Things to do in Sacramento and Beyond

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


March 31, 2008
KSAC station manager happy for format switch

KSAC (1240 AM) station manager Paula Nelson says that, frankly, she's happy her station made the switch today from progressive talk radio to gospel.

Oh, and it's not just any ol' gospel - it's hip-hop gospel. Think anything from Yolanda Adams to the Rooftop MCs.

"It's got all the good beats and an inspirational, positive message, too," Nelson says of the new format, which went into effect late Saturday night. The call letters officially switched today.

And, right about now, Nelson says, she could use some positive.

"I was ready for this change - I just wasn't having fun anymore," Nelson says. "The whole political thing has gotten nasty, dirty and contentious."

And it didn't help that major political companies didn't support the station during its four years as a liberal talk radio station, she says.

"There are all these Sacramento Democratic organizations that haven't spent a dime on (advertising) for our station," Nelson says. "To them I say, 'You did this - you were complicit, you shut us down.'

"If you're not sending us the marketing dollars, then you're part of the problem."

March 31, 2008
'Imagine,' a closer look, plus a slide show

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Florence Low/flow@sacbee.com

Looking back at Friday night's fashion show at the Crest Theatre, it's amazing to me that more than 900 folks care enough about the local fashion scene to support a show that, obviously, was a labor of love for those involved.

Didn't make it? No worries. Check out Bee photographer Florence Low's multimedia presentation here.

The show was titled "Imagine: Where Fashion, Music & Art Unite." It was a first for the almost year-old International Academy of Design & Technology. It showcased both established Sacramento designers - Richard Hallmarq, Tomiko Abella (designs pictured above), Steven Willey and Dee Aguilar - plus the first collections from a number of the Sacramento design school's students.

(For more info about IADT, click here.)

I got lucky and was seated next to school president Melody Rider, who cheered each of her students' offerings. Rider got the school up and running last May, so it's to her credit - and fashion department chair Denise Reed - that almost 30 designers were "seasoned" enough to put together collections this fast.

Last fall, some of them didn't even know how to sew!

The individual collections had different names and themes - all focused on looks for spring and summer.

For example, designers Melisa Celestial and Naomi Persinger's "Seaside Celebrations" was all about the beach: natural cottons, warm colors. The clothes made you forget how cold it was outside in Sacramento!

Student Jeremiah Hill has been designing for less than a year. His first collection, titled "Asian Knight," featured flirty dresses and a multi-tiered skirt I would have purchased on the spot. Hill paired it nicely with a satin and metallic bandeau top.

Meanwhile, major props to both Abella and Aguilar, who continue to grow as established designers. Abella's "Romantica" segment offered an incredible mix of ruffles, lace and detailed beading in her flamenco-inspired fashions. Aguilar got her inspiration from old Hollywood films. And her designs were pure elegance, from a white sequin dress reminiscent of the 1960s to leggings and a simple fitted top.

The show was hosted by Naima Mora, Season 4 winner of "America's Next Top Model." She did a nice job, considering the number of designers she had to introduce (even when the order changed). Her energy (and beauty) on stage makes you realize why she won that title.

And keynote speaker Jack Mackenroth, from "Project Runway," was pretty entertaining, especially his slide show of pics from his stint on the show, including some of eventual winner Christian Sirano mugging for the camera.

Finally, Hallmarq's show-ending segment featured multiple celebs, including a stunning Nyabel Lual, one of the most exotic models on the planet. Musical artist Carmen Xtravaganza wowed as the models, sporting floor-length ponytails, presented Hallmarq's collection, simply titled "X."

DJs Billy Steele and SpekrFreks were outstanding with the musical accompaniments. And I loved the performance by musical guest Armstrong Jr.

Also seated up front was Tom McNamara, the vice president of Start-Ups for IADT in Chicago. He flew in from the mother ship for the local school's first show and was very impressed, he says, with the level of talent the students already had achieved.

Did I love everything I saw? No. But overall, the younger, more youthful looks certainly can work for the 20-somethings who can pull it off. And if you have a good fashion imagination, it's easy to see how the separates could find their way into many different wardrobes - including my own!


March 31, 2008
The answer is ...

Hollywood is filled with burning questions.

What film will win next year's Academy Award for best picture? Why are some movies screened for critics when others are not? How much Botox can one actress' forehead possibly endure?

Via a new feature on Sacbee.com called Movie Talk, I will attempt to answer these and other questions.

As a preview, I will answer the question I hear most often at dinner parties:

Q: Don't you think you've had enough to drink?

Just kidding! It's this one:

Q: What's your favorite movie?
A: "All About Eve." That's on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I say "The African Queen." (I can't possibly pick just one film, but in order to keep from sounding like a terrible bore who goes on about how she can't possibly pick one film, I always have an answer at the ready.)

To ask a question, go here and click on "Movie Talk."


March 29, 2008
'Imagine' show is HUGE success

With the exception of a rude heckler and his cronies from the Bay Area, the "Imagine" fashion show Friday night at the Crest Theatre was, by all accounts, a sell-out success.

Kudos to the International Academy of Design & Technology in Sacramento, whose students put on the show, either working backstage, manning the guest tables or, for nine special students, showing their first fashion collections.

The theater was packed for a show that was nothing short of ambitious. Local designer Richard Hallmarq, whose incredible (natch) collection closed the show and featured supermodel Nyabel Lual, was the event's ringleader. He masterminded getting an array of musical guests to perform, including Armstrong Jr. and the outrageously entertaining Carmen Xtravaganza

But it was the school's fashion design students who sparkled - literally. I've never seen such a proud group, and that includes all the friends and family attending who cheered each collection.

The audience was also treated to local fashion stars Dee Aguilar, Tomicko Abella and Steven Willey's latest runway designs.

I don't want to give everything away today, so come back here - to 21Q - on Monday for a complete wrap-up plus Bee photographer Florence Low's amazing slideshow presentation.

As for the heckler, he didn't make it past the first intermission. The "locals" took care of him.


March 28, 2008
Mike Malloy confirms KSAC format switch

Nationally syndicated talk show host Mike Malloy just called in to confirm that the KSAC (1240 AM) rumors (see my posting below) are true:

The station is changing to a gospel format come Monday morning.

"I got the call from (KSAC general manager) Paula Nelson today - she told me it broke her heart to have to make the change," Malloy says.

The Atlanta-based talk show host says he first heard about the switch earlier this week via his boss, Nova M Radio CEO John Manzo.

Manzo, on the phone from Phoenix, also confirms the switch.

The reason? Economics.

"They don't have the revenue to support the format," Manzo says.

Malloy put it in even clearer terms.

"It's not a ratings thing - we have plenty of listeners," Malloy says. "KSAC is experiencing what most other liberal talk show format stations are experiencing - it's not a lack of audience, it's a lack of business support."

In other words, not enough advertising dollars.

Big-name, deep-pocked businesses, Malloy says, are turned off by the station's progressive format.

"If you listen to Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity, you'll hear (plenty) of national ads," he says. "If you listen to someone like me or Randi Rhodes, there's a complete lack of those types of sponsors."

It's a problem plaguing liberal talk radio in markets across the U.S., he adds, noting that stations in San Francisco and San Diego have been forced to make similar changes.

Messages left by The Bee at the offices of KSAC have yet to be returned. Malloy says Nova M is searching for another local station to carry his talk show. ("I love Sacramento"). In the meantime, listeners can stream his show at MikeMalloy.com.

March 28, 2008
KSAC to switch to gospel format?

Posters on the radio-info.com message board are buzzing today about a possible format switch over at KSAC (1240 AM).

According to one post by Mike Malloy, the nationally syndicated talk show host whose show airs daily on KSAC, the progressive talk-radio station, the format will flip to gospel come Monday morning.

(Malloy has yet to respond to an e-mail from The Bee seeking to clarify his remarks.)

The Internet's been speculating about a possible KSAC format switch since February, but is this for real - or an early April Fool's joke?

KSAC general manager Paula Nelson has yet to return our calls and subsequent calls to the station have yielded nothing but an automated message indicating that the office is closed - even though its stated business hours are 8-5.

So what's up with that? Did they close up shop early to make the switch? Tired of fielding phone calls? Or is the receptionist just taking a potty break? Hey, it happens to the best of us.

As they say in the radio biz, stay tuned.

March 28, 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 recently released films:

Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!
2 1/2 stars
As the elephant Horton tries to keep the town of Who-ville, which sits on a tiny clover, out of harm's way, voice actor Jim Carrey (who also went Seussian in the live-action "How the Grinch Stole Christmas") lends him a think-globally, act-locally air of kindness and social responsibility.
Rated G

hammer

The Hammer
3 stars
Adam Carolla is a highly skilled rope-skipper and an even more impressive grunter, as he shows during a scene in which his character, a carpenter and boxer named Jerry, tries to show off for a pretty boxing student (Heather Juergensen). Because he's listening to his MP3 player while jumping rope, Jerry is unaware of the weird noises he's making.
Rated R

Under the Same Moon
3 stars
Kate del Castillo brings an undercurrent of sadness to Rosario, a housekeeper in Los Angeles who has not seen her son, Carlitos (Adrián Alonso), for a few years. Pleasant enough in her daily interactions, Rosario truly brightens only during her weekly telephone conversations with her son.
Rated PG-13


March 28, 2008
Can't keep Jack Mackenroth down

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Jack Mackenroth is in the house, well, city. Our city, to be exact.

The former Season 4 "Project Runway" contestant (pictured) arrived in Sactown late Thursday night, but he quickly got on West Coast time. Just in time to talk this morning about his appearance at tonight's "Imagine" fashion show at the Crest Theatre, as well as about his future in the garment biz.

For those of you who got stuck in hibernation over the winter, Jack left "Project Runway" after the season's episode five for medical reasons. But, ever the fan, he kept watching to the end, cheering on one of his best friends on the show, eventual winner Christian Sirano.

And, yes, Jack thinks Christian's talent is "fierce!"

"I was a huge fan of the show since its inception," Jack says. "It was bittersweet for me to leave because I was close to so many people."

Jack, 38, grew up in Seattle, but he graduated from UC Berkeley.

"Oddly enough, I was in pre-med for two years," he says. "I was already making my own clothes, but I was sort of programmed to be in the sciences. My dad is a doctor, my mom's a nurse.

"But I knew being a doctor wasn't something I wanted to do the rest of my life."

Jack graduated from Cal as an art major, moved to New York and attended the Parsons the New School for Design. You know, the one that "Project Runway" mentor Tim Gunn was so instrumental in building up.

"I didn't have Tim as a teacher while I was there," Jack says. "But when I auditioned last year for 'Project Runway,' I tracked down the acceptance letter I got in 1991 (from Parsons), and his signature was on it."

Currently, Jack is living in New York in what he calls a "strange limbo." Interestingly, he's in negotiations to appear on Season 5 of "PR" because his run was cut so short. Auditions are about to get under way for the next show, with shooting set for June and July.

"There are some legal things to be worked out, but I would love to go back on the show," Jack says.

Jack says he already knows he would do things differently if he gets another chance.

"I might be more competitive," he says. "I've talked with some of the show's producers who fear I might have an edge because I already was on. But I think actually there's some disadvantage because I know I'll have to be more inventive."

Jack is actually still on the fence about whether to do the show again. As I've blogged about other reality TV contestants, "Project Runway" (like "American Idol" and "Top Chef") are exhausting shows for the competitors.

"I think what's great is that the show is giving the finalists more than a couple of months to design a 13-piece collection," Jack says. "My goal would be to not get stuck in a design mold."

As for winner Christian, Jack says the young designer is not as "catty" as the editing reflected on the show. Right now, Jack says, Christian has been doing the celebrity thing: talk shows, appearing on "Make Me a Supermodel" (another Bravo show), etc. (A sure sign that Christian has made it onto the pop-culture radar, he was even "featured" on a recent "Saturday Night Live" skit.)

"Did you see that? It was hilarious," Jack says. "Christian got to meet Amy Poehler, who played him in the skit. He calls me and says, 'Jack, she looks exactly like me. She even has my body movements down!'

"I'm so excited for him and the other finalists because I think they produced the best (collections) of any prior season."

Jack his a reality TV junkie. Not so much the "Big Brother" voyeur/catfight thing ("I can go to a bar and watch that happen"). But he loves "Idol" and "Top Chef." ("Shows where talent is involved, where interesting people are actually doing something.")

For tonight's show at the Crest, which is put on by Sacramento's International Academy of Design & Technology, Jack will be the keynote speaker. His plan? A little bio info, some sound bites about the importance of education in fashion, and how he once had hair as crazy as buddy Christian's.

"There will be a slide show. Look for picture No. 3, where I had a hairdo that would rival Christian's," he says. "I'll also talk about my experience on 'Project Runway.' It should be entertaining."

Indeed. And check back here at 21Q Saturday for early impressions of tonight's show, plus our own slide show early next week.


March 28, 2008
Channel 13 layoffs: Reporters Reggie Kumar and Kristina Lee are among them

Bruno Cohen, president of Channel 13, just confirmed that two reporters - Reggie Kumar and Kristina Lee - were among those laid off by the station Thursday.

And while at least one of the comments attached to online items posted here at 21Q and elsewhere on sacbee.com have indicated that "dozens of people were laid off in all departments today, from floor crew staff to some writers, editors, photogs and even a director" (to see, click here), Cohen refuses to give specifics on any other eliminated jobs at the local CBS affiliate.

"I will confirm those layoffs (Kumar and Lee) because they were on-air talent, visible to viewers," Cohen says.

The two reporter layoffs, he adds, were part of an overall restructuring that utilizes "new technologies to make our station more efficient and to grow our audience."

Specifically, he says, Kumar and Lee's jobs were eliminated, in part, because the two half-hour editions of "The Sports Show," which currently air at 11 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, are being reduced to 15 minutes per episode and folded into Channel 13's 10 p.m. weekend newscasts.

And although neither Kumar and Lee worked on those shows, "we just don't need as many on-air people," Cohen says.

Of course, Cohen's comments today would appear to contradict his assertion Thursday when first called about layoffs that the results of the layoffs will be mostly "invisible" to viewers.

March 28, 2008
Honing that homespun script

Ever been inspired to write a script about our fair city? If you have been, but weren't sure how to put it all into words, there's help.

As part of its "A Place Called Sacramento" program, Access Sacramento will offer the workshop "Writing a Practical, 'Do-able' Script." Running 9 a.m. to noon April 5, the workshop will focus on the logistics of making a film for "A Place Called Sacramento," which asks local filmmakers to shoot 10-minute shorts.

In other words, the workshop will instruct screenwriters on how to fashion a script that incorporates Sacramento themes without requiring George Lucas' help with special effects.

The deadline for final scripts is noon April 16. A panel will choose 10 finalists, who then will be paired with actors and a crew. Their finished products will premiere in October at the Crest Theatre.

For more information on the workshop, call 456-8600 and hit "0". For a scriptwriting entry form, go to the Access Sacramento site.

March 27, 2008
Channel 13 president confirms layoffs

UPDATE, 1:56 p.m.: Bruno Cohen has confirmed that staff members who will be laid off are being notified today via a series of meetings with Channel 13 executives.

Bruno Cohen, president of Channel 13 and its sister station Channel 31, just confirmed that Channel 13 is laying off employees at the news station.

However, Cohen declined to confirm the number of jobs or to identify affected positions at the local CBS affiliate, instead explaining that the layoffs are "the consequence of new technology."

That technology, he went on to say in a phone interview, allows for more "automation in our production" and "nonlinear, computer-based editing."

"The software that drives that (editing) and the time it takes to produce it is much more fast and rapid and allows our editors to be more efficient," he said.

The result, he added, will be mostly "invisible" to viewers; the only on-air change will be to the two half-hour editions of "The Sports Show," which currently air at 11 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Those shows will be folded into Channel 13's 10 p.m. weekend newscasts, airing in 15-minute segments from 10:45-11 p.m., Cohen said.

March 27, 2008
Idol Chatter: Chikezie has 'no regrets'

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Fox

Chikezie, the LAX employee with the soulful pipes, says he'll march on in the music world - maybe even win a Grammy one day!

Chikezie, 22 (pictured), was eliminated on Wednesday night's "American Idol" results show. But, in a conference call with "Idol" reporters, he assures that he'll still be a part of the mix because he'll be going on tour with the Top 10 this summer.

Sounding weary (as they all do the day after), he was - as always - optimistic. Here's some of what he had to say about his experience on the show and what's to come:

Q:You are one of the most joyous contestants we've seen on the show. Are you always this happy?
A: I tend to wear my emotions on my face. I can be sweating without doing any kind of work.

Q: On Tuesday, you sang "If Only For One Night." It seemed like the judges weren’t feeling it. What was your impression?
A: I didn’t care, honestly. I already knew Simon (Cowell) wasn’t going to feel it. I came in knowing that. But I had to do what I felt best represented me. It's like running on a diving board. It’s eventually going to end and you have to keep going. Actually, it took the pressure off. I was performing for the sake of performing. I knew I was going to be in the bottom three, and I knew I was going home.

Q: What have you learned about yourself from being on "Idol", and what's the best piece of advice you've received?
A: That hard work and perseverance pay off. And that you've got to fight with everything you’ve got. As for advice, all the voice coaches and the band members got together and told me to be true to myself.

Q: How hard was it to leave the other contestants?
A: Last night, I was glad none of the other guys had to go home. It's hard to say goodbye to your friends. But I really didn't have to say goodbye. They didn’t have to say goodbye, either, because we're going on tour this summer.

Q: In your bio it says you've never attended a concert. So what was it like performing on the "Idol" stage? And what is the new mosh pit like with the swaying arms?
A: That’s true about the concert thing. It’s incredible being able to get on stage and perform songs you love. I didn’t know it was like a skill. And there's stuff you do when you think no one is watching. (The pit) isn't distracting. It's exciting! I've never heard people scream so loud.

Q: How did you feel about the weekly group numbers and the choreography? And what kind of relationships have you formed with the other contestants?
A: With the group thing, it was like, 'Here we go again. Does anybody actually enjoy these?' With the contestants, it becomes a family. We're going for a similar goal - not necessarily to win or beat somebody but to be successful at something we love. It's an amazing support system. And there's nothing more than friendships going on. It would be awkward on the tour!

Q: This wasn't your first "Idol" audition. So what made the difference this go-round?
A: The biggest difference is realizing that, yes, I can sing, but what else is there? At the other auditions, I kept asking myself why I wasn't getting anywhere. I came to the realization that everyone else is singing. But can I perform, work a stage, entertain? Going to Hollywood last year and getting sent home told me something was missing. So, I studied music styles and different artists. I videotaped myself performing to figure out why I wasn't connecting. This experience was actually easier than that.

Q: "Idol" is a great platform for the contestants. Where do you see yourself headed 10 years from now? And what kind of music would you like to record?
A: I love fusion, the melding of different styles of music. I definitely want to take risks. In 10 years, I'd love to win at least one Grammy. I want to get started with my music career, making albums that make other people feel good. Acting? Why not try everything? I'm always testing myself to what I can accomplish. I'm realizing more about myself every time I hit the stage. It's been more of a growth process than a change for me.


March 27, 2008
Idol Chatter: Goodbye Chikezie

Being in "American Idol's" Top 10 is a big deal. So, what does it mean to be cast off at this point?

Just ask Chikezie, who got the boot Wednesday night. And, first off, I really like this guy. He's got the ability to record that album that women of a certain age will buy in the next year or so. Attention Donny Hathaway fans.

Who got the big scares? Syesha Mercado (another bottom three) and first-timer Jason Castro. My "Idol" faithful (guys who watch with me every week) have a theory that the "safe" person from the bottom three - which last week included Carly Smithson (she says she's not pregnant; she just didn't get her Spanx delivery) - really isn't that far down. It's just a wake-up call for that contestant to get it together.

Anyway, the bottom three's Syesha really didn't deserve to be there. I think Chikezie, though, was a goner at 10, nine or eight.

Loved Season 2 finalist Kimberley Locke's performance. Again, it goes to show that finishing third, as she did, doesn't close the doors on a singing/restaurant career. She was great!

Kristy Lee Cook, who just might have felt safe this week, was, well, SAFE! She continues to build a fan base and good for her. I think song choice sealed it for her.

I'll keep you posted as to next week's song category as soon as I know. In the meantime, check back to 21Q later today for an interview with Chikezie.

FYI: The Fox network in New York jumped on some David Cook fraud story. Is it the "Billie Jean" cover he performed Tuesday night? Like I said, that song was on the 1982 (the year he was born) album "Thriller," but it didn't crack the Top 100 until 1983.

Try again, Fox.

March 26, 2008
Revolutionary writing at Sacramento's Capital Stage

Capital Stage has selected three plays for its Playwright’s Revolution Series, with a fourth and final play rounding out the program to be chosen soon.

For those not familiar with it, the Revolution series is supported by a grant from the James Irvine Foundation for new play developement and production.

Each play will receive a staged reading at the Delta King between June 8-11; the company will choose one to present as a world premiere in its 2008-09 season, says Producing Artistic Director Stephanie Gularte.

The three plays already selected are “Potential Literature” by Anthony D’Juan, “Erratica, An Academic Farce” by Reina Hardy, and “Megan’s Baby” by Mark Jackson.

While each writer is paid for participating in the readings, most of the grant money will be used for producing the world premiere.

To learn more about Capital Stage, check out my cover story in Sunday's Ticket+.

March 26, 2008
Getting a handle on the 'Ada' handbags

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Autumn Cruz/acruz@sacbee.com

Several readers have gotten in contact with me, wanting to know more about the "Ada" handbags that I wrote about in in today's Scene, and I'm more than happy to oblige.

For those who missed the story, the three Sacramento boutiques that carry the line are:

* The Pink House: 1462 33rd St.
* Five: 2580 Fair Oaks Blvd., Suite 12, in the Lyon Village shopping center.
* Morgan Lain: 613 Munroe St. (behind Loehmann's Plaza).

By the way, Orangevale-based designer Ada Komorniczak-Deferrari takes off today for trips to Dallas and Chicago to see if Texas and Windy City women are ready for her collection. I'm betting they are!

Then, Ada and her husband, Gaston, will be winging their way to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where her bags are manufactured.

"I'll be checking in on the winter 2008 collection and already gearing up for spring 2009," she says.

Keep in mind, though, Ada's bags are truly seasonless.

See for yourself; check out Bee photographer Autumn Cruz's slide show of Ada's bags and hear the designer's thoughts on the collection here.

March 26, 2008
Taryn Winter Brill goes national at 'GMA'

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We knew all along that Taryn Winter Brill was too good to stay in a local market for long.

So it should come as no surprise that Brill, one of the only reasons to tune into Channel 31's "Good Day Sacramento," has landed a national TV gig barely two months after leaving our fair city.

She starts Thursday as an entertainment reporter for ABC's "Good Morning America" (7-9 a.m. on Channel 10). Brill will do live and taped segments.

And, we hear, she will keep her tresses curly.

March 26, 2008
Idol Chatter: Happy birthday!

Tuesday night, the Top 10 (you know, the ones you'll be paying to see this summer on the national tour) performed songs from the year they were born.

Blow out the candles: Is this party over or what?! The show almost made me ready for Neil Diamond week!

With the exception of maybe three performances, I felt like a hundred birthdays had passed before this show was over. Lackluster efforts and boring song choices abounded. If you missed it (or fell asleep), here's my wrap-up:

* Ramiele Malubay (1987): She sang Heart's "Alone." (Nice pick, Jason Barsky from 107.9. - check out his predictions. You rock!)
Randy Jackson: "I know you're under the weather, but it was not the right song choice. It was a little too big for you, not quite right. It was pitchy all over the place."
Paula: "I'm glad America has heard you sing. I know you picked it (the song) healthy." (What was up with Paula's silly sequin dress with black gloves? But, I digress.)
Simon Cowell: "It's not as bad as Randy said. The first part was OK, a bit shrieky and shouty. But, after last week, you'll get through on that performance."

* Jason Castro (1987): He sang Sting's "Fragile" (with guitar, of course).
Randy: "It was a very good choice of song, but dude, you didn't do anything new with it."
Paula: "You're staying true to who you are and your niche. But I missed the 'Wow' factor."
Simon: "You've had two bad weeks in a row, and I think it's time for you to start taking this seriously. It sounded like someone busking (huh?) outside the subway station."
Note to self: Am I awake? Do I have a pulse? Am I in a coma?

* Syesha Mercado (1987): She sang "If I Were Your Woman."
Randy: "This is the best I have ever heard you sing, including when you auditioned. It was stellar, it was unbelievable. I am shocked."
Paula: "This is going to be the moment that everyone remembers as when Syesha 'flipped it' and became a contender."
Simon: "I agree that it was the best performance so far, but I think you were reaching your limit toward the end of the song."
Note to Syesha: Way to rebound two weeks in a row.

* Chikezie (1985): He sang "If Only For One Night."
Randy: "It was an oldie but a goodie. But very old school for me. I just didn't love it for you. There wasn't enough vibe, enough energy."
Paula: "It was a good throwback, upping the tempo. You do have amazing vocals."
Simon: "I think you sang it well. But it was very cheesy. You have to show originality. I miss your personality."

* Brooke White (1983): She sang the Police's "Every Breath You Take."
Randy: "The first part was great. But I didn't love the band coming in. It was just OK.'
Paula: "I enjoyed it so much more than last week. It was unique."
Simon: "I totally agree with Randy. You on the piano, you picked up the tempo. But when the band came in, it was very old-fashioned. You'll stay another week, but you've got to work this out."

* Michael Johns (1978): Go Jason Barsky, go! Michael did just as you asked: Go for two Queen songs, "We Will Rock You," spliced with "We Are the Champions." Brilliant.
Randy: "Finally, you believe in yourself! It was the best performance since you've been on the show."
Paula: "We can shut our mouths. It's your shining moment."
Simon: "It's the first time I saw star potential. You've got it right. Confident. It's the only memorable performance so far tonight."

* Carly Smithson (1983): She sang Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart." (Sorry Jason - he had this one going to Brooke.)
Randy: "It was an interesting song choice. I liked it, but I didn't love it. The run at the end wasn't in tune."
Paula: "I'm not crazy about it, but I'll buy it."
Simon: "Something didn't quite work. You seem uptight and tense. You've got to lighten up."

* David Archuleta (1990): He sang "You're the Voice," an Aussie song, It sounded a little "Up With People" for me.
Randy: "It was a strange song choice."
Paula: "I'm trying to figure this one out. I know you can sing the phone book."
Simon: "I actually didn't like the performance at all. It was all theme park, with animated creatures performing with you."
Note to David: Who is helping you with song choice - your dad? Ok, mini-low blow.

* Kristy Lee Cook (1984): OK, Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" threw us all for a loop. But props to Kristy. It probably saved her for yet another week.
Randy: "Great song choice. A very nice performance."
Paula: "It was a poignant, respectful song that shows your voice is getting stronger."
Simon: "It was your best performance by a mile and I believe the most clever song choice I've ever heard in years. It should keep you in the competition."

* David Cook (1982): He sang an outrageous version of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," which actually hit the Top 100 in 1983. The album it's from, the legendary "Thriller," came out in '82.
Randy: "I've gotta say, that's the most original, most bold (take) I've heard on that. You might be the one to win the whole thing!"
Paula: "I was blown away at how smart, how brave, how willing you are. You're right to the edge."
Simon: "That was brave. It was amazing."

OK, so Season 2 finalist Kimberly Locke performs tonight on the live results show (at 9 p.m. on Channel 40) as part of the "Where are the 'Idols' now?" program.

My prediction: I would be concerned if I were Chikezie, Ramiele and - hold on to your Irish beer - Carly. She's just not connecting anymore, folks. And Kristy Lee is pulling on those heartstrings.

Note to executive producer Nigel Lythgoe: After Tuesday night, I would seriously consider cutting the results show back to half an hour.


March 25, 2008
Journey, Heart and Cheap Trick to play Sleep Train Amphitheatre

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OK, so it's not Journey Journey - you know, the classic version with Steve Perry, but still...here's a whopper of a post-summer tour: Journey, Heart and Cheap Trick (pictured), Sept. 26 at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre.

You, me and everyone we know? So totally gonna get our 1978 on.

Anyway, this mega-nostalgia tour was just announced so stay tuned for ticket details.

March 25, 2008
'Imagine' this: Another fashion show in Sac

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Autumn Cruz/acruz@sacbee.com

If you're still thinking about attending Friday night's fashion show, "Imagine," at the Crest Theatre, I just got word that there's a smattering of tickets still available. (Smattering meaning slim and few.)

The complete title of the show is "Imagine: Where Fashion, Art & Music Unite," and will put on by the less-than-year-old International Academy of Design & Technology school in Sacramento. (Read my recent story on the school here.)

"Imagine" will feature nine student collections, including those by local luminaries Richard Hallmarq and Dee Aguilar, and student Jeremiah Hill (pictured).

The show, which is set to hit the runway at 8 p.m., will be jammed with a variety of other artists. Check this out:

It will be hosted by Naima Mora, Season 4 winner of "America's Next Top Model," and will showcase appearances by Jack Mackenroth, a contestant on this season's "Project Runway"; Maneca Lightner, cover model for the R&B group "Madhouse," and model Nyabel Lual.

Musical guests include DJs Billy Steele and SpekrFreks, and recording artists Armstrong Jr. and Carmen Xtravaganza.

Tickets are $20 general and $50 VIP at R5 Records, the Crest and Tickets.com. Proceeds to benefit CARES, the nonprofit Center for Aids Research, Education & Services.

FYI: Check back here, at 21Q on Friday, for a pre-show interview with "Project Runway's" Mackenroth. We'll see just how "fierce" he thinks winner Christian Sirano really is!

March 24, 2008
Blogger burned by Mark S. Allen blurb

Blogger Cool DMZ at the snark-saturated Sacrag.com apparently made a horrible mistake at the video store the other day: He believed Mark S. Allen and watched one of the movies he endorsed.

"Good Day Sacramento's" Allen, one of the nation's most, uh, accomplished blurbmeisters, has a typically bombastic quote on the cover of the "August Rush" DVD: "“Your heart will be singing and your spirit will soar!”

DMZ, after watching the hideous movie, wrote: "Replace heart with bowels, and spirit with desire to physically damage your television, and you got yourself a quote."

Read all of Cool DMZ's blog post, which we think is much more entertaining than "August Rush," here.

March 24, 2008
Country Joe McDonald adds second Woody Guthrie tribute show

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This show is my show - this show is your show: If you were hoping to go to Thursday's Country Joe McDonald tribute to iconic folk singer Woody Guthrie at the 24th Street Theatre only to learn that tickets are sold out, well, cheer up - McDonald's just added a second local date.

The second show will be April 24 at Marilyn's (908 K St.). Tickets ($25) are available through the venue's Web site.

(For more, read my colleague Bruce Dancis' story behind the McDonald/Guthrie story here.)

March 24, 2008
KCRA, where the news comes ... Oh, never mind

Proving that its classic "Cat Stuck in a Tree" exclusive wasn't a fluke, Channel 3 now is documenting the saving of magpies in trees.

Obviously, those KCRA newshounds will not rest until all varmints are out of every tree in town.

Enjoy the video.

March 24, 2008
News10 Dan Adams' farewell blog post

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We reported a few weeks ago that Dan Adams, News10's intrepid VJ (video journalist), would be retiring March 28. Hey, that's this Friday.

In preparation for his signoff, Adams has posted this farewell blog post on News10's Web site. It's heartfelt, but not maudlin - just like Adams.

He talks about the, ahem, glory days when he started at News10, working out of a "closet-size room" at a medical/dental building in Stockton as the station's bureau chief. And Adams also explains how he is able to retire at age 55: good financial planning.

A journalist who saves money? Who woulda thunk it.

March 24, 2008
Stop ... what?

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Fox40's competent and thorough reporter Mike Bond was doing a live report Sunday night from the scene of a candlelight vigil in Del Paso Heights on the one-year anniversary of a seemingly random killing.

As Bond was talking about how the police are hoping someone would come forward with information about the killing of Jelisa Office outside a house party last year, the photographer scanned the vigil crowd and hit upon a man wearing this T-shirt emblazoned in a stop-sign design: "Stop Snitching."

Kind of illustrates, don't you think, how difficult the police's job will be trying to get information on this case.

UPDATE, 12:40 p.m.: Your, uh, incompetent and shallow 21Q correspondent got it wrong. Reporter Mike Bond never mentioned that police are still looking for a gunman in the killing, but Bond also never mentions that anyone's in custody. We just assumed the killer was still at large. In fact, The Bee reported last April that a 16-year-old was arrested in the case. So, apparently, someone didn't "stop snitching" soon enough.

March 21, 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:

Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!
2 1/2 stars
Though this computer-animated film, based on the Dr. Seuss book, never reaches the visual majesty of, say, a Pixar Animation film, its characters and settings are certainly distinctive. Directors Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino and the film’s artistic team capture and elaborate on Seuss' visually skewed universe, rendering the Wickershams, a band of simian enforcers, as vividly as the mayor of Who-ville (Steve Carell).
Rated G

The Spiderwick Chronicles
3 stars
Thimbletack (voiced, with much vigor, by Martin Short) puffs up into monster form when upset. Luckily, he's quickly pacified by honey. His inability to resist the sticky stuff becomes a fun running gag.
Rated PG

alonso


Under the Same Moon
3 stars
At its best moments, this picture about a mother and son (Kate del Castillo and Adrián Alonso - pictured above in a photo from the studio, Fox Searchlight) on opposite sides of the United States-Mexico border tugs at the heartstrings while providing insight into the immigrant experience. Director Patricia Riggen moves the story along in compelling fashion, showing a special affinity for scenes requiring a high level of tension.
Rated PG-13

March 21, 2008
Colors count in the NCAA

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Associated Press

So, OK, the NCAA basketball tourney is a "basketball" test of wills. You've got to win six live-or-die games to earn the title of nation's best.

But this season, in particular, it seems it's also a challenge of school colors, especially the blues: navy, bright blue and - my personal favorite - Carolina Blue (notice the cap letters?) vs. the oranges - Tennessee and Clemson - and the abundance of reds - Stanford and Wisconsin.

Even if your alma mater isn't in the hunt - or already has been knocked out (sorry about that, Saint Mary's fan who wore maroon and navy to work) - the next couple of weekends provide great opportunities to wear some great school colors, paint your face and "party like it's 1969," which is what the Drake fans (pictured) did until getting knocked out today by Western Kentucky in overtime.

The Drakies, who were in the Big Dance's Final 4 in, really, 1969, came with faces painted and kooky hats. In other words, they worked it in terms of school spirit fashion.

So if you see any folks walking around Sac in that special shade of blue, you'll know what it means.

Psycho T? You betcha!

March 21, 2008
Great arts coverage on local radio; yes, radio

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It's rare for local news radio - or, heck, local TV, too - to step off the crime-politics-Britney hamster wheel of coverage and give us an-indepth arts story. So we have to give kudos to KXJZ (90.9 FM), Sacramento's NPR affiliate, for doing just that.

Paul Conley this morning aired a lengthy interview with jazz violinist Regina Carter that would be interesting even to those who think Jean-Luc Ponty is the goalie for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Included: this anecdote about Carter's disbelief at being awarded a half-million-dollar MacArthur "genius" grant - a big deal in the arts world.

"First when he called, I actually said, ‘You know, I’m sorry, I can’t give any money right now, maybe in a couple of months.’ I thought they were calling for money. He says, ‘No, no, we’re actually calling because you’ve been nominated and we’re giving you, you know, this amount of money.’ And I said ‘Who is this?’ And he says ‘No, you obviously have never heard of the MacArthur Foundation.’ I said ‘I have, but why would you be calling me?’ And he explained the whole thing again. I said give me your name and your number and I said I’ll call you back.

Carter logged onto the MacArthur Web site, confirmed the caller’s identity and quickly called back.

“And I remember when I hung up, I just sat there for a long time stunned, staring out the living room window.”

March 20, 2008
Channel 13 pulls Don Perata YouTube video

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Our Bee blogging brethren (hey, try saying that three times fast) at Capitol Alert have followed up on the Channel 13 ethnic-slur controversy regarding graphics of legislator Don Perata (pictured) as a mafia figure.

Read the post here.

March 20, 2008
Idol Chatter: Thoughts from Amanda

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Fox

I can't recall chatting with an eliminated "American Idol" contestant who sounded as exhausted as Amanda Overmyer (pictured). She admitted getting to bed at 1:30 this morning, getting up at 3:30 and starting - I assume - East Coast interviews at 4 a.m.!

So props to her for putting up with us print folks for half an hour today.

Here's some of what she had to say about her elimination:

Q:Were you as shocked as your fans probably were that you were the one to go last night? Did you see the results in Ryan Seacrest's hand?
A:No, but I tried. I was kinda not really surprised. I didn’t go in with any preconceived notions. It's just such a crapshoot being a square peg in a round hole.

Q: Will you be heading back to Indiana and your job or pursuing the music thing?
A: I'm definitely going on to the next step because I'm capable of moving on. I’ve owned a home in Indiana for three years. I'll give this music thing about six months and then probably go back to my career, but I have no idea if there are any (entertainment) options in L.A. It's just a waiting game for me.

Q: You actually sound optimistic. Would that be accurate?
A: Absolutely. Yesterday wasn’t the most traumatic thing that has happened to me. I got voted off a TV show. But I was privileged to stay on until 11. I'm just cut from a different mold than anyone else. But I found it warming that I had that much fan support.

Q: Can you say what was your favorite and least favorite performances?
A: I loved the songs I performed on the big stage. I'm more in my element with the crowd. All the group numbers were my least favorite. Personally I liked the Kansas (song), but I got slammed on it.

Q: The show's producers are always excited about unique personalities. Does that benefit a performer like you?
A: It benefits anybody with any kind of distinction. "American Idol" is an amazing platform to start from. It's the biggest we could ever get.

Q: At one point, (judge) Simon Cowell was joking with you about "smiling." How serious did you take the three judges' comments?
A: When I was done singing, I was done singing. I was respectful and listened when the judges give comments. But it wouldn’t sway me one way or another on what I would do. I performed like me, looked like me. Their comments were targeted at winning the contest, and that wasn't what I was about.

Q: Any predictions on which contestant you think could win?
A: No. All I can say is Syesha (Mercado) wasn’t favored last week. And David Archuleta got slammed by the judges. It’s anybody’s game.

Q: You really looked down at being in the bottom three. Were you surprised because a lot of people were predicting Kristy Lee Cook would be off?
A: Actually, I thought more than likely I would be done. I know how different I am. I target an older, different audience than maybe the show provides.

Q: The three of you (including Carly Smithson) were in a tense position. Did you say anything afterward to Kristy?
A: She thought it was her (who would go). I told her to chill out and stop worrying.

Q: Any regrets about song choice on Tuesday (or any other night) or about performing first?
A: No, I don’t think it was song choice. If it hadn't been "Back in the U.S.S.R," it would have been another song that sounded like me singing it. You'll never hear me whining I was first.

Q: Are you sad about finishing 11th and not going on the "American Idol" tour?
A: I definitely had hopes for position six or seven, but it is what it is. Yeah, it (the tour) was somewhat of a goal, but I'm not exremely disappointed. The ultimate goal is to get my own tour. They’ve got the best group (Final 10) for it.

Q: What about the social side of being a contestant? Did you bond well, fit in?
A: I tend to keep pretty sheltered. I can count on two hands the friends and family I rely on. Sure, there's an element of camaraderie there. Everybody is going through the same thing. They’re the only ones who understand. Carly was my roommate. We spent the most time together and had things in common.

Q: You stuck to your musical roots. Were you concerned about being forced to change your personal look (hair, clothing) to fit the show?
A: Yeah, I do my own thing, but I was definitely kind of nervous about that (the hair and clothing), but they (stylists) were really good to me.

Q: Any last thoughts?
A: It's just a good feeling that somebody who's different like me gets this opportunity. And it's good to know there were people out there who kept me in as long as they did.


March 19, 2008
Idol Chatter: I can't get it right!

OK, I officially declare my incompetency as a prognosticator of "American Idol" votes.

Country vs. rock? Contestants who pop off vs. contestants who take their judges' medicine and get on with it? So, what are you gonna do, Votefortheworst.com?

Your pick, Amanda Overmyer, got her ticket to ride - home - tonight.

Not only that. Get ready Lafayette (I'm assuming Louisiana). Amanda told Simon Cowell she could basically care less if he thought she was verging on "boring." "I'll sell out a bar in Lafayette and be happy."

Well, hope that works out for you, hon.

This week's live results show was much better. The bottom three weren't humiliated and we weren't subjected to them singing all the songs they butchered the night before.

Instead, we got more goofy questions from viewers. This is the most annoying part of the show.

The rewards?

Loved, LOVED Season 5 finalist Kellie Pickler in her cute red cocktail dress and red stilettos crooning "Red High Heels" (natch). Pay attention Season 7's Top 10: If I recall correctly, Kellie went out at No. 5 and is now touring with Rascal Flats.

My point? Winning isn't everything. Getting on the summer tour? Priceless.

So, here's how the evening went:

* Brooke White, David Archuleta and Michael Johns are the first three to make the Top 10. A way-startled Carly Smithson is the first in the bottom three. (Remember, she made a big deal Tuesday night about broken wings and musical hardship after singing "Blackbird.")

* This week's Ford commercial was shot out on the "moors" of Los Angeles to "Should I Stay or Should I Go?"

* David Cook, Jason Castro and Ramiele Malubay (surprise) are safe; Kristy Lee Cook, who should just take a throne without the wait each week, is once again in the bottom three.

* Then, instead of the bottom three singing, the show promoted the April 9 "Idol Gives Back" show, with former contestants Elliot Yamin and Fantasia Barrino distributing mosquito nets to malaria victims in Africa.

* A very relieved Syesha Mercado and Chikezie make it nine safe, leaving Kristy, Amanda and Carly in the bottom three.

No surprise - Carly is safe. But here's the thing: She and Amanda have been roommates from the get-go, and she had no problems saying adios to her roomie. It's like, "Better you than me." All's fair, right?

Kristy must have some major country fans out there who like sequins and cowboy boots. I'm all for it, now. I'm not putting her on the chopping block again.

Host Ryan Seacrest announced the upcoming mentors. Interesting mix of talents. They include: Dolly Parton, Mariah Carey, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Neil Diamond.

Oh, and for you songwriters out there, "Idol" is looking for the next finale song, and if there's anyone who can top last year's totally boring "This Is My Now," you'd better bring it in 2008 - you've got until March 31 to come up with something better than that sappy salute.

Game on!

March 19, 2008
Channel 13 story angers Italian Americans

Your humble local media writer isn't the only one out there whose eyebrows (and ire) are routinely raised by the tabloid nature, and just plain insensitive reporting style, of Channel 13.

Our sister blog, Capitol Alert, today reports that Channel 13's stunt of showing a graphic of Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata as an apparent Mafia leader, pointing a gun skyward, has angered Italian Americans.

The anchor who delivered the story?

Yup, you guessed it: Chris Burrous.

Check out Bee staff writer Jim Sanders' blog item here.

March 19, 2008
Anthony Minghella: a multifaceted talent

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Oscar-winning director Anthony Minghella, who died Tuesday, showed a flair for telling stories of sweeping scale. But Minghella (shown, above, on the set of "Cold Mountain") seemed first and foremost an actor's director, given how well he guided so many actors to truly memorable performances.

It was Alan Rickman's performance in "Truly Madly Deeply,"after all, that cemented his status in the hearts of American female moviegoers. As the devoted, complicated (and dead) husband in that 1990 film, Rickman showed that his mellifluous baritone lent itself to more than just villainy.

In the 1999 film "The Talented Mr. Ripley," Minghella captured the raw magnetism of Jude Law while also helping Matt Damon display a degree of psychological complexity he had not previously seemed capable of.

Law received two Oscar nominations for Minghella films, for his party boy in "Ripley" and for his determined Civil War soldier in 2003's "Cold Mountain." But it's actually the female performances in Minghella's films that stand out most.

Juliet Stevenson's portrait of grief in "Truly Madly" - raw, authentic and unforgettable - should have earned her an Oscar nomination. And, for her nuanced performance as a nurse caring for a disfigured man in 1996's "The English Patient," Juliette Binoche received not just a supporting actress nomination but an Oscar, partly because, by this time, Minghella's talents had a powerful American champion in (then) Miramax honcho Harvey Weinstein.

Minghella was also the first to truly define Renee Zellweger's singular gifts. Her performance as a can-do mountain woman in "Cold Mountain" earned her a supporting actress Oscar and suggested that Minghella recognized what previous directors - and perhaps even Zellweger herself - did not: that she's a born character actress.

March 19, 2008
And just when you thought the Eliot Spitzer jokes were waning...

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We are more than a week into the Eliot Spitzer story, and late-night comedians and editorial cartoonists are starting to run out of material.

But, fear not, you Spitzer wags.

Advertising and entrepreneurs have stepped forth to keep the story in our collective consciousness.

Here's a shameless plug preview of what you'll see in Thursday's Ad Hawk feature in The Bee.

Above is the Virgin Mobile cell phone ad featuring the philandering New York Guv. And below is an ad for Balvine Single Malt Scotch and the newly minted "Spitzer 9" baseball-style T-shirt available on shirtaday.com.

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March 19, 2008
Get a 'Clue'

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The board game that came to life now comes to local television. The cast of Garbeau’s “Clue: The Musical” will invade Channel 31's "Good Day Sacramento" Thursday morning, performing during the 9 o’clock hour. The gang will sing a tune from the show and possibly show up during other segments, as well.

Based on the second-best-selling board game in history (who knew?), behind only Monopoly, “Clue: The Musical” has 216 possible endings to determine who killed narrator Mr. Boddy.

Maybe Mark S. Allen should watch his back.

Whodunit? In which room? And with which weapon? I guess I just have to say it ... tune in to find out.

March 19, 2008
Fox40 GM Audrey Farrington stepping down

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Audrey Farrington, who for nine years served as vice president and general manager of Fox40 (KTXL), announced to the staff today that she will leave her position in two weeks.

Farrington declined to be interviewed, but sent a statement to The Bee via e-mail.

"It's my decision," she wrote. "I'm proud of what we have accomplished during my tenure and I leave a terrific team in place. I wish everyone well moving forward."

She did not detail her future plans.

The Tribune company, Fox40's owner, did not make Ed Wilson, president of Tribune Broadcasting, available to discuss the specifics of Farrington's departure or to talk about when a replacement for her will be named.

But Wilson, through a spokesman, released a statement of his own: "Over the last few weeks, Audrey's thought a lot about her role at KTXL-TV and come to the conclusion that she wants to resign from her duties as general manager. She's been with the station as GM since 1999 and, before that, spent 10 years there as director of programming and creative services. Her commitment to the station was unquestionable and we wish her the best."

Farrington has worked for KTXL for nearly 20 years, including 10 as the station's program director and creative services and promotions director. For two years, she was the director of programming at KTLA in Los Angeles, but returned in 1999 when Mike Fisher resigned as the station's general manager.

Station sources say Farrington's departure was not related to the recent takeover of the Tribune company by flamboyant billionaire Sam Zell, who visited the Fox40 newsroom about a month ago. In recent months, Fox40 has added reporters for its 10 p.m. newcast, hired a morning meteorologist and revamped its Website to feature videos.

March 19, 2008
Idol Chatter: A Beatles bust

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Fox

I had mixed feelings about another week of Beatles songs on "American Idol." The song list seems endless on paper, but the opportunities for individual hits - especially 11 of them - is not as easy as it might sound.

That's why I'm going to keep this wrap-up short and sweet.

David Archuleta, 17, who wasn't even a blip on the screen when his Beatles hit came out, sang the group's last No. 1 song, "The Long and Winding Road", and blew the rest of the competition away. Done deal.

And I'm sure he was the only performer who got any sleep afterward.

David A. rebounded after last week's misstep with "We Can Work It Out," missing the lyrics and opting for a bad arrangement.

This week, the "road" to the "Idol" title is his to take - and I predict he'll be accompanied by throngs of giddy teen girls (and the "granny" vote) to the finale.

As for the other 10 contestants, the judges (even Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul) didn't mince words. We heard a lot of "not your best performance, predictable, just good." And, of course, the inevitable fashion death knell: "You look gorgeous."

Simon Cowell thought the whole evening was weird and that maybe doing another week of the Beatles was a bad idea. I'm officially giving him the green light to use "Project Runway" winner Christian Siriano's phrase, "Hot mess!," because that's what Tuesday was.

I think we'll see a bottom three that includes a regular, Kristy Lee Cook, and two possible surprises: Chikezie and Ramiele Malubay.

Kristy Lee's "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" featured another bad arrangement. Simon said she's just not a good performer. "It's like musical wallpaper; you notice it, but you can't remember it."

Several of the Final 11, including the bossy Amanda Overmyer, with a jarring "Back in the U.S.S.R", and the meek Brooke White (pictured), with a lackluster "Here Comes the Sun," had too much to say after their performances.

Amanda barked about selling out a future show that Simon quipped didn't have any tickets available - yet. Brooke got one of her first all-judge negative reviews, maybe not so much for her singing but her truly awkward, gangly dancing. She definitely needs her piano/guitar so she has something to do besides sway and wave.

Rocker David Cook's "Daytripper" was gritty but not as great as last week's "Eleanor Rigby." He incorporated a "voice box" and guitar into the performance, but I agree with Simon. David C. needs to lose the smug stuff, especially the creepy sideways glances. "It was not as good as you thought it was," Simon said.

Randy and Paula, who rarely pounce on any of the contestants too hard, were accurately critical with guys like Michael Johns. He took on the daunting task of turning "A Day in the Life" from a five-minute song into a minute-and-a-half that was like a musical jigsaw puzzle.

And Jason Castro, who is safe because he's got major camera appeal, had to learn French and more goofy hand gestures to get by with "Michelle." Randy actually liked the song choice but was subdued by the performance. Paula thought he was disconnected without his beloved guitar.

Syesha Mercado redeemed herself and probably avoided another trip to the bottom three with a soulful - albeit incredibly sad - version of "Yesterday."

And I'm not sure why Simon has issues with the Beatles' "Blackbird," a song he kept telling Paula orginally was called "Sparrow." Irish crooner Carly Smithson, dressed in what looked like a rose-infested lingerie top, gave us a very unique interpretation of the song, but she and Simon got into it over "broken wings" and the meaning of life, blah, blah, blah.

(Carly found time this week to get a No. "7" tattooed on her right finger - for the season, not her ranking.)

Baffling was Chikezie's "I've Just Seen a Face,", which started at a dead snail's pace and then accelerated to hoe-down tempo - with Chikezie blowing on a harmonica. And, finally, Ramiele's "I Should Have Known Better". She should have known better. Didn't like the fedora, didn't like the bad pants. And I think Ramiele needs to quit playing the role of "little sister" who needs protecting. It's grating. And heaven help us if she goes tonight. She'll need counseling.

OK, so maybe this wasn't so short and sweet, but I think the live results show (at 9 tonight on Channel 40) will be very interesting. Season 5 contestant Kellie Pickler will perform in yet another attempt to keep "Idol" viewers in tune with past contestants.

Guess we won't be seeing former finalist Jessica Sierra on the show - ever. According to TMZ.com, she's sitting in a jail cell in Florida - pregnant and with no hope of getting out anytime soon.

March 18, 2008
Local TV news finds Jesus - and Mary - everywhere

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We knew it was coming, this being Holy Week and all.

Fox40 recently aired a story about a Citrus Heights man, Manny Duenas, who claims to have found an image of the Virgin Mary in a palm tree branch (see photo above) that he was trimming. "When I saw it, I had the goose bumps and I (was thinking), let me share this with my family."

He also shared it with the media.

Not to ruin reporter Jaime Soriano's hopes for an Emmy for this "report," but I just don't see the image in the branch.

What this does show is that local TV news eats up this kind of story.

We've had News10 telling us about the Virgin Mary in a muffin pan; Fox40 finding Jesus on a Lodi fence post; Fox40 finding Jesus and Mary on a pancake, and Channel 13 on a Yuba County woman who saw the face of Jesus burned into the wallpaper after a house fire.

Maybe I'm just too skeptical. Here's a gallery. Decide for yourself:

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March 18, 2008
Idol Chatter: Another 'Ticket To Ride'

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Fox

I can't wait to see who smashes it (one of Randy Jackson's new lines) and who butchers it tonight on "American Idol." The Final 11 (pictured) get another crack at the Lennon/McCartney songbook. That's because so many viewers e-mailed/text-messaged/called/begged for another week of the oldies, but goodies.

It's a good test to see who can once again make the right song choice (and make it their own) and who crashes and burns.

This is one of those pivotal weeks in the competition because it gets narrowed to the Top 10 - who get to do the exhaustive summer tour and get even more noticed and interviewed.

Note to Kristy Lee Cook: The clock is ticking, hon. And you're doing yourself no favors with videos out there of you performing in tight, white pants and then riding a tiger.

Her singing stock dropped off the charts last week with that awful country-crooning "Eight Days a Week."

Anyway, I expect David Archuleta to rebound - and remember his lyrics. I'd like to hear something more up-tempo from Jason Castro (one of my favorites). And pleeeeease let Amanda Overmyer perform something that I can remotely understand.

And perhaps this will be the week that Aussie Michael Johns finds that one perfect song Simon Cowell keeps hoping he'll hear. I'm not worried about Brooke White or Carly Smithson. And, unless David Cook wears a goofy fedora, he'll be fine, too.

Syesha Mercado, who was in the bottom three last week, needs a strong performance. Where's the "Wow" factor gone? I still haven't forgiven Ramiele Malubay for torching "In My Life," which I found out last week was a song played at my editor's wedding. See, it has special meaning for a lot of people.

Chikezie's hopes still ride on picking another great song and going for broke on the arrangement. He had stage presence, too, so bring the whole package, dude.

The Final 11 perform at 8 tonight (on Channel 40), with the live results show at 9 p.m. Wednesday. Wonder which "Idol" also-ran will perform. The Katharine McPhee song-that-wouldn't-end left America in a nationwide coma. And "Something" wasn't even a Lennon/McCartney song. George Harrison wrote it.

March 17, 2008
Download this: Kevin Seconds' podcasts at iTunes

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If you're a fan of Kevin Seconds' musical tastes, but can't seem to tune into KSSU 1580 (the Sac State station that "rocks the block" but not much more) for his Monday-night radio show, well, here's an alternative.

Head over to iTunes to check out the veteran musician's AbsoluteRants&Ruckus radio show. Just search for "Kevin Seconds" under the podcasts link and check out shows featuring great pop-punk playlists that include local tracks and live performances from the likes of the Secretions, Brian Hanover and Kepi.

Subscribe for weekly installments - don't worry, it's free.

March 17, 2008
Madam Butterfly goes green

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As my Bee colleague and fellow 21Q blogger Rachel Leibrock wrote recently in a Scene story, more and more stores are doing the whole "green," reusable bag thing. But get this: they're not just for folks who fill their bags with alfalfa sprouts and multivitamins anymore.

I found the cutest eco-friendly bags at Madam Butterfly in the Pavilions (off Fair Oaks Boulevard). These are reusable, recyclable bags that certainly fit the bag-it-green trend.

Owner Denise Masunaga says she's got two styles to choose from: Dogeared and Green World (pictured).

The Dogeared bags are 100 percent cotton canvas, silk-screened with either a peace sign or the word "karma" on front. And who couldn't use a bit of good karma these days? The Dogeared bags are $25 each and will hold up to a heavy load of environmentally friendly products.

The Green World bags are sold as a set of four ($30). With modern, colorful designs, they're soooo not limited to the grocery store. They're great for toting books, toys to the park, etc. Buying the four-pack also allows you to share with a friend or family member.

(The Green World designer, Trudy Balisteri, lives in San Diego, but has family ties to Sactown.)

Besides the cute, eco-friendly bags, Madam Butterfly is bringing in clothing lines with a "green thumb." They include Eco-ganik, Habitude and Earth by CP Shades. Denise says the lines are unique in that they use bamboo and organic cottons and "manufacture according to the principles of fair trade."

With Earth Day coming up next month, it's not too soon to get into an earth-friendly shopping mode.

March 17, 2008
We're rolling now

Look to your right. Yeah, over there. See it?

21Q finally - finally! - has posted its blog roll (actually dubbed "Links to Check Out," because not all of the links are blogs).

These are links that the 21Q Five often visit. Do not consider it an endorsement of the viewpoints expressed on these sites. They are just thought-provoking and deal with the same issues we chew over here.

We've also added easy buttons for you to share 21Q with your friends and enemies.

Enough of the self-promotion.

Now, back to the snark.

March 14, 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
Adopting a Cockney accent in his role as a crime lord, Ralph Fiennes sounds like Ben Kingsley in “Sexy Beast.” He even resembles him, if only in the crazed intensity of his gaze.
Rated R

The Spiderwick Chronicles
3 stars
There’s a lot of life in the Spiderwick mansion, where Helen’s (Mary-Louise Parker) great-great uncle Arthur Spiderwick (David Strathairn, seen in sepia-toned flashbacks) once composed a book describing the enchanted realm just outside the house. The interior is pretty active, as well. Helen and her three children are in the house for a hot minute before the weirdness starts.
Rated PG

Vantage Point

Vantage Point
2 1/2 stars
As a Secret Service agent and an American tourist-turned-latter-day Zapruder, Dennis Quaid (pictured above) and Forest Whitaker, respectively, always impart the danger of their situations. Experts at playing masculine vulnerability, Quaid and Whitaker are so shaky that the camera doesn’t need to be.
Rated PG-13

March 14, 2008
Pizza Knight comes to life at Arco Arena

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Talk about synergy - or, at least, coincidence.

On the same day that Ad Hawk, everybody's favorite Thursday Page 3 feature in The Bee's Scene section, featured Round Table Pizza's mascot,, Pizza Knight, the tin one appeared courtside at Arco Arena to give away slices to fans and schmooze with the Beautiful People.

Check him out above with the Kings' mascot, Slamson.

March 14, 2008
Summer Soul Music Jam tix on sale today

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It's Friday - which means a three-day weekend for a lot of folks. (Why they get a three-day weekend, I don't know. Life, as mama told me, is not fair.)

Anyway, if you're lookin' for something to do, something to buy and something to look forward to, here's your fix:

Tickets for V101.1's Summer Soul Music Jam just went on sale today . The May 31 show takes place at Raley Field and will feature Dennis Edwards & the Temptations Review, the Original “P” Parliament/Funkedelic, Evelyn “Champagne” King, A Taste of Honey, Tone Loc (pictured), and DJ Mixxula.

I know, Tone-Loc! Awesome - even if this does mean I'll have "Funky Cold Medina" stuck in my head the rest of the day.

Get tickets ($45 stadium seats, $57 reserved floor seats) through the Raley Field box office (400 Ballpark Dr., West Sacramento) or via Ticketmaster.com.

March 14, 2008
Hair-raising event at Sac Convention Center

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I'm sure many of you will be getting a jump on your St. Patrick's Day fun this weekend. (It's not an official holiday, so how many folks will be taking a "mental health" day Monday? Just askin'.)

Anyway, I've got a hair/beauty alert: Our fair city will be playing host on Sunday to the Global Hair & Beauty Expo at the Sacramento Convention Center. If you're already a pro at styling hair - or if you're one of the many students on track to becoming a stylist - here's your opportunity to see what's going down with mousse and sculpting gel.

(Also, if you're a manicurist or aesthetician, this show is for you, too.)

Sac's own Jesse Lewis (pictured), who's in VH1's "America's Most Smartest Model" as well the movie "Meet the Spartans", will be at the show. (He graduated from C.K. McClatchy High School.)

There will be other celebrity makeup artists and stylists, so there will be something for everyone.

FYI: Jesse's also been featured on "Nip/Tuck," "The Tyra Banks Show" and at the recent Scream Awards with director Quentin Tarantino. And he's working on another feature film with Hillary Swank and Martin Scorcese.

Sunday's show is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are $45 for professionals; $35 for students. They're available by clicking here or at the convention center box office, 1400 J. St.

March 14, 2008
Sacrag nails Togo's in 'Special Report'

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Who says our favorite local non-mainstream media blog doesn't deal in reportage? Sacrag.com posted this "investigative" piece, blowing the lid off something I've been wondering each time I order a turkey and avocado sub (see photo) at Togo's.

Read the scoop here.

Lesson learned: Always say your order is to-go.

March 13, 2008
Idol Chatter: David exits in style

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Fox

So there's really no hard feelings from "American Idol" contestant David Hernandez (pictured with host Ryan Seacrest), who was eliminated Wednesday night.

The 24-year-old, from Glendale, Ariz., put up with his share of media scrutiny (over his stripper past) and judges' jibes (mostly from Simon Cowell) during his stint from auditioner to a member of the elite Top 12.

But, during a conference call with reporters on Thursday, he was absolutely poised - and oh-so charming. Here's some of what he had to say:

Q: In retrospect, was the Lennon/McCartney songbook tougher than you thought? And, because it's the theme again next week, which song would you have wanted to perform?
A: I've been pretty consistent with my R&B style, and I think I did the best I could. I chose a more upbeat song ("I Saw Her Standing There"). If I were still on the show, I hoped to sing "Yesterday," which would have been great. It's such an amazing song to tackle.

Q: Was the media attention on your past a distraction, and were the "Idol" folks aware of it from the get-go?
A: I did a good job of blocking it out, staying away from the Internet and TV. If this is the worst thing that could happen, I'll be OK. I was still able to perform in front of 35 million people. If "Idol" wasn't comfortable, I wouldn't have been on the show. I'm not ashamed of my past, but the media can be vicious. I'm just looking forward to moving on.

Q: When Ryan said you would be leaving, you said "Wow!" Were you totally taken aback that you were eliminated? Did you feel it was Kristy Lee Cook's time to go?
A: I was genuinely shocked. I didn't think I was going to go home. I know what the judges said about my vocals, and I thought I would be in the bottom three. But I didn't feel like I deserved to go home. The competition is so intense, and all the contestants can sing. Nobody is safe. Vocals are important, and song selection is very, very important.

Q:What did you and Kristy say to each other afterward?
A: Kristy is a really talented girl. We'll stay in touch. Maybe we'll even do a collaboration in the future.

Q: How did you end up singing "I Saw Her Standing There?" Was it your first choice, and how did the arrangement come about?
A: I wanted to sing "Let It Be," but it was gone (Brooke White sang it) when it was my turn to pick. But I'm happy with what I chose. It was fair. We had 25 songs to choose from. We put in our top three choices, and if there's a tie, we draw out of a hat. You'd be surprised. We (the contestants) have a lot of say in the arrangement. We have mentors to help us stay true to the song. I added some breaks in the beginning and changed up the verse. But we pay respect to the artist who did it. We sit down with a piano player and vocal coach for serveral rehearsals and work together.

Q: What have you learned so far about the entertainment business? What do like most/least?
A: It's been a roller-coaster ride. You go from being anonymous to being, well, famous. But I've gained a deeper respect for myself and the music business, and a newfound confidence in myself as a performer. In this industry, you definitely have to have thick skin. I won't miss the paparazzi. I tried to go to the store the other day, and I had to have security go with me! I've also learned that all is fair in love, war and entertainment. I've only seen the tip of the iceberg.

Q: What does the future hold? You're obviously not going back to the pizza bistro.
A: Yes, I'm unemployed. I'm shopping around a record deal and would love to have something out in a year. I'm doing the "Ellen" show and "Today." But...I really want to focus on writing my own songs. Singing, thank God, is something I've been blessed with.

Q: Which contestant(s) were you closest to? Are you pulling for anyone?
A: Chikezie and I were roommates until the end. We were best friends, and we would listen and critique each other. We were both pegged as R&B singers, but Chikezie is more soulful. I'll vote for everybody or not at all. They're so talented.

Q: What are you going to do first - once you get a break?
A: Eat pork-flavored Ramen noodles! I want to go to my mom's house (in Glendale), lay on her couch with her cats and watch nonsense TV. I'm staying away from reality shows for a while. I need a break. I'll probably watch reruns of "Friends."

March 13, 2008
Rex Babin show at Sierra College

So, I've been awfully remiss in not telling you sooner about Rex Babin's show at Sierra College.

Babin, of course, is The Sacramento Bee's award-winning political cartoonist (not to mention 2003 Pulitzer Prize finalist). He's also just an all-around swell guy with - and maybe you didn't know this - a love for indie and underground music.

Anyway, back to the show.

Check out a collection of Babin's political cartoons at the Sierra College Ridley Gallery (5000 Rocklin Road, Rocklin). It runs through April 4. For more information, visit the Sierra College site or call (916) 789-2866.

March 12, 2008
Idol Chatter: And the first to go ...

Now I get why "American Idol" producer Nigel Lythgoe wanted the live results show to go from 30 minutes to an hour. More time for Katharine McPhee to sing perhaps the longest, most affected version of George Harrison's "Something" - ever.

The "Kat Woman," runner-up in Season 5, returned to perform on the live results show tonight, accompanied by music icon David Foster on the piano, which probably gave contestant Brooke White a small seizure because, at that moment, there was still one spot left in the bottom three.

(FYI: Brooke played the piano for her rendition of "Let It Be" on Tuesday.)

Anyway, cut to the chase. After 29 million votes, Top 12 guy David Hernandez got the boot for his cruise-ship, cabaret, corny version of "I Saw Her Standing There." I nailed this one. My "Idol" colleagues at chez Bee thought it would be the other bottom feeder Kristy Lee Cook, whose country-crooning "Eight Days a Week" was a hot mess.

But I believe the country-music voters out there kept Kristy in the competition. The other bottom three vote-getter? Syesha Mercado, who was totally taken aback that she had to sing "Got To Get You Into My Life" again - without knowing she eventually would be safe.

So, how else did Nigel fill that extra 30 minutes?

* A Lennon/McCartney Top 12 medley. The new Top 11 will perform the songbook again next week because "Idol" fans loved it - and e-mailed in droves. No mentor, as previously discussed. Note to Amanda Overmyer: You're still scaring the children! Note to David Archuleta: Pick a better song, learn the lyrics.

* Actor Jim Carrey doing a major promo - in partial costume - for Friday's opening of the Fox animated film "Horton Hears a Who." (He's the voice of Horton, the elephant.) Jim also took the stage as a "contestant," saying he never should have sung "that REO Speedwagon song." By the way, the "Idol" Top 12 made their red-carpet debut at the movie's L.A. opening.

* The return of the "Idol" singers doing Ford commercials, this time to something called "The Distance," with a decidedly political bent. Point of interest: The song is by Cake, one of Sacramento's most successful bands. Good to know.

* Really, REALLY stupid on-air phone calls from "Idol" fans who asked lame questions like (to Jason Castro): "Which judge would you be?" "Well, I'm not a girl, like Paula," he responded.

* Did you look close at the audience? At the conclusion of the "Idol" medley, quick pan to Season 6 fiasco Sanjaya Malakar (and his sister), who was almost unrecognizable. Sanjaya - not his sister.

Back to Kat McPhee's performance - in a way-short dress with a giant wedding ring - was Ambien-esqe.

When it was time to finally say goodbye to David H., they played Season 2 winner Ruben Studdard's farewell song, a lovely version of Kenny Loggins' "Celebrate Me Home."

Here's seeing the last of the guys go - for a while. Gals, you're about to get picked off (except for Carly) like ducks at a carnival. But hey, that's just my take. Let me know what YOU think!

March 12, 2008
Hey, who's that new (young!) face on News10?

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He's Will Frampton (pictured), hired three weeks ago to replace Monika Diaz (now in Dallas). He's the first new full-time reporter News10 has hired in nearly three years.

News10 plucked him from a sister Gannett-owned station, WLTX in Columbia, S.C. A native son of the state, Frampton retains a charming Southern accent - but I'm sure consultants will tell him to lose that, post haste.

While at WLTX, Frampton spent three weeks embedded with the 218th Brigade Combat Team in Kabul, Afghanistan.

March 12, 2008
Idol Chatter: Beatles mania and music

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Fox

The highly anticipated performance by the "American Idol" Top 12 pretty much lived up to the hype.

That is, except for the over-the-top snipping and sniping between host Ryan Seacrest and judge Simon Cowell, which pretty much punctuated the two-hour show.

I've been told by both of them that it's not personal, not planned but, for me, it's getting obnoxious - even more so than some of Paula Abdul's chitchat.

As for the show, it opened with Ryan raving about the new set, the lights, the "penthouse" for some members of the expanded band, and two strange, elevated blue "bowls." And I'm sure the three judges loathe having a female mosh pit standing and waving directly in front of them.

But, I digress.

As expected, the Top 12 performed selections from the Lennon/McCartney songbook. The judges mentioned things like taking risks and how the music was some of the greatest in history.

When all was said and sung, I broke the performances into three categories: shining solos (SS), mediocre melodies (MM), and bathroom breaks (BB). Here's my wrap-up from the show:

* Syesha Mercado: (MM) She sang "Got To Get You Into My Life." Syesha had some nerves going, even though she oohed and ahhed over the new set and bigger stage. Judges' comments?

Randy Jackson: "Nice arrangement. (It was the Earth, Wind & Fire version.) A little rough at the beginning."
Paula: "You found your zone, even though it started pitchy."
Simon: "It was better than all right, but you need to get past the nerves."

(Note to Syesha: You'll go somewhere in the middle if you don't pick up the pace!)

* Chikezie: (SS) He sang "She's a Woman." It opened with Chikezie hooking up with three musicians playing a banjo, fiddle and a tambourine. Then he broke bad into a rock finish.

Randy: "Dawg, I was looking for a jug, too. I was thoroughly entertained."
Paula: "You started with that whole 'Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?' thing. It was a risk that paid off."
Simon: "I'm reallly surprised that I agree with these two. You've changed within a week. Now you controlled the stage."

(Note to Ryan: Romping around the stage only leaves you winded, my friend.)

* Ramiele Malubay: (BB) She sang one of my favorite songs, "In My Life." I'll just let the judges take over on this train wreck.
Randy: "Kind of pretty. Kind of pretty boring, too."
Paula: "You look pretty (death knell). It was pretty safe."
Simon: "I was bored to tears. It was a dreary song choice, and I expect a lot better from you."

(Note to contestants: Forget there are stairs leading up to the "blue bowls." Stay away from them. They're bad luck!)

* Jason Castro: (SS) He sang "If I Fell." Jason brought back his guitar, and I loved it. He has to stay!
Randy: "I liked it, I didn't love it."
Paula: "It was special and unique. You made a connection with the audience."
Simon: "It was like a student in a bedroom at midnight. (Huh?) I'm a big, big fan and, up until now, you've chosen brilliant songs."

(Note to dermatologists: Does Jason have the best skin or what?)

* Carly Smithson: (SS) She sang "Come Together." Carly is definitely the strongest female contestant. I don't think there's even a close second (except for maybe Brooke).
Randy: "You sounded amazing. It was a stellar performance."
Paula: "It's like I'm already watching a star."
Simon: "Week after week, you've chosen the wrong song - until now. That reminds me of the same week six years ago with another contestant - Kelly Clarkson."

(Note to Carly: Don't let the whole Kelly comment go to your head.)

* David Cook: (SS) He sang "Eleanor Rigby." Not one of my all-time favorite Beatles songs, but David took it to a level even I didn't expect.
Randy: "You can rock out on 'Idol.' "
Paula: "You're a dark horse and more in this race."
Simon: "I thought it was brilliant. If this show remains more about the talent than a popularity contest, you could win."

(Note to Simon: Don't take Paula's "donkey" comment to heart.)

* Brooke White: (MM) She sang "Let It Be" (barefoot, playing the piano). I thought it was - and I think I have the creds now - a little pitchy in places.
Randy: "It was a heartfelt performance. I love that you've got conviction."
Paula: "This is your niche."
Simon: "It was again one of the best performances of the night. It was believable."

(Note to Simon and Ryan: Don't go there about women's shoes - or the lack thereof.)

* David Hernandez: (BB - big time) He sang "I Saw Her Standing There." David H. was one of the first contestants to start his song standing behind the judges. Too much twisting and shouting (natch).
Randy: "You've got a big voice, but it was too overdone. You lost me from the jump."
Paula: "I love your voice, but you kind of overdid it a bit."
Simon: "No, no, no! It was corny verging on desperate. You looked like a rabbit in the headlights."

(Note to Simon: What did you do with the deer in the headlights?)

* Amanda Overmyer: (MM) She sang (er, blasted) "You Can't Do That." I almost turned this performance into a bathroom break because it was hurting my ears.
Randy: "You rocked it. It was like a Southern bar, Southern club kind of thing."
Paula: "You are a star. This is definitely the best season of talent."
Simon: "Not as good as last week. I understood about 30 percent of the words. You're still a breath of fresh air in the competition."

(Note to Amanda: I can't help feeling that the stylists (fashion and hair) are abandoning their jobs when they get to you.)

* Michael Johns: (MM, but he looks sooo fine) He sang "Across the Universe." Nobody can stand still and sing as good as Michael.
Randy: "You've taken a little liberty (with the song). It was a little sleepy."
Paula: "I disagree - again. You've got an inner quiet confidence. It was brilliant."
Simon: "I agree with Randy. It was little bit monotonous. I'm a big fan of yours, but I still haven't heard what you're capable of."

(Note to Michael: You definitely look better in a white T-shirt than Simon.)

* Kristy Lee Cook: (pictured) (BB) She sang "Eight Days a Week," and, instead of actually going to the bathroom, I ended up flat-footing in the living room with my neighbor. This was a country-music catastrophe.
Randy: "I'm half and half. I liked the arrangement, but you forced the runs."
Paula: "I didn't enjoy it. You can't take what we say (about singing everything country) too much to heart."
Simon: "I thought it was horrendous! It was like Dolly Parton on helium. It was a brave but foolish thing to do. It was like you were at some ghastly country fair."

(Note to Kristy: Ripped jeans and a sparkly top does not a Lorrie Morgan make.)

* David Archuleta: (MM bordering on BB) He sang "We Can Work It Out." David A. said in his intro he was really nervous about this week. Well, it showed. Stay away from those stairs! It definitely was the teen's worst performance since his audition. Imagine that.
Randy: "Not on point. It wasn't your vibe. It felt forced."
Paula: "Not your best week. If you forget the lyrics (which he did), don't let it show on your face."
Simon: "There are 12 people fighting for a spot in this competition. And that was a mess. You stumbled over the lyrics. It was your weakest performance so far."

(Note to David and his huge fan base: Dude will bounce back next week.)

Predictions: Dialidol.com actually has David A. the only safe contestant. Surprise? Not really. Again, fans do factor in past performances, and he has been a superstar. Their bottom three are Syesha, Ramiele and David H. My pick? David Hernandez. But Ramiele better get it together - and fast.

The live results show will see one contestant go home. That's at 9 tonight (on Channel 40). I'll be chatting with the guy or the gal who gets the boot. So stay tuned here at 21Q.

March 11, 2008
Channel 13 makes it official: Beck is news director

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After helping guide the post-Steve Charlier Channel 13 through the February sweeps as interim news director, Cameryn Beck (pictured) was appointed to the permanent position on Tuesday.

Bruno Cohen, president of channels 13 and 31, says Beck proved herself during the stresses of sweeps month and that she's gained the confidence of the staff. Beck, who came to CBS13 from Channel 3 in late 2005, had been the executive producer of Channel 13's news.

"She's a really charismatic leader - positive, upbeat and treats people with respect," Cohen says. "She makes employees want to root for her to do well and make the broadcast better."

Indeed, Beck may help Channel 13 heal from its PCSD - Post-Charlier Stress Disorder. Under Charlier's blustery leadership, Channel 13 changed almost its entire reporting lineup and fostered much rumbling in the rank and file. Charlier left Channel 13 in late January to join a start-up TV firm in the Midwest.

"Cameryn is a very collaborative person," Cohen says.

Here's the memo Cohen sent to staffers today:

It is my pleasure to announce the appointment of Cameryn Beck as News Director of CBS13 (KOVR). Cameryn joined us in August 2005 as executive news producer and was promoted in August 2007 to assistant news director. During the last month she has ably served as interim news director. I am continually impressed by her journalistic judgment, her innovative approach to newscast production and development and her charismatic, fair-minded leadership. It's particularly rewarding to be able to promote a very deserving member of our own organization - and to place a Sacramento native with thorough knowledge of the coverage area and deep roots in the community - into such an important position. Brent Baader will continue in his role as news director for "Good Day Sacramento" on CW31. Brent and Cameryn will both report to me. Please join me in congratulating Cameryn on her promotion and in providing her and Brent with your complete support. - Bruno
March 11, 2008
Sac filmmaker a finalist in 'Tide' advertising contest

By day, Erik Candiani works as a Channel 13 creative services guy who makes those wacky 30-second promos.

By night, he's a budding filmmaker trying his hand at TV advertising. He entered a user-generated commercial contest sponsored by Tide - featuring the talking "spot" the company used in its Super Bowl ad.

This week, Candiani learned his ad is one of 10 finalists. Watch it on YouTube (above), but to vote thumbs up or down for Candiani, you must be a registered YouTube user.

His commercial is called "The Date," and it features local actors Brian Rife and Teri Flores. It was shot at Awful Annie's restuarant in Lincoln.

March 11, 2008
Raven-Symone brings her pajama party to Sac July 13

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Break out the pillows and Rice Krispy treats, Raven-Symone's Pajama Party Tour will come to Arco Arena on July 13.

In case you're not familiar with her, Raven-Symone's (pictured at right, photo courtesy of MTV) the star of Disney's "That's So Raven" series and the smash 'tween flick "The Cheetah Girls."

Or, you may remember her as young Olivia on "The Cosby Show."

Or, maybe like me, you know her best as Lindsay Lohan's old roommate. For reals, people, you can't make this stuff up.

Anyway, the stage will be made up to look like a teen girl's bedroom and fans are encouraged to rock the house by showing up in pajamas. No word yet if anyone needs to be worried about being subjected to bedtime games such as "Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board."

Ms. Raven-Symone has a new album out next month (her fourth), so expect to hear plenty of new tunes.

No on-sale date for tix yet, but stay tuned to RavenSymonePresents.com for pre-sale information.

March 11, 2008
Dave Walker: Just too sexy?

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Dave Walker and KCRA co-anchor/wife Lois Hart

Following up on our posting Monday about outrageous local TV news "teasers," reader Laura Breedlove passes along this anecdote:

A handful of friends were over for a regular Monday-night viewing of "Heroes" (pre-strike, of course), and we tended to mute the commercials to try and analyze what just occurred in the story. While the volume was muted, Dave Walker appeared on screen, “teasing” the 11 o’clock news. His headline: “Too Sexy?” No idea what story was being teased. But the headline lives with us for eternity. We all thought to ourselves: Yes Dave, yes you are.
March 11, 2008
Idol Chatter: Psyched for the Top 12

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Fox

OK, at last "American Idol" has its Top 12 singers (pictured).

But I'll get to them in just a minute.

That's because, in even bigger news, ousted contestant Danny Noriega apparently has secured a "cabaret" gig on Rosie O'Donnell's cruise ship. On Monday night's "Access Hollywood" (and also on Rosie's blog), she says Danny is welcome to sing on her R Family Cruise to Mexico.

"And I love your hair straight," Rosie blogs.

But, I digress. Let's get back to the Top 12 guys and gals, who will be performing tunes from the Lennon/McCartney songbook, which Sony graciously released to "Idol."

Ah, the songs to pick from.

I predict we'll hear some version of both "Yesterday" (maybe David Hernandez) and "Let It Be" (maybe Brooke White).

And here's hoping none of the Top 12 tackles "I Am the Walrus." I wouldn't mind a really soulful rendition of "In My Life" from "Rubber Soul." Maybe Michael Johns or David Cook.

For sure, you won't hear a couple of my personal Beatles favorites - "Something" and "Here Comes the Sun" - because they were penned by the late George Harrison.

Chikezie could put a whole Earth, Wind & Fire spin (because they also recorded it) to "Got To Get You Into My Life."

As for rocker gals, Amanda Overmyer and Carly Smithson, I predict they both might slow things down, whereas teen sensation David Archuleta was told last week by judge Simon Cowell to not "be so gloomy and depressing."

(But David certainly is in good standing over at iTunes, where his version of Lennon's "Imagine" is currently the most popular download. In distant second and third place, respectively, are David C.'s "Hello" and Jason Castro's "Hallelujah.")

Back to the songlist for tonight, how about a little "I Want To Hold Your Hand?" for David A.? Amanda definitely could pull off "Revolution," if it's one of the songs offered up. And Carly? I can see her going for something like "I've Just Seen a Face."

As for Jason, his security-blanket guitar is likely to return, perhaps with "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away." Kristy Lee Cook will likely stick to modifying something to her country-music standards. Maybe "Blackbird?"

Ramiele Malubay needs to step it up a notch and let those big pipes explode. I'd love to hear her tackle "Get Back."

Last, Syesha Mercado, who has been one of my favorites from the get-go, won't have Whitney Houston songs on the list (hallelujah). I'd like to see her take the tempo up a notch. "Can't Buy Me Love" comes to mind.

It's a two-hour gig tonight (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40), with the hourlong results show at 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Stay tuned!

March 11, 2008
Sacramento oldies radio station sold

Sacramento's only "classic" oldies station, K-HITS (92.1 FM), has been sold by longtime owner First Broadcasting of Dallas to Results Radio, which owns and operates 11 radio stations in Northern California.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, and it is expected to be finalized by the Federal Communications Commission within a few months.

K-HITS, which officially still carries the call letters KCCL, was the fourth format in as many years tried by First Broadcasting to improve ratings. The station had previously tried country music, a "Bob" (play anything) format, '80s rock and, since January of 2007, oldies from the '60s to '80s.

In the most recent Arbitron ratings survey, KCCL finished 22nd out of 31 Sacramento stations in the 12-plus demographic with a 1.3 rating.

Jack Fritz, owner of Results Radio, was unavailable for comment Tuesday. But Barry Cooper, the chief financial officer, says from his Santa Rosa office that the company is committed to improving the station.

Cooper also says there are no immediate plans to change the format of K-HITS.

"Our plans are simple: to make it a radio station that's performing well and is a profitable entity," says Cooper, who pointed out that Results Radio-owned stations in Redding, Chico and Yuba City are top-rated in their areas.

"We hope to do the same thing in Sacramento," Cooper adds.

First Broadcasting chief executive Gary Lawrence says in a statement that the company is "transitioning" away from radio in favor of television and wireless media.

"We are delighted that longtime local broadcaster Jack Fritz and his partners are acquiring KCCL," Lawrence says in the statement. "Jack is very community-foused and an outstanding station operator."

March 10, 2008
PBS relevancy question played out locally at KVIE

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Florence Low/flow@sacbee.com

Shameless plug alert: Be sure to check out Tuesday's Media Savvy column. It deals with changes at Sacramento's local PBS affiliate, KVIE, with the hiring of executive producer Lynn Margherita (pictured), whose background is in (gasp!) cable TV.

KVIE's apparent push to enliven its programming echoes the debate going on nationally about the relevancy of PBS.

The first salvo was fired by Charles McGrath, respected critic-at-large for the New York Times, whose commentary was provocatively titled: "Is PBS Still Necessary?"

A week or so later, PBS filmmaker Ken Burns ("The War") fired back with an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times titled: "Standing Up for Public Television."

Read both essays and decide for yourself. Better yet, read Tuesday's Media Savvy column. (Yes, I'm pimping my own story - sorry.)

March 10, 2008
McCain & Schornack: They go back as far as that comb-over

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News10 anchor Dale Schornack 's blog is chock-full o' blasts from his past. And his latest entry features his "moment" with John McCain in 1991, when Schornack was leaving Phoenix for an anchor job in Dallas.

Check it out here.

More alarmingly, check out McCain's truly atrocious comb-over. We don't deal in political endorsements here at 21Q, but how can we elect a man who once sported this hairstyle?

March 10, 2008
Listen to this...or it might kill you in your sleep!!! Film at 11

There's a great audio clip, courtesy of the blog Lost Remote, sending up local TV news "teases" during sweeps months - or, heck, any time.

This satire comes close, but doesn't quite eclipse real teases we've heard in Sacramento, led, of course, by Channel 13.

My fave: Channel 3's now-classic "Cat Stuck in a Tree" (below).

March 7, 2008
Oregon Shakespeare 2009

Oregon Shakespeare Festival artistic director Bill Rauch announced the festival’s 2009 season today. The slate of 11 plays, anchored by four plays by Shakespeare, continues Rauch’s agenda of producing works from other parts of the globe.

The group of plays also demonstrates a renewed commitment to American classics and expanding the festival’s boundaries - in this case with the first non-Shakespeare classic in the New Theatre and the first play by an artist of color on the Elizabethan Stage.

The 2009 schedule is as follows:

ANGUS BOWMER THEATRE

“Macbeth” by William Shakespeare, directed by Gale Edwards, from February – November.

“Death and the King’s Horseman” by Wole Soyinka, directed by Chuck Smith, from February – July.

“The Music Man,” book, music and lyrics by Meredith Willson, story by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey, directed by Bill Rauch, from February – November.

“Equivocation” by Bill Cain, a world premiere, directed by Bill Rauch, from April – November.

“Paradise Lost” by Clifford Odets, directed by Libby Appel, from July – November.

NEW THEATRE

“Dead Man’s Cell Phone” by Sarah Ruhl, West Coast premiere, directed by Christopher Liam Moore, from February – June.

“The Servant of Two Masters" by Carlo Goldoni, directed by Tracy Young, from March – November.

“All’s Well That Ends Well” by William Shakespeare, directed by Amanda Dehnert, from July – November.

ELIZABETHAN STAGE/ALLEN PAVILION

“Henry VIII” by William Shakespeare, directed by John Sipes, from June – October.

“Don Quixote” by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, with a world premiere adaptation by Octavio Solis, directed Laird Williamson, from June – October.

“Much Ado About Nothing” by William Shakespeare, directed by Kate Buckley, from June – October.

March 7, 2008
Capital Public Radio starts traffic reports

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Sacramento public radio listeners, a loyal lot, have survived lo these many years without traffic reports on KXJZ (90.9 FM) during NPR's "Morning Edition" and the afternoon "All Things Considered."

Now, they no longer have to be surprised when there's an unexpected slowdown on the Cap City Freeway (as opposed to all the expected slowdowns). KXJZ's local anchors (Steve Milne and Donna Apidone) have started delivering traffic updates, courtesy of Traffic.com (the same outfit that Channel 3 uses).

Says news director Joe Barr in an e-mail: "We wanted more than just an on-air service and Traffic.com has a great online component. Not only will we have on-air reports five times an hour during 'Morning Edition' and four times an hour during 'All Things Considered,' but, starting Monday, listeners can go to our Web site to create customized traffic reports for their routes. They can also have customized reports sent to them by e-mail, text message or voicemail...with more to come...."

"The bottom line is that our listeners had been asking for us to provide traffic information and we've responded."

March 7, 2008
AccessSacramento gets YouTube channel

AccessSacramento, the cable-access channel that already streams its programming on its Web site, now has a channel on YouTube where it will post snippets from stories and programs (such as the video of Old Sac airbrush artist Alan Silva, above).

March 7, 2008
Fashion springs forth in Davis

The UC Davis Fashion Week, hosted by the Student Fashion Association, culminates on Saturday with its huge Project Relief charity fashion and trade show at the Veteran's Memorial Theater (203 East 14th St., Davis).

This is the second year the association has held a fashion week, and all the models will be wearing the latest styles designed by UC Davis students plus several local designers. You'll see everything from high-end to ready-to-wear to sustainable art. Music will come courtesy of DJ Pasha.

The trade show is at 6 p.m., with the fashion show hitting the runway at 7. Tickets are $5, and proceeds will go to the Yolo County Crisis Nursery, a program of FamiliesFirst, which assists families with children in crisis situations.

March 7, 2008
Robert Earl Keen in for that Dave Matthews show

So Thursday, I was excited to tell you that groovy soul act Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings were opening the Dave Matthews Band show Aug. 25 at Raley Field (400 Ballpark Dr., West Sacramento).

Well, easy come, easy go.

Turns out - whoops!- the promoter meant to say "Robert Earl Keen Jr." instead.

Actually, that's a pretty good switch - the Texas singer-songwriter is a great musician and storyteller.

All the other details remain the same. Tickets ($70 floor, $58.50 stadium seats) are available through a presale via the Dave Matthews Band fan club site through March 17. Tickets go on sale to the general public March 29 through Ticketmaster.com.

March 7, 2008
News10's Dan Adams to retire

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Veteran News10 reporter Dan Adams, a four-time regional Emmy Award winner who became the Sacramento market's first "video journalist" in 2006, is retiring. His last day at News10 will be March 28.

Adams, 55, says in an e-mail that "there's no behind-the-scenes scandal or anything like that...but life holds some more adventures for me, and it's time to start them."

And no, you in the TV business who cringe at the "one-man-band" trend of reporters shooting and editing their own stories, Adams is not leaving because he was forced to be a VJ.

In fact, Adams volunteered to do it. And now others at News10 are going the VJ route. Anchor Dale Schornack has even blogged about how excited he is about VJing.

Anyway, Adams tells us he's moving to Mexico to enjoy the good life. (One word of advice, Dan: Sunscreen.)

This is a significant loss for News10. News director Stacy Owen could not be immediately reached for comment.

UPDATE: March 10, 2:45 p.m.: Stacy Owen emails a comment on Adams: "Dan is that rare combination of seasoned veteran and trailblazer. He has something that is so hard to find these days - a natural gift for looking at things with a critical eye. He takes nothing at face value, and is not one to accept any one perspective. That's why his decision to become a "one man band" was so significant. He saw the opportunity in being able to have creative control from beginning to end. Yet he doesn't just accept that this is the answer for our industry. He is still challenging us. In so doing, he is once again setting an example for his peers and for the industry."

Read Adams' extensive bio here.

March 7, 2008
Idol Chatter: We have our Top 12

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Fox

The votes are in - all 36 million of them - and viewers nailed it with their picks for the "American Idol" Top 12 (pictured).

(Now, if we can just pool our resources and get a Xanax prescription for Ramiele Malubay, we're good to go. I'm not trying to be mean, but Ramiele, who advances in the competition, continues her major meltdowns as other contestants get voted off.)

Anyway, Thursday night's results show yielded few surprises. It opened with Season 6 runner-up Blake Lewis performing "How Many Words,", a cut off his upcoming CD. The beatboxer from Seattle didn't wow the crowd, but he was sporting some nice threads.

The first three guys to advance (and sit on those goofy silver thrones) were David Cook (who was told Lionel Richie loved his take on "Hello" on Tuesday night), teen sensation David Archuletta and Jason Castro (my dark horse favorite).

Two gals advanced next - Brooke White and Syesha Mercado. And, the first elimination was sooo obvious. Kady Malloy heads home. I just wish she had elected not to sing one last time. ARGHHH!

David Hernandez and Michael Johns made it five guys. Luke Menard is the first dude to depart.

Brooke and Syesha are joined by Ramiele, Carly Smithson and Amanda Overmyer (with hair extensions). Asia'h Epperson and Kristy Lee Cook get to wait out the long commercial break before getting the results to determine the final gal to get through. That would be Kristy Lee, who is probably the weakest of the six girls.

Danny Noriega and Chikezie were the last two guys. Danny fidgeted with his fingers, but he didn't crumble with his ouster. In fact, he sang "Tainted Love" better than Tuesday.

Next up? It's everyone for himself/herself. Host Ryan Seacrest mentioned the Lennon/McCartney songbook, so perhaps that's where the competition will start in earnest.

Note to Ramiele's roommate: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

March 6, 2008
'Why Lie? I Need a Drink'

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When Keith Lowell Jensen gave money to panhandlers, the people with him often would react with cynicism and/or amazement, he says.

Why was Jensen, a Sacramento comedian, writer and filmmaker, giving cash to people who probably cleared more money per day than he did?

It was, at best, a dubious argument. But Jensen found the idea of the affluent panhandler so prevalent that he decided to hit the streets of Sacramento to see just how much money could be made.

"Everyone seems to have a dad who heard about - or is (otherwise) one step removed from - the guy who makes $500 a day," Jensen says.

For his experiment, Jensen pulled out all the stops, using cardboard signs with clever slogans and donning a banana suit to attract more attention and change. The results can be seen in his film "Why Lie? I Need a Drink," which plays at 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Crest Theatre.

As a comedian who "wants to be funny, but relevant," Jensen sought to mix an absurdist approach with social commentary. Along with documenting his attempts to panhandle, "Why Lie" features interviews with homeless people discussing their experiences.

"There are times when someone was telling their story, and we got really interested in it, and we dropped the humor altogether," Jensen says.

And no, Jensen didn't get rich from panhandling, but he did collect some cash as part of his experiment. If he was dressed in costume and the donor was in on the gag, Jensen might spend the money on tape stock for his film project. But if he received money while dressed in regular clothes, he would pass it along to a homeless person in need, as the giver had intended.

Tickets for "Why Lie? I Need a Drink" are $12 at the door, $10 in advance and are available at the Crest by calling (800) 225-2277 or through Tickets.com.


March 6, 2008
Brad Paisley and Jewel June 21 at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre

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Country crooner Brad Paisley will bring his Paisley Party Tour to town on June 21 at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre.

Jewel, Alaska's most famous folk-pop singer, ever, is also on the tour.

Paisley is the reigning Country Music Awards Male Vocalist of the Year; Jewel's newest record "Perfectly Clear," due in stores June 3, takes on a country flavor -the singer-songwriter recorded it with producer John Rich of Big & Rich fame.

Chuck Wicks and Julianne Hough also will be on that bill.

There's no ticket sale date yet, but keep your browser pointed to BradPaisley.com and Jeweljk.com. Also, of course, we'll keep you posted.

March 6, 2008
Dave Matthews Band at Raley Field, Aug. 25

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You can tap into that summer-lovin' feeling right now because we just got word that the Dave Matthews Band will perform Aug. 25 at Raley Field (400 Ballpark Drive, West Sacramento).

On this tour, DMB will reportedly be debuting new songs that'll appear on a new CD scheduled for release later this year.

Sharon Jones and Dap-Kings will open the show - and here's the thing: I just popped their CD "100 Days, 100 Nights" into my car CD player this morning (for reals!) and it's a good one. Jones is an old-school soul singer and the Dap-Kings have gotten buzz recently for working with British neo-soul chanteuse Amy Winehouse.

Tickets ($70 floor, $58.50 stadium seats) don't go on sale to the general public until March 29, but if you're a member of the DMB fan club, then head over to the band's fan club site and get in on a pre-sale that runs today through March 17.

You also can check out RaleyField.com and TicketMaster.com for more information.

March 6, 2008
Idol Chatter: Are there 6 standouts among the gals?

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Fox

Can you say snooze-a-roo?

I'm reiterating my earlier prediction: It's going to take a major "tunearounnd" for the gals to topple the guys on "American Idol," especially after Wednesday night's butchering of '80s songs.

Half the time I couldn't even figure out what songs were being performed. And then there were the numerous attempts at doing diva impersonations. You know, Whitney and Celine, whose vocals these young women simply can't tackle.

No matter. Six of the eight remaining gals will advance to the Top 12 (with six guys), and we'll see if they get picked off one at a time. Here's a recap of the mostly forgettable performances.

* Asia'h Epperson: I had high hopes for her, but Asia'h's version of "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" was, as judge Simon Cowell put it, a "second-rate Whitney." In other words, she didn't bring anything new to the song.

* Kady Malloy:(pictured) She should have been eliminated last week and definitely so this week with a real clunker I had to look up afterward. Oh, it was a Queen song, "Who Wants To Live Forever?" I think. Paula Abdul thought it was Kady's best performance, but she was acting so goofy, who knows if she was even listening. Simon put the nail in the coffin with this rant: "You have a massive lack of personality. When you sing, it's gloomy and somber. No emotion. You may be in trouble."

* Amanda Overmyer: Nurse Cruella got a major makeover this week, losing most of those awful white stripes in her hair and wearing less makeup. She actually looked 23 instead of 43. She rocked Joan Jett's "I Hate Myself for Loving You" and probably secured a spot next week. Said Randy Jackson: "That's the Amanda we love, a bluesy rocker chick." Simon was downright giddy, declaring it one of his "favorite girl performances of the entire competition." Now, if he can only get Amanda to crack a smile.

* Carly Smithson: From a fashion standpoint, the sailor jeans were a mess, and I didn't particularly care for the song, "I Drove All Night," but Carly's got some pipes. Randy said she keeps "smashing it every week" (whatever that means). And Paula uttered these words of wisdom: "Dude, you're like a dependable dog." Simon simply said she can sing the phone book.

* Kristy Lee Cook: Kristy is definitely the most improved performer. She sang Journey's "Faithfully" and, as Randy put it, added "a country lilt to it." That's the genre Kristy shines with. Simon liked the country music influence but still thinks she's forgettable. "You're battling bigger voices, and I see you coming in 10th." I agree.

* Ramiele Malubay: Ramiele delivered a singing sleeping pill with Phil Collins' slow-going "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)." Simon thought it was old-fashioned, and he kept looking for the "big money note." It wasn't there. Randy saw a real breakdown in Ramiele's confidence. For the first time in the competition, she could face eviction.

* Brooke White: Props to Brooke for coming up with a completely off-the-music-wall take on Pat Benatar's "Love Is a Battlefield." All the judges loved it because Brooke didn't let the band take over the song. "You worked it perfectly," Simon said. "Two weeks running, you've had great performances."

* Syesha Mercado: Because of the judges' silly banter about yogurt and other completely unrelated topics that had nothing to do with assessing a performance, poor Syesha got a smattering of comments after singing another Whitney song, "Saving All My Love for You." Randy: "Good, good." Paula: "Sophisticated, lovely." Simon: "Predictable. Good." Whatever.

Simon was asked what he thought of the gals vs. the guys and confirmed the guys were definitely better, with Amanda being his favorite performance of the night.

Tonight's live results show (8 p.m. on Channel 40) will feature Season 6 runner-up Blake Lewis. (So where the heck has the beatboxer been?) And four more contestants will go. I do hope they'll have the Top 12 sit on those silly thrones like they have in past seasons. And, hopefully, we'll find out if next week is a mentor week or a wing it week.

Stay tuned.

March 5, 2008
Sactown magazine photo essay honored

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The 2008 National City And Regional Magazine Awards finalists were announced today, and Sacramento's bi-monthly publication, Sactown, received a nomination.

Senior contributing photographer Max Whittaker's photo essay from Afghanistan, "In Harm's Way" (see screen grab above from Sactown's June/July issue), was named a finalist for Best Photo Essay in all circulation categories. Whittaker's competition: Chicago magazine and Hour Detroit.

Alas, Sacramento's thriving magazine scene was shut out in the General Excellence categories and in writing and design awards.


March 5, 2008
Anchor and reporter fight on air ... No, not in Sac

Such unprofessional behavior displayed in the above video (hang around for the second minute of the clip, which is hilarious) by local TV news professionals would never happen in classy Sacramento.

No, we only have anchors giving beer to the homeless.

March 5, 2008
Stephen Malkmus hints at a Pavement reunion

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Indie rock icons Pavement just might get another moment in the spotlight.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly posted today on the magazine's Web site, Pavement's Stephen Malkmus admitted that members of the long-defunct band have kicked around the idea of a one-off Led Zeppelin-styled meet-up.

“Something small in 10 years like (a one-night) Zeppelin thing sounds good to me,” Malkmus told the magazine. "Obviously, the arena would be smaller than theirs, though.”

Might we suggest the Memorial Auditorium?

The Stockton-born band honed its noisy, fragmented pop chops in Sacramento clubs such as Old Ironsides before going on to international acclaim for albums such as 1992's "Slanted and Enchanted" and 1994's "Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain."

Pavement co-founder Scott Kannberg, now fronting Seattle's Preston School of Industry, pushed the possible reunion date up a few years to 2009 - just in time to celebrate the band's 20th anniversary as well as the 20th anniversary of its longtime label Matador.

Can't even wait that long? Head over to Matador's Pavement site to download Pavement ringtones and exclusive MP3s.

You can also check out Malkmus' latest band, Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks (featuring Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss), April 28 at Harlow's (2708 J St.).

Tickets ($15 advance, $18 door) are on sale through R5, the Beat, Dimple Records, Armadillo Music, Tickets.com outlets (inside select Raley's and Bel Air supermarkets) and online at Tickets.com and Harlows.com.

March 5, 2008
Sac State, UC Davis student newspapers win awards

The Sac State Hornet and UC Davis Aggie newspapers fared well at two recent college journalism contests.

In a contest sponsored by the Associated Collegiate Press, the State Hornet finished first overall for “Interactive Elements” on its Web site. The Hornet also finished fourth nationally for newspaper Web sites and third for podcasting. And, in the print competition, Sac State finished seventh nationally in the Four-Year Weekly Broadsheet category. (The national champ for Four-Year Weekly Broadsheet was Sac State’s rival to the north, The Orion at Chico State.)

In the California College Media Association contest, the Aggie had some impressive showings in the contentious daily-newspaper category. The Aggie finished first for Best Editorial (staff), Best Feature Photo (Musa Zaid) and Best Cartoon (Kevin Burk). Overall, the Aggie won eight state awards.

The Hornet, competing in the weekly newspaper category, won first place for Best News Page Design (Ashley Evans), and had six other top-three finishes.

Meanwhile, in high school media competitions, advisor Brendan Hogan at Christian Brothers High School reports that his student-run TV news and sports operation, KBFT, has garnered some honors as well:

* At the spring nationals for student television, Christian Brothers won first place for live sports coverage (a boys basketball game). It also won first place for live daily or weekly news show.

* Students Austin Otto and Brittany Young placed second in a spot feature on-site contest at the 2008 Student Television Network Convention in Anaheim in January. Students Nathan Domek and Joel Johnston had an honorable mention in the Show Opening category.

Last year, KBFT did very well at the STN spring nationals with two first place awards.

March 5, 2008
Idol Chatter: Which two guys will go?

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Fox

Stripper or singer? More on that in a bit.

On Tuesday night's show, the Top 8 guys competed for the honor of making it to the elite Top 12 (including six gals). That means moving to another theater and, if you make it to the Top 10, going on the months-long "Idol" tour next summer. (Sac is typically one of the stops.)

Yes, advancing does have its perks...

Anyway, Tuesday was '80s night, which included songs that made me reminisce about guys who couldn't dance, music I didn't particularly like, and polyester.

* Luke Menard was up first with "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham! (George Michael and that guy with the dark hair.) Yes, it was up-tempo, which is new for Luke. The judges weren't getting it, though. Paula Abdul was "surprised" by the song choice. And Simon Cowell, who seems to be getting more obnoxious (is that possible?) with each show, didn't like it at all. "It sounded a bit girly," he said. And then, the death knell: "You have no chance to make the final 12."

* Audience - and viewer - favorite David Archuleta started off Phil Collins' "Another Day in Paradise" by playing the piano, but eventually stood and did the audience thing. Randy Jackson said it was "like watching one of your concerts." Of course, David hit a couple of mini-clunkers, which Paula said convinced her he wasn't a "make-believe perfect person." Simon said the performance wasn't as good as last week. (Hard to top David A's "Imagine.") "You're getting a little gloomy, a little depressing," Simon said. But then, he put David way ahead in the competition - the final two, no less.

* OK, so I'm not sure the Votefortheworst.com campaign to keep Danny Noriega in the competition is going to work. Unlike last season, with Sanjaya Malakar, I think the viewers want the cream of the bad crop and Danny just didn't pull it off with a really goofy rendition of Soft Cell's "Tainted Love". I loathe this song, and Danny was dressed like he was going "disco snowboarding." Too-tight pants and a lot of outerwear. Paula said he was "sensitive and spicy." (Good grief!) Randy Jackson loved the arrangement. Simon, well, he said it was horrible and useless. "I didn't like anything about it." And I didn't like the purple hair streaks.

* After revelations that he worked as a male stripper in Glendale, Ariz., David H. was up next. Nothing was mentioned about the scandal on the show - obviously because it was taped before the news broke. Anyway, tackling the Celine Dion version of "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" was, er, an interesting song choice regardless. Paula thought David was getting into his groove, finding his niche. Simon said the performance secured his spot in the Top 12 - unless, of course, America holds his past against him.

* In my book, Michael Johns could just talk with that great Aussie accent and get through. The guy is easy on the eyes. Loved, loved his version of Simple Minds' "Don't You (Forget About Me") from the 1985 film "The Breakfast Club." Randy thought it was a good song choice. Simon liked it, loved it. "You're a huge talent," he said. But, as with some of the other contestants (especially the gals), Simon's still waiting for Michael to connect with that "big song."

* It took a shift in performers to get David Cook's guitar hooked up, and he took Lionel Richie's sad-sack "Hello" and turned it into sort of a rock song. Randy thought it could be a hit single. Paula loved that David C. always surprises her. Simon, who hasn't been too kind to our rocker/bartender, appreciated the risk-taking. "Lionel Richie would be happy (with that)."

* Jason Castro finally took the judges' advice and survived without his guitar. He performed "Hallelujah," which was written/arranged in 1984 but is more recently remembered as part of the first "Shrek" soundtrack (2001). "It was a tall order, but I give you props for coming out without the guitar," Randy said. Simon thought it was the strongest performance so far and that Jason is getting "better and better." "It was absolutely brilliant what you did."

* Chikezie put me to sleep (sorry dude) with an uber-slow version of "All the Man That I Need," a song recorded by Whitney Houston and Sister Sledge. Randy and Paula were on board with it, but Simon didn't think it worked at all, handing out his first "cabaret" reference of the night. "Not a smart move," he said.

Overall, Randy thought the guys were much better than last week, and I agree. But two of them have to go. My predictions: Luke and Danny with Chikeze a possibility if Danny has a strong enough fan base.

Tonight? The Top 10 gals perform (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40). Have you got all the blondes straight?


March 4, 2008
Don't abandon this

Director and performance creator Doniel Soto created truly special work with his collaborators at Abandon Productions.

First with sweat, hard work and much of their own money, they transformed a junked-up warehouse space into a habitable performance venue now known as The Space.

At the same time, Soto trained his actors in the demanding style of physical theater that he favors. Finally, they created exciting original productions using their movement and vocal skills.

Though for several reasons, Abandon hasn’t produced work in more than two years, Soto and the company are still name-checked (whether or not the allusion applies) as the standard-bearers for a type of nontraditional theater that is based in movement and sound.

Recently, Soto has surfaced with a production as electric as anything I’ve ever seen of his. It’s called “Maxbeth,” and it’s Soto’s take on Shakespeare’s Scottish play.

I’ve been moved at the finale of several productions that I’ve seen over the last few months. At “Maxbeth,” I was nearly overcome after the first 10 minutes. It was that powerful and that beautiful. By the way, it was at a high school, Mira Loma, with high school actors. And it was brilliant.
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Soto doesn’t try to do stuff that is consciously edgy or arty. He makes work that has artistry in it. Soto is the kind artist who can’t walk a straight line. Anybody could do that. He takes you off the deep end.

There were human trees, surging flesh amoebas, and some of the most electrifying battle scenes you’ll ever see, with kids flying off the second level of the two-part set into the arms of comrades below - the kind of stuff that makes you gasp and laugh at the sheer audacity, ingenuity and artistry of it. Of course, it takes tremendous dedication and commitment from the actors because Soto doesn’t put them in front of audiences until they’ve trained extensively in his methods and practices. This is Shakespeare - broken down, reassembled, looped, magnified and uncovered.

The audience of the full 120-seat Black Box theater was at least half teenagers who were as enthralled as I was. Though the production was scheduled to close last weekend, there has been such a strong response that shows were added for this weekend - and there may be some seats. Call (916) 331-9663 for information.

March 4, 2008
News10 comes clean on nonexclusive 'exclusive'

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Screen shot from News10's "exclusive" story

I'm shocked - shocked! - to learn that local TV news outlets sometimes lift stories from newspapers and then try to pass them off as "exclusives."

OK, enough sarcasm.

What truly surprised me was that News10 had the fortitude to admit it should not have used an "exclusive" graphic on a recent story out of Stockton; it later removed the word from the story on its Web site.

(Here's another peeve that I see occasionally on Sac TV news: Using the "breaking news" graphic when the news actually broke hours ago and a reporter is doing a standup in front of a mostly deserted crime scene. But that's a rant for another time....)

Anyway, News10 assistant news director Michael Langley, who pulls no punches in his blog postings and often talks about the station's decision-making, issued a mea culpa in his latest entry.

(Since News10's blogs do not provide linking to individual posts, I'm pasting Langley's post below. Langley's prose is in italics; the viewer's comments are in quotation marks.)

Blog On This...
I have always maintained that I will post within this space the good, the bad and the questionable. Today, we have the bad, as illustrated by Bryan who sent me an email (the title of this post is the subject line of his email) about a story on news10.net this weekend.

"I'd like to know your station's policy on the use of 'exclusive.' My guess is your staff strayed from that policy this weekend, on at least a couple of levels.

"I logged on to your web site to find an 'exclusive' label placed on a story about a Stockton mother who lost her young son to violence and was now moving out of town.

"What made this exclusive? I read several newspapers a day and saw this story on the front page of the Stockton Record newspaper. All you did was steal the idea and put it on TV. So how is that exclusive?"

Bryan, thank you for calling us on this. You're right. We called something exclusive that was not. We failed in a couple of ways in part because of our zeal for the story, the powerful emotion displayed by the mother we interviewed and my own failure to question that fact when it was reported to me.

"Exclusive" is one of those words in journalism that you cannot use lightly. It still means something to our audience and our misuse will erode a) the impact of truly exclusive content, and b) our credibility as a news organization.

Bryan goes on to add that putting the "exclusive" tag on this story exploited this woman's pain. We agreed as we discussed this very thing this morning in our editorial meeting and took all reference off the story.

Bryan, and all, though we do not have an ombudsman I thank you for writing me. We will do better next time.

March 4, 2008
Noises on: Sacramento Sound Art Festival at the Vox Gallery

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If you have a high threshold for cacophony, discordant blips, bloops, booms and other bits of sonic bedlam, then you won't want to miss the Sacramento Sound Arts Festival Friday and Saturday at the Vox Gallery (19th & X streets).

Hosted by the folks who bring you the aural whirlwind known as the NorCal Noise Festival (the 18th annual incarnation of which will happen in October), the SSAF features a who's who of local noisemakers.

Among the scheduled acts: Chemical Angel, the Instagon Free Jazz Army, Ross Hammond (pictured, with an instrument of the quieter variety), Shane Grammer and Uberkunst's Bill Burg.

The shows start at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday; admission is $7 per show or you can get a major deal by ponying up $10 for a two-day pass.

For more information (or to just get an idea of what you'll be hearing), visit the SSAF's Web site or MySpace page.

March 4, 2008
Idol Chatter: Local TV ratings

So we know that "American Idol" is a ratings boon for Fox nationally, but what about the local numbers?

Well, in the just-concluded February sweeps period, Fox40 easily earned the highest prime-time ratings, largely based on two nights of "Idol," plus "House" and other high network performers.

Here's the breakdown (Monday through Sunday):

Fox40: 8.5
CBS13: 6.9
News10: 5.7
Channel 3: 5.1
Channel 19: 2.4
Channel 31: 1.6
My58TV: 1.2

Want more "Idol" numbers for Sacramento?

As of last week, Fox40's ratings stood at a whopping 20.6, highest of any of the seven seasons. And so far this year, Tuesday nights are drawing slightly more viewers (21.9) than Wednesday nights (19.7).

Here's the full-season average ratings for Sacramento since the show's inception:

2002: 13.6
2003: 14.8
2004: 15.9
2005: 15.9
2006: 18.3
2007: 20.3
2008 (so far): 20.6

March 4, 2008
Idol Chatter: Stripping and staying

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You didn't expect Season 7 to pass without some big brouhaha? Right?

This year? It's Top 16 guy David Hernandez (pictured), who the Associated Press outed today as a male stripper. And this as the guys get set to perform tonight (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40) for a coveted spot in the "Idol" Top 12.

But lest you fret that David got his backside slapped, "Idol" executive producer Ken Warwick tells TVGuide.com that he doesn’t care about David H.'s stripper past.

“The truth is we're never judgmental about what people do to earn a living. They've gotta put food in people's mouths,” he says. "We've had strippers on the show before….If it were some sort of heavy porn, then maybe we'd have to take action. But certainly not on this.”

So again, that means David's performance (which has already been taped) will go on.

For those of you who haven't heard: For three years, 24-year-old Hernandez worked as a stripper at Dick's Cabaret in Glendale, Ariz., where he danced nude and gave lap dances to a mostly male clientele.

Guess it will be up to the voting public whether to keep David H. on the show. And can I just go on record: Never, ever run for office if you've been a bad boy or bad girl. It will come out. And, most definitely, don't think you'll win the "Granny" vote on "Idol" if you've been paid for lap dances. Just sayin'.

Besides, David H. really should have gone the first week. He's not as strong as some of the other guys. If he goes on Thursday (along with another guy and two girls), don't be shocked. Remember Antonella!


March 4, 2008
Big Boy Radio comes to The Bomb in the morning

KBMB (The Bomb, 103.5 FM) has found a replacement for ousted Davey D and he's syndicated hip hop DJ Big Boy. He started Monday and assumed Davey D's 5-10 a.m. spot.

Check out an extended sound bite of Big Boy riffing about a meeting in Vegas with Michael Jackson. Don't worry, it's safe for work.

Want to know more about Big Boy? Here's his Web site.

March 4, 2008
Hey, don't have a cow, man

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Without a doubt, this Channel 3 piece on a Chick-fil-A cow mascot - actually a woman shown out of, er, uniform and being interviewed by Richard Sharp - who was harassed in Elk Grove is the leading contender for LOL story of the week.

Then again, it's only Tuesday.

Kudos to Sharp for managing to keep a straight face throughout, especially when the 19-year-old ex-mascot gave this sound bite: "I want the next cow to go out there and stand on the street to have better protection than I had."

Hey, who said California cows are happy cows?

Had Channel 13 done this report, it would've played up the danger and used the alliteration: "Mascot Mauling" and speculated that the Mr. Pickles mascot on Fulton would be the next target.

March 4, 2008
Update on another Crandell

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The first time I laid eyes on Allie Crandell (pictured), she was fresh-faced (no makeup) with her long brown hair floating in the San Francisco breeze.

I was covering San Francisco Fashion Week in August 2005. Allie was one of the models that local designer Richard Hallmarq had hand-picked for his first foray in the show. He was a hit, and so was she.

Fast forward to 2008, and Allie, 20, a Sacramento native and daughter of Fox40 sportscaster Jim Crandell and his wife, Patti, is now an international model to be reckoned with.

Jim, who was profiled by my colleague and fellow 21Q blogger Sam McManis in today's Scene, reports his daughter is currently working in South Africa.

"My daughter has a much more interesting life than I do," Crandell quips. "In the last year or two, she's lived in L.A., New York, Milan and Tokyo. She's been to Brazil and Morocco.

"But Sacramento is still her mailing address."

Allie is represented in Los Angeles by the Wilhelmina agency and by Marilyn Models Inc. in New York. (She was "discovered" after sending her pics to Wilhelmina.)

And last July, Allie was Model.com's pick for hot new face of the moment. So don't be surprised if you pick up a copy of Vogue or Harper's Bazaar and see our local girl on the cover. I'd rather see her than Lindsay Lohan starring back at me.

March 3, 2008
Julius is jazzed over recognition by Harper's Bazaar

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Getting into the pages of Harper's Bazaar magazine is a challenge - unless, of course, you happen to be Julius clothing, in Sacramento's Pavilions shopping center.

In Harper's March issue, Julius has been honored by the magazine's editors and other important fashion figures - for the third time - as one of the magazine's Style Leaders and listed among the Top 100 best specialty stores in America. The complete list can be found on page 218.

"We're very proud (of the honor)," says Julius owner Sharon Anapolsky, who recently returned from a buying trip to New York, where she also attended a dinner at the Hearst Building (home of Bazaar's publisher).

"The magazine's publisher and fashion director spoke," Sharon says. "And we exchanged ideas about the industry and how we could take things a step further."

Here's what Valerie Salembier, Bazaar’s senior vice president and publisher, had to say in an e-mail about speciality stores in general and Julius in particular:

“Women’s specialty stores have a special place in fashion retailing. Harper’s Bazaar’s Style Leaders provide the most discerning customers with high-quality customer service and unique, luxurious products, resulting in a personalized shopping experience that our readers truly appreciate. We're proud to salute Julius ... the top tier of women’s fashion specialty stores."

FYI: Julius was the only Sacramento store to make the prestigious list. The closest honorees are Cielo and Wilkes Bashford in San Francisco, Susan in Burlingame, and Susan Graf Ltd. in Healdsburg.

March 3, 2008
Get on the C-Span political bus

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If you're looking for an educational opportunity for your civic-minded child, or if you're one of those political wonks who lurk around the Capitol, you're in for a treat.

C-Span, the governmental geek's channel of choice, will bring its "Campaign 2008" bus to the Sacramento area on Tuesday and hang around until Thursday before moving on.

The bus is a 45-foot mobile production studio that travels around the country to record campaign events for C-Span viewers. C-Span and Comcast are sponsoring the bus stop, which has been to 29 state cpaitals, 71 colleges and 95 schools.

So where can you catch it?

* Tuesday: 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., it'll be at Inderkum High School (2500 New Market Drive, Sacramento). Mayor Heather Fargo is expected to drop by.

* Wednesday: 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., it'll be at Sac State (6000 J St.), parked in front of the Hornet bookstore. Then, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., it'll be at the state Capitol (1107 L St.), on the north side, near 11th and L.

* Thursday: 8 a.m.to 11:45 a.m., it'll be at Folsom High School (1655 Iron Point Road, Folsom). Secretary of State Debra Bowen will be there.



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