Monday, December 17, 2012

EpiCentre offers free cab rides for partiers

During the month of December, the uptown EpiCentre will partner with the local ABC Board and three cab companies to provide complimentary rides within the 1-277 corridors through the "I’m Not Driving Impaired" initiative.

The initiative allows adults (21 and older, obviously) who have consumed alcohol to receive a $10 voucher for a single trip cab ride with City Cab, Crown Cab or Yellow Cab companies. This program is sponsored by Mecklenburg County ABC Board and is supported through the sales of distilled spirits in Mecklenburg County.

According to the EpiCentre, Mecklenburg County prosecutes approximately 4,000 driving while impaired cases each year. This statistic spikes during December, while companies and individuals celebrate the holidays.

Vouchers for the cab rides are available at the valet stand on College Street. The offer is limited and may end without notice, the EpiCentre says.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mike Tyson bringing one-man show to Charlotte

Hear Mike Tyson’s name and you’ll likely think of heavyweight titles, bitten-off ears, face tattoos and – if you’re a fan of “The Hangover” movies – Bengal tigers.

You would not, presumably, think of the stage, much less of Broadway.

Yet Broadway is exactly where the former boxing superstar-turned-thespian spent 10 days in August, as the star of his one-man show, “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth.” And on April 21, he’ll bring that show to the stage at Ovens Auditorium as part of a 10-week national tour. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday.

The show – written by wife Kiki Spicer and directed by Spike Lee – is billed as “a rare, personal look inside the life and mind of one of the most feared men ever to wear the heavyweight crown.”

Among the topics: His hardscrabble youth in Brooklyn; his relationships with mentor Cus D’Amato (good), boxing promoter Don King (bad), and rival Mitch Green (ugly); the 2009 death of his 4-year-old daughter; and his conversion of veganism.

Oh, and the time he caught former wife Robin Givens with Brad Pitt in the late ’80s.

This tidbit caused murmuring during “Undisputed Truth’s” run on Broadway, but after he talked about the incident in detail during a recent interview with Yahoo! Sports, headlines like “I Caught Brad Pitt Having Sex With My Wife” were splashed all over the Internet last week.

In a phone interview with the Observer on Tuesday, Tyson said the story has gotten blown out of proportion.
“You see how rumors get spread,” Tyson said. “I didn’t walk in on them. They weren’t actually (having sex). But that’s what they were going to do.”

“He’s in the show because it was a part of my life,” Tyson continued. “I’m not angry at him, I’m not trying to pick fights with him or anything like that. No way. I’m just telling a story, and I’m telling it from a funny perspective. It’s all about me being (an idiot).”

Tyson had a similar explanation for a portion of the show about Givens, which some critics say is a lengthy and vicious verbal attack on his former wife.

“People look at it as if I’m out to get her,” he said. “I’m not out to get her. I’m out to show how much of (an idiot) I was for her.”

More than anything, he’s out to win over his fans again.

“I just love to be able to entertain people,” Tyson said. “I’ve done this first as a boxer, and that’s where I got the bug. I just love being in front of the camera … I love hearing people applaud.”

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Emily Maynard ... on 'Dancing With the Stars'?

In October, rumors were swirling around the Internet that Emily Maynard would be returning for a second shot at love on "The Bachelorette" (third, if you include her run on "The Bachelor" in 2011).

Well, there's fresh buzz about a possible return to ABC reality television for Charlotte's most famous single mom -- only this time, if the rumors are true, Maynard would be confronted with a different kind of smooth moves. is reporting that Maynard, 26, has signed on for the upcoming 16th season of "Dancing With the Stars," and offers some interesting gossip regarding the news (that it attributes to the new issue of Star magazine).

According to the report, Maynard inked the "DWTS" deal with ABC when she agreed to be on "The Bachelorette." The report also quotes a source close to Maynard as saying all Emily seemingly cares about is extending her run of TV exposure.

"Emily told me the real reason she wants to do the show is to help get herself her own talk show,” dished the insider. "She's terrified of losing her fame. She loves being famous and has wanted it her entire life."

What do you think? If Maynard winds up on the show, would you tune in to check out her fancy footwork?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Scotty McCreery is everywhere this Christmas

Garner native Scotty McCreery will be spreading Christmas cheer over the next few weeks with several television appearances and performances in support of his gold-certified album "Christmas With Scotty McCreery."

The former "American Idol" winner will appear on NBC’s 15th annual "Christmas In Rockefeller Center," which airs at 8 tonight and also features Mariah Carey, Rod Stewart, Cee Lo Green and others.

And there's more McCreery where that came from. He'll also...

...make two appearances on ABC’s "Good Morning America," first on Dec. 11 and again on Dec. 24

...perform and host his own holiday special, "Christmas With Scotty McCreery & Friends," on GAC at 11 p.m. Saturday, with re-airings to follow.

...appear as a presenter on the American Country Awards, which airs live on Dec. 10 on Fox.

...appear on the CMA Country Christmas special, airing Dec. 20 on ABC.

...appear on the 10th annual “Hollywood Christmas Celebration At The Grove,” a nationally syndicated TV special airing nationally for the next six weeks (check local listings for show times).

"Christmas With Scotty McCreery," an 11-song collection featuring two original holiday tracks as well as classic favorites, is in stores now.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Jef Holm to launch People Water in Charlotte

It's been more than three months since Jef Holm's proposal to Emily Maynard went public on ABC's "The Bachelorette," and although the couple is no longer engaged, Holm is about to make headlines in Charlotte for something other than his love life.

The 28-year-old CEO of Utah-based bottled-water and social-activism company People Water will officially launch his brand at an event Thursday at The Baby Grocery Store in South Charlotte.

Holm is scheduled to be at the store's grand opening from noon to 2 p.m.; his appearance is open to the public.

People Water promotes safe drinking water in poor countries. After their engagement was revealed in July, Holm and Maynard traveled to Ghana, where they helped build wells as part of his company's efforts.

The Baby Grocery Store (billed as "a Whole Foods for babies and kids"), which is opening this week at 10225 Park Road, carries all-natural baby and kid products such as food, diapers, body care and kitchen equipment, and features a demo kitchen and living room for playgroups and baby showers. The store's focus on environmentally responsible products led them to select People Water as the only bottled water they will carry, according to a People Water spokesperson.

For more on People Water, click here. For more on The Baby Grocery Store, click here. Follow Holm on Twitter here.

Score passes to see Spielberg's 'Lincoln'!

The Charlotte Observer is giving away 40 “Admit Two” passes to a special advance screening Wednesday of the new film “Lincoln.” Steven Spielberg directs Academy Award winner Daniel Day-Lewis in the drama, which focuses on the 16th president’s tumultuous final months in office.

In a nation divided by war and the winds of change, Lincoln pursues a course of action designed to end the war, unite the country and abolish slavery. Here's the trailer:

The special advance screening will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, with the location of the theater to be revealed when you pick up your passes. “Lincoln” will be released in Charlotte on Friday, Nov. 9.

How to get your free pass: Come to the security console in the main lobby of the Charlotte Observer building, 600 S. Tryon St., beginning at noon TODAY (Monday, Nov. 5). You may take just one “Admit Two” pass, while supplies last.

The film is rated PG-13. On the night of the screening, it is recommended to arrive early since seating is not guaranteed and on a first-come, first-served basis.

For details on the movie, visit

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

'Red' sells swiftly; Taylor sets Charlotte date

Taylor Swift's fans have gone crazy for her new album, "Red," and that devotion has translated into an almost unprecedented amount of green.

According to Nielsen SoundScan data released Tuesday night, "Red" sold 1.2 million copies in its first week -- the most since Eminem's "The Eminem Show" sold 1.3 million in just seven days in 2002.

"Red" is only the 18th album to sell a million units in a single week since SoundScan started tracking sales in 1991, reports. It's also the second-largest sales frame for a female artist; only Britney Spears had a bigger week, when "Oops! . . . I Did It Again" sold 1.319 million in its debut in 2000.

Meanwhile, last week, Swift announced headlining tour dates for 2013 in support of the new album. The North American "Red" tour begins March 13 in Omaha, Neb., and will visit Charlotte on March 22. Stay tuned for on-sale information, or sign up to be notified about pre-sale concert tickets here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

'Banshee' trailer debuts online

Charlotte is hot on premium cable TV this year, thanks to "Homeland," which is primarily filmed in and around the city.

In 2013, we'll find out if we've got another hit on our hands.

Entertainment Weekly is reporting that "Banshee" -- Cinemax's forthcoming action-drama series, also shot here -- will debut on the premium TV network on at 10 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013.

"Banshee" is being produced by Greg Yaitanes ("House"), Peter Macdissi, and Alan Ball, creator and executive producer of past HBO series "Six Feet Under" and current HBO series "True Blood." The new series follows an ex-convict who assumes the identity of a sheriff in the mythical city of Banshee, Pa., and continues his criminal activities.

Click HERE to check out the exclusive trailer from Entertainment Weekly.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Willie Nelson to play Fillmore Charlotte

Country music singer-songwriter Willie Nelson is coming to the Fillmore Charlotte on Dec. 5, with Lukas Nelson.

Tickets go on sale Friday, Oct. 19 at 10 a.m. at, the Fillmore Charlotte box office (opens at noon), all Ticketmaster outlets including select Wal-Mart stores, or charge by phone 800-745-3000.

For more information, go to or

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Nicki Minaj curses out Mariah Carey in Charlotte

Ah, co-workers. There are those you love. There are those you tolerate. And there are those you just want to strangle.

There’s evidence that new “American Idol” judge Nicki Minaj wanted to strangle her co-worker, Mariah Carey, in Charlotte this week. And the feeling, apparently, was mutual.

Yes, Tuesday’s “American Idol” auditions at Charlotte Motor Speedway were supposed to focus on unknown singers and big dreams. Instead, the two-day event turned into a bit of a nightmare – at least on the face of it – and it’s possible Fox and the show’s producers would now like to strangle their two female stars.

To catch you up: Tuesday evening, celebrity news website TMZ posted a video of Minaj unleashing a tirade as colorful as her wigs and outfits in a heated dispute with Carey, which reportedly boiled over after one of the contestants had performed.

In the low-quality, 56-second clip, the rapper can be heard saying, “I’m not f------ putting up with her f------ highness over there”; toward the end of the video, Carey calls Minaj “a little crazy b----.” Veteran judge Randy Jackson can be heard saying, “Settle down, settle down,” and country singer Keith Urban – situated between the two divas – seems to be trying to figure out a way to teleport back to his home in Nashville.

Wednesday, then, was damage control day.

Reporters woke up to learn that an afternoon press conference with Minaj, Carey, Jackson and host Ryan Seacrest that had been scheduled at the speedway was canceled overnight, with Fox’s publicity director saying in an e-mail that it was “due to the production schedule” (technically true, as auditions reportedly wrapped prematurely on Tuesday so the two women could cool off).

The host then went on his morning radio show “On Air With Ryan Seacrest” and spun it like a Harlem Globetrotter: “It got heated between Nicki and Mariah. It was intense! … These are all very different individuals with different perspectives and different opinions that provide for interesting conversation and dialogue and feedback for the contestants.”

If you’re a superfan of “Idol,” you’re probably aware that rumors of fighting between Minaj and Carey have been circulating for weeks. Although in previous interviews the pair has denied any discord, this video would seem to confirm that they’re not exactly BFFs.

However, the video itself raises questions. From what we understand, security around Fox’s activity at the speedway was extremely tight. Reportedly, many speedway employees didn’t even know “Idol” was coming this week until the trucks showed up; media access was very limited to begin with; the actual judges’ set was treated like the Oval Office.

So … who took this video? How did they get away with taking it? Why would they jeopardize their job by sharing it with TMZ? Certainly there weren’t a ton of people in that room at the time. Surely it wouldn’t take a very sophisticated investigation to ferret out the leak.

Which begs the biggest question: Was this an inside job to create buzz around the show?

Fox isn’t talking about the incident at all. But this is significant, if you’re an “Idol” stakeholder: Even though Season 12 doesn’t start till January, a whole lot of people are.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Charlotte bachelor on Cosmo's 'hottest' list

Emily Maynard was Charlotte's most famous bachelorette ever.

TJ Ford, meanwhile, probably won't rise to her level of stardom. But for now? The 29-year-old Charlottean is the hottest bachelor in North Carolina, according to Cosmopolitan.

The magazine's November issue (on newsstands Tuesday, Oct. 9) today revealed its list of the hottest bachelors from across the country. The group includes professional athletes, a TV news anchor, a lawyer, a set of brothers from Montana, and Ford, who works locally as a NASCAR pit-crew member.

Readers can vote for Ford -- or any of the other single guys -- at A panel of Cosmo editors will choose the Bachelor of the Year out of the top 10 bachelors with the most reader votes, and he will receive $10,000. The announcement will be made Oct. 18.

In the November issue, Ford lists Brooklyn Decker (of Matthews) as his celeb crush, notes that he used to race motocross and has his own furniture business, and says great sex should last 45 minutes.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

See Jay & Silent Bob ... live

Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes -- best known as Jay and Silent Bob from Smith's "Clerks" and other films -- are coming to The Fillmore Charlotte on Nov. 11.

The "Jay & Silent Bob Get Old" tour features the duo recording their comedy podcast titled.

Ranked No. 1 among iTunes Comedy podcasts, this is "a sometimes touching, always hilarious, look at what happens when two people grow up in Hollywood's gaze." These limited engagements will be recorded as the stories evolve live in front of the audience, and released for free on

Tickets go on sale Friday, Sept. 28, at 10 a.m. at, The Fillmore Charlotte box office (opens at noon), all Ticketmaster outlets including select Wal-Mart stores, or charge by phone 800-745-3000. Unlike other Fillmore shows, this one is reserved seating.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

James Taylor, in concert... for $5,000?

During the Democratic National Convention, James Taylor performed two free shows -- one during CarolinaFest and another (less-accessible one) before President Obama's acceptance speech.

If you missed both of those concerts, the singer-songwriter/guitarist will give another one on Friday, Oct. 12, in Blowing Rock. He will be performing as part of a fundraising dinner and concert to support Obama's re-election campaign.

And this one won't be free. Tickets for the concert at the Westglow Resort and Spa are $1,000 apiece, or $2,500 each if you want to add "dinner and conversation with James Taylor." Anyone under 30 can get in for just $500.

Westglow is situated around an elegant mansion with panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and was ranked the No. 2 destination spa in the world by Travel + Leisure Magazine in 2011.

For more information and to purchase tickets, call 828-295-5146.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

For guitar rocker, DNC is about loosening up

Camp Freddy -- a rock super group that features Dave Navarro of Jane's Addiction -- played a party during the RNC in Tampa last week. Monday night, the band performed a late-night show at the NC Music Factory as the headline act for Spirits of Charlotte, a party hosted by the Distilled Spirits Council.

Lead guitarist Billy Morrison, an Englishman who also is a member of Billy Idol's band, says the guys agreed to play at both conventions in a show of bipartisanship. We interviewed him via e-mail Monday about politics, Camp Freddy, and whether the U.S. or the U.K. rocks harder.

Q. Any musician who shows up at a political convention is -- whether they intend to or not -- is making a statement of sorts. What kind of statement are you and Camp Freddy trying to make by being here this week?

If we are being forced to make any statement, it's that rock and roll transcends any political barriers and no matter what side of the fence you sit, you understand what we do. Every person at these conventions was 14 once. Every one of them sat listening to The Crue, or Billy Idol, or Bowie, or whoever, and Republican or Democrat, they all loosen their ties, take their jackets off, and rock out.

Q. On a scale of 1 to 10, how political are you, and what are your political views, particularly in terms of this year's presidential election/race?

I am personally around a 3 or 4 - I think that we are not fully informed to start with, that no one can turn a country around in four years, and that each side makes good and bad arguments. If I'd wanted to pay more attention in politics I would have graduated. But I found a loud guitar much more stimulating and found that I could say what I wanted to say far more effectively with music. I do, however, pay attention to certain topics and issues that are close to my heart, no matter what side is speaking. Homelessness, Healthcare, a few others.... these issues stir me as a human being at a social level, more than a political one.

Q. Do you have any concerns about how fans might view your politics, or do you not care about that kind of thing?

No matter what you do in this business, people have opinions. And if I had worried too much about what people thought, I wouldn't have dyed my hair blue when I was 15 and covered my body in tattoos and forged a career in the entertainment business. And we have been VERY clear that we have played BOTH conventions, that we are bi-partisan....that really the only thing we came here to do is rock out for these people that, quite frankly, need a night or two of unwinding and loosening up.

Q. What's it been like being a part of Camp Freddy these past several years, and how does it compare to your other experiences with other bands?

Camp Freddy is the antithesis of the real, career oriented bands that we are all in. We play purely for fun, a few times a year, and make sure that our guests, our audiences and ourselves go home smiling. We're not concerned with "shifting units" (because we haven't released anything) or "what markets" we should play..... this is simply reminding ourselves and the guest artists that play with us, what it felt like to be a kid, with a guitar, in your bedroom, and learning some of the greatest rock songs ever written.

Q. Lot of cool, exclusive concerts going on in Charlotte this week as part of the DNC. Are you planning to check out any of them?

I spent the week in Tampa after the last gig just hanging out, scuba diving, and working on this show. People don't realize quite how much hard work and logistics go into making a Camp Freddy show happen. So as much as I'm sure Charlotte is kicking all week, I'm looking forward to getting on a plane home to Los Angeles tomorrow.

Q. What's cooler, UK rock or American rock?

If the rock comes from the heart and soul, if it's real and believable, then I don't give a f@#k where the rock comes from.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Was that George Clooney jogging down Tryon Street?

If you happen to hear someone say they saw George Clooney and Matthew McConaughey jogging down Tryon Street, it might have been George Clooney and Matthew McConaughey.

It might also have been two fit, good-looking delegates. Or two fit, good-looking bankers.

Or maybe it was no one. It might have been that the person you heard it from heard it from a co-worker, who heard it from the person who cuts their hair, who heard it from another customer. And the other customer, for all anybody knows, might have made the whole thing up.

This is how it’ll go all week during the DNC, among people who care about such things. Dozens of household-name celebrities are in town or arriving soon for official convention activities, private parties, public forums and other events. Some even bigger names have been rumored, from Clooney (still unconfirmed) to Brad Pitt (he seems likely) to Oprah Winfrey (not so much).

And so, for a week, Tryon Street becomes like a mini-Sunset Boulevard. The EpiCentre and the N.C. Music Factory become quasi-microcosms of Chelsea and Greenwich Village. Stars will be everywhere. And people like me will hope to spot them.

There are some dead giveaways. If you suddenly see a horde of people swarm into one small area and pull out their cellphone cameras, you are probably witnessing a celebrity encounter. But it’s almost impossible to plan for something like this. As with so many other things in life, the keys to success are connections, timing and dumb-stupid luck.

Here’s an example of the fun we’ll have:

Sunday afternoon, the Observer got a call from an anonymous tipster who claimed – you guessed it – they had just seen George Clooney and Matthew McConaughey jogging down Tryon Street.

So naturally, I tweeted this out, grabbed a notebook, and headed for the escalators. (The Observer building is on Tryon Street.) On the way down, I ran into staff photographer Todd Sumlin toting a very long lens.

“Where are you headed?” I asked.

“Well, I heard George Clooney and Matthew McConaughey were seen jogging down Tryon Street,” he replied.

A block away, on the corner in front of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, one of our editors, Jennifer Rothacker, was on her cellphone and craning her neck to look down the street.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Wanted to see if George Clooney was still out running. No sign of him yet.”

Another block down, I saw not Clooney, but Observer clerk Sherri Bain, who took the call.

“Have you seen him??” she asked.

I said no but assured her I’d poke around for a bit longer, and dedicated my cause to Danny Ocean and “Magic Mike” fans everywhere. But in the end, I saw no George. I saw no Matt. All I had really seen was about half the Observer’s newsroom staff. Oh well, maybe there’s –

Oops, hang on, phone’s ringing. Sorry guys, gotta run. I hear Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were just spotted buying diapers at Wal-Mart. I’ll keep you posted …

Follow Théoden Janes on Twitter for updates about celebrities in town for the DNC: @theodenjanes; If you see a celebrity, email

Friday, August 31, 2012

Keep an eye out for these celebrities at the DNC

As Clint Eastwood might say, here come the hot-doggers.

Whereas Hollywood conservatives (save for Clint and Jon Voight) seemed to shy away from the spotlight during the Republican National Convention in Tampa this past week, Hollywood liberals are lining up to get into Charlotte for next week's DNC.

Top A-listers like George Clooney, Bruce Springsteen and Oprah Winfrey were rumored but are unlikely to show up. Yet the list of recognizable talent scheduled to make speeches or appearances or music here over the next several days is still long and distinguished. Some highlights:

Recording artists Kathy Mattea, Anthony Hamilton and Biz Markie will be among the 20-plus acts serenading 15,000 journalists at the Charlotte host committee’s $2 million media party at the N.C. Music Factory.

Read more here:


Grammy winner James Taylor and Academy Award nominee Jeff Bridges will both perform (yeah, The Dude is a musician, too) at CarolinaFest in uptown. Ty Pennington, former "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" host, will build half a house at the festival.

A party for the California delegation at Fountain Plaza at NC Music Factory will feature rock supergroup Campy Freddy (Dave Navarro is among the members) and guest appearances by rocker Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray and Oscar nominee Juliette Lewis.

R&B man John Legend and neo-soul hip-hoppers The Roots will perform at separate parties, at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the Elder Gallery, respectively. Rumored guests at the Legend party are "America's Got Talent" host Nick Cannon and singer Edwin McCain.


Actress Amber Riley (Mercedes on Fox's "Glee") will sing the national anthem at Time Warner Cable Arena.

"CSI: New York" star Hill Harper and Golden Globe winner Alfre Woodard will host a political summit for students at Johnson C. Smith University.

Actresses Rosario Dawson and America Ferrara will sit on a panel at Voto Latino's policy forum at Stage Door Theater.

Blogger Perez Hilton and hip-hop group Far East Movement will headline a Turn Up The Vote event at Mez at the EpiCentre.

A cocktail reception for the National Association of Broadcasters at Dressler's Restaurant has a guest list that includes several Hollywood stars: Tim Daly, Patricia Arquette, Alfre Woodard, John Leguizamo, Beau Bridges, Rose Byrne, Tony Shalhoub and Wayne Knight (Newman from "Seinfeld"!).

Rapper Common will perform and hip-hopper Jermaine Dupri will DJ at a Fillmore party.

Former New York Yankee Bernie Williams is scheduled to perform with his band (he’s now a musician) at McGlohon Theatre.

The PFAW Foundation will party with Hollywood stars including Jane Lynch ("Glee"), Seth MacFarlane (director of "Ted"), David Hyde Pierce and Kathleen Turner at Kazba at the EpiCentre.

Comics DL Hughley, Aries Spears and Tommy Davidson perform standup at Belk Theater.


Jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis does the national anthem at the arena.

Gabrielle Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber of the gold-medal-winning U.S. women’s gymnastics team will headline an event at Foundation For the Carolinas.

Jeff Bridges will attend the non-partisan Impact Film Festival at Mez. He narrated “Hunger Hits Home,” a film about childhood hunger that’s part of the festival.

Actor Kal Penn ("House," the "Harold & Kumar" movies) will be on a panel at Discovery Place moderated by Chelsea Clinton.

Tim Daly, Patricia Arquette, Alfre Woodard, John Leguizamo, Beau Bridges, Rose Byrne, Tony Shalhoub and Wayne Knight will lunch on the Patron Tequila Express near the Amtrak Station. They'll also be at the Creative Coalition's benefit gala at Fountain Plaza at NC Music Factory, headlined by the B-52s.

Rock band Foo Fighters perform in support of Rock the Vote at the Fillmore.

Actress Eva Longoria will host a party at Amos' Southend for Got Your Six and Lifetime TV; rapper Flo Rida will perform.

Rosario Dawson re-teams with America Ferrera; they'll join Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas and hip-hop pioneer Russell Simmons at Voto Latino's Purple Carpet Bash at All American Pub.


Actress Fran Drescher ("The Nanny") will make the keynote address at a business program at the Hearst Tower.

Actress Jessica Alba will co-host the week’s most important fundraising event, “Super-O-Rama,” at the Fillmore. Rapper Pitbull and pop-rockers the Scissor Sisters will perform.


Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington will pop in and out of Flex and Fit Gym, where her "Oasis" (a "rejuvenating retreat" will be set up Monday-Thursday.

"The Daily Show" and host Jon Stewart will be at ImaginOn Tuesday-Friday for tapings.


Ashley Judd: The actress is coming to Charlotte as a delegate (from Tennessee).

Actress Thora Birch ("American Beauty") will be here as a California delegate.

Elizabeth Banks: She tweeted earlier this month that she'll be here for the DNC; no other details.

Follow Théoden Janes on Twitter for updates about celebrities in town for the DNC: @theodenjanes; IF YOU SEE A CELEBRITY, e-mail

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Gabby Douglas headlining DNC-related event

Olympic champion Gabby Douglas will be joined by three other members of the gold-medal-winning U.S. women's gymnastics team at a public (but fairly exclusive) event in uptown Charlotte next Wednesday.

The "Kids' Health Goes Gold" event, part of a new national initiative promoting children's health and wellness, will also feature McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber; U.S. Olympic swimmers Rebecca Soni and Dana Vollmer (both gold medalists); and Lauren Cheney and Abby Wambach, who helped lead the U.S. women's soccer team to its third straight Olympic gold medal.

Medical experts from Levine Children's Hospital, part of Carolinas HealthCare System, also will participate.

The session is scheduled for 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Wednesday at Foundation For The Carolinas, 220 N. Tryon St. Following a presentation, guests can dine with the Olympic champions, and there will be autograph and photo sessions; each guest also will receive a souvenir T-shirt.

Tickets are $150 a pop at

Oh, and if you miss Douglas, Maroney, Raisman and Wieber next week, they'll be back in October for the Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions at Time Warner Cable Arena.

Follow Théoden Janes on Twitter for updates about celebrities in town for the DNC: @theodenjanes;

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bill Clinton, team up for DNC bash

We already knew Bill Clinton was going to be in town for the Democratic National Convention, since he's set to deliver the official nominating address on Sept. 6 at Bank of America Stadium.

But there's now another slot filled on his calendar for next week: According to Politico, the former president will team up with of Black Eyed Peas to headline a Democratic Party of Arkansas fundraising event on Sept. 4 at the Westin Charlotte in uptown.

The event, titled "A Party Two Decades in the Making," will celebrate the 20-year anniversary of Clinton's nomination as the Democratic Party's presidential nominee.

Tickets are $150 and available here.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ty Pennington confirmed for DNC visit

While he may not be screaming “Move that bus!” this time around, former "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" host Ty Pennington is once again working with a team of volunteers to build a home for a deserving military veteran.

The DIY expert and TV personality has teamed up with Sears' Craftsman brand of tools to lead state delegates and elected officials for a “House United,” a project that will see one half of a home built in Tampa during the Republican National Convention, and the other half built in Charlotte during the Democratic National Convention.

Pennington will be on hand to swing hammers, nail two-by-fours and paint walls during the events.

Craftsman brand is encouraging people to get involved by visiting the House United tab at to sign a petition and encourage their state delegates to participate and stop by each event to lend a hand.In Charlotte, the project will be built during CarolinaFest, at 510 S. College St. (across from the convention center, between Tryon and College Streets), from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 3.

After the two halves of the home are built during the conventions, they will be "united" in Charlotte's Belmont neighborhood in October.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Another plot twist in 'Bachelorette' cheating story

OK, what in the world is going on here?

First, a report started circulating Wednesday that Charlotte single mom Emily Maynard had been caught cheating and was kicked to the curb by fiance/Utah entrepreneur Jef Holm (see story here). A few hours later, broke a completely contradictory story after interviewing Maynard and Holm, who denied the breakup rumors. "It's one hundred percent not true," Maynard said.

Sounded pretty good to us. After all, why would the couple have any reason at all to lie about this? And yet, US Weekly seems pretty determined to not let this go.

The magazine is reporting today that Holm's brother, Mike Holm, witnessed the whole fight between Maynard and Jef Holm, which allegedly involved explicit text messages Maynard received from another man. According to reports, this happened during a family vacation at a beach house in Pawleys Island, S.C.; many members of Holm's extended family were present, as was Maynard's 7-year-old daughter, Ricki.

Mike Holm told US Weekly: "I can tell you that it's all 100 percent true. I was there and I heard the fight and watched the whole thing go down, Emily leaving and everything. I love my brother very much and, like the rest of our family, I just want him to be happy."

Obviously, someone's not being 100 percent truthful. But who is it?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Emily, Jef: Reports of cheating totally false

The tabloids -- gasp! -- were wrong. today published a story (citing US Weekly, which cited "a source") that Utah entrepreneur Jef Holm had dumped Emily Maynard because he caught her trading naughty texts. A few hours later, rebutted the story, citing much more reliable sources: Maynard and Holm themselves.

Maynard, the 26-year-old single mom and recent star of ABC's "The Bachelorette," told People that reports of an epic fight during a family vacation in Myrtle Beach last weekend are "one hundred percent not true."

"It's funny to me," Holm is quoted in the People story as saying. "We were in a gated community in a private home with just my brothers and sisters. It's just bogus a 'source' would [say] we were fighting. None of that is true."

People reports that the couple dropped off Maynard's 7-year-old daughter Ricki at school together on Wednesday.

"I have never been more in love or felt more confident about our relationship," Maynard told Wednesday. "We're so excited about the future and to be back in Charlotte and things are actually happening – looking at places to live and going to school. I'm happier than I've ever been."

Tabloid report: Emily Maynard caught cheating

Are "Bachelorette" star Emily Maynard and Jef Holm splitsville?

Just weeks after the couple went public with their engagement following the summer edition of ABC's hit reality-dating series, US Weekly is reporting that Holm caught Charlotte's most famous single mom cheating on him (this according to a story).

According to the report, Holm discovered naughty texts and pictures from another guy on Maynard's mobile phone. US Weekly's source claims: "Jef and Emily went into a bedroom and were yelling" during a vacation with Holm's family. "He said, 'You've been (expletive) cheating on me for months!'" He then allegedly told Maynard to "Pack your (expletive) and get the (expletive) out."

Now, remember: This comes from US Weekly. Take it with a shaker of salt. Especially considering the fact that Emily's Twitter feed is overflowing with tweets that suggest everything is just hunky-dory. Just Monday, she tweeted, "The happiest I've ever been in my life with my two favorite people in the world. I love you to the moon" -- along with a photo of herself with Jef and daughter Ricki, 7.

Six hours ago, she posted a photo of Jef with a cat and added "Love him even more now."

In 2001, Maynard got engaged to Brad Womack on "The Bachelor," but the couple didn't last long. Ricki's father is the late NASCAR driver Ricky Hendrick.

New Gap ad features Concord's Avett Brothers

OK, not exactly "Just In," but...

Concord-based The Avett Brothers have hooked up with The Gap for an ad that's part of the retailer's "Fit for Originals" fall 2012 campaign. Scott's on the banjo, Seth's on the guitar, the snippet is from the song "Live and Die." The commercial went on YouTube Aug. 8, but has just started getting noticed.

The Avetts have taken a little heat from fans about the spot, which has some crying "sellout" -- though others are saying hats off to The Gap for showcasing "real" music.

What do you think of the ad?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Foo Fighters sell out Charlotte gig in seconds

There are a whole lot of disappointed and disgruntled Foo Fighters fans in and around Charlotte today. And a couple thousand elated ones.

Foo Fighters announced Monday a rare club show would take place during the week of the Democratic National Convention next month, and at 10 a.m. Tuesday, tickets went on sale for $63 apiece. By 10:01, they were gone. All of them.

The concert, a benefit for Rock The Vote, is set for 9 p.m. on Sept. 5 at The Fillmore Charlotte.

Foo Fighters were in Charlotte last November. At the time, they played uptown's Time Warner Cable Arena; close to 15,000 fans showed up to see the rock band's hotly anticipated Wasting Light World Tour. So it's no surprise Dave Grohl & Co. sold out the Fillmore -- which holds 2,000 folks -- in record time.

So it's now officially the hottest ticket in town ... but if you scored tickets, scalping them won't be easy: Tickets are non-transferrable and can only be picked up at will call on the night of the show. To get your tickets, you'll have to present a valid ID plus the credit card you used to buy them.

Among those who weren't fast enough Tuesday morning: The Observer's pop culture writer and the Observer's music writer (both of whom typically have access to review tickets). Even the director of marketing and promotions for the Fillmore had to "get in line" with everyone else -- and he ultimately came away empty-handed, too.

Friday, August 17, 2012

See an advance screening of 'Premium Rush'!

The Charlotte Observer is partnering with Columbia Pictures on the promotional screening of the upcoming action film "Premium Rush," starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as one of New York City’s best bicycle messengers whose routine "premium rush" run turns into a life or death chase through the streets of Manhattan.

Here's the synopsis of the film from Columbia Pictures: "Dodging speeding cars, crazed cabbies and eight million cranky pedestrians is all in a day’s work for Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the best of New York's agile and aggressive bicycle messengers. It takes a special breed to ride the fixie – super lightweight, single-gear bikes with no brakes and riders who are equal part skilled cyclists and nutcases who risk becoming a smear on the pavement every time they head into traffic. But a guy who’s used to putting his life on the line is about to get more than even he is used to when his last envelope of the day – a routine “premium rush” run – turns into a life or death chase through the streets of Manhattan."

"Premium Rush" also stars Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez and Jamie Chung and will open in theaters nationwide on Friday, August 24, 2012. The trailer can be viewed on the film's official site:

The Charlotte Observer has 80 pairs of passes for the promotional screening, which is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. E-mail to claim a pair (first-come, first-served).

Monday, August 6, 2012

Target unveils $999 gold 'Hunger Games' pin

"The Hunger Games" lands on DVD and Blu-ray on Saturday, Aug. 18, but Target is banking on superfans being interested in far shinier objects than just the movie itself.

A special collection of keepsakes and an exclusive three-disc version of the film with never-before-seen video from the movie set will be introduced to coincide with the home-video release.

The keepsakes, available in very limited quantities exclusively on, include: 14-carat gold replicas of heroine Katniss Everdeen’s famed Mockingjay pin (the story’s symbol of rebellion), with 100 available at $999 each; leather replicas of Katniss’ hunting jacket, with 100 available at $349 each; and “The Hunger Games” lithographs autographed by 10 top cast members including Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson, with 100 available for $699 each. The premium items will be introduced one per day beginning on Aug. 18.

Meanwhile, Target’s deluxe edition of “The Hunger Games” on DVD and Blu-ray features a collectible case and 45 minutes of exclusive content, including personal video diaries filmed by seven of the movie’s key Tributes and interviews with the cast about the experience. The special DVD ($20.99) and Blu-ray ($25.99) are available for preorder now at

Target is also offering an extensive assortment of additional merchandise inspired by “The Hunger Games” -- from backpacks and lunch boxes for the back-to-school season to jewelry, pillow cases and life-size cardboard cut-outs of movie characters Katniss, Peeta and Gale. The merchandise is available at Target stores and, ranging price from $6.99 to $37.99.

"The Hunger Games" was filmed in North Carolina in 2011, and grossed $683 million worldwide at the box office.

Friday, August 3, 2012

U.S. Olympic dream teamers are Charlotte-bound

This isn't new news, but it's news worth repeating given the fact that interest in gymnastics and U.S. stars like Gabby Douglas is at its zenith this week: Members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team will headline an all-star cast during the Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions, set to swing into Charlotte's Time Warner Cable Arena on Friday, Oct. 26.

2012 Olympians currently scheduled to participate in the Kellogg’s Tour are: all-around gold medalist Gabby Douglas of Virginia Beach, Va.; all-around finalist Aly Raisman of Needham, Mass.; McKayla Maroney of Long Beach, Calif.; Jordyn Wieber of DeWitt, Mich.; and Kyla Ross of Aliso Viejo, Calif.

Tickets are on sale through,, the arena box office, all Ticketmaster outlets (including select Wal-Mart stores) or charge by phone at 800-745-3000. Gym clubs and groups of 10 or more should call 704-688-9047 to reserve their seats.

Below is the complete list of athletes scheduled to perform during the Kellogg’s Tour of Champions. Due to athletes’ schedules and personal commitments, the cast will vary from stop to stop. The cast of gymnastics champions will be joined by local gymnasts at each tour stop.

Women’s Artistic Gymnasts

• Rebecca Bross – Plano, TX/WOGA. 2010 World Championships Team silver medalist; six-time World medalist

• Gabby Douglas – Virginia Beach, VA/Chow’s Gymnastics. 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials champion and 2011 World Championships Team gold medalist

• Brenna Dowell – Odessa, MO/ Great American Gymnastics Express. 2010 Pan Am Championships team gold medalist

• Sarah Finnegan – St. Louis, MO/ Great American Gymnastics Express. 2012 U.S. Olympic Team replacement athlete; 2010 Pan Am Championships team gold medalist

• Anna Li – Aurora, IL/Legacy Elite Gymnastics. 2012 U.S. Olympic Team replacement athlete; 2012 U.S. uneven bars bronze medalist

• Nastia Liukin – Parker, TX/WOGA Gymnastics. 2008 Olympic all-around champion; five-time Olympic medalist

• McKayla Maroney – Long Beach, CA/All Olympia. 2012 U.S. Olympic Team member; 2011 World vault and team gold medalist

• Chellsie Memmel – West Allis, WI/M&M Gymnastics. 2008 Olympic Team silver medalist; World gold medalist in all-around, team (twice), uneven bars

• Elizabeth Price – Coopersburg, PA/ Parkettes National Gymnastics Center. 2012 U.S. Olympic Team replacement athlete; 2011 City of Jesolo Trophy team gold medalist

• Aly Raisman – Needham, MA/Brestyan’s Gymnastics. 2012 U.S. Olympic Team member; 2011 World floor floor bronze medalist and team gold medalist

• Kyla Ross – Aliso Viejo, CA/ Gym-Max. 2012 U.S. Olympic Team member; 2012 Kellogg’s Pacific Rim team gold medalist

• Alicia Sacramone – Winchester, MA/Brestyan’s American Gymnastics. 2011 World team gold medalist; 2008 Olympic team silver medalist; 10 career World medals

• Sabrina Vega – Carmel, NY/Dynamic Gymnastics. 2011 World Championships team gold medalist

• Jordyn Wieber – DeWitt, MI/Twistars USA. 2012 U.S. Olympic Team member; 2011 World all-around and team gold medalist, balance beam bronze medalist

Men's Artistic Gymnasts

• Chris Brooks – Houston, TX/Team Hilton HHonors (Cypress Academy of Gymnastics). 2012 U.S. Olympic Team replacement athlete; 2012 Kellogg’s Pacific Rim Championships all-around and team gold medalist

• Alex Buscaglia – Stanford, CA/Stanford University. 2010 Pan Am Championships Team gold medalist

• Jake Dalton – Reno, NV/University of Oklahoma. 2012 U.S. Olympic Team member; 2011 World Championships team bronze medalist

• Jonathan Horton – Houston, TX/Team Hilton HHonors (Cypress Academy of Gymnastics). 2012 U.S. Olympic Team member; 2010 World all-around bronze medalist; 2008 Olympic team bronze medalist and horizontal bar silver medalist

• Glen Ishino - Santa Ana, CA/University of California-Berkeley. 2010 Pan Am Games team gold medalist

• Steven Legendre – Port Jefferson, NY/Team Hilton HHonors (University of Oklahoma). 2012 U.S. Olympic Team replacement athlete; 2011 World Championships team bronze

• Alex Naddour – Gilbert, AZ/Team Hilton HHonors (USA Youth Fitness Center). 2012 U.S. Olympic Team replacement athlete; 2011 World Championships Team bronze medalist

• John Orozco – Bronx, NY/Team Hilton HHonors (U.S. Olympic Training Center). 2012 U.S. Olympic Team member; 2012 U.S. all-around champion; 2011 World Championships team bronze

• Paul Ruggeri - Manlius, NY/University of Illinois. 2011 Pan Am Games team bronze medalist and high bar champion

• Brandon Wynn - Voorhees, NJ/Team Hilton HHonors (Ohio State University). 2011 Pan Am Games team bronze medalist and still rings gold medalist

Monday, June 4, 2012

'Bachelorette': Goodbye Charlotte, hello narcissism

Boy, it’s a good thing ABC moved production of “The Bachelorette” to Charlotte this season. The flight to Bermuda is a lot shorter from CLT than it is from LAX.

After what seemed to amount to a couple of nights in Emily Maynard’s hometown, where producers agreed to set up shop to accommodate their new star’s desire to minimize disruption in her 6-year-old daughter’s life, host Chris Harrison gleefully tells the 13 remaining bachelors at the beginning of Monday night’s episode: “Pack your bags because you’ll be leaving this mansion forever!”

 “Emily has already left Charlotte,” he says, and is playing croquet, flying kites and spinning around on a hilltop in paradise with Ricki, having what appears to be much more fun than she’s had with any of her suitors.

This week involves three dates:

• A one-on-one date with Doug in which they go boutique shopping, sample cakes, try perfumes, making us wonder whether he is the perfect boyfriend or a gigantic sycophant. At dinner, he tells Emily his greatest flaws are that he spends too much time with his son and won’t wash her car very often, so we are leaning heavily toward the latter. He gets a rose anyway.

• A group date involving Arie, Jef, Kalon and Ryan, who narrowly defeat Charlie, Chris, Sean and Travis in a urinating contest disguised as a sailboat race. Arie gets to make out on the beach with her, Jef doesn’t, Kalon must have articulated nothing of interest at all in Bermuda because he gets almost zero screen time, Ryan gets his share of screen time and then some while babbling platitudes about depth and good timing and communication skills (in speeches that lead us to believe he has none of the above). Emily gives Jef the rose, perhaps to keep Arie from getting too big a head.

• A two-on-one date involving a guy whose nickname is “Wolf” and a kid named Nate. Neither do much that’s memorable beyond turning their noses up at quinoa, then Emily flips a mental coin and sends Nate on his way.

The biggest trend emerging is that apparently crying is a bad omen. Charlie cries in the van on the way back to the hotel after his team’s loss (my mind reels as it tries to comprehend why); he does not get a rose and is sent home. Nate cries while telling Emily about his awesome brother (why his bro is awesome isn’t clear); he does not get a rose and is sent home. Michael cries after he is eliminated, although maybe it’s just because his ponytail is too tight.

Meanwhile, Chris – who has a superiority complex because he’s the most mature 25-year-old on the planet – gets annoyed at Doug. Doug – who has a superiority complex because he’s the only dad in the group – gets annoyed with Arie. Arie – who has a superiority complex because he’s fairly level-headed and most of the other guys are toolbags – gets annoyed at Ryan. And Ryan … well, Ryan has a superiority complex, too. Titanic-sized one. But see, he's just doing his due diligence. As he does his due diligence, Ryan says things like “I personally feel like God has blessed me in a lot of ways. I’m romantic, I’m athletic and a charming guy, all those things.”

And “I guess guys do see me at the head of the pack, a guy they have to beat out. Sometimes actually I feel sorry for them.” And “I’m a good catch, and I think that other guys see that.”

Next week, the group heads to London, where Emily gets angry at someone and tells them to “Get the ---- out.” Please, please, PLEASE let it be Ryan.

Hey, ladies: Want to be on 'The Bachelor'?

To all the women out there who have been watching Emily Maynard this season on "The Bachelorette" and longing to follow in her footsteps (i.e. look for love under the watchful eye of millions of Americans): Time to show casting directors for the series what you've got.

From 5-9 p.m. Thursday, the Suite nightclub in uptown's EpiCentre (210 E. Trade St.) will host open casting calls for the upcoming season of "The Bachelor" on ABC.

All applicants must be 21 years or older, and cannot be involved in a committed intimate relationship. Duh.

To get a jump start on the casting process, click here. Otherwise, just show up looking your best. Or -- if this season of "The Bachelorette" provides any insight -- maybe bring an ostrich egg. Or dress up as an old man. You never know what ABC (or the guy of your dreams) will fall for...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Justin Bieber tickets on sale Saturday

It seems too early to be making plans for 2013 already, but if you're a Justin Bieber fan, and you're hoping to see him perform in Charlotte next January, this is the weekend to start making your plans.

Tickets for Bieber's "Believe Tour" -- which stops at Time Warner Cable Arena on Jan. 22 -- go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday through,, the arena box office, all Ticketmaster outlets (including select Wal-Mart stores), and charge by phone at 800-745-3000.

A few things to note about the show:

Carly Rae Jepsen is scheduled to open. She's got the biggest hit of the spring to her credit right now -- "Call Me Maybe." Once it gets stuck in your head, you can't get it out of there for days.

It's a school night (Jan. 22 is a Tuesday), so kids, plan to be up past your regular bedtime.

Also, tickets are $82.15 for upper level seats and $99.05 for lower level and floor seats, if you're wondering how significantly his concert is going to break your piggy bank. 

If you are a truly hardcore Bieber fan (and most are -- people either love him or hate him), you can go for the Justin Bieber VIP Meet & Greet Experience. Cost is $425, includes a premium reserved seat, exclusive Bieber merchandise, a souvenir program or photobook, the meet and greet, a photo opportunity with Justin, and an autographed vinyl copy of his new album. Not his phone number, though. Sorry, girls.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mint Museum on next episode of 'Bachelorette'

Charlotte was all over last Monday's episode of "The Bachelorette," which this year moved here to accommodate Emily Maynard and her 6-year-old daughter, Ricki.

She and one of her dates were featured dining at Osso Restaurant & Lounge at the NC Music Factory, then dancing on the venue's outdoor plaza (as country band Gloriana played). Later in the episode, she and several of her suitors attended a fundraiser starring the Muppets at Booth Playhouse in uptown Charlotte.

Next week, the Mint Museum Uptown gets a big moment in the spotlight.
Maynard and one of the bachelors vying for her heart will scale the exterior of the five-story building using harnesses, rigging and climbing ropes, then dine on the rooftop -- an area normally off-limits to the public. After dinner, they strolled down the middle of Tryon Street and were serenaded by country artist Luke Bryan and his band at the closed-down intersection of Trade and Tryon.

According to a Mint Museum press release, filming for "The Bachelorette" "involved a lengthy cooperative process between the Mint, the city of Charlotte, Wells Fargo, and 'The Bachelorette's' producers. The museum has been a favorite target of location scouts in recent months, with other television series and independent films also shooting scenes at the Mint."

The Mint's moment on "The Bachelorette" will air at 8 p.m. Monday on ABC.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

'Hunger Games' fans: District 12 is for sale

If you're going through "Hunger Games" withdrawal now that you've read the trilogy multiple times and seen the movie version over and over, there's a unique way to tide you over till the second movie comes out in November 2013. All you need is about a million bucks (give or take).

The Henry River Mill Village property in Hildebran, which stood in for "District 12" in LionsGate's post-apocalyptic film this spring, will be sold via sealed bids this summer through the auction house Profiles in History. Estimated value? More than $1.2 million.

The 72-acre abandoned mill town, home of fictional spots like the Hob and the area known as the Seam, will be featured on the Syfy channel's "Hollywood Treasure" series at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5. According to a press release, "Viewers will be able to watch (Profiles in History owner) Joe (Maddalena) and his team visiting 'District 12' ... as Joe is able to get the owner to entrust him to sell this 'collectors dream.'"

“The Hunger Games,” which was filmed entirely in North Carolina, is based on Suzanne Collins’ bestselling book series about a girl who volunteers to take her sister’s place in a televised death match against other children. The film, which starred Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, was a box-office smash, earning more than $635 million worldwide to date. The property exists exactly as it is seen in the film, from the bakery owned by Peeta Mellark's family to the house where Katniss Everdeen and her sister Prim lived.

If you're interested, just make sure to raise the cash fast: The bidding deadline is July 31, 2012. May the odds be ever in your favor ... since we're assuming most of you would have to win the Powerball to afford this piece of movie memorabilia.

The Los Angeles Times contributed to this report.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Tony Lucca to perform in Concord

Singer-songwriter Tony Lucca will perform a live acoustic set at the Event Center of Concord (10099 Weddington Road, Suite 138) at 8:30 p.m. Friday, May 25 .

Tickets for his Concord show are on sale exclusively through the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau Information Center located at 10099 Weddington Road, Suite 102, in Concord. Tickets are $15. Must be 21 or older to purchase, Call 1-800-848-3740 to order or for more details, check

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A peek inside 'The Bachelorette' mansion

Want to sneak a look at the "Bachelorette" mansion, where Emily Maynard's suitors stayed while they were in Charlotte for the series' taping? The address -- 16424 Marvin Road -- is easy to pinpoint on a map, and a ridiculously short (4-minute) drive from Ballantyne Village in South Charlotte.

But most people will never see it.

Not surprisingly, a black iron gate will greet anyone trying to get into the private community in which the 12,000-square-foot house is nestled, although if you could get through ... it's the second house on the left.

I got a chance to tour the $5.9 million Mediterranean-style residence on Tuesday thanks to Peters & Associates, Inc., the brokerage firm that is listing the property for owner Sajjan Dhaliwal of Jas-Am Group. The house, built in 2006 at a cost of $8 million, has been on the market for more than three years.

It's easy to see why ABC selected this home from the moment you walk through the front door and into the massive foyer (featured prominently in Monday night's premiere, as Emily greeted each of the 25 men). To the immediate left is the "grand ballroom" where the rose ceremonies took place, with its 20-foot-tall marble fireplace, mahogany trim, and gold flaking ("It's actually melted-down gold, and hand painted," broker Nick Peters told us).

Among many, many jaw-dropping features: a media room upstairs that had to have been 1,000 square feet -- so big that the billiards table in the middle of it looked remarkably tiny; the backyard pool fed by a 15-foot-wide waterfall and flanked by stone elephants; an elevator large enough for six people; and silk window treatments throughout the house that cost, all together, more than $400,000.

In addition to the rose ceremony room, I got to see the backyard swing sofa where Emily took multiple guys for private conversations and the dark-mahogany-toned room off the master suite where she gave Doug the First Impression Rose.

Nothing about this place is typical. Solid wool carpeting that cost $50 a square. ("Normal carpeting in a house is gonna range from $2 to $3 a square foot," Peters said.) A completely soundproof room behind the media room, with its own half bath. ("Their son plays guitars and drums. Close that door, you can't hear it anywhere in the house.") Restored bathroom tiles that came from an old building in India, at a cost of $180 a tile. A urinal in the men's room off the dining room.

On Monday night's premiere episode of "The Bachelorette," one of the men showed up late, arriving in his own private helicopter. The other guys groaned that it was overkill, excessive, over-the-top. Ironic, considering that -- at least on camera -- they didn't make a similar remark about the house itself.

Check out Observer photographer Todd Sumlin's photos of the "Bachelorette" mansion here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Win VIP passes to Kellie Pickler's free concert

Albemarle sweetheart and former "American Idol" finalist Kellie Pickler is coming home to North Carolina during NASCAR’s All-Star weekend for a free concert on Thursday at Whisky River at EpiCentre (210 E. Trade St. in uptown Charlotte).

Sponsored by WSOC’s Redneck Yacht Club, the free concert is first-come, first-entry until venue capacity is met. Doors open at 5 p.m. for the Whisky River Race Week Pit Crew Challenge After Party; Pickler will take the stage at 10 p.m. Show is 21 and older.

Want to win VIP access, which will put you and a guest in a special area roped off in front of the stage ... plus a pair of Alive After 5 VIP tickets so you can enjoy some free beer/wine before heading into the concert? E-mail with your name, age and phone number and tell us in 50 words or less why you deserve this great prize. Deadline: 11:59 p.m. Monday night. Good luck!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Carrie Underwood sets Charlotte concert date

Carrie Underwood announced this morning during her appearance on Good Morning America that she will headline a North American arena tour this fall that will include a stop at Time Warner Cable Arena on Nov. 3.

Hunter Hayes will open. Additional information:

Underwood is donating $1 from each ticket sold on the North American leg of “The Blown Away Tour” to support Red Cross disaster relief.

Her two previous headline tours -- 2008’s “Carnival Ride Tour” and 2010’s “Play On Tour" -- performed for a combined total of nearly 250 shows with 2.2 million fans in attendance, and she wrapped both years as the top-ranked female country touring artist.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, May 11, through,, the box office at Time Warner Cable Arena, all Ticketmaster outlets, including select Wal-Mart stores, or charge by phone at 800-745-3000.