Thursday, April 19, 2018

Advocate report: The Simpsons return to New Orleans

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2018 at 11:58 AM


This Sunday's episode of The Simpsons will find the titular dysfunctional family traveling to New Orleans, according to a report by Judy Bergeron in The New Orleans Advocate:
"So the basic premise is that Lisa gets the yips, she can't play (the baritone saxophone). She's got this psychological block, and what better or worse place to not be able to play jazz than New Orleans? So she figures it out there," said Al Jean, "The Simpsons" executive producer, from Los Angeles.

The Simpson family ends up in the Crescent City when their flight to Gainesville, Florida, gets rerouted.

"They don't actually go to the Jazz Fest. They do just about everything else in New Orleans," Jean said. "It's a real love letter to the city."
Longtime Simpsons viewers will remember the 1992 episode "A Streetcar Named Marge," in which the Simpson matriarch was cast in a community theater production of a musical called Streetcar!, which featured a song that infuriated some locals (I found it hilarious):
Long before the Superdome!
Where the Saints of football play
Lived a city that the damned call home
Hear their hellish rondelay!

New Orleans!
Home of pirates, drunks and whores!
New Orleans!
Tacky, overpriced souvenir stores!
If you wanna go to hell, you should take that trip
To the Sodom and Gomorrah on the Mississip...
Read the whole Advocate story about Sunday's episode, which airs at 7 p.m. on WVUE-TV, here.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Ellen DeGeneres snarked on local one-of-a-kind performer Valerie Sassyfras on her show today

Posted By on Wed, Apr 11, 2018 at 5:57 PM

Valerie Sassyfras (seen here performing at the Palm Court Jazz Cafe) was featured on Ellen DeGeneres' show today — and Ellen was kinda mean about it. - PHOTO BY ZACK SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Valerie Sassyfras (seen here performing at the Palm Court Jazz Cafe) was featured on Ellen DeGeneres' show today — and Ellen was kinda mean about it.

New Orleans-born talk show host Ellen DeGeneres showed a video clip today of a fellow New Orleans artist performing her song "Girls Night Out" to what appears to be a children's birthday party — and was sorta Mean Girls about the whole thing.

"She's not playing to her crowd. She's in her own little head," DeGeneres said witheringly. "I'd love to know where that is. I'd love to know more about her."

Ellen! It's Valerie Sassyfras, from your home town! As profiled in Gambit last December on the occasion of her album release! Do you not read Gambit? Has Hollywood changed you that much?

You're the purported Queen of Nice; why are you snarking on Valerie instead of having her on your show?

Update: The video was shot by PopSmartNOLA founder/editor David Lee Simmons (a former Gambit staffer), who says the performance occurred at a children's Mardi Gras parade at Confetti Park — not at a children's birthday party, as DeGeneres said. The original video now has more than 315,000 views on YouTube.

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Monday, April 9, 2018

After WrestleMania crowd rejects main event, what's next for Roman Reigns?

Posted By on Mon, Apr 9, 2018 at 3:15 PM

A fan dressed as Roman Reigns poses with a beach ball outside the Superdome.
  • A fan dressed as Roman Reigns poses with a beach ball outside the Superdome.
WrestleMania 34, which starting from its 4 p.m. pre-show ended just a bit after hitting the 8-hour mark, was by almost every metric a triumph. Record-breaking attendance, superb matches, and a card that had something for everybody — thrills, surprises, technical matches and light-hearted comedy spots, star power, heart-warming family-friendly moments, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

It was almost a complete triumph— almost, because although it seems a shame to weigh hours of world-class pro wrestling against one bad match, the bad match was the main event, and the crowd turned on it with a ferocity that was genuinely unsettling to witness. It was like the worst kind of social media pile-on, with the important difference that 78,000 bellowing hecklers were present in person.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Editorial: The real 'fake news' is Sinclair Broadcast Group

Posted By on Wed, Apr 4, 2018 at 7:38 PM


By now you’ve probably seen the video of dozens of local news anchors around the country robotically reciting the same canned script warning viewers against “fake news.” The script was a diktat from the stations’ owner, Sinclair Broadcast Group. Sinclair owns and/or operates nearly 200 local TV stations around the country, including affiliates of CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, Telemundo and Univision. Soon, it likely will control even more.

Under President Donald Trump, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has loosened ownership laws that historically barred media companies from gaining monopolies in the markets they serve. Now, Sinclair is proposing a merger with Tribune Media, which would give it control of 233 local stations, according to a letter sent last month by U.S. Rep. Tony Cardenas to the U.S. Department of Justice. The merger would give Sinclair even greater reach in new markets, including New Orleans, whose WGNO-TV (ABC) and WNOL-TV (CW) would become Sinclair stations.

Sinclair chairman David Smith has made his contempt for print journalism clear, telling New York magazine recently, “The print media is so left wing as to be meaningless dribble which accounts for why the industry is and will fade away. Just no credibility.”

OK. Let’s talk “credibility.”

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Q&A with Braun Strowman, WWE's Monster Among Men

Posted By on Wed, Apr 4, 2018 at 4:21 PM

Braun Strowman, the Monster among Men
  • Braun Strowman, the Monster among Men
Everybody loves Braun. Since he began his singles career as an unstoppable wrecking machine, audiences have reacted with overwhelming enthusiasm even when Braun Strowman was demolishing another fan-favorite wrestler.

Inside the ring, Braun has shown unusual speed and versatility for someone of his size. The 6'8" superheavweight is uncannily agile, a behemoth capable of keeping up with far smaller, faster-paced opponents.... until he gets his hands on them, at which point the match is usually as good as over. The only question then is how many running powerslams Braun will deliver while the crowd chants "One more time!"

Outside the ring, Braun has beaten up the cars his opponents were trying to escape in, toppled ambulances, yanked down scaffolding, and survived comic-book extremes of mayhem (e.g. being crushed in a garbage compactor) no mere mortal could hope to.

At WrestleMania 34, he'll be challenging The Bar, Sheamus and Cesaro, for the RAW Tag Team Championships. Braun doesn't need a tag-team partner, and doesn't want one, but the General Manager has told him he must have a partner to compete. Who will it be? This morning, I caught the big man outside Stumptown Coffee to try and get some answers.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

A conversation with Paul Heyman, the best talker in the wrestling business

Posted By on Tue, Apr 3, 2018 at 1:52 PM

The business of pro wrestling — the art, the sport, the drama of pro wrestling — is predicated on selling tickets. If a great wrestling match is scheduled for one fall in the forest and nobody pays to see it, then it's not a great match.

There are a few different ways to sell tickets to a pro wrestling show. One of the best ways, though not the easiest, is with your mouth. A gifted wrestler or promoter or manager can get on the mic, look into the camera and tell the audience something that will get them out of their chairs and to the next live show, ready to hand over cash. What's said might be a promise, a prediction or a threat. It might even be a fib or an optimistic exaggeration ... but it has to sell tickets.

Paul Heyman (right) speaking on behalf of his client, WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar.
  • Paul Heyman (right) speaking on behalf of his client, WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar.
I don't believe there's anyone alive, in any language, who's better at selling tickets with their mouth than Paul Heyman. He's in a class by himself, at the very tippy-top. The past few years he's been on TV mostly as the manager — the "advocate"— for the current WWE Universal Champion, Brock Lesnar. Heyman was ringside in the Superdome when Lesnar broke the collective heart and spirit of the wrestling world by ending the Undertaker's 21-match WrestleMania undefeated streak, and he'll be ringside Sunday when Brock Lesnar defends his championship against Roman Reigns in WrestleMania 34's main event.

But Heyman stays busy. He's launched "An Evening with Paul Heyman," a series of freeform audience question-and-answer events, the next of which will be here at the Joy Theater on Thursday, April 5. When Heyman talks, he ensorcels the listener. At an "Evening" in London a couple years back he put forth a conspiracy theory about Lesnar ending the streak that, despite being in this humble scribe's opinion transparently unlikely (and that's being polite), racked up millions of views on YouTube. Heyman is a powerful spellcaster, and Thursday night at 10 p.m., attendees will have a long-form opportunity to witness him weave his magic.

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Monday, March 26, 2018

Supercard of Honor: chatting with wrestler Cody 'The American Nightmare' Rhodes

Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2018 at 5:23 PM

Back at WrestleMania 30 in 2014, the talented Cody Rhodes, a hard-working wrestler with a magic touch for finding ways to connect with the audience, was relegated to a minor role in an opening multi-man match. Four years later, he's returning to New Orleans a proven main-eventer, and on Saturday, April 7 at Ring of Honor's Supercard of Honor, he'll face Kenny Omega in a dream match pro-wrestling fandom is buzzing about.

Cody (left) and Kenny Omega (right) will face off April 7 at "Supercard of Honor" - RING OF HONOR
  • Cody (left) and Kenny Omega (right) will face off April 7 at "Supercard of Honor"

After almost a decade at WWE, Cody left in 2016 to make a living as an independent wrestler. He's not the first to try, nor the first to succeed, but as a longtime fan it's been gratifying to watch Cody's journey, first out from under the shadow of his legendary father (bleach-blonde Hall-of-Famer Dusty Rhodes, The American Dream) and then beyond the gates of WWE as an international independent star.

Cody's always had charisma. Years ago, his absurdly perfect good looks were the basis of an ultra-vain "male beauty" persona that remains dear to the hearts of many (and helped get my then-partner interested in watching wrestling). It was Cody who finally reintroduced WWE's iconic white-leather Intercontinental Title belt, and he proved capable of making all kinds of unlikely material work, including getting fans excited about something as seemingly basic as him growing a mustache.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Road to WrestleMania New Orleans: Elimination Chamber adds appetizing items to the 'Mania menu

Posted By on Tue, Feb 27, 2018 at 2:13 PM


While not nearly as newsworthy as the 2018 Royal Rumble, Sunday night's Elimination Chamber pay-per-view had lots of action, a memorable segment with Ronda Rousey, and settles some questions about who will be doing what April 8 at WrestleMania 34 in New Orleans.

The show, which was exclusive to the Monday Night Raw brand, featured two matches set in its namesake structure. "Elimination Chamber" may sound like a euphemism for the water closet, but it's one of WWE's more reliably engaging gimmicks, a impressively mountainous enclosure of chain-link and steel with locked Plexiglas pods in each corner containing contenders. At predetermined times during the match, a quote-unquote random pod will open and release a new combatant into the fray.

The first-ever women's Elimination Chamber match opened the show, and it was very good. Good, not a revelation, in part because the RAW women's roster is a little shallow. The first-ever women's Royal Rumble was able to draw from Raw and Smackdown as well as the women's division's past competitors. As a result, that historic match was a veritable Who's-Who of women's wrestling, while the women's Elimination Chamber was more of a "who's that?"

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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

WATCH: Soul Rebels perform '504' on Late Show With Stephen Colbert

Posted By on Tue, Feb 6, 2018 at 10:08 PM


New Orleans' Soul Rebels brought some brass band Mardi Gras joy to the audience of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert tonight, performing with Jon Batiste and Stay Human. Here's a full performance of their song "504," which seems to have been an audience warmup before the full show.

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Soul Rebels to perform on Late Show with Stephen Colbert Feb. 6

Posted By on Tue, Feb 6, 2018 at 10:53 AM


The Soul Rebels brass band makes its first appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 10:35 p.m. tonight.

The band has several engagements lined up in New York City in March before performing several shows with Talib Kweli and GZA on the East Coast. The Soul Rebels will play the national anthem at a New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden. The band also will perform with G-EAZY at Radio City Music Hall, and it will do three shows at the Brooklyn Bowl with guests Curren$y, Cory Henry and Marcus King.

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