Matthew Bourne’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’ brings sinister magic to the fairy tale

Beware the uninvited guest is the moral to “Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty” ballet. Bourne updates this fairy tale, bring some logic while dragging it into the Twilight zone of vampires. If you missed this sumptuous romance on tour, you can see it Friday night on PBS (Check local listings).

Bourne has come up with a version vastly different from the Brothers Grimm’s “Little Briar Rose” and from Perrault’s original story. You expect a slight twisting of the story with Bourne and Bourne’s production taps into the steampunk craze. The story begins in 1890, when the Tchaikovsky ballet with choreography by Marius Petipa debuted. This is the tail end of the Victorian era.

Bourne’s version still has a Princess Aurore and Tchaikovsky’s music, but this princess just doesn’t fall for the first guy who kisses her. Bourne has given this love story a back story, inspired, according to the program notes for last year’s performance at the Ahmanson in Los Angeles, Disney. The love story between the prince and Aurora is unconvincing and Disney in the 1959 animated feature had the prince and Aurora meet and fall in love before she falls into her long slumber.

In Bourne’s version, Aurora’s parents King Benedict (Edwin Ray) and Queen Eleanor (Kerry Biggin) go to the dark side to provide the kingdom with an heir. If you’re going to mess with black magic, you have to remember to thank the evil people. At the christening Carabosse (Adam Maskell) show up uninvited and curses the infant, but the fairy Lilac softens the curse. That’s no fairy. This Lilac is a count in the manner of Count Dracula. Christopher Marney’s count is darkly handsome and heroic.

Skipping over the dull childhood and adolescence of Aurora, we pick up with a 21-year-old Princess and we’re in the Edwardian era.

In Bourne’s version, a young teen Aurora is falling in love with her childhood sweetheart, Leo, when she pricks her finger on a black rose and falls into a 100 year slumber. How will Leo be able to meet with his love after 100 years? By becoming a vampire. Why not? Vampires co-existed with fairies in European folklore.  The fairy who gives the curse is Carabosse and his son Caradoc also appears.

What you also see is the kind of dances that were popular during those times. Act II has the waltz, but the choreography also alludes to American dance crazes of the time such as the Castle Walk introduced by British-born Vernon and American-born Irene Castle. The Castles introduced the Hesitation Waltz in the 1910s (Vernon fought in World War I and died in 1918 in an airplane accident in Texas). Aurora’s dancing in Act III is inspired by Isadora Duncan (1877-1927).

The “Great Performances: Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty” is the next best thing to attending a live performance and the program includes a brief interview with Bourne. The camera keeps you from being distracted and also gives you more time to admire the amazing number of costumes designed by Lez Brotherston, all worthy inspirations for cosplay and steampunk tributes.

Hanna Vassallo’s Princess Aurora rises after the infant puppet has been retired and provides the youthful excitement and the blush of first romance. Her Aurora is mischievous and flirty. After 100 years though she awakens and becomes the object of a love triangle that ends well, if living in the eternal night is a happy ending.

As her love interest Leo, Dominic North provides the earnest determination and they pair well together. He’s not a prince by birth, but by merit, a commoner whose deep love leads him on a long journey to save his beloved.

“Great Performances: Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty” premiere on TV Friday night , 18 April 2014, on PBS at 9 p.m.  (Check local listings). After that, it should be available online.



Press release: ‘Star Trek’ medical officers meet

IDW Publishing, CBS Consumer Products, and XPRIZE join forces to present Star Trek Special: Flesh and Stone, available this July.  The story, inspired by the real-world $10 million Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE, will bring together all six Star Trek doctors for the first time.

The Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE is a global competition in which 30 teams are competing to develop a consumer-friendly, mobile device capable of diagnosing and interpreting a set of health conditions and vital health metrics, inspired by the Star Trek Tricorder.

“While XPRIZE is currently catalyzing a future where a Tricorder-like device is a common household item, we are thrilled to have inspired this parallel Star Trek story centered around the use of the Tricorder, further blurring the line between science fiction and reality,” said Rob Hollander, Vice President of Brand & Content for XPRIZE.

Star Trek Special: Flesh and Stone, written by longtime Star Trek scribes Scott and David Tipton, takes place at a Starfleet medical conference, which is crashed by a deadly metamorphic virus.  The EMH and Doctors Beverly Crusher, Julian Bashir and Katherine Pulaski (with some help from Leonard McCoy and Phlox) join forces in a race against time to find a cure –  only to discover that the answers lie in another place and time! The clock is ticking and only the medical officers of Starfleet can save the day.

“There aren’t very many ‘firsts’ left in the world of Star Trek,” said Scott Tipton. “So when IDW and XPRIZE came to us with the opportunity to team up all six of Trek’s doctors for the first time, how could we say no?”

“The tricky part is how to get them together, since some of them are separated by about two hundred years,” added David Tipton. “How does it happen? You’ll just have to wait and see…”

Dancing sensation Derek Hough gets down with K-pop’s BoA in ‘Make Your Move’

“Make Your Move” is finally opening in the country that brought star Derek Hough international fame through his “Dancing with the Stars” connections. Go to see the dancing, and zone out the dialogue.

At 28, Hough is on the cusp of movie stardom and “Make Your Move” isn’t a bad launching point for the Salt Lake City-born dancing sensation. Sent to be tutored by Corky Ballas and his then-wife Shirley Ballas in London, Hough won the IDSF World Youth Latin Championship with Aneta Piotrowska.

Hough has been with DWTS since September 2007. Before that, he was the lead (Ren) in the original West End production of “Footloose: The Musical.” His sister, Julianne Hough was in the remake.  He has also played Jesus in a 2006 production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” and debuted in a 2005 production of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”

On “Dancing with the Stars” he’s a five-time winner (Season 7 with Brooke Burke, Season 10 with Nicole Scherzinger, Season 11 with Jennifer Grey, Season 16 with Kellie Pickler and Season 17 with Amber Riley) and also collected an Emmy for choreography for his DWTS work with Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson for the quickstep to “Hey Pachuco” and the mambo to “Para Los Rumberos” and a modern piece to “Walking on Air” with Jaimie Goodwin. Hough had been nominated five times, including his first 2009 nom for the “Great Balls of Fire” jive routine that he performed and choreographed with Julianne.

“Make Your Move” isn’t Hough’s first movie.  Hough previously appeared as a Hogwarts schoolboy in the 2001 “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” and made a cameo appearance in his sister’s 2012 movie “Rock of Ages.”

The United States isn’t the first place this South Korean produced film opened. The movie first opened in Norway last July, followed by Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands and Italy. Vietnam was the first Asian country in September with Hong Kong in October and Singapore in November. The movie opens in South Korea only one day ahead of its USA 18 April 2014 release.

According to IMDB, this is his co-star BoA’s first feature film. BoA has been in two TV movies, but she’s best known in our house via a parody. It helps if you know that Bao can be the Chinese word for a steamed bun.

If you’re expecting great acting or characters, then you’ll be deeply disappointed. “Make Your Move” is brought to us by the person who created the screenplay for the 2006 “Step Up,” and the characters for the sequels: Duane Adler. Adler directs as if he’s impatiently rushing us towards the next musical interlude and dance moments. The dialogue is tragic and sometimes defies logic.

Hough plays Donny, a dancer who can’t find a day job in New Orleans. He’s just finished a stint in jail for reasons that remain murky until much later. He’s Gotta Dance. If you read that sentence and heard Gene Kelly’s voice, then you’re on the right track.

So he asks his best friend (who played Ben Gonzalez in the 2009 “Reaper” TV series) to cover for him when Donny’s parole officer (Dan Lauria) calls and Donny violates the conditions of his parole by leaving the state and heading up to NYC where his “brother” Nick (Wesley Jonathan of “The Soul Man” TV series). Donny is white; Nick is black. They are foster bros, so get over it and get on with this multicultural story.

Nick and his Korean-Japanese friend Kaz (Will Yun Lee) had started up a semi-legal club, kind of rough but trendy nightspot on the site of a former factory. In a weird love polygon, Kaz and Nick part ways because a Wall Street hotshot Michael (“Silent Hill” actor Jefferson Brown) has yellow fever–for Kaz’s sister Aya (BoA). Michael is Kaz’s financial backer for a legit club with an Asian flair called Oto (but as I recall, pronounced Otto).

Kaz’s departure was so abrupt that the taiko (Japanese drums) belonging to Aya’s taiko hip hop tapping women’s group are locked away in storage backstage at Nick’s club.  Aya and her group break into Nick’s club and, in a moment of flamboyant stupidity, instead of sneaking off, they perform. Not worried about making a getaway, BoA takes to tapping on top of the bar and Donny, tapping flattened beer cans on his shoes, gets up and starts a challenge. It’s love at first dance.

Kaz and Aya are Japanese-born, but of Korean ancestry which explains some sentences in Japanese and Korean, but not why, when alone, Kaz and Aya sometimes speak in English. Kaz is legally in America. Aya’s visa will expire in a few weeks which sets up the deadline Aya and Donny will work against. The race against time makes up for lack of characterization and actual relationship development, but this isn’t a vehicle for acting. It’s a dance movie, dammit.

Aya could get a work visa if she signs an exclusive contract with Michael who one senses wants to control his little “geisha” in more ways than just professionally. If she could just get a venue for a live performance, she might have a chance of signing her taiko group Cobu with a legitimate agent. Time is running out and, to make matters worse, both Kaz and Nick are in a territory fight that sadly doesn’t involve dancing like Sharks and Jets.

Despite the tragedy of the dialogue, this movie has a happy ending. Despite the gunfire, the hallmarks of Shakespearean tragedies (bodies piling up on the stage) are absent from this Japanese Juliet meets living rough Romeo tale.

Adler is building up a legacy of dance vehicles for white guys wandering into hip hop, with the exception of the 2001 “Save the Last Dance” which starred Julia Stiles but featured Sean Patrick Thomas as her guy from the wrong side of the tracks with somewhat criminal past love interest. This isn’t totally his fault since he’s not in charge of casting and he’s only credited with the characters for the Step Up series since “Step Up 2: The Streets.”

Can we really complain when this movie “Make Your Move” brings Hough his first feature film lead? Hough looks too fresh and healthy for someone who ends up temporarily homeless and his injuries are too temporal from someone who gets beaten up (in a movie that doesn’t have the tone of a Roadrunner-Coyote cartoon).

Hough is athletic as Gene Kelly and has the beautiful lines of Fred Astaire. His beautiful spins and turns and dynamic lines outclass BoA whose hip hop is good, but not as high a level as the crews on “Step Up: 3D.”  Napoleon and Tabitha Dumo’s choreography matches Hough and BoA’s disparate talents into a lyrically romantic duet sequences.

Gregory Middleton’s atmospheric cinematography makes grunge look glamorous and fills us with the golden light of possibilities including multicultural friendships and romance.

“Make Your Move” isn’t a great movie but feature wonderful dance sequences and maybe the first step for Derek Hough into musical stardom. Please someone give Hough a Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire musical and find him a Ginger Rogers.




‘Bears’ are heartwarming family entertainment

The last time a feature film took me off to Alaska to see bears, it was a precautionary tale about a foolhardy American making too friendly and becoming bear fodder, but “Bears” is a DisneyNature production aimed at educating children in time for Earth Day (22 April 2014). Bear fans (Bruins and UCB alum), nature lovers and outdoor photographers and their families should all catch this heartwarming feature. “Bears” opens on Friday, 18 April 2014.

The people factor has been taken out except at the end so be sure to stick around for the credits. Of course, the narration (provided by John C. Reilly, the Cellophane Man Amos Hart in the 2002 musical motion picture “Chicago”) is classic Disney, a mix of anthropomorphizing and hokey humor, but the cinematography will give you an appreciation for technological advancements–or so you’ll think until the end.

The beginning will expose you to Grizzly bears in a particularly vulnerable stage–one we don’t usually get to see. The two cubs, Amber and Scout, haven’t get gotten enough hair to be fluffy and their noses are still pink. You’ll feel as if you’ve gotten a sneak peak of the bear cubs without the benefit or deficit of smell-orama. No thanks on the thought of sniff and scratch here.

Yet directors Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey aren’t satisfied with close-ups of mama bear Sky and her two cubs the clingy Amber and the adventurous Scout. They give us soaringly glorious birds-eye views of the Alaskan mountains where Sky and her cubs hibernate, finally emerging to find themselves threatened by abstract icy monsters–avalanches, on their way to the coast where they will eat.

Sky’s progress is hindered by the slower cubs and she dare not leave them for too long, even amongst other bears. Male bears such as the biggest neighborhood bruiser, Magnus, and the exile but experienced salmon fish-catcher Chinook might kill either of the cubs. An adult bear wouldn’t worry about a wolf, particularly a single wolf like the creamy white Tikaani, but should he separate either of the cubs from their mother, it could be a fatal mistake.

Watching Sky’s struggle to raise her cubs when about 50 percent of bear cubs don’t make it past their first year, is engrossing and directors Forthergill and Scholey do build up the suspense of Amber and Scout’s survival. Bear cubs usually stay with their mothers for 2-3 years.

After watching all the salmon fishing, you’ll probably leave the movie theater with a craving for salmon–raw like sashimi or with a bit more civilization put in the preparation. If you stay for the end and credits, you’ll get to see in part how the cast and crew got all those gloriously up close and very personal shots.



There are no Disney kids in this season of “Dancing with the Stars,” but the producers have found a way to promote Disney products: Season 18 Week 5 is Disney Night.

Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck don’t show up and neither does Captain Jack Sparrow, but there are, of course, Disney princesses and a villainess.

The show did have an opening number to “Step in Time” from “Mary Poppins.”

The first competitors were the weakest couple: Drew Carey & Cheryl Burke. You probably never think of Drew Carey as being a dashing thief. But a comedian? Of course. So why not have him as a possible Genie. Robin Williams voiced the Genie in “Aladdin.” And he gets to dance with the animated Genie and the lamp does appear. Is this silly?

Charlie White & Sharna Burgess get to be Mary Poppins and Bert in a jazz humber. They had props–she had an umbrella and he had a cane to there was a lot of business with the canes and White did miss his cane. Instead of animated characters, they had other dances as the Salvation Army. Head judge Len Goodman loved this piece, but the others loved it only slightly less. Goodman gave them a 10. The other judges, including guest judge Season 9 winner Donny Osmond gave the couple nines.  Is this song really jazz?

Danica McKellar & Valentin Chmerkovskiy received three tens for their very Broadway-style quickstep. They had help for their production number–dancing chefs/waiters and plates.

Amy Purdy & Derek Hough didn’t need extra dancers or cartoon elements for Cinderella. They created magi. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba said so. Inaba didn’t deduct for the lift and amazed by the rise-and-fall of the waltz feeling that Amy Purdy was able to show without the ability to have heel or toe leads because of her artificial feet. Osmond gave them a 10 and the other judges scored them with nines. Goodman wanted to see more in hold but that was a minor point.

Cody Simpson & Witney Carson got the party going in a samba from “The Lion King.” I didn’t feel the samba and I noticed that Simpson has a problem in common with Drew Carey–they keep their mouths open throughout the dance. Simpson was criticized by Osmond. Osmond didn’t see any joy from Simpson. Tonioli thought there needed to be more bounce and had a naughty thing that he shared with Osmond. Inaba had to hush them.

NeNe Leakes & Tony Dovolani decided to bring out the bad in Disney. NeNe Leakes went fashionably black and white with red gloves and a red underskirt because she was Cruella De Ville. Leakes was sassy in her evilness.

James Maslow & Peta Murgatroyd dance contemporary to “Let It Go” and Murgatroyd was the Ice Queen and changed the story a bit. There was some Disney magic with growing ice towers and lots of lifts. I have to say that Maslow did well on the lifts which were advanced. And his scores showed it. Even Goodman thought they deserved a ten. Just how DO you judge contemporary? What would be a mistake?

Meryl Davis & Maksim Chmerkovskiy went wild. Davis was a girl in the purple dress while Maksim was Mowgli grown up on steroids and they did a samba. They got to dance next to the animation of King Louie and Balloo. It was gimmicky but because didn’t have a shirt on that wasn’t much of a distraction.

Candace Cameron Bure & Mark Ballas portrayed the Little Mermaid and a lobster. I think the red wig might have been a bit much for Bure. Of course, nothing is too much for Ballas, even lobster claw hands.

In the end, it wasn’t the lowest scoring team from the last two weeks that was eliminated. It was Cody–the guy who moonwalked during his tango. Not enough fans with American phone numbers?

James Maslow & Peta Murgatroyd

  • 40 (10, 10, 10, 10)
  • Contemporary
  • Let It Go” from “Frozen”
  • 1-800-868-3402

Danica McKellar & Valentin Chmerkovskiy

  • 39 (10, 9, 10, 10)
  • Quickstep
  • Be Our Guest” from “Beauty and the Beast”
  • 1-800-868-3403

Amy Purdy & Derek Hough

  • 37 (9, 9, 10, 9)
  • Waltz
  • So This Is Love” from “Cinderella”
  • 1-800-868-3411

Charlie White & Sharna Burgess

Meryl Davis & Maksim Chmerkovskiy

NeNe Leakes & Tony Dovolani

  • 36 (9, 9, 9, 9)
  • Foxtrot
  • Cruella de Vil” from “One Hundred and One Dalmatians”
  • 1-800-868-3401

Candace Cameron Bure & Mark Ballas

  • 35 (8, 9, 9, 9)
  • Samba
  • Under the Sea” from “The Little Mermaid”
  • 1-800-868-3407

Cody Simpson & Witney Carson

Drew Carey & Cheryl Burke :

  • 28 (7, 7, 7, 7)
  • Quickstep
  • Friend Like Me” from “Aladdin”
  • 1-800-868-3409


Viewers may cast their votes for their favorite teams via phone on Monday nights during and up to 60 minutes after the end of the “Dancing with the Stars” broadcast in each time zone. Online voting at and on Facebook at is open for 24 hours, beginning from the start of each episode on the East Coast at 8:00 p.m., ET/5:00 p.m., PT and closing at 8:00 p.m., ET/5:00 p.m., PT on Tuesday evenings. For the final week, on Monday, May 19, online voting will open for 15 hours, beginning from the start of the episode on the East Coast at 8:00 p.m., ET/5:00 p.m., PT and closing at 11:00 a.m., ET/8:00 a.m., PT the next day. A custom Facebook app lets fans vote, share whom they voted for and say why, as well as see whom friends voted for.

‘Cuban Fury’ is a loving send up of salsa fever

“Cuban Fury” is a funny movie about a man’s journey back to dance after having been beaten to a pulp as a boy about beating a poof.

That’s all set up in the beginning credits that flashes us back to 1987 when a 13-year-old Bruce Garrett (Ben Radcliffe) unwisely is walking around is a shocking pink shirt with too many sequins. A group of bigger boys (Brandon Robinson, Louis Kyriacou and Kieran Gaffney) let him know that even in England, where ballroom dancing is a serious sport that attracts a large following at universities and one of the biggest competitions is held in Blackpool, sequins are still a bit suspect.

Bruce had swept all the salsa competitions dancing with his sister (Isabella Steinbarth) except the nationals, but throws that all away because of this sequin sacking. He doesn’t even bother to face his salsa teacher, the grumpy and glaring Ron Parfitt (Ian McShane). Twenty-five years later, he’s grown up into Nick Frost and settled into a comfort zone that his sister (now Olivia Colman) called “the world of not even trying.”

Bruce cycles to work, has to listen to the smarmy comments and misogynistic remarks of his co-worker  Drew (Chris O’Dowd) who seems determined to keep Bruce down. Both Bruce and Drew are drawn to their new boss, a woman from America named Julia (Rashida Jones).

Bruce has golf buddies and they go through a weekly ritual of cataloging their lack of romantic and sexual encounters with women and one of the three is married but doesn’t seem to have much luck either. After his weekly golf get-together, Bruce notices that Julia happens to be attending salsa classes.

And what better reason to take up dance than to woe a lovely lady. Bruce uses the Internet to find his old teacher, now a hard-drinking has-been and despite Ron’s obvious disgust, Bruce enrolls in classes and becomes a salsa dancer again, but he still hasn’t overcome his mild-mannered ways of romancing. Much of the comedy comes from the hyper-misogynistic womanizer played by O’Dowd and his rivalry with the sincere but dumpy Bruce and, as it turns out, O’Dowd’s Drew also dances and that leads to the ultimate sign of Latin machismo–the dance off. Instead of a parking lot of cool dudes as in Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” (or foodie hell as in Al Yankovic’s “Eat It”) we have some car vandalism and fast footwork on top of the parking structure as well as a “Shaun of the Dead” type cameo.

Yet, in a movie that begins with a question about the manliness of dancing in childhood, we can’t leave that question behind. Don’t worry. Bruce doesn’t get all mushy in a manhood monologue. Instead, the writers provide us with a character, Bejan (Kayvan Novak), which gives us time to question other sexual and gender issues. Bejan is supposedly Persian and Bruce isn’t quite sure if Bejan is gay or straight or somewhere in between. Bejan, not Ron, brings Bruce up to speed in the what-to-wear to a salsa nightclub, making sure that Bruce shaves his chest (no fully body waxing in London, I guess) and the requisite fake tan.

Rashida Jones doesn’t get much to do. She is the straight “man” in this rom-com. Likewise, Olivia Colman is there for support as the sister who was betrayed by her brother when he stopped dancing and who has watched him fail to shine in adulthood.

Of the cast, Novak is the one with classic movie idol looks–he’s 6-foot-1, slender and yet shows off well-muscled arms in “Cuban Fury” and has a smile that’s made irresistible by a dimple in his chin. Of Iranian descent, he’s made a name for himself in the UK with his comedic flair in “Fonejacker” that won him a BAFTA for Best Comedic Performance in 2007.

“Cuban Fury,” isn’t a great movie and the dance scenes are more fun than spectacular, but the movie gives us a British version of man fighting gender stereotypes to realize his true self as a dancer. Because the lead is a man with a hefty potbelly and man-boobs, that also adds to both the pathos and the comedy. In this case, finding heart or el corazon is more about following your heart and dreams, because perhaps you’re meant to be king of some subculture and like minded people. If you get out on the dance floor, not everyone looks like they belong in the movies. A lot of them are normal looking blokes who might need to lose a few pounds and maybe more geeky than cool, but since most dance parties have fewer male dancers than female dancers, the odds are definitely in their favor. “Cuban Fury” is a fun movie that both men and women can enjoy, or at least my husband and I both enjoyed it. He enjoyed it better than “Strictly Dancing” and I’d rate it about the same.

If you’ve made the journey down dancing manliness lane or are thinking of doing so, this movie is a great choice. Next time I meet O’Dowd or Frost, I hope they’ll ask me to dance.

Press release: Win a cool million in Disney pitching contest

Disney is giving amateur baseball pitchers in the nation a chance to compete for a $1 million prize in the Million Dollar Arm Pitching Contest. The Million Dollar Arm Pitching Contest is being held to celebrate the opening of Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm,” an incredible true story about two young men who went from never throwing a baseball to getting a Major League tryout.

Amateur baseball pitchers—male or female, who are legal United States residents at least 18 years of age or older—are invited to qualify to compete in the preliminary rounds of the Million Dollar Arm Pitching Contest at either Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida, Disneyland® Resort in California or at the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Day at the Tribeca Family Festival in New York City. The three contestants from each location who throw the fastest pitches will advance to the finals and have a chance to compete for a $1 million prize at the world premiere of Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm” in Hollywood, California. Official rules are available on’s “Million Dollar Arm” homepage at

Presented by SUBWAY® restaurants, the three qualifying events will take place on April 25 and 26, from 7 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., at both Downtown Disney District in Anaheim, Calif. and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World® and on April 26 only, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Day during the Tribeca Family Festival in New York City. Contestants will throw three pitches, each tracked by a radar gun, in an attempt to throw the fastest pitch. All participants will receive tickets for themselves and a guest to see an advance screening of Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm” at an AMC Theatres location later that evening.

Nine finalists chosen during these qualifying events will have a chance to compete for the $1 million prize at the world premiere of Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm.” The top three eligible pitchers with the fastest pitches from each qualifying round location will be flown with his or her guest to the final contest, which will take place at the world premiere of Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm” in Hollywood, Calif., on May 6.  Each of these finalists will throw three pitches on Hollywood Boulevard. Any eligible finalist who throws one 100 mph strike (out of three pitches) will become a potential winner of the $1 million grand prize.

The nine finalists and their guests will be VIPs at the film’s premiere along with stars, filmmakers, major league players, coaches, scouts and celebrities.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Subject to Official Rules available at event or at



Based on a true story, sports agent JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm) finds that business has changed and things aren’t going well for his career. In a last ditch effort to save his livelihood he concocts a scheme to find baseball’s next great pitching ace. Hoping to find a young cricket pitcher he can turn into a major league baseball star, JB travels to India to produce a reality show competition called “The Million Dollar Arm.” With the help of cantankerous but eagle-eyed retired baseball scout Ray Poitevint (Alan Arkin), he discovers Dinesh (played by Madhur Mittal from “Slumdog Millionaire”) and Rinku (played by Suraj Sharma from “Life of Pi”), two 18-year-old boys who have no idea about playing baseball, yet have a knack for throwing a fastball. Hoping to sign them to major league contracts and make a quick buck, JB brings the boys home to America to train. While the Americans are definitely out of their element in India, the boys, who have never left their rural villages, are equally challenged when they come to the States. As the boys learn the finer points of baseball, JB, with the help of his charming friend Brenda (Lake Bell), learns valuable life lessons about teamwork, commitment and what it means to be a family.

Directed by Craig Gillespie from a screenplay written by Tom McCarthy, Disney’s drama “Million Dollar Arm” stars Jon Hamm, Aasif Mandvi, Bill Paxton, Suraj Sharma, Lake Bell and Alan Arkin. The producers are Mark Ciardi, Gordon Gray and Joe Roth. The executive producers are Palak Patel, Kevin Halloran, Bill Simmons and Connor Schell. The film will be release in the United States on May 16, 2014.

WonderCon 2014: Dark Horse Comics panels and exclusives

Wasn’t it just last week that WonderCon Anaheim was almost sold out, with only Sunday badges available? Now, you can get a 1-day Friday only badge for $25. 1-Day badges for Sunday only are still available for $15. Tickets are available for purchase online only.

You might want to line up to get tickets for signings for the free signings at the Dark Horse booth #519. Free comics, prints and poster are available at each signing. There will also be items available for sale. Certain restrictions may apply. Please note that signings will be ticketed or capped as needed. All events are subject to change.


Friday, April 18

  • 1:00 p.m. Avatar: The Last Airbender: Gene Yang
  • 3:00 p.m. Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi: Dan Parsons

Saturday, April 19

  • 11:00 a.m. Bad Houses: Sara Ryan
  • 12:00 p.m. Avatar: The Last Airbender: Gene Yang
  • 3:00 p.m. Tomb Raider: Gail Simone
  • 4:00 p.m. Never Ending: D. J. Kirkbride, Robert Love
  • 5:00 p.m. The Fifth Beatle: Vivek J. Tiwary, Andrew C. Robinson


Sunday, April 20

  • 11:30 a.m. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10: Christos Gage
  • 1:00 p.m. The Star Wars: Mike Mayhew
  • 3:00 p.m. Serenity: Leaves on the Wind: Zack Whedon, Georges Jeanty*

*Ticketed event. A set number of tickets will be distributed Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings by drawing.


Friday, April 18

5:30 p.m.–6:30 p.m. Room 203 The Making of Star Wars

WonderCon Anaheim special guest artist Mike Mayhew (Avengers) goes behind the scenes of the Diamond Gem Award–winning series The Star Wars, from Dark Horse Comics. Mike will take you on a tour of the universe that was never meant to be, from its mysterious origins to a sneak peek at the collected volumes coming this summer.


Saturday, April 19

5:30 p.m.–6:30 p.m., Room 213 Dark Horse Presents Avatar: The Last Airbender

Dark Horse’s growing line of books following up on the original Nickelodeon hit animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender have achieved bestseller status! Working directly with the show’s creators, Gene Yang (American Born Chinese, Boxers and Saints) penned the first three-book series, The Promise, to universal acclaim, and followed it with The Search. Now, Yang tackles the events directly following The Search in The Rift. Join Gene Yang for an exclusive look at what’s to come in what is sure to be one of the year’s most talked about series!


Sunday, April 20

1:30 p.m.–2:30 p.m., Room 213 Dark Horse Presents Whedonversity

Dark Horse’s continuations of Joss Whedon’s cult favorites (Serenity, Buffy, Angel & Faith) remain some of the most-talked-about comics in today’s market. Dark Horse and WonderCon Anaheim are giving you an exclusive chance to hear all there is to tell about the upcoming arcs of both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Serenity from the creative teams themselves! Join Dark Horse, along with Buffy Season 10 writer Christos Gage, Serenity writer Zack Whedon, and artist Georges Jeanty, for what is guaranteed to be one panel you don’t wanna miss!

Get ready for some Wondercon exclusives!

Dark Horse brings an all-new variant cover for a critical hit and fan favorite, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with an exclusive Season Ten first-issue cover by Tomb Raider art director Brian Horton! Limited to 1,000 copies, these are sure to be scarce!

Second is a variant for Angel & Faith Season Ten #1, by Buffy cover artist Steve Morris! Again, with only 1,000 copies produced, these will go fast!

These two special WonderCon exclusives will retail for $5 and are limited to five per person.

Dark Horse also has three other convention exclusives, produced in limited editions and available while supplies last!

Legendary artist Stan Sakai has done a special cover for the upcoming The Witcher, a canonical tie-in series in the world of the Witcher video games, which have collectively won over 250 awards and sold more than 5.5 million copies worldwide! All proceeds from the sale of this limited-edition variant will benefit Stan and Sharon Sakai.

Art Baltazar and Franco bring you the characters that sprung from Mike Mignola’s imagination, with an AW YEAH twist, in Itty Bitty Hellboy! A limited-edition hardcover is available at WonderCon for $20, while supplies last!

The Last of Us: American Dreams, from Faith Erin Hicks (The Adventures of Superhero Girl) and Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann, collects the comics that are the official lead-in to the game. This limited-edition hardcover will first be available at PAX East this weekend, and then in very limited quantities at WonderCon for $24.99.



WonderCon 2014: The Nerdist Team schedule

The Nerdist team will be at WonderCon, too and they’ll be sponsoring some fun panels over the three days. Interested in James Bond? Try some James Bonding. Need to catch up on nerd news? The Nerdist News team will get you up to speed.

Friday 6:30-7:30 (RM 213)
The Indoor Kids – The Indoor Kids is a Nerdist Industries podcast about video games, sure, but it’s also about all the other things that keep us from frolicking in the sunshine – games, movies, TV, books, apps, and more! Come watch as comedian/actor Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley, Portlandia, Adventuretime) and writer Emily V Gordon (Flower Deranger) bring their podcast live to you at Wondercon! With special guests Kevin Pereira (Attack of the Show), comedian Jordan Morris and more!

Friday 7:30-8:30 (RM 213)
James Bonding – Who doesn’t love 007? James Bonding is the podcast where everyone’s favorite MI6 agent gets analyzed and discussed by Matt Mira (The Nerdist Podcast, Attack of the Show) and Matt Gourley (Superego, Drunk History). Come watch as the pair get into the ultimate debate of who is the best double O alongside a panel of fellow Bond lovers fighting for their James.

Saturday 3:30-4:30 (RM 213)
Nerdist News Live – Jessica Chobot (Mass Effect 3) and the Nerdist News team will catch you up on the latest in movie, TV, comic book, gaming and tech news. The Nerdist team is going to break down the days’ news, interview guests and then turn some of the questions (and jokes!) over to you.

Sunday 12:00-1:00 (ARENA)
The Nerdist Panel – Join Chris Hardwick (Comedy Central’s @Midnight, AMC’s Talking Dead) and some very-relevant-to-your-interests talent from across the growing Nerdist Empire. Chris and friends will engage in lively conversation about the big things to come for Nerdist in the near future. Surprises, big announcements and, of course, quemments await!

Sunday 2:00 – 3:00 (RM 207)
Cosplay 101- Come explore the ins and outs of cosplay with the fabricators and cosplayers leading the way. Join Chloe Dykstra (SyFy’s Heroes of Cosplay) and Johnny Wickham (JustCos, Cosplay Confidential) as they find out how some of the best cosplayers around the world create their looks, exploring fabrication, design, and character.

DWTS 13: Week 3 is the Switcheroo

Blame a date with Captain America and the Winter Soldier at Disney for my no comment on “Dancing with the Stars.” Week 3 had no eliminations because our low-movement elder statesman Billy Dee Williams was having back problems and withdrew.

Does that make sense to you? Do you remember Season 9? That season the oldest ever winner,  Donnie Osmond, competed to win our hearts over singer Mya and Dmitry Chaplin, but during week three, actress Debi Mazar (dancing with Makxim Chmerkovskiy) was eliminated AND Tom DeLay (partnered with Cheryl Burke) withdrew. That was a double elimination.

Yet during Week 3 of Season 18, Billy Dee Williams withdrew, but there was no elimination. This week, Week 4, there was no elimination either (and that was a surprise), but we had the first ever switch-up. Fans got to choose who danced with whom. There was again no elimination, but we had another guest judge, this time one who actually knew something about ballroom dancing, Julianne Hough, and we had three more tens.

Now on to the new partners; first up was Tony Dovolani and Candace Cameron Bure, performing the quickstep. This was a very fun, rock-inspired quickstep. Candace lost her frame and goes too rock and roll-ish.

Bruno Tonioli said it was a quickstep performed by the Sex Pistols.

James Maslow & (Peta Murgatroyd) Cheryl Burke had a very dramatic tango but he was dressed more for Paso Doble.  I have to pause here and ask: Were you distracted by Julianne Hough’s keyhole cutout that showed the sides of her breasts? Should the judges be a distraction?

Guest judge Julianne Hough called him squatty. The problem was Maslow’s lack of pelvic tuck.  Head judge Len Goodman called it “burning hot.”

Drew Carey & (Cheryl Burke)Witney Carson  performed a cha cha cha. Carey is game (and bruises easily), but while he performed “somewhere between Elvis Presley and Liberace” in his gold and sparkly gold suit, he still lacks the basic hip action that he needs during week four. Remember the cha cha cha had traditionally been a Week 1 dance.

At this point, we got the b-roll for the Macy’s Dance.

Derek Hough is a great choreographer and he’s also well-spoken. He knows how to get the best out of his celebrity partners and does even better with professional dancers.

His latin inspired (Paso and a bit of dramatic flamenco with ballroom postures and men all bare-chested was a real crowd pleaser. I would have liked to have seen more skirt on the solf female dancers (five male dancers). Of course for real flamenco, the skirt work for the woman is key.  For the men it is the footwork which they couldn’t do. The tapping of the flamenco should compliment, but not necessarily replicate the Spanish guitar. There should be some call and response. Instead of the percussive drama, the drama was in the dramatic moody lighting and how it captured and sculpted the men’s bodies and brought the dancers into focus or partial silhouette.

Charlie White & (Sharna Burgess) Peta Murgatroyd performed a rumba with a lot of modern feel. Here we could see a bit of a generational gap. Len Goodman liked the number, but thought it wasn’t really a rumba–too sharp and not enough hip action. Julianne Hough mentioned that White was on his heels and back-weighted–which probably is because of his ice dance training.

Tonioli loved that grand intention and clean lines. But also found White’s problem was with his foot-weighted. Inaba also noted there was a lift.  His scores were really spread out from a 7 to a nine. Inaba and Goodman didn’t like it so much, but Hough and Tonioli (who really work off each other) were loving it ( 7, 8, 9, 9). I favor the 9 because it wasn’t traditional and I know that White can to smooth. It was a risky choice by Murgatroyd and it only partially paid off. The lift, however, that shouldn’t have been in there, however, I only think Inaba took a point off for it.

Perhaps this switch up was hardest on Amy Purdy & (Derek Hough) Mark Ballas.  Ballas had to learn how to lead someone whose balance wasn’t completely natural. Ballas gave her “breathing room.” Ballas had to ask Hough for advice. Hough and Ballas are best friends so they all about love.

Cody Simpson & (Witney Carson) Sharna Burgess performed a breezy foxtrot in white with a park bench scenario. However with Simpson in a suit, you can tell that he’s bringing up his shoulders and he leads his arm movements with his elbows.

Still if Simpson was in a musical, we’d love it. He is learning to do heel leads, but they have to be more refined.

NeNe Leakes & (Tony Dovolani) Derek Hough killed it. She was like an African jazz queen. Let her “inner Beyonce out” said Julianne Hough. Goodman also loved the performance called it her best performance yet.  Derek Hough did a good job of showcasing Leakes and adjusting to the size difference.

Meryl Davis & (Maksim Chmerkovskiy) traded Chmerkovskiy’s. She had Val and ended up at the top of the leaderboard after performing the Argentine tango. Now the Argentine tango as performed on DWTS is really show tango by way of ballroom. Still, Davis shows that DWTS should always opt for female ice skaters. Very dramatic. Lots of difficult lifts. Goodman called it “the dance of the night.”

Meryl Davis & (Maksim Chmerkovskiy) Val

James Maslow & (Peta Murgatroyd) Cheryl Burke

Amy Purdy & (Derek Hough) Mark Ballas:

Charlie White & (Sharna Burgess) Peta Murgatroyd

Danica McKellar & (Valentin Chmerkovskiy) Maksim

  • 32 (8, 8, 8, 8) + 36 = 68/80
  • Jive
  • “Love Me Right!”—The Swag Geeks feat. Brook Penning
  • 1-800-868-3403

Cody Simpson & (Witney Carson) Sharna Burgess

NeNe Leakes & (Tony Dovolani) Derek Hough

Drew Carey & (Cheryl Burke)Witney Carson :

Candace Cameron Bure & (Mark Ballas) Tony Dovolani

Viewers may cast their votes for their favorite teams via phone on Monday nights during and up to 60 minutes after the end of the “Dancing with the Stars” broadcast in each time zone. Online voting at and on Facebook at is open for 24 hours, beginning from the start of each episode on the East Coast at 8:00 p.m., ET/5:00 p.m., PT and closing at 8:00 p.m., ET/5:00 p.m., PT on Tuesday evenings. For the final week, on Monday, May 19, online voting will open for 15 hours, beginning from the start of the episode on the East Coast at 8:00 p.m., ET/5:00 p.m., PT and closing at 11:00 a.m., ET/8:00 a.m., PT the next day. A custom Facebook app lets fans vote, share whom they voted for and say why, as well as see whom friends voted for.

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