Monday, October 31, 2011

Best Halloween movies and songs

Happy Halloween.

Here’s my highly subjective list of the greatest horror films of all time.

The Top 10.

The ones that every self-respecting Halloween enthusiasts should see.

Read more.

Can’t stand the silliness of “Monster Mash”?

No longer thrilled by “Thriller”?

But still need some tunes that fit the theme of Halloween?

Got you covered.

Here’s a lil’ playlist to get that costume party started right.

Read more.

—In this publicity image released by Warner Bros. Entertainment, Linda Blair portrays a possessed Regan MacNeil in a scene from, "The Exorcist." (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Entertainment) 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Meet the cast of 'My Fair Lady' and its Tony Award-winning director at Asolo Rep in Sarasota

Andrea Prestinario sings the "My Fair Lady" classic "I Could Have Danced All Night" at the Asolo Rep media luncheon today in Sarasota.

The Asolo Repertory Theatre's production of "My Fair Lady" doesn't open the company's 53rd season until next month but its star already earned a nice round of applause today in Sarasota.

Producing Artistic Director Michael Edwards had all the cast and creatives on hand for a media luncheon held on the mezzanine of the Mertz Theatre.

The big cheers came after Andrea Prestinario, accompanied by a lone keyboardist, belted out a pitch perfection rendition of the classic musical's iconic number "I Could Have Danced All Night."

From left: Jeff Parker, Andrea Prestinario and Michael Edwards

"My Fair Lady," which opens Nov. 18 and runs through Dec. 23, features Prestinario as Eliza Doolittle, a role that earned her rave reviews in the Chicago Tribune and other publications during a recent "My Fair Lady" production at The Paramount Theatre in Aurora, Ill.

Jeff Parker, who like Prestinario is based in Chicago, plays Professor Henry Higgins. Making his Asolo Rep debut, Parker is a Jeff Award nominee whose extensive performance list includes Goodman Theatre, The Kennedy Center, Manhattan Theatre Club and Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

Based on George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion" with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, "My Fair Lady" also marks the return of Tony Award-winning director (and now Sarasota resident) Frank Galati. His credits include last season’s hit production of Asolo Rep's "Twelve Angry Men."

Frank Galati
Galati won two Tony Awards, including Best Direction of a Play, in 1990 for "Grapes of Wrath." In 1998, he staged "Ragtime" and was nominated again for a Tony Award in the Best Direction of a Musical category. Galati also received an Academy Award-nomination as coauthor on the screenplay for the 1988 dramatic romance "The Accidental Tourist," which won Geena Davis an Oscar.

Edwards explained how he wanted to do "My Fair Lady" since he came to Asolo Rep five years ago but needed Galati to direct as to ensure the production would not be "musty."

Galati described "My Fair Lady" as a "biting satire ... about the power of language" and addressed the "serious material underneath this extraordinary musical comedy."

Edwards returned to the podium and, with a sly smile, reminded the journalists representing publications across Southwest Florida that "My Fair Lady" would also be "funny and sexy."

Laughter filled the mezzanine. 

During the brief Q&A section that followed, Doug Peck, the music director/keyboardist, explained the two piano score chosen by Asolo Rep would make the show more intimate because the actors wouldn't have to project over a 40-musician orchestra.

Andrea Prestinario as Eliza Doolittle during a recent "My Fair Lady" 
production at The Paramount Theatre

"My Fair Lady"
Presented in the Harold E. and Esther M. Mertz Theatre
November 18, 2011- December 23, 2011
Preview performances November 15-17
Click for ticket info

Creative Team:
Frank Galati Director
Joshua Rhodes Choreographer
Doug Peck Music Director/Keyboards
Ian Weinberger Assistant Music Director/Keyboards 2
Russell Metheny Set Design
Mara Blumenfeld Costume Design
James D. Sale Lighting Design
Kevin Kennedy Sound Design
Michelle Hart Wig & Hair Design
Patricia Delorey Voice & Dialect
Kelly Borgia* Stage Manager
Michael Morales* Assistant Stage Manager
Nia Sciarretta Stage Management Intern
Ryan Bible Student Lighting Assistant
Lauryn E. Sasso Resident Dramaturg

Cast (in alphabetical order):
Andrew Boyer* Alfred Dolittle
Colleen Cherry 2nd Maid/Ensemble
Sean Effinger-Dean Freddy Eynsford-Hill
Joel Hatch* Col. Pickering
Heather Kopp* 3rd Maid/Ensemble
Carol Kuykendall* 4th Maid/Ensemble
Rob Lindley* 1st Cockney/Ensemble
Robert David May 4th Cockney/Ensemble
Christine Mild* 1st Maid/Ensemble
Annie Morrison* Mrs. Eynsford-Hill
Thomas Mothershed Harry/Ensemble
Jeff Parker* Henry Higgins
Andrea Prestinario* Eliza Doolittle
Peggy Roeder* Mrs. Higgins
Cliff Roles Ensemble
Daniel Schwab 2nd Cockney/Ensemble
Penny Slusher* Mrs. Pearce
Barry Tarallo* Jamie/Ensemble
Bryan Torfeh* Zoltan Karpathy/3rd Cockney
*denotes member of Actor’s Equity

—All photos by Wade Tatangelo

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lucinda Williams at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg, 10/19/11: Review and setlist

Lucinda Williams Oct. 19 at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg. Photo provided by Tracy May.

Lucinda Williams made it worth the wait.

When she returned to Jannus Live for her first Tampa Bay performance since 2004 the alt-country queen seemed to determined to make every song an emotional wallop.

As a cool, welcome breeze made its way through downtown St. Petersburg and blew back Williams’ blonde bangs she sang with measured passion, giving each compelling lyric ample care, as if reliving the moment of its creation.

The multiple Grammy winner considered one of the greatest songwriters alive showed she’s also an outstanding performer.

Williams played for about two hours, judiciously choosing songs ranging from her 1988 self-titled masterpiece to her excellent new album “Blessed.” A freshly penned unreleased song and three choice covers made for wonderful surprises. Blake Mills (electric guitar), David Sutton (bass) and Butch Norton (drums) provided spot-on accompaniment.

Dressed in black jeans and a dark top, Williams wielded an acoustic guitar and opened the show with a barn burning rendition of “Can’t Let Go,” off her 1998 breakthrough album “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.”

She then went back a decade for the sweet ode to having good times with her brother in the “Crescent City.” She returned to “Car Wheels” several times to start the show before delivering a chilling version of the album's most powerful number, “Drunken Angel.”

The song is a tribute to Austin-based singer/songwriter Blaze Foley. He was shot to death after a barroom brawl. Merle Haggard and others would later record Foley’s ballad “If I Could Only Fly.”

Williams sang each line like she was offering a prayer to her old pal:

“Blood spilled out from the hole in your heart / Over the strings of your guitar / The worn down places in the wood / That once made you feel so good.”

Williams then said, “Here’s a new song that will be on my next album.” A country rocker with a dollop of funk “Stowaway in Your Heart,” is a beautiful love letter to manager/husband Tom Overby goosed by a killer slide solo by Mills, a young L.A. artist who has a huge future ahead of him.

The lyric stand came in handy on “Stowaway” and a couple others, but did nothing to hinder her performance. I’ll take the cheat sheet and know that every word is right, thank you very much. It’s not like Williams has ever been known to dance around on stage.

Next came “Side of the Road.” It first appeared on Williams’ self-titled album and remains her finest lyric. The song puts you inside the head of a person filled with passion for another but unable to commit. It’s a common enough theme but never written about with such a smart metaphor marked by rich details; or sung with such a tone of resigned melancholy. Williams performed it solo Wednesday, each word a tender reminder that nothing in life or love is black and white:

“If I stray too far from you, don’t go and try and find me / It doesn’t mean I don’t love you, it doesn’t mean I won’t come back and stay beside you / It only means I need a little time / To follow that unbroken line.”

Williams continued in catharsis mode with the heartbreaking “Blue” before letting the band rip while singing her other hubby song “Born to Be Loved.” She ditched the guitar and clutched the mic with both hands, swaying softly in time as her fellow musicians took turns soloing.

Williams then unveiled her gripping rendition of Bob Dylan’s mortality hymn “Tryin’ to Get to Heaven,” which she recorded for an upcoming Amnesty International benefit album.

The band jammed hard and Williams sung with a sexy snarl on “Steal Your Love,” “Buttercup,” and then spit out the words to her classic kiss-off “Changed the Locks.”

“Thank you for coming out during these hellacious economic times and spending your hard-earned money,” she said as the crowd showered her with applause. Williams then dedicated the blues stomp “Joy” to the “99 percenters” holding the spread-the-wealth “occupy” protests nationwide.

After performing the title track to her new album she left the stage briefly and then returned with a faithful rendition of the early Allman Brothers Band gem “Not My Cross to Bear” before leading the crowd in a spirited sing along of the Buffalo Springfield protest anthem “For What It’s Worth.”

“God bless, power to the people, keep up the fight,” Williams said before exiting.

Here’s to hoping it doesn’t take another seven years for her to visit Tampa Bay. Williams holds a discerning listener rapt like few other performers.


1. “Can’t Let Go” (written by Randy Weeks)
2. “Crescent City”
3. “Right in Time”
4. “Well Well Well”
5. “Concrete and Barbed Wire”
6. “Drunken Angel” (see video shot at Jannus below)
7. “Stowaway In Your Heart”
8. “Side of the Road”
9. “Blue” (see video shot at Jannus below)
10. “Born to Be Loved”
11. “Tryin’ To Get to Heaven” (Bob Dylan cover)
12. “Steal Your Love”
13. “Buttercup”
14. “Real Live Bleeding Fingers and Broken Guitar Strings”
15. “Essence”
16. “Righteously”
17. “Changed the Locks”
18. “Joy”
19. “Honey Bee”
20. “Blessed”
21. “Not My Cross to Bear” (Allman Brothers Band cover)
22. “For What It’s Worth (Buffalo Springfield cover)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bill Clinton headed to Tampa: Lady Gaga incident from Saturday would make great topic for the talk

Former President Bill Clinton, who just had a big night out with Lady Gaga, will bring his "Embracing our Common Humanity" tour to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa on March 21

"President Clinton’s public speeches describe the challenge of globalization, emphasize our growing interdependence, and point the way toward a common future based on shared goals and values," reads the publicity release.

No word on whether he'll reflect on his big bash Saturday at a packed Hollywood Bowl.

The concert, dubbed “A Decade of Difference,” doubled as Bill Clinton’s 65th birthday party.

“I just love you and your hot wife,” Lady Gaga said, mere feet from Bill Clinton, his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and their daughter, Chelsea," reads the Los Angeles Times report. "Gaga described her life as a screwy embodiment of the American dream in eyebrow-raising language, and she praised the Clintons by promising that 'tonight, I thought we’d all get caught up in a little Bill romance.'"

Gaga then performed her hit “Bad Romance.”

Details:  7 p.m. March 21, 2012, at 7 p.m., Carol Morsani Hall, Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N W.C. MacInnes Place, Tampa. Tickets: $65-$185; $325 (includes handshake, photo with the former president). Information: or (813) 222-1000.

Photo: Former President Clinton takes the stage during the "Decade of Difference" concert Saturday at the Hollywood Bowl. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

UPDATED 10/17: PHOTOS/VIDEOS: ArtSlam in Bradenton

UPDATED 10/17: "ArtSlam in 3 Minutes"

Find yourself!

Nearly a thousand photos/videos from ArtSlam, the Realize Bradenton event that took place Saturday on Old Main Street.

All photos/video  courtesy of Realize Bradenton by Mitch Jackson.

Read my interviews with organizers from Realize Bradenton.

From Herald reporter Richard Dymond's story "ArtSlam Rocks Downtown Bradenton"

It seemed everyone had their favorite ArtSlam team Saturday.

“You’ve got to go see the kids drawing in chalk,” said ArtSlam board member Michele Redwine, referring to “Little Chalkers,” the brainchild of Denise Kowal, producer of the Sarasota Chalk Festival.

Little Chalkers was one of 15 teams that strutted its stuff from 3 to 11 p.m. on Old Main Street in downtown Bradenton, a volcanic blast of art that drew about 500 fans and more than 100 artists.

Lucinda Williams dishes on kiss from Bob Dylan

Nice to see people are reading my Lucinda Williams interview advancing her Oct. 19 show at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg (click below for details).  It's the most read story today at

Lucinda Williams on an amazing career that started with a kiss from Bob Dylan

Lucinda Williams’ uncanny ability to create songs that are at once poetic and emotive has won her a loyal following and an enormous amount of praise.

One of the greatest lyricists alive, she’s worshipped by aspiring singer/songwriters and respected by the best in the business.

For more than two decades, Williams has excelled at folk-rock tunes about falling in love, making love and having good times in the Crescent City.

But her most memorable performances are those songs that richly detail doomed relationships, loneliness, little rock stars battling demons or a small town’s reaction to a suicide.

Few vocalists can deliver a love-sick lament as convincingly as Williams, who sings in a singular, unhurried manner, her Southern drawl flowing through the speakers like teardrops.

She can also spit acid in the face of a man who has done her wrong. Venom courses through her voice as she tells an ex she has changed the locks. And the F-bomb has perhaps never been put to better use in popular music than when Williams addresses the lover who promised forever and split after just those three days.

A multiple Grammy winner named “America’s best songwriter” by Time magazine in 2002, Williams’ material has been covered by Tom Petty, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Mary Chapin Carpenter, John Mellencamp and numerous others.

So it came as no surprise when she received the Lifetime Achievement award for songwriting at the Americana Music Association’s 10th Annual Honors and Awards show this month in Nashville. Although honored by the accolade, Williams wasn’t looking forward to accepting it.

“I’m all nervous,” she said during a phone interview with the Herald just before the ceremony. “I have to give a big speech and I don’t know what to say other than ‘thanks everybody.’”

Songwriter supreme Lucinda Williams worried about a silly acceptance speech?
“I know, right?” she said with a laugh.

Read more:

Photo: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Lucinda Williams provides guest vocals on killer cover of Dylan gem:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

'Twilight' alum Cam Gigandet added to Anna Paquin, Drea de Matteo film 'Free Ride' being shot in Sarasota

Another star is headed to Sarasota.

When I broke the news earlier this week that the Anna Paquin, Drea de Matteo movie "Free Ride" would start shooting in Sarasota later this month, writer/director Shana Sosin hesitated when I asked her if there was anyone else she could confirm for the cast.

Guess she had to save something for Variety, which broke the news that "Twilight" bad guy Cam Gigandet will play Paquin's on screen love interest.

"Pic marks the first production for Paquin's production company SCAMP, whose other principals include Cerise Hallam Larkin, Mark Larkin and Paquin's husband and "True Blood" co-star Stephen Moyer," Variety reports.

The same story also gives Oct. 24 as date the "Free Ride" shoot will start.

—Cam Gigandet in "Priest" photo courtesy of Los Angeles Times

UPDATED 10/16: Disney dissing 'Disenchanted' at Golden Apple in Sarasota is a must-see musical

UPDATED 10/16: Read my review "‘Disenchanted’ is a must-see musical"

Jennifer Baker plays Snow White in the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre production of "Disenchanted." Photo by Paul Videla.

The Golden Apple Dinner Theatre's staging of "Disenchanted" is a laugh-out-loud joy goosed with plenty of snark, wit and a cleverly delivered message of female empowerment.
Created by former Walt Disney World Resort employees Dennis Giacino (book, music and lyrics) and Fiely Matias (additional lyrics), the show gives fun, hilarious voices to the princesses locked up in the Mouse House.

Smartly directed by Kyle Ennis Turoff, the Golden Apple production stars Jennifer Baker (Snow White), Mari Bryan (Cinderella) and Alex Torres (Sleeping Beauty).

“Disenchanted” also features Dianne Dawson (Belle), Jenn Abreu (Mulan), Aileen Suseck (Pocahontas), Hilary Kraus (Little Mermaid), Helen Holliday (Rapunzel), Ariel Blue (Frog Princess) and Roberta MacDonald (Secondary Princess/Princess Badroulbadour/Esmeralda/Bitter Pixie)

Each woman shines in her respective role and in MacDonald's case, multiple roles.

My full review of "Disenchanted" will run Sunday and can be found at

It will run in print on front of A&E.

Read my interview with Giacino, Matias, Turoff and cast members:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

UPDATED 4 p.m.: 'We the Kings Day' in Bradenton and across Manatee County; 'Jamie Gregorich Day' Oct. 12

UPDATED at 4 p.m.:
Celebrated chef Jamie Gregorich and We the Kings singer/guitarist Travis Clark being honored in Bradenton. Photo by Wade Tatangelo

Singer, guitarist Travis Clark, wearing sunglasses and a short sleeve shirt that revealed his ample tattoos, gave the Manatee County commissioner a hug before addressing the audience.

“This is one of the awards you remember the rest of you life,” he said. “In 2008 we received the key to the city and now this from our hometown, it’s remarkable. We’re so appreciative of all of you.”

Click for entire story and more pics.

We the Kings members are in downtown Bradenton for special day.

Million-selling Bradenton rock band We the Kings are being honored today by Manatee County Commission.

Headed over there right now with photographer. Will update post ASAP.

Celebrated local chef and "Hell's Kitchen" contestant Jamie Gregorich also being honored.

Read all about it:

—publicity photo

Sunday, October 9, 2011

BREAKING: Anna Paquin, Drea de Matteo movie 'Free Ride' to be filmed in Sarasota

 Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times
The independent film “Free Ride,” starring Anna Paquin ("True Blood"; pictured) and Drea de Matteo "The Sopranos)," will be shooting on closed sets later this month through the end of November in Sarasota.

Boars, cars and homes from the 1970s as well as extras wanted.

Read more.

Also running today:

My interview with Mikhail Baryshnikov: "Baryshnikov talks programming Ringling International Arts Festival"

My Sunday column: "A feast of art happenings"

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Anna Maria Island Players kick off 63rd season with a winning 'family gathering'

Photo provided.
It’s rare for a theater troupe to make audience members laugh at one scene then dry their eyes at the next. But the Anna Maria Island Players achieve just that with “A Nice Family Gathering,” which opened the company’s 63rd season on Thursday. Phil Olson’s script stumbles in places but thanks to director James Thaggard’s nimble touch and some honorable performances, the comedy-drama works much better than it should.

The play finds a communication-challenged Minnesota family sharing their first Thanksgiving Day since the untimely death of Dad (Mark Woodland; pictured center). Pops finds his way back to the land of the living, though, by communicating with his son Carl (Tal Reeve; pictured left). Played for chuckles during Act I and pathos at the end of the final Act II, Dad can bee seen and heard on stage whenever he’s talking to Carl. Although it smacks of gimmickry, Olson pretty much nails this part of the script.

Hammering it home, though, is the chemistry between Woodland and Reeve. Their portrayal of the familiar but forever relevant strained relationship between a father and son who both grapple with expressing their feelings is what makes the play have purpose. The scene between Woodland and Beth Shaughnessy (pictured right), playing Mom, is what will make you reach for your handkerchief.

Jamie Daniel does more than hold his own as eldest son Michael. His character, like Dad and Carl, goes through a major transformation and Daniel makes the leap believable. The actor hampers his authenticity though, by sporting a ponytail and beard, when playing a country club-member medical doctor following in his straight-laced father’s footsteps. Reeve’s scruffy, too, but it fits. He’s a truck driver who writes a column for the tiny local weekly with hopes of landing a staff gig at the Minneapolis major daily Star Tribune.

Shaughnessy has the acting chops to shine as the grieving widow battling what could be Alzheimer’s disease. What’s disturbing about Olson’s script, though, is it too often uses her mental lapses for cheap laughs. Anyone who has witnessed a loved one slowly losing her mind should have a hard time finding these lines funny.

Anne Bean does an adequate job of playing Michael’s wife but her over-the-top Minnesota accent sounds cartoonish, especially when the rest of the cast smartly avoids such tricky realism. Rick Kopp makes the most of jovial Jerry, Dad’s old golfing pal who may or may not be trying to put the moves on Mom. 

Thaggard made quite a find with Wendy Kemp. She attended Palmetto High School as well as PACE Center for Girls and has completed early admission at State College of Florida, according to the playbill. “A Family Gathering” marks her stage debut. Kemp plays the ignored youngest sibling Stacy with the big surprises. After being barely heard in Act I her character is thrust into the spotlight during Act II, where the young actress gives a striking performance. 
“A Nice Family Gathering” has its flaws but, on balance, it’s fun, touching and a wonderful fit for the cozy, intimate theater of the Island Players.
If you go
What: “A Nice Family Gathering”
When: Today through Oct. 16. Show times: 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays
Where: Anna Maria Island Players, 10009 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria
Tickets: $15
Information: (941) 778-5755 or

Friday, October 7, 2011

Dan Toler ALS benefit golf tournament to be held in Bradenton

Here's you chance to hit the links with a real guitar hero who has been a member of the Allman Brothers Band, Dickey Betts & Great Southern as well as the Gregg Allman Band.

The Dangerous Dan Toler Benefit for ALS Golf Tournament will be held Dec. 3 at the The Preserve Golf Club in Bradenton.

Features include:
  • 4 person scramble 
  • 1st 2nd and 3rd place winners/ Mulligan's
  • Closest to the hole 
  • Hole in one 
  • Putting green Prizes 
  • 50/50 Drawing 
  • Auction 
  • T-shirts
Much more exciting news on this event will be coming shortly so keep checking back.

This is also the place for more breaking news regarding "Former Allman Brothers Band guitar greats to reunite: Dickey Betts and Great Southern are headling Dan Toler benefit in Sarasota."

Toler’s battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Details: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 3, The Preserve Golf Club, 7310 Tara Preserve Lake, Bradenton, Fla. Tickets: $75 per player. Information: (941) 756-2944 or

"Whipping Post" by The Gregg Allman Band featuring Allman (vocals/keyboards), Dan Toler (guitar), Frankie Toler (drums), Chaz Trippy (percussion) and Bruce Weibel (bass).

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

UPDATED 11/2: Former Allman Brothers Band guitar greats to reunite: Dickey Betts and Great Southern are headling Dan Toler benefit in Sarasota

Bonnie Bramlett publicity photo
UPDATED 11/2: Esteemed blue-eyed soul singer Bonnie Bramlett, formerly of the famed duo Delaney & Bonnie, has been added to the Dan Toler ALS Support Benefit Festival

Bramlett performed with the Allman Brothers Band during the Toler era of the late 1970s (here's a clip). She can be heard on the ABB albums "Enlightened Rogues" (1979) as well as "Reach for the Sky" (1980). She also performed with Toler on the acclaimed 1978 Dickey Betts & Great Southern album "Atlanta's Burning Down."

As a member of Delaney & Bonnie she performed with Duane Allman, Eric Clapton, George Harrison and Dave Mason. Her many recording credits include singing with the Allman Brothers Band.  She also co-wrote The Carpenters' hit "Superstar" but is perhaps best known for playing Bonnie Watkins on the hit TV show "Roseanne" in the early 1990s.

As first reported here Oct 4., Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dickey Betts and his Great Southern Band will headline the festival taking place Nov. 12 and 13 at Herschberger Ranch in Sarasota. The benefit is being held to raise funds for Toler’s battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Herschberger Ranch is located at 13010 Fruitville Road,  Sarasota.

Dickey Betts performing in July. From
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dickey Betts and his Great Southern Group have signed on to headline the Dan Toler ALS Support Benefit Festival.

The plan is for the former Allman Brothers Band guitar greats to once again jam together — perhaps on such Betts-penned classics as "Ramblin' Man," "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" or  Jessica" (see video below).

The charity event to raise funds for Toler’s battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, takes place Nov. 12 and 13 at Herschberger Ranch, 13010 Fruitville Road, Sarasota.

BlackHawk, which had a string of Top 10 country hits in the 1990s including "Every Once in A While" and "I'm Not Strong Enough to Say No," are scheduled to perform, as well headline the second day.

The lengthy lineup also includes "American Idol" season four runner-up Bo Bice, Wilson Williams and His PlattersTony Tyler's newly named act Come Back Alice, the Mike Kach Group and many more (click for poster).

Dan Toler  honoring his brother on June 25, 2011. By Wade Tatangelo

"Dan's always taken care of everybody around him," said Mark Serio, charity event co-organizer and Mike Kach Group guitarist. "He's a wonderful cat who I've known for 30 years and I would do anything for him."

A resident of Manatee County's Whitfield neighborhood, Toler played guitar in Great Southern before Betts, who resides in Sarasota, landed him the Allman Brothers Band gig in 1979.

Toler can be heard on three ABB albums, including the group’s comeback “Enlightened Rogues,” which reached No. 9 on the Billboard 200.

The Brothers disbanded in 1982 and Gregg Allman (a former Manatee County resident) formed his namesake solo band with Toler and recently deceased sibling David Frankie Toler on drums. Together they recorded the 1986 album “I’m No Angel” that produced the hit title track.

Toler rejoined Great Southern in 2002 and stayed for several years before leaving to pursue various other projects. He announced he had ALS in August. That same month a highly successful fund-raiser was held for Toler at Aces Live in Bradenton.

"This is a labor of love for all of us," Serio said.

Details: Dan Toler ALS Support Benefit Festival,  Nov. 12 and 13 at Herschberger Ranch, 13010 Fruitville Road, Sarasota. Tickets: $20 (one day) $35 (two day pass), $100 (one day VIP), $150 (two day VIP). $5 for children ages 12 and under. Information: (941) 228-5099 or

Platinum-selling rockers We the Kings and celebrity chef Jamie Gregorich to be honored by Manatee County

 Travis Clark, right, of We The Kings plans to attend Manatee County Commission meeting. Photo by PAUL VIDELA/

The next Manatee County Commission will feature some of the area's top celebrities.

Platinum-selling rockers We the Kings and “Hell’s Kitchen” contestant Jamie Gregorich are scheduled to attend the Oct. 11 Board of County Commission meeting to receive proclamations in their honor.

Gregorich, culinary instructor at Manatee Technical Institute in Bradenton and sous chef at Longboat Key’s Golden Spoon-winning restaurant Euphemia Haye, will receive a proclamation naming Oct. 12 “Jamie Gregorich Day.” The 25-year-old Bradenton native was featured prominently on the hit Fox reality show earlier this year.

 Jamie Gregorich, center, chats with students Joe Matthews, left, and Kala King during class at Manatee Technical Institute. Photo by PAUL VIDELA/ 

We the Kings will receive a proclamation naming Oct. 11 “We the Kings Day” in Manatee County. The band’s hit single “Check Yes Juliet” has garnered 12 million views on YouTube (see below) and brought the band platinum-record status in 2010 for selling one million copies of the song.

“Manatee County is proud to recognize Jamie and We the Kings,” said Commission Chairman Carol Whitmore in a statement. “They all have grown up in Manatee County attending King Middle School and Jamie grew up on Anna Maria Island. Their national attention has put us on the map.”

The proclamation presentations will begin at 1:30 p.m. in the first floor chambers of Manatee County Administrative Building, 1112 Manatee Ave., W., Bradenton. The meeting can be viewed live online at or Bright House channel 622, Verizon channel 30; Comcast channel 20.

Monday, October 3, 2011

“TV ME!” contest submissions now being accepted

The Sarasota County Film & Entertainment Office (SCFEO) just announced a call for entries for the 2012 "TV ME!" contest. It's a nationwide innovative writers’ competition seeking fresh, creative content ideas for television programming. Entries may be submitted now through Dec 30. Submission instructions and prize information are available online at

“Last year’s inaugural TV ME! Contest surpassed all of our expectations,” said Jeanne Corcoran, director of the SCFEO, which is a division of the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County, in a statement. “Our goal was to receive 100 entries from across an estimated 10 states to infuse the competition with a broad cross-section of creativity and content. We were excited and delighted to receive more than 250 entries from a total of 28 states.”

Contest prizes for the first place winner in each of three specific categories include trophies, cash awards and gifts from sponsors, and the SCFEO will submit those first-place winning concepts electronically to executives and decision-makers in the television industry for consideration.

One grand prize winner is chosen for the best entry across all categories, who receives all of the prizes won by the three category first place winners, plus the grand prize of an escorted trip to Los Angeles California to “pitch” in person to a select group of industry professionals. All of these winners are invited to be present at a press conference announcing their achievements followed by an awards luncheon.

The grand prize winner of the 2011 "TV ME!" contest was Austin McKinley of Sarasota. McKinley was escorted to one-on-one meetings in Los Angeles to pitch and promote his concepts and talent, and met with executives from SYFY Channel, ABC Television, USA Networks, CBS, Disney, Sony Pictures Television, and other notable industry executives.

“The trip was fantastic,” McKinley said in a statement. “I was floored by how many meetings we eventually got, and the quality of the people. It was really a best-case scenario. I look forward to sending everyone we met there a link to my short film as soon as it's ready!”

Unlike ordinary competitions that require submission of full-length screenplays for movies, scripts for television, or manuscripts for novels, which can range from 90 pages to 350 pages, the "TV ME!" contest requires only 5-to-15-page pitches of a concept for television programming.

“It’s a variation on the idea of a fast and forceful ‘elevator pitch’ where you give the strongest and most concise summary possible,” Corcoran said. “This contest seeks condensed knock-their-socks-off impact. Powerful brevity is key.”

“The 'TV ME!' contest is the only one of its kind I've ever heard of, which is why the minute I heard about it, I wanted to win!” said McKinley. “The entry format lends itself to entering several ideas, and the price point is low enough it's affordable to do so.”

"'TV ME! 2012' promises to be an equally dynamic experience for creative contestants who believe they have the next new, bold, bright or off-beat idea for television," Corcoran said. "This opens up a world of opportunity to great ideas without the necessity of voluminous scripts."

Individuals and creative teams can compete for awards and prizes in three different categories:

• scripted series (from comedy to drama, animated to children’s programs, science fiction to hybrids and other genres of recurring and/or series television);

• unscripted/partially scripted (reality programs, game shows, demonstration/training programs such as cooking, crafts, skills, documentary, interview and expose programs, etc.); and

• one-offs (single standalone programs such as a mini-series , a movie-of-the-week, an award or sporting event, a special televised gala, benefit, tribute, fundraiser, concert, staged performance, etc.).

To enter or obtain more details, visit or send email to request information: .