Takei, Aiken adding gay fabulosity to new “Celebrity Apprentice”

George Takei

I have sincerely admired George Takei ever since 2005 when he publicly came out as a gay man. And I have been a real fan for the last several months, ever since I “liked” his Facebook page and got the chance to see and appreciate his unique sense of humor.

But I am not a big enough fan to watch George in his new gig, because his new gig is being a cast member of the new season of Donald Trump‘s Celebrity Apprentice. And I hate Donald Trump and I hate Celebrity Apprentice way to much to ever watch the show, even for George T. I made myself a promise after listening to Trump’s “presidential campaign” tripe that I would never watch this show, because I never want to do anything that might even remotely put money in his bigoted pockets.

So, love ya George, but I just can’t watch that show.

There will be at least one other gay in the cast to keep George company: Clay Aiken of American Idol and Spamalot fame. And other “gay interest’ cast members are ’80s pop star Debbie Gibson and equal-opportunity-insult comedian Lisa Lampanelli.

I’m not gonna list the whole cast here. You can go over to FoxNews.com to get that (where, by the way, the describe Takei as “Star Wars actor George Takei”). Let it suffice to say that the cast does include Mafia princess Victoria Gotti and Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider.

—  admin

Bandmates tonight at Sue’s

You indie go, girls

Local duo Bandmates noted that they are playing a last minute gig tonight. With hippie flair and tunes that border on whimsy punk-folk, singer Kimberly Castrellon will win you over with her adorable allure while partner in life and music, Susan Carson will funk you up with her bass. You may have seen Carson last on the big stage with Jane Doe at House of Blues this past summer, but now she gets to chill with her latest band — and her girl.

DEETS: Sue Ellen’s, 3014 Throckmorton St. 8 p.m. SueEllens.com.

—  Rich Lopez

‘Rock of Ages’ at the Winspear

Do you wanna get rocked?

American Idol contestant and now Tony-nominee Constantine Maroulis recently announced an end to his three-year gig as Drew Bowie, the wannabe rocker in the jukebox musical Rock of Ages, which is now playing at the Winspear. But his last performance isn’t until July, so in the meantime, he’s still ready to rock it.

“It’s been huge for me on many levels as an actor and being acknowledged by my community,” he says. “I was a rock star wannabe growing up with these songs from Bon Jovi, Whitesnake and other songs in my wheelhouse. This is a true artistic achievement and for it to all work out in this time when so many shows come and go, we’re kicking a lot of ass.”

So go on and feel the noise.

—  Rich Lopez

Rocca ages

WAIT, WAIT! DON’T TELL ME! | That nerdy comedian is Mo Rocca!

Need salt? Don’t ask Mo Rocca — but as the Texas vet gets older, he keeps getting better

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

You know that man on CBS Sunday Morning who’s really funny and kind of nerdy? That panelist with the nasally voice on NPR’s Wait, Wait! Don’t Tell Me quiz show. The guy you can’t quite describe other than from the kinda geeky-gay vibe he puts out, but in the nicest way. That’s Mo Rocca.

He’s the face you might recognize but not be sure where from. Rocca is everywhere, whether he’s reporting newsy features for CBS in his special snarky way or adding to the fun on Wait, Wait (or maybe you recall him from the heyday of The Daily Show when he, Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell dominated the reports). Now he’s added to his resume as the host for Cooking Channel’s Food(ography) — perhaps the last show he thought he’d be on.

“I was approached to host this and seemed like an odd fit,” he says. “My only experience with cooking food at all is none. I don’t even have salt in my apartment. My kitchen is totally virgin territory. But I needed the work!”

What he didn’t want was to look a fool on camera — although he admits knowing nothing about cooking, he didn’t want to be put in the position of looking like he knew nothing. Instead, the show allows Rocca to use both his comic and journalistic talents to tell the stories of food and its history and how it becomes something else altogether.

“Food has become more the portal into discussing food and history and life. Getting through to people through the stomach because hopefully we all sit down to eat. This is my long way of saying I like talking about history and I get to do it through food.”

He’d dare to call it the best show he’s worked for … this coming from the guy with no salt.

“I went in for a paycheck and have fallen in love with it.”

Rocca juggles that gig using his shtick on the as-fun radio show Wait, Wait! Don’t Tell Me, which covers current topics with a rotating panel of guests (including fellow queermedian Paula Poundstone) as they test their knowledge with hilarious results.

“Oh, it’s both fun and easy,” he says. “I didn’t know the show because I don’t listen to radio, but I’m able to be funny because I don’t have to create the stuff. It’s there already.”

Which means less work for the clever comedian. With his wit, funny would seem to come as second nature. Instead, Rocca makes it sound oh-so-painful.

“Making something funny is hard work,” he says with breathy emphasis on the hard work. “If I do a piece for CBS Sunday Morning, it’s like crapping out a pineapple. It is so hard to get that thing out.  I think President Reagan used that term first.”

With NPR being in such hot water these days, Rocca didn’t pull out the whole pledge plea. He thinks NPR could actually go in a different direction with funding.

“I do feel badly about [the scrutiny] and it is tricky,” he says. “This is a great product, but if it’s so great then why do we need taxpayer money? I am reluctant to say that, but the reality of it is, it sure would be a whole lot more convenient. But if we didn’t have NPR, the void would be filled by more opinion. And that’s just what we need!”

He jests of course.

Rocca will appear in North Texas Monday as part of the Dallas Museum of Art’s Arts and Letters Live series, but he’s no stranger to the area. His first job in television was here, writing and producing for the children’s show Wishbone. The gig was great, but he does have his regrets.

“I used to live in Plano,” he says. “It was such a mistake. I thought I needed to live near work and the studio was in Plano. You know, plano means flat in Spanish, and it was and there were all these McMansions… ugh.”

If only Rocca had gotten the show he really hoped for when he got there.

“Yeah, I didn’t get the gig at co-hosting Plano Tonight.”

He jests again — but who would put that past Plano?

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

Sarah Jaffe and Bosque Brown tonight at the Wyly

Buzz surrounds local musician Sarah Jaffe, but she’s ready to move on

Going from playing smaller clubs like Dan’s Silverleaf and Club Dada, to selling out the Granada Theater last year, Sarah Jaffe’s star is on the rise. She gets a primo gig Saturday when she headlines at the Wyly Theatre in support of her 2010 full-length debut, Suburban Nature. After garnering attention for Nature locally and nationally (from the Dallas Observer to NPR), Jaffe wasn’t just a girl with a guitar — she unlocked yearning and pain with wisdom beyond her 25 years. Jaffe captures the poetry of life and love and sets it to music … even if she doesn’t mean to.

“I’ve never been a strategic writer and I’m thankful for that,” she says. “It comes out sporadically. There are those moment in life when I slow down and it’s just me being human and being alive and the writing is totally cathartic.”

Read the entire article here.

—  Rich Lopez

Gadget update: Calyp app

I’m getting ready to convert my lame-o cell phone into an iPhone for Verizon, so it occurs to me I can use more apps than the few piling up on my limited-use 8-gig iPod Touch. I want stuff that’s useful, like those apps that perform instant price-checks or get your GPS quickly or get you laid while in the Alps. (OK, maybe that’s just wishful thinking.) And I’m thinkin’ about Calyp.

Considering how addicted most people already are to “liking” people and events on Facebook and retweeting the interests of their friends and followers, the new app Calyp has an intriguing premise. The idea is to sign up at Calyp.com or download the free app from the Apple store. If I understand it right, you then select your interests and hobbies (say, indie music or eating out). The site then pairs up its clients with your interests; if you like the item the client suggests — say, 20 percent off a dinner at your favorite restaurant — you simply share that will others in your social media network. You earn points for the number of hits and click-throughs you get as a result. Points accrue toward credit on a Visa debit card you can use anywhere.

Does it make you a bit of a shill? Mebbe. But if you really like the stuff, it’s a way to share your likes with others. It’s like Groupon, only you benefit from sharing it. (Just like Groupon does, come to think of it, only you don’t have to buy anything — others do.) And hey, if I can defer some of the cost of that new iPhone, all the better.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Super Bowl gets even queerer

Fergie

The other day we reported that Dallas will play host to what is being billed as the first-ever gay Super Bowl block party, the night before the big game in Arlington in February.

So perhaps it’s only fitting that the Black Eyed Peas, the band led by bisexual singer Fergie, have been selected as halftime performers. From The Dallas Morning News:

The Black Eyed Peas will play the Super Bowl XLV halftime show at Cowboys Stadium in February, a source confirmed to the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday.

A spot playing at the Super Bowl is considered a highly coveted gig for musicians. Last year’s Super Bowl averaged 106.5 million viewers and peaked at about 114 million, making it the most watched show in U.S. TV history.

Maybe Fergie, who’s also spoken in support of marriage equality, can stop by the Cedar Springs fiesta.

—  John Wright

Breaking news: Seelig to leave Dallas for SF gig

Dr. Timothy Seelig, for 20 years the artistic director of the Turtle Creek Chorale and of late head of the Resounding Harmony chorus and Art for Peace & Justice project, has accepted a position as the new artistic director of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. He will take over the baton on Jan. 1, 2011.

Before that, he’ll lead Resounding Harmony one final time, for a concert at the Meyerson on Nov. 10.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

FREE STUFF: 4 pairs of tickets to Semi Precious Weapons’ show this Thursday at the Loft


If you didn’t get enough of garage glam rockers Semi Precious Weapons when they opened for Lady Gaga this summer, here’s your chance to see them up close and personal. Taking a reprieve from the Monster Ball, they’ve hit the road on their own before getting back to their Gaga gig (we think – we keep hearing they are on, they are off, back on again – oy).

But we know this for sure: Semi Precious Weapons will return to town with openers Breedlove to play The Loft this Thursday. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. And we got tickets. Thanks to The Loft, we have four pairs to give away. All you have to do is e-mail us to snag a pair. E-mail notices@dallasvoice.com with their song title “Rock ‘n’ Roll Never Looked So Beautiful” in the subject line. Please include your first and last name and phone number. Winners will be picked at random.

Good luck! And I should see you there.

—  Rich Lopez