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Archive for August, 2011

Lady Gaga Brings Alter Ego to the VMAs

Music lovers waited with baited breath last night for Lady Gaga to open MTV’s VMA show. Would she wear produce this time? Or use the traditional “arriving in an egg” entrance? Who knew, but it was sure to be a big event! But Lady Gaga did neither. And in fact, her outfit wasn’t even all that outrageous — just a plain black suit with a white shirt underneath. But Gaga didn’t need an extreme ensemble, or an alternative vehicle to bring the shock factor. She just needed to look, perform, and present as a man — her alter ego, Jo Calderone.

Yes Gaga, or should we say “Jo,” opened the show by performing Gaga’s latest single, You and I. Paired with the slim and sleek black suit, Jo also appeared with short black hair, all slicked back. But that nose and that voice are unmistakable, and fans knew right away that Gaga had taken the stage. Some weren’t even all that shocked, as this isn’t the first time Jo Calderone has made an appearance.

The world first saw Jo Calderone when “he” posed on the cover of Japan’s Vogue last August. At that time “he” was described as being a mechanic/model from Sicily who just happened to appear on one of Japan’s biggest magazines. Apparently “he’s” a singer too.

Later in the show Jo was the one to present Britney Spears with a tribute award. While the marks initially appeared to be sincere, with Jo stating that Spears has been a huge influence on the pop music world, and that she’s “fearless and she taught us all how to be fearless,” Jo ended the presentation with some rather crude remarks about Britney’s posters that once hung on “his” bedroom walls.


The NHL Goes Wireless!

In a move to show that they are a modern league that always makes the most out of technological advancements, the NHL has made an unprecedented move by testing out wireless headsets and mics on their referees. These headsets would allow refs to talk to each other, even when at opposite ends of the ice. And, as was shown at the National Hockey League Research and Development Camp in Toronto last week, these wireless beauties may just be a game-changer.

But does having another ref in your ear for the entire game really help? That’s just what the test run was out to prove last week, and the biggest benefit of these wireless headsets was immediately clear — it lets the refs keep their eyes on the puck. As it stands now, the referee is often at one end of the ice, while his linesman is way down at the other. This of course, is so that there are eyes at each end. But in order to communicate what’s happening, the refs have had to rely on hand signals and making eye contact. Try doing that in the fast-paced Stanley Cup Final, and it can become more than challenging.

But the headsets take care of all that. With them, referees can speak to each other without having to look at each other at all and that allows them to keep their eyes where they should be — on the puck. The only drawback of the headsets? According to Dave Pfohl, an OHL linesman who helped test them out, there is some “over-chatter” when both refs try to talk at once, and sometimes refs just mutter things to themselves, and that can become confusing.

But, Pfohl says, going wireless on the ice definitely has more benefits than drawbacks; the biggest one of course, that it puts the focus back on the game.


Michael Jordan will be Fined for Breaking Lockout Rules

When the NBA is in the middle of a lockout, players and team executives are not allowed to discuss anything about the game — not even if your name is Michael Jordan. And it seems you have to watch what you say not only about trades, negotiations, and things that actually matter from a contractual point of view — you’re not allowed to say anything, not even if it’s only to commend a player who plays for another team.

Maybe M.J. would have been okay if he had stuck to keeping his comments to players already under contract on his own team, the Charlotte Bobcats. But the superstar was recently in Australia and it was then that he touched on the taboo subject of Andrew Bogut, who plays for the Milwaukee Bucks. Jordan was quoted as saying to the Sydney Herald Sun,

“We have stars like Bogut who are entitled to certain type of demands. But for us to be profitable in small markets, we have to be able to win ballgames and build a better basketball team.”
[...]
“Bogut is a good piece to build around for Milwaukee,” Jordan said.
“I love Bogut’s game. He’s made a very good start and he’s definitely gonna be a star. His big problem is that he’s been dealing with that elbow injury. But he is a star to be reckoned with (and) will be a star for some time.”

Mentioning any player is against NBA rules, even if it’s Michael Jordan and even if he was in Australia when he said it. Just what fines exactly Jordan will face are unknown, but the NBA is definitely making a statement: nobody, but nobody, is allowed to break the lockout rules. Even if you are the best player that has ever graced the league.


Cirque du Soleil Bows to the King in Viva Elvis

Cirque du Soleil is a menagerie of brilliant artists on its own, so it would take someone larger than life like Elvis Presley to inspire a full concert of devotion from these world-renowned performance artists. Viva Elvis is a tribute to the life and music of Elvis, and includes tributes to the King’s most popular songs like Blue Suede Shoes, Don’t Be Cruel, Return To Sender, Jailhouse Rock and Viva Las Vegas.

However, this event is far from an Elvis karaoke night. At Viva Elvis, You can expect an ingenious fusion of Elvis songs, King-inspired dance numbers, live music (not prerecorded) and of course, the amazing acrobatics that Cirque du Soleil performers are known for. What truly makes this show unique is how Cirque du Soleil pays tribute not only to Presley’s music, but also to his life–indeed, his immortal character. The musical acts and dance numbers correspond with various significant moments in Elvis Presley’s life that are all acted out by the Cirque du Soleil cast.

You can immediately tell that every last cast member and behind-the-scenes tech wizard truly has his/her heart in this production. The sets and costumes are all designed in the spirit of the 1950s and 1960s. The retro-aesthetic ambiance of the show fit along perfectly with the emotion of the story telling, and of course, the beauty of Elvis’ haunting voice. The show counts over 150 custom wigs, 450 pairs of shoes and 400 Elvis costumes!

Of course, this show is not only for Elvis lovers. Fans of Cirque du Soleil will not be disappointed, as their radical interpretation of Elvis culture is truly phenomenal. You will gawk in amazement at the tubular aluminum structure (45 x 18 feet) that supports two acrobats (representing Elvis and his legendary twin), which appears from a long distance as a guitar. How about the 15,000 pound set created for the Return to Sender tribute, paralleling Elvis’ stint in the army. These are just examples of the artful melancholy that defines Cirque du Soleil, now more emotional than ever, now that the King’s music is serenading us. You must see this show in person to truly appreciate the artistry involved. It is a scene, a soundtrack, and a life that is king-sized!


Green Day Sings “Amy” Tribute at Secret Show

Green Day thrilled fans last week when they showed up at the Tiki Bar in Costa Mesa, California to perform a secret show. During their set the band played a slew of new songs from the album that they’ve been working on for the past few months, playing titles like “Carpe Diem,” “Sweet 16,” and “Nuclear Family.” Along with the new songs, the band also played classics that the crowd could sing and jump along to, such as “Minority” and “Burnout.” But perhaps the most special song to be played that night was the band’s tribute to Amy Winehouse, a song simple called “Amy.”

The song was dedicated to Amy Winehouse and was a song the band wrote for the late singer in which they ask to be her friend and sing her to sleep. The performance of the beautiful and moving piece was the first time the band had ever played the song for the public and days later they posted the full lyrics on their website.

Along with the lyrics, Green Day also said that they had been “writing and jamming” for months preparing for the new album, with a hint that fans can expect it to be out soon. All the benefits from the secret show at Costa Mesa’s Tiki Bar were donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. And this band isn’t the only one honoring Winehouse’s memory; U2, Ellie Goulding, Big Boi, and M.I.A. have also released their own tributes to the late singer.


Avenue Q is the Most Fun You’ve Had Since, Well, Sesame Street!

Chances are, you’ve already heard some of the amazing songs from Avenue Q, even if you haven’t seen the musical live and in person.  If you have ever seen the “Internet is for Porn” Cookie Monster viral video, or heard the “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” tune with an impostor Gary Coleman then you have already experienced two of the most memorable numbers from Avenue Q, the puppet parody musical. 

It’s no accident that this musical comedy is often compared to Sesame Street, since parody was the original intention (even the format of the play is very similar) — not to mention the fact that the production actually features former Sesame Street performers.  The creator of the show actually did intern at the Sesame Street studio, and four performers of Avenue Q were actually ex-cast members (Rick Lyon, John Tartaglia, Jennifer Barnhart, Stephanie D’Abruzzo) of Big Bird’s neighborhood.  (Stephanie D’Abruzzo actually went back to Sesame Street after appearing in Avenue Q, so it’s safe to say that the Sesame Street Workshop is made up of the most forgiving people in television!)

Despite the fact that Avenue Q is a raucous parody, don’t expect simple South Park-esque lampoons.  The storyline is actually a coming-of-age parable, one that reflects seriously on the disappointment some people face as they grow up from idealistic childhood into the real adult world.  Consider Avenue Q a sort of “Sesame Street for Generation Xers”, complete with sex jokes, politically incorrect humor, and bizarre antics–the type of stuff we young adults just love!

Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx have written the music and lyrics to the play.  The songs are very catchy, written in muppet style fashion, which explains why the production won three 2004 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical.  This little production (originally conceived as a TV series) went on to defeat Wicked for the big prize.  It’s hard to imagine witnessing a more amazing production than Wicked in person, so take our word for it when we say Avenue Q is indeed a more surreal, magical and wondrous experience than even a return to Oz–and it’s one that you have to witness in person to believe!


Kobe Bryant Could be in Trouble with the Law Again

You might not initially think of Kobe Bryant (NBA Star) as a private man. But try to take a picture of him when he’s in his house of worship, and you’ll likely end up hurt.

That’s just what a man found out this past Sunday when Bryant visited the Carmel Valley church. Bryant thought the man was trying to take pictures of Bryant and his wife while they were in prayer. A confrontation soon ensued at the back of the church, wherein Bryant grabbed the man’s wrist and took his phone away. After flipping through for several minutes and seeing no pictures of him or his family, Bryant gave the phone back to the man. He left the church with his wife just moments later.

The man, whose name has not yet been identified, was taken to the hospital and treated for a sprained wrist. Detective Gary Hassen, spokesmen for the police department, made a statement saying that the unidentified man would not be able to speak to police until August 24. However, they do want to speak to someone before then and they’re currently hoping to get in touch with Kobe Bryant to review the situation. Bryant’s attorney, Mark Campbell, released his own statement saying that they were aware of the allegations and that they were prepared to fight against them in whatever way needed.

We doubt this will affect Kobe’s season, so be sure to get your NBA tickets to see him in action!


A Return to Oz in the Legitimate Theatre

The L. Frank Baum classic The Wizard of Oz was a highly complex universe of fictional and fantastic characters, though most people only remember the original musical of 1939. Wicked is perhaps the most ingenious of all these post-movie productions, as it strives to recreate the depth of the original novels (by L. Frank Baum, as well as the Gregory Maguire expansion of Oz continuity, published in 1995), while also including many allusions to the film version that everyone knows and loves. In fact, the musical Wicked adapts the novel, which parallels the movie, which is derived from the source material. Simply put, that means that Wicked is practically an official prequel/sequel to The Wizard of Oz, though it doesn’t have official studio backing.

The premise of the musical play is to ask the audience if they ever believed that there were two sides of the story to Dorothy-gate scandals of Oz. Wicked takes its name from the “Wicked Witch of the West”, or as those in the know like to call her, Elphaba. This little green woman presents a fresh new angle of the Wizard of Oz storyline, and is actually modeled after Margaret Hamilton’s character in the classic 1939 film, since Baum’s original novel explained very little about this “wicked” witch.

Wicked, the Broadway sensation is based on the book by Winnie Holzman, with music and lyrics by Steven Schwartz. The plot that unravels is a morally ambiguous tale of misunderstandings, social differences and corrupt government. Despite its heady pretentions, the musical Wicked is funny in dialogue, vivacious in song, and truly visionary, just as the original Hollywood film. This multi-award winning production has been running since 2003 and has immortalized songs such as “Defying Gravity”, “No One Mourns the Wicked”, “Popular” and “I’m Not That Girl.”

Come enjoy a true piece of American culture, and an iconic story that has captured the hearts of millions. It’s not just a movie sequel–it’s a live production with full costumes, an excellent soundtrack, and a fascinating glimpse into a fantasy world that truly comes to life in the details.


Aguilera & Levine Premiere Hot Jagger Video Tribute

Those who were fans of “The Voice” this past season were the first to see two of the judges, Adam Levine (Maroon 5) and Christina Aguilera, perform the song “Moves Like Jagger,” for the very first time. If you didn’t catch the show or you’re just dying to see the two perform it together again, now you can after the video for the hit song was released yesterday. But you can expect something completely different from that tame, original performance in which Christina wore an oversized T-shirt, and Adam a classy suit. In the video, Christina has classed it up with an elegant kimono-style top and contrasting leggings; and Adam’s left it pretty much as bare as possible.

In the sexy song, it’s mostly Levine that sings along to the upbeat tempo about moving, acting, and singing like Jagger, and his moves in the video follow suit. Meanwhile behind him, girls dance scantily clad, barely dressed, and in some cases, not covered at all. Christina shows up about three minutes in, bringing her soulful notes and dancing in front of a British flag. But that’s not the only tribute shown to the rock icon for who the song is named. The video opens with a brief interview clip of Jagger only two years into his career, and clips of Jagger and his famous moves are shown throughout the entire video.

At the end of it all, Adam (with his shirt,) Christina, the band, and the dancers all end up on-stage dancing out their last few Jagger-like moves against the backdrop of an American flag. You can check out the full video below, but remember that it does include some nudity and explicit lyrics so don’t watch it at work, or while the kids are around.


Joe Jonas Opening for Britney Spears in Europe!

Joe Jonas will get his first taste of what it’s like to work with a femme fatale tonight in New Jersey, when he joins Britney Spears onstage during her “Femme Fatale” tour. And that taste will give him a better idea of what it’s going to be like sharing the stage with the blonde bombshell. From there Jonas will travel to Europe with Britney, opening her European shows, the first of which will be in Stockholm, Sweden on October 16.

Joe Jonas looks to have an extremely promising solo career. With a debut album that was co-written by Chris Brown and now this tour with Brit, Joe’s certainly already got a long line of big-name stars backing him up. And he says he can’t wait to show us all what he’s got in store with both the release of his album, and his performance on Spears’ world tour.