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, Aimee Blanchette, 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.
John Munson (left) and Dan Wilson/ photo by Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune
LOS ANGELES - One of the great aspects of St. Paul's WITS radio show is the unexpected mesh-ups of musicians. That vibe continued as the weekly program made its first road trip this past weekend with a two-night stint at Largo, one of the premiere comedy/acoustic music clubs in the country.
Not only did former Semisonic members John Munson and Dan Wilson reunite for some of Wilson's new songs, but they were joined by bluegrass queen Sarah Watkins and banjo player Ed Helms, perhaps better known for his work on "The Office" and "The Hangover." In fact, Helms nearly stole the show with an original song of his that could pass as a classic country-music drinking ballad.
The Sunday night show also featured Oscar nomineed Anna Kendrick, who showed off her vocal pipes on a group version of "I'll Fly Away," and Zack Galifiankis, who, thankfully, left the singing to others and stuck with his surreal brand of comedy..
Lots of jokes about Minnesota (Galifiankis once referred to host John Moe as "Flyover"), but the prize for best home-state zinger went to Wilson, who now lives in Los Angeles. When asked to describe the difference between Minnesotans and Californians, Wilson ad-libbed: "Minnesotans are shy and passive aggressive. Californians are sleek, shiny -- and passive aggressive."
Air dates for the Largo shows have not yet been determined.
Star Tribune photos by Renee Jones Schneider
Bravo for iHeartRadio, the much-hyped but little-listened entity of Clear Channel Media. That brand was responsible for the significant upgrade in the production quality of KDWB’s Jingle Ball 2013 on Tuesday at the X.
Giant video screens with live action, slick graphics, flamethrowers, indoor fireworks, confetti cannons and even a revolving stage platform, which made this the most efficient Jingle Ball ever (eight acts in 3 ½ hours, not the usual five-hours-plus).
There was one annoying aspect of the production, though – the playing of TV commercials (like teens care about furnace repairs) instead of music video clips between acts. Leave the commercials (KD DJ Big D’s daughter Hailey may be cute but seeing her seven or 10 times was too much) for the radio – when we can change the channel.
In my review in the paper, there wasn’t much space to discuss anyone beyond Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke, the main attractions.
So here are some thoughts on the other acts:
Fifth Harmony, the female vocal quintet from TV’s “X Factor,” displayed nice hair, four quality singers but no charisma. These young women seemed stiff and manufactured.
Austin Mahone, a 17-year-old YouTube sensation from Texas and Justin Bieber wanna-be, manifested more swag than genuine talent.
Accompanied by four dancers but no live musicians, Nickelodeon-launched Ariana Grande (below), wearing a short skirt featuring a holly pattern, came across like a pint-sized Mariah Carey, complete with the breathy,
affected vocal gymnastics but minus the va-voom personna. With her big voice, Grande has potential but, considering that she’s only seven months younger than Cyrus, well, everyone matures at her own pace.
Backed by an eight-person band, Jingle Ball returnee Enrique Iglesias unleashed his sex appeal for a fast-paced 17 minutes of invigorating, Latin-tinged dance-pop.
Fall Out Boy, those emo rockers from Chicago, thrilled the few guys in the arena with "Thanks for the Memories," "The Phoenix" and "Alone Together," though this band is starting to sound more professional than punky.
Flo Rida (below), the hard-working rapper from, of course, Florida, shifted the party into overdrive with such sing-along hits as "Good Feeling" and "Whistle," which featured a dancing, present-delivering Santa Claus, wearing a giant "HoHoHo" pendant. For his finale, Flo removed his shirt to show off his famous tattoos while three dozen Minnesota girls danced around him onstage as he implored them to "Turn Around."
Fox 9 has finally landed on its replacement for Heidi Collins.
Kelcey Carlson, who has spent the past decade manning the desk at WRAL in Raleigh-Durham, NC, will join Jeff Passolt in early February as anchors of "Fox 9 News at 5PM" and "Fox 9 News at 9PM."
She takes over for Heidi Collins who left under mysterious circumstances in July after a somewhat rocky three-year stint at the station.
"This opportunity is like winning the jackpot," Carlson said in a statement. "I have fond memories of my summer vacations in the Midwest and I'm so excited to move back here with my family and be a part of the talented Fox 9 news team."
Garrison Keillor/ Star Tribune photo by Tom Wallace
Garrison Keillor will bring his “A Prairie Home Companion” to his home base, the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, for seven shows in January, February and March.
Guests will include Rhonda Vincent, Paula Poundstone, Hilary Thavis and Mike Compton & Joe Newberry.
After being on tour in Texas, Tennessee and elsewhere, PHC will be broadcast live from the Fitzgerald on Jan. 17 and 25, Feb. 1 and March 8, 15, 22 and 29.
Tickets, priced from $32 to $48, will go on sale at noon Wednesday through Ticketmaster outlets (including 1-800-745-3000) and at the Fitzgerald box office.
Jim Carter and Phyllis Logan in "Downton Abbey"/ AP photo by Giles Keyte
Minnesotans really love their TPT. For the second year in a row the Twin Cities has the largest percentage of households watching public television than anywhere else in the country. Baltimore is second and Portland is third.
"It's a real tribute to the Twin Cities that audiences here so passionately embrace public TV," said TPT's COO Terry O'Reilly. "At a time when all media outlets are facing declining audiences, more and more Minnesotans are not just watching TPT, but joining us as members."
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