Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Casting call for zombies in Sarasota

There's a need for zombies in Sarasota this weekend. As many as possible.

A flyer came across my desk today about a Scream Queen Pictures flick being filmed in the area called "Dead End," by Last Gasp and Blam! Ventures.

The part that got my attention wasn't the "show up in generic clothing" request, but the "better yet" part — "dress up in '80s style clothing (leg warmers, sweat bands, Miami Vice pastel colors, etc.)."

I called the film's contact, Missy Mulloy, for the scoop. Those interested in being an extra should show up at 10 a.m. Friday and Saturday (Feb. 2-3) at 1507 Mango Ave., off 12th Street in Sarasota. Extras will be put in zombie makeup, receive lunch and have their name in the movie credits. The gig pays a $1.

Mulloy said the movie, which has a fall '08 target release on iTunes only, is "ultra low budget" but is being filmed by a professional crew from New York who occasionally dabbles in the comic book industry.

The plot features four kids hanging out on the beach who run out of beer and try to find more at a warehouse. They meet up with a woman played by Linnea Quigley, a star from "The Return of the Living Dead," who tells them all about a zombie invasion from the past that happened there. Enter zombies out of nowhere. Now the group is stuck in the warehouse with the decision of either staying until they run out of food or trying to make a run for it.

So if you're looking for something to do this weekend, hang out with the film crew in your '80s garb and be a zombie. This is not something to do with the little ones, but everyone from teenagers (who have parents' permission) and older are invited to be a part of horror in making. Mulloy said the more the merrier!

For more information, call Mulloy at 321-4435. — January Holmes

Friday, January 25, 2008

Life is a circus for the Bauers

This week, I met with Joseph Bauer Jr., the new ringmaster of Circus Sarasota, over lunch. He brought along his circus wife, Caroline, and his two-month-old son.

Like many circus performers, the elder Bauer was born into the big top life, receiving the privilege of traveling all over the world.

With such a dashing life, I was amazed to hear Bauer was born and raised in Sarasota. His wife also trains the horses for her act in the area. The couple have a house here. To them, this is home.

But I guess that shouldn't be surprising since Sarasota is considered a circus town. Bauer said the circus world has shaped Sarasota into what it is today. That got me thinking about how life would be different here if John Ringling had never stationed his famous circus in the city during the 1920s.

Circus Sarasota's Web site,, said before the arrival of Ringling Bros. and Barum & Bailey Circus, the area was nothing more than a "quiet farming and fishing village" with a population of more than 800.

Thanks to the Ringling powerhouse, other circuses were drawn to the area. Their arrival beefed up economic activity for Sarasota and the surrounding areas while raising the quality of life.

Today, Circus Sarasota continues to contribute to the community by using its talented artists to educate others in circus arts and providing "therapeutic medicine" by visiting nursing homes and children.

Whether we realize it or not, the circus as a whole has touched us all. —January Holmes

To read about Circus Sarasota's new season, check out next Thursday's Weekend.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

News of actor's death sparks sadness

News of actor Heath Ledger's death on Tuesday immediately sparked sadness within the entertainment world and beyond, along with a sort of disbelief. It's odd when an actor, or any person for that matter, dies unexpectedly.

In the vast land of celebrity, death doesn't seem as surprising when it's preceded by old age, severe substance abuse or over-the-edge escapades. Don't get me wrong, it would still be very tragic, but many times people see it coming. An inevitability, you could say.

Results are currently inconclusive on the nature of the 28-year-old Australian actor's death — news reports said he was found in the bedroom of his New York apartment dead, surrounded by prescription drugs for sleep and depression. Since police do not suspect foul play, the actor's family and friends believe his death was probably an accidental overdose.

Could he have been simply fighting insomnia and took too much medication? Maybe he was trying to uplift himself out of depression or both? Heaven forbid a suicide.

Ledger wasn't the type to party incessantly or live a dangerously wild lifestyle like several celebrities who are currently in the news. In fact, he was well-respected in Hollywood by taking roles that excited and challenged him instead of working on films that would assure an easy paycheck.

I remember first seeing Ledger in the Shakespeare-inspired 1999 teen flick, "10 Things I Hate About You." My sister turned me on to the movie by buying a copy and watching it at least 100 times a week. My mom enjoyed his and everyone else's performance in 2000's "The Patriot." From there, Ledger continued taking on roles that defined his acting ability and later earned an Academy Award nomination for his controversial role in "Brokeback Mountain."
Many in the film industry believed Ledger had a bright future ahead.

For all the trouble brewing in Hollywood over young stars gone astray, it seemed like Ledger had his act together for the most part. It's sad that such a talented actor is suddenly gone. — January Holmes

Monday, January 14, 2008

Writers strike tarnishes Golden Globes

Did you miss the Golden Globes Sunday?

Well, I can't say that I cried over the whole affair, though I actually missed seeing some of the media fanfare afterwards — a recap on the best jokes of the evening, who snagged the best actor, actress and best film awards and the coveted worst and best dressed list.

Thanks to the on-going writers strike, the Golden Globes was watered down to an announcement of who won what. After the winners were named, you could hear a handful of people clapping in the background. It was kind of odd and very un-glamorized. What's an awards show without the Red Carpet, the flashy clothes and cameras zooming in on famous faces getting their various reactions?

NBC tried its best to fill the time with interviews of the nominees. I think I tuned in long enough to see a glimpse of Russell Crowe for a moment then I went back to channel surfing, watching snippets from "60 Minutes," "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and later a full dose of "The Amazing Race."

Such is the state of TV now. It seems all we have are news shows and reality TV shows to keep those who have a hearty TV appetite going. Of course, there are a few shows that have been able to squeeze a short season of episodes out before halting productions. Maybe "American Idol" which premieres tomorrow, will fill some of the slack.
In the meantime, the next big question is will the Academy Awards be canned if the writer's strike continues?

— January Holmes

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Artist director has high hopes for Sarasota theater

Jeffery Kin, artistic director for The Players Theatre isn't taking his new position lightly. He has high hopes in store for the Sarasota community theater.

When I attended The Players luncheon last week to cover its 2008-09 season announcement, I learned that Kin — who has been artistic director for six months — is eager to have the theater continue to grow dynamically and artistically.

The writer, actor and director has proposed a refreshing season that includes a few interesting shows and challenging productions such as "The Spitfire Grill" and "Titanic." On top of that, he's hoping to take a group to the regional community theater competition next season.

Though he'll be competing alongside the Manatee Players, I'm sure it will be a friendly contest. Last week over lunch, he talked about collaborating with the Manatee Players and Venice Little Theatre on future projects. Which makes sense since many non-professional actors like to perform at all three venues. It seems Kin may be the man to make this long-time dream of community theaters joining forces a solid reality as he is well known in the theater community.

I find that people literally beam if you mention Jeffery Kin's name. And I can see why. He has a personality that charms and a professional side that shines.
Let's hope that spirit continues.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Eye opening experience at G.WIZ

Saturday I went to view "Bodies Revealed" at GWIZ, the childrens' science museum on Sarasota's bay front. I had never been to GWIZ and I'm so glad I finally went. The place was packed, which I didn't think it would be on an NFL playoff weekend. "Bodies Revealed" is a traveling show that features 8 real body specimens and more than 234 organs and partial body specimens. I thought it might be gross, but it's actually fascinating. I learned many things I didn't know about the human body. The coolest was looking at all the blood vessels in an arm and see how intricate our blood pathways are. I was also a little sad to see examples of colon and prostate cancers, both of which my dad has had ... and survived. The most affecting was the display of both healthy lungs and smoker's lungs. I recently quit smoking and this was the best positive reinforcement I could've received. I hope it inspires others.

This was just the first thing we saw at GWIZ, after "Bodies," we wondered upstairs and found a treasure trove to fun hands-on science exhibits. And while there were many children having fun, the thing that stuck out to me was that seniors and adults were having just as much fun experimenting with magnets, lasers, listening devices and more.

Beyond that room was the "Tutankhamun - The Boy King" exhibit on display through April 15. This is not the real exhibit, but rather an imitation. Very interesting none the less. Intricate jewelry, dazzling gold statues and other Egyptian artifacts.

I recommend heading to GWIZ before the "Bodies" and King Tut exhibits end. - Jana Morreale

Thursday, January 3, 2008

It's circus time in Sarasota

Now that the holidays are over, eager Bradenton Herald readers have been inquiring about what seems to be the next big ticket in the Bradenton-Sarasota area — the circus.

The clowns, the exotic animals and all those unique stunts are a big draw for circus lovers — especially for those living in the circus haven of Sarasota.

I must have been about 5 or 6, when I went to see the circus for the first time. I tagged along with an aunt I barely knew and a younger cousin. I remember being completely enamored by the elephants marching in and performing tricks. I laughed at the clowns, sat in wonder at sight of the ringmaster and got all the popcorn and candy a kid could ever want. But I don't think I ate it all, because when you're a kid going to the circus for the first time, food is probably the last thing on your mind as you take in all the dare-devil action and glorious fun.

Looking back on that experience, it's easy to see why some people literally want to run away and join the circus. Though it's exciting, I don't remember that thought ever crossing my mind. I don't think I could live with all the animal smells 24-7. But I guess one gets used to that.

If you haven't had the opportunity to check out the circus, want to expose your kids to the thrills of the big top or basically re-live a moment of your childhood, don't miss these following circus events at our back door:
— Ringling Bros. And Barnum and Bailey all new Gold Tour, various times Jan. 17-Jan. 21, Robarts Arena, Sarasota. Information: (813) 287-8844
— Circus Sarasota, various times Feb. 1-24, 1500 Stringfield Ave., Sarasota. Information: 355-9805. — January Holmes