Monday, August 30, 2010

Nicholas Sparks to pay visit to Charlotte

Bestselling author Nicholas Sparks will be in Charlotte next month to sign copies of his new book "Safe Haven" (which is due in stores two days earlier); the appearance is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 16, at Barnes & Noble at The Arboretum, 3327 Pineville-Matthews Road.

All of 15 novels written by Sparks -- a resident of New Bern, N.C. -- have been set in the Carolinas ... and all have been New York Times bestsellers. Nine have reached No. 1 on the list, and eight have been made into films.

He says his new novel is "a love story and a tale filled with suspense and mystery." The description from his publicist is: "When a young woman appears in the small North Carolina town of Southport, a story unfolds about the darker forces of love, and what can happen when fear is replaced by belief -- in oneself, in second chances and in the power of forces that must be accepted but can never be fully understood."

Friday, August 27, 2010

'Dreamgirls' tickets now on sale

Tickets for the hit musical "Dreamgirls" are on sale now, with prices starting as low as $20. They can be purchased at the Belk Theater box office (130 N. Tryon St.), online at, or by calling 704-372-1000.

"Dreamgirls" tells the story "of an up-and-coming, 1960s singing girl group, and the triumphs and tribulations that come with fame and fortune." The original Broadway production opened on Dec. 20, 1981, at the Imperial Theatre and won six Tony Awards and three Drama Desk Awards in 1982. It closed on Broadway Aug. 11, 1985, after 1,521 performances. "Dreamgirls" was adapted into a movie that opened in December 2006 and went on to win two Academy Awards, five Golden Globes, and two Screen Actor’s Guild Awards in 2007 -- in addition to a Grammy Award for Best Song written for a Motion Picture (“Love You I Do”).

The musical will play Tuesday, Nov. 9, through Sunday, Nov. 14, at Belk Theater. For more information, click here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fantasia sets the record straight

From a VH1 press release that just popped into my inbox:

"VH1’s five-time Emmy® Award-nominated documentary series 'Behind The Music' returns with a brand new special episode featuring 'American Idol' winner and four-time Grammy Award nominee, Fantasia Barrino. Included in this episode, Fantasia will address the most recent events in her life in an interview that was taped on Saturday, August 21. Narrated by Jim Forbes, this 'Behind The Music' will give viewers an inside look into the personal and professional life of one of music’s greatest vocalists. Along with interviews from Fantasia herself, the episode will feature stories from some of the people who know her best as well as never-before-seen footage. 'Behind The Music: Fantasia' premieres on Tuesday, August 24 at 9:00 PM*.‪

"Growing up a country girl from North Carolina to becoming one of the queens of R&B, Fantasia has overcome all odds on her dramatic rise to fame. In this episode of 'Behind The Music,' Fantasia reveals her issues with low self-esteem, a traumatic rape at the age of 14, an unexpected pregnancy at 17, an abusive relationship with a former boyfriend, facing bankruptcy, dealing with a shocking illness and most recently being rushed to the hospital due to an overdose of aspirin and a sleeping aid.

"Determined to make a better life for herself and daughter Zion, Fantasia decided to pursue her musical dreams by auditioning for season three of 'American Idol.' She poured her heart and soul into each performance and beat out such competitors as Jennifer Hudson, LaToya London, and George Huff, to ultimately win the title of 'American Idol.' Since then, Fantasia has gone on to become a platinum-selling international superstar and her first single 'I Believe' on J Records debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. This debut made Fantasia the first artist in history to achieve this with their debut single. In the coming years, Fantasia recorded two albums, published a memoir entitled 'Life Is Not a Fairy Tale,' was nominated for four Grammy® Awards, made her Broadway debut in 'The Color Purple,' and starred in her own VH1 reality show 'Fantasia For Real.' Always the underdog, Fantasia has proved she can defeat any obstacle she encounters on her journey to the top. This episode includes exclusive footage of Fantasia’s high school graduation where she received her diploma nearly a decade after dropping out of school. Also featured are interviews with her family, ex-boyfriend Brandel Shouse, 'American idol' alum George Huff and Chief Creative Officer of Sony Music Entertainment Clive Davis."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Brooklyn Decker boards 'Battleship'

Matthews native Brooklyn Decker's future as a big-budget Hollywood movie star continues to brighten.

The 23-year-old Sports Illustrated cover girl will follow up her supporting role in the 2011 romantic comedy "Just Go With It" (starring Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston and Nicole Kidman) with a part in the action-oriented war flick "Battleship," according to multiple news reports.

The movie -- based on the Hasbro game of the same name -- stars Alexander Skarsgard (best known for his role as Eric on HBO's "True Blood") and also includes Rihanna and Tom Arnold in its cast. Peter Berg ("Hancock") will direct. lists the plot as follows: "A fleet of ships is forced to do battle with an armada of unknown origins in order to discover and thwart their destructive goals." The tentative release date is May 18, 2012.

Decker, a graduate of Butler High School, was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated's annual Swimsuit Issue in February. In June, Esquire Magazine named her the Sexiest Woman Alive.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New 'Survivor' cast boasts 3 from N.C.

We'll probably never see a "Survivor: North Carolina," but the 21st season of CBS's hit reality TV series will have a healthy dose of Tar Heel flavor.

Three of the 20 members of the cast -- which also includes two-time Super Bowl winning coach Jimmy Johnson -- hail from N.C. They are: Kelly Bruno, 26, a UNC medical student from Durham; Jane Bright, 56, a dog trainer from Jackson Springs; and Chase Rice, 24, who recently worked as a NASCAR jackman for Hendrick Motorsports in Mooresville but now is pursuing a country-music career in Nashville.

Bruno, pictured, lost her right leg to a birth defect when she was 6 months old, but is a competitive athlete: She was the third (and fastest) female amputee to finish the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, in 2007.

"Survivor: Nicaragua" premieres Sept. 15 and will pit Rice, Bruno and eight other contestants under the age of 40 against Bright and nine other players who are 40-plus. See a slideshow of the contestants here. This is the second time a season of "Survivor" has featured a young-vs.-old showdown ("Survivor: Panama" was the first).

Previous contestants from the Charlotte area have included Jerry Sims of Rock Hill, S.C. ("Tocantins"), and Leslie Nease of Tega Cay, S.C. ("China").

Other past N.C. "Survivor" contestants include: Candice Woodcock of Fayetteville, who was on both Seasons 13 and 20; Sydney Wheeler of Raleigh ("Tocantins"); Crystal Cox of Durham ("Gabon"); Andria "Dreamz" Herd of Wilmington ("Fiji"); Austin Carty of High Point ("Panama"); Ted Rogers Jr. of Durham ("Thailand"); and Gabriel Cade of Celo ("Marquesas").

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Corinne Bailey Rae concert = canceled

Due to "a scheduling conflict," the Corinne Bailey Rae concert that was slated for The Fillmore Charlotte on Sept. 8 has been cancelled. Tickets purchased online or over the phone will be automatically refunded. If you bought them from a box office, you can go back for a refund beginning at 10 a.m. Wednesday (Aug. 4). For more information go to