off six layers of clothing, all soaked, and called it a day.

Saturday morning, though, he's back on the air. Only this time, he'll be snug in the studio as the anchor for Channel 3's morning news.

January 4, 2008
Hmm...The Guv did look curiously dry

Curious thing Channel 13 did about 20 minutes ago:

It switched to what was reputed on the air as a "live" press briefing featuring Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the station's graphic flashed "Rancho Cordova."


The Guv actually was in Los Alamitos (Orange County), talking to reporters. And the video was a Webcast at 1 p.m. made available to all media outlets.

What's up with that, Channel 13?

January 4, 2008
It was a dark and stormy night

So, here's the deal: I would not normally come here and tell you about the show my husband's band is playing tonight (kind of tacky to do so, right?), but since there's a chance the show might be cancelled, I thought this might be a good opportunity to advise y'all to check on the status of any show you were thinking about attending.

That said, tonight's Baby Grand and De Luxe show at the Blue Lamp (1400 Alhambra Blvd.) may go dark because, well, the Blue Lamp is dark. Yup, no power. So, you might want to call (916) 455-3400 to make sure it's still on. The show, that is. Who knows, maybe they'll do an accoustic, candle-lit set. Would be very Nirvana "Unplugged," don't you think?

(Side note: I just totally loved getting ready for work in the dark this morning, only to have the power go back on right as I was leaving the house. Nice - and I have the bed head-esque hair to show for it).

To recap: Planning on going to a show tonight? Call ahead to make sure it's still on.

Or, you know, just stay home and watch the season premiere of "1 vs. 100." Normally I wouldn't advise such a thing, but for once, I think the network-TV game show option might be the safer, potentially less painful way to go.

January 4, 2008
Early leader for TV news quote of the day

"If you don't have electricity right now, you're hosed.".
- Channel 3 anchor Deirdre Fitzpatrick

UPDATE 3:15 P.M.: Or how about this quote on Channel 13?

"I love to overreact."
- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at a press conference.

UPDATE: 3:45 P.M.: Another contender...

"Red Cross is opening a 200-shelter bed."
- News10's Darla Givens

January 4, 2008
We love it when Channel 13 talks jargon

Channel 13's continuous weather coverage (just minutes ago, it was the first to report that the Tower Bridge is closed) is chock-full of TV news lingo.

Anchor Sam Shane, sleeves strategically rolled up, is unmoored and broadcasting from the station's important-sounding "Transmission Center."

Here are some of the insider terms that Shane and cohorts are throwing around (What they all mean, we really don't care):

* "Let me hot punch you some video."

* "Video on VTR8, guys in the booth."

* "Eddie, you're hot, live on TV."

* "Re-rack that video now."

* "BTR 6, let's pull it up, guys."

* "Let's play this with nat sound."

* "Let's toss to break."

Yes, please. We all need a break.

January 4, 2008
Carla Meyer's Movie Picks

Looking to see a movie this cold and blustery weekend? In today's Weekend Ticket, I review those movies opening this week. But, if you're interested in other options, here are my recommendations for previously released films:

The Great Debaters
3 stars
A scene between Forest Whitaker and fellow best actor Oscar winner Denzel Washington illustrates their differing styles. Whereas Whitaker disappears into character, Washington, like other great American movie stars, brings something of himself to his roles while still giving a complete performance.
Rated PG-13

3 stars
Jason Bateman lends an intriguing ambiguity to Mark, the prospective adoptive father of a pregnant teenager's baby. His interaction with fellow rock 'n' roll fanatic Juno (Ellen Page) at times seems paternal and at others just feeds his perpetual adolescent streak.
Rated PG-13

The Savages
3 1/2 stars
As siblings Jon and Wendy Savage, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney exhibit the hallmarks of having grown up in the same dysfunctional family. Wendy ribs her brother about his sloppy clothing and housekeeping, and he expresses doubts about her latest tales of professional success. Being forced to relate to each other adds to the stress of caring for their ailing father.
Rated R

January 4, 2008
Channel 3 takes a break

Channel 3's continuous weather coverage is now over. "Days of Our Lives" now takes over on KCRA. (Channels 10 and 13 are still going strong.)

UPDATE at 2 P.M.: News10 signs off and switches to "General Hospital"; Channel 13 continues its coverage.

UPDATE: 3:10 P.M.: Channel 3 is back on the air, with Dave Walker and Lois Hart.

But, wait! What about "Days of Our Mike TeSelle"? Is the poor dude still shivering out on the Yolo Causeway, waiting for the 5 p.m. newscast?

Stay tuned. We'll ferret out Mike's fate.

Meanwhile, here's what a dry Mike TeSelle looks like.


January 4, 2008
Is the coverage getting a bit overheated?

It's a legitimate question. Here are two things to ponder:

* What's with Channel 3 branding its coverage with the phrase "Winter Blast"? As Bee TV columnist Rick Kushman observes, it sounds like a new after shave lotion.

* Channel 13 got some choice live footage of an SUV slamming into the back of a truck. And, boy, did the station play the tape, over and over. Here's the link.

Still, it's a little unsettling how much apparent glee Channel 13's newsroom workers took over getting the video. In the background, you can hear one newsroom worker shout, "That's what I mean. It's incredible stuff!" Not to mention all the ooohs and awws audible when the car slams into the truck.

But, as anchor Chris Burrous was quick to point out, "We're out at the scene and it looks like the airbags (deployed)."

January 4, 2008
Mike TeSelle update: Still windblown, still cold

One of the most entertaining aspects of today's TV weather coverage is Mike TeSelle's reporting for Channel 3 from that wind tunnel known as the Yolo Causeway.

TeSelle's been out there since 4 a.m. So, how's he holding up?

Here's the highlight from his noon report:

"I am now on my sixth layer. I've put on two jackets. ... After seven hours, I'm soaked to the bone."

More late-breaking news on TeSelle's level of wetness to come as it happens!

January 4, 2008
Adrienne Bankert on what not to wear


Reporting - live! - from Channel 3's, uh, parking lot just minutes ago, intrepid reporter Adrienne Bankert had this admonition to viewers:

"This is not a day to go out there and wear your flip flops, ladies."

Gee, who says KCRA's coverage isn't thorough?

The real reason Bankert was out in Channel 3's parking lot is that a tree fell on a station vehicle. Bankert was breathless: "This is absolutely phenomenal. This tree is down!"

January 4, 2008
News10 will preempt (gasp!) 'All My Children' for weather coverage


News10, which chose not to preempt programming early in the day, now is going with full weather coverage on its regularly scheduled 11 a.m. news. And anchor Kelly Jackson told viewers that News10 will stay on "at least until 1 p.m."

That means, for you soap opera fans, that "All My Children" will be preempted. Yes, it's that big of a storm.

(Full disclosure: As part of The Bee's content-sharing agreement with News10, is streaming News10 video of its weather coverage.)

Early highlights from News10's coverage:

* George vs. The Umbrella: Reporter George Warren, up in Truckee, struggled mightily to keep an umbrella from mangling him in the wind. The mere fact that he needed an umbrella was noteworthy. Rain, not snow, hit Truckee.

Finally, near the end of his report, Warren gave up on the umbrella, but he then couldn't get the darn thing to close. Warren to Jackson: "Kelly, wish you were here."

Over in Woodland, meanwhile, where winds were heaviest, reporter Angel Cardenas told Jackson: "I found out the hard way that our News10 parkas are not waterproof."

Hey, Angel, Mike TeSelle has Gortex.

January 4, 2008
Weather coverage by local TV news


Thoughts on the morning coverage of the rain and wind:

* Two extremes: Channel 3 preempted the "Today" show and went all-weather, all-the-time. On the other end, News10 chose not to preempt "Good Morning America" and went with a bare minimum of local cut-ins. Channel 13 went to its national morning show, but it had sister station Channel 31 to fall back upon.

Overkill by Channel 3? Lazy phoning-it-in by News10? What do you think?

Fox40, which rarely cuts in on regular programming, did, indeed, break in on reruns of "DeGrassi: The Next Generation" at 8:30.

* Top morning stunt: It's got to be Channel 3's Mike TeSelle (pictured), reporting horizontally from the Yolo Causeway. The guy lives for this type of thing. He actually volunteers to go to Blue Canyon.

(UPDATE AT 10:34: Channel 3 is really milking this TeSelle visual. Anchor Chris Riva told TeSelle that viewers are e-mailing in, telling the station to send Mike home. TeSelle smiled broadly and said thank you. But later, Riva confirmed that TeSelle jumped up and volunteered when the Yolo Causeway assignment came up in the news meeting.)

* Best rain wardrobe: We gotta go with Fox40's Kye Martin, in a powder blue rain slicker that didn't puff up like the Pillsbury Doughboy when the wind hit. (Stefanie Cruz's red "Good Day Sacramento" parka almost turned into a hot air balloon as she stood in an airport parking garage.)

Back to TeSelle: He felt the need to tell us what he was wearing, a la actors on the red carpet at the Oscars: "I've got the Gortex jacket and the rubber pants. And both are soaked through." Later, he added: "This rain has made it through all five layers."

Best old-school look goes to Channel 3's David Bienick, dressed in a yellow slicker and galoshes up to his knees.

* Cliche alert: Good news. I only heard the phrase "winter wonderland" (from Fox40's Louisa Hodge) once from the Donner Summit coverage.

* Best line of the morning goes to "Good Day Sac's" Mark S. Allen.
After Michele Kane, live in a wind-swept backyard, screamed in shock as a tree fell down while she was doing a report, Allen, in the safe, dry studio quipped: "Is it just me, or did it sound like (the tree) actually fell on Michele?"

* Is it just me, or did I detect a slight bit of disappointment among our local TV news folks because the "winter blast" wasn't worse. Yeah, there are some power outages, a jack-knifed truck or two, trees down, minor street flooding.

But, from the intense buildup over two days, it seemed like they wanted it to be much worse. After all, it would help ratings.

* Nice use of viewer photos uploaded via the Internet by channels 3 and 31. Citizen journalism strikes again.

* Here's a question: Did all other news miraculously stop happening because of wind and rain? I mean, our local stations told us nothing about the presidential election or any other local happenings, other than the weather.

* One good thing from the all-weather coverage: We didn't have to hear the morning shows breathlessly report about Britney Spears' latest meltdown.

Well, there's always cable for Britney, if you must know.

January 3, 2008
The 'Severe Weather' drinking game

California Weather.jpg
Associated Press

Here's a fun way to watch local TV news as revved-up on-air talent delivers storm news; libation of choice is yours:

* Take a drink every time one of them says, "Calm before the storm."

* Take a drink every time reporters say, "The White Stuff" or "The Wet Stuff." If they say both, down the whole bottle.

* Take a drink whenever someone utters a clunky metaphor or simile.

Examples from today's early coverage:

"Right now, we can feel the storm knocking on the door." - Channel 3's David Bienick.

"Rain is going to fall like rocks." - Channel 13's Chris Burrous.

* And, finally, take a mighty swig every time a weatherguesser either (a) talks about how hard he/she is working, or (b) gives ridiculous advice.

Examples from Channel 13's Jeff James: "It's my time to shine." And, "My best advice is just read a long novel the next couple of days. Stay home."

Gee. Why didn't we think of that?

January 3, 2008
It was a setup, not a doggone 'doctoring'

woodland dog.jpg
Deo Ferrer/Woodland Daily Democrat

Words matter, and Wednesday on 21Q, we didn't use the right word.

It was in the posting about a photo that editors at the Woodland Daily Democrat used on its front page. The photo showed a dog "taking notes," for a story on a canine assisting child abuse victims.

We said the photo was "doctored." What we should have written was that the shot was a "setup." The word "doctored" connotes Photoshopping, but that wasn't what happened. Rather, as we reported, the dog was propped up, draped in a trench coat and had human arms coming through it, with hands holding a note pad.

Semantics aside - on the question of whether editors should have identified the shot as a setup photo - which they did not - associate editor Jake Dorsey replied in a comment on our first post: "The photo was an homage of William Wegman, and Mr. (Deo) Ferrer (the photographer) made that clear to me, though it was left out of the cutline on accident. Also the Democrat has strict policies about what gets called a photo, and Mr. Ferrer's piece was just that - a photograph."

So, there you go.

For those unfamiliar with Wegman's work, here's a sample:


January 2, 2008
Dogged reporting at the Woodland Daily Democrat

Imagine waking up on Jan. 1, maybe a little bleary-eyed from too much, uh, celebrating the night before, picking up your morning paper and seeing this photo splashed across the front page:

Deo Ferrer/Woodland Daily Democrat

Hey, is that a dog taking notes???

Whoa. That is a dog taking notes. Or, rather, half-dog, half-human.

That's what readers of the Woodland Daily Democrat saw Tuesday on that paper's front page. Photographer Deo Ferrer apparently sought a creative way to illustrate a story on a border collie mix that Yolo County is using to assist child victims of abuse. Read the full story here.

Anyway, the paper did not explain in the caption that someone wrapped a trench coat around Daisy the dog's body, cut holes in the back and then slipped a pair of human arms through the sleeves to make it appear as if Daisy was taking notes.

Daily Democrat editor Jim Smith did not immediately respond to our queries about whether the paper should have alerted readers that the photo was doctored set up and a human was hiding behind the propped-up Daisy. But...

UPDATE AT 3 P.M.: Smith, via e-mail, deferred comment to associate editor Jake Dorsey, who could not be reached today. But Smith did write: "A quick word, however, is that we have received no reader reaction except from the owner of the dog who liked the photograph."

Still, Jeff Reisig, the Yolo County district attorney, wasn't laughing.

"It was a surprise to us, too, when they ran that photo," Reisig says via e-mail. "Obviously, we had no input on their 'creative' choice. The program is serious."

January 2, 2008
Channel 13's Rafer Weigel heading to CNN


There's another loss for that revolving door that is Channel 13's newsroom.

Rafer Weigel, a general assignment reporter for the station for the past two years, will leave on Jan. 29 to join CNN Headline News as a sports reporter. Specifically, Weigel will be the sports anchor on Headline News' "The Morning Express with Robin Meade."

Coincidentally, Weigel is replacing Will Silva, another former Sacramento reporter, who recently left CNN for ESPN.

Weigel's father, Tim, was a longtime Chicago sports anchor. And that's where Weigel's interests are centered. But he says the two-year gig reporting news at Channel 13 gave him valuable experience.

"I had virtually no experience before this job (at Channel 13), so I thank Steve (Charlier, vice president for news) for giving me the chance," he says.

The experience, Weigel adds, will make him a better sports reporter, in the long run.

"This (news) business is shrinking," he says. "Gone are the days when you can say, 'I'm just a sports guy' or 'I'm just an investigative reporter or politics reporter.' You have to do everything. And with sports jobs disappearing at local stations around the country, you've got to be versatile."

Cable news, however, has become a haven for TV sports anchors who have seen local news cut back or even eliminate sports reporting from newscasts.

"Cable seems to be the one area now that's not getting downsized," he says. "It's a cliche, I know, but this (CNN job) is a dream job."

January 2, 2008
Roger McGuinn uncancels Feb show

Hey, remember that time I told you that Roger McGuinn canceled his Feb. 1 show at the Mondavi?

Well, guess what? He really didn't.

Confused? Well, join the club. No, actually - McGuinn's booking agent canceled the show, you see, but McGuinn's manager didn't. So, what I'm trying to say here is that Roger McGuinn - broken wrist, be damned - will still be playing Feb. 1 at Mondavi's Jackson Hall.

Get your ticket info here.

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