Welcome to Artcetera. Arts-and-entertainment writers and critics post movie news, concert updates, people items, video, photos and more. Share your views. Check it daily. Remain in the know. Contributors: Mary Abbe, Jon Bream, Tim Campbell, Colin Covert, Laurie Hertzel, Tom Horgen, Neal Justin, Claude Peck, Rohan Preston, Chris Riemenschneider, Graydon Royce, Randy Salas and Kristin Tillotson.
Minnesotans don't usually have a fighting chance to get cast in reality shows -- with one exception: The most popular one in the country.
It's just not this country. "Alt for Norge," Norway's top reality series, loves casting Midwesterners for its program that's a lot like "The Amazing Race," with Norwegian-Americans competing in challenges for cash prizes and a chance to meet relatives they didn't know existed.
Last season, three of the 12 contestants were from the Twin Cities and one-third of those who were callback finalists came out of the Minnesota open call.
Now comes the chance to audition for season five. There will be an open casting call at the Executive Center at Mall of America from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sautrday, Dec. 21. Anyone can aply as long as you are an American with Norwegian ancestry (even a little bit counts) You must also be over 18 and have never traveled to Norway.
You can get on the VIP list by emailing email@example.com. You can also apply online at oconnorcasting.tv/index.php/norway/.
Taylor Swift/ Star Tribune photo by Kyndell Harkness
You will hear lots of familiar names when the Grammy nominations are announced Friday night during a primetime special -- the over-titled “The Grammy Nominations Concert Live – Countdown to Music’s Biggest Night” --- starting at 9 on Ch. 4. (Performers include Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Robin Thicke, Miguel, Keith Urban, T.I., Lorde and Earth, Wind & Fire.)
Swift, Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars had three of the biggest-selling albums of the eligibility period, Oct. 1, 2012-Sept. 30, 2013, and they will receive lots of nominations. But not all the key nominations will be as predictable as you think.
Why? Because the nominees in the Big Four categories are chosen by a blue-ribbon industry panel, not the Recording Academy members, who vote on nominees in all other categories. The blue-ribbon panel has had a habit of reflecting of critical and/or hip tastes every once in a while. Hence, names like Kendrick Lamar and Kacey Musgraves might show up as finalists, especially for best new artist.
Here are one person’s predictions for the nominees in the Big Four contests. Winners will be announced at the 56th annual Grammy Awards on Jan. 26.
BEST NEW ARTIST
Lorde, the New Zealand teen who told us we’d never be “Royals,” should make the finals along with Imagine Dragons, the drum-beating, hit-making rockers from Las Vegas, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, the Seattle crew that enjoyed some of the biggest mainstream rap hits in years. From country music, it’ll either be crossover “Cruise” hitmakers Florida Georgia Line or clever singer-songwriter Musgraves, who won the best new artist at last month’s CMA Awards. The other slot could go to either stand-out rapper Lamar or U.K. soul/pop songbird Emeli Sande – or both. Maybe there will be six finalists instead of the usual five.
Outside shots: Ariana Grand, Ed Sheeran, Phillip Phillips and Of Monsters and Men.
RECORD OF THE YEAR
Even though it was one of the year’s biggest records, Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” won’t make the cut because of the controversy and lawsuits that he allegedly cribbed parts of this tune from Marvin Gaye. The Grammys don’t need another tainted winner like Milli Vanilli, the lip-synchers who won best new artist in 1989 and then had the trophy taken away. So I’m going with Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” Lorde’s “Royals” and one of Macklemore’s big hits – either “Thrift Shop,” the popular choice, or “Same Love,” the artistic and politic choice (though it might have a better shot at song of the year). That leaves two more slots to fill, with Mars’ “When I Was Your Man” probably grabbing one and perhaps Pink’s “Just Give Me a Reason” or Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” snaring the other.
Outside shots: Timberlake’s “Mirrors,” Perry’s “Roar,”Aviici’s “Wake Me Up,” Kanye West’s “New Slaves” and Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble.”
SONG OF THE YEAR
Remember, this is a songwriter’s prize whereas record of the year honors a single. Got that? Oftentimes, this category mirrors record of the year but not always. “Same Love” will likely get a nod here. Same with “When I Was Your Man” and “Royals.” “Just Give Me a Reason” should make the cut, too. Look for Rihanna’s “Stay” – which doesn’t have a chance for record of the year – to receive recognition here.
Outside shots: The Band Perry’s “Better Dig Two,” Musgraves’ “Merry Go Round” and Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven.”
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Swift’s “Red” and Timberlake’s “20/20 Experience” were not only the two top sellers but they are artistically respected. Ditto for Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox,” the No. 4 seller. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Heist” is a likely finalist, which would give them nominations in all of the Big Four. But the panel might swing more toward West’s bold and controversial “Yeezus” as the year’s top hip-hop effort. The panel always seems to show some love for critically loved indie-rock acts, so Vampire Weekend’s “Modern Vampires of the City” could get a nod.
Outside shots: Drake’s “Nothing Was the Same,” Musgraves’ “Same Trailer Different Park,” Lamar’s “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City” and Civil Wars’ “Civil Wars.”
Ian Leonard, left, with Bill Fish of Special Oympics Minnesota in 2012/ by Sara Glassman
If you thought Fox 9's chief meteorologist Ian Leonard's absence from the air for nearly nine weeks was due to a long vacation in the islands, you couldn't be more wrong.
Leonard has been sidelined by post-concussion syndrome, a frightening, frustrating challenge that has forced him to spend almost the entire day in a dark room, unable to watch TV or even read a book.
Leonard, who has been with the station since 2006, was playing goalie at the Minnesota United fantasy camp in October when his nose ran into another player's fist. He thought he had simply broken his nose and continued to play. But a few days later he was feeling worse. The bright lights of the studio were killing him. He felt dizzy.
His doctors, who also happen to work for the Minnesota Wild and Minnesota VIkings, diagnosed him with post-concussion syndrome, a traumatic brain injury that can haunt you from anywhere to five days to five years.
The only road to recovery: A complete relaxation of the brain, which means little to no stimulation. For weeks, Leonard sat alone in the dark, sucking on hard candy and listening to iRadio. Anything beyond that triggered massive headaches and a ringing in the ears.
"I could barely walk," Leonard said.
Then on Saturday, he woke up feeling 100 percent better. He now plans to return to work on Dec. 9. In the meantime, he's going through the hundreds of cards and emails from loyal viewers.
"The support I got from people, I can't even verbalize how I feel without tearing up a bit," he said on Wednesday.
Louie Anderson and Scott Hansen
A few weeks ago, Scott Hansen did something he’s never done in his 36-year comedy career: He walked out of his own show. Hansen has been diagnosed with arthritis in the spine, making it difficult for him to be on stage for very long.
“It’s hard to sit or stand,” said Hansen who is credited for helping make Minneapolis a major comedy player. “I don’t want to put myself in a position where I could fall or get hurt. It’s not worth it anymore.”
Hansen, 59, will do his last New Year’s Eve show at the Maple Tavern, do a few corporate gigs and then officially retire his stand-up act around April. But don’t think the ever resilient Hansen is going to stop going for laughs. He plans to concentrate on writing and developing sitcom ideas. “I’m not going to roll over and play dead,” he said.
Jason Alexander, the actor best known for playing a balding George Costanza on “Seinfeld,” now has a full head of hair that he’s bringing to the Twin Cities.
Alexander will do a solo show, “An Evening with Jason Alexander and His Hair” – that’s the real title — on a Monday, Jan. 27. It will be a benefit for the family of Carl Lee, who died on Nov. 5 at 52.
Lee was the director of marketing and theatrical programming at Hennepin Theatre Trust, which runs the State, Orpheum and Pantages theaters.
A one-time actor and singer, he also was the husband of Emmy-winning Broadway performer Linda Talcott Lee, whose 15-year Broadway career included nine years in “Beauty and the Beast.” Talcott Lee won an Emmy for her choreography on NBC’s “The Comedy Hall of Fame Show,” where she reunited with Alexander, with whom she had worked, pre-“Seinfeld.”
"We're thankful to Jason for his generosity in helping secure the future of our children," said Talcott Lee.
Alexander will deliver stand-up comedy, music and improv in his show. Tickets to “Jason Alexander and His Hair”, $45-$125, go on sale on Wednesday. Call 1-800-982-2787.