07/28/14 Music & Concerts
There is nothing that startling or spectacular about American Dream Plan B, the opening track on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' new LP, Hypnotic Eye. And yet the attitudinal song, the catchiest cut he's crafted in years, is a jangly revelation nonetheless. It's been awhile since our beloved Gainesville guy sounded like he was having any semblance of fun, a native Floridian in a cold, gray Nebraska gloom....
Is this a classic case of "revenge marriage," as my colleague, and savvy student of lovelorn celebs, Stephanie Hayes dubs it? No idea, but we're digging the totally irrational concept. In April -- as in, a few months ago -- Glee's Naya "Santana" Rivera split with fiancee and rapper Big Sean. Instead of sulking about the breakup, the 27-year-old Rivera immediately started dating longtime friend -- and now husband! -- actor Ryan Dorsey (Southland, Parks and Recreation). The two were hitched up in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, over the weekend...or right around the time Big Sean and his former lady love were supposed to wed. "We feel truly blessed to be joined as husband and wife," the newly betrothed couple told People. "Our special day was fated and everything we could have ever asked for....True love always prevails." Every good revenge marriage deserves an even better revenge rap song! Drop the bass, Big Sean! ...
07/20/14 The Feed
James Garner had a Hollywood chin but Everyman's eyes. He was a relatable lug whose most iconic work — TV's Maverick in the '50s, The Rockford Files in the '70s — endures because his beat-up, beleaguered guys looked a whole lot like us: trying and failing to avoid trouble, dodging bill collectors and bad news on the answering machine.
Mr. Garner, who suffered heart problems and had a stroke in 2008, was found dead of natural causes at his Los Angeles home on Saturday. He was 86. One of the first stars to find success in both TV and movies, his career was robust and varied. In 2004, he caught the eye of a new generation of swoony girls with his weepy portrayal of an older Noah — the ultimate loyal romantic! — in The Notebook....
07/17/14 Music & Concerts
One of the proudest — or at least weirdest and most unseemly — moments of my pop critic career was when Gene Simmons, the exceptionally tongued bassist in Kiss, suggested during an interview that he had (ahem) dated my mother. It was at the end of a video conference and the metallic Detroit Rock City boys, in full B&W makeup and pointy metal things, were getting antsy. Earlier in the day, I told Mom about the upcoming Kiss chat, and she admitted that she had a crush on the Demon after seeing his A&E reality show, Gene Simmons Family Jewels. Soooo ... I told Simmons this as a sort-of interview capper. He paused, his eyes twinkling with menace, and asked, "What's your mother's name?" "Mary Daly." He then leaned forward, paused and said, in a slow, lascivious tone: "Oh yeah, I remember Mary." Simmons is still rocking with lead singer Paul Stanley & Co. at the age of 64. My mother is 72. I guess it could have happened. Mary Daly giggled when I told her, and then stayed unsettlingly mum on the subject. Kiss, with Def Leppard, performs at 7 p.m. Wednesday at MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $36-$175. (813) 740-2446...
TAMPA — It's best if we just get this out there right away, while the emotions are fresh, the reverberations of show-closing We Are the World ("We are the chillllldrennn …") are still echoing and the harsh light of morning doesn't have us questioning our life choices.
I sang a lot at Lionel Richie's Monday show at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre.
And when I say a lot: NO, A LOT, DUDE. Like caterwauling, I-don't-care-who-hears-me belting. Eyes closed, one hand to heaven, with full-tilt way-off-key going-for-it-osity: "You laughed at me! You said you never needed me!" I feel your pain, Lionel!...
07/14/14 Music & Concerts
When I say Lionel Richie is one of the great mood-setters in pop music, I'm not just talking about spinning his records to better heat up date night. (Although that works, too.)
As a member of the Commodores and then a chart-topping solo star, the now-65-year-old R&B king was exceptional at composing brutally beautiful beginnings, hooking you fast, especially on the ballads. Nothing against the rest of the song, but his top skill has always been hammering your heart straight out of the gate, a talent that has helped him sell more than 100 millions albums worldwide. Think of the classical, contemplative piano on 1981's Endless Love, and then those words: "My love, there's only you in my life..." The stop-start baroque feel of Truly ("Girl, tell me only this...") The hope of a sunrise contrasted against the dread of waking up alone on the devastating Still ("You laughed at me, you said you never needed me"). ...
The Obvious: Courtney Love, who turned 50 earlier this week, is one of pop culture's great train wrecks. The Not-So-Obvious: Love, for all her nutty lore, is also rather talented, so much more than Kurt Cobain's burned-out, legally challenged widow. In Hole and as a solo act, she made some visceral grungy rock. She's even better -- when she bothers -- as an actress, most notably as ill-fated wife Althea in 1996's The People vs. Larry Flynt. So it's odd, but potentially good, news that Love will be joining the cast of FX's badass-bikers drama Sons of Anarchy during its seventh and final season. She'll play preschool teacher (haha) Mrs. Harrison, who takes interest in young Abel -- and who butts heads with Abel's mama (Drea de Matteo). Love will make her first appearance in the fourth episode, and you know what? I bet she's pretty darned GOOD....
07/08/14 Music & Concerts
There's absolutely nothing subtle about Robin Thicke, which is both his greatest strength and, well, the reason lots of people think he's a lunkhead. From his elevated hair to his wolfish grin to the audacity of Blurred Lines, the guy is all id, all out there. He definitely shares braggish traits — and undeniable talent — with Kanye West, especially with the sheer brazenness of Thicke's new album, Paula....
ORLANDO — Fear is a tricky commodity, and mondo business, for theme parks these days. You have to push the envelope to keep pace with your nearby competitors, but not be so pushy that too many potential guests tremble at the idea of your nefarious new terror machine.
Ihu's Breakaway Falls at Aquatica, SeaWorld's neighboring water park, is very much the modern I-dare-you attraction: a water slide and a drop tower all in one, a water slide you literally plummet almost straight down into. I was seriously freaking out before getting sucked into the swirly horror of it all. But I want to do it again. Right now. That innovative terror machine works quite well, thank you very much....
06/30/14 Music & Concerts
It's one of the great cruelties of life: Sooner or later, we all grow too old to shoot whipped cream out of our novelty brassieres. Just ask Katy Perry, whose sold-out Monday show at the Tampa Bay Times Forum was decidedly without rocketing foodstuffs, once the record-setting singer's vavoomish trademark.
Instead, the 29-year-old superstar streamlined this stop on her Prismatic World Tour into all parts self-empowerment, acrobatics, special effects (a puppet steed for Dark Horse) and a whiz-bang light design (everything lit up, from the mondo backing screen to the long runways to the jump ropes for opening number Roar)....
06/25/14 Music & Concerts
Lana Del Rey is something of a pop onomatopoeia. Her voice, like her Hollywood-circa-1939 name and persona, is lush, languid, a seductive instrument that makes the singer sound as if she couldn't be bothered to move from the fainting couch. In another time, another medium, the 28-year-old would have given hardboiled P.I. Philip Marlowe even more reasons to drink.
Del Rey (real name: Elizabeth Woolridge Grant, a native not of Los Angeles but New York City) released a new album this week, Ultraviolence, in which she adds even more red-lipstick edge to her femme fatale image. The LP follows the surge of two singles: No. 1 hit Summertime Sadness, which Miley Cyrus covered in concert, the latter only hoping to gain some of LDR's smoky mystique; and a fantastic re-do of Disney classic Once Upon a Dream, the once-chirpy Sleeping Beauty theme made malevolent for Maleficent. The latter is far scarier than anything heard in the Haunted Mansion; it's her crowning achievement....
06/24/14 Music & Concerts
Katy Perry's kisses, the hot ones and the cold ones, tell the tale of her career. • The singer, a daughter of Pentecostal pastors, commenced as a 23-year-old flirt with overeager lips. Her debut single, 2008's I Kissed a Girl ("and I liked it, the taste of her cherry ChapStick"), hit No. 1 in almost 20 countries, selling more than 4 million digital copies in the United States. • Boys, babes, the naughty pop princess aimed to smooch 'em all: in Sin City (2008's Waking Up in Vegas), in a menage a trois (2010's Last Friday Night), in a titillating marriage (to bad boy Russell Brand, whom she'd later divorce, letting it all crassly play out in a sexy concert movie, Katy Perry: Part of Me)....
In the bestselling books, in the box-office-breaking movies and now at Universal Orlando Resort, Diagon Alley is a magical land where boy wizard Harry Potter goes to shop. Oh, its Florida incarnation is an eye-popping place, as hundreds of media members, here and abroad, discovered this week at a glitzy press event inside the second Potter playground for Walt Disney World's chief competitor....
Did Times staff writer Sean Daly break the new Harry Potter ride at Universal Orlando?
During a press event Wednesday at Diagon Alley, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts was suffering the kind of tech glitches not even Dumbledore could fix. (Oh, we're getting tired of Potter references already.) A few guests made it through the entire indoor steel coaster that blends 3D effects and state-of-the-art trickery, although reports were that things weren't working too well for them, either....
06/15/14 Music & Concerts
With a warm, crisp delivery that trumpeted Michael Jackson and Motley Crue with equal reverence, pioneering DJ Casey Kasem owned Sunday mornings in the '70s and '80s. His American Top 40 was one of the most popular — and inclusive — radio shows ever, gathering both kids and parents, a rare feat indeed.
Broadcast over a whopping 450-plus stations at the height of his success, the ever-perky Mr. Kasem spent three to four hours teasing that week's No. 1 song, back when his list, and his No. 1, were the only ones that truly mattered. Would it be Marvin Gaye? Madonna? Duran Duran? Run-D.M.C.? Everyone was invited to Casey's party....