GOP gathering to get unconventional coverage, Winstead-style

  • Article by: C.J. , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 29, 2008 - 10:44 PM

Comedian Lizz Winstead's brother may be tempted to shoot the messenger.

Lizz is bringing the satirical live weekly show she co-hosts and produces, "Wake Up World" -- online at shoot themessengernyc.com -- here for three shows during the Republican National Convention. She may make fun of her brother's people; Bloomington Mayor Gene Winstead is a Republican, while Lizz leans the other way.

"On 'Shoot the Messenger,' we talk about everything that happened in the week through the lens of these ridiculous morning show people," Lizz said. "It's really fun, so we're going to do Joe's theater [Joe Minjares' Pepito's Parkway Theater] September 2, 3 and 4. Joe's renovated the theater and [is] bringing in all kind of really cool stuff.

"I'm very excited. We will be talking much about the convention," she said. "After the shows, we're going to all watch the convention together as a group, hold hands and not be afraid. I am looking forward to being able to respond to the convention through the satirical sketches we do. We are helping to create a cathartic experience for people who love the truth and humor."

Lizz also expects Jon Stewart, of "The Daily Show," which she co-created, to come to town along with Stephen Colbert, of "The Colbert Report." And she's going to try to make sure I meet Arianna Huffington, of huffingtonpost.com, to which Lizz is a contributor.

Talent will out

Fancy Ray says "America's Got Talent" thinks he's got some.

Ray, who splits time between L.A. and here, was in town over Easter to make some money shooting commercials when he got the call from the show. A clip of the "Best-Looking Man in Comedy" once aired on the show. However, on Wednesday he's actually scheduled to do a taping. Where there's tape, there's presumably a cutting-room floor.

What's his talent? I know, that was too easy, but Ray's oblivious.

"On my audition I did some comedy and I do poetry. I've got a poem even you're going to like," he said, launching into "I'm on top of the world, a diamond and a pearl. ..."

As usual, I didn't like it.

"'America's Got Talent' is kind of like the 2008 version of the 'Gong Show,'" according to Ray. There's never a gong around when you really need one.

I did go to Joke Joint, at the Ramada, Mall of America, to see his comedy act, and, of course, his son, Trevon.

Ray had lots of funny moments onstage. But because he pays no mind to my suggestions on how his act could be improved, I showed part of the Joke Joint performance to one of my astute, wise and contemporary editors, Howard Sinker, a man who nevertheless would have foolishly come back to the office on a vacation day had he known Fancy Ray was dropping by the Strib.

"I think he should stop using 'My, my, my' -- I know that's his signature phrase -- so much," said Sinker, who also suggested that Ray "slow down, e-nun-ci-ate and do more Prince. He sounded just like Prince in that one bit. In fact, Fancy Ray's act should have a complete Symbolina set."

Now, we'll see if those "America's Got Talent" judges are as sharp.

'CCO drops anchor

WCCO-TV staffers were just floored to see anchor John Reger's name on the list of people laid off Thursday.

Reger returned my call but did not address the news he was making: "I've got all kinds of family in town, running around with them because there's a state tournament."

On Friday, his "WCCO Sunday Morning" co-anchor Esme Murphy said: "He called last night apologizing that he couldn't talk to me because he was taking his parents to the Benilde game. He was concerned about me. I'm devastated because I loved doing the Sunday show with him. He is the classiest guy you would ever hope to meet. And he's super-cute."

Reger's name was the most high-profile one on the list of staffers let go. A WCCO insider said the word is that more layoffs are coming.

A musician, composer, jingle writer, Reger -- who has also been an actor -- has lots of options inside and outside of TV.

C.J. is at 612.332.TIPS or cj@startribune.com. E-mailers, please state a subject -- "Hello" doesn't count. Attachments are not opened, so don't even try. More of her attitude can be seen on FOX 9 Thursday mornings.

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