Things to do in Sacramento and Beyond

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


April 30, 2008
Idol Chatter: Big tears from Brooke

I've said to every "American Idol" fan who asks: If - and when - Brooke White is eliminated from the singing competition, would she have a meltdown? (Read: Tears!)

YES!

It wasn't as bad tonight as I expected (though there were plenty of water works), but I credit that in large part to the show narrowing the bottom two to Brooke and Syesha Mercado with a half hour left before the elimination. Plenty of time to think, plenty of time to get weepy.

The three guys - Jason Castro, David Archuleta and David Cook - breezed to the next round in the first 20-24 minutes.

Still, there were several notable on-air moments beyond the elimination:

Host Ryan Seacrest addressed the whole Paula Abdul critique clunker from Tuesday night. (Note to "The View" hosts: When you toss out conspiracy theories and notions of sleep aids, be careful, especially when you don't have any cred to back them up. Ditto for MSNBC.)

Ryan defended Paula, saying: "Before we move on, the judges were thrown a curve ball last night, which happens on live TV. Today, it sparked rumors on-air and online about Paula. The rumors are not true. She's part of our family, and we love her."

In my opinion, "American Idol" - the show - doesn't need to resort to judging trickery to win ratings. What other show is even coming close? Let it go.

Anyway. There were performances by Natasha Bedingfield, who seems to have a fondness for David A. And there was this week's mentor, Neil Diamond, who sang "Pretty Amazing Grace," a cut off his upcoming CD. And hey, I'm not a big N.D. fan, but I actually liked this single.

Finally, there was a great on-air call from a woman named Tara Miller, 46, from Petaluma, whose question - in a noticeable Brit accent - was directed at Simon Cowell: "I kissed you in the garden when you were 9. Was it better kissing Paula?"

Simon, once convinced it truly was Tara from his childhood, admitted she was his "first kiss, his first crush," but was totally taken by surprise. Up until now, these questions were an excuse for me to start a load of laundry, but this one was worth holding off on gym clothes.

In case you're wondering, next Tuesday, the Final 4 will tackle the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. David C. must be salivating over that one. And rightly so.

My next challenge? Hoping Brooke holds it together for Thursday morning's Q&A/phone conference with "Idol" writers. Check back to 21Q for the interview after noon.

April 30, 2008
Idol Chatter: Paula speaks out

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Well, this just in on the Paula Abdul/"American Idol" speak-before-you've-actually-heard-him-sing saga:

According to the New York Times, Paula (pictured in an Associated Press picture) admitted today what some "Idol” viewers have long suspected (and I knew but couldn't say after conversations with judge Simon Cowell and producer Nigel Lythgoe - so there):

"The show’s judges sometimes see portions of the dress rehearsal for the show and use that to help formulate their comments on the evening’s 'live' performance.

"The issue came to light on Wednesday as Abdul ... tried to explain comments
she made during Tuesday evening’s live broadcast, where she offered
a critique of a performance (by Jason Castro) that had not yet taken place."

The show's producers changed the normal competition format, asking the judges to wait to make final comments until after the Final 5 had performed both of their Neil Diamond songs.

What I believe threw Paula is that host Ryan Seacrest did jump in after the contestants had sung one song and asked the judges for an initial mini-critique - a first impression, if you will.

Paula obviously had already seen both of Jason's dress rehearsal performances and was prepared to comment on both. Think what you want, but I know for a fact it's usually just water in those "Coke" glasses. (Simon says.)

Check out my earlier blog.


April 30, 2008
ARC gets its fashion on

Got room on your fashion calendar to squeeze in yet another show this Friday?

Well, if it helps, you've actually got two chances to check out the seventh annual American River College spring fashion show, titled "Lights...Camera...Fashion." It's produced as a joint effort by the ARC Fashion Collection and Fashion Promotion classes.

The collection class creates all of the fashions; the promotion class produces the show. About 15 designers will debut their pieces, some for the first time. One of those students is Jesus Medrano, who will show his "GEE!SUS LOVE" collection.

Local salons will help with hair and makeup.

Show times are 11 a.m. (free) and 7 p.m. ($5) at the ARC cafeteria, 4700 College Oak Drive. For more information: (916) 484-8011.


April 30, 2008
Idol Chatter: Diamonds in the rough

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Fox

Well, there's an hour I'll never get back, though I did get a couple loads of laundry done. Tuesday night's "American Idol" competition featured the Final 5 singing the Neil Diamond songbook.

Ugh!

With the exception of a couple of croonings, I would have preferred another week of Andrew Lloyd Webber. And no one warned viewers ahead of time that the five contestants would sing two songs.

In fact, even judge Paula Abdul was so befuddled by the format - sing two songs, with a quick critique in between, before being judged - that she gave feedback on poor Jason Castro's two songs when he had only performed one.

In case you've been in a cave somewhere and haven't heard or seen all the other blogs, Paula said she was confused with her stack of notes and that changes to the judging process had been made at the last moment. After muttering something about having to "write things down so fast," Paula still went on to talk about Jason's two songs, saying "you're not fighting hard enough to get into the top four."

That's when judge Randy Jackson leaned over and whispered only one song had been song so far by the five contestants. It was basically an on-air bungle that left judge Simon Cowell uttering - at the hour's end - "This was officially the strangest show we've ever done!"

Anyway, back to the show: Diamond, who just so happens to have an album coming out next Tuesday, said "for me, to turn my music over to someone else, I like it."

Wonder if he feels the same after Tuesday night's performances?

* Jason Castro: He sang "Forever in Blue Jeans" and "September Morn," both of which sounded exactly the same. No change in tempo - or temperament. Yes, he looks good on camera, but it's almost like he wants to go home and take a nap.

Simon was, as usual, the harshest, saying: "We don't recognize you. There was no intent to make the arrangements your own. You'll look back at tonight and say 'I don't know who this person is.' "

* David Cook: He sang "I'm Alive" and "All I Really Need is You," two Diamond songs that probably were the least recognizable. No matter. David did his own thing - again - with the arrangements and his vocals.

Paula said he pulled it off. "I feel like I'm looking at the 'American Idol.' " Simon called the second song "brilliant," adding that it felt like it could have been written this year.

* Brooke White: She sang "I'm a Believer" (with guitar) and "I Am, I Said" (with piano). I'm sure everyone, especially me, loathed the first song. I would have rather heard the version from "Shrek" - or even the one by the Monkees.

Randy thought Brooke was vulnerable - not as in being eliminated, but he definitely prefered the second song. Simon really "hated" "I'm a Believer," calling it girls' night out at karaoke. "Your second song is the Brooke we like, at the piano."

* David Archuleta (pictured): He sang "Sweet Caroline" (which Carly Smithson said she would have sung had she not been eliminated last week) and "America" (which I assumed would have been the group offering tonight). Sorry fans, I was a little bored, but the judges can't get enough of this teen heartthrob.

Paula thought the second song was the perfect choice. Simon said it was a clever choice. "You ticked all the right boxes - check, check, check!"

* Syesha Mercado: She sang "Hello Again" and "Thank the Lord for the Night Time." With each week that Syesha survives, it's more evident this finalist is definitely Broadway bound.

Randy agrees with me about the play/theater thing. And Simon added she had the actress/singer thing down. However, he didn't think she had a memorable second song. "You may be in trouble tonight," he uttered.

I know I sound like a big David Cook fan. But, hey, I am! In fact, when all is said and done, I plan to download all his songs and put them on a CD.

Anyway, predictions: Dialidol.com disagrees with Simon, with Syesha and David C. safe and Brooke and Jason in the bottom two, with David A. in the middle. Most viewers I talk to - every week - say Jason will go and yet he's safe. Can you say strong fan base?

The live results show is at 9 tonight (on Fox40).

April 29, 2008
Where in the world is Fox40's Kye Martin?

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Time for another installment of "Where in the World is...?" A reader e-mailed inquiring on the whereabouts of Fox40 Morning News reporter Kye Martin.

Seems like Martin's been MIA for a few months now, although a Google search of her name still turns up a bio on Fox40's Web site.

In actuality, Martin left Fox40 (KTXL) earlier this year, but someone forgot to tell the Internet.

Fox40 news director Tom Burke, for one, was surprised that the reporter's bio page was still on the station's site.

"That's still on there?" Burke says of the errant page. "It lives!"

While the IT guys scurry to fix that little detail, here's the dish: Martin left the station in January to move to Chicago to be with her fiance.

"We were disappointed that she left - we thought the world of her," Burke says. "She was exactly the kind of reporter you wanted for a morning show - quick turnaround and quick energy."

Speaking of Fox40 (and we were - stay with me now), tonight, the station is launching a new six-part series examining the complexity of mother-daughter relationships.

"Mothers and Daughters: The Joys and Tears" will air Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at 10:15 p.m. through May 14.

Topics include body image, boys, teen privacy and my personal favorite: "I'm turning into my mother!"

"We'll be looking at these issues and conflicts, talking to local moms and daughters," Burke says.

It's just in time, of course, to capitalize on Mother's Day (May 11, FYI), and the latest Miley Cyrus scandal.

Actually, Burke says, the series is a natural fit with Fox40's regular Tuesday/ Wednesday night programming, which, of course, includes "American Idol."

"We have a phenomenal amount of viewers - women and teen (girls) - watching Fox40 on those nights," Burke says. "(During those time slots), our share on the 18-49 female demographic is through the roof."

April 29, 2008
Keep Thursday nights open

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I missed Week One, but now I'm up to speed on The Park Ultra Lounge's Thursday night fashion shows, titled Spring Fashion Series. The shows pair fashion collections from local boutiques with fab hairdos from local salons.

The inaugual show last Thursday featured Krazy Mary's and Sugar Shack boutiques paired with Spanish Fly salon.

This Thursday? It's the "Wear Your Jeans Out" event starring the best in denim from Dara Denim boutique and amazing hairstyles from Mosaic Salon, both in midtown. Each show selects its own DJ and theme music, by the way, where necessary.

I spoke with Mosaic owner J.C. Allen last week and she promises the boutique, owned by Jessica Horton, and the salon will "work it" Thursday night.

"Jessica and I are really looking to make this a memorable, fun night," she says in a subsequent e-mail. The rock 'n' roll feel of the jeans will be emphasized with a live performance by Sin City Angels . J.C. adds that models from Cast Images will first walk out with "a more controlled, daytime look, and then be transformed for that wild night out - while still sporting their daytime denim."

The Spring Fashion Series will continue through June 5. Other shows will include Six Degrees Boutique/Salon 701 and Serendipity Boutique/Sassy Salon.

For a complete list and other details, click here. FYI: Doors open at 9 p.m. for attendees 21 and over. The shows usually get under way around 10. The Park Ultra Lounge is at 15th and L streets.

April 28, 2008
That's more than all right, 'Mama'

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Even though I wasn't in love with the movie, it warmed my heart to hear "Baby Mama" won the box-office battle over the weekend. It's nice to see a Hollywood film headlined by two ladies succeed.

This means Tina Fey and Amy Poehler , exceptional comic talents apart or together, get to make more movies. And Hollywood in general will be more receptive to women-headlined films.

The box office take for "Baby Mama" also bodes well for the May 30 opening of "Sex and the City," the closest thing to a blockbuster for women in the summer movie season. Women filmgoers obviously are hungry for entertaining movies aimed at them, and they're coming out on opening weekend to show it.

Another thing: Finally, the box office victory for "Baby Mama" over "Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay" proves this theory of mine: Stoners can't be counted on to support a movie on opening weekend. They like it better on the couch, which is why the first "Harold & Kumar" didn't become a hit until it reached DVD.

April 28, 2008
Univision expands morning news

Sacramento's Univision affiliate today expanded its weekday morning news show, boosting "A Primera Hora" from one hour to two. Here's how it'll work: Previously, "Primera" aired from 6 to 7 a.m. on Channel 19 (KUVS); now viewers can tune in for an extra hour - from 7 to 8 a.m. - on sister station TeleFutura 64 (KTFK).

The second hour features "Primera" anchors Maribel Lopez, Gustavo Ortiz and Viviana Paez.

"This is a way for Univision to get local news on KTFK," says
Univision spokeswoman Kristie Gong.

In addition, Univision is rebroadcasting "Voz y Voto" - a locally produced political-topics show that airs at 11 a.m. Saturdays on Channel 19 - at 7:30 a.m. Sundays on TeleFutura 64.

April 28, 2008
Sacramento Fashion Week: The week that was

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Lucio Montana


The inaugural Sacramento Fashion Week, presented by Magnum Opus, concluded Friday night at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria downtown with the full see-and-be-seen parade.

From my floor-level vantage point, the place was certainly packed, with quite a few folks watching from the library's balcony. No doubt the whole event owes a huge "thank you" to Grace Ballesteros for pretty much organizing the entire thing - much of it on her own time.

And, as with any first-time endeavor, there are always a few missteps: signs that won't stay put, microphones that crackle and, for lack of a better term, the occasional "performance" that seemed, well, out of place.

For example, I'm still trying to figure out why the fashion show featured a beauty pageant parade, which showcased Miss India America. Honestly, and with no disrespect, I've never heard of such a title. Fashion shows should first and foremost be about the local designers and their collections. Killing time before the first model hits the runway usually results in people sitting around talking to each other - or digging through goody bags.

Overall, however, the event was yet another big step in showcasing local designers whose efforts definitely should be recognized and appreciated.

Eight collections, broken into two parts, were featured. Of the first four designers, Preston Doh's Lucio Montana menswear (pictured) was a huge hit. Hands down. Why? Because you can always get lovely women's clothing. It's the rare show that features an entire men's collection that works from the first casual outfit to the show-ending tux.

Doh, originally from Malaysia, studied fashion design in Florence, Italy, and his impeccable tailoring was evident in every piece, especially the detailing on his men's pants and jackets. A flawless show.

I also mentally pulled out designer Nancy Wong's long-sleeve, full-length dove gray hoodie dress. Wong designs several collections, all under the Pegasus Maiden label. And, certainly Dee Aguilar's stretchy fitted dresses with multi-colored insets were comfy and cute. (Most folks would probably be able to pull off the look with about four inches of fabric added to the hemline.)

The show's finale featured the work of husband/wife team Michael and Sanea Sommerfield, who own Miosa Couture on Sacramento's J Street. They can add the word "couture," which defines a garment that goes above and beyond in terms of detail, fabric, hand-sewing, etc. Their gowns are red-carpet-ready, but most likely area residents know the Sommerfields for their exquisite wedding gowns, which closed their show.

My favorite? (And I'm not sure it's for a wedding): the white Swiss dot fitted dress that reminded me of Audrey Hepburn's wedding dress in "Funny Face." The model did the numerous layers of filmy fabric justice by twirling as she reached the end of the runway. What set the dress off was a beautiful fuschia bow at the waist.

Meanwhile, the other runway presentations were a mix of spring/summer looks that ranged from whimsical to practical.

My biggest gripe? The shoes! There's no getting around not looking at a model's feet when she hits the runway. And it appeared quite a few of the models Friday night were wearing their own version of a black something: pump, sandal, etc. Some were scuffed up. Others just didn't work with the outfits.

There are so many local shoe boutiques that probably would be willing to donate pairs that could be shared. I know going barefoot defeats the whole runway "walk" thing, but don't let mismatched shoes ruin a great outfit.

April 25, 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:

Forgetting Sarah Marshall
3 stars
Jason Segel, featured on Judd Apatow''s TV show "Freaks & Geeks" and on the current "How I Met Your Mother," isn't a gorgeous guy. But compared with other actors from the Apatow gang who've been paired with beautiful women, he's freakin' Cary Grant. (Geekin' Cary Grant?) And a smidge Diane Keaton, as well. As a bumbling dumpee who bursts out crying and replays sweet moments with Sarah in his head, Segel seems so vulnerable that anyone with a heart will identify.
Rated R

Shine a Light
3 stars
Mick Jagger dominates this Rolling Stones concert film, of course. Whatever creak might have entered his strut hardly matters when his enthusiasm remains so fervent and his body so fit at age 63 (when the movie was shot). The guy rarely stops moving. Or emoting. So much of his performance is about his movements and expressions when he's not singing.
Rated PG-13


Under the Same Moon

3 stars
Adrian Alonso, who played Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones' son in "The Legend of Zorro," is an exceptional young talent. He brings a mature presence to Carlitos, a boy who crosses the Mexican border into the United States in search of his mother. Plus, he's as cute as all get-out.
Rated PG-13

April 25, 2008
Idol Chatter: 'Just Jules' finds Carly's dress in Sac

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Fox

Here's a big shoutout to my friend "Just Jules" of another great blog, "Just Jules and Your Average Joe."

Jules - or Julie - is a fashion fiend like me, and she beat me to the punch on a great bit of news. (Gotta give credit where credit is due.)

Seems the dress that ousted "American Idol" contestant Carly Smithson (pictured) wore during last week's competition can be purchased locally at Blush Boutique, 2317 J St.

(I agreed with judge Randy Jackson that the dress was great, by the say. In a conference call Thursday, Carly said she bought it at Century City Mall, but couldn't remember the designer.)

So, good job hunting, Julie!

It's a paisley print dress by designer Phillip Lim, made of 100 percent silk with beading and embroidery. The price? A mere $675. (That tells me the shopping budget for "Idol" clothes is bigger - a lot bigger - than my own!)

For those who don't live near midtown, the dress can be ordered online. Just click here.

April 25, 2008
WEAVE fashion show rocks

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On Thursday night, the elegant Elks Tower in downtown Sacramento was the setting for WEAVE's inaugural Jeans for Justice fashion show, which wowed a packed crowd of more than 300, who enjoyed great food, drink - and multiple runway events.

The first show featured models showing off great spring/summer fashions from local boutiques, including Blush Boutique, Sugar Shack, Felicia Strati, Olipom, DV8 Boutique and Krazy Mary's Boutique.

Another show - and my personal fave - featured "Community Couture Models," and, man oh man, did they strut their stuff! There was Judge Morrison England, a member of the U.S. District Court, who walked the walk minus his robe. We saw State Assemblywoman Nicole Parra and Dennis Mangers of the California Cable & Telecommunications Association.

And, with her major theatrical expertise put to the runway, Anne-Marie Petrie - wife of Geoff - was a major hit.

I had the honor of being one of the four judges for the Student Designer's Scholarship portion of the show. Fashion design students from throughout the region submitted sketches and an essay to take part, and finalists were chosen based on their fashionable integration of denim.

The finalists were Elise Richleri and Dana Smith, both design students at UC Davis.

The winner, after the student runway show?

Elise, whose "Shock and Question" collection (sketches pictured) connected the history of denim to breaking the cycle of abuse against women. For her efforts, she received a $5,000 scholarship from Wells Fargo.

(Both designers were terrific, and, in my humble opinion, created collections that could have walked off the runway and out on to J Street.)

I caught up with WEAVE spokesperson Angela D'Arcy today, and she gave me the good news that, with proceeds from tickets, a live auction (hosted by actor Jason Hervey - "The Wonder Years"), a raffle and corporate sponsorships, WEAVE raised more than $80,000.

April 24, 2008
Ok, now where in the world is Channel 3's John Hamilton?

Several alert local news watchers have e-mailed me in the last week to inquire on the whereabouts of Channel 3's John Hamilton.

Seems that KCRA's veteran LiveCopter pilot has been MIA recently, away from his usual gig alongside Dann Shively.

And unlike the also-absent KCRA meteorologist Eileen Javora, currently at home recuperating from a broken arm, it doesn't sound like he's coming back.

That's because Channel 3 news director Anzio Williams confirms that Hamilton left KCRA two weeks ago. Williams declined to give a reason, instead directing questions to Hamilton, who also runs his own helicopter service.

Calls to Hamilton by 21Q, however, have so far gone unanswered.

So there's your answer - kind of. Stay tuned.

April 24, 2008
Idol Chatter: Carly's good to go

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Fox

In the three+ seasons I've covered "American Idol," I've yet to hear anyone so elated to leave at No. 6 as contestant Carly Smithson (pictured with Syesha Mercado) apparently is.

Certainly, while most of the contestants have either been stunned, are still in shock or plain old sleep-deprived, Carly was euphoric - excited about having a couple of weeks off to be with her husband, go to the beach, hang out in the kitchen, and, for once, not having to sing something themed - during a phone conference today with reporters.

Here's some of what she had to say:

Q: Last night, it looked like you took being voted off quite well. Were you surprised to be in the bottom 2 and then leave?
A: I think at this stage, everybody was thinking they could go home. But I'm not that sad I’m leaving. I'll be back in two weeks to prepare for the tour and the finale. Being anywhere after Top 10 is a bonus. I believe I made enough of an impact to reach a fan base and make a cool record.

Q: You made a reference after last night's performance of "Jesus Christ Superstar" that you remembered the words. Did you forget them on Tuesday?
A: That song was last-minute. I had already learned "All I Ask of You" and then I changed the song choice after meeting Andrew Lloyd Webber. Yes, I fumbled on some of the lyrics. But, last night, I got them all right!

Q: How did you feel about the mentors you worked with on "American Idol"?
A: Andrew Lloyd Webber is so incredible. Actually, I'm not sure Broadway was challenging to any of us. There's such a vast amount of music from the Lloyd Webber catalog. Mariah Carey - it was a hard week for everybody. But she was so cool, normal and nice. I come from a bar. I didn’t know how a star was supposed to act.

Dolly Parton has such a positive outlook on everything. The room just lights up when she walks in. The whole experience was really cool. But, honestly, I'll be glad when I can sing my own songs.

Q: What did you feel about the notion that this season is becoming a popularity contest?
A: I agree a little bit. Contestants accumulate a fan base...Women really vote for this show, they vote for the boys. Why not? They’re charming and adorable! The girls had more of a struggle trying to get the popular vote.

Q: What about David (Archuleta) vs. David (Cook) in the finale?
A: It's anyone’s game. People have their favorites already. (Jason) Castro could look into the camera, bat his eyelids and go into his amazing falsetto; Brooke (White) could melt your heart. Nobody saw Michael (Johns) or Amanda (Overmyer) going home. There still could be another shocker.

Q: Of all the contestants, you seem to have the most unique fashion sense, even though Simon Cowell came after you on your style. Your thoughts?
A: I loved my dress last night, which I got at Century City Mall. I'm tattooed, so dainty wear doesn't exactly work for me. Every week, I wanted to stand out more. I know what Simon thought, but I wouldn't change anything I wore. I loved the blue dress for "Come Together."

I do need to clarify the tattoo on my arm. It's a geisha, not Amy Winehouse! I had it before she even came out. It's not not colored in because I haven't had the time. It bothered me (on the show) that it wasn't finished.

Q: What have you learned?
A: The show is amazing. It's such a huge platform to launch yourself off of. I might have been a little more upset had I been eliminated earlier. But now, I get a gift of two weeks to spend with my family. I'm excited to start writing songs. I'm looking forward to going home.

As for me, I won't change as a person. I'll go to the beach. Hey, I miss my pots and pans. I'm a kitchen gadget nut.

Note to you: The sked for this summer's "American Idols Live" tour has been set. It kicks off July 1 in Glendale, Ariz., and reaches Sacramento's Arco Arena on July 9. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m May 17. For more, click here, or check out my fellow 21Q blogger, Rachel Leibrock's, item below.

April 24, 2008
American Idols Live tour in Sacramento July 9

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Poor Carly Smithson (pictured, photo courtesy of Fox) got the boot Wednesday night on "American Idol," but at least the Irish rocker can take comfort knowing she'll be part of this summer's American Idols Live tour.

Which, by the way, is scheduled to hit July 9 at Arco Arena.

In addition to Smithson, this year's talent show lineup features current contestants Brooke White, David Archuleta, David Cook, Jason Castro and Syesha Mercado.

Also on the bill: Ousted singers Chikezie, Kristy Lee Cook, Michael Johns and Ramiele Malubay.

Tickets go on sale May 17 - stay tuned for more details or visit tour.americanidol.com.

April 23, 2008
Idol Chatter: Irish eyes still smiling

OK, so are the more than 38 million fans who voted this week picking a prom king/queen or the next "American Idol?"

If it's all the same to you, I'd like to see a contestant win who actually can cut an album, win awards and WOW a year later. (Read: Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.)

And I'm not saying Irish lass Carly Smithson isn't all that. But, geez, I don't think she deserved to be eliminated this week - with pseudo-suited Jason Castro and lyrically lost Brooke White still left standing.

Tonight's results show shrunk the bottom from three to two (Carly and Syesha Mercado - are you kidding me?)

They performed their respective Andrew Lloyd Webber songs from Tuesday night's competition. And, actually, Carly seemed more resolved to her elimination than, say, Brooke might have been.

"I've had doors closed in my face before," she said during her exit video. "But I feel like I've won already."

The two "Davids" (Cook and Archuleta) were the first to be declared safe. And I loved what David C. had to say about his rendition of "Music of the Night:"

"What's more unpredictable than doing a song the way it was written?"

Brooke likely earned the "human" vote because her lapse in lyrics Tuesday night was, well, human. That, according to judge Simon Cowell. (Said Lloyd Webber, who accompanied the six finalists Wednesday on a group version of "All I Ask of You" ("Phantom of the Opera"), of Brooke's bumble:
"Losing your way, it happens to the best people. ... She's a very talented girl. In her dress rehearsal, she was flawless.")

Lloyd Webber even offered his poignant thoughts on a possible parting song for Paula and Simon (if ever the day comes): "Time To Say Goodbye" or "How Can I Say I Miss You If You Won't Go Away."

Now, here's one Brit with a sense of humor!

Next week, mentor Neil Diamond will set the stage for the Final 5 "Idol" contestants.

OK, so I admit I won't allow Neil anywhere near my iPod. That doesn't preclude Jason from tackling "Holly Holy."

Heaven help us!

FYI: Check back to 21Q on Thursday for a Q&A that I take part in with Carly, plus details about this summer's "American Idol" tour. Sacramento's a usual stop!

April 23, 2008
One actor to watch

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While timing is key in most endeavors, having talent and a positive attitude doesn’t hurt.

Maurice Whitfield had it all going for him when he caught Scott Eckern’s eye at a California Musical Theatre audition. Eckern is the CMT artistic director, and when looking for Music Circus actors, he auditions over a thousand performers every year at calls in New York, Los Angeles and Sacramento.

Anyway, Whitfield is from Durham, N.C., but he’s been spending the past year in Sacramento as an intern at the B Street Theatre. He's the first B Street intern to move directly from its professional training program to the Music Circus.

Eckern says he was looking for a bass and liked what he heard from Whitfield. Whitfield’s audition piece was a contemporary song from composer-lyricist Michael John LaChiusa’s “The Wild Party.”

Eckern asked if the 23-year-old actor had anything with a more classic sound, so Whitfield then came back with “Ol' Man River,” which is about as classic as it gets. Though Eckern was looking primarily for a singer, he also asked Whitfield to try a couple of dance combinations.

“He was very game for every thing I threw at him,” Eckern says. “Plus, he’s a fine singer in the range I needed so I hired him.”

Eckern will have 16 ensemble members on hand this summer - eight men and eight women. Whitfield will work in “Sweeney Todd” and “Evita.”

This past year for B Street, he's also appeared in “Gold Country Tales” for B Street Theatre School Tours, and on the main stage, the world premiere of Buck Busfield’s “Make Someone Happy” (pictured).

He’ll also be seen in the upcoming intern showcase, “Seven Ten Split,” which will encompass seven 10-minute plays specifically written for the seven graduating interns. The show will run May 17–June 1.

April 23, 2008
Tangles needs 'clean' sponsors

Are you good at cleaning up messes?

Well, Tangles Aveda Salon Spa in Davis is on the lookout for sponsors for its Clean Team, which will take part in a beach cleanup May 4 at Folsom Lake.

Consider the project a mini-extension of Earth Day - call it Earth Month. So says Tangles owner John Hausler.

Tangles is joining forces with the Surfrider Foundation to clean up the beach with other Aveda salons in the area. Hausler writes via e-mail that he hopes Tangles alone will raise $2,000 at the event.

(Meanwhile, Tangles will donate all proceeds from sales of Aveda Earth Month candles to water-related projects of Global Greengrants, which I mentioned earlier this month in an article
in Scene.)

For more info on the cleanup: (530) 759- 0795.

April 23, 2008
Where's KCRA's Eileen Javora?

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Here's some real, er, breaking news:

If you're wondering why Channel 3's Eileen Javora's gone missing, rest assured - the KCRA meteorologist is still with the station. Javora (pictured, courtesy of KCRA) is just enjoying the cool spring weather from the comfort of her home.

Reason: Javora broke her arm.

Ouch.

No, it wasn't an on-the-job injury. Reporting on the weather can be dangerous, but not usually in that way - unless, of course, you're Anderson Cooper.

"She was playing around with some friends and broke her arm - now she's in recovery," explains Channel 3 news director Anzio Williams.

"We're not really sure when she'll be back, but she will be back."

April 23, 2008
KDVS fundraiser to rock your pocketbook

Money's tight these days, but if you have a couple of bucks to spare, consider sending them to Davis.

More specifically, to UC Davis' college radio station KDVS 90.3, which is hosting its annual on-air fundraiser through Sunday. Monies raised will go toward station costs and operations.

You can pledge as little or as much as you like and, in return, snag cool goodies such as T-shirts and music. A $100 pledge will get you the chance to host your own hour-long radio show - finally, the chance to subject the world to show off your awesome music knowledge and tastes.

Tune into 90.3 on the FM dial for more info, call (530) 754-5387 or (888) 654-6294. Or kick it new school by clicking here.

April 23, 2008
Idol Chatter: Broadway bookends

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Fox

The way I sum up Tuesday night's "American Idol" competition is like this: It was like a great pair of bookends - strong at the beginning and at the end of the show. But the books fell off the shelf in between.

The Final 6 contestants performed songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber (who was in the audience) - a difficult assignment because it was set to take most of them out of their comfort zone. (It was easy to tell that judge Simon Cowell has as much interest in Broadway in New York as Broadway in Sacramento.)

But, I digress. In my opinion, the show's best two performances started with Syesha Mercado (pictured) and ended with David Cook. Period. The other four were, with all due respect to Christian Siriano ("Project Runway"), a "hot mess."

Lloyd Webber met with the contestants at the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas, where he's overseeing yet another production of "Phantom of the Opera." Earlier stories making the rounds had it that the composer was wiped out after working with the Final 6, but he gave them great pointers, even urging Carly Smithson to change her song choice.

Syesha's sexy (Simon's words), fast-paced "One Rock & Roll Too Many" ("Starlight Express") was great. Judge Randy Jackson thought Syesha definitely could be "a Broadway star." For sure, she's picked up her game, gaining confidence with every week.

That's in sharp contrast to Brooke White, who was supposed to evoke utter sadness with her "You Must Love Me" (from "Evita"). I was stunned when Brooke "lost the lyric" at the beginning of the song and asked to start over.

From that point on, it was only a matter of a few bars before Brooke completely fell apart. Again, indicative of how much her confidence has failed her as the competition continues.

Perpetually sunny judge Paula Abdul actually chastised Brooke, saying you "must never start and stop. You just have to pick up the pieces."

Moving on - I loved Lloyd Webber's comment that "I never thought I'd see a man singing 'Memory' with dreadlocks." Working with Jason Castro, you could tell the composer was uncertain what he would hear Tuesday night. (Jason admitted he didn't know "Cats" actually featured "cats" on stage.) Anyway, it was just OK, really. Simon said it had to be the longest two minutes of both their lives. "It was like a young guy being forced by his mom and dad to sing that song at a wedding. It was miserable throughout. Not your style of music."

David Archuleta probably had his weakest performance of the season, singing "Think of Me" (from "Phantom of the Opera"). For "Idol" fans, remember when David had the habit of licking his lips when he sang? He broke that one, and Lloyd Webber got him to break another habit: closing his eyes during a performance.

Randy said he thought David A. (at this point in the evening) was the "boy to beat."

Not so fast, dawg!

Next to last was Carly with a very shrilly rendition of "Jesus Christ Superstar" (from the show of the same name). Yes, she still has that big voice and, yes, it held up better than some of the others, i.e., Brooke and Jason. Simon said it was one his favorite performances of the night, to which Carly grabbed a T-shirt that read: "Simon Loves Me (this week)." Cute.

The finale was David Cook singing "Music of the Night" (also from "Phantom of the Opera"). I had chills from the first couple notes. As with every song he's performed, David put his own spin on this bold choice. From Randy: "I've said it before, dude - that was an amazing vocal performance." Simon still prefers David C.'s "gritty" side, but clearly, he's pulling away from the other contestants, even from David A. - with the "Idol" finale a scant four weeks from tonight.

That brings up another important note: Today is the last day to vote in the "American Idol" songwriting contest. Don't forget, we have a local guy - Ryan Gilmoor - who definitely has a shot at winning and having his song, "In This Moment," performed by the "Idol" winner.

To hear Ryan's song, click here and go to the "Show Guide" pull-down menu. The songs aren't listed by artist, but as you go through them, the titles will pop up.

Predictiions for tonight's live results show (at 9 on Fox40): Carly, Brooke and Jason in the bottom 3 (if they even have a "three").


April 22, 2008
Vanessa Hudgens, Grand Funk Railroad, Jars of Clay coming to Sac

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Just in case today's Coming Distractions column wasn't jam-packed enough for your sonic likings, here are a few more shows that just hit my desk this morning:

First up, the California State Fair folks have announced this summer's concert line-up. The fair runs Aug. 15-Sept. 1 and those set to take the stage include Weird Al Yankovic (Aug. 18), "High School Musical" star Vanessa Hudgens (pictured, Aug. 22), and Grand Funk Railroad (Aug. 29).

Concert admission is free with the price of State Fair admission. You can, however, also snap up special reserved "Gold Circle" seats. All tickets (including general admission tix) go on sale May 1 through Tickets.com.

For more details, check out my colleague Bruce Dancis' story.

Then, when summer's over (well, in the datebook at least, if not in regards to temperature), mark your calendar for the big Music Builds concert, Sept. 28 at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre.

The Christian rock show features Jars of Clay, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Switchfoot and Third Day. Stay tuned for ticket info.

April 21, 2008
Armstrong & Getty: Beer-ing with them

So, I was listening to my new BFFs, Armstrong & Getty, this morning and the duo was talking up politics (yeah, that's right - politics) in regard to the Obama-Clinton race.

Specifically, they were discussing the way the rival Democrats have been courting the "regular guy" vote by quaffing regional drinks of choice. You know, Clinton and the now-infamous Crown Royal shot-heard-round-the-world, for example.

Anyway, Armstrong brings up Obama's March 28 trip to Johnston, Pa., during which Obama took a swig of the local drink of choice.

"There was a widely distributed picture of Barack Obama chugging a Yuengling brew?" Armstrong says, sounding mystified by the, uh, exotic-sounding beer. "Is that like a local Pennsylvania microbrew - Y-E-U-N-G-L-I-N-G? Yeungling? Or is that a Muslim thing?"

Although Armstrong's remark elicited an appreciative cackle from Getty, all I can say is:

Dude.

C'mon guys, we all know you pride yourselves on just how low you rank on the political correctness meter (I've long learned to just roll my eyes at all your anti-feminist remarks), but, seriously, "Or is that a Muslim thing?" Stupid, offensive, immature and definitely not cool.

Listen for yourself here.


April 21, 2008
Fast check on retail spending

Just as we're all taken over by growing concerns of a recession, the NPD Group, which tracks consumer spending (and is one of my most reliable fashion sources), has released its second "Fast Checks Study."

The bad news, according to NPD is: In just two months, consumers who said we're heading toward a recession or economic slowdown grew from 79 percent to 84 percent.

As a result, "they're beginning to throttle back (on spending)" Marshal Cohen, the chief industry analyst, says in an e-mail.

The industries most likely to feel the spending pinch? Dining out, home entertainment and - oh no! - apparel. (Does that mean those new Kenneth Cole shoes I just bought have to go back?)

However, I want my retail friends to take heart: Even though 42 percent of the survey folks say they'll use their government-rebate checks to pay down bills, Cohen has an afterthought.

"Again, this could be good news," he says. "If consumers pay off their debts right when they get their checks, the next month they will be out shopping again."

Meanwhile, what are consumers not putting the spending brakes on? Toys, video games and home improvement. (Can't let Johnny go without that latest version of "Guitar Hero"!)

April 18, 2008
'Wicked' this way comes?

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There’s good news and bad news coming out of SHN regarding its 2008-09 Best of Broadway season in San Francisco. The company has announced a “sit-down, open-ended engagement” of “Wicked” beginning in late January 2009 at the Orpheum Theatre. Meaning the uber-hit musical will be just 90 minutes down the road for the forseeable future.

That’s the good news - but also the bad for Sacramento. Because it probably pushes any potential Sacramento dates for the phenomenally successful show back to 2010, according to Richard Lewis, executive producer of California Musical Theatre and Broadway Sacramento.

Lewis was hoping to get “Wicked” in 2009 and still could - but now, he’s not as hopeful.

“Wicked” had its world premeire in San Francisco at the Curran Theatre on May 28, 2003, before moving to Broadway and opening at the Gershwin Theatre on Oct. 30, 2003. It has been virtually sold out since, reigning as Broadway’s highest-grossing show.

The musical recently set records for the highest one-week box office take in each of its four North American markets: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and the National Tour.

And early next year, you, too, can check out how the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch got to be that way. You’ll just have to do it in San Francisco.

April 18, 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:

Leatherheads
2 1/2 stars
The pacing is too sluggish in general, but George Clooney and Renee Zellweger are delightful. They sparkle and banter and achieve, at moments, the screwball quality that Clooney (also the director) is reaching for.
Rated PG-13

Nim's Island
3 stars
The sight of Jodie Foster fussing and flummoxing keeps things interesting. She also shares nice chemistry with Gerard Butler in scenes where her author character squares off with the fictional adventurer she created. This alter ego/subconscious pushes the author to get past her fears and help a kid (Abigail Breslin) in trouble.
Rated PG

Shine a Light
3 stars
Directed with a light artistic hand by Martin Scorsese, this Rolling Stones concert film juxtaposes Mick Jagger's perfectionist tendencies with Keith Richards's perpetual and irresistible juvenile delinquency. Adding backstage snippets and archival footage to the mix, Scorsese underscores how the Jagger-Richards merger of professionalism and rock 'n' roll lawlessness continues to fuel one of the world's greatest bands.
Rated PG-13


April 18, 2008
Keeping the faith

The reviews are in. Following up on the item I posted Monday about Faith Prince, the lapsed Broadway star moonlighting as a “Sacramento stay-at-home mom,” reviews of her latest New York outing in "A Catered Affair," were published this morning. And as they often are, the opinions are mixed.

Actually, the opinions are fairly consistent from the two writers I trust and read the most consistently, Ben Brantley of the New York Times and Linda Winer of Newsday.

The show itself is mixed, which is how it usually goes. A show is rarely just one thing (as in all good or all bad) - there are levels of what works and what doesn’t.

For the most part, the performers (including our Faith) are thought to have done well - it’s the dour story and lack of engaging songs that disappointed the critics. Hopefully, they can still get a nice run for the show, especially considering it has additional Sacramento roots.

The associate director of “A Catered Affair” is Adam John Hunter, a Sac native who went through the Sac High VAPAC program and attended UC Davis. Hunter has been working professionally since 2005 with the acclaimed British director John Doyle, and recently he was bumped up from stage manager on “Sweeney Todd” to the associate director position for “Company” and now “A Catered Affair.”
Adam also writes to say that Geoff Vaughn, the scenic automation programmer on the show was the technical director at Sac High when he was there.
There are photos of both Hunter and Prince on Harvey Fierstien’s blog about the production; click here.

By the way, the reason the reviews come out the day after the show opens is that critics have been seeing press previews for the last couple of weeks and they hold the story until the day after the opening.

April 17, 2008
Are you 'Big Brother' material?

It's hard to believe CBS is toting out a 10th season of its can-we-all-get-along? reality show "Big Brother."

The real question is, do you think you have what it takes to be manipulative, back-stabbing, sweet, honorable, evil and wear the same T-shirt over and over and over - for as long as a month - until you get evicted or win $500,000?

Oh yeah - all the while, locked up in a house with people you might feel major disdain for?

If so, and you're 21 or older, the show, in conjunction with CBS13, will be holding a casting call from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Jackson Rancheria Hotel's Grand Oak Ballroom in Jackson.

Hey, great opportunity to jump into a hot tub with a buncha perfect strangers!

The casting call does require you to bring two forms of ID. For more information and directions to the casino, click here.

April 17, 2008
Idol Chatter: Kickin' it with Kristy Lee

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Fox

Kristy Lee Cook (pictured), 24, doesn't want to go home to Selma, Ore. And, no, she won't get her horse back - see my posting below. (The buyer has grown too attached to him.)

But, life will go on for the sixth (of the Top 12) eliminated finalist. But, don't cry for her. The "Idol" tour awaits Kristy Lee - and some very exciting personal news.

In a conference call with "Idol" writers this morning, she talks about her experiences on the show and what's ahead. Here's some of what she said:

Q: It felt like you were getting used to being in the bottom three (not last week). How tough was that, especially with the twists last night?
A: I thought about being there all the time! But I built up a stamina for it. I learned to control the emotions, especially this last time because it was so nerve-wracking. We didn’t know how they were doing it. I was standing with David Cook at one point, but I didn’t know if we were safe. David Archuleta was still in the back. It was definitely a shock to go home so soon. I wanted to make the Top 5. Brooke (White) is still in the competition, and I'm really happy for her.

Q: Do you think you proved Simon wrong by lasting as long as you did?
A: I was struggling the first three weeks from being sick. I outlasted (the criticism) because I was getting into a comfort zone - getting stronger and singing songs I was comfortable with. He saw that.

Q: You were making improvements. Does that make it tougher to leave?
A: Yes. I was kind of upset because I went at this stage of the competition. I thought "Forever" was my best performance, especially the vocals. The band loved it. I think I really connected with the song. And I definitely thought I had another week in me.

Q: Who are your Top 3 at this point on the show?
A: I don’t have three contestants in mind. The show proved to me it’s anybody’s playing field, especially with Michael Johns leaving last week. All of them have a unique sound and tons of talent.

Q: Next week the mentor will be Andrew Lloyd Webber. Had you picked out your song should you have stayed?
A: "Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina." It was going to be a good one.

Q: We understand you received an incredibly romantic gesture from your fiance last night. Can you tell us about him and your plans?
A: His name is Andy. And yes, he proposed to me - again! - last night after the show. The first time he proposed was March 15 - in the sauna - at the apartment where we (the contestants) stay. It was the only place where there were no other people! We downplayed it because we didn't want our engagement to interfere with the show. We haven't set a date yet - maybe next June.

Q: Were there any backstage romances?
A: That’s a good question. If so, I was totally blind. Most of us had boyfriends, girlfriends or spouses. They already were taken, though David (Cook) told America last night that he was single.

Q: Last night, you said Simon can be kind of a “butt." Do you think saying that would have made a difference if you had stayed on the show?
A: He’s got his own little remarks, and sometimes he's not very nice to people. After time, it builds up, like what he said to Brooke about the hamburger (on Tuesday). I was debating between brat and butt.

Q: What can you take away from your "Idol" experience? And, obviously, you built a fan base. What do you tell them?
A: It's been an amazing experience. I learned about all the different kinds of stress levels I hadn't known before. I learned to make friends and what singers go through to perform every week in front of so many people. And, there's the workload. But it's fun - stuff you wouldn't get to do if you weren't on the show.

To the fans, thanks for voting for me and keeping me on. I’ll put on a terrific show for the tour. Music that’s good for my voice.

April 16, 2008
Idol Chatter: Time to give Kristy Lee her horse back!

OK, so the biggest issue I have with tonight's results show on "American Idol" is that some guy, somewhere, who bought Kristy Lee Cook's horse so she could pay to audition for the show, won't sell her horse back!

But, Kristy Lee will have time to persuade him otherwise because she got the boot.

Guess nothing should shock "Idol" fans anymore, even Kristy Lee calling judge Simon Cowell a "butt" tonight. Thing is, fans got a major wake-up call last week with contestant Michael Johns' departure. I'm guessing fans of, say, Carly Smithson, Jason Castro and Syesha Mercado probably text-messaged and called for the full two hours of voting Tuesday night.

FYI: More than 36 million votes were cast.

Tonight's show took the usual "Idol" twist (you can only do this with an odd number of singers) with host Ryan Seacrest separating the contestants into groups of three: Jason, Carly and Syesha against David Cook, Kristy Lee and Brooke White. Teener David Archuleta was left backstage to bite his lower lip for almost an hour.

In between? Season 5 finalist Elliott Yamin, who recently returned from an "Idol Gives Back" stint in Africa, sang "Free." It was great. And, if "Idol" fans will recall, Elliott's mom was battling cancer two years ago while he was on the show. We found out tonight she recently passed (he had "We Miss You Mom" written on his right palm).

Mentor Mariah Carey powered through "Bye Bye," a single off her new CD, "E=MC2."

Question: Is there no depths to which her attachment to judge Randy Jackson will be exploited? Just curious.

But, I digress. Back to the groupings. Ryan swapped Syesha and David C's spots, which, DUH, set up the bottom three: Syesha, Brooke and Kristy Lee. (I'm losing track of who has been in these spots the most.)

Anyway, Syesha is safe. Brooke professes nothing has been settled yet. And, then, Kristy Lee goes home.

So, here's what's going down: Brooke needs to zip her yapper about the criticism she's getting, especially from Simon. She had been one of my faves. But the pouty lip? Her "Hero" rendition was a bust on Tuesday, and we all know it.

Next week? Andrew Lloyd Webber is the mentor, so I'm hoping Brooke tackles "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina."

Can you say swan song?

April 16, 2008
Breaking! Armstrong & Getty have a radio show

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Bryan Patrick/Sacramento Bee file


So, apparently, Tuesday's cover story in Scene on talk radio - and the demise of locally produced, politically oriented shows - touched a nerve.

Specifically, many readers were shocked - shocked! - that I (along with my Bee writing partners Sam McManis and Dan Vierra) didn't include KSTE's Armstrong & Getty in the round-up.

Their exclusion is proof positive, many a reader posited, that I am (take your pick) showing my liberal bias, a terrible journalist, and/or the living incarnation of the devil. OK, that last one's not a direct quote - but, terrible journalist that I may be, I can kinda read between the e-mail lines.

Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty were also outraged at being left out and, on their show this morning, pointed out that "we're the No. 1 freaking show."

Of course, from there, they go on to draw the same conclusion that I - along with my editor - made when deciding to not include them:

"We're not a political show, we talk about everything."

And that is, precisely, why they weren't included.

Certainly, you could debate the validity of their exclusion six ways to Sunday and, you know what?, I'm willing to go out on a limb here and say, hey, yeah, perhaps, they could have merited a footnote.

Or, at the very least, a whole blog entry!

Seriously guys, the exclusion wasn't personal. Or a sign that I didn't know you guys existed - I did, I do.

You can listen to A&G argue their point here.

April 16, 2008
Looking ahead to summer

Just a head's up: There are several days left in the Carlisle Summer Show, a local trunk show that features fashions from the upscale women's clothing line.

Not familiar with the Carlisle Collection? The line isn't sold in stores but through consultants throughout the country. They hold trunk shows in various venues and invite customers to peruse their items as they come out based on seasons.

Right now, Marcia Goldmark, along with several other local Carlisle consultants, are showing the summer 2008 collection through Saturday in Carmichael- by appointment only. That way, you're assured of getting one-on-one assistance as you peruse the apparel.

I checked the Carlisle Web site here and was impressed with both the fabrics and the attention to detail. The outfits cover pretty much every wearable need: workplace, weekend, formal.

If you're interested in seeing the summer offerings, contact Marcia at (916) 600-8900. They're booking appointments from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Saturday.

April 16, 2008
Pennywise and Motley Crue come to town - no, not on the same bill

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Time to mark your ballots - and your summer calendar, KWOD 106.5 just announced the line-up for its Rock the Vote concert, scheduled for June 6 at the UC Davis Pavilion at the A.R.C. On the ticket: Pennywise (pictured), Alkaline Trio, Anti-Flag, MGMT, The Whigs and local band MC Rut (aka Middle Class Rut).

And, while that's one hard-rockin' bill, the purpose of the show isn't just music - it's about getting people registered to vote (Republican, Democrat, whatever). Tickets ($20 UCD students, $25 general) go on sale Friday through R5, the Beat, Dimple Records, Armadillo Music, Tickets.com outlets (inside select Raley's and Bel Air supermarkets) and online at Tickets.com.

Motley Crue, on the other ear, are apparently only out to rock your eardrums. The vintage heavy metal four-piece just announced Crue Fest 2008 - and they're billing it as "the loudest show on earth."

Buy your earplugs now, the festival, also featuring the likes of Buck Cherry, Trapt, Sixx:A.M. and Vacaville's Papa Roach, will play Aug. 5 at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre. There's a pre-sale April 24, stay tuned for further ticket info.


April 16, 2008
Idol Chatter: Guys outsing gals

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Fox

I'm not a huge Mariah Carey fan - certainly not to the degree "American Idol" judge Randy Jackson is. Heck, I only recognized three of the songs the Final 7 (pictured with Mariah) sang Tuesday night!

Right off, I was glad host Ryan Seacrest asked the judges how they would rate the contestants since Mariah's songs typically would be discouraged at any other stage of the competition.

(Oh, did I mention Mariah has a CD coming out, titled "E=MC2"?)

Randy spoke for all three: "We'll judge it fairly. I'm looking for identity."

He initially was worried about "boys singing girls' songs." David Archuleta was up first with "When You Believe" and, even though it had sort of an "anthem" feel to it, he's definitely safe.

Oddly, all four remaining gals sang one after another. Carly Smithson took on "Without You." Interestingly, my "Idol"-watching companions and I actually prefer the Harry Nilsson version over the Mariah version - and certainly over the Carly rendition.

Syesha Mercado's "Vanishing" was, according to Paula Abdul, a song "not many people know." Simon Cowell thought it was technically very good. No surprise, Brooke White took on "Hero." Paula liked the "unplugged" version, i.e., Brooke on the piano. Loved Simon's theory:

"It was like ordering a hamburger and only getting the bun. The vital ingredient was missing."

Of course, the where's the beef? reference deteriorated into a lack of condiments, etc., leaving Brooke confused - or hungry - and Ryan telliing viewers, "If you'd like to order take-out, call ...."

I liked Kristy Lee Cook's version of "Forever." She's starting to remind me of a young Lynn Anderson. Paula loved the arrangement; Simon thought it was "whiny at times."

The performance of the night? No question, it was David Cook's bluesy/R&B version of "Always Be My Baby." Randy gave him a standing "O." Paula thought it could be turned into a movie soundtrack. Simon delivered a bit of a scare, saying, "We are coming out of karaoke hell - into a breath of fresh air."

"It was original, daring and the sign of a great potential artist."

Tuesday was definitely an emotional night for David C. He got choked up. And, with good reason. His brother, who is battliing cancer, was in the audience.

Closing things out was Jason Castro, with "I Don't Wanna Cry." The arrangement certainly fit Jason's laid-back style. But Randy compared it to being at "a weird beach luau, with music playing in the distance." Paula and Simon liked it.

But, no matter. Simon was spot on at the end of the show when he said the remaining three guys "completely won the night."

Predictions on who gets the boot tonight (at 9 on Fox40)? I've got Carly, Brooke and Syesha in the bottom 3 with either Carly or Syesha headed home.


April 15, 2008
Idol Chatter: Local songwriter among Top 20

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Photograph/Charr Crail

I did a little digging - with a giant shovel - and found out that one of the Top 20 finalists in the "American Idol" songwriting contest is from right here in our midst!

His name is Ryan Gillmor (pictured), he's 24 and he lives in the Pollock Pines/Placerville area. His band, Gillmor, has made the rounds in Sacramento and throughout Northern California and also is a musical splash in SoCal, where most of the band members reside.

His "Idol" entry? A song titled "In This Moment."

"I'm a songwriter first and foremost," he tells me by phone today. (FYI: Ryan also wrote the theme song for the Fox TV show "Unhitched.")

Ryan, who is an "Idol" fan, missed the deadline to enter the contest last year. But there was no fooling around for Season 7.

"I thought last year's song was good, and I really feel strongly about my song," he says. "I get butterflies thinking about it. It's such a huge opportunity for the winner. It's something that comes around once in a lifetime."

Ryan got the good news last week (while at Disneyland, no less) that his song made the cut - out of tens of thousands of entries.

Now it's Sactown's chance to give back to this talented musician.

To hear Ryan's song (and the other finalists, but we're voting for Ryan, right?), click here and go to the "Show Guide" pull-down menu. The songs aren't listed by artist, but as you go through them, the titles will pop up. Voting ends April 23, so get cracking.

I listened to "In This Moment" for the first time this afternoon. Props to him for not going all "inspirational" on me. It's certainly an appropriate song for the "Idol" winner. Sort of like when someone wins something big and realizes, hey, "I'm getting confetti poured down on me, and I'm singing this really cool song!"

In addition to having the winning song performed on the show's finale, the winning songwriter will earn a publishing deal - and the song will be released by this year’s winner.

I definitely could hear David Cook releasing Ryan's song.

As far as tonight's "Idol" competition (8 on Fox40), the Final 7 will perform under the mentorship of none other than Mariah Carey. Because they were instructed to sing her songs, none of the judges can complain about taking on Mariah. Right?

April 14, 2008
Sacramentan stars on Broadway

Perhaps you read the story on the front of Sunday's New York Times arts section about the Sacramento stay-at-home mom who’s starring in a new Broadway show.

I’m referring to the great Faith Prince, who was, of course, a Broadway-starring (“Bells Are Ringing” and “Noises Off,” to name a couple), Tony Award-winning (1992 best actress in a musical for “Guys and Dolls") actress before she moved to Sacramento a couple of years ago.

Prince came here with her husband, trumpeter Larry Lunetta, and their son, Henry, to be closer to Larry’s parents, Stan and Sharon. Stan is now principal timpanist for the Sacramento Philharmonic, the Sacramento Opera and the Sacramento Choral Society Orchestra. He’s also the percussionist and music contractor with the Music Circus, which is where Faith and Larry met in 1987. (Larry was playing in the pit orchestra, and Faith was performing in “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.” Stan claims their eyes met across the stage and things developed as they sometimes do.)
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Larry and Faith have lived in New York and Los Angeles, but they felt Sacramento would be a solid place for Henry to spend time - where they could also spend time with him.

Recently, Faith has been doing some television work in L.A. and has made an album (pictured) while looking for just the right Broadway project to come along. It seems that's happened with the opportunity to play Aggie in the new John Doyle (“Sweeney Todd” and “Company”)-directed musical, “A Catered Affair,” which opens Thursday night.

The musical has a pretty distinguished lineage, with its book by Harvey Fierstein (who also stars in the show) and music and lyrics by John Bucchino, based on a film written by Gore Vidal and original teleplay by Paddy Chayefsky.

Larry and Henry are flying out for the opening, and we hope Sacramento’s own Faith Prince breaks a leg.

April 14, 2008
KUVS Univision 19 leads in local Emmy nods

Nominations for the 37th annual Northern California Emmy Awards were announced Thursday, with Sacramento-area media outlets nabbing 42 nods.

At the head of the pack: Channel 19 (KUVS) with 17 nominations, including outstanding achievement in General Assignment Report, Continuing Coverage, Feature News Report (Serious Series), and Public Affairs (Segment Program).

Channel 3 (KCRA) came in with an also-impressive 12 nominations, including Outstanding Achievement in Station Excellence, News Excellence, Newcast - Daytime (Larger market), and General Assignment Report.

Cbannel 6 (KVIE), Channel 13 (KOVR), Fox40 (KTXL) and Channel 10 (KXTV) also earned nominations.

Winners will be announced May 10 at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. For a complete list of nominations, visit EmmySF.com.

April 14, 2008
Idol Chatter: Time for a wishy-washy song

OK, so don't count me among the many fans who love the “American Idol” finale song. You know, the uber-syrupy, ballad-like tearjerker that the winner sings after being crowned.

Last season, Jordin Sparks proclaimed “This Is My Now.” I know, more than 2 million online votes were cast for “This,” written by Jeff Peabody and Scott Krippayne. (If I remember correctly, the duo penned the song while sitting in the dark in Seattle during the rainy season. Just kidding.)

The song did become the first hit single off Jordin's self-titled debut album.
So that sparked thousands of wannabe songwriters to submit offerings for this year's Season 7 finale. “Idol” has narrowed it to the Top 20 finalists. Fans can listen to each submission and cast their votes here. Voting continues through April 23.

Here are the offerings. You’ll have to listen on your own:

“Align,” “All You Will Need,” “Believe,” “Dream Big,” “Faith,” “Fly Me Away,” “Here I Am,” “In This Moment,” “No Turning Back,” “Only Love,” “Overcome,” “Something Like Heaven,” “Stronger,” “Thank You Whatever Comes,” “The Time of My Life” (no, not from “Dirty Dancing”), “We’re Gonna Make It,” “When You Come From Nothing,” “You Believe in Me,” “You Believed in Me” (not a misprint) and “You Can Do Anything.”

Flying and believing seem to be major themes.

April 14, 2008
Say 'I do' to Oscar

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Associated Press

You don't have to live in the Big Apple to pay big bucks for the wedding gown of your dreams. And because "Bridal Week" is in full swing in New York fashion circles, I couldn't resist letting folks in on the doings of one of the most influential designers of all things clothing: Oscar de la Renta.

De la Renta has dressed more brides than he probably wants to admit. But exquisite doesn't even begin to describe how gorgeous his gowns are. Take a look at the one pictured, especially the detail to lace.

Of course, with the height on that headpiece, the bride probably needs a 7-foot groom!

Also presenting a wedding gown collection was designer Carolina Herrera.

And, get this, you can even have a storybook wedding gown. No joke. Designer Kirstie Kelly for Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings collection includes everything from a "Cinderella" gown to an "Ariel" ("Little Mermaid") gown. And don't forget "Sleeping Beauty" and "Snow White."

As for bridesmaids? Just grab the closest wicked stepsister!

April 11, 2008
How Channel 13 got around Kevin Johnson's pesky interview 'rules'

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So, I was hanging out at the Channel 13/31 mothership on Thursday, when morning anchor Chris Burrous wanted to show me a news clip of which he was especially proud.

Now, the clip in question hints at something somewhat publicity stunt-esque but, I've got to admit, it's one a fellow media drone can appreciate.

The deal: Mayoral candidate Kevin Johnson agreed to sit down with Channel 13 for a March 31 interview - under a few conditions, Burrous says: No Heather Fargo, no questions about those sexual abuse allegations, and absolutely no live calls from viewers.

Well, OK. Now, normally, most media outlets (newspapers, included) balk at such pre-interview rules. Generally to ask such as thing is considered rather - take your pick - diva-like, rude or naive.

In any case, Channel 13 really wanted that interview and, to their credit, deftly found a way to get around Johnson's stipulations, all the while maintaining a tiny shred of integrity: They posted the rules for all their viewers to see and explained just why the upcoming interview "might look a little different than what we usually do."

By far, the best moment of this whole set-up is what happens when Channel 13 cuts away from said "rules" back to Johnson's face. The mayoral candidate's slightly horrified, slightly confused expression is, well, priceless.

Watch the clip here - Johnson's reaction is at at the 39-second mark.

April 11, 2008
Idol Chatter: Michael is a good mate

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Fox

Michael Johns' Aussie accent - and true feelings - came through loud and clear Friday during an interview with "American Idol" reporters. Yes, he's still in shock over last night's elimination, but geez what a positive guy. Michael, 29, already has gotten phone calls from musical stars none of us will ever hear from, and he's ready to move ahead.

Here's what he had to say about his experiences on the show.

Q: Your parting performance was great last night - maybe even better than during Tuesday night's competition. Your thoughts?
A: "Actually, I wasn’t thinking at all. But, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t shocked, too. I believe the last two weeks were my strongest. Stuff happens, and it did."

Q: This week, with its inspirational theme, do you think picking a rock song was an advantage or a disadvantage, especially considering what the other contestants were singing?
A: "I never chose a song based on what the competition was doing. I chose songs based on their lyrical content and emotion. The Aerosmith song was amazing. I’m living my own dream. The song is about struggle and overcoming it. Living in America is my dream. I have no regrets on the song choice at all."

Q: Dolly Parton was the first mentor. How did you handle country, considering your're rock and soul/R&B?
A: "Dolly week, of course! I sang 'It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right.' I took a country song and turned it into a soul song."

Q: Next week is another mentor week - with Mariah Carey. Had you already picked a song?
A: "Yes, I was going to sing her first hit, 'Vision of Love' (1990). The song spoke to me, and I wanted to put a nice bluesy feel to it. But, that's not going to happen. Maybe on the tour."

Q: How do you feel about the judges' remarks during the competition, and what did they say to you last night after you performed?
A: "Sometimes Simon (Cowell) is off the mark. But I respect him. They wanted me to sing soul/blues stuff every week. But I'm both a rock and a soul singer, and I stayed true to that. Paula (Abdul) has been spot on. I think it's been a weird judging year. She whispered she would bet her house she would be at one of my concerts. Randy, too. I ended the night in a good place."

Q: Host Ryan Seacrest gave you sort of a cruel twist last night, saying no one got kicked off after "Idol Gives Back" last year. Did you think you might be safe?
A: "I get the television aspect of this competition. Yeah, I thought, 'Wait a second, I’m not going home.' I've never been in the bottom three. But then Ryan gave me a look, and I knew."

Q: Who have you heard from since last night?
A: "It's been amazing. I got to speak to Dolly (Parton) this morning. She’s a fan of mine now! She loved what I did with her song. And she said she hopes to do a duet with me. I've also gotten messages from mates Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman. It's nice to hear from fellow Australians."

Q: Where did you get that Dolly shirt you wore on last week's results show?
A: "That's a funny story. I saw it backstage while we were getting ready for the show. One of the stylists said it was a vintage shirt he got just as a gag. I asked if I could wear it."

Q: There already are comparisons between you and Chris Daughtry, who many still believe was eliminated too early in Season 5. Do you think he ended up with more credibility because he didn't win?
A: I’ve heard that a bunch this morning. I've met him, and Chris is an amazing guy and musician. Winning or not winning depends on the artist, and it depends on what album you make afterward. The 'Idol' finalists have stayed true to themselves."

Q: What will you miss most about being on "Idol?"
A: "Not getting enough sleep! You know, the crying (from the other contestants) wasn't a put-on. You get to know them - their lives, their families. They're really talented people. I think we've all struck a nerve this season. It proves you can't let your favorite go."

Q: Are you excited about the upcoming tour?
A: "Certainly. Most artists don’t get this kind of audience of thousands at this stage of their careers. It’s an honor. I can’t wait to get out there and rock."

Q: How do Australians drown their sorrows?
A: Pick your poison, mates! Australia is a beer-drinking country, so I guess I'll have a few beers."

April 10, 2008
Idol Chatter: An 'Idol' shocker

OK, so check it out. Last week was no surprise when Ramiele Malubay was eliminated on "American Idol." This week, after a one-day break for the second annual "Idol Gives Back" charity show, I'm telling you jaws dropped nationwide on tonight's live results show.

The No. 7 contestant to leave? Aussie Michael Johns.

OK, you can pick up your jaws now.

Michael was in the bottom three for the first time since making the Top 12. With him? Syesha Mercado and Carly Smithson, who (in my opinion) deserved to be there.

The three judges were taken aback, the audience was taken aback, Michael's family was taken aback.

Said Michael: "I'm definitely surprised. But if there's a song to go out on, it's not a bad one."

Props to him for singing his parting shot, "Dream On," with pretty much everything he had.

The results show had to do a little damage control from Wednesday's huge charity extravaganza. What happened was there were a lot more folks who wanted to participate on camera than there was room when the film was edited.
So tonight's viewers got a hefty dose of "Give Back" wannabes: Dr. Phil, Ricki Lake, those two kids Zack and Cody and - most of all - the three presidential candidates, who got air time to ask for your donations to www.americanidol.com.

Sen. Hillary Clinton played it straight, as did Sen. Barack Obama. However, thumbs up to Sen. John McCain for warning judge Simon Cowell (a Brit) that, if he is elected, immigration will be a hot topic.

No doubt, contestants Kristy Lee Cook and Jason Castro were happy to be safe. Both have been in the bottom three (her, every week). And no surprises with David Archuleta moving on. Brooke White and David Cook certainly were borderline after Tuesday night's show, so being safe was a gift of sorts.

The show also featured a somewhat awkward performance by last season's "Idol" winner, Jordin Sparks, and Chris Brown. Loved the song, "No Air," but too touchy-feely for my taste.

Michael's ouster really shakes up the competition. Obviously fan lines have been drawn - deeply.

Check back at 21Q on Friday for an interview with Michael on his experiences and his exit.

In the meantime, dream on.

April 10, 2008
Idol Chatter: Numbers up - and down

Funny thing about numbers. Sometimes they just don't make sense.

Tuesday night's "Idol Gives Back" marathon on Fox whacked the other network competition, but its audience was still measureably smaller than it was in 2007. That, according to early figures from Nielsen Media Research.

The two-and-a-half-hour show averaged about 17.5 million viewers (compared to 10.4 million for CBS), but that's quite a dip from last season's 26.9 million folks who were watching.

On the bonus side, the celeb-filled show already has blown by last year's in terms of money raised. The Associated Press reports that "Idol Gives Back" already tops $225 million (vs. $76 million in 2007). Keep in mind, a huge chunk of that change comes from a $200-million contribution from Britain for mosquito nets for malaria victims in Africa.

Donations can be still made on the show's Web site. Just click here.

Tonight (at 8 on Channel 40), one more contestant goes home. Dialidol.com has five contestants (Brooke White, Michael Johns, David Cook, Syesha Mercado and Carly Smithson) in the "cautionary" category. I'm going with the gal from Ireland.

Check back and see if I'm right.

April 10, 2008
'One Destiny' plays at the White House

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Hector Amezcua/Sacramento Bee file

Sacramento-based playwright Richard Hellesen,whose work has been seen around the country, can add a uniquely prestigious venue to his resume - the White House. That’s right - the one in Washington, D.C., where our president and his wife live.

On Monday, Hellesen’s play “One Destiny,” gave a special performance for First Lady Laura Bush, Salma Kikwete, the first lady of Tanzania, and students from several different Washington-area schools. (Check out the "official" press release.)

The play takes place in 1865, a couple days after President Lincoln was assassinated, and depicts the traumatic event from the points of view of two people who were there - Harry Hawk, the actor on stage when the president was shot, and Henry Ford, one of the theater's owners.

The 45-minute, one-act play was commissioned by Ford’s Theatre and Hellesen researched the historically accurate piece there before writing his play.

Hellesen has written numerous works for young people, including “The Wind in the Willows,” which is currently playing at the Young People's Theatre of Folsom through April 20; and “Johnny Tremain” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” both of which have been produced at the B Street Theatre’s Family Series. Hellesen’s most popular work may be his enduring adaptation of “A Christmas Carol,” with music and songs by David de Berry, which still lights up stages around the country during the holiday season.

Now Hellesen has had a command performance, so to speak.

April 10, 2008
Andy Warhol: Exposed at UC Davis

Talk about Al Capone's vault - or Pandora's Box. Where's Geraldo Rivera when we need him?

Here's the thing: The Nelson Gallery on the UC campus is in possession of a sealed box valued at $188,000, from the auspicious Andy Warhol Foundation in New York.

The PR folks at UC Davis say the box contains 100 Polaroids and 50 black-and-white 8-by-10s, all taken by Warhol.

But - of who or what?

Speculation is running rampant. Are they photos of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Jackie O, Andy himself? Or might the box contain pics of Campbell's soup cans?

The box arrived Tuesday and has, according to the gallery, been sitting around to "acclimate" to our atmosphere and that of its new surroundings before its grand re-opening.

But, don't get too excited just yet. The folks at the Nelson Gallery are keeping the unveiling under wraps. (Wouldn't want to be disappointed like Geraldo on national TV and all.)

That said, they're unsealing and taking inventory of the contents Friday morning. But only media types are invited to watch the process, which will be conducted by Renny Pritkin, gallery director.

Once the contents have been scrutinized and scanned, the pics will be stored until an exhibit can be arranged at the Nelson.

April 10, 2008
Idol Chatter: Are you kidding me?

OK, so check it out. I'm still picking my jaw - and my starstruck eyes - off the ground after Aussie Michael Johns was eliminated tonight on "American Idol."

I have a vague memory of what happened the first 57 minutes of the show because, while I had a feeling maybe Michael or David Cook would get a bottom three scare (like Brooke White last week), my sights were set on either Carly Smithson or Syesha Mercado, who joined Michael on the "silver thrones."

Said Michael: "I'm definitely surprised. If there's a song to go out on, that's not a bad one."

No shock: David Archuleta is safe. And a last-week ukelele purchase protected Jason Castro. For the first time in as many weeks, country crooner Kristy Lee Cook got sent to the safety of the sofas. However, I don't think she actually sat.

As for the rest of the show, host Ryan Seacrest navigated the audience - and us - through a montage of "Idol Gives Back" leftovers. Let's face it: There were waaaay more celebs who did participate than made it on Wednesday night's broadcast.

So, folks like Dr. Phil, Ricki Lake and (sorry I don't watch the Disney Channel) Zack and Cody were relegated to tonight's recap, which started with Ryan announcing that $60 million had been raised. (That doesn't take into account Great Britain's beaucoup $200 million for mosquito nets to combat malaria in Africa.)

Folks can still contribute, of course.

Icky moment of the night? Sorry, but I was sort of creeped out by Season 6 "Idol" winner Jordin Sparks caressing and carrying on with "No Air" and Chris Brown..

I'm too old, right?

Props to the three presidential candidates - Sens. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain - for making it on air tonight to ask for donations. McCain even warned judge (and Brit) Simon Cowell that if he won the election, immigration reform would be at the top of the list.

(I happen to know all three judges are signed through two more seasons.)

I'm very eager to hear what Michael has to say about his departure, so check back to 21Q on Friday for an interview.

In the meantime, "Dream On."

April 9, 2008
Idol Chatter: Giving back - again

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Fox

There must have been some serious anxiety for "American Idol" producer Nigel Lythgoe: How do you condense "Idol Gives Back" into a measly two and a half hours?

Well, he did it. Period.

Wednesday night's second annual charity drive was just as emotional, just as gut-wrenching, just as uplifting as last year's. And just as star-studded. But of course.

And guess what? Whatever bad stuff going on in most of our lives pales in comparison to what's still going on in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and in Africa with epidemics of AIDs and malaria. And then, there's the ridiculousness of poverty in our own rural backyards, plus the lack of health care on the streets of New York.

These were the areas most touched upon in the show, which certainly hopes to surpass last season's fundraising efforts of $75 million.

This season's "Idol Gives Back" drew some amazing talent, from comedians Billy Crystal and Robin Williams to amazing musical performances by Fergie and Heart sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson (my husband knows Nancy - hah!), Carrie Underwood, Snoop Dogg, Miley Cyrus and Gloria Estefan with Sheila E.

The three "Idol" judges - Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell - did their own profiles on after-school programs for disadvantaged kids outside L.A. and families with no health insurance in New York. (Just when you thought Simon might be cold as a cucumber, think again.)

But, certainly, the videos of celebs visiting children suffering from HIV and malaria in Africa and poverty in the U.S. are what this show is all about. Props to Annie Lenox, who was on last season's show and who this year visited Tanzania and a family of four brothers - orphans - about to be tested for HIV.

And to the amazing Alicia Keys for journeying to Africa to raise awareness about the need for medical supplies; to Miley and her dad, Billy Ray, for helping get books to kids in rural Clay County, Ky., (where Billy Ray grew up), and to actor Forest Whittaker and his wife, in Africa urging the need for mosquito nets.

FYI: Britain's prime minister, Gordon Brown, pledged 20 million nets in the malaria effort.

There was Bono, Ben Stiller, Ellen DeGeneres, the NBA's Kobe Bryant, Celine Dion, Jimmy Kimmel, NASCAR's Jimmy Johnson, David and Victoria Beckham, the NFL's Eli and Peyton Manning, Whoopi Goldberg and - get your hands up for...the first lady of California, Maria Shriver, who said, "We are the ones we've been waiting for," in her effort to drum up support for volunteers working with charitable organizations.

Then add an amazing clip of Daughtry (i.e., Season 5's Chris and his band), visiting and performing in Africa.

The final eight "Idol" contestants (pictured) sang and manned the phones, taking donations throughout the show.

The show ran over, but it was worth it. Mariah Carey closed with "Fly Like a Bird," with Randy J. on guitar. Guess we finally figured out why the contestants aren't supposed to sing Mariah songs.

Some of the charities that will benefit? The Children's Defense Fund, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Make It Right (the campaign launched by actor Brad Pitt to help New Orleans rebuild homes and recover from Katrina), Malaria No More, Save the Children, and the Children's Health Fund.

Oh, and for the actual "Idol" competition? I'll be back Thursday with possible fund-raising figures and, of course, a quick look ahead to Thursday night's live results show (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40).

One last thing: Even after tonight, you can still donate at www.americanidol.com and download performances at iTunes.


April 9, 2008
They're still into bags

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Sacramento Bee file photo/January 2003

I think it's really cool when teens start a community project when they're teens -and then see it through when they're no longer teens!

That's the story behind the WIND (Works in New Directions) project started in 2000 by Libby Abbott and Lucy Plum-Reyes (pictured in 2003), then a junior and sophomore, respectively, at Mira Loma High School.

Their idea back then was to create handbags out of vintage fabric and add a dash of community activitism. Now, eight years later, the two designers will be hosting the seventh annual LiLu Benefit Fashion Show. It'll take place this Saturday and will benefit the WIND Youth Center, a drop-in shelter for homeless teens.

The fashion show has blossomed over the years to include student efforts from both Mira Loma and McClatchy high schools. And at this weekend's show, teen designers from both schools and from WIND will model their handbags on the runway. The event also will include an auction, music and refreshments.

The show is from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday at 701 Dixieanne Ave. in Sacramento. Tickets are $5 for students, $10 for adults, and can be purchased at the door or from LiLu students or board members.

For more info, click here.

April 9, 2008
Idol Chatter: Dig deep tonight

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Fox

I know it's a two-and-a-half-hour show (much shorter with a DVR), but tonight's "Idol Gives Back" (at 7:30 p.m. on Channel 40) is probably going to have its share of interesting performances - from musicians to comedians, maybe even the prez.

And, it's a one-night break for the remaining eight contestants, who can draw a breath without worrying about someone telling them they were just "OK."

That said, Tuesday night's competition of inspirational songs was, well, just OK for me. I don't know if I wanted all the choices to leave me with a tear in my eye or feeling uplifted and ready to save the world.

It was a mixed bag.

My faves? Actually, I liked Michael Johns' Aerosmith take on "Dream On," even though the three "Idol" judges and host Ryan Seacrest had just appeared on "Larry King Live" and said they wanted him to stay away from rocker songs and focus more on blues and R&B.

Syesha Mercado once again tackled a song that was beyond her comfort zone: Season 3 winner Fantasia's "I Believe." I agree with the judges (on "Larry King") that she's likely headed to the theater, not a recording studio.

I was, however, waiting for a house in Kansas to fall on Jason Castro (pictured) after he sang the Israel Kamakawiwo'ole version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," complete with ukelele. But Randy Jackson emoted: "It was blazing, molten hot!" Who knew?

Kristy Lee Cook might, might finally elude the bottom three with her rendition of "Anyway" by Martina McBride. I went to iTunes after the show and listened to Our Lady Peace's version of "Innocent," which David Cook tackled. Liked the Toronto-based band's take better.

And I agreed totally with Simon Cowell that Carly Smithson was taking out some serious aggressions with "Show Must Go On" by Queen and that she could be in trouble Thursday night. (The hourlong live results show is at 8 p.m. Thursday.)

David Archuleta could do not wrong with "Angels" (on keyboard), from UK artist Robbie Williams. And Brooke White? What can I say? Her confidence has been totally shaken after landing in the bottom three last week. So much so that her "You've Got a Friend" (the Carol King version) sounded much like my scratched-up original of King's "Tapestry" LP.

Predictions? Syesha and Carly definitely in the bottom three. And, just for a shake-up, either David C. or Michael, to rattle their vocal cages.

April 8, 2008
Idol Chatter: What's your inspiration?

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Fox

The Final 8 contestants (pictured) on "American Idol" get to reach down - into their hearts, that is - to find an inspirational song for tonight's show (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40).

A perfect song choice, and you'll win over the judges and the viewers, who might dig even deeper - into their pockets, that is - because this is, after all, "Idol Gives Back" week.

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Wednesday night's extravaganza/charity show is two and a half hours. Now, don't get upset, but it was held on Sunday in L.A. so the producers would have a couple days to edit. But trust me, it'll probably be worth it. I saw pics of Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, the Wilson sisters (Ann and Nancy) performing with Fergie (pictured), Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, et al.

And, of course, it's all for a good cause. Last year's inaugural "Idol Gives Back" raised more than $75 million for children living in poverty in the U.S. and battling disease and famine in Africa.

One of the charitable organizations that benefited in 2007 was Save the Children, which received a whopping $14.5 million, which went to its charities both here and in Africa.

I caught up with managing director Mark Shriver just before the show was taped, and he reports - happily - that Save the Children is once again earmarked to receive funds from this season's efforts.

"We stayed in touch with the show's producers and with the foundation that distributed the money," he says. "They were kept abreast with the number of kids we served (more than 24,000), and we were chosen again, which is a great honor."

Shriver adds the money certainly "raised the visibility of povery in this country."

"With this year's allocation, we'll continue to spend money to serve more kids living in poverty in rural America, of which there are about 2.6 million."

A quick "Idol" update: None of the contestants will get the boot on Wednesday night's show but, instead of waiting until next week and eliminating two singers, there will be a live results show on Thursday (at 8 p.m.).

April 8, 2008
Breaking! Fox40 (KTXL) DOES have a morning news show

As several alert readers pointed out to me - Fox40 (KTXL) does have a morning news show, every weekday from 6-8 a.m.

Um, can you tell I'm not a morning person?

Anyway, in all seriousness, my bad. Mea culpa. Big apologies.

Of course, this doesn't change the fact that the station's new general manager Bob Ramsey will still be beefing up the news coverage - so stay tuned on that front.

April 8, 2008
John Mayer at Sleep Train Amphitheatre on July 25

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Well, I kinda sorta did a pinky swear, promising not to announce this one until Wednesday, but seeing as how a national music mag just leaked the news, I feel as though I better pipe up now or risk being late to the party. So, drum roll please:

Pop-blues rocker John Mayer will bring his summer tour to town, July 25 at Sleep Train Amphitheatre; L.A.-based singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat opens the show..

Now, here's the thing about Mayer - I'm not the biggest fan of his music but, frankly, it's impossible to not like the guy. He's funny, charming (and I know this firsthand because I interviewed him once) and wicked smart. An all-around good guy - heck, he even managed to date Jessica Simpson and keep his dignity somewhat intact.

Anyway - tickets go on sale Saturday, April 19, through TicketMaster.com.


April 7, 2008
Charlton Heston: A unique talent

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Charlton Heston,who died Saturday at age 83, was the kind of actor they don't make anymore - and a perfect fit for the kind of movie they don't make anymore.

Heston exuded such tremendous moral authority in "Ben-Hur" and "The Ten Commandments" that he could withstand the more over-the-top moments of those epics.

That's because his performances were just under the top. Heston blazed with so much intensity that even his laughter could seem violent.

His style represented the antithesis of Paul Newman and Marlon Brando, Heston's almost exact contemporaries. While these Method-trained actors reached stardom in the 1950s with performances mining the psychological complexity of the individual troubled soul, the quintessential Heston character had larger goals, like parting the Red Sea.

But even though Heston's most famous roles were larger than life, he was capable of subtlety. It was just a different type of subtlety, one based more in physicality than emotion.

Think about the scene in "Ben-Hur" when his wronged Jewish prince, chained in the galley of a Roman ship, is forced, along with other prisoners, to change his rowing speed to meet the demands of their sadistic captors.

As other men collapse, Judah shows strain but never exhaustion, and Heston, while exhibiting palpable physical strength, shows defiance and determination. His look tells us his character is doing what he must do now while looking to a future when he can avenge what's been done to him and his family.

Heston famously learned to drive a chariot for one of the most spectacular scenes in movie history. But for my money, he impressed just as much in the rowing scene.

April 7, 2008
Friday night Bruce

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Bryan Patrick/Sacramento Bee

While my colleague Chris Macias very effectively summed up Friday night’s jumping Bruce Springsteen show at Arco, I’d like to add a couple of observations.

The band opened in a smoking groove with “Spirit in the Night,” and it was obvious that Bruce was feeling good and feeling it from the crowd, as well. He kept up the pace throughout, and the songs from his latest record, “Magic,” sounded terrific live. Of the older material, it was especially cool to hear “Because the Night,” along with the three tunes from “Darkness at the Edge of Town”: “Candy’s Room,” “The Promised Land” and the set-closing “Badlands.”

Lots of Little Steven, which was welcome - featured as he was on “Badlands,” “Ramrod” and “Murder Incorporated.” The three guitars, including Nils Lofgren, were nicely integrated, with all of them getting appropriate solo space. Clarence Clemons didn’t seem to be moving well, but his sound was as definitive as ever.

It was great to see Springsteen winging it through the set, changing out previously selected songs for others he felt fit the loose, energetic mood of the night.

We also got a great encore set with one more song than he usually plays - “Rosalita”!

April 7, 2008
Bob Ramsey says new Fox40 gig is a "work in progress"

Day three of his new media life and Bob Ramsey tells us he's still adjusting to his role as Fox40 (KTXL)'s newest general manager/vice president.

"I'm not really settled in yet - it's a work in progress," Ramsey says. "But so far, so good."

Among his top tasks: "Capitalizing on (the Fox network's) success...and expanding the role of news."

So - should viewers expect more local news programming sometime in the near future? Like, say, a morning or afternoon news show? (Currently, KTXL only broadcasts a 10 p.m. local news broadcast).

"I'd say that's a pretty good assumption," Ramsey says. "We're going to look at the news from all angles."

Ramsey's previous job was as general manager/vice president of San Diego's KSWB - a CW affiliate that, later this year, will officially switch its loyalties to Fox.

Same gig - but then again, not, he says.

"(KTXL) is a much more mature station - it's been with Fox since Day 1 and it's also a much larger market, covering several counties," he says. "The sheer geography and size of Sacramento makes the job very different."

April 7, 2008
Fashion for a good cause

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Photograph courtesy Dee Aguilar

If you don't know about all the good work Francis House does in the community, there's a fashion show this weekend that will enlighten.

It's called the Shear Glory Suede Salon Red Carpet Event, and it's scheduled for 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday at the salon's Folsom location, 850 East Bidwell St., Suite 140.

Shear Glory will feature local designer Dee Aguilar, whose spring/summer collection, Antique Goddess, was the talk of the town at the recent "Imagine" fashion show at the Crest Theatre.

The event also will include fashions from the salon, raffles and catering by Mikuni.

Tickets are $30 at the salon or call (916) 487-2566 or (916) 817-4481.

Francis House is a nonprofit organization that reaches the needs of those who are homeless or, frankly, just down on their luck in our community. Counseling is provided, and Francis House gets support from 17 area churches. Sometimes, just a warm cup of coffee and a shoulder are the best remedies.

In addition to the fashion show this weekend, mark your calendars because Francis House will host its 17th annual Feast for the Streets on April 30 at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center, 6151 H St. Like great food and great wine? Then fork over $50 for a fun evening. Emcee will be Jennifer Smith from Channel 10. Last year's event raised more than $88,000.

For more info about Francis House click here or call (916) 443-2646.

April 7, 2008
Bob Ramsey named as new general manager of Fox40 (KTXL)

Just a week after Audrey Farrington resigned from her post as vice president/general manager of Fox40 (KTXL), the station's parent company, Tribune Broadcasting, named Robert "Bob" Ramsey as the station's new head.

It's a lateral move for Ramsey, who previously served as the veep and GM at San Diego's KSWB station.

Actually, it's a teensy bit of a move up as the Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto market is ranked 20th in the nation, according to Nielsen Media Research. San Diego is ranked 27th.

A Tribune Broadcasting press release trumpeted the change as an opportunity to "expand local news programming...into other parts of the day."

Fox40 news director Tom Burke says Ramsey comes into his new job "with real strong news background" that will help the station meet new demands.

"The times we live in - with the convergence of the Internet and broadcasting (means) there is a greater sense of immediacy - in not waiting and getting it done now," Burke says. "This (management change) goes along with the times."

So how will such change translate for viewers?

"That remains to be seen," Burke says.

Literally and figuratively, we presume. Big changes have been afoot at other Tribune-owned stations. Ramsey's former stomping grounds, for example, just switched allegiances; in the fall, KSWB, now a CW station, will become a Fox affiliate with management promising a pronounced emphasis on local news programming.

Ramsey was not available for comment. Stay tuned.

April 4, 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
Though the computer animation never reaches the visual majesty of say, a Pixar Animation film, the 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

Stop-Loss
3 stars
Inspired to make this film partly because of her brother's experiences in Iraq, director Kimberly Peirce shows a sure hand with battle scenes. A graphically violent sequence set in Tikrit (and filmed in Morocco) demonstrates the strangely intimate horror of fighting insurgents inside their homes.
Rated R

Under the Same Moon
3 stars
Once young Carlitos (Adrián Alonso) crosses the border, the story becomes fablelike. He encounters dangerous characters as well as a fellow illegal immigrant and reluctant guardian angel (Eugenio Derbez). The camera loves Derbez's face, which is handsome and hangdog at once, and he and Alonso share touching moments.
Rated PG-13

April 4, 2008
Home for Cinderella's Closet

For anyone wondering about the whereabouts of Cinderella's Closet, I've got an update.

The business, which launched several years ago to help teens find prom attire, was in downtown Sacramento. However, the "closet" couldn't maintain the space and closed. To the rescue? Second Hand Rose thrift shop at 1120 Fulton Ave. The store had additional space that was offered up to Cinderella's Closet.

According to Carol Loew, a volunteer store director for Second Hand Rose, the new "formal" area of the store is now called the Glass Slipper Room. And, in keeping with the original philosophy, any young woman can still purchase a gently used or new gown at a great price.

In fact, Second Hand Rose will host a Drive Thru Dress Drive from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday in the parking lot at the Fulton Avenue location. You can drive through and donate gowns, cocktail dresses, jewelry, evening shoes and handbags.

Cinderella's Closet still provides gift certificates to financially and academically qualified high school girls so they can select an outfit at no cost. If you want more info about the program, click here or call Carol at (916) 487-4500.

We're right in the middle of prom season, so clean your closets and donate to Cinderella!


April 3, 2008
All the region's a stage

In the ebb and flow of the theater season, there comes a time when there are more interesting shows than time to see them. Not only is now one of those times, but some theaters are breaking out of what they usually do with unpredictable choices.
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At the Chautauqua Playhouse in Carmichael, director Ed Trafton is staging Gore Vidal’s political morality play “The Best Man” (pictured). Though written 40 years ago, mudslinging never really goes out of style, and this play about who will sink the lowest to discredit an adversary still has bite. Seems like this show could be revived every four years - if not sooner! It plays weekends through April 27. Call (916) 489-7529 or go to cplayhouse.com for information.

Another play about the pursuit of power - and the ego and deceit of those trying to maintain their grip on it - is James Goldman’s “The Lion in Winter” (pictured below). This classic drama directed by Rosemarie Gerould is a departure for Magic Circle Rep, which usually features musicals at its two stages in Roseville. It plays weekends through April 26. Call (916) 782-1777 or go to mcircle.org for information.

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Yet another departure is “Laughter on the 23rd Floor” by Neil Simon at Davis Musical Theatre Company. You’ll notice the comedy about 1950's television writers is not a musical. This is the last weekend for director Mike McElroy’s production at Hoblit Performing Arts Center. Call (530) 756-3682 or go to dmtc.org.


April 3, 2008
Idol Chatter: Big plans for little Ramiele

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Fox

I was a little nervous going into this week's "American Idol" conference call. Ousted contestant Ramiele Malubay (shown with Brooke White and Kristy Lee Cook) has one big voice when she sings, but afterward, she's usually reduced to a whisper!

So I was worried I wouldn't be able to hear her answers!

Not so. Ramiele was very poised and together after a long, emotional night and plenty of interviews already under her tiny belt this morning.

Here's some of what she had to say about her "Idol" experience - and what's to come.

Q: You've always been so cheerful! What were you feeling last night and did you feel like you hadn't reached your goal on the show?
A: I kind of felt like I was going. I’m not negative - it's OK. There’s only one winner. My goal was to get by week to week. I didnt want to think about what place I would finish because then your experience could be totally erased. I made the tour and I'm am excited about that.

Q: How much has "Idol" dominated your life? How important was your family during this experience?
A: It's pretty much taken over my life. But that's good. The show is the first real big thing that’s happened to me. It provides both exposure and a future. And I'm grateful to the judges for getting me this far. My family is very important. My dad would fly here every week. He spent sooo much money! But they're very proud of me.

Q: Season 3 finalist Jasmine Trias was from Hawaii, and "Idol" proved a big deal for her. Can you take anything from her experience? And was there added pressure to become the first Asian American "Idol?"
A: I moved (to the United States) from the Philippines when I was 5. I'd like to see what I can do over there. Jasmine meant a lot to me, especially for being a different type of contestant. Yes, there was a little bit (of pressure), just to see how the fan base would grow. And it's been very flattering. I hope nobody is disappointed!

Q: How tall are you? And were you considered the "Idol" little sister?
A: "I'm 4’11. I'm actually older than David Archuleta, but he was always patting me on the head. I hate wearing heels! Last night, I wore flats so the world would see how tall I am.

Q: Any predictions as to who will win?
A: We all went into this being totally different from each other. I don’t really know who will take it. Other years you could kind of tell. But this season, everyone sings so differently, but on the same level of greatness."

Q: What happened after last night's show, and who will you miss most?
A: We get together and talk after someone leaves. But last night, the others had rehearsals for "Idol Gives Back." I was roommates with Kristy Lee and Brooke. We were like sisters. When I got back to our room to pack, they had left me a really cute card.

Q: What did you learn from your experiences on the show? Any advice for future contestants?
A: I learned to be more of a humble person and to appreciate smaller things. I want to acknowledge the other people on the show. I learned so much from the band and from the vocal coaches and from this week’s mentor (Dolly Parton). I went into this really clueless. But you see how fame gets to certain people, not necessarily these contestants. I pride myself on walking in and out the same way. As for future contestants, just be yourself and enjoy every single moment or you’ll miss something.

Q: Did your confidence drop as the show went on? And talk about the level of stress. Were you concerned about David Cook's health incident?
A: Yes, it definitely dropped. I kept asking myself, "What are the judges talking about? What am I doing? What do they want from me?" I was psyching myself out. David had high blood pressure. But he’s fine. Everybody goes about things differently. We break down. My breakdown was crying every week when someone left. That’s how I dealt with stress.

Q: Talk about your plans. What type of album would you like to do?
A: I'm going to stay here in L.A. and pursue music. I'm hoping (Top 24's) Danny (Noriega) and I will become roommates. We got so close on the show. You can't share that experience with just anybody. We take care of each other. I'm not sure of definite plans because of the tour.

As for an album, I grew up listening to what my parents listend to. A lot of '80s music. I would love to do R&B and add my flavor to some old songs. Me and Danny will do a duet - not matter what!


April 3, 2008
Jordin Sparks to open for Alicia Keys at Arco

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That Alicia Keys show I told you about earlier this week now has an opening act: "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks will open the May 11 concert at Arco Arena.

Now, just between you and me - Sparks (pictured in a photo courtesy of MTV) is cute, charismatic and definitely gifted - but does she really have the emotional depth to match Keys' extraordinary talent and range?

I guess that's why Sparks is the opening act - she's still honing her stage chops so why not learn at the microphone stand of one of mainstream pop's best?

Well played Sparks, well played.

Anyhoo, tickets ($37.75-$123.25) go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday via TicketMaster.com.

April 2, 2008
Idol Chatter: So long, Ramiele

There really can't be an "American Idol" fan out there who was shocked - shocked I tell you - that Ramiele Malubay, 20, was ousted at No. 9 on tonight's live results show.

The good news is that rocker David Cook, who was rushed to an L.A. hospital after Tuesday night's performance with heart palpitations, is OK.

"My high blood pressure just spiked. It's no big deal. I'm not going anywhere," he told host Ryan Seacrest. Dude, I know where you're coming from!

What did throw me for an "Idol" loop was country crooner Kristy Lee Cook being in the bottom three - again! Sorry dreadlocks fans, I had Jason Castro in that group, along with "Miss Popularity" Brooke White. Not because I don't think Brooke's a good singer. She's just too much of a goody two-shoes.

Even tonight, Brooke was pleading with judge Simon Cowell to apologize to the violin player who accompanied her on Tuesday night's Dolly Parton song fest. (She sang "Jolene.")

I just don't have that many good bones in my body.

Anyway, it was indeed Ramiele's turn to go, and she knew it - quivering and shaking until she got to sing at the end and, as most contestants do, she stepped up to the plate and performed admirably. As Ryan always says, "You've got a lot to be proud of."

However, I kept watching the clock during the show. The hourlong results was as jam-packed as my clothes closet:

There was the group sing-along to Dolly's "9 to 5," which last week's ousted Chikezie was going to perform; more stupid questions from viewers, though I liked the woman who asked Simon why he felt the need to apologize for being critical; an ear-splitting performance by country/rock group the Clark Brothers. (They looked like they were going to be eliminated.); a Ford music video featuring the Final 9 on a basketball court, performing to the strains of "It's Tricky"; a trip down memory lane to Nashville where we got updates on past "Idols" Bucky Covington, Phil Stacey and Bo Bice, and, of course, the judges weighing in on this week's performances. They were pretty much in agreement that it was Ramiele's turn to go.

Guest judge Dolly wowed -in a big way - with "Jesus & Gravity" off her new CD, complete with an "angelic" white costume and full gospel choir. She even quipped to Ryan: "I've got Jesus, you've got Simon. But you couldn't do it without him."

Amen.

To her credit, Kristy Lee came to the results prepared to be in the bottom three again. She walked out on stage with a silver throne "seat card."

But, she's safe for next week's "Idol Gives Back" show, which was promoted in a very moving video about two sisters in Africa who were separated in their Ethiopian city but were united because of funds raised from last year's show.

Maybe, if the producers take heart, Kristy Lee will be sitting pretty on that big sofa after next week's charity drive. The contestants likely will perform inspirational songs next Tuesday and all be safe next Wednesday. (Two will get the boot on April 16.)

If you think this contest isn't heating up for a dandy stretch run, you've been listening to too much of the "Clark Brothers."

And all that hugging and tears? It won't last!

April 2, 2008
Sacrag: We're sorry (kind of)

In the wake of the now-infamous John McCrea is(n't) dead April Fool's Joke of 2008, not only have the folks over at Sacrag.com deleted all April Fool's Day-related posts, they've issued an apology.

Sort of.

The typist behind the Internet tempest, Dan "Stickie" Scott, sent an e-mail to The Bee that read, in part:


On April 1, in honor of the great American tradition of April Fools Day, I posted the fictional saga of the death of John McCrae (sic) on the SacRag. Some of you were not amused. Some of you were. Regardless, we at the Rag are questioning the boundary of good taste and the possibility that the joke may have crossed it.

This especially becomes a consideration for family, friends or acquaintances of the subject of the joke. It is one thing to chuckle, roll your eyes, or be offended at a story about a random dead person. It is a different matter altogether when that person is a real flesh and blood human for whom you care. This is how we truly misstepped and crossed that line that we should not have crossed ....

(T)o those who were truly hurt, shocked or discomforted by my idea of humor, we at the SacRag offer an apology and ask that you don't hold it against us. Everyone else, remember that most things in life should be approached with a wink and a smile and you'll probably enjoy the ride a little more.

By the way, for the record, Sacrag did not delete the posts (there were several "updates") in question (or their other> April Fool's Day joke regarding Sacto media, uh, icon Mark S. Allen) because they were tasteless but, instead, because they were passe. At least that's what Scott tells me.

"Like many other websites, all of the April Fools Day posts came down because it is no longer April Fools Day," Scott writes in an e-mail.

But, he adds, although the stories are no longer on the site's main page, links to the archived posts will be posted shortly.


April 2, 2008
A class event

cheerleaders

The Trash Film Orgy Spring Break, an event whose title flirts with redundancy, will offer the 1976 film "Revenge of the Cheerleaders" as well as the TFO-made short film "Cheerleaders from Hell" on Saturday at the Crest Theatre.

"Revenge of the Cheerleaders" features the first big-screen appearance of David Hasselhoff. That's right: The Hoff was big in high school exploitation films even before he was big in Germany.

Doors open at 11 p.m. for the 18-and-over event. For more information, go here.

April 2, 2008
More fashion shows for Sactown

And the fashion shows just keep coming. And coming. I love it! (Keeps me busy.)

Anyway, mark your calendars, highlight your Outlook, remind your BlackBerry - whatever - for 2008's Sacramento Fashion Week, which debuts April 18. Shows will be held that day, and each day of that week, at various locations, including the Parlare Euro Lounge (1009 10th St.) and DV8 Boutique (1050 20th St.).

The fall fashion showcase event will be April 25 at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria.

The event's being presented by Magnum Opus Enterprises. Its president, Grace Ballesteros, e-mails that "the growth of the fashion industry in the Sacramento region, the Central Valley and the Bay Area is the major focus of our mission."

So, which local designer types can you expect to show at the shows? Well, I know several of them firsthand. Good stuff - always.

The Tsakopoulos Galleria finale will be a red carpet show featuring eight designers: Miosa Couture (Michael and Sanea Sommerfield), Dee Aguilar (who just did the local "Imagine" show - for more on "Imagine" and a link to a slide show, go here), Mercedes Benz (Benzo Couture), Casey Sue Douglass (Casey Sue), Michael Afshar (Elephant Couture), Tamika Chontel Pascual (Exquisitely Eclectic) and Preston Doh (Lucio Montana).

Ballesteros goes on to say that "our current focus is producing professional, top-notch, and high-quality fashion shows that would expose the Northern California area to a new type of culture and fashion that is still very young and untouched.

"We will accomplish this by promoting Sacramento Fashion Week at related fashion events in the region.”

For more info on the show, including how to purchase tickets, click here.

April 2, 2008
Idol Chatter: David Cook under stress

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Fox

I got several e-mail alerts, including ones from TMZ and the L.A. Times, reporting that "American Idol" contestant David Cook (pictured) apparently was rushed to a hospital immediately after Tuesday night's show.

The Times says he was "experiencing stress-related heart palpitations. He was later released with a prescription for medication to lower his blood pressure."
(I've got your back on that one, David.)

Obviously, if you watched the show, you know he was able to perform his Dolly Parton song, "Little Sparrow" - to rave reviews, no less.

Heck, the show itself is a pressure cooker. I'm surprised someone hasn't succumbed to the anxiety before now. David was released after a short stay and headed back to the hotel, where the other "Idol" contestants are staying.

"He is fine and not at the hospital," another show insider told E!

Insiders told the Times that another factor adding to David's anxiety may have been news about his brother, who is fighting cancer.

And show host Ryan Seacrest told listeners of KIIS-FM (in Los Angeles), "I don't know what he was stressed about. He said yesterday that his blood pressure was high and he wanted to get checked out after the show."

(Did viewers catch that Ryan banged his leg on one of the metal railings Tuesday night while navigating the set? Ouch!)

It will be interesting to see how everyone's doing on tonight's live results show (at 9 p.m. on Channel 40). And check back at the conclusion of the show to see what I have to say about who gets the boot.

April 2, 2008
Idol Chatter: Dolly delights

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Fox

Hey, I matched two songs with two of the Final 9 Tuesday night on "American Idol." I'm kind of proud of that accomplishment!

Dolly Parton served as this season's first mentor. A fine choice - Dolly. She was warm and admitted she hadn't been on the show before because she "couldn't criticize or judge someone else's singing."

Luckily, I have no problem with that. Nor do the judges, who offered a mixed bag of positive and negative comments. The word "performance" came up at least 100 times.

Before my wrap-up, I'm gonna throw something out there and see if anything comes of it: I predicted someone would tackle "I Will Always Love You," and I was right that it was Syesha Mercado.

Here's the deal: I thought she did a nice job with that big old song but she got more comparisons to Whitney Houston than Dolly. Well, until Whitney can finally get her act together after years and years of making a mess of her life, I don't think she deserves the pedestal treatment.

But, I digress.

"Idol" jammed nine performances into one hour, and several of the final contestants got little - if any - time with the judges. Probably not a bad thing.
Considering they had to pick from Dolly songs, I thought the Final 9 were spot on (for the most part). I'm going to lump them into groups of three - from best to perhaps tonight's bottom three. Just my opinion, of course.

Top 3:
* David Cook: He sang "Little Sparrow." Dolly gave him high marks for his voice.
Randy Jackson: "You're a rocker with unbelievable range. That was another hot, consistent performance."
Paula Abdul: (She liked David's new haircut, too, which I really didn't notice.) "I've never heard a guy sing that song before."
Simon Cowell: "If you can make a song about sparrows sound good, congratulations."
FYI: This is the second "bird" song a contestant has sung that Simon has dissed. Carly Smithson sang "Blackbird" a couple of weeks ago.

* David Archuleta: He sang "Smoky Mountain Memories." Dolly said it brought back a lot of memories for her.
Randy: "David Archuleta is back!"
Paula: "There's just a beautiful aura about you."
Simon: "I had issues with your song choice last week. This week, it was absolutely on the money."
FYI: Notice David isn't licking his lips as much?

* Michael Johns: He sang "It's All Wrong, But It's All Right." Dolly said if Michael keeps singing, she could write songs for him.
Randy: "You keep bringing it up. That was a blazing, hot performance."
Paula: "These songs have great melodies. You're a rock star and a blues star."
Simon: "It's been an interesting night. That was the best I've heard you sing throughout the competition."
FYI: An "Idol"-watching companion compared Michael to a Jim/Van Morrison combo meal.

Middle 3:
* Carly Smithson: She sang "Here You Come Again." Dolly said she picked the perfect song.
Randy: "I do believe that that will be one of the better performances of the night."
Paula: "That was glorious! You're an amazing talent."
Simon: "I thought it was good, not great. You need to have a word with whoever is dressing you. You need to start looking like a star, and I'm not seeing that progression."
FYI: The show does have stylists, and the contestants do get to go shopping. I agree with Simon that Carly's sleeveless tops and leggings are not very flattering, but the stylist can't force a look on her or on any of the others.

* Syesha Mercado: Again, she sang "I Will Always Love You." Dolly thought she made a good choice and found an emotional connection with the song.
Randy: "You took on the biggest tiger of the night. It was pretty good."
Paula: "Your voice has a velvety tone to it. That's it for you - connecting with the audience."
Simon: "Dolly is a brilliant songwriter. But I almost wished you hadn't done that song. It paled to Whitney's version. It was a good, not fantastic, version."
FYI: See what I mean?

* Kristy Lee Cook (pictured): She sang "Coat of Many Colors." (I predicted this song choice.) Dolly felt she made it her own.
Randy: "Country music is your wheelhouse. It was a very nice performance for Kristy Lee week!"
Paula: "You look stunning! It was your best performance."
Simon: "I totally disagree. Last week was your best performance. This week, it was pleasant but it was forgettable."
FYI: I personally don't care for the whole barefoot thing.

Bottom 3:
* Brooke White: She sang "Jolene." Dolly said there was an honesty about Brooke.
Randy: "This suits your voice. But there were some pitch problems, and you rushed the music."
Paula: "You're consistent and excellent. And you had a strong connection with the song."
Simon: "I totally disagree with Paula. It was lacking emotion. You were busting your way through it. And it was an odd group up there. The weird violin player. It was not one of your better performances."
FYI: I'm sure Brooke will be safe, so don't panic. I put her below Kristy Lee because I wasn't a big fan of the song choice. But a word of caution: Brooke needs to take her dose of judges' medicine and not talk back.

* Jason Castro: He sang "Travelin' Thru.'' Dolly thought it was a nice, sweet piece for him. (I hadn't heard this song before.)
Randy: "It started out rough. But in the middle, you worked it out."
Paula: "It was one of your strongest performances. Your voice was strong and rich."
Simon: "I'll lose my season pass to Dollywood. I didn't like it at all. If it was the first time I'd seen you, I wouldn't get it. The music doesn't suit you."
FYI: I don't think Dolly got Jason's dreads.

* Ramiele Malubay: She sang "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind?" Dolly said about the only thing she could say: "The fact that she's little won't stop her from doing big things." Just not Tuesday night.
Randy: "I'm not jumping up and down. You showed signs of strength. I give it a six-and-a-half out of 10."
Paula: "I was worried you wouldn't connect (with this music), but you did."
Simon: "We won't remember this in 10 years. It was cute but forgettable. More like a cruise-ship performance."
FYI: I predict "Idol" voters will give back Ramiele before next week's "Idol Gives Back" show.

OK, let's get real here. Ramiele, Jason and probably Kristy Lee aren't in the same vocal ballpark with the two Davids, Michael and Carly. Syesha and Brooke are somewhere in the middle because they kind of sound the same each week.

On tonight's live results show (at 9 p.m. on Channel 40), Dolly will perform. And get ready for the group sing-along to include some of her duets with Kenny Rogers.

April 1, 2008
Lighten up Sac - or so says Sacrag writer

Jeez people, can't you take a joke? Not only is Cake singer-songwriter John McCrea not dead, but apparently, Sacrag readers don't have a very good sense of humor.

So says Dan "Stickie" Scott, who penned the, er, offending entry.

"I thought it was pretty obvious that a (post) about the lead singer of Cake being killed by a pastry truck while eating pastries was a joke," he says when reached by phone. "But, obviously, different people have a different BS meter."

OK, but what about those people who "got" the joke, but still didn't think it was funny.

Well, y'all should step off, too.

"Is this one of society's sacred cows that I shouldn't have slaughtered?" Scott asks. "Well, I don't think I necessarily slaughtered it, but I did milk it a bit."

Besides, Scott adds, not only is he a huge Cake fan, he'd love to get the band's take.

"I'd be really amused to hear from them - to see if they thought it was funny," Scott says. "Of course, they have every right to be offended or insulted."

There's one serious point Scott does want to make about Sacrag.

"It'd be one thing if The Sacramento Bee ran this story - that would be out of line," he says. "But we're just a local blog that does a pretty good job of running useful stuff about Sacramento's lifestyle. But we're not responsible for the news."

April 1, 2008
April Fool's: John McCrea isn't dead and Sacrag isn't funny

It's April Fool's Day, which basically means that any self-respecting American will have gotten out of bed today with both eyes wide open and his-or-her irony meter set on high.

That said, even I did a double take when I read the Sacrag headline: Sad story: John McCrea R.I.P..

A traffic accident has taken the life of John McCrea, lead singer and songwriter for the band Cake. No official statement has been made by the band’s management, but sources close to the Rag report that the incident occurred last night after their sold-out show in Bordeaux, France.

Band members were noshing at a patisserie when a delivery van for the business jumped onto the sidewalk and crashed onto the patio seating. McCrea was killed instantly. Trumpeter Vince DiFiore has reportedly been hospitalized, but his condition is unknown.

It only took a few minutes and some light Google searching to realize that A) No one else was reporting this "story," and B) the Sacramento-born band isn't even on tour right now, much less hanging out in Bordeaux, France.

OK, great, it's April Fool's Day - you got me. So funny.

Actually, Sacrag readers don't seem too amused either, with comments decrying the joke as "cruel," "insensitive" and "tasteless."

One poster put it this way:

If this is an April Fool’s Joke, which it must be, because there is no other news reporting this, it’s in incredibly poor taste, and totally immature ... Your joke is totally offensive and should be removed.

While a call to Sacrag has yet to be returned, the blog has since updated its joke by trying to up the silly factor with posts such as this one: Sinister Baker Sought in Rock Star Slaying.

OK, sure, that reads more like satire, but guess what?, in light of the first post - still not too funny-ha-ha.

Now, Sacrag's gag on Mark S. Allen hosting "American Idol," also posted today? That's funny.

Or, from another corner of the Internet, how about this plea from Sacramento's Smosh duo, begging fans to help pay off a $20 million Pokemon copyright infringement suit? Hilarious.

But joking - and stupidly, might I add - about someone's death? That's just mean. And not snarky mean - because we all know how much Sacrag prides itself on the snark - but just mean mean.

April 1, 2008
'Idol' does Dolly: Hang on to your sequins!

Final9.jpg
Fox

We're down to the Final 9 contestants (pictured) on "American Idol," and we're gearing up for the first mentor of Season 7. And that's none other than country music legend Dolly Parton for tonight's competition (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40).

OK, I'm already hearing groans out there. I know - you can't imagine resident rocker David Cook putting his unique spin on "Mule Skinner Blues."

Otherwise, I'm sure Kristy Lee Cook will continue to avenge her Beatles bashing from several weeks ago. She could pretty much tackle any Dolly offering - from "Coat of Many Colors" to a rollicking rendition of "Jolene."

Hah!

What should the contestants avoid? If it were me, I would forget "I Will Always Love You" was even a Dolly song. Why? Because the queen, Whitney Houston, sang the daylights out of it on the 1992 "Bodyguard" soundtrack.

In other words: Don't go there! But, I'm sure the vocal coaches have persuaded someone - maybe Syesha Mercado - to take on the challenge.

Last week's eliminated contestant, Chikezie, had planned to sing "9 to 5," so I don't know if another singer swooped on that happy-go-lucky tune. And there's always "Islands in the Stream," but Dolly did that so well with Kenny Rogers that it might not work as well as a solo.

Meanwhile, save this date: Next Wednesday is the second annual "Idol Gives Back" charity show (from 7:30 to 10 p.m. on Channel 40). And it will be a star-studded affair. Who's showing up? I hear Bono, Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Miley Cyrus (she's everywhere), Mariah Carey (also a mentor this season), QB bros Eli and Peyton Manning, Fergie, Season 4 rocker Chris Daughtry, and winner Carrie Underwood. There's also Annie Lennox, John Legend and Snoop Dogg.

The show is a U.S./international benefit to raise money for underprivileged children in America and to battle poverty and disease in Africa. In 2007, the show raised more than $75 million.

There's a good chance we'll see a clip of Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks, who traveled to Ghana in February with President Bush and first lady Laura Bush to distribute bed nets in the fight against malaria.

Anyway, last year the show aired with six contestants instead of the eight who will perform next week. No word yet if the eight will be safe (out of the kindness of their hearts) for a week, with two to get kicked off the following week.

Stay tuned.




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