Things to do in Sacramento and Beyond

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

February 29, 2008
(More) Carla Meyer Movie Picks

Wondering what else to see this weekend?

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:

In Bruges
3 stars
Ray (Colin Farrell), a hit man hiding out in Belgium, is a richly drawn character. Though he sometimes comes off as brutish or cocky, he’s mostly unsure of himself, hurling insults in an attempt to make himself feel better. Farrell’s performance suggests this insecurity is hard-wired. It didn’t spring up just because he feels bad about a hit that went awry.
Rated R

3 stars
Jason Bateman brings an intriguing ambiguity to his character, a prospective adoptive father. His interactions with the pregnant, teenage Juno (Ellen Page) at times seem paternal and at others just feed his perpetual adolescent streak.
Rated PG-13

No Country for Old Men
3 stars
The Coen brothers’ level of craft is so high that it’s difficult to isolate elements to praise. Sound, cinematography, setting and performances work in concert and to hypnotic effect. Catch this best picture Oscar winner, scheduled to come out on DVD in a few weeks, in its full glory on the big screen.
Rated R

February 29, 2008
Wanna see a local movie?

With the Academy Awards over, those great films from last year won't last much longer in theaters. That leaves us with the mediocre movies that Hollywood chooses to release early in the year.

Thank goodness there are so many interesting things afoot on the Sacramento film-festival scene.

For instance, there's still time to catch the Davis Feminist Film Festival
at Veterans' Memorial Center Theatre.

Tonight's lineup contains several shorts and the feature "I Was a Teenage Feminist," which traces a few incarnations of the feminist movement. For information, click here.

A few local film events are going the participatory route. Results of the 48 Hours Sacramento film competition, which gave participants two days to make a movie, will be displayed March 29 at the Crest Theatre as part of the Sacramento Film Festival.

The 48 Hours entries already have been shot, but there's still time to wax cinematic about our town at the A Place Called Sacramento event in October. Scripts for locally themed films are due by April 16.

And if music is more your bag, the Sacramento Film & Music Festival, which takes place in August, is seeking music submissings for its Sac Music Seen program. Sac Music Seen pairs musicians with filmmakers who make music videos for their songs. For information, click here.

February 29, 2008
Cool music, cool show, cool CoolCat benefit


It's Friday - so, what are you doing tonight? You could stay home and watch "The Best Week Ever" - but isn't that why you're paying for TiVo?

Instead, head over to the CoolCat Gallery (918 24th St.) and help a venue out, already.

Tonight at 9 p.m., it's a CoolCat fundraiser show with local bands the Ancient Sons and Two Sheds (pictured). Your $5 (plus $3 annual membership fee, if you haven't already ponied up for that) gets you some great live music, plus chow from cooks Burgess and Kate Alaimo.

In case you missed my story on the CoolCat, this is a unique midtown spot that does everything from live music and art to classes, yoga and film. Plus, they have a cute storefront boutique that sells recycled clothes, local designer picks, jewelry, sketchbooks, stuffed animals and more.

And oh yeah, the CoolCat is normally an all-ages venue, but tonight - sorry kids - it's 21-and-over only.

For more information, visit

February 29, 2008
Idol Chatter: And then there were 16


Let's rename "American Idol's" results show "The Crying Game."

I can't recall a season when so many tears were shed as the Top 24 were whittled to the Top 16. What are the contestants going to do when there's only six or seven of them left and someone has to go?

Hope there's a therapist on call.

Anyway, almost 31 million votes were cast after Tuesday and Wednesday night's performances. I predicted two of the four contestants going home. I still maintain that I should have been four for four because I totally disagreed with the two gals who left.

But guys first. Jason Yeager was a no-brainer, even though he said he was surprised by the criticism from the judges on Tuesday. "I agree it was about song choice," he said. "I just wasn't able to find the perfect song."

Simon Cowell said Jason didn't "stand out in the crowd. But you're not a bad singer."

And poor Danny Noriega. The show set it up to be between him and Jason. When he found out he was safe, I thought Danny was going to pass out!

Anyway, no surprise with Robbie Carrico, either. He, too, admitted making a bad song choice ("Hot Blooded"). "I could have done it better." And the whole rocker thing "never, ever" felt real for any of the judges.

Now, on to the gals.

First up, Alexandrea Lushington or Amanda Overmyer. Are you kidding? I know the Chicago song ("If You Leave Me Now") was risky, but Alexandrea is a better singer than Amanda. Besides, Amanda, you're scaring the children!

It was Alex's departure that got the tears flowing, especially from teen favorite David Archuleta. They're both 17, so I'm assuming they've become buds. After Alexandrea sang her finale, she went and gave David A. a big hug.

And then it came down to Alaina Whitaker and Kady Malloy, the two contestants whose performances Wednesday I completely erased from my memory bank.

It looked to me like Kady was all set to return to Houston, Texas, when Ryan Seacrest stunned her and a shocked Alaina with the results: "Alaina, it's the end of the road for you."

To say she took the news badly is an understatement. And don't blame it on her age. Yes, she's only 16, but most of the other kicked-off contestants have been teens and they managed to keep it together.

Alaina started sobbing and said, "I can't sing. It's so embarrassing." Ryan, knowing he's got airtime to fill, launched in with his "someone's-got-to-go" speech, telling her she should be very proud. Paula Abdul chimed in with words like "gifted, bright, a young talent."

Finally, the other girls joined Alaina on stage and helped her get through "Hopelessly Devoted."

Kleenex definitely needs to sign on as an "Idol" sponsor.

Meanwhile, Ryan had news to report - BIG news.

First, the Top 12 will perform on Tuesday, March 11. There will be a new set and a new exit song, from Season 2 winner Ruben Studdard. My favorite part? Sony finally released the John Lennon/Paul McCartney songbook, which obviously is going to play a big part in the Top 12 competition.

Also, mark your calendars for April 9. That's the night of the second "Idol Gives Back" performance. Some of the celebs scheduled to appear include Brad Pitt, Miley Cyrus, Mariah Carey, Chris Daughtry and Carrie Underwood..

I'm assuming, in the spirit of giving, that none of the contestants will be kicked off that week.

I'm also assuming that next week will be an '80s week as the show finally reaches the Top 12. Can anyone say Flock of Seagulls?

February 29, 2008
Homer, Marge and...NPR's Terry Gross?

Terry Gross.JPG simp.jpg

Yes, it's true. We can't make this stuff up.

National Public Radio's erudite host of "Fresh Air," Terry Gross, will appear Sunday night as a guest voice on "The Simpsons" (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40). Gross will be guest-starring with actor Topher Grace. (Now, there's a pairing we never thought we'd see.)

In the episode, Gross' dulcet tones and brainy banter will be heard on a car radio by the Simpson clan.

Says Gross in an NPR press release: “When I'm hosting Fresh Air, I try to sound as natural as possible. But when I was recording 'The Simpsons,' the director kept suggesting I sound ‘more cartoonish.’ So I had to channel my inner cartoon self.”

Local Angle Alert: Gross will be speaking - seriously, not cartoonishly - at the Mondavi Center in Davis on April 21 at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $29-$40.

February 28, 2008
Sweeps: Get the numbers for local TV news while they're hot

Well, the February sweeps period is mercifully over, which means we'll no longer be subjected to reports such as Channel 3's man-boobs reduction story (see video above) or Channel 13's latest we're-all-going-to-die scare story.

Which station racked up the big victories?

No surprises here.

Channel 3, as always, dominated at 5 and 6 p.m. - no station even comes close. In the morning, Channel 31's "Good Day Sacramento" beat Channel 3 in the 5-5:30 a.m. segment, but Channel 3 rebounded in other morning time slots.

KCRA also came out ahead in the noon hour, which is becoming a battleground between channels 3 and 13 - Walt Gray and Co. ekked out a 3.2 to 2.7 edge over Stefanie Cruz and CBS13.

In the always contentious late news, where advertisers really take notice, the winner depends on which station's spin you believe. Channel 13 has long maintained that its 10 p.m. news should be compared evenly with Channel 3's at 11 p.m., but the KCRA suits say only head-to-head competition should count.

In any case ...

CBS13 came in with a 5.4 rating at 10 p.m., Channel 3 with 4.7 at 11. News10, meanwhile, is nipping at the heels of KCRA at 11, finishing only .4 behind.

Meanwhile, here's a trend that no local TV suit will like: Viewership is either down or relatively flat in all time slots compared to previous sweeps periods. Could it be lingering effects from the writers' strike? Or are people just getting their news from other sources?

UPDATE (Feb. 29, 8:30 a.m.): An alert reader asks why we left out KCRA's 6:30 p.m. news - which has no competition from other local news outlets. "Don't Dave and Lois deserve a little respect for their hard work?" the reader asks. OK, so here goes: At 6:30, Channel 3 had a 6.4 rating, beating out "Jeopardy!" on News10 (5.8) and "Entertainment Tonight" on Channel 13 (4.5).

The numbers:

5 a.m.
Good Day Sacramento: 2.1
KCRA Reports: 2.0
News10 Good Morning: 1.3 0.8

6 a.m.
KCRA Reports: 4.1
Good Day Sacramento: 2.7
News10 Good Morning: 2.6 1.3
KUVS (Univision): 0.9
Fox40: 0.6

7 a.m. - 9 a.m.
Today (KCRA): 4.4
Good Morning America (News10): 2.9
Good Day Sacramento: 3.0 (7 a.m. hour). 2.4 (8 a.m.)
My58TV (KCRA sister station): 1.0 (7 a.m.), 0.8 (8 a.m.)
Fox40: 0.6

Midday news
KCRA: 3.2 (noon)
News10: 2.8 (11 a.m.)
CBS13: 2.7 (noon)

5 p.m.
KCRA: 9.4
CBS13: 3.4
News10: 3.0

6 p.m.
KCRA: 8.8
News10: 4.0
CBS13: 3.0
KUVS (Univision): 2.1

Late news
10 p.m.

CBS13: 5.4
Fox40: 3.8
My58TV (half hour only): 2.2

11 p.m.
KCRA: 4.7
News10: 4.3
KUVS: 1.3

February 28, 2008
Idol Chatter: Local angle - Melinda is melodic

Dreyer's Slow Churned

So Becky Pricer, 30, of Citrus Heights has a new friend - and five gallons of ice cream in her freezer!

Becky was the winner of the Dreyer's ice cream/"American Idol" private concert with Melinda Doolittle. Melinda performed Wednesday night for Becky and 25 of her best buds at a friend's home in Granite Bay.

"I own a condo, so we could never fit 25 people in there," Becky says in a phone conversation today. "It was fantastic. And I wouldn't have even cared if there was ice cream or not."

(Melinda did dish a bowl for herself before she performed. And she dished afterward for the attendees.)

Her song choices?

"She let us pick," says Becky, an office manager for a local construction company. "I chose 'I'm a Woman' because I love the energy in the song, and I love the words. They're so powerful."

One of her friends selected "My Funny Valentine," which will appear on Melinda's upcoming CD. The third song was "I've Got Rhythm," a classic jazz take.

Becky got some one-on-one time with the "Idol" finalist (Season 6), too, before introducing her to the gathering.

"I've read how she's a people person, and it's true," Becky says. "She wants to be your friend and, talking to her, it's like chatting with one of your best friends."

Melinda also posed for pictures and signed autographs. The whole gig lasted about an hour, just in time for fans to catch the Top 10 gals performing in Wednesday night's show (see my roundup below).

Not surprisingly, Becky says Melinda remains one of her favorite "Idol" contestants, and "probably the only one whose CD I'll buy," she says, adding that she thinks Season 7 has some strong performers.

"I like David Archuleta and Syesha (Mercado) so far," she says.

Meanwhile, Becky has enough ice cream to get her through, well, at least a week's worth of songs. Her favorite flavor? Mint Karaoke Cookie - just like Melinda.

February 28, 2008
Idol Chatter: Can you say song selection?


Best I can tell, er, count, the judges liked only four out of the six songs chosen by the Top 10 gals on Wednesday night's "American Idol."

At this rate, it could be an all-male finale, which hasn't happened since Season 2 with Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken.

The contestants who were sick last week - Carly Smithson and Kristy Lee Cook - redeemed themselves with the judges, though. Apparently, Carly has been waiting her entire life to sing Heart's "Crazy On You" in front of 30 million people. Simon Cowell said it was much better than last week, but he's still waiting for her to have an "absolute moment" (whatever that means). I think she's still recovering from whatever she had because she was totally out of breath at song's end.

Kristy did a cover of Linda Ronstadt's "You're No Good," and, while no one could recall what she sang last week, Randy Jackson thought this was a "100 percent improvement." Either that, or Kristy picked the right outfit. Let's just say it was fitted.

Alaina Whitaker's "Hopelessly Devoted" from "Grease" bored me to tears. (I kept seeing Olivia Newton-John out by a swing), but Simon thinks she's a dark horse in the competition, though he did say he thought her look (hair, dress, jewelry) looked as if her grandmother prepped her. ("Too pageanty for me.")

As for the other six, it was either a mixed bag or a mess.

For example, there were two odd gender issues. No one liked Syesha Mercado taking "Me and Mrs. Jones" and turning the song/affair into "Me and Mr. Jones." I think she's definitely one of the better singers, but Simon said the trickery was indulgent and silly. "It (the song) was not written for a girl, and it wasn't designed for your voice."

Then there was teen Alexandrea Lushington, oddly dressed in boots and cargo shorts, singing Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now." Paula said she had never heard a female sing that song. Simon said it was "boring." "You were in tune, out of tune and now you're struggling."

So too is Kady Malloy, who continues in the "Idol" let's-get-to-know-the-contestants blurbs to show she can do everything from opera to impersonations of Britney Spears. But when it comes to plain old singing .... another Heart song, "Magic Man," which left Randy in the lurch: "You never found a pitch, never found the notes." Never should have sung this song.

Two of the judges' favorites slipped with their song choices. Asia'h Epperson sang the 1975 Eric Carmen sad-sack song "All By Myself," which Celine Dion later blasted the daylights out of. So it's the Celine version everyone seems to remember, and poor Asia'h just doesn't have the pipes to pull it off. Simon called it one of the diva songs of all time, and "you're not that good." Ouch.

Ramiele Malubay did disco, "Don't Leave Me This Way," which I didn't think was as bad as Randy did; he said it was "a little rough for me." Meanwhile, Paula's got this new catchphrase (I think it's new), something about "powering through," sort of like an 18-wheeler. Simon put the whole performance in perspective. "I've heard (the song) so many times at ghastly weddings."

My favorite performance? Brooke White's "You're So Vain" (with guitar accompaniment) - a great, great song choice. And that she directed most of the lyrics at Simon was priceless. (He even whispered to Paula that she was singing to him.) "I absolutely loved it. It was the perfect song for you," Simon said. "You connected with it, and it didn't sound old-fashioned."

My least-favorite performance? Amanda Overmyer's (picftured) "Carry on Wayward Son" made me realize I'm not in college or into Kansas anymore. Her scary hair has morphed even more into a Cruella crisis. And my gosh, who went shopping with this young woman? I totally agree with the judges that she looks so much better without the theatrics. Lose some of the goth. Alas, she may be "laying her weary head to rest" after Wednesday's performance. "It felt very contrived and indulgent - the song, the hair, the outfit," Simon said. Paula said the competition needs Amanda, but does America need her?

We'll find out tonight (at 8 on Channel 40), when two guys and two gals get the boot. My prediction? Amanda and Kady.

February 27, 2008
Idol Chatter: Citrus Heights fan wins concert

melinda shot.JPG

We have a winner!

I just found out that the winner of the Dreyer's ice cream/"American Idol"in-home concert is Becky Pricer, 30, of Citrus Heights.

Lucky girl. Becky and her "select" friends and family will gather from 7 to 8 tonight at a friend's home in Granite Bay for a private show with Season 6 finalist Melinda Doolittle (pictured, photo courtesy of Fox.)

Oh, and yes, there will be plenty of the five new "Idol" flavors, including Melinda's favorite, Mint Karaoke Cookie. Melinda will be dishing ice cream, signing autographs, posing for photos and, of course, singing.

I venture one of the selections will be "My Funny Valentine," which can be downloaded at iTunes. (Check out my Q&A with Melinda in Tuesday's Scene.)

As for tonight's "American Idol" show, the Top 10 gals will perform (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40). As I said in an earlier blog entry, they'll have their work cut out for them because of an outstanding performance by one - yes, one - of the Top 10 guys. I've already had a sneak peek at their attire for the competition - be sure to check out Amanda Overmyer!

February 27, 2008
Golf magazine gets the 'LuxLife' treatment

The niche Sacramento-based magazine "California Golf & Lifestyle" has been acquired by Anthony Glover and his burgeoning high-end LuxLife Media, and a big relaunch of the bimonthly print and online publication will come soon, Glover says.

Unlike LuxLife - the lifestyle magazine that has a targeted audience (read: the ultra rich) - "Golf & Lifestyle" (apparently, they're dropping the "California," perhaps to attract a bigger audience) will be a subscription model. Mary Burroughs, who had been publisher, will remain as managing editor and creative director.

Glover, in a prepared statement, apparently couldn't help himself and fell back on sporting cliches: "To borrow from golf-speak, due to the overwhelming positive response, it seems we've 'picked the right club.' The golf world is eager for a magazine devoted to the golf and lifestyle side of the game."

Check out the Web site here.

February 27, 2008
Life is good after Channel 13

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel photo

No, not for former news director Steve Charlier, who recently left to run a syndicate of stations in the Midwest.

We're talking about Lori Waldon (pictured), the former assistant news director, who fled the Channel 13 madness after just a year and now is the news director of WISN, an ABC affiliate in Milwaukee.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently published a glowing profile of Waldon.

February 27, 2008
Your 'Once' in a lifetime chance: Swell Season in Oakland in April


If, like me, you were charmed by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova's performance and win for "Falling Slowly" (from the Irish indie film "Once") at Sunday's Academy Awards, here's a chance to catch the "Best Song" winners in concert.

The Swell Season, featuring Hansard and Irglova with a band, will perform April 26 at Oakland's Paramount Theatre (2025 Broadway, Oakland).

If you're not already familiar with it, the Paramount is a big, gorgeous theater - I've seen Elvis Costello, Bjork, Wilco and Beck play there over the years. In other words, it's quite a decent bump up from the small clubs Hansard and Irglova were playing when they started promoting "Once" in 2007.

I had the chance to interview the pair, along with "Once" director John Carney, before the film opened in Sacramento last spring. (That's all of them pictured, as photographed by The Bee's Michael A. Jones.)

They were sweet, funny, smart and engaging - I'm guessing you'll get more of the same in a live setting.

And yes, you can expect to hear more of "Once's" beautiful folk-pop songs. Who knows? Maybe Carney - Hansard's bandmate from his other band, the Frames - will pop in for a guest appearance. I'm hoping so.

Tickets ($29.50-$40) go on sale to the general public Monday through or you can head over to the San Francisco-based KFOG radio station Web site for info on a pre-sale happening now through Friday. You can also check out Frames site for more information.

February 27, 2008
Idol Chatter: A winner already?


You heard it here first: There's really only one name you need to remember from Tuesday night's "American Idol" show featuring the Top 10 guys: 17-year-old David Archuleta (pictured).

He performed last on a show that featured songs from the '70s, a decade I embraced affectionately - if nothing else for the abundance of polyester.

But, I digress.

David A. basically made the other nine contestants' performances forgettable. I needed the recap at the end of the show just to refresh my memory.

Why all the gushing?

Young David, who is quickly winning the hearts of teen girls (and the "mom" audience) tackled John Lennon's "Imagine," a noble choice that I believe Blake Lewis also performed last season.

But Archuleta's version made me almost forget what Lennon's version sounds like. He, as the judges so like to quip, "made it his own." Here's what they had to say about David's performance:

Randy Jackson: "I keep saying this season is about the young ones. You're singing beyond your years. It was the best vocal of the show. Brilliant!"

Paula Abdul: "You're ridiculous! I'd love to have you hanging from my rearview mirror." (I'm assuming Paula would have David made into a pair of dice.)

Simon Cowell: "It was a very risky (song choice). But it worked. You're definitely the one to beat. And I have a feeling there are 19 other miserable contestants (including the Top 10 gals) after that."

To give just due to the other nine guys, I think Danny Noriega may, may have bought himself another week after singing the Carpenters' "Don't You Remember?" ("It was better, not fantastic," Simon said.) And kudos to Danny for not acting like the little jerk he was last week.

Other improvements? David Hernandez earned much praise for his rendition of the Temptations' "Papa Was a Rolling Stone." ("You're finally showing your personality," Randy said. "Amazing notes," Paula said.)

Chikezie took sound fashion advice and ditched the tangerine suit. David Cook opted to play an instrument (guitar) on Bad Company's "All Right Now." ("I love that you threw your guitar picks into the audience," Randy said. "You're a real rocker. I liked it.")

Dropping a notch - just a notch (I hope) - were Aussie Michael Johns with a Fleetwood Mac song, "Go Your Own Way." ("OK, it was the weakest performance (since the audition). A week song choice," Simon said.) And then, Jason Castro took the stage looking exactly like he did last week: same patterned shirt, same guitar. He sang "I Just Want To Be Your Everything,", probably one of the weakest of the Bee Gees' songs. ("It was too schmaltzy," Simon said. "You did yourself no favors with that.") Both Randy and Paula want Jason to come back next week without stringing so they can hear his singing.

My verdict is still out on contestant Luke Menard. He's easy on the eyes, but "Killer Queen" by Freddie Mercury? Simon thought it was a huge mistake. Randy thought the degree of difficulty was tough, and there were pitch problems. "But I liked you better this week," he said.

And now, my picks for the worst performances of the evening:

First, pseudo rocker Robbie Carrico attempting "Hot Blooded" by Foreigner. UGH! Paula thought he played it safe. Randy is still not sure Robbie is a "rocker." Simon said, "OK."

And, pack your bags Jason Yeager. You're a nice guy who can play three instruments, but singing? Nahhhh. Simon was particularly critical of the ending of Jason's version of "Long Train Runnin,' " a terrible song choice. ("It was horrific. It sounded like you were drunk at a party or something.")

Bye bye, Jason.

We'll see how the Top 10 gals fare when they perform at 8 on Channel 40.

Stay tuned.

February 26, 2008
Serendipity picks up Ella Moss collection


I just got word (OK, an e-mail) that Serendipity Boutique in east Sac is now carrying a chunk of the Ella Moss fashion collection, which many of you familiar with the line might have seen in those super-cool Anthropologie stores.

Ella Moss is the creation of L.A. designer Pamella Protzel, who is known for her use of bright colors and comfy fabrics. Oh, and did I forget to mention that she made bold stripes all the rage after designing a green-and-white striped dress for Sarah Jessica Parker on "Sex and the City"?

Now Pamella is moving on, adding prints and other patterns to her collection.

Serendipity is carrying mostly the super-soft cotton tops and several dresses, all of which are easy to wear, especially with jeans.

"They're girly without being too feminine," says one of the sales associates at the boutique. Translation: They'll be perfect for the warm days ahead.

Prices range from $75 to about $120. Serendipity is at 5362 H St. You also can preview the collection here.

February 26, 2008
Channel 3 hires new traffic reporter

UPDATE (Feb. 28, 6:30 p.m.): Channel 3 news director Anzio Williams checks in and gives a fuller explanation about Adrienne Bankert's status. Bankert's traffic career may be over, but she will soon be seen as a regular general assignment reporter and a fill-in anchor.

Inquiring readers want to know...

Where's Adrienne Bankert?

The Channel 3 traffic diva hasn't been on the morning traffic beat for the past two days, sending several readers (hmm...curiously, all male) into an e-mail tizzy.

Here's the deal, according to Channel 3 news director Anzio Williams:

The station has expanded its traffic team, adding Kristin Marshall (the reporter viewers saw Monday and today in the morning). "Adrienne is training her right now," Williams says.

I asked Williams if, as long rumored, the station is grooming Bankert for an anchor or reporter spot. He says it's not in KCRA's immediate plans.

Background on Marshall: She has worked as a traffic reporter at stations in Philadelphia and Baltimore. While in Philly, she finished second in's "Sexiest Female in Philadelphia TV" competition.

Tsk, tsk. We in Sacramento are much too cultivated to objectify our female TV news personalities. Right?

February 25, 2008
C'mon - throw viewers a 'Bourne,' er, bone!


As much as I admire the choices at Sunday's Academy Awards, I couldn't help but wish that Oscar voters had paid more attention to popular entertainment. You know: pictures that viewers at home are likely to have seen.

For example, "The Bourne Ultimatum," which won for best editing and in the sound categories, has made boatloads more money than any of the best-picture nominees. It's also a beautifully crafted film.

I'm not asking for acting nominations, since a nonstop action film like "Ultimatum" doesn't lend itself to that. But a directing nomination for Paul Greengrass, and even a best-picture nomination, would have been legitimate.

The same goes for "Casino Royale" from the year before.

So come on, academy. Throw the home audience a bone.

February 25, 2008
Phil Cowan resurfaces ... in marketing


Former Sacramento radio host Phil Cowan, who seemingly had been in the business since Marconi, has kept a low profile since the cancellation of his KSTE show two months ago.

This gave Cowan fans hope that the former morning funny man (with Paul Robins)-turned-conservative commentator would land another radio gig. Well, no dice.

Cowan tells us he's giving up on radio. He's accepted a job with Ross Marketing ("One of those full-sevice advertising agencies," Phil says) in Fair Oaks Village.

Says Phil: "I'm excited. It's my first stab at self-employment."

February 25, 2008
Thoughts on Sac expat Adrian Tomine's New Yorker cover


So, I finally received last week's The New Yorker in the mail (thanks for nothin', U.S. Postal Service), and I was struck by the cover drawn by graphic novelist and Sacramento native Adrian Tomine.

Called "Shelf Life," the clever nine-panel cartoon is enough to depress any striving author - or anyone who cares about the decline of reading for enjoyment and has seen the latest dreary reports on literacy.

It's kind of like Kubler-Ross' "stages of death." In panel one, you see the author plugging away at the keyboard, then the somewhat humiliating pitching to the publisher, followed by publication, the act of reading by a book lover, then the inevitable discarding, followed by the burning of the book for warmth by a homeless man.

The longer I gazed at the cover, though, the more heartened I got. In a way, books provide warmth and comfort to people on various levels. So is it better for a book to be remaindered and pulped, or put to use to comfort the homeless?

Tomine's cartoon does what the best graphic stories do - makes us think.

February 24, 2008
Red Carpet Watch: Red is a winner

Associated Press

OK, Hilary Swank is wearing Versace. Love Katherine Heigl, also in flaming red. She's amazing. Love the lipstick and the curly do.

So far, I think the TV stars should receive more kudos than the movie stars - at least as far as the fashions go.

Omigosh, where's the Viggo Mortensen I remember? He looks like my grandfather with that ZZ Top beard!

Quick sneak peek at Penelope Cruz. I hope she's presenting; I want a closer look at that incredible gown.

In short, lots of hits and misses (and could have definitely gone with missing Gary Busey) ... Heidi, Anne (pictured), Katherine and Miley - again, all in winning red - are definite dos.

The stars all seemed to survive the inclement weather on the red carpet. I swear, it seems like it was rougher in Sactown than in SoCal.

Check out more images from the red carpet in Monday's Scene. But for now, on with the show!

February 24, 2008
Red Carpet Watch: Colin needs a cut

Associated Press

How do you achieve effortless and glamorous at the same time? Again, Anne Hathaway gets the nod - so far.

E! is echoing what I just blogged: Jennifer Hudson cast aside that goofy bolero from last year and is getting it right this time around.

I think, however, a lot of the stars must have forgotten that this show is being broadcast. They looked a little - shall we say? - undone. I would be rockin' this thing if they let me out there.

And, quit rolling your eyes, Miley Cyrus! Not a good look.

Colin Farrell is with his mother. She looks a gazillion times better than him. I'm surprised she hasn't told him to get a haircut.

Only 10 minutes left: Where's Nicole Kidman?

February 24, 2008
Red Carpet Watch: Fit for a 'Queen'

Last year's best actress winner, Helen Mirren, looks just as fantastic as she did in 2007. We find out she knitted a scarf for her "Naked Man" (read: Oscar).

Back for a sec to Jessica Alba, who looks fabulous. Is that aubergine with feathers? I want to know more about the dress, but Ryan Seacrest asks if she's going to breast-feed? Huh?!!!

They're moving fast on the red carpet now...

* Jennifer Hudson (last year's BSA) is a huge fashion improvement over 2007.

* Cameron Diaz in Dior (couture, no less), definitely did nothing with her hair. And where's the bling? I could've loaned her my pearls.

* Marion Cotillard's "fishy," fantastic gown is by Jean Paul Gaultier. Love the hair - she's sooo French!

* Caught quick glimpses of an unempt Colin Farrell and an old-fashioned Hilary Swank.

* Finally, Tilda Swinton. What can I say? I'm sorry, she's just too minimalist. And she doesn't get that George Clooney is a charmer. OK, I don't like her. She's never watched the Oscars. Never dressed for it - obviously. Moving on....

February 24, 2008
Red Carpet Watch: Bring on the starlets!

Associated Press

Finally, someone got Gary Busey out of view of the camera. Ryan Seacrest can't talk away the look of terror on Jennifer Garner's face. Seacrest has apparently never met him, and he looks truly frightened himself. And well he should.

But, back to the red carpet. Young Miley Cyrus is really pretty in Valentino. I see expectant mom, Jessica Alba, in something really purple and pleasing to the eye. Please don't let Gary get anywhere near her!

Overall, a lot of the stars are playing it safe tonight. A lot of black - and not just the tuxes. I think they're just too sick of the rainy weather to put in the effort. (Heck, I'm in jeans!)

Keri Russell, Cameron Diaz and best actress nominee Marion Cotillard (pictured) appear to be taking the biggest fashion chances. We'll see as we continue to make our way down the red carpet, well, via the fine folks at E!, of course.

February 24, 2008
Red Carpet Watch: Goofy Gary

Jennifer Garner (presenter) chats with Laura Linney, both in strapless gowns. Linney is wearing Michael Kors; Garner is wearing - uh, I can't find out because of an idiot: Read on.

Crazy Gary Busey (I do mean crazy!) physically breaks up Seacrest's interview with Laura and Jennifer, bear-hugging Jennifer (and scaring her) and acting a fool. Who let him in?


February 24, 2008
Red Carpet Watch: Yellow not so mellow

Associated Press

Yikes! What's up with John Travolta's spray-on hair?

How is he looking? "Fabulous," according to wife Kelly Preston (pictured). "The red carpet is for the missus," Travolta says. He calls Preston's Roberto Cavalli gown orange; I say it's caution-light yellow and yucky. Doesn't work with her hair color or skin tone - or anything else.

But more on George. Apparently, history was made tonight: Clooney's cocktail-waitress girlfriend (she worked at the Maloofs' Palms in Vegas) has been generally kept out of the awards-show limelight up until now. OK, so she appeared on "Fear Factor." So, she eats bugs. Big deal.

Meanwhile, lots of buzz about the upcoming film "Get Smart" (June). It stars Anne Hathaway and Ryan Seacrest's next guest: Steve Carell of "The Office."

What's it like waking up next to Brad Pitt? (A recycled red-carpet question). Carrell says he's real "hormonal" right now, and Seacrest continues to ask stupid questions.

But, back to the fashions: Lots of color, some plunging necklines (odd for the weather), and not as much jewelry as I would have imagined. Maybe there weren't enough bodyguards to go around.

Amy Adams (presenter) is wearing black, strapless Proenza Schouler (double-faced satin) and carrying a very impractical mesh handbag. I couldn't fit a lip gloss in there.

February 24, 2008
Red Carpet Watch: Oh my, George!

George Clooney finally joins Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet - with The Girlfriend (Sarah Larson). Is she really worthy of him?

So, I'm praying that Seacrest asks as many questions as possible! To wit:

Do you ever have a bad day? "I'm like a robot, and I'm losing my battery!"

And no, he hasn't bought a house in Malibu. But he did spend Valentine's Day in Vegas.

But, at this point, I still don't know who designed his tux.

Meanwhile, actress Anne Hathaway, who is a presenter, is also amazing, wearing red - that's the color of the night - so far. Beautiful roses. She took heat last year for black and white Valentino - with bows. This year, she's got it right. And no faux tanning for Anne. All porcelana.

This just in: Anne is the new face of a Lancome fragrance - she can't tell us which one!

Seacrest admits he doesn't recognize a lot of the faces. Does it really matter? Look at the clothes, Ryan!

February 24, 2008
Red Carpet Watch: In the pink. And blue

Assocatied Press

So, we see best supporting actress nominee Amy Ryan in a one-shoulder, navy Calvin Klein. I would have liked a better hairdo. Needs more hairspray. Ryan Seacrest engaged her in some goofy punching routine - complete with sound effects.

Forget that: George Clooney (pictured) looks incredible. He's finally looking my way! A true Hollywood glam man, Clooney reminds me every bit of Cary Grant -and then some. Perfect tux. Lose the girlfriend!

Weather update: Don't see any umbrellas, but the odd girl on the roof with the forecast sounds eerily like Mark Finan from Channel 3.

None of the stars look wet to me.

Giuliana Rancic's fashion update from the roof? Heidi Klum's dress gets kudos for the high drama. But on second glance, the pink earrings and pink handbag look odd with the bright red gown. To bid on her dress: Be a size 2 and have a ginormous bank account.

Oh look: There's Dr. McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey), who well-represents the male TV entourage. My vote so far: Guys 3, gals, 1.

February 24, 2008
Red Carpet Watch: Hi Heidi!

Associated Press

By the way, Ryan Seacrest's suit (pseudo tux) is from Dolce & Gabbana. Still don't like it.

Is that George Clooney's back I see? Turn around, George! Quit talking to that nobody in the press corps!

One face we won't see? Some E! correspondent named Ken Baker says Angelina Jolie won't be here tonight. But she was seen at another awards show Saturday, and word is, she's visibly, visibly pregnant.

Heidi Klum (in beautiful red Galliano, pictured) and husband Seal (in Christian Dior) just arrived. She admits she's not wearing a bra (natch) and that her couture gown will be auctioned off afterward for research into women's heart disease. Heidi's hair is so very '60s. Giant up-do, and she's sooo elegant.

(Still, I like the new shag cut she's currently sporting on "Project Runway.")

Turn around, George, turn around!

February 24, 2008
Red Carpet Watch: Let's get started!

Oscars Arrivals.jpg
Associated Press

The red carpet looks dry, but shaggy, in Hollywood as Ryan Seacrest, co-host of E!'s pre-Oscars broadcast, told viewers from the get-go: "Put on your jewelry and your Spanx."

(Not sure what it is that Ryan is wearing, by the way. Odd suit with goofy brown stripes. I like his "American Idol" attire much better.)

But, I digress.

The tarps are up (pictured), as the weather forecast in SoCal calls for a line of showers - and some winds (15-20 mph) - with the temperature at 59 degrees as the show starts. The tents will probably hold up. Not so sure about the up-dos.

E! co-host Giuliana Rancic caught up with Oscar show host Jon Stewart, who says he'll be wearing Giorgio Armani for the telecast.

Let's get real. The first arrivals are going to include people I really don't care about. But, guess what? We hear a lot of TV stars will be serving as presenters tonight. Don't tell me George Clooney won't be here!!

Stay tuned; I know I'll keep watching.

February 22, 2008
Breaking news! Van Halen ticket sales postponed

Sorry to all you who were excited about that Van Halen show, but I've just been notified by the promoter that tickets are not going on sale March 1, after all.

Indeed, thanks to a couple of East Coast show cancellations, the Sacramento on-sale date has been postponed until further notice.

No, I'm not really sure what one has to do with the other, either, but there you go. The local show is still happening as far as I know - you'll just have to cool your heels a little longer before plunking down all that cold, hard cash.

February 22, 2008
Fox40 news' 'American Idol' obsession

OK, so we know the standard modus operandi of local TV news - you plug the entertainment shows on your network (especially during a sweeps month, which February is) with "news" stories of dubious merit.

For the gang at Fox40, that means doing nightly "stories" on "American Idol," that ratings juggernaut that the station hopes will keep viewers tuned in to the 10 o'clock news.

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Fox40's newshounds did a preview story, a recap of the male singers and a recap of the female singers, respectively. Idol chatter, indeed.

But how were they going to promote "Idol" on Thursday?

In a brilliant stroke of cross-promotion, reporter Rowena Shaddox spent the first 30 seconds of her 2 minute, 9 second report showing clips from "Idol," along with Ryan Seacrest intoning "Even Idols aren't immune to the flu," and Paula Abdul weighing in with sage medical diagnoses such as, "Some of these girls are really sick."

Check out the report by clicking on the "Flu Vaccine" video on the main page.

February 22, 2008
Oscar goes under the big top

Associated Press

Rain is in the forecast for L.A. on Sunday. Could that mean a soggy red carpet for the Academy Awards?

Not according to my sources. The (red-carpet) show, as they say, will go on.

Certainly, so says actress Lisa Rinna, who will co-host TV Guide Network's red-carpet coverage. In a call with me earlier this week, Lisa says tents (pictured above) are at the ready to protect those stars and starlets as they make their way from their limos, down the carpet and eventually into the Kodak Theatre for the awards ceremony.

"It is what it is," Lisa says. "We'll make it happen."

Of course, with tents (and umbrellas and the like), our at-home views might be a tad obscured because the TV platforms won't have their usual clear vantage points.

(A virtual monsoon is predicted on Sunday for Sacramento, while the L.A. (Hollywood/Beverly Hills) forecast, according to The Bee, and USA Today, calls for rain and a high of 61. That's downright BRRRR! for those starlets who plan to arrive scantily clad.)

Whatever the view, however, I'm not seeing any Burberry raincoats covering up thousand-dollar gowns. The stars will just have to grin (and answer the same questions over and over) and bear it.

A note from one fashionista to another: Want to dish about the red carpet? Join me here at 21Q from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday as I blog in real time about my take on the fashions - and/or the abundant outerwear. See you then!

February 22, 2008
Van Halen set to rock Arco on April 25

Music Van Halen.jpg

If you didn't get enough Van Halen when the band powered through Sacramento last November, buck up - the boys will be back in town April 25 at Arco Arena.

And yes, they're all apparently still getting along, which means David Lee Roth is still the singer - for now, anyway.

Eddie Van Halen, his son Wolfgang Van Halen and Eddie's bro, Alex Van Halen, make up the rest of the band.

Tickets (oh-so-not-cheap at $49.50, $79.50 and $149.50) go on sale at 10 a.m. March 1 through and

February 22, 2008
Macy's needs models

We've got another local model search in the works. Macy's is gearing up for its Prom 2008 fashion show, which is at 2 p.m. on March 8.

Here's the plan: The department store is looking for teens (both male and female) ages 14 to 19 with lots of energy and the proper 'tude to model at this prom show, which will be co-hosted by Seventeen magazine.

If you're interested, swing by the juniors' department at Macy's Arden Fair from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday. Reps from the store as well as from Ford Modeling Agency will answer questions and give you the once-over. (Note to prospective models: Fresh-faced is always better than overly made up!)

Models who make the cut will be notified by next Thursday. For more info, call (916) 444-3333, ext. 4234.

If you're just interested in getting prom-fashion tips, check out the show on March 8. Afterward, there will be mini-makeovers at the BeneFit counter as well as free samples of Roxy Love fragrance.

February 22, 2008
Carla Meyer's Movie Picks

Wondering what to see this weekend?

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:

In Bruges
3 stars
The six or seven people who saw "Cassandra's Dream" will note the eerie similarities between Colin Farrell's remorseful criminal in this film and the one he played in that Woody Allen film. But you also see why Farrell would take such similar roles -- the chance to work with Allen, and with Martin McDonagh, the talented writer and director of the ultraviolent but witty "In Bruges."
Rated R

3 1/2 stars
When the story starts in 1978, Marjane (given sprightly voice by Gabrielle Lopes) is an energetic kid who loves Bruce Lee, talks to Allah and tries to understand her well-off parents' conversations about Iranian politics. She supports anti-shah rioters, partly because she appreciates the theatricality of their process.
Rated PG-13

The Spiderwick Chronicles
3 stars
The Patty-Duke-and-her-cousin conceit of Freddie Highmore playing twins might set off alarm bells for viewers raised on obvious split screens. But Highmore and the film's effects squad pull it off. The twins seem like distinct people. Whereas Simon is bookish and peaceable, Jared is alternately mischievous and dour.
Rated PG

February 22, 2008
Idol Chatter: And then there were 20


I can't argue too much with America's choices for elimination Thursday night on "American Idol," though I'm sure Joanne Borgella (pictured) would love to get a re-do.

More than 28 million votes were cast to kick off two of the guys and two of the gals. But first: The Top 24 were forced to croon a medley of '60s songs.

The "Idol" wardrobe and hair departments went wild with black and white pleather and hair extensions. Heck, I didn't recognize some of the contestants!

The first guy eliminated was Garrett Haley. No surprise there, though I admit Ryan Seacrest pretty much asked him to step forward and told him, "I have to say goodbye." Brutal? Kind of. But even more so was having the kicked-off contestants' family members and friends perched overhead as they performed for the last time. The loved ones looked awkward and uncomfortable and very unhappy.

Kristy Lee Cook, who suffered bronchitis earlier, was spared. (I said the sympathy vote would save her.) Not so for Amy Davis, who left the show with "lots of memories." I know it will be a while before any of us forget her take of "Where the Boys Are."

Next up? Viewers got a sneak peek at judge Paula Abdul's upcoming music vicdeo (due out March 11), "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow." I was impressed. She seems waaay more comfortable performing than judging. Her cohort Randy Jackson is producing the album. He even performs on it.

Anyway, Joanne and rocker Amanda Overmyer were the next female contestants to face the ax, and Amanda is safe - with a lot more hair than she had a couple days ago.

I have a hunch Joanne was one of the flu-bitten among the gals. Her parting song had a lot more going for it than when she sang for votes. Too bad, because she does have a pretty good voice.

The last to go? Teen Colton Berry, who was encouraged to go for a singing career by Randy and Paula. Simon Cowell's parting shot, though: "Get a good job and enjoy singing." In other words, don't count on performing as a permanent gig.

The Top 10 guys get another crack at it next Tuesday (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40).

Oh, and we already know Season 7's parting song, which will mean months of hearing "Best Days" by Graham Colton.

FYI: Let me know if anyone out there is downloading the performances from iTunes.

February 21, 2008
Death Cab for Cutie tickets go on presale today


I heard a buzz about this show earlier in the week but couldn't get confirmation on it until today - just in time to tell you about a special presale ticket offer.

So a) Yes, Death Cab for Cutie is playing April 22 at UC Davis' Freeborn Hall. The band, whose new album "Narrow Stairs" will be released May 13, has only announced a few dates so far - so glad we made the cut.

And b) Presale tickets are on sale right now via the band's fan club site. If you're not already a card-carrying member, that will set you back $30. (Heck, the annual fee gets you a fan club exclusive T-shirt, a seven-inch single (featuring previously unreleased material, on colored vinyl no less) and, of course, a card to carry in your wallet.

No word yet on when tickets go on sale to the general public, but I'm guessing it's sooner rather than later, so you might want to keep an eye on the Freeborn Hall site for more information on that one.

February 21, 2008
Idol Chatter: Gals are bugged


Wednesday night's competition among the "American Idol" Top 12 gals was a mixed bag of so-so '60s songs sprinkled with high-octave performances. Oh, and several of the contestants were (or had been) very ill leading up to the show.

Host Ryan Seacrest told the judges that the sick ones could barely get up on the stage to rehearse, yet alone sing.

Add to that, some really frayed nerves, and you get two hours that, for me, were pretty forgettable. But, a wrap-up is in order.

* Kristy Lee Cook (24, Selma, Ore.): I could tell right away that Kristy was one of the sicker contestants (bronchitis bit her), and I wanted to rescue her from her "Rescue Me" rendition before she passed out. The judges were a little less sympathetic. Simon Cowell even pointed out he could have done better if he was sick himself. "I didn't get a lot from that performance. It was very robotic and the wrong song choice." Prediction: A lot of sympathy votes because she's sick.

* Joanne Borgella (25, Hoboken, N.J.): Her "Say a Little Prayer" was more of a sermon - in terms of length. I'm betting she was another performer bitten by the bug. Joanne clearly looked uncomfortable - for whatever reason. Paula Abdul was almost as tough as Simon, telling her she needed to "pull it together." Prediction: Improve, or no Top 12.

* Alaina Whitaker (17, Tulsa, Okla.): Today is Alaina's birthday, and you know what she wants: to make it through to the next round. If I'm granting wishes, she will. Alaina was one of two female contestants who performed the same song as two of the guys on Tuesday - "More Today Than Yesterday." Hers was much more relevant (new buzzword on "Idol") than Chikezie's. "It's the year of the young ones," Randy says. "You sung it with conviction and confidence." Prediction: Is Alaina the next Carrie Underwood?

* Amanda Overmyer (23, Mulberry, Ind.): If Amanda's 23, I'm 33! OK, so I guess I'm not progressive enough - her over-the-top rocker look (Lily Munster hair, 100 clanking bracelets, mucho makeup) was distracting to me. It didn't help that I (like Simon) had no idea what she sang. Oh, it was Big Joe Williams' "Baby Please Don't Go," she said. Uh-huh. Paula and Randy gushed; Simon wants Amanda to come back and "prove what a great singer you are." Prediction: She'll move on, but there will be a battle with the "AI" hairstylist.

* Amy Davis (25, Lowell, Ind.): A lack of confidence could be Amy's undoing. And I'm not sure "Where the Boys Are" can switch gears and go country, which is what Amy attempted. Simon said, "It was what it was - a boring song that sounded like it went on for 10 minutes." Prediction: The camera might like Amy, but the voters won't.

* Brooke White (24, Mesa, Ariz.): The professed "good girl" had a little darker look to her. The big blond curls were there, but Brooke opted for darker eye makeup for her version of "Happy Together." (David Cook sang this Tuesday.) Randy said that, in the end, she "slayed it." Translation? Killed the song, but in a good way. Simon said something about Brooke looking like someone in a '60s commercial in the UK for "washing-up liquid." Translation? Dish soap. Prediction: I'm putting Brooke into the Top 12 because I'm running out of options.

* Alexandrea Lushington (17, Douglasville, Ga.): There was blood, sweat and even tears for me when Alexandrea descended the stairs singing "Spinnin' Wheel." I agree with Simon, who "didn't get it." But Randy and Paula loved Alexandrea (don't mispronounce her name!). Said Randy: "You blew the doors off that." Prediction: Top 12, not Top 10.

* Kady Malloy (18, Houston, Texas): Kady does better Britney Spears impersonations - and other impersonations, too - than she does when singing on her own. Her "A Groovy Kind of Love" was compared by Simon to the zombie-inspired flick "Night of the Living Dead." "If someone did an impersonation of you, it would be a pencil," he said. Prediction: She could be one of the first two gals to go.

* Asia'h Epperson (19, Joplin, Mo.): I was hoping there would be no Janis Joplin (sorry, it's tooo loud), but here comes "A Piece of My Heart," which I think has been performed ad nauseum by female contestants. But, my bad. All three judges loved Asia'h's version. At least it kept me awake. Prediction: Memorize Asia'h's face. She'll be sticking around.

* Ramiele Malubay (20, Miramar, Fla.): No one was more excited about hair, makeup and new shoes than Ramiele, who sort of had her coif done a la Christian on "Project Runway." Her rendition of Dusty Springfield's "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me" showed that a big voice can live inside a little body. Paula said she was a "force to be reckoned with." Simon had Ramiele outsinging the other gals - so far. Prediction: Definite Top 10.

* Syesha Mercado (21, Sarasota, Fla.): Fortunately, Syesha (pictured) didn't suffer another bout of laryngitis like she did during Hollywood Week. Her trip down "Tobacco Road" had a ton of attitude. It might not have been her best effort, but Randy labeled Syesha one of the most "consistent" performers. Prediction: Unless she stumbles, a for-sure Top 12.

* Carly Smithson (24, San Diego): There's been so much buzz about Carly because of her previous recording contract, but it all came down to Wednesday night, and she definitely was one of the sickest contestants. It was evident from the first bar of "The Shadow of Your Smile," which, in my opinion, was too "old" for Carly. OK, so I'm wrong, according to Randy, who thought it was the best vocal of the Top 24! Prediction: Give her some antibiotics, and she'll sail through to the next round.

After the two-night competition, Simon said he thought there were three "hot" guys and three or four "hotter" gals. That doesn't give us a Top 12, but it's a start.

Tonight (at 8 on Channel 40), two guys and two gals will be eliminated during the live results show. My guess is that both the younger voters and the older voters will be weighing in heavily on who stays and who goes.

Stay tuned!

February 21, 2008
Designers and dresses and Oscar!

Associated Press

Lisa Rinna (pictured with Joey Fatone) is still undecided about which dress she'll be wearing to co-host the TV Guide Network's red-carpet show this Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m. (She has two to pick from.)

It's an important choice because, this year, the Academy Awards will be providing pretty much the only opportunity for big-name designers to showcase their frocks. With the writers' strike, there were no Golden Globes, and did we really care about the SAG Awards - at least from a fashion perspective?

So, designers will be falling over their tape measures to get next season's (even this season's) gowns on celebrities. After all, it's free publicity with very handsome rewards.

“People are dying to dress up in this town,” says Lisa, speaking on the phone from Los Angeles. “The nominees and presenters in particular will have their pick of whatever they want. They can call up any designer and say, ‘I want to wear one of your dresses.’

“I think we’ll see a lot of couture, perhaps on (best actress) nominee Marion Cotillard,” Lisa adds. “Penelope Cruz loves couture, and we’ll probably see Renee Zellweger in Carolina Herrera.”

As for the men, Lisa says they usually get it “right.”

“I love them!,” she says. “They know how to wear Tom Ford and Prada. (Best actor) nominee Javier Bardem is sooo stunning. I think the men will really be strong.”

She's equally effusive about her co-host.

"Joey is a guy's guy," Lisa says. "He can bring a husband, watching at home, into our audience because he's refreshing. You can't fake that."

A note from one fashionista to another: Want to dish about the red carpet yourself? Join me here at 21Q from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday as I blog in real time about my take on the fashions.

February 20, 2008
A new medium beckons Channel 13's Chris Burrous


Chris ("Give Beer to the Homeless") Burrous, Channel 13's wildly unpredictable morning news anchor, will expand his media reach in town to radio - for one night, at least.

Burrous will be filling in for news-talk KFBK (1530 AM) evening host (7 to 10 p.m.) Bruce Maiman on Tuesday.

Radio is not exactly foreign territory to Burrous, since his TV morning show often takes viewer phone calls.

And, for good or ill (mostly ill, lately), Burrous is never at a loss for words.

It may be interesting to tune in for a night, if for nothing else than to hear what outrageous things he'll say.

February 20, 2008
Will KSAC abandon lefty talk?

peter collins.jpg

Might Sacramento soon be without a "progressive" talk radio station?

That's what syndicated radio host Peter B. Collins (pictured) has said on the air and on his Web site. Collins, whose show airs on KSAC (1240 AM) from 3 to 6 p.m., wrote, in part, that "the station just notified me and other program producers that it will change format in May if business does not improve."

Today, Paula Nelson, owner and general manager of KSAC, acknowledges that she's "had some offers from other formats."

But, she quickly adds, "I'd like to support Democratic and progressive radio in Sacramento. But, hey, if the progressive people can't come through for us and give us more advertising through our door, we're going to have to make a change."

A quick check of KSAC's Web site speaks to the uncertainty of the station. A graphic reads: "This site under construction."

"We're just trying to be honest and light a fire under our listeners," Nelson says.

In the most recent Arbitron ratings period, KSAC finished 21st out of 32 stations, with a 1.4 rating. That is, however, a significant improvement over its 0.4 rating from last year's numbers.

Late last year, KSAC dropped its only local talk show host, Christine Craft, a move widely seen as done for cost-cutting reasons.

February 20, 2008
Carrie Underwood is going 'Live'


Carrie Underwood is in full-blown travel mode, on the road co-headlining with country bud Keith Urban on the Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Carnival Ride Tour.

But she's taking a break in the action this weekend to appear on "Saturday Night Live" (at 11:30 p.m. on Channel 3).

I spoke with Carrie today as she prepared to head into rehearsals for the show, which is back on the air for the first time since the writers' strike ended. When the request for her to perform came through, she says, she made a beeline for the Big Apple.

"It was great because it worked out in our (hers and Keith's) schedule," she says. "We were playing in the area, driving in and out of New York, so it worked out perfectly."

This is Carrie's second time performing on the late-night comedy show. She'll be sharing the stage with former "SNL" performer and writer Tina Fey, who will be scripting a big chunk of the welcome-back episode.

"My band was sooo excited when I told them about the opportunity to be on the show," Carrie says.

Meanwhile, next month (on March 12), the Urban/Underwood entourage (read: buses) pull into Arco Arena for Sacramento's "Crazy Carnival" tour stop. Stay tuned here at 21Q and in The Bee as we get closer to the Arco show for more from Carrie on how the tour's going, as well as all things "American Idol." (She still loves talking about it!)

February 20, 2008
Casting call for local models

Kevin German/Sacramento Bee, August 2005

Can you walk the walk? Can you strut your stuff? If modeling is part of your resume, there's a casting call next weekend for both men and women to participate in a show called "Imagine: Where Fashion, Art & Music Unite." The show is being presented by the International Academy of Design & Technology, a less-than-year-old local college for super-creative types, like fashion and interior designers and visual communications majors.

The school's fashion design students will present their spring/summer collections, and they need models for the show. The casting call is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 1 at the school, 2450 Del Paso Road, Suite 250 in Sacramento.

The requirements?

* Men should be 5-foot-11 or taller with a waist of no more than 32 inches.
* Women should be 5-foot-8 or taller and wear a dress size 0 to 6. They should wear or bring heels for the runway walk.

Both men and women should have clean hair and no makeup. The fashion show is March 28, so models will need flexibility in their schedules for fittings and a walk-through prior to the event. For more information, call (916) 285-9468 and ask for Denise Reed, the chair of the school's fashion department.

February 20, 2008
Idol Chatter: Guys were a mixed bag


Tuesday night, "American Idol's" Top 12 guys performed for the first time in their bid to win America's votes - and loyalty.

No doubt there is some major talent among them. But hey, that's what we were promised: better singers and no Sanjaya! (Two of the contestants will be eliminated on Thursday night's live results show.)

Anyway, it didn't take me long to find some worthy nominees. The judges - Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell - spoke their minds with the usual smattering of "Yos" and "Dawgs" and something about the contestants being "colors." (Simon was not as easy on the guys as the other two.)

Here's my wrap-up of the competition, which featured '60s songs:

* David Hernandez (24, Glendale, Ariz.): His "Midnight Hour" was just OK. I lost interest halfway through, but Randy thought he did a good job. Prediction: David won't be around for the Top 10.

* Chikezie: (22, Inglewood, Calif.): Ugh, Chikezie butchered one of my favorite shag songs from college - the Spiral Staircase classic "More Today Than Yesterday." He sang it so slow that I almost didn't recognize it! Simon thought his tangerine suit was "hideous." Prediction: Chikezie needs a strong comeback if he comes back at all.

* David Cook (25, Blue Springs, Mo.): David rocked the Turtles' "Happy Together." Yes, it was a different take on the classic but, as Simon put it, "it was believeable." Prediction: David C. will definitely make the Top 12 (guys and gals).

* Jason Yeager (28, Grand Prairie, Texas): Jason might pass for a much older contestant, especially with his stodgy version of "Moon River." ZZZZZ! We got our first "cruise ship" reference, and Simon said the performance would leave a lot of young viewers with a question mark about Jason. Prediction: No post-"Idol" tour for this crooner.

* Robbie Carrico (26, Melbourne, Fla.): Loved this rocker (the look, the bandana, everything). Robbie's take on Three Dog Night's "One" won me over, as well as the judges. Paula said he picked the perfect song. Prediction: Definitely a keeper.

* David Archuleta (17, Murray, Utah): Give this teen a big hug! What a performance. I almost forgot who did the original version of "Shop Around" (Smokey Robinson). Simon touted, "When you've got it, you've got it. By a comfortable mile, it was the best performance of the night." Prediction: We might be looking at, listening to, this season's winner.

* Danny Noriega (18, Azusa, Calif.): "Elvaz" needs to leave the building. Danny's rendition of "Jailhouse Rock" was a mess. You know it's not good when Randy says you were "having a good time." Prediction: Danny, quit pouting. It's not working for you.

* Luke Menard (29, Crawfordsville, Ind.): "Everybody's Talking" about how boring this version of the "Midnight Cowboy" theme was. And what was up with Luke's jacket? He looked like he was auditioning for the Jon Voight character in the movie. Randy said it was pitchy the whole way through, and that was kind. Prediction: He's forgettable.

* Colton Berry (18, Staunton, Va.): He didn't get much airtime during the audition process and is making up for it with a lot of preening and prancing and silly comparisions about himself and Ellen DeGeneres. Huh? I'll give Colton a kudo that his version of another Elvis song, "Suspicious Minds," was better than Danny N's. Simon said the performance was more in tune with musical theater. Prediction: Possible Top 12 contestant. Get rid of the mirrors in the dressing room.

* Garrett Haley (17, Elida, Ohio): Garrett didn't do a thing with his sappy take on "Don't Take Your Love Away From Me." I don't especially like this song anyway, but Garrett's eerie likeness to Peter Frampton didn't help. Simon quipped that he "looked like he had been shut up in a bedroom for a month." Prediction: Garrett will be back in Ohio either this week or the next.

* Jason Castro (20, Rockwall, Texas): Jason C. was the only contestant to play an instrument (the guitar) Tuesday night, and there was a lot to love about his version of the Lovin' Spoonful classic "What a Day For a Daydream." Simon said it was one of the top two performances of the night. "You're great with the camera," he added. Prediction: Count on seeing Jason for weeks to come.

* Michael Johns (29, Buckhead, Ga.): With a nod to Kings announcer Grant Napear, "Turn on the sprinklers, this guy is on fire!" Michael (pictured) didn't disappoint with "Light My Fire." Dude was hot! Randy said he threw all caution to the wind. "What a way to end the night. I loved it!" Prediction: Michael and David A. were the cream of the crop.

Tonight (at 8 on Channel 40), the Top 12 women compete, also singing '60s songs. They've got their work cut out for them. Check back here for updates.

February 19, 2008
Newspapers vs. TV: Part 1,398

Cranky newspaper reporters are forever kvetching about how vapid local TV types steal their stories and present them as their own enterprise work.

My TV news friends (yes, I do have one or two) explain it away three ways:

1. Don't think of it as stealing. It's recycling the story. Everybody wants to be green, you know.

2. It's not news until it's on TV.

3. Imitation is the sincerest form of cliche - or something like that.

I bring this up because there is a scathing column in the Amador Ledger, by Raheem Hosseini, upbraiding Channel 13 and Channel 3 for stealing stories. Headline: "The fine, dumb cannibals."


Here are two excerpts from the column:

"Last November, there was an alleged road rage incident in the Martell Business Park. Nobody was hurt, though the disagreement led to a man being processed on a number of minor charges - most of which have been dropped. The Ledger buried the story on A3, yet the next day CBS 13's slick-haired bloodhounds came sniffing at the ankles of our newspaper, begging for all the information we had on the case. We said no.

"That night, our dismay at their laziness was replaced by disgust at their bottom-feeding knack for sensationalism when they made the incident their lead story of the night - portraying it as a life-and-death scenario in which a 72-year-old man had attempted to sacrifice innocent shoppers on the altar of his car grill...."

And then there's this...

"A day after the Ledger's "A tale of two cities" came out, we were strolling down Main Street in Jackson when we glimpsed KCRA's frumpy Rich Ibarra looking confused as he lazily dangled a microphone from one arm. His rotund cameraman balanced a lens with one hand and sported a plumber's crack with the other. They had the appearance of lost souls.

"We questioned what they were doing in Jackson. Perhaps Ibarra felt put on the spot by meeting the very journalists whom he'd come to rip off - or maybe he was just too good to talk to newspapermen who didn't smear their faces with layers of foundation. Either way, his cameraman mumbled, 'We heard about problems with this Main Street being a depressed area.' Before we could answer, he blurted, 'This street doesn't look so bad; there are people all over the place.'

"We suggested that Jackson's economic issues were relevant to our community's newspaper, but hardly the stuff of regional headlines. The cameraman gave a jolly smile and admitted that he and Ibarra were really just looking for an excuse to take a nice drive through the foothills. Ibarra's sorry excuse for media flim-flamery aired on KCRA that night."

People, people. Can't we all just get along?

February 19, 2008
Confessions of a bleary-eyed morning news watcher


This posting is both a shameless plug and a mea culpa.

First, the plug: Check out my analysis this morning of the five morning news programs (during the 6 a.m. hour) and feel free to comment about whether I was (a) off base, or (b) way off base.

Next, I made a mistake. (Hence, the dunce cap I'm wearing in the picture.)

I listed Cody Stark as the weatherman in the morning. It's Jeff James.

No excuses on my part, other than I was just so mezmerized by anchor Chris Burrous that I must have hallucinated and put Stark onto the set.

My apologies.

February 19, 2008
Idol Chatter: More with Nigel Lythgoe


During a recent conference call, Nigel Lythgoe, executive producer of "American Idol," couldn't shake questions about Top 24 contestant Carly Smithson (pictured) and the fact that she's "been around" when it comes to performing. Lythgoe continued to set the record straight beyond what he said in today's Scene story.

Q: Carly signed a major label deal, it was marketed, but she was a washout. How will that impact her relationship with voters?
A: I don't know what the angle is. All we're saying is she's very talented, and she hasn't broken any rules. We've never not shown their (contestants) past when we can. And there's nothing wrong with saying she had a record deal and it didn't work.

Q: Why was so much airtime devoted to Josiah Leming (the teen living in his car), and why didn't he make the Top 24?
A: We felt he was a major story. As to why he didn't get through, I don't get in their (judges') heads. I don't think his voice was as strong compared to the others. His voice itself was strange. He turned into an Englishman when he sang. It was shaky. And I don't think he picked the right tune when he dismissed the band.

Q: What happens to someone like him?
A: I honestly don't know. When contestants leave, I would be left worrying about 100,000 of them.

Q: Does "American Idol" continue to benefit from having rockers compete? And how do you see at least two of them - Robbie Carrico and Amanda Overmyer - doing this season?
A: It's important that we have character in the music, that it's not bland. For example, if it's good country, like Bucky Covington (Season 5), that's a hook for people to latch on to. Amanda is the real deal. Ronnie might not be as strong as, say, Bo Bice (Season 4).

Q: What was the reasoning behind not doing group night during Hollywood Week?
A: We wanted to be able to hear the contestants sing on their own. We didn't want them spending the night with other contestants, haggling over song choice and choreography and then not remembering the lyrics...I think the contestants benefited because they were given a second opportunity to perform.

Q: Do the more experienced contestants, like a Carly, have an advantage?
A: Sometimes they're more at a disadvantage. But you never know who will rise or fall. Lakisha (Jones) last season started off as the one to beat. Then, we watched her pull up like a good racehorse at the end. No one had heard of Vonzell (Solomon) (Season 4), and she finished third. Jordin Sparks grew every week last year. It comes with the excitement of getting more confident. Even the pros probably have never had this kind of intense musical training and exposure. It makes - and breaks - some of them.

Q: The live results show (at 8 p.m. Thursday) has been extended to an hour. Why?
A: I never felt comfortable doing 21 minutes (the airtime on a half-hour show). The "American Idol" hour is 38 minutes. I wanted viewers to get to know the contestants better. We'll also be doing a package on "Where are they now?" to update viewers on past participants, like Kimberley Locke and Diana DeGarmo.

So, there you go. Tonight's first round features the Top 12 guys singing '60s songs. Check back here - at 21Q - for my wrap-up.

February 18, 2008
J.Crew spotted in Rome!

94409_PK6199.jpgSo let's say you've made the rounds of all the local stores for Presidents' Day sales. Yet, you're still in the mood to shop. Have I got a site for you! You have to visit it, especially if you're into Italy.

J.Crew's "Ciao Roma" video (click here) traces one beautiful yellow handbag as it makes its way around the streets of Rome. It's been to the Colosseum, hanging on a chair at an outdoor restaurant, spirited up and down steps. It goes for a ride on a moped and serves as a "pillow" for a young man's head.

Good idea. It makes you want to peruse the site even more to see what goes best with the handbag. And I found it! These brightly colored, patent leather peep-toe Mary Janes (pictured). Yes, they cost $198. But, of course, they're made in Italy and feature a 3-inch covered heel. They come in black, for sure. But why not go for color and pick either the autumn berry, emerald or (pucker up) sour lemon. Check online for more J.Crew peep-toe options.

February 15, 2008
Carla Meyer's Movie Picks

Wondering what to see this weekend?

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:

No Country for Old Men
4 stars
As in other Coen brothers' movies, some of the most effective moments come from juxtaposing the extraordinary and the banal, the horrifyingly criminal and the workaday polite. But even though it evokes “Fargo” at moments, “No Country for Old Men” establishes itself as something all its own, from the starkness of its violence and Texas landscape to its singular characters.
Rated R

3 1/2 stars
This Oscar-nominated, French-language animated film uses hand-drawn, black-and-white imagery to depict a girl’s coming of age during the Islamic revolution in Iran. As the penciled-in shading overtakes the frame to emphasize personally or politically charged moments, “Persepolis” adopts the quality of film noir.
Rated PG-13

There Will Be Blood
3 1/2 stars
Oil tycoon Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) remains a big personality even at quieter moments. When local preacher Eli (Paul Dano) consults him about church matters or the oil-field workers’ drinking, Daniel barely contains his contempt. His belief in the almighty dollar prevents an understanding of competing beliefs.
Rated R

Also, check out the Oscar-nominated shorts at the Crest Theatre. It's a rare opportunity to see world-class short films on a big screen.

February 15, 2008
William T. Vollmann wows NPR with audio slideshow


Sacramento author William T. Vollmann, a National Book Award winner, has been getting mixed reviews for his new nonfiction offering, "Riding Toward Everywhere."

That New York Times Book Review piece by Pulitizer Prize-winner J.R. Moehringer was brutally negative.

National Public Radio was much more kind. In fact, Vollmann appered on its excellent alt-morning show, "The Bryant Park Project," which put together an audio slideshow for its blog.

Check it out. It'll make you want to "catch out."

February 15, 2008
The YMD do double name-drop with Kevin Seconds, the Yah Mos


So, I'm sitting here, listening to Whitney Matheson's weekly Pop Candy podcast, and the USA Today blogger's latest has a catchy little track by the Philadelphia-based rappers the YMD.

The song: "From Stockton to Malone," a very Beastie Boys-esque ode to great basketball players such as the famed Utah Jazz pair John Stockton and Karl Malone.

Anyway, I'm listening and I'm working on a story when suddenly I sit up straight in my seat (you know, just like my mama always tells me to) as they're dropping cold rhymes (their words, not mine), and I hear "doing it blah blah blah like Kevin Seconds/bring the beat back - yo, his kids will wreck this."

OK, they didn't really say "blah blah blah," but I've since listened to this track like, a million times, and I still can't figure out what it is they are doing like Seconds (pictured).

Anyway, the important thing is that Seconds is the frontman for 7Seconds and a singer with Go National, as well as the co-owner of our very own True Love Coffeehouse in midtown Sacramento.


It's also cool that Seconds is a huge NBA fan.

Here's another thing: The YMD's full name is the Yah Mos Def, a nod to the Yah Mos - the local cult faves who later spawned the likes of !!! and Out Hud. The rappers reportedly changed it to the YMD after having a bit of a name tug-of-war on MySpace with the original band, although their new album is still called "This is the Yah Mos Def."

Yeah, I know, weird - what are a bunch of Philly kids doing all up in our NorCal business? Actually, they name-drop a ton of people, including 2Live Crew, the S.F. band Cars Get Crushed, and Peter Fonda.

You can listen to the track by downloading Matheson's podcast or check out other tracks at

Warning: Some of the tracks are a bit explicit, but I know you can handle it.

And while you're listening, try and figure out what they're trying to do like Seconds, will ya? Do they "jump and dive" like him? "Punk and die"? Let me know, cos it's gonna really bug me until I found out.

February 15, 2008
News10's HD snafu explained


Several loyal readers have called, asking what the #$%@&* is up (and that's a direct quote) with News10's high definition signal, which has been on the fritz all week.

Let's not bury the good news: Station honchos say the HD should be back in operation by tonight, at the latest.

No doubt they're among the most relieved by the news. Fans of "Lost" can be fanatic, you know, and not seeing Kate and Sawyer (pictured) in HD is a big loss.

Still, Russell Postell, News10's general manager, has got some 'splaining to do...

"What happened was that we had a transmission line that burned out," Postell says. "It took us a couple of days to repair it. The only reason we haven't been on since fixing it Tuesday is that it's been too windy to go up to our transmission tower to get it back on."

Postell is quick to add that News10 will replay this week's episode of "Lost" next Thursday at 8 p.m., leading into a new episode at 9.

In other HD news: News10's HD-3 channel plans to air the Tour of California bike race on Tuesday as it wends its way through Winters, Davis, Woodland and Sacramento. News10 is also projecting its feed to a giant HD screen in Davis' downtown park on 3rd and F streets.

February 15, 2008
Keith Olbermann: Tom Sullivan is 'Worst Person in the World'

Usually, liberal MSNBC host Keith Olbermann reserves the No. 1 spot of his nightly "Worst Person in the World" for his favorite punching bag Bill O'Reilly.

But Thursday night, the dishonor went to Tom Sullivan for his comparison of the speaking styles of Adolph Hitler and Barack Obama. (Check out our earlier post on the KFBK alum.)

February 14, 2008
'Project Runway': Chris on the march


If you've been on pins and needles this season as "Project Runway" has made its march down the catwalk, you also know that the show is now down to four designing hopefuls.

For those who missed it: The Final Five went on yet another field trip in Wednesday night's episode - this time to get devine inspiration at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. At the end of the show, we lost Sweet P, whose outfit was deemed too commercial. (That is, been there, seen that.)

So, of the remaining four, Jillian and Christian will definitely be competing during Fashion Week. A slight wrinkle, though, for Chris and Rami, upon whom the judges deadlocked. As a result, these two must vie one last time for the third and last spot by - yikes! - also whipping up an entire collection. That's a lotta work, only to wind up being told, "You're out!"

Next week? The catty reunion show (at 10 p.m. Wednesday on Bravo), when you know the claws will be sharpened.

In the meantime, here's a little tidbit that ran today in The Bee's City edition, in my colleague Carlos Alcala's column.

Carlos tells us that contestant Chris has a local connection - a brother, Doug March, who lives in Curtis Park. A landscape designer, he's apparently not so good with the scissors. But thankfully, bro Chris has been there to create Halloween costumes for Doug's kids ever since they were born.

Hey, no store-bought Spiderman getups for these kids!

February 14, 2008
Tom Sullivan compares Obama and Hitler speeches, cheers both

Whoa. Talk about "The Audacity of Right-Wing Radio Talking Heads"....

Listen (courtesy of the watchdog group Media Matters for America) to a segment of Tom Sullivan's radio show on KFBK (1530 AM) on Monday, in which he compares the oratorical style of Hitler and Barack Obama.

Here's the summary from Media Matters:

Fox News Radio host Tom Sullivan took a call from a listener who stated that when listening to Barack Obama speak, "it harkens back to when I was younger and I used to watch those deals with Hitler, how he would excite the crowd and they'd come to their feet and scream and yell." Sullivan then played a "side-by-side comparison" of a Hitler speech and an Obama speech. Sullivan mimicked the crowd during both speeches, yelling, "Yay! Yay!" When a later caller complained that Sullivan was "denigrating" Obama with the comparison, Sullivan said he wouldn't play it again, then begged: "Can I, please, one more time? Just one more time? Then I won't do it again. ... Until the next time."
February 14, 2008
Idol Chatter: At last, the Top 24


OK, so I was all set to get right down to the business of finding out who was to make the Top 24 on "American Idol" Wednesday night, only to have the show open with some lame-o promo of actor Hayden Christensen's upcoming movie "Jumper."

He and "Idol" host Ryan Seacrest are perched, I think, on top of a pyramid eating sandwiches, and Ryan says he's got a "show to do." Well, darn it, get on with it then!

And pleaaaase tell me we're not starting with the crazy commercials already!

Anyway, the show made a mega deal out of how the remaining 50 contestants were frazzled and frayed. They couldn't eat or sleep, they fidgeted, they cried.

Michael.jpg Frazzled or not, as a viewer, it was difficult at times to figure out who was who. The show's producers seemed to focus on folks we had seen and heard and already had gotten to know, i.e. Carly Smithson (the Irish singer who got her visa right this time), Brooke White (blond curls/Carol King approach), and Michael Johns (pictured; Aussie who's easy on the eyes).

They made it through, of course. And on and on till it was down to 12 guys and 12 gals.

The three judges delivered the good/bad news in the usual cavernous ballroom with the contestants sitting in front of them. For some reason, Paula Abdul did most of the talking, if you could call it that, with a lot of stuff like, "This is an emotional time for all us" and "It only gets harder from here on." (Simon Cowell even chimed in that she was deliberately "torturing" some of the contestants with her prattling.)

The folks in my circle felt the show finally did get it right, though, putting through the best singers, including Syesha Mercado, David Cook, Asia'H Epperson (pictured) and, for the youth market, 17-year-old David Archuleta.

There was, however, the usual drama:

* Colton Berry beat out likeable future politico Kyle Ensley, whom Simon apparently fought with his last breath to keep. "I completely disagree with this decision, Kyle," Simon said, "and I'm really, really disappointed you're not going on."

* Alas, the "Heartbreak Kid," Josiah Leming, 18, who had been living in his car, got a "no." His tearful exit was almost too painful to watch. He hugged all the winners, wished them luck and left the building. My daughter said she was sure someone would take him into their home after that departure.

Starting next week, "Idol" viewers will become the voters. The Top 12 guys perform Tuesday; the Top 12 gals Wednesday. Then, on Thursday's live results show, two from each group will get the boot.

All shows will air at 8 p.m. on Channel 40. That's also when we find out what the Season 7 parting song will be. Hope it's a good one; we'll hear enough of it until May!

Note to you: In anticipation of next week's competition, I'll be speaking on Friday with "Idol" producer Nigel Lythgoe to get his take on what to expect from this crop of semi-finalists.

Stay tuned.

February 14, 2008
The Police, Elvis Costello at Sleep Train in July

Japan Sting The police conc.jpg

Well, here's a sweet double whammy for your Valentine's Day:

The Police with Elvis Costello and the Imposters, July 17 at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre.

Just in case you're not getting the magnitude of this: The Police had the top-selling tour of 2007. On this trek - reportedly their last and most final one ever - the trio is playing cities they skipped on the last go-round.

And, yes, that skipping thing? It included Sacramento. The Police bypassed Sac last time in favor of Oakland, so now we're finally getting our due.

OK, confession: Even though my 8th grade "Every Breath You Take"-lovin' self would be flipping out over this news, my, er, older persona is just a wee bit more excited about seeing Costello. Really, it's just the teensiest bit more of a wow factor for me - built on a foundation of having experienced several awesome Costello shows during my adult life.

Still, obvs, I've never seen the Police (as I was so not cool enough to go see them in 1983), so this is a good deal all around.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, and - duh - they ain't cheap: $40.50 for general admission, and $90.50 and $225.20 for reserved seats. Get them through, or by calling (916) 649-8497.

February 13, 2008
Mark Williams to Albany, N.Y., legislature: 'Garbage'


Yes, it's been a while since Mark Williams - the ex-KFBK conservative talker now plying his trade in Albany, N.Y. (brrr!) - had a really good street fight.

And the Sacramento Capitol steps have been a quieter place because of it.

But connoisseurs of Williams' unique brand of Commedia dell'Arte-meets-Political Theater can catch his act in Albany, where he spoke against a county resolution to bring the troops home from Iraq. The highlight: He pulled a Sinead O'Connor and ripped up the resolution before legislators' eyes.

Here's the video.

February 13, 2008
Get your funny on


The original African American Touring Sketch Comedy and Improvisational Theatre Company a.k.a. Oui Be Negroes is coming to town. This Friday and Saturday, presents the troupe at its rented home in the Geery Theatre, 2130 L St.

The company features Shaun Landry, Marcus Sams and Hans Summers (who is actually not a Negro, but it most likely funny anyway).

Landry (pictured), co-founder and artistic director of the group, trained and performed in the touring company of Second City Chicago. She is founder of the San Francisco Improv Alliance and producer of the San Francisco Improv Festival.

And she will lead a class in the basics of long-form improv from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the theater. Cost for the class is $30; for the performances, $12.50-$14.50. For more information, go here.

February 13, 2008
Idol Chatter: Hooray for Hollywood!


No one was happier than me when Season 7 of "American Idol" finally got past the audition rounds and made it to Hollywood Week. Whew!

Tuesday's two-hour show was actually very entertaining. It opened with the 164 hopefuls packing their bags and leaving home for a weeklong showdown with the three judges. But it took host Ryan Seacrest a chunk of time to explain all the changes this go-round.

To wit:

* Mercifully, no more group nights, that nightmare where contestants must learn to sing nicely together in groups of three or four. Instead, the 164 were on their own and could play instruments if they chose, which proved to be disastrous for many of them.

* The first two days of competition, there were no cuts, with the best of the contestants getting a bye on Day 2. But on the third day, the rest were singing for their lives. The judges needed only 50 of the 164 from which to choose the Top 24 (pictured above with Simon Cowell, wearing masks to, er, mask their identities).

Anyway, here's my recap of Hollywood Week, just in case you opted to watch "Big Brother" over on CBS instead.

* It only takes a single song: Brooke White, 24, with the curly blond hair and Carole King-like pipes, played the piano and sang a King compilation, "Beautiful." Randy Jackson said, "100 percent yes!" Among the guys, hands down for me was Michael Johns, 29, the Aussie with the devilishly good looks (Ok, he's hot), who sang "Light My Fire" and got the bye.

* I didn't need this song: Why in the heck did so many contestants pick "When I Need You," the sappy Leo Sayer love song? For the most part, they all reminded me of 1:30 a.m. in the lounge of a Holiday Inn with last call and the last slow dance. Anyhoo, the quote, "You've got the stage presence of a flea," came from Simon during all this.

* Songs in the key of anger: Several "yellers" were told to take it down a notch, including one young woman who got this from Simon: "It sounded like an angry girl in the bedroom."

* Beat this: For those who opted for instruments, many got the thumbs down, especially the drummers.

* Nurse with a song on her Harley: Everyone - except for me - is apparently in love with the motorcycle-riding, rock 'n' roll nurse Amanda Overmeyer, 23 (who I think looks 33). She took on the Doors' "Light My Fire." Sorry, but there's something creepy about the Lily Munster hair and the crackly voice. It made me think Amanda's been in the Holiday Inn past closing.

* Love song falls flat: Remember Ghaleb Emanchah, who impressed Paula Abdul with his Venezuelan-ness during the auditions? Well, instead of working on his vocals, Ghaleb spent Hollywood Week hitting on all the female contestants - anyone who would hold still for him. That was really clear when, while singing for the judges and strumming a guitar, Simon quipped, "You remind me of a waiter performing in a restaurant." Ouch! The proverbial kiss of death.

* Swan songs - or not: Josiah Leming, 18, the kid who was living in his car, finally got to sleep in a hotel bed. His first song (he played the piano) earned this from Simon: "Of all the auditions, this is the one I'm going to remembers." Still, on Day 4, Josiah was so nervous, he dismissed the band and backup singers and sang alone - and not very well. The judges let him through based on past performances.

Tonight (at 8 on Channel 40), the judges will reveal the Top 24, who will go on to perform for America's votes. I see folks like young David Archuleta, 16, from Utah, getting through, as well as Syesha Mercado, 21, who Randy dubbed, "One to watch. You could sneak up and give everyone a run for their money."

As for hunky Aussie Michael? I think he offered the final day's best audition ("Bohemian Rhapsody"), and he and Irish lassie Carly Smithson should both should make it to the Top 24.

February 12, 2008
Your chances for tix to that Kanye West show just got 'stronger'

Grammy Awards Show.jpgAs mentioned in today's Coming Distractions column, Kanye West's bringing his sense of entitlement Glow in the Dark tour to Sacramento on April 18.

The tix officially go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, but here's a little more info on how to get those pre-sale tickets that will be available Wednesday.

Starting at 10 a.m., just head over to this page and enter the promo code "Stronger" to get in on the action. Tickets will set you back $37.75-$70.75.

Oh yeah, and Rihanna, N.E.R.D. and Lupe Fiasco are also on that bill.

P.S. You know I just like to kid about Kanye's ego, right? Sure, he's had some sore-loser moments, but I really do love his music. "Jesus Walks" is brilliant.

P.P.S. I didn't think I liked Rihanna much, but I've had "Umbrella" stuck in my head for days now - and not in that Flo Rida kind of way. I'll give it up: Girl's got chops.


February 12, 2008
Have gun, will report

My item earlier today about Channel 13's penchant for having reporters point guns at the camera prompted one reader to charge me with overstatement and claim that our CBS affiliate and its sister station Channel 31 aren't trigger happy.

Au contraire...

Just a quick click through 21Q's archives points out these earlier, uh, shots that prove the stations have something of a gun fetish.

To wit:

Anny get your gun: Reporter Anny Hong on pellet guns...


Chris Burrous with high-powered rifle...


The late, lamented Taryn Winter Brill, locked and loaded...


Lisa Gonzales stalking her prey...


... the now-departed news director Steve Charlier, gun at ease for once.

Paintball gun.jpg

February 12, 2008
Eric Hogue coming back to KTKZ


Eric Hogue, the former talk radio host at KTKZ (1380 AM) who last year moved to sister station KFIA (710 AM) to host a religious show, soon will be coming back to KTKZ.

Starting Match 3, Hogue will host a political show, "Capital Hour" between noon and 1 p.m. He says it will focus solely on local issues, such as the budget crisis and downtown development.

Hogue says his return to the dwindling ranks of political talk radio is badly needed.

"I mean, there's been nobody in town talking about these things," he says. "Tom Sullivan does his (KFBK) show out of New York now and Phil Cowan (at KSTE) is gone. These guys were my friends. I want to try to cover the same issues they talked about."

In recent months, Hogue has entertained the idea of running for the state Assembly (District 4), but dropped out after Assemblyman Ted Gaines decided not to run for John Doolittle's congressional seat.

February 12, 2008
Yup, must be local TV news sweeps again...


As sure as the sun rises in the east, as inevitable as death and taxes, and as annoying as cliched expressions used by hack writers, you know it's sweeps month when Channel 13 points a gun at the screen.

This time, it's new reporter Elyce Kirchner, who gets all tabloid-y and mimes shooting the viewer.


Ah, the Steve Charlier legacy lives on ...

February 12, 2008
Dreyer's taps Melinda Doolittle


Last year, it was Season 5 heartthrob Ace Young who dished up bowls of Dreyer's ice cream after crooning a few tunes in the backyard of a lucky Citrus Heights family.

What am I "churning" about now?

This year, it's Melinda Doolittle.

Here's the backstory: In 2007, Dreyer's came up with the nifty idea of pairing a past "Idol" favorite with new ice cream flavors, then having a contest where folks in 10 communities - Sacramento being one of them - could win a private concert/ice cream party in the privacy of their own homes and/or backyards.

As a result, the contest was a promotional success for both the ice cream company - and for Ace.

Now, as Season 7 of "American Idol" prepares for the Hollywood rounds (at 8 tonight and Wednesday on Channel 40), Dreyer's is launching five new flavors with Melinda, who finished third last year (she's pictured with winner Jordin Sparks and runner-upBlake Lewis).

The Sacramento-area private concert is set to take place Feb. 27; on that same day, Melinda will appear from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at a Raley's in El Dorado Hills (3935 Park Drive).

To enter the contest, vote for your favorite Dreyer's "Idol" flavorhere. Votes must be cast by 1 p.m. Feb. 26 to be eligible.

Oh, and the new flavors are Cheesecake Diva, Cookies 'N Dreamz, Mint Karaoke Cookie, Most Orange-inal and One Split Wonder.

Back to tonight's show for a moment: There are 164 contestants vying for 24 spots during the Hollywood rounds, which, if you're an "Idol" fan, you know are grueling at best. They will be allowed to play an instrument if they want. But, as the promos have been touting all week, only the strong will survive. Hope that actually means talented.

February 11, 2008
The Topdog


There’s only one week left of the current production of “Topdog/Underdog” at Sacramento Theatre Company. While I’m not enamored with the play itself, this is a worthy production with smart direction from Benny Sato Ambush and particularly strong performances from Hassan El-Amin and Adrian Roberts.

Thinking of “Topdog” always reminds me of seeing it in New York in 2002. It ran on Broadway with Jeffrey Wright and Mos Def. About 10 minutes into the show at the Ambassador Theatre, it seemed the dilapidated-apartment set had its own olfactory special effects when it started to smell of smoke. Suddenly, an announcement came over the house PA telling everyone to evacuate the theater immediately because of a fire.

The next thing I knew, I was standing on the sidewalk next to Wright, somewhat surreal in his white-face makeup. Wright shook his head, “That’s too bad. We were really getting into it tonight.”

Three nights later, I was back at the theater and found myself seated next to legendary writer-director Melvin Van Peebles. The scowling Van Peebles is a famously grumpy cat, but I told him I was from Sacramento and had once seen a rather amazing production of his play “Ain’t Supposed To Die a Natural Death.”

Van Peebles immediately brightened and said that production by the original Sons and Ancestors Players and directed by Paul Carter Harrison was the reason it went to Broadway in the very theater we were sitting in.

Van Peebles opened the program to a page that acknowledged notable productions at the theater and his play was there. At intermission, the house manager approached Van Peebles, saying that Wright and Def had heard he was in the house and wanted to invite him backstage after the show. Van Peebles just kind of shrugged and said, “No thanks. Maybe some other time.”

February 11, 2008
The Grammys zipped, unzipped

Grammy-Awards-Arrivals.jpgOK, so the Grammy Awards are supposed to be all about the singing, but we know better.

Heck, it's about the wardrobe changes!

Grammy-Awards-Sony-BMG-Part.jpgThis, in stark contrast to the grand dame of awards, the Oscars (slated for Feb. 24), where stars are locked into their ensembles from the red carpet on. But with the Grammys, someone like Beyonce (pictured in AP photos), who also performed, might change as many as four times between her arrival and her after-party departure.

By the way: Loved the lighter locks on this bundle of talent. I'm thinking she opted for the look because of her rockin' duet with none other than Tina Turner. We should all be able to move that well at age 68 - and in silver spandex no less.

Also, kudos to fashion (and Grammy) winners Alicia Keys and Rihanna, as well as to Fergie, who looked great with all three of her outfit changes.

Still, as with any awards show, there's always a few style missteps. I'm guessing no one got hold of Kid Rock with the attire requirements. He looked, well, "stringy" and strung out. Definitely a style don't.

And who - or perhaps what - got hold of Fantasia Barrino's hair?! Her two-toned (white/black) coif was sheared on one side and with what looked like a hair attachment on the other. I wish the Season 3 "American Idol" winner had found a mirror before Sunday's show.

I was made aware of her style fiasco via on Friday. The site showed pics of Fantasia at a pre-Grammy swag gathering. Too bad they weren't passing out free hair appointments along with the energy drinks!

February 8, 2008
Carla Meyer's Movie Picks

Wondering what to see this weekend?

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
Jennifer Garner lends poignancy to her character’s deep wish to have a child. This woman always seems anxious around pregnant teenager Juno (Ellen Page), as if just waiting for the girl to change her mind about giving up her baby.

Rated PG-13

No Country for Old Men
4 stars
Woody Harrelson plays a mercenary hired by a drug-trafficking kingpin who conducts business from the top floor of a Dallas high-rise. It’s always tough to buy Harrelson as someone smart, but he seems savvy here. Part of that might be his J.R. Ewing get-up.
Rated R


There Will Be Blood
3 1/2 stars
Shooting in Marfa, Texas – location of that other oil film, “Giant” – director Paul Thomas Anderson re-creates Central California oil fields of the early 1900s. The landscape resembles the scrubbier parts of Kern County, only without modern landmarks dotting the horizon – all the better to provide an eerie twilight backdrop for a blazing oil fire.

Rated R

February 8, 2008
Too many words


"Hannah Montana" fans no doubt cheered the news that the run of "Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour" was extended past a week.

But for those of us who wince at overlong movie titles, it's just more agony.

This weekend, "Hannah Montana" and its bulky moniker share a Regal Natomas bill with "Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days and 30 Nights - Hollywood to the Heartland."

What's with the ampersands and dashes, people? Colons are bad enough.

A movie title shouldn't contain any punctuation apart from the occasional comma, and should never run longer than five words.

Note to "No Country for Old Men": I love ya, but you're pushing it.

February 8, 2008
A cut above on Sunday

If you're in a giving mood - and have 10 inches of hair you'd like to lop off for a good cause - GS Hair in Carmichael and its professional styling team is hosting the annual Love Salon Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

All "donated" hair will go to Locks of Love, a nonprofit organization that provides hairpieces to children suffering from hair loss because of medical conditions. Last year, GS Hair got 20 volunteers to shear their tresses. They hope to double that number on Sunday.

Here's how it works: Donors must have at least 10 inches of clean, dry hair (or longer) from a ponytail. The pony will be cut and the donor's remaining hair coifed for free.

For Sunday's event, there will be a contest for the longest hair donated (a styling iron valued at $150 is the prize), plus gourmet cupcakes from Cupcake Craving and a raffle of Maly's gift basket of hair-styling products.

To get in on the Locks of Love donation drive, call GS Hair at (916) 481-2340. The salon is at 2415 Walnut Ave. in Carmichael. For a map or more info, click here.

Don't forget, Saturday is a Second Saturday so get out and support your local designers and artisans. Hey, it should be great weather!

February 8, 2008
KXJZ hires health reporter


Health and fitness reporting seems to be the trend in media these days, and Capital Public Radio (KXJZ, 90.9 FM) has responded by hiring a fulltime reporter for the beat.

She is Kelley Weiss, who formerly worked at KCUR, an NPR affiliate in Kansas City, and wrote for the Kansas City Star.

Check out Weiss' work here.

February 7, 2008
A short announcement

It's the point when pencils start to fail even the most knowledgeable and stalwart Academy Awards followers: When your fake Oscar ballot reaches its nether regions -- the categories for live-action and animated shorts.

Too often, it's impossible to view these shorts before the Oscars. If they are available, it's on the Internet, and that's just not the same as seeing them in theaters.

But not this year. On Feb. 15, the Crest Theatre will begin a weeklong run of Academy Award-nominated shorts programs, animated and live action.

This means plenty of opportunities to assess these films before Oscar winners are announced Feb. 24.

This Oscar-pool season, make the informed choice.

February 7, 2008
Mike Remy out as KHTK boss

The radio exodus continues today as KHTK (1140 AM) laid off four workers - including longtime program director Mike Remy - as well as three in off-air administration.

Steve Cottingim, general manager of Sacramento's CBS Radio stations, confirms that Remy was let go as part of a cost-cutting move by the corporate parent. Cottingim adds that Jeff McMurray, the program director at sister station "Jack" (KQJK), will assume Remy's duties.

Remy was one of the first hosts (along with former Los Angeles Rams great Jack Youngblood) at the station after it switched to all sports in 1994. He'd been at the station since the days when it was KRAK, a country format.

February 7, 2008
Don to leave Don & Mike Show on KHTK

don and mike.jpg

Note to KHTK (1140 AM) listeners: In a few months, your afternoons (noon to 4 p.m.) will never be the same.

Don Geronimo (on the left in the photo) , half of the Don & Mike syndicated radio team that airs locally on KHTK on our sports talk station announced on the air Wednesday that he will be leaving on May 30.

Read more here.

Mike O'Meara will soldier on by himself after Don checks out.

February 7, 2008
Woodland is out of this world

The Woodland Daily Democrat has started producing news videos that it posts on YouTube. The first few entries were straight forward words and footage stuff.

But check out the above video, in which photographer Matt Henderson, tongue firmly in cheek, talks about the paper's "solid matter transportation device" to whisk journalists to the scene of stories.

Gee, we didn't know a photo lab had that function.

February 7, 2008
Shawn Cash leaving The Zone

Another longtime radio voice is leaving: Shawn Cash, the morning guy at KZZO (The Zone, 100.5), will be off the air as of Friday.

Cash, who currently co-hosts the station's morning show with Hill Jordan, is best known for his decade-long partnership with Jeff Jensen both at KWOD and The Zone. (Jensen left the business more than a year ago and now is an advertising copywriter.)

Cash, however, will stay in the music biz. Or, rather, the Muzak biz. He's helping to start a company that provides music to retail businesses.

Who will replace Cash in the morning?

No one, immediately, says Steve Cottingim, top suit for Sacramento's CBS radio stations.

"We'll have Hill and maybe some fill-in hosts for awhile, at least," Cottingim says. "We'll be looking for a permanent replacement."

Cottingim says he will miss Cash.

"He did a terrific job for us for a long, long time and we wish him well," Cottingim. "This is not a situation where the guy is leaving to go across the street to another station. It's a whole new business for him."

February 7, 2008
Jewelry in the trunk

With a nice break in the weather, I decided yesterday to stop by Serendipity Boutique to check out the Gorjana jewelry collection. That's because the boutique is hosting a two-day trunk show Friday and Saturday.

It was my first look at the line, which is both simple and elegant. Delicate is a word that comes to mind. I like that the earrings are lightweight, even the hoops. The necklaces come in different styles and lengths. My favorite? It would have to be the stacked rings, which come in clusters.

The Gorjana line features both gold and silver pieces. The first thing I thought of is how pretty one of the necklaces would look paired with, say, a strand of pearls.

But jewelry wasn't the only thing that caught my eye. Like most retailers, Serendipity is hosting a sale of its winter wear as spring collections arrive. So, it's a good time to grab a sweater or layering top, while perusing all the new things, including cute cotton tops and lighter-weight sweaters.

By the way, if you plan to stop by Serendipity for the two-day trunk show, the boutique's hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. It's at 5362 H St., next to Selland's Market. For more info: (916) 454-2900 or click here to visit the Web site.

February 7, 2008
UC Davis reporter covers election for The Palestra

If you haven't seen the site, The Palestra, run by and geared toward college students, it's worth a look.

UC Davis is well represented. One of the reporters is Carollyn Nguyen, who interviewed wacky Aggie students in preparation for Super Tuesday. Gotta love the student whose reason for switching his vote to Ron Paul is completely, uh, logical.

February 6, 2008
KVIE votes for Mummy over Obama

Loyal reader Jacqueline Hoeppner-Freitas of Garden Valley was watching PBS's Super Tuesday primary coverage, waiting all night for Barack Obama's speech and the erudite punditry from PBS reporters afterward.

Alas, Freitas tells us that Channel 6, our local PBS affiliate, cut away and returned to local programming before the Illinois Senator could speak.

So, what was so important to KVIE that it would preempt Obama?

A rerun of the Nova special, "The Mummy Who Would Be King," originally released in January, 2006.

Says Freitas: "I turned to another channel, but the problem is that as I type this
now, I don't have access to the expertise of the PBS newscasters and commentators, though apparently KVIE doesn't think that's important.

"I only recently moved to this area after 30 years of living in Oakland. I have never seen KQED -- the PBS channel in the Bay Area -- treat its viewers and members so shabbily. Perhaps the difference is that KQED respects its viewers. It's obvious KVIE does not assume its members and viewers are committed participants in the 2008 election process."

February 6, 2008
Lynryd Skynrd pre-sale tickets

That Lynryd Skynrd show I told you about in this week's Coming Distractions column is definitely a go for July 11.

And, even better - you know, if you're a big fan like that - there's a pre-sale on Friday from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Visit and use the promo code "MEDLOCKE" during checkout.

Or, you can just wait an extra day and get your seats with the rest of the common folk on Saturday when the tickets officially go on sale at 10 .m..

Either way, either day, they'll set you back $45-$75 plus all the usual handling and service charges.

Visit the Raley Field Web site for more information.

February 6, 2008
Idol Chatter: Atlanta is a real peach in the end

At last, the "American Idol" Season 7 auditions are over!

Last night's pitstop in Atlanta marked the end of the grueling process, which leaves us with more than 100 contestants going on to Hollywood next week.

And no, I cared not that host Ryan Seacrest's parents showed up. (Atlanta is his hometown.)

Anyway, I kept switching back and forth between Super Tuesday coverage on CNN and Channel 3, then over to Comcast Sports where the Sacramento High varsity guys were taking on Luther Burbank in a big-time game, which the Sac High Dragons won.

Ain't TV grand?

But, back on topic. Atlanta delivered 20 golden tickets, which seemed puny for such a huge city. But it felt like the viewing audience saw mostly really bad acts, including one - Eva Miller, 26 - whose performance was labeled "an act" by judge Simon Cowell because at one point Eva slipped and fell on her derriere.

"It's not a joke," Eva said. "I accidentally fell. I love you Simon, and this was a serious audition."

So, just in case anyone out there was watching election returns or Sac High, here's my recap of the final audition.

* Most forgotten guy from Season 4: There was J.P Tjelmeland, 20 (and a misplaced music major) who auditioned three seasons ago a couple of spots from eventual winner (and real singer) Carrie Underwood. "I didn't get to know her," says J.P. Nor pick up any performing points. J.P.'s Rascal Flats' song fell flat from the get go. It's hard to come back once you've hit the ground.

* Most likely to perform backward: Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul (minus Simon's blessing) let through Joshua Jones, 26, of Atlanta, who kept goofing up his Queen song because he had some demonic eye thing going. He ended up singing with his back to the judges. Simon quipped, "He can't go through and perform backward!"

* Most likely to have made us cry: Cynic that I am, I'm generally a leary of the contestants with major hard luck stories. But you'd have to be a robot not to feel something for Asia’h Epperson, 18, from Joplin, Missouri. Asia'h's dad died in a car accident a few days before the audition last fall. But she took on a big song, "How Do I Live?" and broke the judges' hearts. Simon: "That was tough. Your dad will be proud of you." Paula: "You're very brave to do this." (She had to leave and dry her eyes afterward.) Randy: "You worked it out."

* Most annoying crown wearer: UGH! That would have to be Brooke Helvie, 18, of West Palm Beach, who is the reigning Miss South Florida Fair. She kissed a pig and milked a cow to earn the title. Some talent. "I'm doing this for God, my mom and my dad and because Simon is such a lovable teddy bear!" she squeaked. I can't believe the judges let her through because everyone will pay dearly for this guffaw. Unfortunately, Brooke will be brining her "elegance" - and a Web site - to Hollywood.

* Most likely to knock 'em dead next week: Definitely teen crooner Alexandria Lushington, 16, whose extended family - including her 93-year-old great grandmother - came with her to the audition. Her bluesy "My Funny Valentine" evoked memories of Season 6 finalist Melinda Doolittle, who also sang the song. She should do well.

* Most likely to finally get out of his car: Josiah Leming, 18, came from Morristown, Tenn., with his home. That would be his car. He dropped out of school, but doesn't consider himself homeless, just "scared and lonely." Again, the old heartstrings were strung. Funny thing is, Josiah has a good voice, but he somehow morphs into a British accent when he sings. Simon thought it was weird but intriguing. And he said he usually doesn't like guys from Tennessee. But Josiah's own composition, "To Run," got him through to Hollywood.

OK, so tonight I'm mandating that everyone watch the Duke-North Carolina ACC matchup at 6 p.m. on ESPN. Then, you can switch to Fox (Channel 40) at 8 for the "Best of the Rest" show featuring weird auditions we didn't see, plus a recap of all the goofballs that got through to the judges.

Mercifully, "American Idol" moves to the Hollywood rounds next week. I'm personally holding Simon accountable for making sure talented singers keep singing.

February 6, 2008
Channel 3 reporter's weather-coverage auto accident saga

PICT0021 (Small).JPG

Back today from vacation, where I stayed far away from the snow in the Sierra, I was troubled to read an e-mail making the rounds.

It seems that last Thursday, Channel 3 reporter Sharokina Shams and a KCRA photographer were involved in an auto accident racing to the scene of snowfall for a live report. Above is a photo of the car.


Neither Shams nor Anzio Williams, KCRA's news director, were immediately available today for comment.

UPDATE at 3:30 p.m.: The photographer involved was veteran Ron Middlekauff, who suffered enough injuries that he apparently has yet to return to work.

In any event, here is the e-mail Shams sent to fellow reporters in Sacramento:

"Everyone, "This is a tough story to tell. And some of you on this email list are old friends I haven't talked to in a while, but, because most of you are in the news business, I wanted to share this. Some of you are journalism professors. You can share this with your students. The rest of you - please, tell your crews, be extra careful when they're out there in the world, gathering news. Managers, please think of safety first. And crews - your managers may not know how bad it is out there, so it's up to you to tell them. "My photographer – a very nice man we'll call Jay – and I got into a terrible car accident on Thursday, 1/31, driving to meet our satellite truck on an exceptionally snowy day, east of Pollock Pines in El Dorado County. We had to be live at 5 & 6 w/snow stories.

"Jay wanted to get a few driving shots of snow and asked if I’d be comfortable driving. I said sure and I drove, while he shot video out the window. Five minutes later, I had the car skidding out of control. I tried and tried to regain control but I couldn't. We slid across all lanes of traffic and then, screaming, we tumbled over a snowy embankment, 125 feet.

"I still don't know how we didn't die: our car flipped 5 or 6 times. As we were falling, I thought, “This is the end of this life. And I haven't said goodbye to anybody.”

"When our car finally landed, it landed on the driver’s side. My head was pushed up between the steering wheel & the windshield, against the ground, so I could see nothing. And I couldn’t move. I was completely helpless. I knew I was alive but I got even more scared because I thought Jay might be dead or dying. I thought, “If no one saw us go over, we’re both screwed because I can't see anything.” But, then, I heard him calling out my name.

"We were so blessed. A Cal Trans worker had seen car tracks that led over the embankment and followed them and found us. He said that's how they find people. They see tracks & follow them & find cars at the bottom of mountains.

"Jay was able to climb out of the broken windows. It took an hour and a half for El Dorado County firefighters to cut me out of the car and all the while, I could only hear them around me. I could see nothing. Then, the hill was steep and the snow was deep so they couldn't carry the stretchers up to the top. They tied me up on the stretcher and put it on the ground against the snow, which was falling onto my face. Then, they put a couple of firemen at the top of the hill and pulled the stretcher with a rope until they finally got me up to street level.

"I had been driving carefully. I had seen traffic coming to a stop up ahead, and began to do the same. But, as soon as I put the brakes on, the car started to slide, completely out of control. We had thought that we wouldn't need chains because the car was a 4-wheel drive and Cal Trans let us through without them. I think we were wrong.

"I have a broken finger and I'm sore and bruised. Also, there was blood coming out of my head 12 hours later once I was home. It seems to be because I was suspended upside down by my seatbelt for so long: all the blood had rushed to my brain and came out from my ear later. Jay had a cut on his forehead and a lot of soreness.

"I guess I'm telling you guys what you already know - no story is worth this. We weren't driving fast, but we did FEEL rushed that day - gathering enough for two live shots with complete insert packages and making it back to the location in time even though we hadn't started shooting 'till 1 o'clock because we were live with something else at noon in a different location. You know the drill.

"We almost died. Think about this. Jay is married, with children at home who depend on him. And he almost lost his life up in the mountains, telling a routine, run-of-the-mill snow story. We're not talking about journalists risking their lives in Iraq or Somalia. We're talking about a weather story.


February 6, 2008
Channel 13 news director Steve Charlier leaving

Andy Alfaro/Sacramento Bee file, 2005

That revolving door at Channel 13 's newsroom will see its biggest departure yet on Thursday, when controversial news director Steve Charlier (pictured) squeezes through and leaves the West Sacramento building.

Charlier, who has overseen a complete overhaul (actually more than one) of the on-air talent and changed the tenor of the newscasts from sleepy to tabloidy, has accepted a position as senior vice president for news, product and operations for a startup outfit called Local TV.

Read more here.

(Local TV was formed last year by a group of Ohio investors to purchase the assets of Broadcast Media Group, which includes nine stations owned by the New York Times Co. Most of the stations are in the Midwest and South.)

Replacing Charlier on an interim basis will be Cameryn Beck, who had served as the assistant news director. In 2005, Beck was hired away from Channel 3, where she produced the 5 p.m. news.

The timing of Charlier's departure was curious, coming in the middle of the February sweeps month. Bruno Cohen, president of CBS's Sacramento stations, said Charlier was not forced out. However, sources at the station say he had interviewed for several news positions, including in Seattle, in the past few months.

"It's a terrific career move for him," Cohen says of Charlier, who was known for his aggressive management style that included jumping on desks, browbeating staffers and, once, spray painting "Interrupt the news for news" on the newsroom wall.


Asked about Charlier's legacy, Cohen was emphatically positive.

"He's done a fantastic job for us," Cohen says. "When you look at the complete redevelopment of the Channel 13 news, he's put us in a much more aggressive position. We're winning the late news again (at 10 p.m.). He's affected virtually every time period at the station. He helped us get the merger (of Channel 31 and 13) done, which was very complex.

"In a backhanded way, he's responsible for prompting a lot of changes at Channel 3. They rushed their HD development in. They changed their news director because of (Charlier). He's made the market more competitive and he's brought up the level of journalism in the Sacramento region. As a consequence, I think the viewers have benefited, whether they watch us or anybody else."

In the press release from Local TV announcing Charlier's appointment, this was listed as Charlier's top accomplishment at Channel 13:

"While the TV maverick has an assortment of television successes to his credit, perhaps his most notable is the wildly successful TV launch of in Sacramento. The 5 AM and 6 AM news program on KOVR is based on the station’s website in a unique integration of new technology and traditional news."

Strange that Channel 13's morning show is listed as Charlier's big success. This is the program in which anchor Chris Burrous caused a stir by giving beer to the homeless. And the ratings have been poor. In the November sweeps, Channel 13 finished last at 5 a.m. and second to last at 6 a.m., failing to draw higher than a 1.4 rating.

Charlier's quote in the press release reads, in part: "The hardest part is leaving my staff at KOVR/KMAX. I know they’re more than ready to do it on their own, but I will miss them.”

February 5, 2008
Maria Shriver makes the rounds in brown

Associated Press/Al Seib, Pool

Well, one thing's for sure. Everyone at the polling place set up in an elementary school in Brentwood knows how Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife, first lady Maria Shriver, voted today.

(The couple split in their choices for presidential candidates: He publicly endorsed Sen. John McCain; she, Sen. Barack Obama (as did their daughter, Katherine, 18, a first-time voter. According to the Associated Press, Schwarzenegger quipped afterward, "So far, it’s two-to-one in our family.")

Anyway, voting aside - as I am bound to do each Election Day, I take note of how notable folks are dressed. And even not-so-notable: Earlier today, down on 21st Street, I saw a couple of guys sporting red-and-white striped pants and flag tops. I'm hoping they were just doing some sort of survey and not going overboard with fashion patriotism.

UCLA.jpg But, I digress.

I have noticed that Shriver has been staying away from anything red, white or blue as she's been making politicial appearances on Obama's behalf. And voting today (pictured above), Shriver opted for a brown leather jacket. And on Sunday, (when she should have been getting the guacamole ready for the Super Bowl bash), she surprised everyone at an Obama rally at UCLA wearing a brown wrap coat.

Just a fashion note on this most patriotic of occasions. And hey, I'm sporting my red, white and blue "I voted" sticker on a gray sweater. So I guess I have no room to talk.

February 4, 2008
Idol Chatter: Jordin sparkles at Super Bowl


Before taking the stage at Sunday's Super Bowl, Jordin Sparks (pictured) appeared (emphasis on appeared) a little skittish, which is odd considering Jordin, last season's "American Idol" winner, should be used to singing to large audiences, including guys like Simon Cowell.

But she belted out one of the best renditions of our national anthem I've heard. And heaven knows, the anthem has been butchered in the past. On a quick fashion note, I liked her midnight blue tailored suit even though I couldn't see what were supposed to be black leather side panels. Designer Lloyd Klein was commissioned to create the made-to-measure ensemble.

But, at some point before the kick off, Jordin ditched the designer duds for a New York Giants sweatshirt and helmet. Good choice!

In other "Idol" news:

* Did anyone else notice Fox's endless promotions for the Hollywood rounds of "American Idol?" They showed several of the better contestants crooning and playing instruments, with the judges saying stuff like, "That was amazing!" Unless I was watching the wrong network last week I could swear they've got one more audition show, in Atlanta at 8 p.m. Tuesday (on Channel 40). If that's correct (and I believe it is), the ads were misleading at best and the Hollywood rounds won't kick off until next week. (Wednesday night's show is a recap of the auditions.)

* After raising a whopping $75 million in Season 6, there will be a repeat of "Idol Gives Back" this year. If you were tuned out in 2007, the musical benefit raised all this money to help various U.S. and international charities. This season's two-hour concert/fundraiser will air from 8 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, April 9. In last year's inaugural event, the remaining contestants were safe from elimination for the one night. However, two of them went home the following week. We'll see how "charitable" the producers are this season.

February 3, 2008
Super Bowl ads: Fourth Quarter

6:03: Two Toyota Tundra spots, featuring a tattoo artist and a belt buckle. Can't you feel the testosterone.

6:06: The Sunsilk shampoo ads gives us three generations of sexpots -- Marilyn, Madonna and Shakira. For an ad with three hot women, it was far from stirring.

Coke's balloon ad: Great to see Charlie Brown finally win for once, especially when pitted against Stewie from "The Family Guy."

6:11: Frist and Carville, talking heads from different political parties, make nice on a tour of Washington, D.C. I wanted to laugh. I really did. But Bill Frist is just plain not funny. And Carville is just annoying.

6:21: You'll either love or loath the Gatorade lapping dog ad. If you're a cat person, forget it. But even some dog lovers will be grossed out by sound of the dog lapping at the bowl.

The second Etrade talknig baby spot wasn't as funny. Talking babies get old, fast.

Taco Bell's "fiesta platter": Hola, indeed.

6:26: Cross-promotion alert: Will Ferrell, in his guise as an old '70s basketball player in the upcoming movie "Semi Pro," plugs for Bud Light. Line of the night: "Suck one!"

What is it with '70s themes tonight: The Godfather, Rocky, Charlie Brown, Tom Petty at halftime, and ABA basketball players?

Oh, did I mention that Ferrell is one funny dude?

6:44: What a stark contrast: Beautiful model Adriana Lima in Victoria's Secret lingerie, followed by a fat tow-truck driver putting jumper cables on his nipples and swigging Amp Energy drink to start a car.

Well, that's it for me. Be sure to pick up Monday's Sac Bee to read my final analysis -- and what others think.

February 3, 2008
Super Bowl ads: Third Quarter

5:31: Shaq as a jockey? Funny for the first 10 seconds, wearisome by the end. I did like the name of the horse he was on: "Chunk of Love." Oh, you probably missed it, but the ad was for Vitamin Water.'s second spot (shrunken head) was better than its first.

Salesgenie's second cartoon ad was as big a waste as its first.

5:35: Bridgestone tire's road hazard ad was worth a chuckle. The driver swerves to avoid Alice Cooper, a deer and ... Richard Simmons. Too bad Richard didn't get leveled. I'm just sayin'.

Bud Light and cavemen. That's soooo three years ago.

5:44: Hyundai's "big crazy twist" is no twist. How meta. Super Bowl viewers don't like meta.

5:54: eTrade's talking baby ad worked despite the fact talking babies is an advertising cliche. It was set up like a Web cam YouTube upload and ends with the baby spitting up. I liked it in spite of myself.

Bud Light's final ad was a guy getting sucked into a jet engine because the beer can make you fly. Uh-huh. We'll pass on this one. No more Bud Light, please. We've had our fill.

February 3, 2008
Super Bowl ads: Tom Petty halftime edition


5:01: Is that a neon electric guitar/arrow heading to the heart or a .... well, nevermind.

5:02: Those kids they let run out on the field to "mosh" to "American Girl," were they even alive in 1976 when Petty released this song? Just asking.

5:04: Are those dreadlocks on guitarist Mike Campbell, or did he just forget to shower?

5:06: Note on Tom Petty's beard: Is he trying out for ZZ Top?

5:10: Knew he'd play "Free Fallin'." Knew they'd hand out glow sticks, too. Doesn't matter. Great song.

5:13: Perhaps the only reference to Del Shannon in Super Bowl history.

5:16: Just what you'd expect from Petty: No nonsense rock 'n' roll. No overblown Super Bowl hype: A nice change from pompous Super Bowl routine.
Thank God: No wardrobe malfunction.

February 3, 2008
Super Bowl ads: Second quarter

4:03: Go Daddy is telling us to go to its Web site to see Danica Patrick unzipped. Don't bother. It's a stupid play on words about a female body part. Just go away, Daddy.

And take Derek Jeter's Gatorade ad with you.

Dell's "Red" laptop didn't do much for me.

4:09: FedEx: Bravo! One of the best so far.'s "stone circle death match" macho ad fell flat.

Who woulda thought Tide would have a good ad: Talking stain. Way to go, guys

4:14: What is this strange fascination people have with the Budweiser Clydesdales? The "Hank" commercial, a "Rocky ripoff with a Dalmation in the roll of the corner man, was cliched.

4:19: As a vertically challenged person myself, I was deeply offended by the Garmin GPS ad in which Napoleon has a driving complex and his underlings give him a tiny horse. Seriously, it was a winner.

Toyota and badgers? Not so much.

4:25: Careerbuilder surprised me with ... an effective ad! The downtrodden employee's heart literally comes out of her chest and goes up to the boorish boss and quits. The only thing better: Had the heart b-slapped the boss.

Lizard's dancing to "Thriller" with Naomi Campbell? Whatev. (I did like the lizard with a grill, though.)

4:30: Sisyphus rolling a rock uphill? Hey, that's me doing a live blog -- I'm bushed. Anyway, that was for a GMC Yukon ad. Snore.

Bud Light's latest entry: Carlos Mencia teaches nerdy foreigners to score chicks. Best line: "You have the thighs of a sherpa." Ha!

4:39: The Planter's peanuts unibrow spot was mezmerizing. Is the unibrowed redhead attracting men because of her hirsuite brow? Nah, it's because the peanuts ... smell? Yuk.

Loved the Justin Timberlake Pepsi ad, hawking his MP3's. We'll stay away from the subtle sexual references of Justin getting sucked out of a restaurant by teen girls sucking on Pepsis through straws. There was something satisfying in seeing Justin getting hit in the crotch at a mailbox -- twice. Great to see a star willing to poke fun at himself. A real star, not Kevin Federline (remember last year?)

Doritos mousetrap? Really bad.

February 3, 2008
Super Bowl ads: First quarter

3:18: They always say the kickoff is 3:18. But it never is. We're awaiting the ads AFTER kickoff.

3:37: The first of many BudLight ads. Breathing fire guy almost torches the cat. A mild chuckle. Not as good as the "sausages" talking dog that's been running.

The Audi spot, aofrementioned, still held my attention. Those unfamiliar with "The Godfather" will be clueless.

3:47: Diet Pepsi Max: It took a while to get us interested -- hey, we were nodding off -- but like a chemically dependant shot of caffeine, it attracted us in the end. Loved the combover guy. Who doesn't laugh at a bad combover?

Bud Light redeemed itself with the "Dude, that's some serious cheese" spot. (Of course, it's hiding beer.)

UnderArmour's totalitarian spot? Awful.'s cartoon? A waste of money.

Sense a trend here: Talking (or, in this case, screaming) animals. Of course, Bridgstone tires maneuver so well that the screaming squirrel is NOT hit.

Doritos' user-generated song: It won't get my 99 cents on iTunes.

February 3, 2008
Super Bowl ads: Keep it tuned to 21Q


Now that we've all had time to recover from Paula Abdul's pre-game, uh, performance, I'm here to tell you that we'll be on hand to blog the real reason people watch The Big Game -- the ads. (Alicia Keys, on the other hand, showed how it's done.)

We don't care about the pre-game ads; the ones that really matter come during the game, when companies pay $90,000 a second (!) for the right to sell to the eyeballs of America, sans TiVo-skipping option.

Here's a preview of an ad I like, from Audi. Not sure which quarter it airs. Just enjoy.

Gotta get more guac. But I'll be back in time for the 3:18 p.m. kickoff.

February 1, 2008
Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood & info on the Whole Crazy Tour

Keith Urban Concert.jpg

Tickets for this one don't go on sale until Feb. 9, but I know you'll be so excited to hear about it that you'll need this next week just to recuperate from the awesomeness of it all.

So, deep breath everyone: Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood's Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Carnival Ride Tour lands at Arco Arena on March 12.

Again, tickets don't go on sale until Feb. 9. They'll set you back between $33.75-$73.75. Here's a tip from me to you, however: Take a peek over at or (or, for that matter, or sometime Tuesday morning and see if maybe, just maybe, there's not some way you can get your seat early.

February 1, 2008
'Montana' at midnight?

Hiroko Bowlin arrived at the
Regal Natomas theater just before 1 p.m. today with the intention of buying tickets for the 7:30 p.m. showing of “Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: The Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour.” But like nearly every other showing of the film this weekend, it was sold out.

“I didn’t know people were so crazy about her,” says Bowlin, who was trying to buy tickets on behalf of her 9-year-old triplets Amelia, Chadwick and Geoffrey, on break from their year-round school.

“I thought it would be cool in 3-D,” Amelia offers of the film version of Disney Channel sensation Cyrus’ tour.

So, apparently, did a lot of other fans who bought tickets online, days, weeks or even months in advance.

Disney’s decision to limit the film’s run to one week and to theaters with digital 3-D (in the Sacramento area, that’s only Regal Natomas and Century Greenback) means just fans with exceptional foresight will see the movie at prime times this weekend. The rest must make do with movie times that are the equivalent of nosebleed seats at a concert: on weekdays, when most kids are in school, or at 11:50 p.m.

Among those with tickets for the 1 p.m. show today: Tonya Bottge, who arrived with daughter Makayla, 5, and son Hunter, 3. Bottge had ordered tickets online Wednesday at Makayla’s urging.

“(Cyrus is) fun on TV, so I asked my mom and dad to buy tickets,” Makayla says.

As for the movie’s $15 ticket price, Makayla's mother says she feels she got off easy. “I kind of expected it to be more, because I know the concerts all sell out, and the tickets are like $200,” she says.

February 1, 2008
CSUS students stepping out

Some noteworthy happenings in theater and dance at California State University, Sacramento:

* The Department of Theatre and Dance has 24 students participating in the regional Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival on Feb. 11 in Los Angeles.

* While there, 10 student actors - two each from the department’s last five productions - will compete for Irene Ryan Acting scholarships with 200 other students from across the West. They could win a $500 scholarship and trip to the Kennedy Center in Washington to further compete for a $3,000 scholarship in April.

Among the students participating: Scarlette Bustos (“My Visits With My Grandmother Marta”), Stephanie Zito and Michael R.J. Campbell (“Seussical: The Musical”), Diana Tercero (“My Visits With My Grandmother Marta”), Candace Nicholas-Lippman and Kamra Jacobs (“North Star”), Sara Perry and Renee DeGarmo (“Loose Knit”), and Tygar Hicks and Amira Judeh (“Afghan Women”).

Graduate student Karen Nylund, director of “Afghan Women,” has been nominated for a student director fellowship, and alumnus Elizabeth Keller for a fellowship in stage management.

* The department will stage a scene from its production of “North Star” (pictured) at the festival’s opening ceremony.

To get a taste of what they'll be doing, theater and dance student groups, the Dramatist Society, and Sons and Ancestors Players will present a special showcase at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the Playwright’s Theatre in Shasta Hall.

Admission is “pay what you can,” with a $5 minimum to help with travel costs to L.A.

February 1, 2008
Carla Meyer's Movie Picks

Wondering what to go see this weekend?

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:

How She Move
3 stars
Rutina Wesley, a Juilliard graduate in her first starring film role, is a wonderful dancer with real screen presence. She convinces as a determined young woman who joins a male crew because she knows female troupes never win big competitions. The character’s opportunistic streak just adds to her complexity.
Rated PG-13

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
4 stars
His thoughts (rendered in voiceover) reveal so much of stroke patient Jean-Do’s personality that Mathieu Amalric's performance could rest on voice work alone. But when the camera reveals Jean-Do’s face, the performance becomes truly heart-rending. Emoting almost entirely through one eye, Amalric always maintains a connection between the man in the hospital bed and the healthy Jean-Do presented in flashback and fantasy scenes.
Rated PG-13

There Will Be Blood
3 1/2 stars
Oil man Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a big personality even at his quieter moments. When local preacher Eli (Paul Dano) consults him about church matters or the oil-field workers’ drinking, Daniel barely contains his contempt. Daniel’s belief in the almighty dollar prevents an understanding of competing beliefs.
Rated R

February 1, 2008
Tia Carrere performs Tuesday in Sacramento


Confession: I had every intention of coming here and making some schlocky "Wayne's World"-type jokes about Tia Carrere. You know, something along the lines of, "Boy, Miss Babelicious has an album out that maybe you would've cared about in 1992"

But, that's not fair. Because a quick trick over to Carrere's page reveals that the actress is actually enjoying a healthy career. It's not A-list, mind you, but she's still acting regularly in shows like "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Nip/Tuck."

And how could I forget that she was on an episode of "The OC"? Really, I'm almost ashamed of myself.

Oh, and this new album that I was set to make fun of? "Hawaiiana" is a collection of (duh) Hawaiian songs and, get this, was just nominated for a Grammy in the best Hawaiian music album category.

Who knew?

Yeah, I'm just going to shut the snark up right now.

So, here's the deal: Carrere will perform songs from that album at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Borders (2339 Fair Oaks Blvd.); go here for more info.

February 1, 2008
Seeing red - even in Sac

Associated Press/Jason DeCrow

Today is National Wear Red Day, in case anyone was wondering why the color is popping up so much - or not. It's all part of February's designation as American Heart Month.

The biggest splash's been in the Big Apple, where red ruled the runway at the annual Heart Truth Red Dress Fall 2008 show. The collection was shown as part of the Fashion Week festivities continuing in New York.

First lady Laura Bush was there with daughter Barbara. Mrs. Bush opted out of the color code and wore a white suit, but she had a little "Red Day" pin prominently displayed on her jacket.

Celebrities were the stars of the show, including actresses Molly Sims and Lisa Rinna (pictured). They joined the likes of "Project Runway's" Heidi Klum and Broadway star Rita Moreno.

As for Sacramento? If you're out and about at the Downtown Plaza, the Red Day celebration is in full swing, with health screenings, lifestyle tips, etc., to mark the Go Red For Women cause. That would be that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women. (Great. I ate a scrambled egg for breakfast.)

You'll also get to nosh on healthy snacks from local vendors, and stock up on free Go Red pins and bracelets. And, the big, big bonus? If you're into the wearing of the red today, you'll get 15 percent off of apparel and accessories at Macy's in the plaza.

I've got red gloves. See ya there.

February 1, 2008
'Atonement' adornment


Keira Knightley might have missed out on an Oscar nomination for "Atonement," but her chic green dress did not. Knightley's backless evening gown is the signature piece among Jacqueline Durran's Oscar-nominated costumes for the film.

Now this dress - or at least one of a handful of identical dresses that Knightley wore during filming - is being auctioned off to benefit the Variety children's charity. Today through March 1, bidders can vie for this piece of cinematic history online through the Clothes Off Our Back Foundation.

Bidding starts in the four figures, and the garment's size appears to be in the very low single figures. But even if it doesn't fit, the dress could be displayed as a piece of art.

Just make sure the mannequin comes with a 1930s slouch and party-girl attitude.

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